Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Binnie Klein & Griffin

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Binnie Klein, and I wear a lot of hats, although none pictured here. I’m a psychotherapist, writer, and radio host. Griffin is a 12 year old Male Havanese, a type of Bichon with origins in Havana, Cuba.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Every day explodes with tenderness lavished upon me by this dog. He stands on my chest while I’m still lying in bed, stares into my eyes (supposedly something dogs don’t do or want you to do back), I stare back, and we begin the communion.

What's brewing?

I’m making a dark roast from Starbucks, usually Sumatra, in a Mr. Coffee Machine. Insert 2 packets of “sugar in the raw” (thinking this is more natural than Domino ‘dots’), and soy creamer. Microwave 5-10 times because although Mr. Coffee sports a thermal carafe, the coffee is never hot enough.

Any treats for you or Griffin on this occasion?

Before I can even drink my own first cup of coffee, Griffin has been served his breakfast on a sturdy china plate with sections, straight out of a 1950s cafeteria. One section holds organic white meat chicken, another a high-end mixture of beef stew chunks, and last a goodly portion of Nature’s Choice kibble. All of this is gently warmed with hot tap water, and then stirred, so it’s not too mushy, with excess water drained off the side. As I place the plate on the floor, I say “here you go, my little love.” Griffin then proceeds to eat his food, section by section, beginning with what he considers the tastiest–the chicken.

How were you and Griffin united?

We met Griffin through the breeder of his half-sister (same mother) Sabine. After a year of happiness with Sabine, we contacted the breeder and asked if she had any puppies. It was October 2001. Due to the events of September 11, one male puppy was unexpectedly still available (his prospective adoptive parents lived in New York City, and decided they couldn’t handle a puppy at that time). He was 10 weeks old. We drove to the Roscoe Motel to make the pick-up (breeder lived in Horsehead, NY), Sabine in tow. They met in the motel room and didn’t kill each other, so he came home with us. Sabine passed away in February 2013.

How did Griffin get his name? Any aliases?

Griffin got his name because of Sabine’s name. Author and Illustrator Nick Bantock’s book, Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence, a mysterious romance about two people who never meet but maintain an elaborate correspondence, inspired Sabine’s naming, and Griffin’s seemed pre-destined after that.

Aliases include “Little Man,” “Pupinsky,” “Griffith,” “The Grifster,” “You’re So Cute I Could Smash You.”

Does Griffin do more to help or hinder your writing?

He helps. Nothing is more grounding when at the computer than to look over at Griffin, in his small fluffy dog bed, near my desk, curled into a ball. Stay with me, Griffin, stay with me while I try again, and make me feel I have something to say.

Does Griffin ever join you for your radio show?

Griffin wouldn’t like the studio in Bridgeport. People walk in and out, mommy would be distracted, and what if he needed to poop? (Although I often wish he was the kind of large, sedate beast who could go with me anywhere.)

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Squirrels create apoplexy in Griffin. He scratches at the window frantically. A stray leaf falling across the street also can activate him. The bobcat and the coyote, however, who occasionally wander by (I live near a farm) leave him indifferent.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

If I’m on the floor doing yoga, Griffin will get on my chest, interfering with my routine. Then he’ll bring over his small stuffed Batman toy. I’ll throw it a few times, and he’ll retrieve it, but pretty soon all he wants is for me to engage thoroughly with him. No toy needed. Just the sound of our hoarse barking.

Does Griffin have a favorite place to go for outings?

Griffin adores Lake Wintergreen, nearby site of tick colonies galore and off-leash pit-bulls.

Who is Griffin's best pet-pal?

We often take care of Elvy, a Jack Russell Terrier [photo left]. She defers to Griffin, doesn’t like the sound of toast popping up, and could take down a caribou. Elvy’s eating style differs from Griffin. She takes small, individual bites and walks around chewing, as if she were savoring a plum from a brown bag while walking in the autumn woods. They’re not overtly in love, but they have some sort of understanding. He lets her hang out in his dog bed, and she lets him lick her bowl when she’s done. There’s a message for the management of long-term relationships there.

What is Griffin's best quality?

He seems very fond of me.

If Griffin could change one thing about Connecticuters, what would it be?

He doesn’t like their formality and scratchy winter coats.

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

Do you really love me, or are you just dependent on me?

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

Eric Stoltz.

Visit Binnie Klein's WPKN webpage, and learn more about her book, Blows to the Head: How Boxing Changed My Mind.

--Marshal Zeringue

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