Thursday, January 29, 2015

Allie Echeverria & Frank

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Allie Echeverria. I blog at In Shape Out of Mind. This is my dog Frank. He's a Dachshund Catahoula Leopard Dog mix and almost a year and a half old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I start every morning off with caffeine and Frank by my side.

What's brewing?

I make a delicious morning protein shake using Icebox Coffee. One scoop of chocolate protein powder (I used Optimum Nutrition Extreme Chocolate), 2 oz of Icebox Coffee (either New Orleans Blend or Madagascar Vanilla), creatine powder (optional), cold water and shake together.

Any treats for you or Frank on this occasion?

This is my breakfast. Frank chows down on Nature's Logic kibble with a Stella & Chewy's meat patty on top.

How were you and Frank united?

I googled Dachshund rescue groups in the south last summer and found Getalong Dachshund Rescue. Frank was one of the dogs they rescued and had in a foster home. The amazing people at Getalong transported Frank from Louisiana to me in Atlanta and we've been best pals ever since.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

Frank's foster name was Frankie. I wasn't a big fan of his name but he has bright blue eyes like Frank Sinatra so I dropped the -ie and named him after Ole Blue Eyes.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Frank has a love/hate relationship with his cousin Toby the cat.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Frank loves his glow in the dark ball and his plush squeaky bones [photo left].

Where is Frank's favorite outdoor destination?

Frank's favorite outdoor destination is the Piedmont Park dog park. He really dislikes the Atlanta Beltline but we're working on getting over that.

Who is Frank's best pet-pal?

photo credit: Denise from Mongrel Mania
photo credit: Denise from Mongrel Mania
Frank's best-pal is his cousin Marley. She's a golden retriever and Frank thinks he is one too.

Shhh... don't tell him otherwise.

What is Frank's best quality?

Frank's best quality is his capacity for love.

He had a pretty rough start in life, but now he knows that he is surrounded by people and animals who love him, and he shows us double that love in return.

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

He would make me calm down. I have trouble just sitting around and I'm always on the move. Frank just wants to cuddle on the couch.

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

Are you allergic to chicken? (We're trying to figure out if he has a food allergy.)

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

Keanu Reeves.

Visit the In Shape Out of Mind blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 26, 2015

Kari Neumeyer & Leo and Mia

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Kari Neumeyer, author of Bark and Lunge and the dog blog Rhymes with Safari. I live in Bellingham, Washington, with my boyfriend Rob and our dogs Leo and Mia, both German shepherds. We've had Leo since he was a puppy and he's almost five. We got Mia when Leo was a year old, and we think she's ten.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We're warming up after a walk because it's cold outside!

What's brewing?

I got some Starbucks giftcards for Christmas, so I could get a peppermint mocha or a green tea latte there, but to be honest, my favorite hot beverage comes out of those cappuccino machines in gas station quickie-marts. They must be loaded with sugar and have little to do with real coffee, but are so delicious.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

I always carry string cheese in my hand for Leo, because he's leash-reactive. When he fixates on a person, or if a bicycle or another dog comes near us, I say "cheesy cheesy" and he nibbles the cheese from my hand instead of barking. Also, my boyfriend Rob will slip the dogs a bite of whatever he's having. After picking up my gas station coffee, we'll drive through McDonalds and he'll share his fries with them.

[photo left: Mia]

How did Leo and Mia get their names? Any aliases?

We spent a long time coming up with Leo's name. We already had a German shepherd named Isis, after the Egyptian goddess, and wanted a name that went with that, but couldn't agree on a single Egyptian, Greek, Roman, or Indian god's name. Finally we decided on Leonidas, shortened to Leo. He's also Leo Bug, Buggie, Buggo and The Bug. Mia came to us already named. We knew nothing of her history but her name, and she clearly responded to it. She's also Mia Bear, Mimi B, BB, Bearski, Meezy, Meems, and The Bear.

How were you and your dogs united?

We interviewed a lot of puppies before we met Leo. He was hanging out under a porch with his siblings and was the roly-poliest of the group. After Isis died, Rob's sister heard about a female German shepherd whose owners had moved away and left her with a neighbor. I can't imagine how anyone could leave Mia behind. We were having a really hard time dealing with Isis's death, and Leo, at one year old, was extremely bratty. Mia restored the balance in our home and gave Leo ankles to nip that weren't ours.

[photo right: Kari & Leo]

Please tell us about your book, Bark and Lunge.

Bark and Lunge is the story of all the mistakes I made training Isis. Rob and I tried to do everything right, but ended up following a lot of bad advice. She became very reactive and ended up biting someone. Eventually we learned about force-free training that helped undo some of our mistakes. The book is a tribute to her.

How do Leo and Mia help--or hinder--your writing?

Sometimes they whine or nudge me when I'm sitting at the laptop, but really, they're my muses, so if they're bored, I know I should close the computer and take them on a walk. I do some of my best thinking on our walks, and have come up with a lot of ideas while out with my pups.

Cat, postman, squirrel....?

The postman is terrified of my dogs. He doesn't like to get out of the mail truck to leave a package on our doorstep, which I think means he's in the wrong business. My dogs don't care about him at all. But squirrels? Yes! Mia is pretty mild-mannered and non-reactive, but she will strain against her leash to get near a squirrel.

Where is your dogs' favorite outdoor destination?

We have a field off the beaten path near our house. I call it the Crime Scene Field because I feel like an FBI agent with search dogs when we're out there. We let the dogs off leash and that's where Leo finally figured out how to fetch. Mia likes to chomp on a rubber ball and won't give it up for anything. For the longest time, Leo was fetch-challenged. He's no retriever. He might run after a tennis ball, but he'd drop it halfway back to us, or forget to pick it up all together. In the last few weeks though, he's started bringing the ball all the way back. We're very proud. (I wrote about the Crime Scene Field here.)

Who are Leo and Mia's best pet-pals?

Each other. They've had a few nasty fights, but for the most part they are best buddies. Whenever they spend time apart, like when Mia gets to go to work with me, they're always so happy to be reunited.

What is each dog's best quality?

Leo is pure loyalty. He'd be a great companion in a post-apocalyptic world. He'd never leave me. Well, he might run off to chase after a squirrel or something, but he'd definitely come back. Mia is loyal too of course, but what I appreciate about her most is that I can take her anywhere. She squeaks and whines a bit in a new place, and I have to take her with me into the bathroom, because otherwise she'll cry outside the door. But she's completely trustworthy and doesn't bark and lunge at anyone.

If Leo and Mia could change one thing about Washingtonians, what would it be?

Leo says definitely the bicycles. I mean, it's great that so many people get exercise and choose an eco-friendly method of commuting, but it's really hard to walk anywhere around here without having a bicycle whiz by. They're harder to avoid than pedestrians and other dogs on leashes, because they move so fast. They startle and frighten Leo, so he barks and lunges at them. Mia thinks dogs should be allowed to go everywhere, like restaurants and movie theaters and public restrooms. That's not really Washingtonians' fault though.

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

When I do Leo's voice, it's very high-pitched and childish. He's also very bratty, so I think a good choice would be Bobb'e J. Thompson, who played Ronnie in Role Models and also Tracy Jr. on 30 Rock. Meryl Streep can play Mia, and Anna Kendrick can play Isis.

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

We're dying to know about Mia's life before we met her, so we'd ask her about that. Leo looks at us with a blank stare a lot, so we're always asking him, "What's going through your mind?"

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

A little dog hair on your clothes or in your food never hurt anyone.

Learn more about Bark and Lunge and visit the Rhymes with Safari dog blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Shannon FitzGerald & Sienna

Who is in the photo at right?

Shannon FitzGerald, I’m a producer for Tokala Studios – we create video biographies for people and pets. I also have a blog where I write about dog training and other things. With me is my pal Sienna. Sienna is a Sheltie mix (I think), she’s seven years old and my best buddy.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Just a regular weekday morning, getting back into the swing of things after the holidays.

What's brewing?

Trader Joe’s French Roast, latte style with lots of cream, sugar and vanilla.

Any treats for you or Sienna on this occasion?

Homemade bread with butter and jam for me, and a Greenie for Sienna.

How did Sienna get her name? Any nicknames?

She’s named for her reddish-brown color – it’s a crayon. She also goes by Pup, Puppy, Puppers…see a theme here?

How were you and Sienna united?

It was fate, and I was the last to know. I wanted a dog, but didn’t think I could have one with my living situation at the time, so I was volunteering for a rescue group, handling dogs at adoption events. At this one event, the county animal control shelter was there with some of their dogs. I didn’t have a dog to handle at that moment, so I went over to visit with the county folks and their dogs – one of which was Sienna. She had just been spayed that morning and was still heavily drugged, so she was pretty much flat out asleep on the grass. “What’s wrong with your dog?” I asked her handler. An auspicious start…

Due to her being doped up, we didn’t really connect, nor did I fall in love with her there. What did happen was that I had a momentary vision of what would happen to this little red dog if nobody took her home – and I was told by (God, the universe, fate?) that in no uncertain terms, I was not allowed to let that happen. Nothing like that had ever happened to me before, nor has it since. I know when to listen to that voice, so I made it my mission to find her a home.

After the adoption event was over, I kept track of her at the shelter. I shared her photo with all of my friends, posted her on pet adoption sites, etc., but nobody came for her. Finally one of my friends agreed to foster her, so the day before she was to be euthanized, I went and got her. At that moment, she decided that she was my dog. My friend fostered, but every time I visited Sienna was over the moon to see me. I took her to see several potential families, and each and every person told me the same thing: “Boy, that dog sure loves you!”

I brought her to work with me, and one of my coworkers had some sage advice: “You know, every once in a lifetime you might find a dog like that. If you’re lucky.”

Well, I know when I’m beat. I talked my then roommate and her cats into letting the little red dog stay (it wasn’t difficult – they already loved her.) I finally allowed myself to love her back, since she was here to stay. And my life has never been the same since. I can’t even begin to imagine it without her.

You create video biographies for people and their pets. I enjoyed the one of Sienna at your site. Do you have other favorites that are available online?

We're just starting out, so we don't have a lot of samples yet. We have a pet memorial video here. And a personal history/biography video (of a person) here.

Who is Sienna's best pet-pal?

Sienna is more of a people person – dogs she merely tolerates. Also her best friend is every cat she ever met. Sadly, the cats don’t usually return the sentiment.

Where is Sienna's favorite outdoor destination?

She loves hiking in the mountains.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Ball, which took me two years to convince her was fun. She also loves her dumbbell (we train & compete in competition obedience trials.)

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Squirrel?? Where??

What is Sienna's best quality?

She’s very adaptable – when things are mellow she’s content to lay around and relax, but she’s also always ready to go on an adventure.

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

She would tell them to stop working so hard all the time, have some fun, chase some squirrels!

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

Anne Hathaway.

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

What was your life like before you ended up in the shelter? And how did you end up there? (She was an owner surrender, but I can’t begin to imagine how or why anyone would give up this dog.)

Visit The DIY Dog blog, and the Tokala Studios website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 19, 2015

Dale Ryan & Rupert and Clementine

Who is in photo at right?

That's me, Dale Ryan. I am at the Pineapple, a park just outside of Edinburgh, Scotland. The weather is typically Scottish…rainy, and the sky is always so beautiful despite the intermittent downpour. As I’m walking, three new pals greet me, and of course, they are dogs.

What’s the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I am celebrating the publication of my new book The Painted Pilgrim. We are off the beaten path, and I’m miles away from my own dogs, Rupert and Clementine who are in Connecticut. It’s raining, and due to the fact that I’m in Scotland, assam tea is my choice of brew.

Any treats for the dogs?

Wherever I travel, I always have treats in my pocket.

How did your dogs get their names?

Most of my dogs are named after well known people. For example, Clementine is named after Winston Churchill’s wife. We had a dog, named Buddha, and he was wonderfully Zen. Interestingly enough, our dogs live up to their name.

How were you united with your dogs?

My dogs came from a kennel/breeder in South Carolina. I met Rupert at an airport. My son went to New York and greeted Clementine. She was driven up from the south and was with another dog who was being admitted to The University Animal Hospital.

Do your dogs help or hinder your writing?

My dogs, Clementine and Rupert help me vs. hinder. Without their aid, I would never be able to understand the nature of dogs. Then again, all the dogs that have shared their life with me, taught me more than words can describe.

Are any actual dogs inspiration for dogs in your writing?

Most of the dogs in The Painted Pilgrim are based on my dogs, my children’s dogs, and friend’s dogs. For example, Buddha, Belle, Blossom, Elma, Eloise, Jack, Winston, are all characters in The Painted Pilgrim. Their breeds and personalities are non-fictional and closely resemble the dogs in the book.

Where is your dogs' favorite outdoor destination?

Our farm in Connecticut, like the park in Scotland, is the kind of environment my dogs most enjoy. The ability to run around, and find shade under the canopies of trees just makes their day. Also, the scent of wildlife and flowers keep their noses busy as well as curious. They would be great gardeners too!

Who are your dogs’ best pals?

My dog’s best pals are their parents [my husband and myself] and their favorite four- legged friend is Blossom, a Jack Russell Terrier.

What is each dog’s best quality?

Without a doubt, Rupert and Clementine are very different but they both share the same gift that all dogs do--unconditional love.

Would your dogs change anything about you?

I love to travel and they would definitely like to be packed away in my luggage. Actually, they have been known to get into the luggage, or they brood when they see my bags. Depends on their mood and how large the suitcase…

If your dogs could speak, and were in Hollywood movies... who or whom would be their voice?

As far as Hollywood… Mae West would have been my first choice. Clementine could easily be impersonated by her voice as well as character. Clementine is a curvy girl with a flirtatious twist. Then again, Maggie Smith could do a perfectly great job. As far as leading men, Cary Grant would be my first choice for playing the role of Rupert. Rupert is quite handsome and has an elegant demeanor. He has a keen sense of observation, and Rupert is a very clever dog. Without a doubt, Benedict Cumberbatch would be my second choice.

What would you ask your dogs if they could speak?

What do you think of the world in which you live in?

What advice would your dogs give you if asked?

The list would be endless. Just think, if dogs had a voice, the world would be a much better place.

Visit The Painted Pilgrim website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Anne Milstead & Puppy

Who is in the photo at right?

That's Puppy, the Dachshund, and myself, Anne Milstead. I'm an aspiring children's book author, and Puppy is a 9-year-old male aspiring navy seal dog.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Puppy and I enjoy sitting together and dreaming of greater things. I have written a children's book, Puppy, the Navy Seal Dachshund, which chronicles Puppy's dream. My own dream of success as an author parallels his, and we both actually have about the same chance of achieving them.

What's brewing?

I enjoy the second cup of whatever my husband brews in the Keurig machine. Earlier, Puppy has enjoyed his morning half a can of Mighty dog food. It's just a taste treat for him. His main staple is dry.

How did Puppy get his name?

His original name was Waggedy Andy, given to him by my daughter who was to be his owner after having lost her precious beloved miniature dachshund named Isabella Rosaweanie. She then decided she couldn't keep "Andy" and left him with me. By then I was calling him "Puppy" and he thought that was his name.

How were you and Puppy united?

As mentioned previously, Puppy was to be for my daughter. We found an ad in the paper for miniature dachshund puppies, went to the home, selected "Waggedy Andy/Puppy" and brought him home. Then my daughter went back to California, and he became mine.

How does your dog help or hinder your work?

Puppy only helps. He lies beside me quietly on the sofa while I type away. If I make a mistake and utter an angry sound of some sort, Puppy sits up and puts his paw on my leg or if I'm really frustrated, he gets on my lap. He is a very calming influence on me.

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your writing?

Oh yes, Puppy is the main character in my book. The other important character is my dear departed old dog, Lucy, who passed away this summer at the age of 15. More about her later.

What is Puppy's favorite outdoor destination?

My dog and I go on a daily walk around the block at 8:30 AM. Puppy jumps off the sofa at this time and runs to the back door as if he wants to go out. I get up and open the door. He just looks at me, and then I say, "Puppy, do you want to go for a walk?" He begins to yelp and whine and rebound off my legs until I get his harness and leash. Then off for the walk. He leads the way and turns in at our house at the end. I guess you could say Puppy's favorite outdoor destination is his own house...

What is Puppy's best quality?

He has many good qualities, but the most helpful is his consistency. His routine is set and he won't deviate. He's like a demanding personal trainer, getting me up for the walk whether I want it or not.

Who are your dog's best pet pals?

Puppy has really only had one best pal and that was Lucy. She was his nanny when he came to us as a tiny puppy. She patiently put up with him for many years, and they were inseparable. Dear Lucy just got old, couldn't get up on her own, had to be hand fed. We're still grieving her passing.

[photo right: Puppy and Lucy]

If your dog could change one thing about Arizonans, what would it be?

I think Puppy is highly satisfied with Arizonans. He likes the way things are, doesn't want to see any change. Perhaps he would say that Arizonans are too complacent.

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

Puppy's voice should be done by Dustin Hoffman, and Lucy's voice should be done by Sandra Bullock, who is such a wonderful actress that I'm sure she could make her voice sound a bit older. I believe that Puppy would actually sound like Dustin Hoffman if he could speak.

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

I think I would ask him, "Puppy, what are your thoughts?" Maybe that's too open ended.

What advice would Puppy give if asked?

He would say, "Persevere, stay on schedule, and be alert to the world around you." He does actually live his own life that way.

Visit Puppy the Dachshund's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 12, 2015

Laura & Lily

Who is in the photo at right?

Hello! My name is Laura and I am currently teaching kindergarten and first grade. Besides teaching, I also work on a site called TeachersPayTeachers and have a teaching blog where I share my experiences. Lily, my sweet sheltie-pomeranian is one year old. She is my pride and joy!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I love to spend time walking Lily, taking a trip to Petsmart, or visiting her doggy friends which include an English mastiff and a pug. You know what else we love to do? Hang out on the couch. We are currently on the couch snuggling and playing since it is freezing rain outside!

What's brewing?

I don't drink coffee every day, but my go to is definitely Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks French Vanilla. I am currently drinking Lipton lemon tea with honey - soothing for my soul!

Any treats for you or Lily on this occasion?

Lily loves the Authority dog treats from Petsmart... they have chicken wrapped apples and sweet potatoes that she loves to take her time munching on.

How did Lily get her name? Any nicknames?

It took me and my boyfriend Mike a little bit to think of the perfect name for Lily because we couldn't agree on one! I tend to go with more cutesy names... but when I suggested Lily, it just seemed right. Mike agreed and it was set. (Laughs) I have tons of nicknames for her... Lulu, Boos, Lily pad, Mama, and so forth.

How were you and Lily united?

Lily was for sale at a local pet store... and I really did plan on adopting a puppy, but she just felt like ours. Mike really pushed for her, and the rest was history. I also knew Lily would be the perfect name because the girl who sold us Lily (who is now our friend) is named Liliana.

Has Lily ever visited your kindergarten class? If so, how did it go? If not, how do you think that might work out?

I wish! I want to bring her in at some point because the kids really want to meet her, but I haven't had the time slot to do that. I work about 25 minutes away, so I wouldn't be able to just quickly drop her off after a little bit and a whole day of school would be too long for her. I think it would work out fine... Lily would be very excited but nervous at the same time, but my kids are so respectful that they wouldn't scare her. She loves kids.

Who is Lily's best pet-pal?

As mentioned before, Lily has two best friends - a pug named Zoey and an English mastiff named Bear. Zoey is my parent's dog and she is sweet as can be. Lily will tease her and be a little too playful at times! And I know what you are thinking... an English mastiff?! The size difference is amazing [see photo right, from New Years] but they are the best of friends. Bear is a big sweetheart.

Where is Lily's favorite outdoor destination?

Lily loves the outdoors. She loves to run wildly through the grass for walks or jump into mounds and mounds of snow until I yell it's time to come inside. We often go for walks around a pond nearby and you can see the happiness in her face.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Lily is all about the squeaky toys! To get your attention, she will drop the toy in your lap and back up so you can throw it. If you aren't paying attention to her, she will squeak it so fast that you can't hear anything else.

She loves the crinkly soft toys as well (and so does mommy and daddy because they are quiet!) Lily loves the outdoors like I had mentioned, so she also loves bringing in sticks and rocks. She thinks she's funny.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Bear is our landlord's dog so he sees Lily a lot. When they are outside together, Bear will bark at people walking by our fence - Lily now does this as well and follows his lead. It's the cutest thing!

What is Lily's best quality?

Lily has so many amazing qualities but I think her best is that she is very smart and obedient. She knows so many different tricks and commands, and she will always stay by my side on or off a leash.

She is loving, caring, and very sensitive.

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

She would definitely wish that mommy was home more! I work so much that I try to spend as much precious time as I can with her. She is my biggest fan when I come home, and the saddest little peanut when I leave!

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

Lily is smart, energetic, caring, and funny... I think that she would have the voice of someone that had these characteristics - Mike suggested Anna (Kristen Bell) from Frozen! I think that's a great pick.

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

Wow, that's a tough one... I would maybe ask her to tell me a few things that would make her life that much better. I already spoil her and love her to pieces, but I would want her to communicate with me if she needed anything else.

Visit the TeachersPayTeachers website and Laura's teaching blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Michelle Wing & Ripley

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Michelle Wing, a poet and writer. Ripley, my service dog, is a yellow English Labrador. She is nine years old. I also keep a blog about life with a service dog at Canine Bodhisattva. We live in Cloverdale, California, which is in Northern Sonoma County.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We stopped at Plank, our favorite coffee shop in Cloverdale, after going to the library. The library wanted to purchase a copy of my recently-released book, Cry of the Nightbird: Writers Against Domestic Violence.

What's brewing?

Soy latte, in my favorite big red bowl mug.

Any treats for you or Ripley on this occasion?

Ripley always gets a peanut butter dog biscuit. We purchase it at the counter, then step outside to the sidewalk so she can eat it – no eating in restaurants/cafes for service dogs.

How did Ripley get her name? Any nicknames?

Ripley’s namesake is Sigourney Weaver’s character in the Alien science fiction movies. When I got her, I was in need of a kick-ass heroine in my life. I get teased about the name because she’s such a gentle spirit. But one of her jobs (which she does very well) is to wake me at night when I’m having nightmares. So she literary chases away the bad guys.

As a nickname, usually Ripley-dipley-doo, which gets shortened to Doodle.

[photo left: Dog Latte: Plank barista Steve's portrait of Ripley.]

How were you and Ripley united?

My wife Sabrina gave Ripley to me as a eight-week-old puppy, when we first moved in together. Originally Ripley was simply a companion animal. Then when I began having health issues, we trained together so she could become my service dog.

Does Ripley do more to help or hinder your writing?

When I am at my computer, Ripley is always lying just to my left, keeping me company. And she’s a huge performance hound. We go to a lot of public venues, open mics, readings, etc., so Ripley is often up on stage with me. She simply loves applause, and thinks it’s all for her.

Who is Ripley's best pet-pal?

Ripley shares her house with two other dogs and seven cats. She’s probably most fond of Malaki, our three-year-old pit cross. But she doesn’t really “play” with other animals. When she’s off-duty, she likes to just chill.

[photo right: Michelle ordering coffee at Plank, with an attentive Ripley, waiting for her peanut butter biscuit.]

Where is Ripley's favorite outdoor destination?

She loves to go to the Russian River under the bridge by Cloverdale to wade in the water.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Squeaky toy. But only on vacation.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Raccoons and an annoying fox! The only things that make her bark at the house.

What is Ripley's best quality?

She is true-blue loyal. Ripley is literally with me 24 hours a day, and she takes her job seriously.

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

It would be their cluelessness about working dogs. People always come up and start petting her, and she looks up at me as if to say, “Mom? Can you make them stop? I’m trying to concentrate.”

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

Hilary Swank.

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

Ripley is my first service dog, and I’ve been told that service dogs usually retire when they are about ten years old. I’d like to ask when she’d like to retire. It’s incredibly hard to imagine replacing her; obviously, she’ll still live with us. But I don’t want her to feel pushed out of the job before she is ready.

Visit the Canine Bodhisattva blog and Michelle Wing's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 5, 2015

Jo Perry & Lola and Lucy

Who is in the photos at right?

Jo Perry. Lola Perry and Lucy Perry.

I'm a writer who lives in Los Angeles. My first novel, Dead Is Better, will be published in January, 2015.

The canines are Lola and Lucy. Lucy is a soon-to-be 7 year old 50 lb. mutt, probably part black lab and part spaniel or flat-coated retriever.

Lola is also going to be 7 in a few months. She is a 16 lb mutt as well, part Chihuahua and part––we think because of her barkiness––Jack Russell.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

The dogs and I are celebrating my new novel. Since I am something of a late bloomer, we are celebrating early, before the actual publication date. But we don't need an excuse to celebrate: my dogs have taught me that every day should be celebrated.

What's brewing?

Starbucks French roast fresh ground and made at home. Strong and dark. With soy milk. In a big cup.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Dream Bones (non- rawhide chews).

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Lucy, who came into my life first, is sweet in an old-fashioned, straightforward way: "Lucy" matched her personality.

"Lola" is Lola because she is willful ("Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets"), and because of the alliteration.

How were you and your dogs united?

It was a terribly hot day in August, 2008. I was registering voters at a large store in the San Fernando Valley. Lucy—a puppy then—was wandering in the dangerous and very busy parking lot. She was dirty, dusty, scared and confused. No owner around—I took her home in my car. She fell asleep immediately—that’s how exhausted she was.

About nine months later, a neighbor found Lola in the alley behind our house. He tried to find a home, then took her to the pound. We rescued her. Lola and Lucy have been best friends and constant companions ever since.

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

My dogs inspired my novel—which features a man and a dog in the afterlife. I could never have written this book without them. My dogs have enriched my life, enlarged it, and brought me joyful companionship.

They also interrupt my work—barking at squirrels, leaf blowers, or reminding me that it is time for (a walk, a snack, a treat, or just a pat on the head).

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your writing?

Yes. My dog Lucy is the model for Rose, the canine heroine of my novel. Rose is a setter and Lucy isn’t—but they share the same sweetness and intelligence.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

Squirrels are to be chased but never caught.

Mail carriers are to be barked at.

The dogs live with three cats. It’s sometimes tense, but we are one family.

What is your dogs' favorite outdoor destination?

My dogs love a park we visit daily. They run free, dig holes, chase balls, visit with other dogs and enjoy the delicious smells of food trucks that assemble nearby around lunch time. I am not going to name the park. It’s a secret.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

The dogs have many canine friends in our neighborhood: Lucy the lovely yellow lab, Lucy’s first and oldest friend, and her boisterous canine brother, Boomer; Zeus, a serious and handsome boxer; Griffin, a charming Norwich terrier; Bailey, terrier mix and Bonita, a champagne poodle, who are always excited to see them; and Lacy and Rascal (both Chihuahua mixes) and Wally, a friendly Wheaton. A neighbor hosts a canine happy hour every weekday evening. The dogs socialize and munch on milk bones. The humans merely socialize.

What is each dog's best quality?

Lucy is all sweetness.

Lola is absolutely and unwaveringly loyal. She isn’t so sure how she feels about other people and other dogs. Her mood changes with the weather.

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

Lola hates skateboards. They are an outrage. Skateboarders have to go!

Lucy is not fond of leaf blowers. Perhaps they can be banished with the skateboarders.

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

Let’s see. Meryl Streep could do a great Lucy. Rita Rudner would be a perfect Lola.

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

Only one question! I have so many questions—what happened to you before we found you? Where did you come from? But I suppose the most important question—and the one I would ask is––what am I missing that I need to know about you? Or, what is it you’ve been wanting to tell me?

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

I learn from my dogs. Not the other way around. Perhaps that is why I am well-trained and they are not. My advice would be to worry less: I will return! I will never leave you!

Visit Jo Perry's website.

My Book, The Movie: Dead is Better.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Jennifer Findlay & Daisy and Stella

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Jennifer Findlay, and I’m sitting with Daisy, my 7-year-old Labradoodle. I’m a homemaker, mom, wife, sister and photographer. So I wear a lot of hats around here. I also have Stella, a 5-year-old Poodle/Bijon mix dog. At least that’s what we think she is. She is a rescue dog that was found wet, muddy and cold in a construction site ditch when she was just a wee puppy.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

My beautiful dogs and I always sit together on the couch every morning for coffee and cuddles. In fact, I called my photography blog Coffee & Couch, because that’s usually where I can be found doing all my online work and play.

What's brewing?

I’m drinking a cup of Starbucks House Blend I made with my Keurig machine. One of my pet peeves is tepid coffee. I really love it when my coffee is piping hot, and I have gone through so many types of coffee devices looking for just the right one. Sadly, I still haven’t found one that gets my coffee hot enough. Sigh. If anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears!

Any treats for you or Daisy and Stella on this occasion?

Daisy and Stella don’t get treats, because Daisy has pancreatitis. She relapses easily, so we have banned all treats, human food, and high-fat dog food. We give them lots of love though. Daisy goes crazy for ear scratches and belly rubs. Stella thinks it’s blissful when I let her lick my hands or toes. I’s weird, but I don’t mind as long as she’s happy.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

We used to get weekly pictures of Daisy from the time she was born until we were able to bring her home, and she just looked like a precious little daisy, so that’s why we called her Daisy.

Stella’s story is a bit more convoluted and fraught with hilarity. My sister originally fell head-over-heals in love with Stella when she spotted her being delivered to the SPCA as a puppy. Unfortunately, my sister’s circumstances changed and she wasn’t able to adopt Stella. So we stepped in to take her. Everyone who meets Stella falls in love with her. She snuggles right into your neck if you pick her up, and she’s perpetually happy. When my extended family met her, it was mass love-at-first-sight and an epic competition to choose her name ensued—because that’s just how we roll as a family. One sister insisted on Stella. The other wanted the name Lucy. We thought Popcorn would be the best, because she bounced around like a popping kernel of corn. My sister who lost out on adopting her wanted the name Stella. So you can see who won. At family gatherings, Stella is addressed as Stella-Lucia-Popocorno. No, we’re not Italian. We’re just a bit crazy.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

Cat... Squirrel... Postman...Walkers.... Suspicious Vehicles ... they’re all victims!

These dogs perch themselves on the top of my couch like sentries keeping guard. If they even spot a gum wrapper flying by, they’ll bark. They’re absolutely lawless dogs!

Stick, ball, squeaky-toy...?

Daisy is far too dignified to even acknowledge toys. Stella, on the other hand, is an unabashed toy hound. Her diamond-sharp teeth can wreak havoc on a stuffy in a matter of minutes, and all that’s left is a deflated squeaker and tufts of stuffing all over the floor. Stella would spend every waking minute chasing a ball if you throw it for her.

What is your dogs' favorite outdoor destination?

My in-law’s cattle ranch is like Doggy Disneyland for my girls! Sadly, it’s a six-hour drive from our home, so we don’t get to visit as often as we would like to. The dog park around the corner is a close second destination of preference.

Who are Daisy and Stella's best pet-pals?

My dogs aren’t keen about interacting with other dogs, but they do love my in-law’s old black Labrador Retriever.

What is each dog's best quality?

Daisy’s best quality is her old soul. She looks deeply into your eyes and conveys such incredible love.

Stella’s best quality is her optimism. She is such a happy little creature. Her funniest quality is her bravery. She thinks she can take on the world to protect us. I even caught her growling at the glowing apple on the front cover of my laptop.

If Daisy and Stella could change one thing about British Columbians, what would it be?

Daisy and Stella would definitely like to be allowed into stores and cafes in British Columbia. I think they’re actually displaced Parisians!

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

In a movie, I think Dame Judi Dench would portray Daisy, and Will Ferrell would portray Stella in the persona of the Elf character.

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

If my dogs could speak English, I would ask them this one question: “What can I do to make your life even better?”

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

My dogs’ advice would be: “Play outside as much as you can. Oh, and can you just stop putting that black thing with a lens up to our faces.”

Visit Jennifer Findlay's Coffee & Couch blog and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue