Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Brendan O'Meara & Smarty and Jack

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Brendan and I’m a writer [Hi, Brendan!]. I'm with Smarty and Jack. Smarty is a yellow lab/chow mix and Jack is a Jack Russell/skipperke mix.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I slam back java with these two mutts every day. Jack is the more sociopathic of the two so he’s always in close orbit of me.

What's brewing?

These days I’ve been lucky to have a Starbucks gift card, so I’ve been rockin’ grande Pikes with a splash of half and half. At home I use a French press, but to be ’Merican, I call it a Patriot Press. I grind Peet’s Blend whole beans—bean by bean with my teeth—and let it rest in the Patriot Press four five minutes in near-boiling water.

During the summer I’ll buy large Dunkin’ Donuts hot coffees. Because I’m cheap, and out of protest for iced coffee being more expensive than hot coffee when you get less coffee by volume, I nurse it and when it reaches room temp, I’ll add ice cubes.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

I’m quite Draconic when it comes to giving them treats. I try to keep extra weight off their bones. The little guy is about 11 years old and has the energy of a puppy. The blonde is nine years old and is still real perky and just a joy to be around, still likes to run and is playful. So I like to think keeping their diet in check is giving them their best shot at a painless senior chapter.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

When we adopted Smarty his name was Eli, which was pretty lame, so I renamed him Smarty (after 2004 Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones) before he could jump in my car. As a New England Patriots fan, had I kept the name Eli, I might have shunned my dog after the 2008 and 2012 Super Bowls.

Jack was named Jax when we adopted him in DC. His full name is Jackonius Maximus. I call him Diggy sometimes, or Jack-Jack, but more often than not he gets called Dip Shit or Asshole.

We don’t go out in public very often.

How were you and your dogs united?

Adopted Smarty in 2005 in Durham, NC. He was about 1-2 years old. I went to the shelter and it was between Smarty and a hound dog named Ralph. Smarty, who has an Eeyore quality to him, lay in a stream of his own pee in his kennel. Ralph was also pretty cool, but Smarty and I had a great chemistry in the consult room so I chose him.

Jack …

Jack …

Jack …

Melanie wanted a dog while she was living in DC but her landlord would only allow smallish dogs. He was the only option. We think he was a bait dog in a fighting ring since he has nicks on his ears and tongue. Naturally he still has PTSD and, as a result, is completely neurotic and mildly medicated.

How do you dogs help, and how do they hinder, your writing?

They almost never hinder my writing. They hinder it only when they sit by me and fart. Jack is more clingy and his company is nice. I like when he buddies up to me while I’m clicking away at the ledger. Smarty is less insecure and spends his time in his cage or in our bedroom.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

Jack hates squirrels. If he ever catches one he’ll snap its neck. Same for cats. When the “red switch” goes on, as Cesar Milan says, Jack feels no pain. If he and a cat got into it, there will be blood. He loves people so he’ll bark and whine out of excitement and jump a bit (despite our efforts to train him not to).

Smarty won’t chase squirrels, but he loves cats. He gets excited if you say “Kitty Cat”. He wants to play with them. They never share that sentiment. He barks at the postman, but he’s a teddy bear.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Toys are below Smarty. He doesn’t get them.

Jack will play fetch in the Sahara. We use a squeaky ball to distract him while we use our Soda Stream machine to make bubble water (because he goes ballistic at the sound). We use a field hockey ball to play fetch because he’ll tear apart a tennis ball. I could throw a shot put and he’ll try and bring it back.

His space heater might be his best friend. He loves heat. When the space heater is on he buddies up to it. You need to baby sit Jack? Turn on the space heater.

What is each dog's best quality?

Smarty’s freakish sense of empathy.

Jack’s pigheadedness.

If your dogs could change one thing about you, what would it be?

I’d like to think they’d streamline my life and make me worry less. What do they crave? Food, water, exercise, a bed, and love. Pretty simple and they couldn’t be happier.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which your dogs could speak, which actors should do their voices?

Smarty=Patrick Warburton or Ray Romano

Jack=Gilbert Gottfried or Woody Allen

If your dogs could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?

What was your life like before you entered our lives and when you’re dreaming what do you see?

Visit Brendan O'Meara's website, and read more about his book Six Weeks in Saratoga: How Three-Year-Old Filly Rachel Alexandra Beat the Boys and Became Horse of the Year. Follow the author on Twitter, and "like" Six Weeks on Facebook.

--Marshal Zeringue


  1. I think everyone asks that same question of their rescue's the one thing we'll never know

  2. Hi, Gizmo, yeah, it's our ubiquity, isn't it? Love my pups. We all help each other out.

  3. Love it! They are such good puppies!Can't believe they are 11 and 9! Ear scratches to them both!

  4. Sounds like there's some deep love there :) thanks for the post!

  5. On pet adoption: Went to check out some pups looking for a duck hunting mutt. Mother was poodle, father was probably doberman or B&T hound. When the girl threw a rock off the deck into after-dark coastal jungle and the mother brought it back, we knew we'd struck gold.