Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Stephanie Calmenson & Harry

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Stephanie Calmenson, with my dachshund, Harry. I write children's books, including many books about dogs. Harry's the star of May I Pet Your Dog?: The How-to Guide for Kids Meeting Dogs (and Dogs Meeting Kids). Rosie, my first dog, stars in Rosie: A Visiting Dog's Story about raising, training and working with a visiting dog. In my new book, No Dogs Allowed!, written with Joanna Cole, two friends who aren't allowed to have dogs find magic dog bone necklaces and -- woofa-wow! -- they turn into dogs!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

There's a friendly new coffee shop, Pushcart Coffee, in my neighborhood that I pass every morning on my walk with Harry. I'm not much of a coffee drinker, but when the door's open I love the aroma of freshly brewed coffee that comes wafting out onto the street. As for Harry, he's got his nose to the ground hoping to snarf up snacks. Being so short, his nose is conveniently close the ground, which makes it hard for me to catch him before he grabs... Oops! He snagged some Cinnamon Spice cookie crumbs.

What's brewing?

Pushcart Coffee uses Stumptown beans, roasted in Brooklyn, New York, which pleases me since I'm Brooklyn born and raised. They also have coffee from visiting vendors, such as Brooklyn-based Toby's Estate and Brewklyn Grind. Go, Brooklyn!

Any treats for Harry on this occasion?

Pushcart sells Biscuits by Lambchop, made with human-grade ingredients. Jess, store manager and barista, tried them herself for quality control and reports that they're quite tasty. They're also quite expensive. I haven't bought any yet but Harry's got royalties coming from his book, so he's definitely earned his biscuits.

How were you and Harry united?

There once was a puppy nobody wanted. I was told his chocolate-dappled coat wasn't a desirable color for a dachshund. (Really??) He was tweenie-size, instead of mini. (Shame on you, puppy!) He was getting a little old. (Aren't we all.) And having been in a cage for three months, he was wobbly, depressed and scared. (Who wouldn't be?) I was told it would be awfully nice if someone could take him out of his cage and hold him. As I held him, I called my husband to please come take us home.

How did Harry get his name? Any nicknames?

I was so wild about our chocolate-dappled, tweenie-size, slightly-older puppy that we named Harry after the song, "I'm Just Wild About Harry!" My poor husband got to hear me singing it quite a lot. As for nicknames, we think "Handsome Harry" would fit quite well.

Will a Harry-inspired dog appear in a future book?

Absolutely! Right now I'm working on a story about Harry and his best pet-pal, Jeeter. And, in Harry's honor, there's a dachshund in Hot Diggity Dogs!, the third book in the Ready, Set, Dogs! series.

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

Harry definitely inspires. In fact, if it weren't for Harry, I never would have written May I Pet Your Dog? Harry has always loved kids, but like most dogs, he gets scared when they approach him the wrong way -- running, yelling, grabbing. In his book, he teaches kids the safe way to meet him and his friends.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Harry is a squirrel-chaser. And this summer he went wild chasing chipmunks [photo left -- Harry treeing a chipmunk] in Maine.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

A friend gave Harry a plush bone that's as big as he is and he loves it so much we got him another. He drags both bones around the house, stacks them one on top of the other and rests his head on them. If we got him six he'd probably pile up six of them.

Where does Harry most like to visit on an outing?

Any place where there are squirrels or chipmunks to chase suits Harry just fine. My husband, Mark, who was never a runner, quickly became one. Harry has short dachshund legs, but when he's in chasing mode, he's fast!

Who is Harry's best pet-pal?

Harry's best pet-pal is Jeeter, who's a white poodle. Jeeter's person is Carmen Gonzalez, a renowned chef, which pleases Harry greatly. When she's cooking, he makes it clear that he's available for tastings. Here [photo right] the boys are on a shopping spree.

What is Harry's best quality?

He's sweet and loyal and handsome and funny... Oh, you wanted one best quality?

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

I'd drop more food on the floor at mealtime.

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

Aside from dropping food on the floor, is there anything more I can do to make you happy?

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

What a great question! Robin Williams.

Visit Stephanie Calmenson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue


  1. We love Harry! My 7 year old son is so scared of dogs. He found her book, "may I pet your dog?" And instantly fell in love with Harry! Now he wants his own long-haired chocolate-dappled dachshund! Thank you Harry for inspiring our son and to help teach him how to act when dogs are around.

  2. Don't you guys look cute in that cart, ready for a shopping spree.