Friday, August 30, 2013

Ruby Harnden & ZuZu

Who is in the photo at right?

This is ZuZu, a 5 year old Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mix. She was 10 months old when we adopted her and is currently an only dog among two feisty cats that still don't really care for her.

Then there’s me, Ruby Harnden. When I'm not working as a 911 dispatcher I am a writer/photographer for two blogs; my main blog is Me, You and Zu that focuses on the adventures (or more often chaos) involving my pets while the other, 168 Hours of Motion, portrays my love of photography.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Sundays are dog park day and we usually stop at Starbucks for an after-play drink however we took today as an opportunity to try a small local place called Jamoka Joe's that sits at the entrance of the Big Thompson Canyon.

What's brewing?

I splurged and ordered a caramel Fro-Moka, a frozen espresso drink.

Any treats for you or ZuZu on this occasion?

Nothing ordered from the coffee shop but we keep peanut butter treats in the car and she had a few licks of whip cream.

How did ZuZu get her name? Any nicknames?

She is named for the youngest daughter, Zuzu, in It’s A Wonderful Life. My Zu’s middle name is Bailey as well.

She has several nicknames, Zu, Zu-zaroo, Boo, Buppy and Dog, that are used all the time and others that are made up as we go.

How were you and ZuZu united?

When my husband and I first decided to get a dog we knew it would be a shelter dog. We came across her picture the day she arrived at the Boulder Humane Society. I met her first and instantly fell in love, put a 24-hr hold on her and dragged my husband back the minute he got off work. She was adopted within 10 minutes. I always say it was fate because as we were leaving we found out a couple had asked to put a hold on her as soon as ours was done.

Who are ZuZu's best pet-pals?

Definitely not our cats! She’s very social so she befriends all dogs. She does have a dog boyfriend, Kodiak, who belongs to a friend of mine.

Where is ZuZu's favorite outdoor destination?

Everywhere! No matter the season she loves being outdoors, especially if it’s snowing or if there’s water where she can play.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

If a toy has a squeaker inside it’s her favorite. She will rip it apart until she finds it! There are many mangled toys scattered around our house.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Squirrel all the way! She could care less about the people who deliver mail & packages.

Occasionally she’ll try to chase the neighborhood cats. She gets beat up by our cats all the time so I think this is her revenge.

What is ZuZu's best quality?

Her loving personality. She is one of the friendliest, happiest dogs you’ll ever meet.

If ZuZu could change one thing about Coloradoans, what would it be?

That she and other dogs would be allowed in more businesses and restaurants. Or that everyone carried treats in their pocket!

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

Karen Gillan, the actress who played Amy Pond on Doctor Who. I could definitely see ZuZu with a Scottish accent.

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

Why do you eat Kleenex?

Visit Ruby Harnden's blogs, Me, You and Zu and 168 Hours of Motion.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mike & Phoenix

Who is in the photo at right?

Hi, I’m Mike! I’ve worked for Washoe County in Reno, Nevada for the past 25 years! That’s right-- the home stretch of 5 more to go! I’ve written as a hobby since the 8th grade and I began to share those stories to a small email group over the years. That group expanded and all readers insisted I write a book. While I haven’t achieved that dream yet I did start a blog last Fall that has been an amazing experience for me. I’ve found that there are millions of amazing, creative writers on this Earth we live on. I’m merely a speck in the sparkling sand of a hopeful beach. In my arms is Phoenix 10 years ago as he started us on a journey. His soft paw on my heart saying to all of you regarding me, “He has no idea what I have in store for him….”

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Our morning priority is always the first walk of the day on which we attempt to take a different route each time. He gets bored quickly and I would love to know how many dog owners experience the following. Phoenix loves the outbound part of the trip but at the first sign of returning to his Jeep he immediately begins several abrupt halts at not wanting the walk to end.

What's brewing?

I don’t drink caffeine so it will be a wonderful cup of Iced Venti Passion Tea Lemonade with one pump of Classic. Phoenix would be more of a Triple Venti Caramel Macchiato, 3 pumps vanilla, 130 degrees with extra foam kinda guy. He’s very high maintenance (he just kicked me under the coffee table, “liar!”).

Any treats for you or Phoenix on this occasion?

I will be enjoying bites of one of my favorite, mouthwatering pastries, an Apple Fritter. And due to Phoenix’s colitis all of his life and the natural food diet he is on. He will gladly and knowingly have a few of his dried salmon treats.

How were you and Phoenix united?

I had yearned, wished, hoped for and prayed to have a Golden Retriever all of my life. Through different life hurdles it took nearly 40 years to see that dream come to fruition. Ten years ago, a very special friend of mine had known I wanted a Golden Retriever all of my life. She just happened to be having a new litter of Golden Retriever puppies and gave me a life gift by blessing me with the first pick of the litter. I was soooo nervous about the decision that it took me 5 weeks to pick and there were six other very impatient owners-to-be who had been waiting on me. I brought that new soul home with me that first night and he looked at me, “You have no idea what I have in store for you, mister…” He changed my life forever for the better.

How did Phoenix get his name? Any aliases?

Phoenix was conceived in his mommy’s womb (her name is Sierra) within 48 hours of my previous dog’s death. When that realization came to me there could have never been a more perfect name than the mythical bird that rose up out of the ashes. He also goes by, “C’mer!”, “No!” and “Off!”

How does Phoenix influence your writing?

He’s had a very profound effect on every aspect of my life and I’ve been so blessed as he’s taken me on a magical journey with him. To sit on a soft, grassy hill overlooking the city under a glorious full moon. To go for a walk out in the rain and enjoy the blessing of our senses feeling the drops and sticking out our tongues to catch one. To be able to talk to an attractive woman when I may have otherwise been too shy to strike up a conversation. To trust more, take chances, see life as being cup half full and not half empty. To not take myself so seriously and to see the humor not only in life but especially at myself. Because this Golden Retriever wakes every morning full of everything being possible in his very positive, unconditionally loving, happy soul.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

He is completely OCD about his tennis ball and his Chuck-It Frisbee [above right]. Having me throw the ball onto the slanted roof and having it roll off as he catches it midair in his mouth is one of his favorites. But there is one thing uniquely different and that is my ratty ball cap that I wear at home. He absolutely hates it and I’ve never figured out why. Any chance he ever possibly gets he will snag it and run outside with it [photo left]. I will be in hot pursuit and a huge wrestling match will ensue on the backyard grass. He gets noisy (play) growling and barking that it brings my neighbors out to peer over the fence to watch these epic battles. They always root for him!

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Our walks are partially residential and partially wilderness and 10 years ago I began to refer to the wilderness paths as “Lions, and Tigers, and Bears, oh my!” Every time we would see a rabbit, squirrel, lizard or bird I would refer to them saying, “Phoenix, your friends!” To this day on our walks if I say anything with enthusiasm about a possible friend sighting he will go on alert. But, when gets either close or right up upon one he won’t chase but stop as if to introduce himself with his kind heart.

Does Phoenix have a favorite place to go for outings?

His first favorite place to be is sitting on his porch laying down and observing like a sentinel overlooking the kingdom that is his backyard. He will sit there any day of the year, any weather of the year including blizzards. But, his truest love is going for rides in his Jeep Cherokee.

What is Phoenix's best quality?

His loyalty and kindness. Phoenix, “Explain!” He has such a softness in his eyes that comes from an older soul of generations of wisdom. His kindness and interest in all people and children especially is magical to watch.

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

One thing I think he would change about me would be that I look like Natalie Portman as he loves and adores females. Since that won’t happen, he would change the fact that I worry too much and it prevents me from sleeping well. I have suffered from insomnia for many, many years and hence the name of my blog, Past My Curfew.

Who is Phoenix's best pet-pal?

I would love to say that a kid’s best friend is his father. But, in Phoenix’s life that would be the young 7-year-old Miss Elizabeth who lives next door. They have grown up together with Phoenix meeting her at the knothole in the fence the day she was brought home from the hospital being held in her mother’s arms. Phoenix and Elizabeth imprinted….and I do believe you can imprint on more than one person in a lifetime. He is most often at her house every Saturday night to play and sometimes has sleepovers. They greet each other at the fence daily and Phoenix has walked her to school on some days. This is the best picture I’ve ever taken to date! I’m so proud of it for the two of them!

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

“Phoenix, if you could go back 10 years in time with the hindsight you have now. Would you spend your life with me again?”

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

Phoenix is deeply sweet to all beings and can be the forever, caring soul when I need a shoulder to cry on. But he has a very caustic personality specifically with me. He offers his humor at my silly mistakes and stumbles in life as I mention him in my blog stories from time to time. So, his voice tone and demeanor at me is often that of Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) from Goodfellas. As he goes gansta on me in my face (catching my attention like I’m being scolded yet holding back laughter within himself and winking at all of you), “You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it's me, I'm a little messed up maybe, but I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown? I make you laugh, I'm here to amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?”

Visit Mike's blog, Past My Curfew.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 26, 2013

CJ Jackson & Jasmine

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is CJ Jackson, and this is my dog Jasmine. (Or if you’ve seen her on YouTube… “My Favorite Pup Jasmine”.) Jaz is a female 7 year old Havanese.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I wanted to stop by and chat with my friends.

What's brewing?

I don’t actually drink coffee. But on cold days, I like hot chocolate, and on warm days, I like strawberry lemonade.

Any treats for you or Jasmine on this occasion?

I picked out a cinnamon roll, and Jaz has her favorite liver treats.

How did Jasmine get her name? Any nicknames?

Once I knew I was getting a dog, I went through all the movies I owned, and wrote down all the girl names. Then I went through the list, and crossed them off one by one. Jasmine eventually got named after Princess Jasmine from Aladdin. Her nicknames include: Sweetie, Jaz, Jazzy, Jazmataz.

How were you and Jasmine united?

When I decided to finally get my first dog (as an adult), I researched the breeds thoroughly to find one that suited my needs. A patient at work actually told me about the Havanese breed. (Because they are hypoallergenic and good w/ kids and other animals.) That fit me perfectly because I have bad allergies! (Plus I knew my dog would always be around kids and other dogs.) So that patient gave me a referral to someone who had a Havanese that needed a home. And that’s how I got Jasmine.

Jasmine is quite the TV and YouTube--and print media--star. What gave you the idea to make her first video?

Jaz is my first dog, and I had never trained a dog before. So I read books, and took a class on how to do it using positive reinforcement. We just learned together. My only goal was just teach her how to sit/stay and go potty outside. But she picked it up so fast, I had to come up with new things to teach her. I made my first YouTube video as a way to show her tricks off to friends and family who live out of state.

People always want to know how Jasmine got famous. In 2008, a friend sent me a link to a contest she found online. Mighty Dog dog food company wanted to know if your dog was a “Mighty Dog”, and encouraged people to submit a video. I sent in Jasmine’s trick video, people voted, and she was one of the winners. Because of that, she got to be in a commercial, web video, and photo shoot for Mighty Dog. We had so much fun filming that I decided to look into getting Jasmine an animal talent agent. We auditioned, and they accepted her. So that’s how Jasmine started modeling for print media. (Which in her mind is pretty much the easiest gig ever. She just has to sit/ stay/ look, and she earns treats.)

Jaz has been on TV over 29 times now! (Which is mind-boggling to me) Not just in the USA, but also in Japan, England, and Denmark as well. Here’s a list of all her TV appearances.

She gets on TV a lot because either I find them or they find me. For example, Jasmine’s trick videos are getting really popular on YouTube. So I get contacted through YouTube a lot asking for permission for different show to use Jasmine’s videos.

I also hear about different “Top Dog” trick contests and will submit Jasmine’s videos. This is how she got to perform live on Good Morning America last year. They had a “Dog verses Dog” contest, where they asked viewers to submit trick videos. Jaz was a finalist and they flew us out to NYC to perform live at Times Square. Animal Planet also had a show last year called Who Let The Dogs Out-- which was a nationwide search for America’s most talented dog. I sent in a video, and she was a finalist there too. And they flew us out to Hollywood, CA to perform live at Universal Studios. Jasmine got 2nd place on that show. For the record, I would rather not be on TV. I would rather the camera just focus on Jasmine. But sometimes she needs a chauffeur and assistant to carry all her props. (That’s why I tag along.)

And last but not least, Jasmine is popular on YouTube because for the last 5 years, we’ve just built up a network of friends. It hasn’t come all at once. It’s come from years of building relationships with people, and networking. And being kind, friendly, and encouraging to all other trick dog trainers. To me, it’s not a competition who has the “best trick dog”. This is just a fun hobby for me. So we have lots of friends who share our videos, and follow our adventures on Jasmine’s blog.

How did Jasmine get involved with dog therapy work at the hospital?

I’ve always been taught to find a way to make a difference in the world. I got the idea because when my grandma was in the hospital, she had a therapy dog come to visit her. And it made such a difference. Just having that little dog in her room brought her such joy and happiness, and provided comfort and a much needed escape from the hospital environment. I thought about it a lot. Jasmine knows a ton of tricks, and she is so good with people. I just felt like she could be such a good therapy dog. And she has.

Her tricks bring laughter and smiles amid the children’s hospital. (I always go to the pediatric floors- because they seem to get the most out of Jasmine’s visits.) The kids absolutely adore her. They love her tricks and visits. And she loves the treats and attention, so it’s a win-win.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Jaz loves her squeaky bone. (It’s a ragged orange bone that I got her when she was a puppy.) She has other toys, but she always comes back to her squeaky bone. It even comes with us when we travel. (It’s like her teddy bear.)

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

None of the above. Jaz is really good with cats and people. We live in Arizona, so she hasn’t really seen many squirrels.

What is Jasmine's best quality?

She just loves everybody. She’s a total sweetheart. Even if people don’t like her, she still loves them. (She has taught me unconditional love.)

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

I think we have a pretty good relationship. If Jaz could talk, she would probably tell you that I should quit my job and spent more time with her. (She doesn’t quite grasp the fact that my paycheck buys her treats each month.)

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

I had to ask Jasmine’s Facebook friends this question, because I had no idea. The majority of the people said Reese Witherspoon. And I like that answer too. I think that fits.

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

I want to know how much she understands of what I say. Because I’ve read that some dogs can understand up to 2,000 words. (about the equivalent of a toddler.) However, I don’t really believe that about Jasmine. I think she understands a lot more. She’s almost too smart for her own good!

Visit Jasmine's blog, watch her on YouTube, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 23, 2013

Colin Purrington & Ling-Ling

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Colin Purrington, and I blog about photography, food, and gardening at the unimaginatively-named "". I'm sitting with Ling-Ling, a one year-old female pug. My hair isn't usually that big, for the record. The wind picked up during that shot only, but I liked how Ling-Ling was trying to drink my coffee. Her hair is always like that -- only pug I've ever seen with mohawk cowlick.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We were on the way to the barn where my daughter takes riding lessons. We stop there (Burlap and Bean, in Newtown Square, PA) regularly to pick up coffee beans (roasted in-house to perfection) and to eat fresh waffles with ice cream. Ling-Ling loves to come to the barn to play with the other dogs, but they have no interest in playing with her. She also likes to jump at the ponies, who also have no interest in her. That's a theme in her life. But we play with her.

What's brewing?

Ethiopia Harrar, straight up. I love milk, but only add it to my coffee when the coffee is bad and needs to be masked. Milking good coffee is a crime.

Any treats for you or Ling-Ling on this occasion?

Sadly, no treats for Ling-Ling or me. But I bought my daughter a bunch of cake pops, and Ling-Ling got the inevitable crumbs.

How did Ling-Ling get her name? Any nicknames?

All fawn pugs look like gyoza, those Asian dumplings with prominent folds sealing in the lard and such. And since pugs are Asian in origin we really had to name her something like Gyoza or Dumpling, although those were a bit too obvious. So we went with Ling-Ling, which has the added benefit of being a company that makes frozen gyozas (you can buy them at Target...they are actually pretty good). Sometimes we call her Cha Siu Bao (those spongy buns filled with barbecued pork that you get at dim sum restaurants). Occasionally, Loaf. All the nicknames are all mildly derogatory and make fun of her belly. We are bad people.

How were you and Ling-Ling united?

I spent a long time trying to find a female pug puppy, and eventually hooked up with Gas Hollow Pugs in the Pocono Mountains, about 3 hours north of me. Even if you aren't in the market for a pug, I think everyone should put on their bucket list, "Visit pug breeder," just so they can witness a boil of puglets tearing around. Yes, I just made up "boil of puglets" — a "herd" just doesn't do justice to the chaos. They just don't corner well, among other issues. Among a lot of other issues, in fact. Anyway, that's how we were united. She didn't immediately like me, and spent the whole drive home avoiding direct eye contact. Their eyes bug out in an alarming way and thus they have peripheral vision to rival that of stalk-eyed flies (there are such things, and they are truly freaky, trust me), so when they look at you askance it's really quite the look.

You taught evolutionary biology at Swarthmore College for 15 years. What's an insight into that subject that relates to dogs?

One feature of pugs is that they have tightly curled tails. So curled that they collect leaves and other detritus (personal observation) when they are outside. We put toys in the tail to see how long it takes her to extract them (again, we are bad people). Why so curled? Surely partly it's because the breed standard includes curly tails, so breeders don't breed the straight-tailed mutants. But the ultimate reason, perhaps, is that past artificial selection for intense friendliness caused the inadvertent curling. Here's why: if you take a population of wolves and continually breed only the friendliest, after a few generations you'll notice that the tails get curlier. There's just something about the alleles that cause friendliness that also make tails curl. And this is not just true of wolves — silver foxes got curly tails when domesticated. So pugs are astonishingly friendly. You could lop off a pug's legs and it would still want to be your best friend (don't try this, though; that's just my guess). Thus it's possible that the friendliness and the tail curl are related. They also lack a proper snout, and it's thought that an adult pug is actually just a dog that never fully matured ... it still has the short snout that baby dogs have when they need to nurse. All domesticated dogs are puppies to some degree...I just think pugs are the extreme example of that type of artificial selection.

Who are Ling-Ling's best pet-pals?

She doesn't really have a pal in town, unfortunately. We've been looking, but most other dogs want to eat her.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Without a doubt her favorite toy is a stuffing-free raccoon that we call, Coon. Coon drags on the ground when she runs with him, and sometimes she trips on him during a full gallop. And she knows him by name, so we can say "Where's Coon?" or "Get Coon!!!!" and she'll snap to attention and go find him. Usually. We are actually now on Coon II, since Coon I went missing. Ling-Ling loves to chew on Coon after dinner and to play fetch with him. She sometimes tries to take Coon on walkies. Coon, luckily, is washable.

What is Ling-Ling's best quality?

I'd have to say her best quality is that she uses a litter box, just like our cats do. It's beyond great to know that if I'm running late getting home, she's fine. Actually, she's better at using a litter box than one of our cats, who shall go unnamed just in case she's reading this.

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

She'd want me to lose my hearing so that her snoring wasn't so much of a problem. It's a problem. It's hard to explain how such a small package can make such a loud noise. I have deep respect for pug breeders. They probably sleep with noise-cancelling headphones.

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

Well, she'd have to be young, perky, like food, and have a Chinese accent (much better than a Pennsylvania accent). I don't know that many actresses, so perhaps Ching-He Huang could be conned into doing it. She has a gig on the Cooking Channel.

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

Does it feel like your eyes are about to pop out of your head? Sure looks that way. I get alarmed when she sneezes.

If you're hired as CPBR's new CEO, what do you think Ling-Ling will like most about relocating to St Simons Island, Georgia?

It doesn't look like The Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research is terribly interested in hiring me in any capacity. Maybe they'll invite me to give a guest lecture on plagiarism in the granting process. But I'd still love to see St Simons Island someday even if they don't call me.

Visit Colin Purrington's blog and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Jim Noles & Pinot

Who is in the photo at right?

On the right is me (is that even remotely grammatically correct?), Jim Noles. I’m an attorney by day with a Birmingham, Alabama, law firm and an occasional writer by night. On the left is Pinot, a year-old “pound puppy” of dubious ancestry.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We were just dropping by our local bookstore here in Mountain Brook, Church Street Coffee and Books, on a Saturday morning.

What's brewing?

Just a tall coffee – I’m never sure as to how to pronounce the other stuff.

Any treats for you or Pinot on this occasion?

No, but they do bake a mean peanut butter cookie at Church Street.

How were you and Pinot united?

We adopted her last January from the Greater Birmingham Humane Society. The first day we visited, she had two brothers in the litter with her and then, the next day, they were gone. We had to rescue her.

[photo left: Noles the Younger, 2d edition, and Pinot]

How did Pinot get her name? Any aliases?

We’ve made many a questionable decision under the influence of fermented grapes. And wine stains. Thus “Pinot.”

Does Pinot have a favorite place to go for outings?

She is always up for a ride.

Please tell us about your new book featuring Pinot.

In all modesty, it’s probably the most important piece of American literature in the last quarter century. Either that, or it’s simply a collection of off-the-cuff observations about our family’s first year with a puppy. The jury is still out.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

This is sort of embarrassing to admit in Alabama of all places, but she really hates mockingbirds.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Anything. Literally anything. Yesterday I caught her chewing on a broken Corona bottle. No joke.

Who is Pinot's best pet-pal?

Her favorite partner-in-crime is Buster, a poodle-schnauzer mix from around the corner. But she had a Jedi-Padiwan relationship with Lexi, an elderly yellow Lab down the street.

What is Pinot's best quality?

She is absolutely delighted to see us every single time we walk through the door. A wise man once said, if you are ever curious about who loves you more – your wife or your dog – then lock them both in the trunk of your car, drive around for an hour, and, when you finally open the trunk, see which one is happy to see you. That would be Pinot.

If Pinot could change one thing about Alabamians, what would it be?

She would prefer that they be made of bacon – at least those who are Auburn fans.

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

“Does your butt really taste that good?”

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

Drew Barrymore, but with a slightly inebriated Moldavian accent.

Learn about Dog Days: A Life in a Year of a Dog Named Pinot, and visit Jim Noles's website.

Writers Read: Jim Noles (May 2008).

Writers Read: Jim Noles (August 2009).

Writers Read: Jim Noles (August 2013).

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 19, 2013

Jenn Nixon & Sammy, Lucy, and Zsa Zsa

Who is in the photo at right?

Hi, I’m Jenn Nixon! I write an infertility blog called Tricky and Peep, which humorously chronicles my bumpy journey to parenthood.

In this picture, I am with my three beagles: Sammy (9) is in the cart, with Lucy (3) and Zsa Zsa (6) are by my side. We are actually getting ready to visit Bass Pro Shop: did you know they let dogs shop in their store? Hounds are a prized breed so the beagles get a lot of attention when we visit. People normally ask if they are good hunters. Ha! Only in the kitchen.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

My husband, Brad, and I were both home so we thought we would wrangle the puppies up for a trip to Dunkin Donuts. They love going to any place with a drive-thru!

What's brewing?

I love their iced coffee, two equals with less cream.

[photo left: Lucy and Zsa Zsa, placing their orders]

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Of course! The only reason the beagles love Dunkin Donuts is for the glazed Munchkins.

How did your dogs get their names? Any nicknames?

Samantha and Zsa Zsa came with their names, but Lucy was “Patti” when we adopted her which didn’t seem to fit so we changed it.

As for nicknames, Samantha has so many different ones as she has been with us the longest: Sam, Sammy, Sammy from Miami, Poops McGoops (no idea where we came up with that!). Zsa Zsa only has one, since she is our newest addition: Zsa Zee, while Lucy’s nickname is Lu Lu.

How were you and your dogs united?

Sammy was only a year old when we adopted her in 2005 from another couple who wanted to give her up, because they were expecting a second child.

We adopted both Zsa Zsa and Lucy this year from the Richmond Animal League. Our beagle, Kaitlyn, had passed away in March; we knew we would never replace her but we wanted to give another dog a good home. That’s when we met Lucy.

[photo right: Lucy and Sammy, waiting in the drive-thru]

Zsa Zsa was actually at the adoption center when Lucy was there, but we weren’t planning on having three dogs. Well, five months later we saw that she still hadn’t been adopted, so we decided to expand the pack and bring her home.

Where do your dogs most like to visit on an outing?

Anywhere! They are not picky about their adventures, especially if a treat is involved.

Are you dogs more help or hindrance to keeping up your blog?

Very helpful. They nap while I write; it works for both of us.

Do the dogs have any non-canine pet pals?

They love both of my sisters and especially my Mom, because she lets them lick the plates when we come over for dinner. My Mother-in-Law has babysat them many times; she always has treats in her purse and gives lots of kisses so they enjoy her visits.

[photo left: Zsa Zsa]

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

Lucy likes squirrels, Sammy and Zsa Zsa prefer cats.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

They have a basket full of stuffed animals they like to rummage through when it’s time to play.

What is each dog's best quality?

Lucy is the first dog I have ever had that loves to snuggle. Zsa Zsa is incredibly smart, she learns tricks easily and she can even hug! Sammy is quiet, she never says much but when she does, you know it’s important.

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

That I would have the desire to feed them more people food.

[photo right: Lucy and Sammy]

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

I don’t think anyone would be able to do it like we do! Brad and I created voices for each of the beagles -- doesn’t everyone talk for their pets?

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

What was your life like before we found each other?

Visit Jenn Nixon's Tricky and Peep blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 16, 2013

Christy & Gracie

Who is in the photo at right?

That is my husband with our dog Gracie. She is a nine year old cairn terrier; a blonde version of Toto from the Wizard of Oz! I am Christy, the creator and maker of pet beds at, and I also sell my colorful pet products on Etsy, which is a super venue for hand-crafted items.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

My husband and Gracie are having a quite morning. They rise early while I sleep in. He's reading a good book and working on a second cup of coffee.

What's brewing?

A new blend from Starbucks!

Any treats for you or Gracie on this occasion?

Gracie shared a few bites of some breakfast sausage earlier in the morning. She loves bacon too!

How did Gracie get her name? Any nicknames?

Gracie was born on Easter morning in 2004. We did not know it then, but we would soon loose the first cairn terrier to bless our household, named Tessa. In early July we received this new little pup into our home. Grace is defined as the bestowal of blessings, and as this tiny pup was certainly a new blessing to us, so we appropriately named her Gracie.

How were you and Gracie united?

We received her from the breeder, after long communication, and it's been love ever since!

Who are Gracie's best pet-pals?

Gracie's best pet pals are her four kitty companions. Two of the four were already in our household when we got Gracie. She is very good with the kitties, although I would not exactly say she loves on them! In fact if they lay too near her she gets just a wee bit nervous. She is always a perfect lady though, and would never ever growl or snap at one of her kitties.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

If it looks like a toy, squeaks like a toy, or smell likes a toy, it belongs to her! She is a good girl and never tears up any of her "babies."

And then there is the Kong toy...the precious...the red thing [photo right]. That is her obsession. We have playtime with the Kong toy every night for two hours. Cats scamper for hideouts and it's game on. Seriously. I am waiting for the Kong folks to show up at my front door with a contract.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Any and all of the above. Hey, she's all terror....uh terrier, when it comes to warning us of impending danger or chasing other small critters. Her cats are her cats, but neighborhood cats beware!

Of course if a stray cat stands its ground, the chase stops and she immediately loses interest. She would never hurt anything. I once saw her get so close to a squirrel, though, that I swear the squirrel's back feet grazed her nose as it flew across her path.

What is Gracie's best quality?

You name them, she's got them all. She is sweet, scruffy, spunky, and downright adorable! She plays hard and she sleeps hard, and truly enjoys life.

And she has this one amazing quality that I have never had in a dog. She talks. Really. She has this amazing vocal repertoire. Barks, rrr...rrr...rrr's, howls, loud yawns, and this absolutely glass shattering, piercing cry when her toy is - horror of horrors - stuck behind some piece of furniture!

If Gracie could change one thing about Texans, what would it be?

Nothing! Hey she was born in the Big D herself, so she's at least a second generation Texican dog!

And as any Texas dog knows, Texas is a whole 'nother country, and something to be proud of.

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

She can't be imitated!

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

Really, what is it with your Kong toy obsession?

Visit the website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Margaret Dilloway & Gatsby

Who is in the photo at right?

Margaret Dilloway, author of The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns and How to Be an American Housewife, with my dog, Gatsby. He's about 8.5 months old and is a Goldendoodle we adopted a few weeks ago.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I usually have my coffee with Gatsby at my feet while I work at home, but today I stopped at Starbucks with the dog for an afternoon fix.

What's brewing?

An iced decaf latte with sugarfree caramel. In the afternoons, I go decaf.

Any treats for you or Gatsby on this occasion?


How were you and Gatsby united?

Someone was adopting him out via Craigslist. His previous owner was too ill to care for such a rambunctious puppy, and the owner's friend decided my family was a good fit. I guess he'd had a pretty circumscribed life-- kept mostly in a kennel, let out only in the middle of the night to run the apartment building where he lived. He needs a lot of socialization and training-- he's still super mouthy for an older pup-- but he's a sweet dog and super smart.

How did Gatsby get his name? Any aliases?

The Great Gatsby is my all-time favorite novel. The kids came up with other names for him-- Samwise (from Lord of the Rings), Peter, Snickerdoodle. It took a Herculean diplomatic effort to get everyone to agree-- everyone was set on their names, except my husband, who just sided with me. My youngest daughter thought I was saying, "Cats pee" instead of "Gatsby," so that had turned out to be her main reason for dissenting.

You published your latest novel, The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns, before Gatsby joined the household. Is there any chance a Gatsby-inspired dog will make it into your future work?


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

It's a 50/50 shot. Right now he's just lying at my feet. He was outside barking at phantom people earlier and I had to shush him. But it's definitely nice to have the company, especially when I need a walk to clear my head; and he always likes the ideas I bounce off of him. I think.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?


Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?


Does Gatsby have a favorite place to go for outings yet?

The dog park. He was overwhelmed at first, but he loves going to play with other dogs now. And he loves riding in the car, even if we're just dropping off kids.

Who is Gatsby's best pet-pal?

He believes it is our cat, Richard Parker. Richard Parker disagrees. Gatsby thinks the cat smells divine and tries to lick him.

What is Gatsby's best quality?

His exuberant curiosity about everything.

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

He would make me understand that he needs his own chair at the dinner table, and also his own bedroom.

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

What can we do to keep you from being bored?

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

Leonardo DiCaprio, of course!

Visit Margaret Dilloway's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns.

The Page 69 Test: The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 12, 2013

Lisa L. Giesick & Bruce, Stan and Steve

Who are in these photos?

Bruce is a two year old, neutered male, Airedale. He is the youngest of my three dogs. I also share a home with Stan the Doberman who is 4 years old, and Steve the terrier mix who is 6 years old.

I'm Lisa L. Giesick, a Certified Professional Dog Trainer in Maui. [Lisa and Bruce, photo right]

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I am a dog trainer and behavior counselor, so my dogs get to go with me to a lot of places. They are very much part of my life.

What's brewing?

I enjoy Roy's Coffee, Vanilla Macadamia Nut flavor, brewed in my Keurig.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Bruce is an equal opportunity eater, however this morning he is enjoying duck snacks. Stan and Steve enjoy the duck snacks too. Steve is my pickiest eater.

How did your dogs get their names? Any nicknames?

Steve [photo left, with Lisa] got his name because to me, he looked like a Steve. His nicknames are, "Little Stevie Dog", and "Little Handsome". When he is in trouble, I call him Steven.

Stan the Doberman is a name that I gave him as his name before was Shadow. I brought Stan into my home when he was a year old. He used to live at a cat rescue sanctuary, a bad mix for him. I felt Shadow was a good cat name. I also call him, "Stanley", and "Staniel".

Bruce's family comes from Australia lines, so I felt the Bruce was appropriate. Upon later research, I learned the first Airedale that came to the United States was named Bruce. I like to roll the r, when I say his name.

How were you and your dogs united?

I adopted Steve from the Maui Humane Society. Most of my dogs have been rescues.

Stan [photo right] came to me as he was unsuited to live at the cat sanctuary.

I helped train Bruce's parents, and had part of his litter in my puppy kindergarten class.

Where do your dogs most like to visit on an outing?

They enjoy going to the Makawao Forest and the Beach. Steve pretty much like to go anywhere I am going. He is my right hand man.

Who are your dogs' best non-canine pet pals?

Steve like to hang out with our two cats, Mowgli and Winston.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Stan the Doberman is obsessed with jolly balls and other kong toys. They are the rising sun to him. Bruce and Steve like rawhide chews.

What is each dog's best quality?

Steve is an excellent trick dog. He plays dead, waves, speaks and sings.

Stan [with Steve, photo left] has an excellent recall.

Bruce can go anywhere and be well behaved. He is mellow and doesn't mind anyone or anything. Quite unflappable.

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

They don't share their food enough?

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

That is easy as we joke about this constantly.

Steve would be played by Liam Neeson, Bruce would be Ewan McGregor and Stan would be voiced by Denzel Washington.

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

Do you mind all the doggie visitors that come to the house for board and train?

Visit the Ohana Pet Training website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 9, 2013

Sharon Fiffer & Fergus

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Sharon Fiffer and I write books (and teach and edit) when I’m not on the porch with my dog. I am the author of several books, most recently the Jane Wheel mysteries published by St. Martin's / Minotaur and most, most recently, Lucky Stuff.

Fergus is terrier mix—a little Scottie, a little Cairn, a whole lot of bark. He’s a year and a half old, a rescue that we’ve had now for two months. The vet warned us to ignore his actual age and consider him an 8-week old puppy.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

My daughter and son-in-law live about six blocks away and are on a grand Amtrak journey out west, so Fergus and I decided this morning to walk over, raid their garden and sit on their comfortable porch.

What's brewing?

Even on the hottest days of summer, I have to start the morning with hot coffee or tea. I was a serious and heavy coffee drinker for years. Two years ago, cold turkey, I stopped. Just to say I could, I guess. Switched to black tea in the morning and became quite the tea connoisseur. Two months ago, read an article on coffee staving off dementia and without missing a beat, I brewed a French press and drank it all. I’m back to strong black coffee in the morning. My favorite is Peet’s Major Dickason’s Blend, but I’ll drink anything fresh and dark...

Any treats for you or Fergus on this occasion?

I picked three apples from the tree in the kids’ backyard, but ended up saving them for later.

How were you and Fergus united?

Lost our beloved Luna two years ago and, like a girl in a pop song, I vowed I would never fall in love again. My husband began lobbying for another dog and I stalled, until I saw Fergus pictured on the rescue site.

How did Fergus get his name? Any aliases?

Fergus was already named. Despite my best attempts to keep it formal, both my husband and I can be heard uttering a “Fergie” now and then.

Antiques picker and private investigator Jane Wheel, star of your mystery series, has a dog named Rita. Does Rita share any of Fergus's character traits?

Loyalty, protectiveness and love. And, he thinks he is as big as a Rita, a German Shepherd.

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

I spend valuable morning time walking him, but I think more during that walk, so that might be a help. And as you might notice from the photo [at right] taken as I am writing this back in my office, he allows me to work once I sit at my desk. I can’t blame him when I don’t get the work done. 

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Bark, barkier, barkiest.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

If it’s labeled tough and/or indestructible, he can destroy it in five minutes. So I prefer sticks as a budget option. He prefers toys that I stuff with peanut butter.

Does Fergus have a favorite place to go for outings?

Any place with a tree is a home away from home for Fergus.

Who is Fergus's best pet-pal?

I had to put him in doggy daycare one day last week and when I picked him up, they told me he played the whole time with a dog named “Jamie Oliver.” Leave it to Fergus to find a dog chef.

What is Fergus's best quality?

He’s a good listener.

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

I would be made of kibble with regenerating limbs.

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

Fiction or non-fiction?

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

Ewen McGregor? Billy Connolly? Craig Ferguson? I could listen to Scottish actors’ audition tapes all day long!

Learn more about the Jane Wheel mysteries and the author at Sharon Fiffer's website.

The Page 69 Test: Scary Stuff.

Writers Read: Sharon Fiffer (January 2011).

Writers Read: Sharon Fiffer (September 2012).

My Book, The Movie: Lucky Stuff.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Lindsay Stordahl & Ace

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Lindsay Stordahl, the blogger behind and my mutt's name is Ace. He's a 7-year-old Lab mix. Seriously, his DNA test came back as half Lab, half "mixed breed." Nice.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Ace and I have a pretty regular morning routine where we go for a short walk, and then he eats his breakfast while I have my coffee. I'm pretty crabby if my routine gets disrupted.

What's brewing?

Donut House light roast.

Any treats for you or Ace on this occasion?

Ace eats a homemade raw diet. So, needless to say, he looks forward to our morning routine. He loves to chomp down on his raw chicken quarters!

How were you and Ace united?

He was a free "hand me down" dog. I got him from a woman in a small Minnesota town who needed to find him a new home. He's been the perfect dog for me.

How did Ace get his name?

His name was Junior, but I changed it to Ace. No reason, I just like the name.

Please tell us about your blog and ebooks.

My dog blog often focuses on tips for starting a pet sitting business since I am a professional pet sitter. It also focuses on dog adoption, dog training and feeding your dog a raw diet. I've written ebooks on these topics, such as my guide to starting a successful pet sitting business and my guide to feeding your dog a raw diet.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Ace is so gentle with every person and creature he meets. He lives with two cats who like to corner him.

Does Ace have a favorite place to go for outings?

He loves when we go for off-leash hikes in any of the nearby parks or when we drive to a lake. I will often bring coffee on these hikes and let him run around.

Who is Ace's best pet-pal?

Since I own a dog running and pet sitting business, he has so many friends and "girlfriends." Too many to count!

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

My dog is a complete psycho when it comes to retrieving. He is addicted to chasing a tennis ball or anything someone throws. I've met a lot of crazy dogs, but none have come close to being as obsessed about a ball as Ace.

What is Ace's best quality?

Ace's best quality is that I can trust him around anyone. He is so gentle and loves everyone, whether you are an adult, a child, a cat, a dog, a hamster, you name it.

If Ace could change one thing about North Dakotans, what would it be?

He thinks (OK I think) more landlords and insurance companies here need to stop judging dogs by their appearances. Ace is never a targeted "breed" but it's frustrating that I can't adopt certain types of dogs because I rent.

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

What can I do to make your day better? Also, what the heck is so great about chasing a tennis ball?

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

Hopefully Morgan Freeman could be the voice of Ace!


--Marshal Zeringue