Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tammar Stein & Scout

Who is in the photo at right?

The human is my humble self, Tammar Stein. I'm a novelist and my fourth novel, Spoils, which Amazon named a Best Book of the Month, was released on December 10th. The dog is the incomparable Scout. She's a Black Lab mutt, adopted in Germany. Scout is a well-traveled senior citizen, over a hundred years old, in dog years. Scout is so sweet and easy going that nearly every one of our friends who's ever dog-sat for us has offered to adopt her if we couldn't take her with us on our next move. (We move a lot.)

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Scout and I like our quiet mornings. I usually start the day off with tea and switch to coffee on particularly hectic afternoons.

What's brewing?

I'm a peasant when it comes to coffee. I'm not particular, as long as there's lot of milk involved. (My husband is in charge of the fancy espresso maker and when he's brewing only Illy will do.)

Any treats for you or Scout on this occasion?

If I'm feeling fancy and there are nibbles to go along with the drink, Scout expects me to be friendly and share. I usually do.

How were you and your dog united?

My husband and I were stationed in Germany when we adopted Scout. The Germans have a dog-loving culture. Scout went everywhere with me. Restaurants, department stores, the bank, other than grocery stores where the food is out on the shelves, dogs are welcome everywhere. Strangers would stop to give her treats. Stores would offer her a bowl of water if she looked thirsty. It was a small shock when we returned after three years and couldn't even sit on a cafe patio with her (dog laws in Texas are strict!).

How did Scout get her name? Any aliases?

When we adopted her, her name was Hera. But when I called her by her given name, she never responded. I think my American accent was so different from her previous German owners that she didn't recognize her name when I called it. Since she had to get used to a new name anyway, I figured I might as well give her one that I choose.

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

Scout is very respectful of the writing process! I wouldn't let anyone else hang out with me as I mutter at the screen, pace in frustration, and crow with triumph. Scout doesn't judge. Sometimes she raises an eyebrow, sometimes she suggests a walk might clear my thoughts, and usually, she's right.

I understand Scout is bi-lingual; what's up with that?

She was already trained in German commands when we adopted her. It was funny actually, since I don't speak German, I needed my landlady to teach me the basic German commands (for example, instead of "heel" Germans say "Fuß" which means foot.) After a couple of months, my landlady said, "do you think she knows, 'platz'?" As soon as she said it, Scout laid down! Who knows what else she learned in German. Scout has picked up on the English commands over time, but when I really want her to listen, I speak to her in German.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Postman! I don't know what it is about them. Is it the uniform? The smell of mail? I've had male and female mail carriers and it doesn't make a difference. My sweet girl turns into a raving maniac, barking like mad and throwing herself at the door. Every mailman I've had since Scout has given my front door a wide berth.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Rubber chicken.

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

More meat at dinner.

If your dog could answer only one question in English--or German, what would you ask her?

Scout, want to go out?

Visit Tammar Stein's website.

--Marshal Zeringue


  1. I worked for a German lady veterinarian in 1977, and she told me how they adored dogs in Germany. How they got to go everywhere with you. I couldn't imagine. I love my babies and so many times want to take them with me.

  2. Pleased to meet you, Scout! You look like a sweet older lady... just like my late Irish sister was. The only thing I don't understand is what you've got against the postman. I am always happy to see him, because he brings lots of goodies to our house, and sometimes those are goodies for ME. I wouldn't dream of hurting him! Who would bring me the goodies then?


  3. Move to California! I bring my dogs everywhere...apart from the grocery store:) I sometimes hear professional trainers using German commands. The dogs really seem to respond!