Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sara Nickerson & Pico

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Sara Nickerson. My middle grade novel, The Secrets of Blueberries, Brothers, Moose & Me was just published by Dutton Children’s Books. My companion here is Pico - he’s a 7 year-old Chihuahua mix (we think Rat Terrier). He’s a great dog.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

It’s our afternoon coffee break, in the backyard. I usually get away from the computer in the afternoon, at least for a while, and make notes on paper. Pico likes to be in the backyard, but only if one of us is there, too. On lucky days, there will be a squirrel to chase. On rainy days, we will do this inside.

What's brewing?

Regular drip made with a cone and filter. Coffee is Back Pedal Brew by Middle Fork Roasters, a local company. I add milk.

Any treats for you or Pico on this occasion?

My treat is coffee. Pico often has a chew stick. He likes to bury it.

How were you and Pico united?

My husband and youngest son were walking back from the park. They passed our local pet store, where an adoption event was taking place – mostly Chihuahuas sent up from California. The sign on Pico’s crate said, “Four year old Chihuahua mix – crate and house trained, good with cats and kids.” And there was just something sweet about him. My husband called me and said, “There’s a nice Chihuahua here.” My husband is more of a Retriever type, but I’d been talking Chihuahuas since we’d met and I guess I wore him down. And for my son it was love at first sight. I walked up to the pet store and sat with Pico for about an hour. Then I signed some papers and walked him home. He’s our first family dog, and my first dog as an adult.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

He’d been in foster care for several weeks, going by the name Piccolo. We thought it was a good name for him, and we also thought he might be used to it, so we kept it. But we call him Pico. And Mr. Peeks. And Snorts.

Does Pico do more to help or hinder your writing?

Even though it doesn’t always seem like it, taking breaks to go for walks is incredibly useful, in every way. So he’s a big help.

Has Pico inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

When we’d had him for about a week and all he did was stand in the middle of the room and shake, I started working on a picture book called, “Everyone’s Chihuahua Is More Fun Than Mine.”

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Cats are good, a little puzzling, but nice companions. Squirrels are thrilling to chase, as are crows. The mail carrier is a daily, deadly threat.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

A squeaky toy named Weasel is the most fun.

Who are Pico's best pet-pals?

Our two cats - Peach and Scout [photo right]. The three hang together very nicely.

What is Pico's best quality?

Even though he’s a serious dog, he has this delightful, playful side. When we tell him it’s time for a walk, he prances and dances around the house.

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

Seattleites insist on going outside every day, even in the rain. Pico would like people to consider staying inside when it rains, so their feet don’t get wet.

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

How did you end up here, little dog?

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

Steve Buscemi. It would be a good fit and he’s one of my favorite actors.

What advice would Pico give if asked?

No matter what is going on in your life, a good long walk will make everything better. If you just keep moving, you will find your way to a new place.

Visit Sara Nickerson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 27, 2015

Lauren Miller & Zoe and Phoenix

Who is in the photo at right?

That is me with Phoenix on the left and Zoe on the right. The dogs are both girls and they are around 5 years old. They are mix breeds from the shelter. I'm Lauren and I've worked with dogs and in the pet industry my whole life. I did 4-H dog project when I was a kid into my teens and then went on to become an "all breed" pet stylist. My current focus is on dog training. I'm specifically interested in training dog tricks and behavior modification. I also really enjoy blogging about our adventures together.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We stopped by for a drink on the way to the park.

What's brewing?

I'm not really a coffee drinker so I'm having a strawberry smoothie from Starbucks.

Any treats for you or Zoe and Phoenix on this occasion?

Always! I carry treats on me all the time so I can reward good behavior as it happens.

How did Zoe and Phoenix get their names? Any aliases?

Zoe [photo left] took us a couple of hours to name. We just looked up girl names and made a list. She actually responded to "Zoe" more than the other names so that's what we picked. Phoenix was harder to name and it took us about a week. We decided to name her after the mythical beast because she survived and was rescued from a house fire.

How were you and your dogs united?

We got both of the girls from the Oregon Humane Society. Zoe was first and we got Phoenix about a year later. When we got Zoe, I told my husband we were just going to the shelter to "look at the dogs". We saw Zoe and it was love at first sight. A year later, my friend told me there was a dog at the same shelter that looked a lot like Zoe so I pulled up the website and there she was! I went to see her the next day and she was so scared and skittish and I knew she would need a very experienced home so I adopted her. We found out that they are actually from the same small town and that they could be related.

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?

Phoenix loves all sorts of toys, she would take them all including the stick. Zoe prefers live animals to toys.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

Both dogs enjoy chasing critters, but I try to discourage it as much as possible.

[photo right: Zoe is on the left, Phoenix is on the right]

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

They don't have many friends right now because Phoenix can be weird with other dogs sometimes. Zoe's best friend is a dog named Marley. He's a big brindle dog that belongs to my friend that we both fell in love with. They get to see each other occasional but I wish it was more often.

What is each dog's best quality?

Zoe is super smart. Way too smart for her own good. Phoenix is a world class snuggler which is saying a lot because when we got her she was so scared and skittish we couldn't touch her.

If Zoe and Phoenix could change one thing about you, what would it be?

They would probably request more hiking trips to new places.

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

Oh my gosh, I've never really thought about this so I'm not sure! I think they would probably not have any speaking parts and it would be more of realistic sort of action film.

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

Assuming that they could absolutely understand what I'm saying, I wouldn't ask them a specific question more I would want them to understand some things. I would ask Zoe if she could stop trying to kill small animals and let her know that the scary bangs she's afraid of can't get her. Phoenix [photo left] I would just let her know that other dogs are not scary and that they are not out to get her.

What advice would Zoe and Phoenix give if asked?

I think they would tell everyone to live life to the fullest, eat all the treats and don't worry about yesterday.

Visit the ZoePhee website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Wendy Clark & Mabel and Alfie

Who is in the photo at right?

Mabel, top left, is a 3-year-old cream shaded mini dachshund. Mabel's best friend is Alfie, top right, an 8-year-old shaded red standard dachshund. I’m Wendy Clark, author and the owner of these two adorable and quirky dachshunds.

I am a retired nurse and work as a bereavement counsellor, spiritual medium and healer. I graduated from Exeter University with a degree in Humanities several years ago.

My work as an author began with my autobiography, telling of my journey through life. Then followed four more children’s books. My most recent publication is entitled Magical Mabel’s Adventure in the Tower of London. In this story Mabel and Alfie invite children to learn about historical places, making history fun and easy to understand . All my books have a moral at the end which encourages children to stay safe and respect other people’s property.

What’s the occasion for Coffee with a canine?

Today myself, Mabel & Alfie are celebrating our press release for Magical Mabel’s Adventure in the Tower of London, and toasting its success with a nice cup of coffee.

What’s brewing?

My coffee is a “Costa latte” prepared in our brand new coffee machine.

Any treats for you or Mabel & Alfie on this occasion?

Nothing for Mabel and Alfie as they have to watch what they eat in case they get a call for a photo shoot. They are on a strict diet (sometimes.) But they do like carrots.

How did your dogs get their name? Any aliases?

Mabel is sometimes known as Maybelline, probably because she has long eyelashes and looks as if she wears mascara.

Alfie is also called Alfie Moon, from a character in an English TV programme called Eastenders.

How were you and your dogs united?

We were very sad as we lost Ruby our mini black & tan dachshund to cancer and the house felt so empty without Ruby and Alfie looked very sad and lonely. So I contacted the breeder where we had bought Ruby just to inform her that we had lost her and one of her dachshunds had recently had a litter of puppies. Myself, my daughter and Alfie went to collect her and were told that she was related to Ruby, so it just felt right.

When we found Alfie we had never seen a Standard Dachshund and were quite eager to see what the breed was like. So we went just to have “a look”, but fell in love with Alfie straight away and the rest is history.

How do your dogs help or hinder your work?

With these particular children’s books they have helped me so much as they are based on them and their crazy adventures. They are also very sensitive dogs and also help in my spiritual healing work.

Have your dogs inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

No, not fictional characters, they play themselves in the series of “Magical Mabel”. The books are based on them and their quirky behaviour.

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick?

Mabel, surprisingly is not keen on any toys, but worships the sun and just loves her creature comforts. She may use a toy to rest her on head when she sleeps. Sometimes she treats Alfie as a big cuddly toy and chases him all the time.

Alfie loves to play, and steals Mabel’s toys as well, but she's not really bothered, because she loves him so much.

Squirrel, postman, cat?

Mabel and Alfie are partial to the odd postman and love to run after the cats in the neighbourhood. Luckily for the cats they never catch them.

Who are your dog’s best pet pals?

Each other of course. They are inseparable!! They have playmates Lucy, the wire haired dachshund and Fred the standard poodle who they meet on their walks. They also love a cat named Biscuit, who thinks he is a dog. Mabel has dachshund friends Jeffrey and Alan who regularly review her books on their blog.

What is each dog’s best quality?

Alfie never leaves your side and constantly lends a listening ear when you need one. He always knows how to make things right, with a wag of his tail and a woof He is very devoted and loyal. He has big brown eyes that can see right into your soul.

Mabel is cute, lovable and cuddly she's always there when you need a friend.

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

They would love to be with me constantly.

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

Alfie - Benedict Cumberbatch. Mabel- Marilyn Monroe.

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

I would ask them if I could have my half of the bed back.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Enjoy every moment and have fun, fun, fun.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 20, 2015

Luke Murphy & Costner

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Luke Murphy and that’s my buddy, Costner. I’m a husband, father, teacher, tutor and author. Costner is a thirteen year-old, male pug. Costner and I have a special bond. In a home with my wife and three daughters, Costner and I are the only males, so we stick together.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Today, Costner and I are celebrating the release of my new thriller, Kiss & Tell.

What's brewing?

My coffee of choice is “Backpacker’s Brew” with a shot of Hazelnut cream. It is prepared in my wife’s new SuncafĂ© Coffee Pod Brewer.

Any treats for you or Costner on this occasion?

No treats for me (at my age, I have to control myself around sweets. Costner is enjoying one (maybe two, wink, wink) chicken-flavored Marr-O-Treats.

Readers can learn about how Costner got his name from your 2013 Q & A here. Has he acquired any new nicknames since then?

No new nicknames, although my two year-old calls him “Buddy-Cos.”

Did Costner have any influence on your new novel?

Costner is my biggest supporter in the house. He sleeps in his bed by my desk every day when I write. He was also an inspiration for a character in my book. One of my “suspicious” suspects has a chubby, brown and black pug that he is walking when confronted by the police.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Costner is not a “toy” kind of dog. He’s more interested in treats and snacks.

Where is Costner's favorite outdoor destination?

Definitely the park. We live only a short walk away from a local park and when we go there, if it isn’t busy, I let Costner off his leash to run free. He loves it.

If your dog could change one thing about the people of Western Quebec, what would it be?

More leniency on dogs running free in town.

What advice would Costner give if asked?

Enjoy your treats, because if you gain even a few extra pounds, they can be taken away. He learned this the hard way.

Visit Luke Murphy's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Coffee with a Canine: Luke Murphy & Costner (March 2013).

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Cynthia Lord & Milo

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Cynthia Lord, author of many children's books, and my eight-year-old Maltese Pomeranian mix best friend, Milo.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Milo and I are getting ready for work. We get up before sunrise, because that's when I get my writing done. But first, coffee for me and a treat for him.

What's brewing?

I keep it simple, regular coffee with milk and a little sugar. But I have a collection of special mugs and I choose one every morning. Some mugs remind me of places I've been, books I've written, or they were gifts from special people.

Any treats for you or Milo on this occasion?

Always! Milo has allergies so the treats have to be grain-free. Lucky for me, he is not at all fussy. If it comes in a crinkly package, he's a fan!

How were you and Milo united?

A few weeks after my beloved Bichon died, I was still feeling lost without him and my husband said to me, "Maybe we're just dog people." So I started looking in Uncle Henry's (a swap and sale magazine in Maine) and there was a listing for puppies. My daughter and I drove up and brought him home.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

One of my daughter's favorite books was The Phantom Tollbooth, and the main character's name is Milo. So that's where his name came from. We call him lots of names, though: Mo, Mr. Mo, and even Mojo Jojo.

Does Milo do more to help or hinder your writing?

He's a big help. I have a writing shed in my backyard, and he gets so excited when I say, "Let's go to work!" He brings so much enthusiasm with him that he always makes it fun.

Has Milo inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Characteristics of Milo are in all the dogs I write about. We also have two bunnies and a guinea pig that have inspired characters, too.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Postman! Woof! Woof! Woof! Milo has been keeping that horrible man from stepping foot past our mailbox for eight years.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Squeaky-toy, but only sheep or hedgehogs. Milo is most particular.

Who is Milo's best pet-pal?

Muffin, one of our bunnies, likes Milo very much.

What is Milo's best quality?

He loves his family with his whole heart.

If Milo could change one thing about Maine, what would it be?

He is only 13 inches from his paws up to the tip of his ears, so it doesn't take much snow for it to be over his head. He'd like to skip winter.

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

Why do you bury your rawhide toys in the yard and then dig them up months later and try to bring them back inside the house?

What advice would Milo give if asked?

The best things in life are simple:
Napping in a square of sunlight on the floor,
The sound of a familiar car in the driveway,
Being beside the ones you love.

And if you can't be with them, pull their coat off the chair and bury your face in it.

Visit Cynthia Lord's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 13, 2015

Anne Calcagno & Qalilah and Luna

Who is in the photo at right?

Hello, I’m Anne Calcagno, author of Love Like a Dog, and a professor at the School of The Art institute of Chicago. Qalilah is a bully breed dog; she inspired my novel. She’s now twelve and a half. Luna is a German shepherd; she is nine years old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Every morning I stumble out of bed. I’m a troglodyte, hair wild, pounding my way to the coffee pot. Right away, Qalilah and Luna to run to the patio door. Time to let us out! They like to hang there until I’ve got my coffee in hand.

What's brewing?

Trader Joe’s Italian Roast and hot milk (whipped up in my Capresso). Two urgent cups, inhaled one after the other.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Post patio, a crunchy dog biscuit. Mornings are great!

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Our six-year-old son, who is quite literal, thought we should name our little pit bull puppy “Little.” But this word sticks like peanut butter to the roof of your mouth. We tried the Italian, Piccola and the French Petite. But the Arabic translation, Qalilah, sold us.

We brought Luna home, on a moonlit night, from the vet’s office where she’d been abandoned, hence she’s Luna.

How were you and your dogs united?

My daughter and I volunteered at the CARE Animal shelter in Evanston. There we discovered the current plight of the bully breeds; their being overbred to be fought, all too often abandoned which inundated animal shelters. I discovered the breed’s history as a much beloved family dog, once upon a time nicknamed “America’s babysitter.” When we learned about a dam due to deliver, we were on our way to getting Qalilah.

A few years later, after a day of sledding with Lucien, our son, we saw a very black young furry dog with a woman. The dog would stare at the snow, then plunge face down into it, get back up, stare at the snow, then plunge face down into it. We asked the woman, who was a vet tech at the Mayfair Animal Clinic, if we could pet her dog. She told us the young German shepherd was looking for a home. “Pleeeease, Mom! Pleeease!” Luna joined us.

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

Whether I’m writing, preparing for a class, or reading student papers, I’m alone a lot. The dogs’ antics – running to the door to bark at passing canines (Luna), jamming up against me, staring intently indicating: I want to be let out to lie in the sun (Qalilah) – remind me there’s a life outside my head. Their interruptions are wonderfully distracting company.

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your writing?

My novel, Love Like A Dog, is dedicated to “anyone who has ever loved a dog, especially a misunderstood one” say – in our case – a bully breed like Qalilah. The fact is, I was keen on writing a love story and was casting about for compelling characters, when I realized the love story was right in front of me.

Our son had been attacked by the first dog we took in; we had not understood how difficult a large fear aggressive can be. I saw her attack him from behind; she bit his arm down to the bone. That night, after so much blood, tears, and tension -- as I was finally tucking him in, he begged me, “Please don’t be angry at her mommy; she didn’t know what she was doing. Don’t, don’t hurt her.” At that moment I understood how encompassing a boy’s love for a dog could be. I was on my way to writing a love story about a Chicago pit bull rescue. I’m grateful Love Like a Dog won 3 awards.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

Qalilah: I used to consider squirrel chasing my personal mission. Now that I’m twelve I’m more tolerant or lazy.

Luna; I believe I must defend our fenced patio from with my life. My motto: watch out, strange dogs. Qalilah thinks I’m neurotic.

Stick, ball, squeaky-toy...?

Rope pull tugs, squeaky stuffed animals. We have no idea how to catch balls so stop throwing them.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Qalilah needed a BFF because she’s always been super outgoing and dog friendly. We could hardly keep up with her constant need to socialize. Turns out, Qalilah is the love of Luna’s life. Qalilah tolerates Luna’s obsessive affection (All right already, I know I’m terrific).

What is each dog's best quality?

Luna is intensely devoted; none of us can question for an instant how much we glow in her eyes. It’s most flattering. Qalilah makes us laugh; she throws herself on the floor, legs up, and does huge wiggle dances on her back. Sometimes she falls asleep with her legs straight up in the air. She’ll run in circles on the bed, until she collapses. She’ll snuggle close to us, then closer, with a slow edging tactic. When she’s draped over both your legs and snoring, she’s convinced she’s tricked you into not noticing.

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

Aren’t fireworks supposed to be illegal?? Then why Navy Pier? Fourth of July? Jeez.

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

Margo Nightingale, for Qalilah (because she doesn’t take any crap.)

Liv Ullman for Luna (because she’s psychologically so complex).

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

Do you know I love you?

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Live for the moment, darling.

Visit Anne Calcagno's website and the Love Like a Dog website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Emma Brayfield & Mo

Who is in the photo at right?

This picture shows myself (Emma Brayfield) and my dog Mo. I am a graduate student at the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, getting a Masters of Science in Animals and Public Policy. Specifically focusing on wild horse advocacy. More importantly, Mo is a 100-pound male shepherd/wolf mix and is about nine years old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We are getting the word out about a GoFundMe campaign. Mo has been diagnosed with liver cancer, which has been a huge blow. However, I have decided to turn his diagnosis into something positive for everyone. Mo has been put on an up and coming cancer drug, Palladia, which has shown great promise in testing. Unlike chemo, it targets specifically cancer cells across six different pathways and has extended the life of dogs 2-3 years. Funds raised will not only go toward Mo’s treatment, but also research and development of Palladia so it can be readily available for all of our beloved friends.
You can find out more at:
You can also follow Mo for updates on Instagram: @peopleofmo.

What's brewing?

I’m not a big coffee drinker, but before a long drive I will have a chi tea latte or a vanilla latte.

Any treats for you or Mo on this occasion?

Mo loves roasted vegetables and meat!

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

Mo’s full name is MoMo. He also goes by “Mo dog,” “Mo Diggity” and “Bub.”

How were you and Mo united?

Mo is from the Trinity Mountains in northern California, which is where I spent summers working for a ranch camp. Mo belonged to a distant friend of mine (and the ranch mechanic) who passed away due to a heart attack. After his owners’ death, Mo was left wandering the mountains—fending for himself. Eventually he came out of the bushes and luckily found the local vet. The vet happens to be a close friend who suggested I come meet Mo. At the time I was not looking for a dog, as I was finishing up undergraduate school. However, Mo and I instantly connected and I just couldn’t leave him there! We still visit every summer.

Cat, postman, squirrel....?

All of the above, plus deer and rabbits and cows. Mo has a strong prey drive (thanks to his wolf genes), but he is polite when meeting other dogs and loves to socialize.

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?

Mo loves to chase and suckle on stuffed animals. He will chase a stick into a river and sometimes a tennis ball. He also likes to chew on bones--specifically at night and has them stockpiled for safekeeping.

Where is Mo's favorite outdoor destination?

If there is a long hike through mountains and forest with a river or lake along the way then Mo is totally game!

Who is Mo's best pet-pal?

A female three-legged golden retriever, named Ilsa. A close second is Zadie, a chocolate poodle. The three of them have many play dates.

What is Mo's best quality?

I could go on about this! Mo has a presence about him; it draws people to him and makes strangers stop us on the street. It is almost as if he is connected to something outside of our planet. He is calm, beyond loving and will give you everything he has--even if you just met.

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

He would petition the state to allow dogs into state parks, on leash of course!

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

James Earl Jones, with a bit of a southern drawl and not so deep.

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

I would ask him to describe his favorite memory.

What advice would Mo give if asked?

He would tell you to be kind to everyone you meet, love deeply and explore the world.

Find out more about Mo's cancer treatment and how you can help him and future dogs afflicted with cancer at Follow Mo for updates on Instagram: @peopleofmo.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 6, 2015

Kate Charles & Rosie

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Kate Charles, ecclesiastical crime writer, with Rosie, an 8-year-old Border Terrier (a breed originating in Scotland).

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

This is England, so it has to be tea! Rosie and I share quality time together every morning, with the first cup of tea of the day, kindly delivered by my husband. I catch up with overnight e-mails on my iPad while Rosie catches up with just that bit more sleep she needs. Sometimes we have a cuddle; other times she stretches out at the bottom of the bed.

What's brewing?

That first morning cuppa is always Clipper fair-trade tea. Later in the morning I’ll have a cup of green tea, and in the afternoon I prefer Twining’s Lady Grey.

Any treats for you or Rosie on this occasion?

Only if my husband makes me breakfast in bed! He often does this on a Saturday. I shouldn’t admit it, but Rosie gets to lick the plate afterwards.

How were you and Rosie united?

We lost our last dog, a Patterdale terrier, to heart disease way too young. It was the first time in over 30 years that our home was without a dog – we’d always had overlapping dogs before, but Gemma was much happier as an ‘only dog’. We did our research and decided that a Border Terrier would suit our temperaments and life-style. I kept my eye on various internet puppy sites, and when I spotted a litter which had been born on the day Gemma died, I took that as a sign.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

We saw her at 4 weeks and just knew that was her name. Her kennel name is Ardenforest Rose Maree, so she’s also known as Rose and occasionally Rosebud.

Does Rosie do more to help or hinder your writing?

Dog walks are actually very good for brainstorming and thinking about what comes next. So she’s a definite help!

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your writing?

Before we rescued Gemma, we visited various dog-rescue organisations. At one of them we saw a lovely black-and-white cocker spaniel called Bella. Adopting her didn’t work out for us, but I decided that my main character Callie Anson needed to have her. And she’s been a wonderful companion for Callie through four books now!

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Rosie is the most laid-back dog we’ve ever had. Gemma would have seen off any of those, as well as any bird which dared to trespass in her garden, but Rosie isn’t bothered.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Squeaky ball. All day, every day.

Who is Rosie's best pet-pal?

Os, a male Border Terrier who lives in the next road. Sometimes she goes to stay with him when we’re away for a day or two. It’s not a romantic relationship - just a relaxed friendship between two laid-back Borders.

What is Rosie's best quality?

She has the sweetest temperament ever, and the only time she barks is during ball games. Quite a relief after the sometimes hyper dogs we’ve had in the past.

[photo left: Rosie in church, at a pet blessing service]

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

She would like me to abandon my writing and become a full-time ball-playing companion.

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

“What do you dream about?”

She has the most energetic dreams, paddling her legs, wagging her tail, and making all kinds of vocal noises that she never makes when she’s awake.

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

Phyllis Logan (Mrs Hughes in Downton Abbey).

What advice would Rosie give if asked?

“Life is too short to be forced do things you don’t enjoy.”

Visit Kate Charles's website.

The Page 69 Test: False Tongues.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Bill Vaughn & Hanna and Zoe

Please tell us about you and your dogs.

I’m Bill Vaughn, a writer and a graphic designer. My latest book is a cultural, political and natural history of a tree, called Hawthorn, from Yale University Press. My articles have appeared in such publications as Outside and The Men's Journal and in anthologies such as The Best American Magazine Writing 2001, Outside 25, and Dog Is My Co-Pilot. My essay about ice skating was nominated for a National Magazine Award. I wrote Hip Hop Hares, First, A Little Chee-Chee and the upcoming novel, Making Bones. My essay about becoming a middle-aged Eagle Scout was optioned by Endeavor as the basis for a screenplay written for Adam Sandler, and again by New Line Cinema. Following my attempt to wreck the filming of the first season of the CBS reality series Survivor, my online columns about the first and second seasons were widely read.

Our dogs are named Hanna and Zoe. They’re three and four years old, purebred female Border collies.

[photo right: The dogs playing Big Ball. Hanna is on the left, Zoe on the right.]

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

This is part of our morning routine. The dogs sleep with us. Zoe likes to get going at dawn, so we rarely get to sleep in. As the coffee brews we start off with ten minutes of Chuckit at a distance of a hundred yards. (Or this could be Farley, depending on what pasture we use.) Hanna doesn’t fetch, but prefers to carry a tennis ball as she “herds” Zoe. After their breakfast and the decanting of our coffee into a carafe, we play another ten minutes of Chuckit (or Farley). Then they run down our long driveway to help us fetch the newspaper. Later, the dogs play Fence. This is a game they invented in which they run along one of our four-hundred-yard fencelines—sealed with steel webbing to keep them in, as the many free-range neighbor dogs chase them from the safety of the other side. Much barking, much gnashing. In the afternoon they play Big Ball, a big inflated horse ball the dogs like to throw themselves against and push around. Then there will be swimming and stick-chasing in one of our sloughs. The day might include more chase games, moshing and maybe White Ball, a game the dogs play with a soccer ball. At dinner, they herd our horses from their pasture back into their pens.

Whew. I have no idea how city people can handle the demands of this relentless and tireless breed.

What's brewing?

San Francisco Bay French Roast beans from Costco in a quotidian coffee maker.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

They’re allowed to lick our plates after every meal.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

We named Hanna because some plants and animals here get Irish names. Zoe’s name arrived with Zoe.

How were you and your dogs united?

We bought Hanna from a man who had bought her and her brother from a Canadian Hutterite colony, but then decided she was too much for him. We bought Zoe from some former neighbors who had rescued her from a family who, like our neighbors, decided they couldn’t devote enough time to her.

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

They only help. They herd the horses, and Hanna is an exceptional watchdog due to her native hostility towards strangers.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Daisy and Ryley and a gang of neighborhood dogs whose names we don’t know.

What is each dog's best quality?

Hanna is creative and unpredictable. Zoe is quiet and loving with bursts of antic enthusiasm.

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

No more drunk driving.

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

Hanna should be voiced by Cate Blanchett. And Zoe by Emma Stone.

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

Do you really only live in the moment, or do you also remember the past and wonder about the future?

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

I heard you the first time.

Visit Bill Vaughn's website and learn more about Hawthorn: The Tree That Has Nourished, Healed, and Inspired Through the Ages.

--Marshal Zeringue