Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Joyce Miller & Sammy and PG

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Joyce Miller. I'm a mechanical designer--I design experiments at a nuclear physics laboratory, Jefferson Lab, in Newport News, VA. In my spare time I volunteer for a greyhound adoption group, James River Greyhounds; I teach a therapy dog training class through Jefferson Lab's employee activity group; I paint; and I just started tap dancing when I turned 50 years old. I love to take my two greyhounds, shown in this photo of us at a tea party, on walks and I write a blog called Pawstcards from Hampton Roads. Sammy is a 5 year old male, white with brindle spots--which the greyhound people call "parti-colored." PG is a 5 year old brindle female.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We are stopping for a drink on our way to take one of our walks. Sometimes we walk by ourselves and sometimes we walk with a big group of adopted greyhounds called the Around Town Hounds.

What's brewing?

I absolutely love coffee--but my doctor doesn't allow me to drink it any more. So I drink herbal tea now. Usually honey chamomile.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

My dogs get non-stop treats.

How were you and your dogs united?

I adopted my greyhounds through James River Greyhounds in Richmond, VA. Sammy was what they call an "oops" puppy. When the greyhound breeders don't witness the actual breeding of their greyhounds--the dogs can't be registered to race. So Sammy's whole litter was available for adoption as soon as they were born. I've had him since he was 6 months old. PG raced a few times at a Jacksonville, FL track and was a loser on the racetrack so I adopted her when she was not quite 2 years old. She's a winner now, though! Spends most of her days laying on my couch!

How did Sammy and PG get their names? Any aliases?

Sammy was named Sammy when I got him. I embellished his name to be Sammy Davis Jr. for several reasons. One is that I love tap dancing! And the other reason is because Sammy and I do a dog sport called Canine Freestyle or dog dancing. We do the dog dancing as part of our therapy work. Sammy has danced at schools, libraries and for a winter party for some refugees who didn't speak English but could appreciate music and dogs. Sammy just had to be named after a great dancer!

PG's racing name was PG Hairspray. I just kept the PG part because I couldn't think of anything to go with Hairspray. All of her littermates were named after PG movies--PG Top Gun, PG Footloose. It can also stand for pretty girl!

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Definitely cat! When greyhounds are adopted out--they are tested around cats to determine whether or not they can live in a home with cats. Both of my hounds flunked that test! We have a cat in our neighborhood that I call Death Wish Cat because he always wants to come up to the dogs when I'm walking them. It makes me crazy because the dogs go nuts around him!

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Has to be squeaky-toy for the greyhounds. The objective, of course, is to get the squeaky out of the toy! Greyhounds don't get any toys in the racing kennels--so when they move to a home they love having stuffies and toys.

Your blog is a wonderful resource for learning about pet-friendly destinations in and around Hampton Roads, Virginia. Do the dog's have a favorite locale for outings?

The dogs love all the walks that we go on but I suppose their favorites are the beach walks. I think the sand reminds them of sand at the race track--and they want to take off running as soon as they hit the sand. Grandview Beach in Hampton is a nature preserve so there are lots of smelly things on the beach for them--and they love that--the smellier, the better.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Sammy loves all of the greyhounds in our adoption group. One of his littermates from the "oops" litter, Jack, is in our adoption group and we see him at various adoption events.

And PG is Sammy's sidekick. I call her the Tonto to his Lone Ranger, the Robin to his Batman, the Rosie to his Sophia Grace!

What is each dog's best quality?

Sammy never read the book that says that greyhounds don't bark. He barks all the time--and it sometimes it seems to be for no reason at all. He just wants to make a joyful noise. It gives him so much personality--seems like he's talking to me sometimes. I think it would drive a lot of people crazy--but it's endearing to me.

And PG rarely barks--but when she does, she screams like a banshee. Their best qualities are giving me unconditional love.

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

If they could change one thing about Virginians--they would make them more welcoming of dogs in all establishments--like it is in France. We'd love to be able to go to a nice cafe after each dog walk we go on.

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

I would save this question for when they're sick--and ask them what's wrong. That is the time I most wish they could speak English.

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

Sammy would definitely be voiced by Paul Reubens, aka Pee Wee Herman! PG is very quiet and laid back--so she's tougher to cast. Maybe Zooey Deschanel.

Visit the Pawstcards from Hampton Roads blog.

--Marshal Zeringue


  1. The whole interview made me smile, except when I had catch a breath from your answer to the "...only one question in English...". Joyce's answer proves what great owner she is and how lucky her pups are!

  2. Sammy and PG, you are my kind of hounds! I am labeled a "registered cat offender" at my new vet's office because I went after a kitty at my old vet's office even when I was drowsy from anesthesia. We might have to get together and share our kitty chasing experiences if my mommy and daddy ever visit Virginia... or if you visit South Dakota.

    Woofs from Gage

    1. Maybe we can do a "pawstcard" from South Dakota some day!