Friday, June 28, 2013

Sally Koslow & Percy

Who is in the photo at right?

This is Percy, a three-year-old male Havanese/King Charles Spaniel mix. I, Sally Koslow, am his neighbor and along with my husband, we are Percy’s surrogate “parents” when his terrific family vacations.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Percy keeps me company while I write, which is a lot, because I am a novelist and contributor or articles and essays to magazines and websites.

What's brewing?

Chock full ‘o Nuts with a dash of cinnamon that my husband brews every morning.

Any treats for you or Percy on this occasion?

Anything. Percy is an equal opportunity eater.

How often do you dogsit?

About once every six weeks for about four days at a time.

How did Percy get his name?

I believe he was named by Daniel and Lela, the darling kids in his real family.

Does dogsitting do more to help or to hinder your writing?

I adore dogs. My husband and I had a very smart Puli, Muzzy, who lived to be 15, and Maggie, a Cocker Spaniel with long, beautiful blonde ears. We hope to get another dog in a few years, but love dog-sitting, especially for Percy. When I write, he is a cozy companion, and I also enjoy the breaks to take him for walks.

Are there any dogs in your new novel?

My new novel, The Widow Waltz, not only features a Corgi named Sadie but she is on the book’s cover.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

We sometimes take care of Sparkie, our friends’ cat. Percy and the kitty peacefully co-exist.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Percy loves his Kong Wubba blue thingy.

Does Percy have a favorite place to go for outings?

New York City’s Riverside Park, which is nearby.

What is Percy's best quality?

I’m going for two qualities: he’s affectionate and very, very cute.

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


If Percy could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?

“When do you need to go out?”

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Percy could speak, who should voice him?

Jack Black.

Visit Sally Koslow's website and Facebook page.

My Book, The Movie: The Widow Waltz.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Susannah Charleson & Jake Piper

Who is in the photo at right?

Susannah Charleson, author of The Possibility Dogs and New York Times bestseller Scent of the Missing and three-year-old service dog Jake Piper, a German Shepherd / Lab / Pitbull / Standard Poodle mix.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We shared this nice moment before a Dallas performance by Ira Glass of This American Life.

What's brewing?

Skim cappuccino, expertly made by local coffee house Pearl Cup.

Any treats for you or Jake Piper on this occasion?

A great cappuccino is always a treat! Jake, however, prefers crunchy peanut-butter squirrel (shaped) cookies.

How did Jake Piper get his name? Any nicknames?

Jake's ears are large and have the gull-winged appearance of some Piper aircraft. So ... Piper! Jake because he came to us very young and very, very ill, and he deserved a strong name. If was as if we could claim a strength by naming it. He has a new nickname almost every day, but mostly it's JakeyP.

How were you and Jake Piper united?

Jake Piper was brought to my doorstep by a neighbor who found the puppy following him on a morning walk. He, the neighbor, was very much allergic and couldn't do much for the puppy, but he had heard that "the lady on the corner rescues dogs" -- and so he brought him to me. Jake was probably about ten weeks old at the time. He was very small, with huge dark eyes that looked both pitiful and hopeful at the same time. Jake was dying of starvation and gastroenteritis when he came to us, but the hope won out. It was a hard struggle requiring great veterinary care, but he survived and, in time, thrived!

Please tell us about your new book.

The Possibility Dogs is a journey into the world of service and comfort dogs -- in this case, dogs identified in rescue and trained for this good work-- dogs that can learn to serve the disabled with psychological disabilities or a community struggling in the aftermath of tragedy. Like Jake Piper, I think the book reflects both hardship that can be overcome and the amazing resilience, courage, and joy dogs and their people can achieve together.

I know that in the book you discuss how you learned to identify abandoned dogs with service potential. Can you give an example of a characteristic or behavior that you look for?

We love a dog that has perked ears, a happy wag, and a friendly eye gaze straightaway. Interest in humans and calm, responsive friendliness with men, women, children, babies is a primary trait we look for. Also willingness to learn a new task when offered the opportunity by an encouraging human in a learning environment. Is this dog human-centric, engaged, happy and eager to learn? Those are definite early plusses when we meet a dog.

What is Jake Piper's best quality?

Equanimity. Jake Piper came from profound neglect. He would have every reason to be nervous, fearful, reactive, and he's not. He enjoys new experiences and adventures and calmly responds to even the outrageous. In New York City on the second day of the book tour, a group of little girls with bubblemakers and fairy wands danced right up to him, squealing. Fine with Jake, who I realized, had probably never seen bubbles! Later we were standing at a corner of Central Park when a horse and carriage pulled up right before the curb where we stood. The horse switched Jake's face with its tail, a right pop, and Jake kind of blinked and looked up at me, his expression bemused. If a dog could have shrugged, Jake might have shrugged, like "Horses -- New York horses wearing bells and feathers. What're ya gonna do?"

We met your search dog Puzzle a few years ago. How do she and Jake Piper get along?

Puzzle [with Jake, photo left] loves Jake Piper and vice versa. Though Puzzle never had puppies of her own, puppy Jake brought out the maternal in her, and I credit her for the stability and sociability that a mature dog can teach to a youngster.

If Jake Piper could change one thing about you, what would it be?

Oh, he'd love to eat table scraps and probably wishes I was open to that. He loves all food, any food. But he never gets "people food" from any table, anywhere. Can't blame a guy for wishing, though.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Jake Piper could speak, which actor should do his voice?

Matthew McConaughey, no doubt. A marked drawl with a wink in it, a lot of charm.

If Jake Piper could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?

Sweetheart, what is the one thing I could do in our partnership that would make it even happier for you?

Learn more about The Possibility Dogs at Susannah Charleson's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Susannah Charleson and Puzzle (July 2010).

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 24, 2013

Michelle Mosher & Fizz

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Michelle Mosher, a buyer at Sounds True. The little guy is Fizz, an almost four-year-old half Boston Terrier/half alien.

Does Fizz come to work with you every day at Sounds True?

He wishes. He comes in about 3 days a week.

What's brewing?

Just plain ole water.

Any treats for you or Fizz on this interview break?

Some gourmet dog cookies I snagged from the freebie section in our kitchen.

How were you and Fizz united?

He was my boyfriend’s. We took an instant liking to one another and now the Fizz is like a son to me.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

An energy drink flavor from the Youtube Video: Powerthirst 2: Redomination. He’s called Fizzy-Fizz at home and Mr. Fizz for formal occasions.

Does Fizz have a favorite toy, ball, or stick?

You’ll never find a dog that loves the tennis ball more than Fizz.

Who is Fizz's best pet-pal at Sounds True?

He’s not much of a dog’s dog. He gets along surprisingly well with his officemate, Savanna.

Does Fizz have a favorite place to go for outings?

We go on a lot of hikes around Colorado. We’re new to the area, so he’s always up to explore.

What is Fizz's best quality?

His super-dog agility.

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

He’d give me an extra arm with the capability to throw a tennis ball nonstop.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Fizz could speak, who should voice him?

Minnie Mouse.

Learn about other dogs at Sounds True, including: Andrew Pike & Miles, Kasmah McDermott & Scruffy, and Wendy Zollner & Savanna.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 21, 2013

Marion Winik & Beau

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Marion Winik, a writer, and with me is Beau -- a not-so-miniature-dachshund, though honestly I haven't been sticking to my diet lately either. He is eight years old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

This morning we stopped by Atwater's on Falls Road in North Baltimore on the way to visit my friend Ken in rehab. He was run over by a car in April and has been laid up ever since. Though the rehab is pretty nice, they don't have decent coffee so we bring him a latte whenever we visit. It's great that they allow dogs in, too. Pet therapy is great for people who are stuck in a hospital bed.

What's brewing?

When I want to treat myself right, I get an Americano, short, with a little cream. Otherwise, just black and straight up.

Any treats for you or Beau on this occasion?

Atwaters has great baked goods and awesome huevos rancheros but I need to get into a sexy dress tonight for my book launch party so not today. We'll bring a pastry to Ken and maybe one home to my daughter Jane.

Your new book is dedicated to Beau, so I'm guessing he has made a significant contribution to your writing. Would you tell us about that?

Highs in the Low Fifties is about my adventures -- misadventures, really -- trying to find new love after the demise of my second marriage, and it's one train wreck after another. Beau plays a key role in the story as the loving constant in my life. Kids can be bratty and friends can be busy but Beau is always there for me, ready to bound up the stairs and burrow under the covers to snuggle. His sweet doggy smell and long velvet ears are natural Xanax. I truly believe a close relationship with a dog is one of the keys to being happy as a single person, and this becomes ever more clear over the course of the story.

It may seem strange to dedicate a book to a dog, who could never read it or even know of the gesture, but in that way it's sort of emblematic of the odd romance between a human and a canine.

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?

Beau is a ball-man. His favorite thing is to roll them under couch where he can't reach them and then whimper until someone helps him out.

Who are Beau's best pet-pals these days?

Beau and I recently had a two-month affair with a man and his super-crazy one-year-old rescue dog. Dixie was a beautiful, leggy, golden-eyed girl, at least part pinscher and about five times Beau's size. The guy was gorgeous too, and a lot bigger than me too, and both were very manic in their affections. She literally couldn't stop licking Beau and nosing him and trying to get him to play. He's not the playing type, so he would discipline her with growls and nips, which didn't stop her at all -- she interpreted them as part of the game. Bit by bit, he got used to her and by the time they dumped us I think he was sort of enjoying it. Here are Beau and Dixie [photo left]. Maybe we were all wrong for each other but we miss them a lot.

What is Beau's best quality?

He is so loving, and he can really sense when someone comes over who needs comfort. He is incredibly tuned in to people, not just me, but especially me. For example, guy I was seeing last fall and I had the occasional ritual of getting together for tea after we dropped our respective kids at school. One Monday morning, I breezed in with Beau, stuck a container of homemade beef stew in his refrigerator, and settled down on the couch. Of course Beau climbed right into in his lap.

After a minute or two of chitchat, he said, "I have something serious I need to tell you," then informed me that he was going to get back together with an old girlfriend. I was so blindsided by this news, I went blank. I didn't know what to say or do.

But Beau did. He rocketed from the couch, marched to the door, and looked back at me as if to say, You coming? My brand-new ex-boyfriend and I couldn't help laughing. Meanwhile, I took the dog's cue, got up, and followed him out the door.

Oh honey, don't be sad, he told me in the car, assuming his customary position in my lap, paws hooked over my arm, nose out the driver's window. Three's a crowd.

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

I would never go on a trip without him. When he sees the suitcases come out, he gets very anxious -- unless he sees me put his leash and food in the bag too. Often when I fly Southwest I do take him along, since he can fit under the seat in a pet carrier.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Beau could speak, which actor should do his voice?

Tom Waits. He is just that masculine.

If Beau could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?

Do you feel sad and lonely when you're home alone for many hours straight, or is it true that dogs have very little sense of time and it's like, poof! She's back already!

Visit Marion Winik's website and read more about Highs in the Low Fifties.

Check out--Coffee with a Canine: Marion Winik & Beau (December 2009).

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wendy Zollner & Savanna

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Wendy Zollner, Purchasing Manager at Sounds True, and Savanna, a 12-year-old female German Shepherd/ Lab mix.

Does Savanna come to work with you every day at Sounds True?

Yes, every day since she was about 9 months old.

What's brewing?

Celestial Seasonings Green Tea….

Any treats for you or Savanna on this interview break?

No treats for this old girl.

How were you and Savanna united?

It was fate: while “shopping” for dogs with my friend for my friend at the LifeLine Puppy Rescue, I fell in love with the puppy who was just watching me the whole time. My friend actually ended up getting me the dog and she didn’t get one at all that day. Later that year Savanna developed painful issues with her knees and hips. As luck would have it my cousin just happened to be a vet surgeon specializing in these exact issues. He performed the surgery for free and as a thank you gift I got him a top of the line GPS unit from REI (back in 2002 that was high tech). That winter he later thanked me for saving his life: he had gone to Alaska and they got lost in the mountains and were way off course ... even the rescue helicopters couldn’t find them. He said without that GPS unit they would not have found their way out! I got goose bumps when I read his story; he saved Savanna’s life and Savanna saved his. I think that day I thought I picked out a puppy, she actually picked me out.

How did Savanna get her name?

The first week I had her I went on a camping trip and lots of names were offered up while sitting around the campfire; her name was influenced by a guy from Georgia and Savanna is the name that stuck (Savanna without the “h” at the end).

Any aliases?

Lots of aliases: Vanna, Savanna Bananna, Savanna Montana, Sav.

Does Savanna have a favorite toy, ball, or stick?

No, she is just not like a normal dog. She doesn’t play fetch, or chase things; she just likes to go outside and eat grass. Oh, the one thing she will carry around with her constantly is her food bowl. And she will get in any body of water that she can find.

Who is Savanna's best pet-pal at Sounds True?

Probably Fife, who is the only one older than her at the age of 14. Fife is a little black Schipperke with a ton of personality.

Does Savanna have a favorite place to go for outings?

Anywhere I go, she goes. Daily walks in the park...

What is Savanna's best quality?

She is so smart. I taught her to deliver paper (like the mail or pick up the newspaper from the driveway), and she figured out she got treats for paper. Now she takes paper out of the recycle bin and expects treats in exchange.

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

More walks.

If Savanna could answer only one question in English, what would you ask her?

What are you thinking about?

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Savanna could speak, who should voice her?

Whoopi Goldberg.

Learn about other dogs at Sounds True: Andrew Pike & Miles and Kasmah McDermott & Scruffy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 17, 2013

Reavis Z. Wortham & Willie

Who is in the photo at right?

Though we both have large mustaches, but mine is completely gray. That’s me, Reavis Z. Wortham, and Willie.

Does Willie come to work with you every day?

The commute to my home office is only six seconds, so that puts him right beside me almost all the time. Each morning we follow the same routine. For the first hour, I work on my laptop in bed, while he continues to snooze on the chair in our room. We have breakfast next, and he flops down beside the table until I’m finished, to get his portion of whatever I have left.

From there it’s time to work. I put him in the rocking chair beside my desk. He’s afraid to jump into it, because it rocks of course. Once he’s there, Willie dozes and looks out the window until lunch. After we eat, it’s back to my office. He sleeps until around three or four, when the days’ writing is done.

What's brewing?

Medium roast, but the brand varies almost every day. We have a Keurig, and pods are mixed in a large fish bowl in the cabinet. It’s reach in and brew.

Any treats for you or Willie on this interview break?

He’s a simple little guy, with simple tastes. He enjoys a good Milk Bone biscuit, and I like a fruit snack.

How were you and Willie united?

A friend found him lost in their neighborhood during a severe thunderstorm. She took him in, and posted his photo for weeks throughout the area. No one answered, and a month later, my wife talked me into going by to see him. I had no intention of adopting the little Shitzu, but he had other ideas. In a raucous house full of dogs, children, and adults, he jumped on the couch, gently tapped me on the leg with his paw, and then crawled into the lap of the only person who didn’t want a dog at the time…me.

Willie had been abused by his owners. He had internal injuries, a damaged eye, is missing a front tooth, and hid at any loud noise or sudden movement. They must have used a broom or other similar object on him. For months, every time he saw something that reminded him of his former owners, he hid under the kitchen table. With the help of our vet, we tended the little fellow until he was healthy and put a little weight onto his skinny frame. He’s chipped now, and he’ll never have to worry about anything like that again.

How did Willie get his name? Any aliases?

Since he’s rescued, Willie is an alias. We named him after one of my oldest and best friends, because for some reason, we always name our animals after a group of guys I’ve known for over thirty years called The Hunting Club. I admit it’s odd and sometimes confusing in conversation when they’re around. For example, last month I wrote a newspaper column about the confusion between Willie the dog and his namesake, Wrong Willie Williams, because Willie kept getting under my feet as Wrong Willie and I were loading gear for a fishing trip, and I told Willie he couldn’t go out the front door and Willie asked me why, because the truck was parked out there and it was time to leave, but I explained that I didn’t want Willie to run out into the yard because there was another dog out there, but Willie said he wasn’t afraid of strange dogs and I told him no, Wrong Willie, that I was talking to the dog under our feet. See?

Does Willie have a favorite toy, ball, or stick?

He has a stuffed monkey that he ignores during the day. But when he gets excited, and that’s usually when my wife comes home from work, he attacks the monkey, shakes it, growls, and chews at it until he can’t stand it anymore, and then he rushes to the newcomer and flops onto his back for a belly rub. Aggressive-passive?

Who is Willie's best pal?

Me. I think he’s a little curmudgeon, and prefers to be an Observer of Life most of the time. He apparently never learned to play with other dogs, and simply watches them. My youngest daughter just graduated from college and is living with us until her new job as a kindergarten teacher begins in August. She adopted a six-month-old rescue dog named Maggie, who is a red, medium size mix. Willie prefers to only co-exist. He does not wish to be bothered by puppy antics.

Does Willie have a favorite place to go for outings?

Define outing. When I let him out the front door, his favorite place to go is (1) a clump of grass beside the flower bed, where he marks his territory, and (2) the brick mailbox, where he reads the local “dog newspaper.” He loves to ride in my Dodge Dually pickup and can tell when we’re taking the fifth-wheel trailer out for a weekend camping trip. He’s ready long before we are.

What is Willie's best quality?

He is the coolest, most laid-back little dog I’ve ever seen. We’re buddies. Oh, and he seldom barks, too. Perfect.

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

That I would feed him from the table.

If Willie could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?

For the address of those people who abused him.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Willie could speak, who should voice him?

Sam Elliot, or Bobcat Goldthwait.

Visit Reavis Z. Wortham's website and blog, and learn more about his new Red River mystery, The Right Side of Wrong.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 14, 2013

Kasmah McDermott & Scruffy

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Kasmah McDermott, and Scruffy McScruffs McDermott. I am an Executive Assistant at Sounds True. Scruffy is a male Jack Russell Terrier Mix, 1-1/2 years old.

Does Scruffy come to work with you every day at Sounds True?

Yes, he's a workaholic....actually make that a napaholic.

What's brewing?

We both love chilled water.

Any treats for you or Scruffy on this interview break?

Scruffy has some natural peanut butter dog treats; for me, an oat cranberry nut whenever bar.

How were you and Scruffy united?

A friend works at Denkai Animal Sanctuary and I saw his picture on Facebook, end of story.

How did Scruffy get his name? Any aliases?

He was named Scruffy at the Shelter and it fits.

Does Scruffy have a favorite toy, ball, or stick?

No. He does love all my kid's stuffed animals or anything he can rip apart.

Who is Scruffy's best pet-pal at Sounds True?

His best play buddy is Rufus but he also likes to hang with Xena and Layla, his girlfriends.

Does Scruffy have a favorite place to go for outings?

He wants to go everywhere, each place is a big fun adventure.

What is Scruffy's best quality?

He's very tolerant and loving to people and dogs.

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

He would want me to let him sleep on the bed.

If your dog could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?

It would be a two part question....I would ask Scruffy what his life was before he joined our family and if he likes his life now.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Scruffy could speak, who should voice him?

Theodore "The Beaver" Cleaver (portrayed by Jerry Mathers).

Read about another Sounds True duo, Andrew Pike & Miles.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Jessica Anya Blau & Pippa

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Jessica Anya Blau. I write books, I have kids, I take care of Pippa who is neurotic and often deluded and needs someone to look over her. She's an eleven-year-old toy poodle. She thinks she's a badass, punk-rock, private school girl rather than a dog. She wants to be dressed in kicky little plaid skirts and have her philtrum pierced, but I won't allow any of that.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We are celebrating the release of my new book The Wonder Bread Summer. Pippa thinks she wrote it even though she types like she has bandages on her hands and casts on her arms. She doesn't understand her disabilities and imagines herself as much more capable than she is.

What's brewing?

I'm having espresso. Pippa is having a half-caf, half-decaf, quadruple shot, one-third almond milk, one-third soy milk, one third-cream, no foam, loads of whip cream vanilla latte.

Any treats for you or Pippa on this occasion?

We both love Madeleines. She likes to dip hers in her half-caf (half decaf, blah blah blah), and I like to eat mine before I drink my tea.

How did Pippa get her name? Any nicknames?

She was named after a waitress we had at the IHOP. Her name tag said, Philippa. And I said, "Do people call you Pippa?" And she said, "Of course." I liked that waitress. I like the IHOP. Pippa likes the IHOP, too.

How were you and Pippa united?

My brother-in-law, Ira, hid her in a brown grocery bag. She was about the size of my fist. He called me downstairs and said, "Get that thing out of that bag." I opened the bag and there she was. It was love at first sight. She was silent for about a week.

Does Pippa do more to help or hinder your writing?

Pippa helps me write. She sits quietly beside me in her bed, daydreaming of living in London when the Sex Pistols were around. She lets me know when the mailman or UPS man is within two blocks. She stands up if anyone is about to come into the room. Her focus (on her daydreams) helps keep me focused.

A few dogs (including Fritz and Growlie) pop up in The Wonder Bread Summer. Are any of them modeled on Pippa?

No, none of them are really like Pippa. Pippa is all puffed-up self-delusion and neuroses. She's growing more and more afraid of the stairs because she thinks there are mean dogs hiding in the stairwell walls who will bust through the plaster and attack her as she trots down the stairs. She lost an eye to a nasty, bullying German Shepard Rotweiler mix and has never trusted anything with a square head since.

Who are Pippa's best pet-pals?

Because she doesn't realize she's a dog, she has very few dog pals. She does have a lover, though. His name is George and he is a sweat-sock-smelling hound dog, a gassy thing, who lives with us a couple weeks a year when his humans are on holiday.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick…?

She likes pink toys and squeaky toys. But she doesn't like toys that are both pink and squeaky. She takes the toys to bed with her and then she kills them. It sounds odd and vicious, but she's a lovely sweet thing in spite of her murderous instincts. She killed a rat in the backyard once, and she was quite satisfied with herself after that kill. She wanted me to take the rat to a taxidermist and have it made into a wall piece that would hang above her bed, but I refused. Then she tried to talk me into just cutting off the paws that she would string into a collar around her neck. I refused again. She has no sense of herself as a fluffy, white, ribboned thing. It's like she's never looked in a mirror.

Cat, postman, squirrel…?

The neighbor's cat hangs out in the yard and Pippa allows this. I think it's because she knows the neighbor's cat will keep the rats away and after I shamed her for her bloodlust with the rat, she's relieved not to have to see that side of herself again. Squirrels are everywhere near our house and she thinks they're funny and a little dumb. I've tried to teach her that all animals have value in this world, even the really dumb ones. She just laughs at this idea. The postman brings her treats that she takes in order to make him feel like he's her friend. But she doesn't trust him at all (she suspects him of trying to poison her) and so she hides the bones behind the couch cushions.

What is Pippa's best quality?

Her ability to hold her bladder until I am ready to get out of bed (which on the weekend can be pretty darn late--like, eleven!).

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

I would eat with my plate on the floor instead of on the table where she can't reach it. And I wouldn't eat anything unless her fuzzy, matted face was right beside mine, eating off the same plate.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Pippa could speak, which actor should do her voice?

Victoria Jackson. In the Saturday Night Live days.

If Pippa could answer only one question in English, what would you ask her?

Would it be possible for you to one day just order a cup of plain black coffee? Can't you make it easier on the baristas of the world?

Visit Jessica Anya Blau's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 10, 2013

Andrew Pike & Miles

Who is in the photo at right?

The photo at the right is me, Andrew Pike, and my dog Miles at his first puppy class graduation. I work at Sounds True in customer service as well as an audio engineer in the studio, and am a musician part time. Miles is a black lab and is 5 months old.

Does Miles come to work with you every day at Sounds True?

Almost everyday-- my fiancée and I live together, and we have different schedules. So on days that she has off during the week, they spend time together. Every other day he is with me in the office.

What's brewing?

Black coffee-- what ever is free! I’m a simple man. And Dutch.

Any treats for you or Miles on this interview break?

No, he is currently on time out. He seems to have an issue with housetraining, and he only pees indoors at the office, which is embarrassing to say the least ... but hey he is only 5 months old. We are working on it.

How were you and Miles united?

My fiancée Jacqueline and I have wanted a dog together since we first met; we finally found a dog friendly apartment, and this little guy we got from the Mile High Lab Mission. He was the last of the litter of four.

How did Miles get his name? Any aliases?

He is named after Miles Davis. He doesn’t have any official aliases, but he gets called little buddy and lil homie often!

Does Miles have a favorite toy, ball, or stick?

He loves sticks: bully sticks can keep him busy for hours, but he has the same passion for regular of-the-earth sticks and branches.

Who is Miles's best pet-pal at Sounds True?

He spends all day in my office with a yellow lab named Ula, and his favorite play pal is a labradoodle named Madison. We usually schedule play dates once a day in the back yard, and they go nuts; it’s a great way to calm them down and get work done.

Does Miles have a favorite place to go for outings?

As long as there are sticks, people and dogs, he will have a blast anywhere. I love taking him to City Park in Denver on the weekends.

What is Miles's best quality?

He is the happiest, most fun loving dog I have ever met. And other than a few potty training accidents he has been one of the most well behaved puppies I have ever seen! I like to think he gets his happy go lucky nature from me.

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

I am sure he wishes I won the lottery and never had to work again, so we could spend all our time at the park or up in the mountains!

If Miles could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?

This is like using your wish from a genie for a million wishes, I have so many things to ask. I would just want to chat about how his life is, and how we can understand each other even better. If he was a human, he would be a guy I would love to have a beer with and talk.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Miles could speak, who should voice him?

Samuel L. Jackson.

In a recent interview, Tami Simon, publisher and CEO of the multimedia publishing company Sounds True, talked about the dog-friendly environment at the company: "You probably wouldn't want to work at the company if you didn't like animals, because there's quite a lot of free-floating dog hair.... I often say that the dogs humanize the workplace and that is what it feels like, because people stop and say, 'Oh, my God'... they immediately move into this place of petting an animal and connecting and not being in such a rush. [I]t's a way to create that... punctuation in our day. And suddenly an adorable animal is the one that's interrupting this sense of 'I have all these really important things to do and I don't have time for that.'"

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 7, 2013

Kathryn Hunter & Junior

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Kathryn Hunter: I own/run a letterpress printing shop where we design, print and make letterpress stationery, wedding invitations, and other paper ephemera called Blackbird Letterpress.

This is Junior, he is what we like to call a dober-mutt, he's about 5 1/2 years old. We have another dog, Jack, but this outing was just with Junior.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We went for a walk to the park (which is the beautiful Live Oak tree area of a nearby High School) because Junior reminds me he doesn't get enough.

And we are celebrating the release of The Mapmaker's War by Ronlyn Domingue. We are super excited because I created the 18 linocut illustrations inside the book!

What's brewing?

Today it's a double espresso with 1/2 & 1/2 made at home on an old espresso machine. The beans come from a local coffee shop that roasts their own beans.

Any treats for you or Junior on this occasion?

He does like a milkbone, so he probably got two.

How did Junior get his name? Any nicknames?

This dog "fell" into us, and so we named him Junior, loosely named after the baby in Raising Arizona.

Nicknames: Boo, dog, Sasquatch (his feet are huge!), stompy (he likes to stomp around).

How were you and Junior united?

One day in February 2008, my husband David came inside the studio and said "who put the puppy in the dog yard?" (We have a large fenced-in yard at the studio where the dogs stay during the day-and we had 2 dogs already in the yard that day).

I replied, "huh?"

Sure enough, there was a 6-month-old, mangey, starving puppy in the dog yard, scared to death. Now keep in mind that the other dogs were good guard dogs and they would have never let someone open their gate. So we think he was thrown over the 6 ft fence! He was so sweet and we decided to clean him up, get him fed and back to good health and neutered and then we would find him a home. He had to be dipped for the mange for 8 weeks. The day after he was neutered he was riding in David's truck with his head out the window and the truck hit a bump and he fell out. He wasn't badly hurt but he knew the kind of act he should play, and it played right into my hands. Junior went home with us for good that day.

You did the original linocut illustrations for Ronlyn Domingue's new novel, The Mapmaker's War.  You're a dog person, and I understand she's a cat person--how did that work out?

Ronlyn took a relief printing class I taught several years back. I know she was working on the book then and wanted linocut illustrations inside. We connect on the love of that type of image.

She is so sweet to the dogs here at the studio and her love of animals shines through, what ever kind of animal it might be. With that said, any person sweet to my big dogs is a friend of mine.

Where does Junior most like to visit on an outing?

Junior loves to go down to the Louisiana coast/marsh and ride on the boat barking at buoys.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?


Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Squeaky toy.

What is Junior's best quality?


If Junior could change one thing about the good folks of Baton Rouge, what would it be?

He'd ask the people to quit harassing them. Our neighbor kids like to make them a bit crazy.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Junior could speak, which actor should do his voice?

The voice for Junior would be Ed Helms.

If Junior could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?

What is the key to happiness? (He's always happy).

Visit the Blackbird Letterpress website, and view much more of Kathryn Hunter's work.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

"Gypsy Boho" & Xi Shi Quan and Cha Bu Khan

Who is in the photo at right?

I am a 65 year old retired Mental Health Counselor. I am enjoying travel and camping in my RV with my pets. I named my RV "The Gypsy Boho Freedom Express" and go by the name Gypsy Boho on social media.

I have 2 female Shih Tzus (Xi Shi Quan and Cha Bu Khan) and 3 female cats that travel with me. The dogs are 4 and 3 years old and the cats are 5 years old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I have coffee in bed when traveling in the RV and the pets are right beside me. When I'm at home I have coffee on the back porch while the doggies play in the back yard.

What's brewing?

I drink Maxwell House International Café - French Vanilla - sugar free decaffeinated. I have a large mug of coffee every morning. I drink half while on the porch and the rest with my breakfast later.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

My dogs get a treat in the afternoon only. Usually a Dental Stix to chew on for their teeth or a treat for hip and joints.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

I named Xi Shi Quan after the most beautiful woman in ancient China. Cha Bu Khan is named after the Empress of Kublai Khan.

How were you and your dogs united?

I searched online for a local breeder and found a website with photos of the breeding dogs. Xi Shi (aka Sky French) [photo right] was one of them and I asked if the breeder would consider selling her to me. She agreed and I brought her home. Two years later I wanted another dog as a companion for Xi Shi and went back to that same website and saw a photo of Cha Bu (aka Becca) and knew I had to have her. I asked if they would consider selling her to me and they said no. A year later I tried again and this time they said yes. They are not related but do look like sisters. While they were with this breeder - Xi Shi had only one litter of puppies and Cha Bu had two. They are now fixed and live a life of leisure.

Squirrel, postman, cat....alligator?

Xi Shi Quan loves to visit the neighbors who also have dogs but she prefers the humans. When someone comes to our door they have to pet the dogs before they can sit or say a word. My dogs love people, especially small children.

Cha Bu [photo left] loves to chase my 3 cats around the house. She just wants to play with them but they don't know that.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

My Tzus love squeaky toys.

What is each dog's best quality?

Xi Shi Quan's best quality is her ability to understand commands and do what I ask her to do. She learns quickly and is a very disciplined dog.

Cha Bu Khan's best quality is her ability to show love not only by giving little wet kisses but with her eyes. I believe she will remain a perpetual puppy always - young and silly.

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

My dogs would change the rules that do not allow dogs on beaches and lakes at parks. They would probably also want to be able to enter stores and restaurants. After all, they think they are human.

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

Xi Shi Quan reminds me of a ditsy blonde much like Marilyn Monroe, oblivious to what's going on around her and marching to a different drummer.

Ch Bu Khan reminds me of a young Goldie Hawn, innocent, sweet and funny.

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

To Xi Shi Quan I would ask, "Do you love me?"

To Cha Bu Khan I would ask, "Are you happy?"

Visit "The Gypsy Boho Freedom Express" blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 3, 2013

Natalia Sylvester & Maggie and Pita

Who is in the photo at right?

These are my two rescue dogs, Maggie and Pita. Maggie is a Boston terrier and Pita is a Chihuahua/Italian Greyhound mix--at least that's what they told us at the shelter, though we people often tell us she looks like all sorts of breeds. No matter--she's sweet Pita to us!

I'm Natalia Sylvester, author of Chasing the Sun, which is my first novel and will be published in Spring 2014. I'm also a full-time freelance copywriter/journalist, and I blog at

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I admit I'm not much of a coffee drinker---tea is my drink of choice! On this afternoon, Maggie, Pita, my husband and I went to one of our favorite tea spots. The pups love people-watching and the fact that the staff puts out water bowls for them; I enjoy that it's the perfect place to go for a long walk afterwards.

What's brewing?

It's starting to feel more like summer here in Texas, so I opted for a Black Peach iced tea.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Pita loves chewing on baby carrots, and Maggie likes meatier treats like jerky. These two could not be more opposite!

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Before we adopted Maggie, we were convinced we'd name her Daphne. But when we met the woman who was caring for her, she mentioned she'd been calling her Momma's Girl, and Maggie for short, and it just seemed so perfect for her. We call her all sorts of things--Maggie girl, Magster, Maggielicious, Maggie Moo, Magdalena--basically anything we can come up with! Pita also came with her name (she was an owner surrender at our local shelter). I used to joke and call her Pita bread, which sometimes becomes Pita breath. But my favorite alias is Senorita Pita.

How were you and your dogs united?

Maggie was an owner surrender; she'd been left with a dog trainer whose client could no longer care for her, and when we found out about her we knew we wanted to give her a home. That was about 5 years ago. For a while our little family was just us three, but last year we decided it was time for Maggie to have a companion of her own. We went to the Austin animal shelter and adopted Pita on $5 Friday. I still remember the look she gave us through the glass, the way her tiny head turned over her shoulder as we walked by. That's all it took---we knew she was our Pita.

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

My dogs remind me that I can't sit in front of a desk all day and expect to feel inspired. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten stuck on a scene or a plot point that isn't coming together, only to have Maggie and Pita remind me it's time for their walk. Getting fresh air, feeling the breeze against my skin, and just slowing things down to let them sniff around gives me new perspective on my work every time. I've had many, many writing epiphanies while spending time with my girls. I truthfully can't think of a way that they hinder my writing. Even having Pita randomly bark at strangers that walk by makes me smile and feel less alone.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

Squirrel?! Where?! Wait, what was the question?

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

They love their ball. We learned very early on that stuffed toys wouldn't work...Maggie could set the world-record for time it takes to destuff even the toughest toys.

What is each dog's best quality?

I love that Maggie is all about attitude. She has such an expressive face and so much personality, and she has a soothing energy about her. Because she's usually so laid back, seeing her getting truly excited about something is a huge treat, and it makes my day every time. Pita is all sugar...she wants nothing more than to cuddle up next to us, and to play. She's the one who wakes up every day as if it's the best day ever--I love starting my days with such a great outlook. She fills our home with joy.

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

The heat! Come summer, they get so excited for their walks and then immediately regret the decision as soon as their poor paws step outside.

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

I always imagine them as Pinky and the Brain, because Pita is so eager to follow Maggie along in everything she does. Maggie would definitely be the mastermind in their squirrel-hunting and treat-stealing schemes.

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

The only question I care about when it comes to them: Are you happy?

Visit Natalia Sylvester's website and learn more about her forthcoming novel, Chasing the Sun.

--Marshal Zeringue