Monday, April 28, 2014

Janie Chodosh & Bryn and Darwin

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Janie Chodosh. I am an author of young adult fiction, a teacher, mom, outdoor enthusiast, beginner violinist, bird watcher, and animal lover. My faithful canine friends are Bryn a “beeler” (beagle-heeler mix) and Darwin, a blue heeler and something or other mix.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I am celebrating the release of my debut novel, Death Spiral, A Faith Flores Science Mystery which was published on April 1st by The Poisoned Pencil, the new young adult mystery imprint of The Poisoned Pen Press.

What's brewing?

I am all about the almond milk latte.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Chicken soup. It’s not just good for humans!

How were you and your dogs united?

I adopted Darwin from the Santa Fe Humane Society. I fell in love the second I set eyes on him and knew he was my dog, but oh, poor guy. He was terrified. He’d try to disappear through the wall every time someone came by. By the third time I visited him, he wagged his tail and his ears perked up when he saw me. I adopted Bryn from an organization in Denver that rescues heelers. It was love at first site.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

As you can see from the picture of Darwin [photo left] in the golden leaves, he is the pinnacle of dog evolution (!), so why not name him after the famous Charles Darwin? Bryn was called Bren when we adopted her. I didn’t care for that name, but I couldn’t stand to change her name too much since she’d already gone through so much change, so I tweaked the name a little to something I liked better.

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

Bryn is my shadow and love sponge. If I am stuck, depressed, making myself crazy, having a hard day (etc.) Bryn cheers me up and helps me get back on task. However, that dog loves to bark! Did something move? (bark bark bark). Did I hear something? (bark, bark, bark). The barking is very distracting and sometimes I have to close the dog door and lock both dogs inside the house. Darwin, at age 14, is more aloof. He spends most of the day lounging in the sun and being in his own special dog zone.

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your writing?

No dogs in particular have inspired my writing, but dogs in general show up in most everything I write. I write for teens and I believe every child should have a pet, and to me, that pet should be a dog! Faith Flores, my protagonist, has had a lot of trauma in her life, so having canine companions in her life feels very humane.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

We live next to an arroyo (a dry river bed) and a lot of open space, so many animals wander by. The dogs bark at each and every one of them. Yep. Each and every one. Squirrels. Rabbits. Other dogs. Birds. Gophers. Coyotes. They don’t bark much at people though. They just want to have their bellies rubbed.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

After an initial dominance squabble that resulted in a $500.00 vet bill they get on well with each other. As far as other canine pals, the answer, sadly, is none. They don’t really “do” other dogs.

What is each dog's best quality?

Bryn is a love sponge. If you stop petting her she makes herself known with her paw or her nose. When she is excited, she walks in this strange U-shape configuration where she tries to see over her shoulder as she moves forward. I’ve never had a more affectionate dog.

Darwin is sweet and independent, and a supremely good-looking guy. He enjoys lounging in the sun and wagging his tail whenever you walk by. He is more reserved, but always up for a few good pets.

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

I think they would ask all New Mexicans to spay and neuter their pets. There are so many stray and unwanted animals in this state.

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

Well, my daughter says Darwin would be Elvis Presley, though I think George Clooney. Bryn would Anna Faris, who was one of the chipettes in Alvin and the Chipmunks.

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

Since they are both rescue dogs, I would love to know what happened to them before they came into my life. Kind of like a doggie memoir.

Visit Janie Chodosh's website.

Writers Read: Janie Chodosh.

The Page 69 Test: Death Spiral.

My Book, The Movie: Death Spiral.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tricia Tierney & Tetley

Who is in the photo at right?

Tetley is a male Cairn Terrier who has been 10 for the last 3 years or so because anything beyond that sounds to old and I can't bear it. I'm Tricia Tierney and I work at a Community Relations Manager at a bookstore - a lovely way to pay the bills. I write when I can, usually in the early hours of the morning - on my blog and am also at the revising stage of my memoir.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I don't need any occasion to drink tea or to cuddle with Tetley. We take breaks like this when the spirit moves either one of us. Both of us are always open to such a lovely interruption. Here we are at the dog park engrossed in conversation.

What's brewing?

Tetley tea of course! The strong, English style.

Any treats for you or Tetley on this occasion?

No. We're both keeping an eye on our weight.

How were you and Tetley united?

My late husband brought him home one night when my daughter was in second grade. After fostering a few very big dogs, I thought we'd agreed that it wasn't a good time to take on the expense and responsibility of a dog. One night, he came upstairs with this little rat looking creature under his coat. My daughter was at the end of the bed engrossed in a TV show and I quickly hurried him out of the room to berate him. When I got downstairs and looked at him, touched him and realized that I would be a witch to send him away, I agreed he could stay. We went back upstairs and my daughter burst into tears of joy. Of course now, I cannot imagine my life without Tetley.

How did Tetley get his name? Any aliases?

He came home with that name and it stuck. My late husband ran a coffee stand and was English so it fit. He does kind of look like a teabag, don't you think? His Pop, Rob, has many other names for him depending on the day: Tettles McGee, Calhoun and McGerkin are a few he uses regularly.

Does Tetley help or hinder your writing?

He only inspires me. And certainly helps get me up in the morning, insisting on his walk. And I do great thinking and find much inspiration on those morning walks.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Cats and squirrels he chases like mad. He has his favorite postmen - the ones with treats.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Tetley is so satisfying to get toys for - he loves them all - although the squeaky bits don't have a chance. He tears them out within hours.

Who is Tetley's best pet-pal?

'Lady' - a lovely mutt up the street about his age.

Where is Tetley's favorite outdoor destination?

The beach where he can climb over the jetty in search of rodents. He's a great ratter.

What is Tetley's best quality?

Except for his swamp-breath, he is perfect.

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

He would have me stay home with him all day. Were it possible, I would agree to this demand.

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

I ask him questions and he answers me all the time. No language barriers here.

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

Oh, he has a voice already - we've got that covered thanks to his interpreter, my beloved Rob.

Visit Tricia Tierney's blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 21, 2014

Suzanne Johnson & Tank and Shane

Who is in the photo at right?

The three amigos? In the center is me, Suzanne Johnson, who writes urban fantasy as myself and writes paranormal fantasy and thrillers as Susannah Sandlin. I answer to anything. My partners in crime are Tanker Abbott (left) and Shane O’Mac (right). Tank is a 14-year-old black chow/retriever mix. Shane is a 15-year-old Irish Terror, um, I mean Terrier, mix.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We’re getting antsy waiting for our two releases coming in June (Allegiance, #4 in the Penton Legacy series, and Lovely, Dark, and Deep, #1 in The Collectors series, in which Shane and Tank are both characters). And what better thing to calm the nerves than…caffeine? (Yeah, we’re sorta backwards down here in Ala-freaking-bama.)

What's brewing?

A cup of Community Coffee with Chicory, in honor of my New Orleans hometown, and a big bottle of sugar-free Italian Cream Coffee Mate, in honor of my redneck heritage.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Always. Since they prefer their coffee without, you know, actual coffee, Tank is chowing down on a small mountain of Milk Bone MaroSnacks and giving the Chow Chow evil eye to Shane, who’s daintily smacking on Beneful Beef and Cheese Baked Treats, which Tank wants—badly—but can’t eat because they upset his delicate constitution. And when his constitution is upset, mama is upset.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

They were both acquired during an unfortunate period in which I was unhealthily fascinated by professional wrestling. But shhhhhh… they think Tanker and Shane are old family names.

How were you and your dogs united?

Shane was acquired by subterfuge. She’d escaped wherever she originally lived and followed home the child of a coworker’s illegal immigrant neighbors. They threw away her collar but then proceeded to neglect her, locking her up in their overgrown backyard and leaving her to play with old beer cans and sleep on a wet, molded mattress. My coworker staged an intervention. In the dead of night, after getting me to agree to take the poor little terrier named Flicky, he stole her. We made the handoff on a street corner in New Orleans’ Mid-City the next day. She was totally unsocialized. Have you ever met an unsocialized 1-year-old terrier? Oh my God. I had no idea what I was in for.

Fortunately, about three months into our harrowing relationship, she made friends with a shaggy, emaciated stray, who proceeded to sit outside my fence for days--until I let him in and fed him while calling animal control to take him away. He cried when they put him in the truck, breaking my heart, so I followed them to the pound and paid $50 to adopt the dog I’d just turned in. Welcome home, Tanker [photo right], and thank you for socializing Shane. The nine-month-old had heartworms, weighed 35 pounds, and had been living on leaves, which he still has a fondness for. He gained fifty pounds in six months, and is now, fourteen years later, a creaky old man. He’s still my baby, though.

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

They are great help. Being master escape artists and fearless adventurers, they provide a lot of fodder for book material, leading me into parts of New Orleans I would otherwise never have visited and thus giving me new places to set scenes in my Sentinels of New Orleans series. You know, like the bar of the Columns Hotel, after they escaped my yard and entered the hotel on the pretense of being with a hotel guest. After they’d enjoyed happy hour hors d’oeuvres for a half hour, the manager figured out they were begging from complete strangers and got my phone number off their collars. Or the CJ Peete housing development, notorious for its drug culture and violence, where I made a cash-for-dog exchange outside the Godbarber salon with an enticing backdrop of razor wire and graffiti. You can’t make this stuff up.

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your writing?

My best friend’s beloved dog Jagger died while I was beginning to write Lovely, Dark, and Deep, so I named my main character’s best friend Jagger. Then I made it an all-pet book. Almost all the characters in the book are named after my and my friends’ dogs. The main character is Shane, and the heroine’s dog is a black chow-lab mix named Tank.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

I’ll let them answer.

Shane (lifts head from treat): Cat? Where? I want a cat! You promised you’d get me a cat. Hey, a cat passed within a mile of here recently! I must find it! I won’t kill it. I’ve only killed one and it was an accident, I swear. I want a cat.

Tank: You and your cats. I’m telling you, postmen are evil. They want to break in and steal things. They wear uniforms. UPS men are bad enough, but postmen are sneakier because their assault is daily. When’s the last time a cat tried to come in the door? If not for me, everything we own would be in the hands of a postman by now.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Shane recently lost her play-buddy Jagger, a black lab three times her weight and height. (Don’t tell her she’s short; she doesn’t know.)

Tanker does not associate with animals other than Shane, being convinced they are only a step above postmen on the food chain. He particularly hated Jagger, with whom he was forced to live while we evacuated for Hurricane Katrina.

What is each dog's best quality?

Shane [photo right] is a problem-solver and absolutely tenacious, which has its good and bad points. She’s really funny and a bit of a show-off. Tanker is endearing because he loves me and me only. He’s funny and affectionate with me; surly or aloof with everyone else. I kind of like that in a pet. By God, we all deserve to be special to someone!

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

I would stay home with them all day, stop working on the computer when I am home, and would constantly serve them chicken. Did I mention Shane would commit murder for chicken?

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

Remember those old Barbara Streisand movies where she played these totally annoying, fast-talking, hyperactive women? That’s Shane. Vin Diesel has already contacted me about doing Tank.

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

To Shane: Why are you obsessed with cats and chicken?

To Tank: Remember the drunk guy who stuck his hand through the fence and then you came trotting in the house with his glove dangling from your teeth? Did you chew off the index finger of the glove before or after you pulled it off his hand?

Visit Suzanne Johnson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Karen and Gerard & Abby

Who is in the photo at right?

Karen and Gerard with Abby our shepherd/Norwegian Elkhound mix, 9 years old (a canine good citizen who visits her many friends in nursing homes once a week). My husband and I both work and are active in our church. We like animals and sports.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

This question is a problem since we don't drink coffee or stop by cafes. Whenever we are eating though, Abby lays nearby keeping an eye on us.

Any treats for you or Abby on this occasion?

Abby likes bacon flavored treats best, but also the milk bones and busy treats. She enjoys a good bone too but after she had a cracked tooth, we stopped giving her those.

How did Abby get her name? Any nicknames?

Nicknames are Abs for short, and Abby Dabby Doo.

How were you and Abby united?

We found her on Petfinder but she was listed as Gabby. We had a week trial period with her. If she didn't get along with our two cats, she couldn't stay. We knew after just one day that we were keeping her and she never bothered the cats at all. We didn't like the name Gabby too much so dropped the G and renamed her Abby.

Who are Abby's best pet-pals?

Our two cats, Spunky Doodle and Manny Boy. She does noses with both of them.

Where is Abby's favorite outdoor destination?

She loves the park where she can go in the woods, up and down hills, visit with the kids on the playground there and watch the little league ballgames, cheering along with the fans and getting lots of petting among the crowd.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

She doesn't care about toys, but prefers food!--treats of all kinds.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

She likes chasing squirrels, rabbits and rolling in the grass on her long walks. She also visits all her friends at the vets every day where they give her treats.

What is Abby's best quality?

Besides being extremely friendly to all, she has great determination! She decides which way she wants to walk and won't budge until we give in unless we have treats along to bribe her. When she was attacked by two Rottweilers off leash on an evening walk a couple years ago, she made a full recovery from 15 bites all over her body, an inch hole in her abdomen, and a 3-hour long surgery!

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

She would love it if we could be home with her more and didn't have to work. (We would like that change too!)

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

Shailene Woodley, the actress who plays Tris in Divergent.

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

Is there anything else you would like to have or that we could do to make you even happier?

Visit Karen and Gerard's blogs--Grab A Book From Our Stack, Right Where We Belong, My Funny Dad, Harry--You Tube channel, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 14, 2014

Gail Whitmore & Kadee and Zeus

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Gail Whitmore. I am the author of A Place to Call Home, the first book in my new series The Rescue Dog Tales. With me in the photo is Zeus, a white German Shepherd I adopted from South Carolina through the Echo Dogs White Shepherd Rescue group. Kadee isn’t in the picture because she’s camera shy. Anytime I have a camera or my cell phone in my hand, she takes off, so I have to trick her to get a picture of her. Kadee is a Border Collie/Shepherd mix I adopted from a pound in my area. She is 15 years old and going strong. As of a few weeks ago, Zeus is no longer with us. He had an aggressive form of cancer, and I had to have him euthanized. He was so brave during his ordeal. I wonder if I would be that brave.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Kadee and I are relaxing on the deck. It is eleven o’clock in the morning, and I am having my second cup of coffee. If Zeus were still here, the two of them would be exploring in the back yard, but now, Kadee just stays on the deck with me. Kadee and I both miss Zeus tremendously, but we have great memories of him, and we still have each other.

This is the first warmish day after what’s been the longest winter ever! Kadee is lying on the deck in the intermittent sunshine, while I sit on the lounge chair listening to the birds sing. Spring must be just around the corner, right??

What's brewing?

Black coffee straight up for me. As long as there’s caffeine, I’m happy!

Any treats for you or Kadee on this occasion?

No treats this morning. Kadee, being a senior doggie, is on a fairly strict diet. I am on a diet, too, as I am also close to being a senior.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Zeus had his name when I adopted him, and since he was three years old, I decided to keep it. Kadee’s name just popped into my head the day I was getting ready to bring her home from the pound. Her aliases are Kadee Kins and KK.

How were you and your dogs united?

I found Kadee after my first dog Toby passed away. I wanted to open my home up to another rescue dog and give Ripley (another white German Shepherd I adopted) a doggie companion. I kept going out every weekend to the local pounds and found Kadee a few weeks after I started looking. She was six months old and had been found homeless, roaming the streets in the city of New Haven. I brought Ripley with me to meet her, and she went and sat down right underneath his head and started licking the bottom of his chin. It was love at first sight!

After Ripley died, I read about Zeus online and flew down to South Carolina to meet him. When our eyes locked, I knew we were meant to be together, so I rented a Lincoln Continental (he was a big dog!) and drove back to Connecticut with him. He ate a couple of McDonald’s hamburgers on the way back. I told him not to get used to it. We arrived home just after midnight, and Kadee and Zeus hit it off immediately.

Please tell us about your new book.

A Place to Call Home is the first book in my series The Rescue Dog Tales. The story was inspired by my first dog Toby, who I adopted from the Connecticut Humane Society. He was seven months old at the time and had been severely abused. The details given to me about his past both horrified and intrigued me. He was found in a box next to a dumpster with another female puppy in northern California. The vet that examined them out there thought they might be part wolf. The physical abuse started when he ended up in Connecticut through a series of ill-fated events. I couldn’t stop wondering how him and his sister pup ended up in that box, and was he really part wolf? And more importantly, what would drive someone to abuse a defenseless puppy? My musings turned into a story. The story turned into my book. If you want to know more, you’ll have to read it!

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

My dogs inspire me. One of the reasons I decided to write A Place to Call Home, was to raise awareness in our youth of the plight of rescue dogs in this country. It took me a number of years to complete the book, and there were times when I didn’t think I would ever finish it. But when I felt like giving up, I would think of Toby and all that he had been through in the seven short months before I adopted him. He gave me the strength and motivation to continue writing.

Sometimes Kadee will come up to me when I am sitting at my desk and nudge my hand or stick her head under my arm, which usually means she wants some attention. I stop what I’m doing and give her a bunch of pets, then she usually lets me get back to writing until she’s ready for more pets!

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your books?

Toby was the inspiration for my first book in The Rescue Dog Tales, and Kadee is the inspiration for the second book in the series, which I am working on now.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

Kadee and Zeus both loved to be on the lookout for squirrels when they were younger. They’d sit at the bottom of a tree long after the squirrel that had escaped up the trunk was gone. They never quite figured out that squirrels can hop from tree to tree!

Who were Kadee and Zeus's best pet-pals?

Kadee and Zeus were each other’s best pals. Kadee doesn’t like other dogs, but she loved Zeus. I told Kadee I would be her best pal now that Zeus is gone.

What is each dog's best quality?

Kadee is extremely intelligent. It must be the Border Collie in her. I find myself talking to her in full sentences and most of the time she seems to understand what I am saying.

Zeus was the sweetest dog ever. He wanted love, love, and more love, and he gave back as much as he received.

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

Kadee would be played by Meryl Streep and Zeus would be played by Jimmy Stewart.

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

Though I would be curious to know what transpired in their lives before I adopted them, I wouldn’t want to dredge up the past, so I think I would ask them what they dream about. Zeus especially, since he was always very active when he slept. His legs moved as if he were running, and he made all kinds of different sounds. Sounds I never heard him make when he was awake. Kadee makes more subtle motions and sounds when she sleeps. Maybe she’s trying to solve the world’s problems!

Visit Gail Whitmore's website and Facebook page, and read more about A Place to Call Home.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Holly Robinson & Leo

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Holly Robinson, and I'm holding my 8 year-old Pekingese, Leo, who believes he is part cat. I'm a journalist, celebrity ghost writer, and the author of three novels, the most recent of which is Beach Plum Island (Penguin, April 2014). I have also written a memoir, The Gerbil Farmer’s Daughter (Crown 2010). I live north of Boston with my husband, where we have a “yours, mine, and ours” blended family of five children and are fixing up a 1700's Colonial one shingle at a time.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Leo and I are total party crashers. Neither of us drinks coffee! But we both love looking at other dogs, so we've been following this blog for a while. We're so excited to have sneaked past the bouncers of “Coffee with a Canine!”

What's brewing?

Leo and I power through the day with tea. I typically brew a pot of strong English breakfast or Darjeeling in the morning and pour it into a thermos to carry out to my barn office.

Any treats for you or Leo on this occasion?

Today, Leo and I are having our favorite: toast with peanut butter and banana. Leo loves bananas so much that he can smell you peeling one from three rooms away. He'll stand on his hind legs and twirl like a circus dog if he thinks he'll be rewarded by a banana.

How were you and Leo united?

When my oldest son went to college, his younger brother and I were so bereft that the only thing we could think of to cheer us up was a puppy. My son was determined to have a Pekingese after seeing one in a Florida pet store—the kind where the dogs sleep in cribs and have ribbons in their hair. I assured him there were no Pekingese anywhere in Massachusetts, because I didn't want such a dumb, useless seeming dog (I grew up with mutts). But lo and behold, he spotted a white puff of a Peke puppy in our pet store and I succumbed to his charms.

How did Leo get his name? Any aliases?

We called him “Leo” because he has a lion's mane and noble carriage despite his small stature. He also goes by “Swiffer” because he'll lie on his back and let you sweep him around on the floor like one of those Swiffer mops.

Does Leo do more to help or hinder your writing?

He definitely does more to help my writing, because I periodically have to get up and walk him, and walking is a creative meditation for me. The nice thing about a Pekingese is that he moves slowly enough for you to stop and write in a pocket journal whenever the muses grant you a visit.

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

Oh yes—Leo! He was featured by the name of “Hamlet” in the first novel I published with Penguin, The Wishing Hill. That novel also features a mutt based on a dog I had growing up. In the novel I'm working on right now, there is a border collie like my neighbor's on Prince Edward Island, where we have a summer house.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Leo would never chase any of those things. He thinks he is part cat, so he's more likely to curl up next a cat than chase it. As for the postman, Leo looks at him and thinks, “Treat! Treat! Treat!”

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Nope. Leo is not much for toys, either. Unless, of course, my mother's dog has a toy, and then Leo steals it.

Who is Leo's best pet-pal?

Definitely our big orange cat, Mini-Wheat, a rescue from our local animal shelter. Mini-Wheat inspired the cat in Beach Plum Island that helps two mismatched people fall in love. He and Leo are about the same size and weight, and Mini-Wheat goes on walks with us when I take Leo out on his leash, with his shoulder pressed to Leo's. In the house, Leo and Mini-Wheat sleep together, either on the sheepskin bed in the dining room or on the couch with me when I watch TV.

What is Leo's best quality?

Leo has a very peaceful Zen quality when he keeps me company as I write, snoozing for hours at a time. His other best quality is that children adore him because he looks like a stuffed toy come to life, and he adores them right back.

If Leo could change one thing about New Englanders, what would it be?

Leo would ask every New Englander to feed him bananas. Why don't more New Englanders carry bananas in their pockets?

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

How do you really feel when we use you as a Swiffer mop in the kitchen? Are you grinning because it's fun, or because it's a sort of grin-and-bear it thing you do because you love us so?

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

Matthew McConaughey, saying, “Alright, alright, alright!”

Visit Holly Robinson's website.

The Page 69 Test: Beach Plum Island.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 7, 2014

Susan Gloss & Izzy

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Susan Gloss. Among other things, I'm an author, mother, attorney, blogger, and thrift store junkie. My dog, Izzy, is a rescued Plott Hound mix who is about 7 years old. We adopted her when she was just about a year and a half old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We're celebrating the release of my debut novel, Vintage. It's about a vintage clothing store and the stories behind the items that come in and out of the shop, as well as the lives of the women who meet there.

What's brewing?

Cameron's organic coffee, Mexican roast. Enjoyed with a little bit of cream.

Any treats for you or Izzy on this occasion?

Izzy just enjoyed the breakfast scraps that my toddler son dropped on the floor.

How did Izzy get her name? Any nicknames?

Izzy was named for Izzy Stradlin, the guitarist for Guns N' Roses. My husband was really into metal bands when he was a teenager. Although I was never into the super heavy stuff, I did love GNR as sort of "gateway metal" and had several of their albums.

How were you and Izzy united?

We adopted Izzy from a wonderful rescue shelter in Racine, Wisconsin, called H.O.P.E. Safehouse. Volunteers got her out of a pound in Kentucky where she was slated to be euthanized. They brought her up to H.O.P.E. Safehouse along with several other dogs.

As soon as we met Izzy, we fell in love and knew she needed to be a part of our family.

Does Izzy do more to help or hinder your writing?

Helps! She keeps my feet warm when I'm sitting on the couch, typing on my laptop.

Are there any Izzy-inspired dogs in your new novel?

There is a dog in my novel, a pit bull named Miles. They are alike in that they both love to snooze on the couch.

Who are Izzy's best pet-pals?

Izzy loves her little Mexican hairless friends, Ruco and Chanco.

Where is Izzy's favorite outdoor destination?

She likes to walk to Batch Bakehouse, the bakery in our neighborhood. She waits outside while we're buying bread and, when we come out, she gets a little sample as a treat.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Sticks, definitely. And occasionally dead fish (we live on a lake).

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

The postwoman in our neighborhood gives out dog treats, so she's a canine favorite.

What is Izzy's best quality?

Izzy is a lover. Just a really sweet girl. She's a "people" dog and loves to snuggle and be petted.

If Izzy could change one thing about Wisconsinites, what would it be?

She likes that Wisconsinites eat lots of sausage, but she wishes they would share more of it with her.

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

I picture her talking exactly like the dog in the movie Up and saying: "Hey guys, do you have any treats for me, guys?"

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

I would ask her what she thinks of the members of our family. Sometimes, especially when my husband and I are trying to leave the house in the morning for work, I feel like it's a three ring circus. I imagine Izzy just watching it all, thinking, "What are you guys so stressed out about?"

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--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Helen Peppe & Pilot, Dancer, Runja, and Skye

Who is in the photo at right?

Helen Peppe, author of Pigs Can’t Swim and equine photographer, with her 7 yo female boxer, Pilot.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I have 4 dogs, and I don’t take them to dog parks anymore because I don’t want them to pick up viruses, but I do walk them in the woods and fields nearby my home in Maine, and at a family’s cabin in New Hampshire. They do ride with me in my truck, however, and if I stop to pick up a drink and donut for my daughter, they always get a dog biscuit or two.

What's brewing?

I understand it is odd. Very odd. But I have never even tasted coffee. Occasionally, to try and fit in at social events, I will drink tea, but I don’t enjoy it. I drink ice water. Although, I do not have an attachment to the coffee bean, I do have an unshakeable attachment to the cocoa bean. I eat chocolate everyday, usually in the morning and at night. Sometimes in the afternoon, too, if it’s been one of those days.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

I feed my dogs raw. They love their meals. I divide their food so they can have a breakfast and a supper. Who would want to eat only once a day?! For treats, I feed them liver snaps, Canidae kibble, pieces of hotdog, and organic dog biscuits.

Do your dogs help or hinder your writing? Have they inspired any dogs in your fiction?

My dogs help and hinder. After I take them for a long walk, they’ll settle in my writing area, and I love them to be near me sleeping. If, however, it is rainy or too snowy and they don’t get a walk, they interrupt me constantly for attention.That’s when I break out the meat bones. They probably have caught on, which is why they continue to push their noses at me and climb onto my keyboard.

Yes, I always include my dogs in my writing. They inspire me to write. Period.

You are a photographer as well as a writer. Which are easier to photograph: dogs or horses?

Horses are easier to photograph because they don’t usually jump on me, get in my lap, or lick my face.

How did your dogs get their names? Any nicknames?

All females: My boxer’s name is Pilot. She is named after the Elton John song “Take Me to the Pilot.” My rescued dachshund/miniature schnauzer/poodle mix is named Dancer [photo right] after Elton John’s song “Tiny Dancer.” Skye, my youngest rescue, a dachshund/terrier mix, is named after Elton John’s song “Skyline Pigeon.” My three year old black German shepherd is named Runja. She is from her breeder's R litter and her name means run yes. I got her hoping she would be my running companion. She has some arthritis issues however, so she is just my all-around companion.

I used to have a pit bull mix named Wizard after Elton John’s version of “Pinball Wizard.” He died of a bone disease. He was supposed to be my running partner, too. I’ve since decided that it’s better for all of us if I have no job expectations for my dogs.

Regarding nicknames, I sometimes call Pilot, Pi and Runya, Run, but I think that’s more of a time shortage issue than an intentional nickname. Most often I don’t have to call them anything. They are always with me.

How were you and your dogs united?

The two rescues are the result of me failing at fostering. I bought Pilot when my daughter was 4 because I wanted an excellent dog with children and boxers are amazing that way. They happily put up with tons of gentle and not so gentle physical attention. I bought the German shepherd to run with because I wanted protection when I was out exercising in the evening.

Where do your dogs most like to visit on an outing?

They love to go to New Hampshire, my husband’s family’s cabin. There are hundreds of acres of fields and woods and a lake for them to swim. I put life jackets on them and we paddle all over the lake together.

Do the dogs have any non-canine pet pals?

Skye [photo left], the youngest rescue, loves the cats. She wrestles with them (sometimes they win), and they often sleep together on my bed.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick…?

Pilot is ball obsessive. I can’t let her have them for long or she’d never eat or sleep. She invents games where she puts the balls in shoes or buries them in a scatter rug and then finds them again. It’s not just balls, actually. She will obsess over apples, tomatoes, and rocks, too. Anything round. So I guess she is round obsessive. She talks to her squeaky toys.

Runja will chase anything. She’s not picky. The two little rescues will chew anything. They are not picky, but they clearly prefer dragging my clothes out of the laundry basket and into my writing studio.

What is each dog's best quality?

Runja’s loyalty and obedience.

Pilot’s goofiness.

Skye’s and Dancer’s playfulness. They are very funny.

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

That everyone in Maine would love to see them off leash having fun.

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

Runja – Tina Fey.
Pilot – Janeane Garofalo.
Skye – Ellen DeGeneres.
Dancer – Marisa Tomei.

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

Why can’t you ever let me sleep past 6:00 AM?!

To read more about Pigs Can't Swim, go to

To see more of Helen Peppe's photography, see Helen Peppe Photography on Facebook.

–Marshal Zeringue