Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cindy Chupack & Tinkerbell

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Cindy Chupack, a TV writer/producer, author, new mother (that’s my daughter Olivia in the stroller), wife, storyteller and officially a dog person thanks to our St. Bernard, Tinkerbell (aka Tink), who is 9 years old, but she still acts like a puppy.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

This was the first trip my husband, Ian, and I took with our baby, and we wanted to bring Tinkerbell, too, so she wouldn’t feel left out (since we had Tink before we had the baby). We drove from LA to a dog-friendly hotel in the heart of Santa Barbara (our car was packed with everything you could possibly need for a baby and a dog, and, of course, also held the baby and the St. Bernard. When we went for walks in downtown Santa Barbara, it was clear from the public’s reaction that Tink was still the star, something Tink enjoyed feeling, I think.

What's brewing?

I became a coffee lover when I became a mother (no coincidence!) and my favorite coffee was an Austrian whole bean coffee that Julius Meinl, a bakery/cafe near me, used to sell; just recently the bakery/cafe started selling something else and I am having withdrawals! It was the most delicious coffee (I drink mine hot with two percent milk and Splenda) and every other coffee pales in comparison, so I’m open to suggestions!

In Santa Barbara, I think we just got a big pot of coffee through room service because we still weren’t capable of juggling a stroller, a dog and coffee.

Any treats for you or Tink on this occasion?

The treat was that Tink got to sleep on top of the big four-poster bed with us and the baby. It was our first “family trip" and Tink was very much a part of it.

How did Tink get her name? Any nicknames?

Ian named her Tinkerbell ironically, since she was so not tiny...

How were you and Tink united?

I have a chapter in my new book, The Longest Date: Life as a Wife, about how we got her, and the chapter was excerpted in Ladies' Home Journal this month, so you can read the whole story online; but basically Robin of Batman and Robin (the TV show) brought her into our life. She was a rescue, and when we got her, she was 18 months old.

Does Tink do more to help or hinder your writing?

She is usually a really comforting, calm presence when I’m writing, but if she feels ignored for too long she will lay on my laptop (since I like to write in bed). Note [photo right] she was already my screensaver, but apparently she needed more attention. If you read The Longest Date you will see that Tink is a large part of it, and she not only made me a better writer, she made me a better person.

You've written for several very successful shows. Have you ever written in a part for a dog?

On Sex and the City I got to co-write the episode “Splat!” where Charlotte’s dog has puppies, and those puppies were delivered to the doorstep of our dog trainer on the show (who works with rescue dogs) just in time for shooting the episode! I wrote an episode of Modern Family called "Little Bo Bleep" where Jay and Gloria’s dog kept jumping into the pool and Jay thought she was trying to commit suicide (he blamed Gloria’s disinterest!), but it turned out the dog's favorite squeaky toy was in the drain.

I also wrote and directed a short film about becoming a dog person, called Whose Dog Is It Anyway? starring Sarah Paulson, which basically examined the transformation I went through with Tink. More about the short at, and it can be viewed here.

Who are Tink's best pet-pals?

Tink has lots of friends in the neighborhood. She has a great dogwalker who takes her on group walks, so this picture [left] is Tink with her gang. She has a whole life I barely know about during the day. She knows many more people than I do in my neighborhood. People always introduce themselves to me when I’m with Tink by letting me know they know Tink.

Where is Tink's favorite outdoor destination?

Anywhere we are. She likes the park. She loves the beach. She was less excited about snow than we thought she would be.

photo by Allison Cane
Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

She hardly ever barks, so she has some favorite squeaky toys she will use to communicate excitement. She especially loves her Platypus (Kyjen 6069 Egg Babies Platypus) -- the eggs are the squeaky part so you can remove and replace them. For a while we were playing Rock Band a lot, and Tink would join in with a squeaky toy, and once when a new song started, she got a different squeaky toy as if she needed a new instrument.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Ian. The moment he comes home she jumps up to greet him, and if she spots him outside the window or door, she barks or stands with her paws up on the balcony (like a person in a dog suit) trying to get his attention.

If Tink could change one thing about Californians, what would it be?

Everyone would stop checking their phones, get down on their knees, and give her the love and attention she deserves.

photo by Allison Cane
What is Tink's best quality?

She loves to be where we are, and I guess she’s a herding dog, because she’s happiest when we’re all together. She also went through training with Ian to be a Delta Dog, so she’s been in hospitals to comfort people waiting for loved ones in surgery, and in a psych ward. But her very best quality is that you can’t upset her, she’s very patient, so if Olivia is pulling her tail or ear, or sitting on her like a chair, or pretending Tink is the “beast” from Beauty and the Beast, Tink puts up with it.

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

Melissa McCarthy.

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

What would your perfect day be, Tink? Because that’s what we’re doing today.

Visit Cindy Chupack's website and Facebook page, and learn more about her new book, The Longest Date: Life as a Wife.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 24, 2014

Eileen Cook & Cairo

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Eileen Cook, the one being licked to death on the left; my unable-to-hold-his-licker companion is Cairo. I'm a novelist who writes mostly young adult novels because I'm a sucker for a happy ending. Cairo is our "dorky." The vet's best guess is that he's a mix of a dachshund and yorkie. He's five and proof that while you may get older, you don't necessarily mature.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Cairo and I are celebrating that my new book, Year of Mistaken Discoveries, is out on February 25th. You can tell we're celebrating because normally we kick back with a cup of tea, but I rarely am dressed up, One of the benefits of being a writer is that your work clothes are mostly yoga pants and pyjama tops.

What's brewing?

I am a huge tea nut. I must be secretly British. I am addicted to a Canadian company called Davids Teas. Today's was their coco-chai, a nice spicy chai with a touch of coconut.

Any treats for you or Cairo on this occasion?

It's possible that some roast beef was placed in our favorite NYC Public Library mug in order to get Cairo interested in participating in the photo shoot.

How were you and Cairo united?

I've always had dogs. When my Scottish terrier, Kahlua, passed away at first I didn't think I could love another dog, but then I discovered there might be room in my heart for another. There was an advertisement that there were some dogs in need of loving forever homes. Cairo was the product of some type of illicit love affair, his mother wasn't talking about who the possible father might be. He needed a home and it turned out we needed him too. When we went to see him the first time I kept insisting that I wasn't there to pick out a dog. I was simply looking. I'm including a puppy photo so you can see how irresistible he was. I didn't stand a chance when I saw those brown eyes.

How did Cairo get his name? Any aliases?

My husband and I are both fans of old movies. Our local theatre does classic films on the big screen. The week we found Mr. Cairo, we'd seen The Maltese Falcon. There is a character in that movie, Joel Cairo, who is this tiny guy who thinks he is tough enough to beat up Bogart. That big guy in a little guy body seemed to fit him, so he was quickly named Cairo. He also occasionally goes by Mr. Cairo or Monsieur Fuzzypants.

Does Cairo do more to help or hinder your writing?

Cairo is my constant writing companion. He sleeps through most of the work, but at times will wake up long enough to listen to me talk to myself about what is happening in the book. It's also good that I need to go take him for a walk on a regular schedule as I get a lot of great ideas then.

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your published work?

There have always been a touch of every dog I've owned in every dog character that shows up in my work. For such small creatures they can take up huge amount of space in our lives.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Cairo loathes our mailman. It is not clear why, as the mailman is actually quite nice and on occasion has put dog treats through the mail slot in the door. Normally, Cairo's love can easily be bought with a treat, but he still refuses to forgive the mailman for his flagrant walking up to our house without being invited. I suspect if I opened the door Cairo would then hide behind me, because he is actually a big coward.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Cairo is a big fan of all his toys, but it is safe to say there are few things he loves more than disemboweling a fuzzy toy and removing the squeaker.

Who is Cairo's best pet-pal?

Cairo has a dog buddy named Ted. Ted is the furry equivalent of a frat boy. A bit wild, crazy and almost always a bad influence.

What is Cairo's best quality?

Cairo is a snuggler. If I ever sit down on the sofa or my favourite reading chair I can count on him to come and jump in my lap. He's also very quirky. For example, he hates when his kibble is mounded in his bowl. He will use his nose to smooth it all out until it is level. He can be very fussy.

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

He would first make sure I never mounded his kibble as he's made it clear he doesn't like that. Cairo would also call me wimpy as when it is raining out I tend to be a fan of a short walk. He sees no reason we can't go for longer.

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

I would ask Cairo, out of all the things in our home, why as a puppy he had to chew my absolutely favourite pair of shoes. It took me awhile to forgive him for that one.

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

The best person to voice Cairo would be Sean Connery. A tough guy, but with style. Also, for some reason, I have always imagined him with an accent. It suits him.

Visit Eileen Cook's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Year of Mistaken Discoveries.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Shannon Stoker & Nucky

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Shannon Stoker, I am the author of The Registry and The Collection. My dog is Nucky, he is a three year old male terrier mix.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

There was a break in the freezing weather/loads of snow so I promised to get Nucky out of the house today!

What's brewing?

Decaf caramel cappuccino with double whip cream. Nucky loves whip cream and the last thing he needs is more energy!

Any treats for you or Nucky on this occasion?

Nucky is a very picky eater, so I brought along some deli ham for him since it is his favorite.

How were you and Nucky united?

The first time Nucky was brought in to meet me he ran to the corner of the room and shook like a leaf. It was love at first sight for me. His confidence has definitely risen since then!

How did Nucky get his name? Any aliases?

Nucky is named after Steve Buscemi's Boardwalk Empire character. He is my little gangster. He sometimes goes by: Knuckles, Enoch, Nuck-Nuck, Kanook, and Mr. Mischief to name a few.

Does Nucky do more to help or hinder your writing?

The whole reason I decided to seriously try writing is because I was working long hours at a law firm and I missed Nucky so bad! I thought maybe if I got something published I could spend more time at home with him. So he is a huge inspiration for my writing. Sometimes he wants to pets though and will jump on my lap while using his head to knock my hands away from the keyboard until I pay attention to him. If I ever try to close the door to the room I am working in he will have none of that either!

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your published work?

So far there has only been one fictional dog in my work, and she was inspired by my friend's dog Bailey.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Bark at the postman, sniff the cat, chase the squirrel. If all three presented themselves at the same time probably bark at the postman would win out.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Squeak toy! Especially when it is lights out and everyone is trying to get some sleep.

Who is Nucky's best pet-pal?

His cousin Fozzie, a bulldog [photo right]. The seem to get double the treats when they are at Grandma and Granpa's house together.

What is Nucky's best quality?

He takes some time to warm up to people, but once you're part of Nucky's inner circle he loves you to death. Lots of kisses and loyalty!

If Nucky could change one thing about Illinoisans, what would it be?

Make it mandatory every citizen carried at least one piece of pup-peroni!

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

Why are you always trying to stick your tongue up my nose?

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

Morgan Freeman. They could dub my voice with his too!

Visit Shannon Stoker's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 17, 2014

Erin Lindsay McCabe & Roxy

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s my son Dally, me, Erin Lindsay McCabe, author of I Shall Be Near To You, and Roxy, and our 12 and a half year old Best Dog Ever (aka American Mutt). We think she’s part Australian Cattle Dog, but really we have no idea.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We were visiting my hometown Chico for my book launch at Lyon Books which happened to almost coincide with my birthday and my son’s birthday. So as a triple birthday bash, we decided to visit Beatniks for our coffee date.

What's brewing?

As I’ve gotten older even decaf makes me feel… funny. So usually I stick with a chai latte or a hot chocolate, but today I decided to splurge with a latte.

Any treats for you or Roxy on this occasion?

Dally and I are sugar hounds, so we’ll take any excuse for a chocolate chip cookie or some pumpkin bread. Roxy is a cheese dog, so she’s usually out of luck at the coffee shop. But Beatniks has a delicious veggie sandwich that comes with cheese, so I shared with Roxy. I threw in a back scratch for good measure, which Roxy likes almost as much as cheese.

Are there any dogs in your fiction that are inspired by your dog?

Not really, though I imagine there will be at some point. There are two dogs that show up in I Shall Be Near To You. One was the mascot to a Pennsylvania regiment and went everywhere with them. The other is a “farm dog” and it is scavenging (to put it nicely) on the battlefield, based on historical accounts blended with something I once saw some ranch dogs do.

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

Roxy is a great help. Going for a walk with Roxy is one of the best ways I’ve found to jumpstart my writing. When I was working on I Shall Be Near To You, we would go for a walk first thing and by the time we turned for home, I almost always had some idea percolating. While I write, Roxy usually just curls up on her bed next to the couch and sleeps. It’s nice to have a quiet companion to keep the writing from getting lonely.

How did Roxy get her name? Any aliases?

My husband likes to joke that I stole Roxy. But what really happened was I looked out the window one morning just before Thanksgiving eleven years ago and there was this cute black dog heading down the street, toward a busy road. I ran out to catch her and ended up carrying her (which she absolutely hates to this day) back to our yard. It turned out she belonged to a man who lived a few blocks away, but when he learned we had Roxy, he told us to just keep her. We weren’t really in the market for a dog (despite the window-shopping I had been doing on black lab rescue sites), but we fell in love with her. Since Roxy seemed to know her name, we didn’t change it. We sometimes call her Roxanne, Roxy-dog or Rox or else Puppy or Little Dog.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Oh squirrels for sure, though she’s never caught one to our knowledge. She likes to give our mail carrier a good scary bark with raised hackles, but she doesn’t really mean it. And Roxy lives quite peacefully with our 4 cats a s well as neighbor hood cats that sometimes wander into our yard. Her ability to co-exist with all our other animals (chickens, goats, horses) is one of the many things we love about her.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Roxy loves stuffed squeaky toys that she can shake around violently before tearing holes in them and pulling out all the stuffing. And though she does enjoy chewing on sticks, she finds fetch demeaning.

Does Roxy have a favorite place to go for outings?

She loves any place where she can be leash-free. She’s very obedient and always stays nearby, but she likes to go her own pace and sniff to her heart’s content.

Who is Roxy's best pet-pal?

My son has described Roxy as his best friend, though I’m not sure she feels quite the same. She has a couple dog friends—Iris, our neighbor, an Australian shepherd, and Ginger [photo left], a tiny Chihuahua mix. She also had a (real, working) sniffer dog friend, Bart, a black lab, but he passed away recently. But mostly Roxy has always been a people dog. She knows who has the cheese.

What is Roxy's best quality?

We often refer to Roxy as almost human. She is very serious and takes things personally, but she can also be silly and playful. She is very smart and was incredibly easy to train as a young dog—we used to do tricks almost every night just to keep her mind engaged. Her best tricks were bowing, doing figure-eights between my legs, and crawling, though now-a-days, she’s too creaky to do most of those. She does still love to give high-fives.

If Roxy could change one thing about Californians, what would it be?

She would probably like them to take cheese more seriously, like the French do.

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

How can we help you be more comfortable and why don’t you like your bed in our room anymore?

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

I had to consult my husband on this one. He suggested Amy Adams because she can be serious and playful. And I agree because she also has such sweetness about her.

Visit Erin Lindsay McCabe's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Jessica Swaim & Kiva and Odin

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Jessica Swaim, children's author, poet and dog lover, and the little red dog I'm holding is Odin, my one-year-old, all-boy Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

On this snowy afternoon, we are at home, celebrating a dual anniversary. One year ago, on February 1, I sold a book of poetry, which is about to be released, on the same day that Odin came to live with us.

What's brewing?

My favorite latte, half Oregon Chai, half almond milk, with a glob of Colorado cinnamon creamed honey to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Any treats for you or Kiva and Odin on this occasion?

The training treat du jour is string cheese.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Kiva [photo left] came to us as a rescue dog named Sadie. We decided to rename her to give her a fresh start. I love Native American names and simply liked the sound of Kiva, plus the image of a circle that that word conjures up seems to fit a herding dog. She also answers to Kivie and Kiki.

For Odin, I spent weeks and weeks researching and brainstorming names. The day we got him at eight weeks old, we still hadn't decided on a name. When I told my girl friend that I had sold a book the same day, she suggested that I name the pup something that tied in with the book. I loved that idea. But what? At that time the title of the book was Shaggy Doggerel. Hmmm . . . Shag? Dogger? I went down the list of canine poets in the table of contents: Rover Frost, Dogden Dash, Snarl Sandburg, etc. Nada. A couple of days went by in which our puppy remained nameless. When I explained to my husband that I was searching for a moniker related to the book and read him a word list that included "ode", he immediately said "Odin". We went with the i-n spelling instead of e-n because we liked the connection with the Norse god of the hunt, poetry and wisdom. Odin's nickname is Little O. His registered name is Springvale's Ode to Joy. Can you tell from his photos that this boy radiates joy?

How were you and your dogs united?

We got Kiva from Western Border Collie Rescue at age 14 months. Odin is the only dog I've ever purchased from a breeder. Tollers are difficult to obtain any other way.

Please tell us about your new book.

Classic Poetry for Dogs: Why Do I Chase Thee by Elizabeth Basset Browning And Other Canine Masters is exactly what the title implies, a spoof on well-known verses from a dog's point of view. Some poems are parodies, such as "Sizing Up Shoes on a Soulful Evening" by Rover Frost, "The Maven" by Edgar Allan Pug and, of course, the title poem.

How do your dogs help--and hinder--your writing?

I'm a training junky, so I spend gobs of potential writing time teaching my dogs foundation skills, tricks and moves for musical freestyle and the sport of treibball -- fetch games, walks, play, play, play all the livelong day. But since most of the books I write seem to feature at least one dog, I believe that the bond I enjoy with my dogs ultimately energizes my creative life. Certainly they make me laugh a lot, and that inspires me to make readers laugh.

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your books?

My children's book The Hound From the Pound was inspired by my pound dog Tux, a black lab mix who used to plop down and roll on my rough drafts whenever I worked on the floor. Although the main character in that book is a basset hound named Blue, many other breeds, including mutts, romp through the pages. Tux was a handful, so some of her naughty antics got exaggerated and multiplied to create fictional chaos for poor Miss Mary MacIntosh.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

... bird, bunny, deer...

Who are Kiva and Odin's best pet-pals?

That's easy. Each other.

What is each dog's best quality?

Kiva is a tireless fetchaholic, a cinch to entertain, especially if you have a Frisbee or a ball handy or are willing to toss a pinecone, a rock, a stick, a plastic tambourine...

Similarly, Odin gobbles up life and is happy doing anything at all, especially if it involves a squishy ball.

If Kiva and Odin could change one thing about Coloradans, what would it be?

Kiva: "Lose the skateboards and the rollerblades, folks! Slow down, you're makin' me crazy!"

Odin: "Where are the tollers, people?"

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

Kiva: Carol Burnett (with Tarzan yell).

Odin: Robin Williams (multiple manic personalities, all hilarious).

If Kiva and Odin could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?

Kiva, what's the payoff of staring for hours at a potential fetch object that is never going to move?

Odin, what do you anticipate will be the psychological repercussions if you are never allowed to retrieve a dead duck?

Visit Jessica Swaim's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 10, 2014

Dave and Marcia & Skruffy and Bubba

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Dave, my wife is Marcia, and that is our wedding picture with Skruffy [left] and Bubba [right] inserted into the picture. We united as a family of four in February 2011. I was a Public Library Director in Arkansas with Skruffy, Marcia was a retired widow living in Florida with Bubba. We met online playing a war game, of all things. Skruffy is a rescue, the vet said she has a lot of Dachshund in her, didn't know what else. A Google image search of German Wire Haired Dachshund brings up other dogs that look like her. Bubba is Cocker Spaniel, the runt of the litter. Bubba is a male, and nine years old. Skruffy is female, has been with me for over four years, and is probably close to six years old. You can follow our travels at

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We travel in a motorhome about nines months of the year. We have coffee every morning, and I have a Bagel with my coffee, which I dunk into the coffee. Both Skruffy and Bubba sit right by me awaiting a small bite of the Bagel. Gotta start the day with at least 16 oz of coffee and a Bagel, which is happily shared.

What's brewing?

We use the Mr. Coffee machine while on the road, but at home in our Condo we normally use our Pressed Coffee maker. Gotta have sugar-free Hazel Nut liquid creamer in the coffee. The problem with the Pressed Coffee in the motorhome is getting rid of the grounds...can't really dump them down the sink like you can when a garbage disposal is attached. Sometimes, if we are close to a Flying J / Pilot Truck Stop, we will get a special brew where I put 1/3 Cappuccino and 2/3 Bold or high caffeine coffee along with a mixture of liquid creamers. Sometimes we will share it, sometimes we get two and then I normally drink 1 1/2 cups.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Of course the Bagel, but after the Bagel they get their peanut butter treat (pill time, a bit of peanut butter lets the pills go down without a fight), and their morning "Arny Treat." You see, for the past two years we have spent a few months in California in my sister's backyard, and every morning Uncle Arny (sister's husband) would open the sliding glass door and say "Good Morning, Good Morning, Good Morning", and the dogs would dance and Skruffy would bark, and they would get their morning treat. So we carry on the tradition....sometimes with Arny on speaker phone. Their number one treat is Beggin' Strips.

How did your dogs get their names? Any nicknames?

Bubba was already named when Marcia got him, and she did not want to confuse him. Arny called Bubba "Shop Dog" because Bubba would always follow him to the garage that Arny was always finding some sort of work to do.

Skruffy....well, that is a long story, you might was well pour yourself a cup of coffee and sit back and enjoy....

I was working at my desk in the Library one day and my Assistant Director walked in and said, "I think I have a dog for you." Heck, I didn't even know I was looking for a dog. She told me about seeing a little dog on a Saturday near her house alone behind a locked gate of a construction company. Skruffy was hiding under the large dump trucks and heavy equipment. She stopped by the company Monday morning and they told her that the dog, Skruffy, had showed up a few weeks ago. With the heavy October rains, she was wet and Scruffy looking, so they had been feeding her and called her Skruffy (my spelling, not theirs). She told them if they ever caught it, she had the perfect person for this dog...and that is why she was in my office.

Ten days later my office phone rings. It is a man who has caught a dog at work, and he was looking for that lady who worked at the Library. I called her, told her I would be by her house in a few hours, and she went down to get Skruffy. When I showed up, she waited about five minutes, then brought Skruffy over to me. Ten minutes later she came back to take her back, and Skruffy growled at her. I have been owned ever since.

Quickly found out the Skruffy did not like to be alone, so she came to work with me every day. When I took her to the Vet, found out that she had heart worms, she had had a litter, and she needed to be fixed. They asked me her name, and I said Skruffy. "How do you spell that?" she asked. For some reason, I spelled it with a "K".

Skruffy did very well in my office...until I had to leave to take care of business elsewhere inside the Library. She would give it around ten minutes for my return, and then she would let out this single bark, wait 20-30 seconds and let out a another single bark until I returned or another staff member came and got her. If I had a meeting or had to go somewhere that she was not invited to, I would leave her with a staff member who worked behind the scenes away from the patrons, and she did just fine. Anyway, that is how she got her name. Sometimes we call her "Little Girl".

How were you and your dogs united?

Marcia saw Bubba in the window of a grooming shop next to a restaurant she ate at. Skruffy, well, you already read about that.

You've traveled all around in your RV. Where have the dogs seem to have enjoyed it most?

The dogs enjoy anywhere and everywhere that other dogs have been. Many RV'ers have dogs, as do Truck Drivers and people just traveling down the highway. Rest Areas are where they seem to find the most scents. Truck Stops are a close second along with RV Parks. In two years we have traveled through 28 states, visited a number of National and State Parks, and nearly always found places we visited to be very dog friendly. Because Bubba is a runner, I have had Skruffy in pictures where wonderful landscapes are behind her as she sits on top of a stone wall, the hood of the car, inside a hollowed out Redwood Tree...although I have used both of them on leashes for some shots of walking along a shoreline, or wandering on a path or grassy field.

Do the dogs have any non-canine pet pals?

I don't know if you can call them "pals", but both dogs really enjoy the Squirrels in Sandy and Arny's backyard. The Squirrels literally toyed with both of them.

Have the dogs encountered any exotic critters on your travels?

The dogs have seen, up close, Buffalos, Bears and Elk...although I think Bubba slept through the Buffalo encounter.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Bubba has some squeaky toys, but Skruffy does not get into them much.

What is each dog's best quality?

Bubba is the most mellow dog you have ever seen. He rarely barks, and if he does bark, it is a quick "roar" and then he is quiet...even when trying to play with Squirrels where his bark is more of a frustration bark. Skruffy is an active barker, but her best quality is her willingness to sit on anyone's lap and be loved....but if "dad" tries to leave the room, she'll jump right down and expect to go with me.

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

Bubba will not use the house or motorhome as a bathroom...instead he will barf. This does not happen too often, sometimes it is right when he wakes up from a nap or a nights sleep. Wish we could get use to that, but it is almost as bad as peeing in the house. Skruffy, well, she has already changed me. One can say did I rescue her, or did she rescue me.

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

Bubba -- Carlton, the doorman in the '70s sitcom Rhoda.
Skruffy -- Her bark is like a Roseanne Barr, her affection is like a young Shirley Temple.

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

Bubba: Why do you think it is acceptable to barf in the house, but not pee?
Skruffy: Wish you can tell me what it is you want. Sometimes you look at me, you paw at my arm, you have my attention but I don't know what you want.

Visit and click on the tab for Bubba & Skruffy where you can see more pictures and read more about them.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Charlie Quimby & Roxy

Who is in the photo at right?

Roxy is a roughly four-and-a-half-year-old female who was advertised as a lab/pointer mix. As with most of us Americans who aren't pure-bred, it cannot be the entire story. Charlie Quimby is a writer and author of the novel, Monument Road.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Laughing Dog Coffee House in Grand Junction is located on Monument Road and I pass it by every time I go into town. My regular stop there is Thursday mornings on the way to my volunteer gig (where the coffee's free but weak). Today, I brought Roxy along for errands and a walk in a new place.

What's brewing?

Normally, I go for volume and darkness. This time, since I'd already consumed 2/3rds of a pot at home, the "coffee" is actually a chai skim latte.

Any treats for you or Roxy on this occasion?

Roxy got a couple treats for jumping up on the planter for the picture. She has a year's supply for winning an Average Dog Trick contest in Minneapolis last summer, so we have to dole them out or she'll lose her girlish stunt dog figure.

How did your dog get her name? Any nicknames?

The name just jumped in my head when my wife and I were taking her home. (Roxy is semi-officially Susan's dog and I am assistant owner.) Nicknames include Rox and Sweetie, both of which are subject to misunderstanding when we go out in public. Kid: "Your dog's name is Rocks?" Woman: Silent glare at the man standing nearby who says, "Hey, Sweetie."

How were you and Roxy united?

Roxy was a mange-afflicted seven-month-old adopted from the Animal Humane Society in Minnesota. She was among the first 2,000 dogs who've made the trip all the way up from Oklahoma through a rescue program called Save Our Strays.

Are there any dogs in your fiction that are inspired by Roxy?

A ranch dog plays an important minor role in Monument Road, and a drug dealer's pit bulls also put in an appearance. But those dogs are too obedient to have been inspired by Roxy.

Does Roxy do more to help or hinder your writing?

She helps tremendously because my wife and I are both retired, and Susan takes her for a long walk each morning, which guarantees a daily period of quiet in the house. Now Susan's got a book project going and I'm going to have to pay her back for some of those days. (I mostly handle night and some afternoon walks.) It'll mean I have to structure my time differently, which isn't a bad thing.

Who are Roxy's best pet-pals?

In Minnesota, it's Simba, one of our two cats who is utterly unintimidated by Roxy's desire to play. When we're in Colorado, it's Panda, my sister's mini-Aussie who lives next door and is more inclined to wrestle.

Where is Roxy's favorite outdoor destination?

She's fortunate to have so many options, but it's probably a beach on Lake Michigan in Door County Wisconsin where Susan's family has a cottage. She gets to swim, run full out, dig without ceasing and gobble the occasional rotting fish.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick…?

She needs no props in order to play, and she's a chaser but not much of a returner, so her ball functions mainly as a pull toy. She keeps a nylabone next to her bed like a pack of cigarettes.

Cat, postman, squirrel…?

In a yard full of oaks? Squirrels, definitely.

What is Roxy's best quality?

Beauty that's more than skin deep. She attracts attention but then knows what to do with it in a particular situation. I think she won the pet trick contest in part because she was the only dog who spontaneously schmoozed the judges.

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

She would have me running again, so our walks would have a more vigorous pace. When she's off-leash and decides to lay it out, she's a sight to behold.

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

Roxy has too much taste to be in a movie that features a fake talking dog. And she would insist on doing her own lines and her own stunts. That would be in the contract.

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

"Describe fully how you experience time." I'd want to learn about her months in Oklahoma, but maybe dogs don't experience time as a narrative of past and present. I'm interested in how that short dog's lifespan feels in comparison to a longer human one. In particular, I'd want to know about her perception of the future beyond the next few minutes and what life's like without an awareness of one's mortality.

Visit Charlie Quimby's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 3, 2014

Laura Greene & Vincent and Leela

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Laura Greene, I’m a writer from Boise, Idaho. That’s my dog Vincent, he’s a 7 year old lab mix. Not pictured is Leela, a 4 year old beagle mix.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

A cold morning in the City of Trees just seemed like a perfect time to sip on a hot drink and cuddle with my pups!

What's brewing?

I have a cold coming on so I’m enjoying some spicy ginger tea with raw honey. Super delicious!

Any treats for you or Vince and Leela on this occasion?

The tea is my treat. Vince and Leela are munching on some peanut butter & molasses biscuits.

How did Vince and Leela get their names? Any nicknames?

I named Vince after Vincent Van Gogh. I often sing the Don McLean song to him when we’re in the kitchen cooking. I call him Big Boy, as he weighs a lean 125lbs and takes up an entire twin mattress when he’s lounging.

Leela [photo left] got her name from the cartoon Futurama. She answers to Little Sister and Chunk as well.

How were you and your dogs united?

I picked Vince up from the Idaho Humane Society at 8 weeks. He was this perfect little ball of black fluff and I couldn’t resist his big brown eyes.

Leela came from a farm in a neighboring town. A farmer found a litter of six pups in a field where someone had dumped them. She brought them home and sent out an email with pictures and descriptions of the puppies. The message found its way to my mom’s office and she sent it my way. Once I laid eyes on Leela, I knew she was my dog! I picked her up the next day.

Where do Vince and Leela most like to visit on an outing?

Vince likes the dog park the best; he’s a social butterfly. Leela likes going to PetSmart to pick out toys and treats. They both love going for walks on the greenbelt where we’re shaded by cottonwood trees and can follow the river’s path through the city.

Who are Vince and Leela's best pet pals?

My mom’s dog Rudy hangs out with us every once in a while. They love the chance to play with someone new.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

They both chase squirrels through the yard and up trees. We have a wireless dog fence that keeps them safe and close to home, though.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

All of the above and more! I call them my trash dogs because they love playing with paper towel tubes and empty milk cartons.

What is each dog's best quality?

Vince is a lover. He’s happiest when he’s sprawled across his human’s lap. He loves big squishy hugs, belly rubs, and ear scratches. He has the best disposition –he’s never grumpy!

Leela has a lot of sass and it never fails to make me laugh. She’s always giving me dirty looks and harassing Vince. She thinks she’s the boss – and might be right. She has her own chair at the table where she sits anytime the family gathers. At heart, she’s a lover too. She refuses to sleep alone and crawls in bed with me every night.

Every day when I come home from work –the minute they see me get out of the car – Leela starts in with a high pitched howl and Vince follows with his deep holler. By the time I get in the house there’s just this cacophony of happy sounds coming from them. It’s the best greeting in the world.

If Vince and Leela could change one thing about you, what would it be?

They’d probably want me to be home more often. And I know Leela would want more treats, but she’s chunky enough as it is.

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

Vince would definitely be Lee Pace. They’re both tall, lanky, goofy, and deep voiced. Leela would probably be Kat Dennings. Sassy and confident.

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

I’d ask Vince why he’s afraid of the floor vents. It’s just the weirdest thing…

--Marshal Zeringue