Monday, May 20, 2013

Marianne Wesson & Mo and Amos

Who is in the photo at right?

Amos is a rescue Great Pyrenees. He’s only nine, but showing serious signs of age. Sadly, these big dogs don’t live for that long. Amos is the third Pyrenees we’ve owned. For a long time we tried to keep a pair as guard dogs; we keep llamas, and there are mountain lions active in our neighborhood. Ivan and Misty are no longer with us, but Amos remains, although now retired from guard duty. He was never much of threat to the predators anyway, poor sweet guy. It became clear after we brought him home that he had experienced terrible abuse, and he’s frightened of almost everything. He’s affectionate with us and few frequent visitors, but mostly he hides when anyone or anything unfamiliar shows up. Our other dog is Mo, a seven-year old mutt; he’s mostly Wheaton Terrier, we think.

I'm Marianne Wesson, law professor, novelist, and author of the new book, A Death at Crooked Creek: The Case of the Cowboy, the Cigarmaker, and the Love Letter.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

What do you mean, occasion? It’s morning, of course. Comes around every day. Morning without caffeine is not to be contemplated, not by me, anyway. When it’s sunny, I try to drink a cup outdoors on our ranch. The big rocks you see catch the morning sun and warm up beautifully. Amos [with Misty and llamas, photo left] was willing to join me on this occasion, but you can tell he’s not all that happy about it. I rarely have morning coffee anywhere but at home—we live about ten miles (five of them dirt road) from the nearest coffee shop. You might find me at one in the afternoon, but by then I’m ready to switch from the coffee to something more soothing.

What's brewing?

I make coffee for myself one cup at a time, in a Keurig coffeemaker with a reusable K-cup. Lately I’ve been filling it with Starbucks French Roast. I know some people say it tastes burnt, but I guess I like it that way.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Just the coffee for me, and the sunshine for both of us.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Mo [photo right] was named by my husband Ben; his real name is Monster. Ben had just gotten a Ducati Monster motorcycle and was very infatuated with it. But the dog lasted much longer than the bike, and these days we just call him Mo. Or Mojo, Mo-man, and any other stupid two-syllable name that starts with Mo-. Or Mope, when he is wearing that dejected dog look like he is just so very disappointed.

Amos is named in a tradition of rechristening the Pyrenees after we get them home from the rescue shelter. His name was Aramis, like the Musketeer (and the aftershave). But that was just way too pompous a name for a ranch dog, so we tried to find a better name that would sound enough like Aramis that he’d know we were talking to him. (He’s deaf now, so it probably doesn't matter what we call him. Unless he can lip-read, which is possible.) We had to go through something similar with Misty, whose shelter name was Christy, but that is also Ben’s ex-wife’s name and he thought the human Christy would be furious if she heard we had a dog with her name, so we changed it to Misty. Misty caught right on.

How were you and your dogs united?

Mo came from the Longmont, Colorado Humane Society, brought home by a very happy Ben. I brought Amos  home, after many preliminaries, from Great Pyrenees Rescue and Sanctuary, Inc., outside of Colorado Springs: a wonderful organization.

How do your animals help--and how do they hinder--your writing?

Writers can be emotional wrecks sometimes, at least this one can, and I’m sure they act as therapy animals. My new book, A Death at Crooked Creek, took me ten years to research, write, revise, and publish. At least five dogs served as my confidantes over that time. They don’t really hinder—Ben is really the animal care specialist here anyway.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

Our mail is delivered five miles down the road, so that’s not an issue. There’s one squirrel that Mo hates with a steaming passion, and he goes berserk when he sees this rodent through the window. We’ve learned not to let him out to chase the trespasser because he’s come back with his footpads full of cactus spines that he picked up while in hot pursuit. We have four cats (two house, two barn) who have their own issues, but they tolerate the dogs and the dogs are fond of them. Mo [as a puppy, photo right] sometimes gets excited by the local wildlife, especially the elk and wild turkeys, but he doesn't rally want to chase them, just bark.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Each other. They don’t really see too many other dogs because of where we live. Mo does have a couple of buddies among my friends’ dogs, who come to visit occasionally.

What is each dog's best quality?

Mo: likes to stand on his head.

Amos: sweetness.

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

Amos [with Freckles the llama, photo left] would actually prefer that there be no people in the state except for me and Ben. Mo would like for every Coloradan to send him a chewy, and is so very disappointed this has not happened.

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

Amos: Robert Duvall.

Mo: Billy Crystal.

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

Mo: What is your deal?

Amos: (same).

Visit Marianne Wesson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue


  1. Oh Amos is sister does rescue with Great Py. in Oklahoma she just loves them.
    stella rose

  2. Hah! Hilarious! I love the pups and their names. The Great Pyr is a real beauty!