Thursday, February 26, 2015

Beth Stafford & Callisto

Who is in the photo at right?

Calli (Airedale Terrier) and Beth Stafford (artist), taken shortly after we met on our "Gotcha Day" in November, 2012.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Beth Stafford. I am an artist - started out as a traditional realist painter and have been down many side roads since, finally arriving at "representational abstraction" which is taken to an almost molecular level in my jewelry and digital works. My website has samples from most of my wanderings.

What's your dog's name, gender, age, breed?

My girl Calli is a 3-year-old Airedale Terrier. Her Vulcan ears are not typical of the breed - usually Airedale ears have some degree of fold. Calli's looked like satellite dishes when she was a puppy, but she has grown into them nicely.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Our daily routine starts with me dragging Calli out of bed and down the road for a walk. When that ordeal is over, we come in and I give her breakfast and meds (she has epilepsy), and then have my well-deserved dose of caffeine for the day.

What's brewing?

Eight O'Clock Coffee, drip ground. Should be "Ten" or "Eleven O'Clock" since that's usually when we eat (a couple of night owls here).

Any treats for you or Calli on this occasion?

I have a couple of thick slices of homemade whole wheat sourdough bread, topped by a peanut butter / powdered sugar spread, and Calli gets part of her kibble, one piece at a time. I do this to keep her moving as long as possible, since sleeping is her favorite "activity".

How were you and Calli united?

Calli came to me from Washington, DC, via North Carolina Airedale Rescue, when she was 11 months old. I had just lost 13-year-old Cassie six weeks before, and was so happy to have a canine in the house again. I fell in love immediately, which was a good thing for her, because she had seizures the first night and they have occurred on a daily basis ever since. Apparently no one had ever stayed around her long enough to notice, which gave us a lot of challenges to work on. She is the stubbornest, most uncooperative dog I have ever had - totally unlike my other two Airedales - but she also has an incredibly sweet disposition and beautiful eyes that melt my heart. That, and she's so darned cute. We have come a long way in two years, but still have far to go.

How did your dog get her name?

I wanted something that would have a similar sound to her previous name (which I didn't like). "Callie" would have worked, but I wanted something less common. I did a little digging and came on the story of Callisto, a nymph that Zeus was too fond of, so his jealous wife Hera banished Callisto to the sky, where she became the constellation Ursa Major (Big Bear). Airedales are often referred to as "B'Aires", due to their wooly teddy bear appearance - that was my sign that "Callisto" was the name I wanted, becoming "Calli" for short. Looks good on her art!

Any aliases?

Oh, yeah. "Space Cadet", "Idiot Pea-brain", "Sweetie-peetie", "Doofy Dawg", "Jaws", "Scissor Mouth","Big Foot" - these are just a few!

You collaborated on a lot of art with your Airedale Cassie (b. 1999 - d.2012) What contribution does Calli make to your art these days?

Calli's style is so different from Cassie's wildly exuberant "brushwork", mainly because she pays very little attention to the world outside. Some of her marks on the door are made when she is having a seizure - maybe she is recording or reacting to what she sees and hears in that altered state, because they mostly do resemble drawings and doodles instead of expressionist strokes like Cassie made. I use the name "PiCassieO for my collaborations with Cassie (representing our artist and dog team), but since Calli is in her "other world" so much, I let her work stand alone as "CalliGraphy", even though I am still the interpreter. I am having fun exploring the possibilities, taking a more linear approach in working with her "sketches". A few of her works are on my blog mentioned above.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

This is so funny - Calli is a cat-magnet. Two of our four cats love her, and one of the neighbors has a big gray one that jumps the fence to come visit when we walk by their house. She is not much of a chaser and her hunting instinct appears to be absent. She does love to play with other dogs when she gets a chance, but there is not an aggressive bone in her fuzzy body. Except when she first arrived, she was a terrible car chaser. I had a trainer to work with us for a while, and that was the one thing that Calli learned - to stand still when a car passed. Only now, she stops if there's one anywhere in sight and won't budge until it goes by. I feel like I should salute, since we've been standing at attention for so long.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Calli's favorite toys are her elk antler chews, a flat plush beaver with squeakers (I call it the road-kill toy), and an ancient basketball that belonged to Cassie. Forgot - she also likes a metal trashcan in one of the other rooms and whacks it over on a regular basis and then takes off running. It's part of the "zoomie" ritual.

She also has two stuffed pals that she sleeps with - "Foo Cow" [photo left] and "Puppy".

Where is Calli's favorite outdoor destination?

Once I get her out of the yard (she has a hang-up about that), she likes to walk to the end of our road and visit her "cousin" Gracie. Actually she walks faster coming home so she can go back inside - not an outdoor dog, this one.

What is Calli's best quality?

Her sweet nature. You just can't stay mad at her for long, no matter what mischief she does, due to that slightly spacey sweetness. Gotta love her.

Who is Calli's best pet-pal?

Been the cat [with Calli, photo right], who lives with us. He was a stray who stayed in spite of the objections of the other two outdoor cats. He claimed Calli as "his" dog and would wait for us to come out. When he got sick a year ago we found out he had FIV (feline AIDS) and to his delight he got to come inside and live upstairs to keep from infecting the other cats. He is now fat and sassy and he and Calli are furever pals.

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

She would probably change my sex, since she seems to prefer men. She belonged to a guy in her former life.

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

Hard to pick only one, since there is so much about this strange little soul that I don't understand. Confession: I consulted an "animal communicator" about Calli, and she told me that Calli explains her seizures like this: "I go away, and then I come back." The question would be, "Where do you go?"

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

Probably Lily Tomlin in her "Edith Ann" voice.

What advice would Calli give if asked?

"Don't worry, be happy - and take more naps!"

Will that advice work for you?

Nope - I am a neurotic worrywart and epilepsy is the worst thing I've ever had to deal with. We do have episodes of pure joy, though - that keeps me going. Forget naps - too many other things I'd rather be doing!

Visit Beth Stafford's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 23, 2015

Holly S. Roberts & Dizzy and Duchess

Who is in the photo at right?

This is Dizzy, she’s a nine month old Rottweiler. She’s my sidekick in just about everything.

I’m Holly S. Roberts, a retired police detective, and now a full-time writer as well as Dizzy’s mom.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We are celebrating my twenty-fourth book, Slam. This our favorite old bench to enjoy any sun we can find.

What's brewing?

My Fang Chronicles’ mug holds almond cappuccino with a dollop of coconut cream. Dizzy’s mug has water with a sprinkle of love.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

This outdoor excursion is Dizzy’s treat. She thinks I spend too much time in my office writing and not enough time outside enjoying the beauty.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Somehow when I hold a puppy for the first time, their name appears in my head as if by magic. She became Dizzy a minute after I wrapped my arms around he fluffy body.

How were you and your dogs united?

Dizzy comes from a litter of eight. She was the only puppy not spoken for due to her timid nature. She’s packed full of anxiety issues and needed me as much as I needed her.

[photo left: Dizzy at five weeks]

Have any real dogs influenced fictional dogs in your writing?

My Rottweiler before Dizzy was Charlie. I lost her when she was six due to cancer. Like Dizzy, she was perpetually by my side. Her loss was extremely difficult and I wrote the book, The Forever Team (under my pen name Suzie Ivy), in remembrance of her incredible but short life. The Forever Team is part of the 10-Code Anthology, books written by cops to honor officers who gave their lives in the line of duty.

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

Well… as a rambunctious nine-month-old very large puppy she requires lots of attention and enjoys hindering my writing as often as possible.

Cat, postman, squirrel....?

Most definitely squirrels. We’re surrounded by them and Dizzy thinks they were put on earth to drive her crazy.

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?

Her weasel squeaky-toy is her favorite. She carries it, tosses it in the air, and loves a good game of tug.

Where is your dogs' favorite outdoor destination?

The dog park where she cowers from any dog that gets near her. She hides behind any human she can find. We never explained to her that she’s a dog. I’m hoping no one ever does.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

My husband’s Chihuahua, Duchess, is Dizzy’s best friend. Duchess doesn’t agree though. She’s old and fat and just pretends to like Dizzy so she can steal the occasional kibble.

What is each dog's best quality?

Dizzy is wonderful with my grandchildren and thinks she’s one of them. All my Rottweilers have been great with kids but Dizzy is the absolute best. Again we haven’t told her the truth about being a dog.

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

They wouldn’t take their dogs to the dog park. They would come just to give Dizzy attention.

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

Lucile Ball for Dizzy and Vivian Vance for Duchess.

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

If you can pull all your toys out, why can’t you put them away?

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Dizzy would advise me to go outside and smell the roses more often.

Visit Holly S. Roberts's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Brian Yansky & Merlin

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s Merlin, Sheepdog, 8 years old, and me--Brian Yansky, a writer of novels (mostly Young Adult) and a professor of writing at Austin Community College.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I write at home for a few hours most mornings, and Merlin is nearby to lend his support. I usually have two cups of coffee when I work.

What's brewing?

Just good old-fashioned Columbian or Costa Rican, medium roast. This is my working-day coffee. If I’m out and about, I’m partial to cappuccino.

Any treats for you or Merlin on this occasion?

One of us often has a dog biscuit or two and one of us sometimes has something sweet—cinnamon rolls would be the sweet of choice.

How were you and Merlin united?

Sheepdog Rescue. Merlin had had four homes in a little over a year. We were the fifth. In one of his homes, he was exiled because he kept carrying their small dog around in his mouth. No doubt he thought this was funny. He has a strange sense of humor.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

He had three or four names with his other owners. I think one was Buddy and another was Sam. Clearly these people did not understand the magic of Merlin. We did.

Does Merlin do more to help or hinder your writing?

He helps. Occasionally I think out loud and he always listens attentively. But the main way he helps is his love of walks. I do a lot of writing when I walk. I think about plots and characters and problems in the manuscript. I work them out. Merlin is always willing to encourage me to take a walk. A selfless act that I appreciate.

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

I’ve had four dogs. None have yet managed to inspire dogs in my work. I fully intend to write a novel in the future that has a dog or dogs in it though. No doubt all my dogs will have some hand in inspiring the identity of those dogs.

Who is Merlin's best pet-pal?

Chaos, our cat, who he adores. She, being a cat, tolerates his adoration. Mostly.

What is Merlin's best quality?

His sense of humor. He makes me laugh.

If Merlin could change one thing about Texans, what would it be?

Austinites are Texans but they’re Austinites first. Capital of Weird.

I think Merlin wouldn’t change anything about Austin-Texans.

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

Why do motorcycles bother you so much?

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

Owen Wilson.

What advice would Merlin give if asked?

Live in the moment.

Visit Brian Yansky's website.

Writers Read: Brian Yansky.

The Page 69 Test: Utopia, Iowa.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 16, 2015

Laura Grace Weldon & Winston and Cocoa Bean

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Laura Grace Weldon. I'm a writer, editor, and unrepentant library addict. My new book is a collection of poetry titled Tending. I live on Bit of Earth Farm with humans, livestock, and two high personality dogs -- Winston (four year old Pomeranian) and Cocoa Bean (8 year old Toy Poodle).

[at right: Weldon and Winston]

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Post-walk relaxation during which I read and dogs sprawl.

What's brewing?

My husband roasts small batches of coffee twice a week and it tastes so damn good that it has ruined me for coffee served anywhere but home. He orders all sorts of different raw beans, so what we drink is always changing. This week's beans are Nicaragua Dipilto Finca La Laguna.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

These guys go for a walk most afternoons, either down our rural street or off to the park. After the walk they demand dinner. They nosh on raw ground meat, a little cheese, and a smidgeon of whatever vegetables I've got around. After dinner it's Festival time. I don't know how this became de rigueur, but after they've eaten and gone out they each get a piece of Hare of the Dog or Lucky Premium jerky. As I open the pantry door to get out their treats they run happily room to room with uncontainable eagerness. They observe this ritual with dedicated fervor. A day cannot pass without the post-dinner Festival. Afterwards we sit and relax. Coffee for me, full tummies for them.

When you last appeared on the blog back in 2010, you reported that Cocoa Bean was "clever, affectionate and a bit neurotic." Have those neuroses faded or gotten more interesting?

Alas, the neuroses have not faded. Cocoa Bean tends to wear a forlorn expression, like someone who reads nothing but Dostoyevsky. He trembles at the slightest stress and shakes like a paint mixer on car rides. When I go out back to the cows and chickens my family reports that he puts up his chin and howls mournfully. If I leave in the car he positions himself on the back of the couch, watching the driveway for hours and sometimes refusing to eat or drink until I get back. Let me hasten to add, his life truly isn't stressful. He's treated with warm affection and, because I work from home, has my near-constant companionship.

Do Winston and Cocoa Bean do more to help or hinder your writing?

Help. Cocoa Bean has a lair under my desk where he likes to spend the day. Winston's favorite nap spot is up against the rungs of my chair. This makes it hard to move, so I'm stuck working.

Have any actual dogs inspired dogs in your published work?

I love dogs. All dogs. They can't help but appear in my writing, Here's a poem inspired by Cocoa Bean in my recent collection.

"Calling the Dog"

Following messages left in leaves soil air
he wanders too far.
When I call he pauses
to hurl fullness and glory
ahead of the self
like whales breach tigers lunge hawks soar.
There’s nothing but an arc
between hearing his name and springing
toward the one who named him.

I want this completeness.
I want to feel 100 trillion cells spark
from my body in answer
to what we call spirit.
I want to taste
the shimmering voltage course
from every rock tree star.

A moment before reaching me
he unsprings,
back to golden fur and brown eyes
arriving tongue first.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

I expect them to bark about such threats. Sometimes they let down their guard. Like the other day....

My hand was on the door to let the dogs out. I just so happened to be belting out Ode to Joy with improvised lyrics lauding the delights of peeing in the snow. This was meant to encourage the dogs to go out (perhaps to escape my singing). Unbeknownst to me, an innocent FexEd guy was on the other side of the door, finger poised to ring the doorbell.

I hope this qualifies him for trauma-related workman's comp.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

These guys don't care for toys. Not even sticks. They play an energetic version of chase-through-the-house and love to run in the yard. They sniff derisively at the dog toys we keep for them, that is, unless a visiting dog noses in their toy basket. Then, suddenly, they care a great deal.

Who are Winston and Cocoa Bean's best pet-pals?

They prefer their humans and each other. Visiting dogs inspire them to hide.

If Winston and Cocoa Bean could change one thing about Ohioans, what would it be?

Winston wants all Ohioans to visit and adore him. He reigns over parties, enjoys greeting people on walks, and in a season of well-deserved glory appeared onstage in several Wizard of Oz performances. He got fully into the character of Toto, came when called by that name, skipped with Dorothy at the right time, and stayed in his assigned basket despite a scary shrieking witch, flying monkeys, and loud fake thunder.

Cocoa Bean [photo right] would like all Ohioans to stay away and never, ever visit his home. He doesn't want them to knock on the door or drive down the street, he most certainly doesn't want his humans to leave him to visit other people.

If Winston and Cocoa Bean could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?

Tell me about the sounds you hear.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Winston and Cocoa Bean could speak, who should voice them?

Winston would expect nothing less than a top star. He'd probably agree to Bradley Cooper or Robert Downey Jr. He'd expect the actor to grow lush hair in order to get into character.

Cocoa Bean would need an actor well-versed in voicing angst. I'm thinking Woody Allen.

What advice would Winston and Cocoa Bean give if asked?

Both advise people to take up gardening. They love it when I'm planting and weeding. They investigate, chase, and forage for tasty things like fallen tomatoes.

Learn more about Laura Grace Weldon's poetry collection, Tending, and her handbook of alternative education, Free Range Learning.

Visit the author's blog, website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch. Just don't knock on her door. She may be singing.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Meg McCarthy & Bolt and Nike

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Meg McCarthy and these are my two shelties, Bolt and Nike. Nike is my oldest, he's 10 years old and has been retired from agility for the last few years (he's very much enjoying all the couch time now). Bolt is three and he is actively competing in agility -- he's been quite successful in his young life and we have many events we're looking forward to this year; coming up is in the near future is Westminster, Sheltie Nationals, AKC Nationals, and World Team Tryouts!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Today is a bit of a different one for us. The shelties and I are crashing at my Dad’s house waiting out the blizzard that hit the Northeast. We are enjoying an afternoon cup after lots of shoveling, quad-riding through the snow, and much eating. The snow is still coming down quite hard.

What's brewing?

My go-to is always a home-brewed Starbucks with cream and sugar. Today it’s a house blend with caramel creamer. Nice and toasty beside the fireplace for sure!

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

They have been allowed lots of extra treats because of the snow storm… including the ever-coveted pizza bones (pizza crust).

How did Bolt and Nike get their names? Any aliases?

Nike was named after the sports brand-- which is from the Goddess of Victory-- though he assures everyone he's quite manly. He goes by Nike Nathaniel when he's in some sort of trouble, but luckily that only happens a couple times a week (okay, maybe a couple times a day). Bolt, on the other hand, got his name for the natural occurrence-- a name that's a bit too serious for this very goofy, happy dog. Though sometimes people think he's named for the Disney character and I don't mind that at all-- he's a superhero, after all. He goes by many nicknames, the most ridiculous of which is Bo-beast. Don't ask, because I don't know.

How were you and your dogs united?

Nike came in to my life when I was 15. I had worked all summer to pay for him, and had high hopes of what our agility career together would be. He was the only puppy of the litter and was going to be a bit over-sized, so the breeder wanted him to find the right person: luckily she thought I fit the bill. Bolt was a sort of unexpected puppy (the best sort) and came to me when I wasn't exactly sure I was ready for a new dog (I was). My long-time friend, Paulette Swartzendruber, had a litter of puppies planned from her awesome dog, Rush. I luckily lived close enough to her to be there the day they were born (and almost every day after that). She helped me pick out Bolt, and now that she's no longer with us, her spirit and memory lives on through him. He's become a very special dog to me.

Bolt and Nike are both agility dogs. What is each dog's proudest achievement in the sport?

Both Bolt and Nike have had many great achievements in agility. Nike's proudest moment was when he placed 1st at the AKC National agility championships in the International round-- we had worked so hard to make it to that point and it felt like such a moment of accomplishment for us. Along with that Nike earned his Master Agility Championship (MACH), attended several world team tryouts and two national championships. Bolt has been competing for just over two years but has achieved much. I haven't had a particular achievement with him that I am most proud of yet-- he's qualified for three World Team Tryouts, two National championships, has almost completed his MACH, and has many more events in the upcoming year. I see many proud achievements in our future.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

None, actually. Both boys are a bit oblivious to those sorts of things. Though Bolt does enjoy running the fence and play bowing to horses.

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?

Nike's favorite would have to be the ball. Though he is definitely not a retriever, and most games of fetch become a game of Nike barking while I retrieve the ball myself. Squeaky toys are definitely Bolt's favorite. He usually chooses to begin incessant squeaking around 11pm every night when we've all settled in to bed. (There's a current embargo on any new squeakies entering the house per "Daddy"-- my fiancé, Joe).

What is your dogs' favorite outdoor destination?

Anywhere that allows for some hiking. We plan hiking trips all year long, and love to explore places we've never been before. We're planning on doing a day hike this spring/ summer to the Appalachians. That’s aside from the outdoor agility training we do when the weather cooperates, that is!

Who are Bolt and Nike's best pet-pals?

Bolt and Nike love their friends Sir Prize (a border collie), Jive (a sheltie), Aidan (a golden-mix) and the newest addition to our 'extended family', Seamus (also a sheltie) owned and loved by my good friends, Carolyn and Dee. We spend many weekends with them playing agility, hiking, having bonfires and going to the beach.

What is each dog's best quality?

Nike's best quality is his thoughtfulness. He's a sensitive dog (don't tell him) who would attach himself to my hip if he were able. I'd have to say that Bolt's best quality is his smile, and his unrivaled love of life. He has made me a better person, and has made me learn to appreciate the things I once took for granted-- he has put an entirely new perspective on the world.

If Bolt and Nike could change one thing about you, what would it be?

Probably the fact that I work a full-time job. They would much rather I be home all day with them.

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

I have a feeling Bolt would best be suited by someone like Ashton Kutcher. Especially after his role as Kelso on That’s 70’s Show. Nike, on the other hand, seems more suited to have someone like Patrick Stewart as his voice—a more refined, mature sort of character for my older boy.

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

Do you really think you’re protecting me from the hair dryer/ shovel/ broom/ vacuum, etc?

What advice would Bolt and Nike give if asked?

Nike and Bolt would certainly say that more cookies would fix whatever was broken. That, or nothing a few barks and spins couldn’t solve.

Visit Meghan McCarthy's Unstoppable Dogs website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 9, 2015

Lynn Chandler Willis & Sam

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Lynn Chandler Willis, author of Wink of an Eye, and this is my writing partner, Sam. Sam is an 11 year-old male cocker spaniel.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Because breakfast is usually rushed and on-the-go during the week, Sam and I enjoy a more leisurely weekend pace. On Saturday mornings, we'll head to a local fast food joint. Sam likes to wedge himself between me and the steering wheel and bark at the giant talking menu when we order. He usually gets a sausage biscuit while I get a large coffee.

What's brewing?

We really like Dunkin' Donuts Hazelnut! I don't have one of the new fangled single brew machines because I tend to drink it by the pot rather than the cup, so I prefer the vacuum-packed Dunkin' Donuts I can buy at the local grocery store.

Any treats for you or Sam on this occasion?

Sam will either get a sausage biscuit or ham biscuit while I dive into the icing-topped blueberry biscuits.

How were you and Sam united?

My kids gave him to me as a gift on Mother's Day when he was a six-week old puppy. And I hated him. Puppies are a lot of work. He was constantly underfoot, chewed anything and everything he could, refused house training, and ran in the opposite direction when called. He was horrible! I was at my wits end and ready to find a foster home for him when I called a number associated with a cocker rescue. The lady said if he was that ill-mannered, he'd probably be bounced from home to home because the problems wouldn't be corrected, just covered up until he could be bounced again. I didn't like him but I didn't want that for him. She suggested obedience school for him so we signed up. After two years, three levels of advanced obedience, and even acting class, I wouldn't take a million dollars for him now.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

Honestly, this goes along with the above answer. I didn't like him and the really cool names just weren't connecting. I had to call him something so I just started calling him Sam. Before long, it started growing on me and I can't imagine calling him anything else.

Does Sam do more to help or hinder your writing?

He helps in a backward sort of way. When he's ready for me to get up from the desk and sit on the couch beside him, he'll bark until I give in. Sometimes I'll take the laptop over to the couch and continue to work while he snoozes beside me.

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

Sam was the inspiration for Jasper in Wink of an Eye. He's even mentioned in the acknowledgments.

Who is Sam's best pet-pal?

An orange tabby named Tigger. Unfortunately, Tigger passed a few years ago.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

A very slobbery tennis ball that he'll bring to you but refuses to give it up.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

All of the above. Plus innate objects. And leaves. He's a big leaf herder.

What is Sam's best quality?

He's incredibly smart and has an insatiable appetite for learning.

If Sam could change one thing about North Carolinians, what would it be?

That we still have puppy mills in our state.

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

Are you happy.

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

Hugh Jackman.

What advice would Sam give if asked?

Never give up on someone.

Visit Lynn Chandler Willis's website.

My Book, The Movie: Wink of an Eye.

The Page 69 Test: Wink of an Eye.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Tessa Arlen & Daphne

Who is in the photo at right?

Tessa Arlen, a historical mystery novelist (Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman), and her dog Daphne, a female, three year-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Daphne is gregarious so every so often, if the weather is fair, we go downtown to Winslow to Blackbird Bakery (a lovely place to idle away an hour or two if you are ever on Bainbridge island) for a cup of tea for me and a biscuit for Daphne. We sit outside under the Strawberry Tree and say hullo to passers-by. This gives Daphne the opportunity for a little gentle flirtation with pedestrians and for them to say “Is she really a corgi – Oh she is? But she is not fat!” This is balm to Daphne’s soul – as she is a little addictive about food – and it gives me the opportunity to remind her that there are compensations for not hogging everything in sight. On one occasion Daphne managed to gently inch a cookie out of the sticky hands of a three year old – it was gone in a trice and I had to quickly congratulate the little girl, before she could scream the place down, on being so nice as to feed the doggie her treat.

What's brewing?

Seattle has the reputation for being the coffee capital of America since Starbucks blossomed here but I prefer a blend called Big Truck, which is roasted, not burnt, and very mellow, but rich in flavor. If I drink coffee I drink a double shot espresso, with one lump of sugar, but really I am addicted to Darjeeling tea with milk and no sugar.

Any treats for you or Daphne on this occasion?

On a rare day I will treat myself to a cheese and onion scone – as Blackbird’s baked goods are spectacular. Daphne’s treat is an infinitesimal dog biscuit, or as I mentioned earlier whatever she can filch.

How were you and Daphne united?

Daphne comes from neighboring Whidbey Island. She was destined to become a show-dog because of her spectacular good looks. But however much Daphne loves people she hated the show ring. So her breeder suggested I consider her instead of a puppy. I completely fell in love with her. She has the most gentle and calm disposition and is deeply affectionate. Given the option of potty training an eight week old puppy, or taking home this gloriously well-mannered two year old girl – well there was no hesitation. She came home with us and has been the love of our lives since then.

How did Daphne get her name? Any aliases?

Daphne was called Sadie when we first met her. It was not a name I felt went well with her decorous and decorative disposition. On the way home we came up with the name Daphne. Since I write about the early 1900s in England this name seemed to just float out there and attach itself to this pretty little dog with her foxlike face and her large enquiring ears. Sometimes we call her Daphne Elizabeth Bott (because of that lovely round little tail-less bum). Sometimes we call her Daphers – usually when she is running at top speed and her ears flap, or Wing-Nut because of her lovely head. We often refer to her as the Daphnage, and our youngest daughter calls her the Duffle-Bag.

Have any Daphne-inspired dogs appeared in your fiction?

Yes. Daphne appears in a novel in progress I am writing at this moment, as the dog of a socialite in the early 1900s in England. She appears as herself.

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

Daphne is my writing companion; she is lying at my feet right at this moment, on her back with her legs in the air. Sometimes if I work for a long time she groans. Mostly she is quiet and supportive. Her copy-editing skills are far better than mine. Her spelling is extraordinarily accurate and her grammar exemplary. She is very kind when she corrects my work. Not even a sigh of despair.

Visit Cat, postman, squirrel...?

We have two cats. One does not look at her so Daphne is courteous enough not to notice her either. Our younger cat fancies himself a good deal and likes to encourage Daphne to chase him through the house shrieking at the top of her lungs. This is horrid behavior which we discourage. Daphne loves all humans so the postman is very welcome, as is Fed-Ex drivers both fast and slow; the UPS lady is a huge favorite and the man who fills the propane tank. Trick-or-treaters and any other riff-raff that have the energy to wander down our very long drive are greeted as old friends. Squirrels on the other hand, as well as anything small that runs, are fair game for hysterical shrieks, bounding through the woodland and the undergrowth and behaving like a hoyden – this behavior is ignored. After all we all have to have a bit of fun sometimes.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

She simply does not understand the concept of retrieving! Neither, when we first got her did she play – which we thought might be due to early potty training. Now she has two favorite things: a squeak toy in the shape of a bee with wings – this she loves to torture … and a bit of antler that she stole from my daughter’s dog. She likes it when we hide these things and she can find them – it’s her inner thief emerging.

Does Daphne have a favorite place to go for outings?

A walk is a delight to her – and we live amidst woodland, little lakes and the Puget Sound shore line – so we do a lot of walking. She also loves car rides.

Who is Daphne's best pet-pal?

Really she is not interested in other dogs. She tolerates them with amusement and only does a little lip curl if there is too much bottom sniffing. She does rather like our outgoing cat. But that’s it.

What is Daphne's best quality?

In her own quiet way she is rather a squiffy little creature. She is a wonderful greeter. When we come home she races for us with such delight, and if we don’t take the proper amount of time to bend down and say hullo, she runs backwards in front of us yodeling until we respond more enthusiastically. She greets everyone who comes to the house with great charm – she should train greeters for Wal-Mart.

If Daphne could change one thing about Washingtonians, what would it be?

Their obsession with wearing fleece, gym shoes and jeans as a sort of uniform. As an ex-show dog Daphne is very conscious of her good looks and her appearance. She likes to be washed and brushed and have her nose wiped and her face washed. So she can’t understand why everyone on the island runs around as if they are off to the gym or as if it never stops raining here. So unattractive!

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

I know it was hard to be part of a herd of ten corgis and spend hours in a crate waiting to go into a show ring. But will you ever get over it, do you think? Would therapy help speed up recovery so we can put you in a crate when we travel long distances?

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

 Oh this is so hard. Well of course it would have to be someone English – with a soft yet clear voice. Kate Winslet has a lovely voice, it is smooth, rounded and has vivacity – or perhaps Emily Blunt as she was in The Young Victoria, but not as she was in The Devil Wears Prada – though Daphne would look very nice in Prada.

Visit Tessa Arlen's website.

The Page 69 Test: Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman.

My Book, The Movie: Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 2, 2015

Wendy Wahman & LaRoo and Jody

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Wendy Wahman, an editorial illustrator and children’s book author/illustrator & lifelong animal lover. These are my two sweet standard poodle beloveds, LaRoo (in white), who just turned 7, and our 2-1/2 year old silver boy, Jody. To my right is Nickel, TinTin and the apricot is Eureka! More about them coming right up...

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

See how well behaved the three poodles to my right are? Those are someone else’s darlings, my friend Vikki Kaufman. She and her girls are on an epic adventure, traveling to South America in a one ton pickup w/camper. You can follow their adventures here.

What's brewing?

Trader Joe’s medium roast 1/2 decaf, 1/2 regular with chocolate almond milk.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Nope. They just had breakfast, some homemade raw meaty veggie glop.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

LaRoo’s full name is Lili Bolero LaRoo, LaRoo. I heard a song sung by Frank Sinatra, "LaRoo, LaRoo Lily Bolero." I love to sing, I make up songs for all my dogs, I loved the name… Voila! I have a full song already written for my little Minky (one of her ‘pet’ names) Jody’s registered name is, Desert Reef’s A Boy Named Jody. People usually (almost always) raise an eyebrow at our naming a boy, Jody, but for my husband and me, ‘Jody’ brings up fond childhood literary memories such as, The Red Pony and The Grapes of Wrath. Jody is an old fashioned Irish name. We like it, it fits him, our Joy Boy, so that’s all that matters. One of his nicknames is Squeaky Jim. He’s a yawn squeaker.

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your books?

Many times over. Our brown poodle, GoGo, had two children’s books written about her. They are unpublished. I have a new character based on LaRoo and I’m almost finished with the book dummy, then my agent will send it out to find a publisher (hopefully!). I dedicated Don’t Lick the Dog to our first standard poodle, Momo. He loved kids. I wrote Don’t Lick the Dog for my poodle on the jacket flap photo with me. That’s Andy. He was afraid of kids. I thought if I could write kids a safety manual.... well, you get the picture.

What is each dog's best quality?

LaRoo is super snuggly, malleable and easy to groom. She loves to sit on our laps and press her neck onto ours. We undoubtedly baby her too much. Jody and I do Rally together, working for our Excellent title and he knows a lot of tricks. He just earned his Novice and Intermediate Trick Dog titles in the same day. Jody doesn’t just wave, he sits up high and flings both arms in the air like a propeller, swirling his long arms, “Hello, hello! What else can I do?!” He has a really cute trick. When you say, “Sleepy,” he lies down and sinks his chin on his paws. You see his eyebrows working like crazy, watching for his treat.

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

Why can’t we eat in restaurants too?

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

GoGo’s voice was Audrey Hepburn. My heart-dog, Andy, who died way too young, his voice was Towelly from South Park. I’m being literal here: I talk for my dogs with my husband. Jody and LaRoo don’t say a lot... I think I’m running out of voices! LaRoo sounds a bit like Lauren Bacall.

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

What else can I do to make you happy, my loves?

What advice would LaRoo and Jody give if asked?

Be good and adorable and you’ll have ‘em wrapped around your pinky paw.

Visit Wendy Wahman's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Watch a cute video of LaRoo and Jody, and the book trailers for Don't Lick the Dog, A Cat Like That, and Snowboy 1, 2, 3.

--Marshal Zeringue