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

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