Monday, August 31, 2015

Suzanne Donaldson & Edie, Clair, and Gus

Who is pictured in the photos here?

I am Suzanne Donaldson [photo below], expert on all things Chic Pet. I have a dog website called Mrs Sizzle.

I have three dogs: Edie [photo: right] and Clair [photo: left] are mixed breeds (we think morkie), and Gus is a Labradoodle!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

My everyday ritual is a loop in Central Park with a stop at Pain Quotidian half way through. The fun part is in the summer I use the lid top as a water bowl for them to drink from.

What's brewing?

Pain Q's finest cappuccino.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Indeed — they hand out the best dog treats to customers.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

No story there. But both are referred to as B, and Clair gets the occasional Bibichi thanks to my friend Marja Sampson.

How were you and your dogs united?

In a puppy store — hate to say it but it's what led me to Mrs Sizzle and my animal awareness campaign.

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?

Zanies and the small fetch balls on sticks.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

Anyone on street.

Where is your dogs' favorite outdoor destination?

Our Brookhaven house on the bay — they are water dogs.

Who is Edie and Clair's best pet-pal?

Gus their older brother.

What is each dog's best quality?

Edie — outgoing; Clair — pure love.

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

They'd want me to stop working all of the time.

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

Edie would be Ellen DeGeneres and Clair would be Reese Witherspoon.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

How to be trained better!

Visit the Mrs Sizzle wesbite.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Noni Brueckner & Sally

Who is in the photo at right?

This is me, Noni Brueckner, and my dog Sally. I'm a wedding and family photographer in Charleston, SC and Sally is a 5 year old, 40lb mutt. We did a gene test on her and she's mostly Staffie Pit Bull but also hound, pointer and bulldog. We think she may have some Ridgeback as well.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Sally loves people so I like to bring her to my favorite coffee shop, Muddy Waters. It's a treat for both of us.

What's brewing?

Muddy Water's large latte with 2%. Yum.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Sometimes a muffin.

Any treat for Sally on this occasion?

Just lots of people to wag her little stubby tail at and lick.

How were you and Sally united?

My husband, Eric, adopted Sally from a shelter after she was found stray at 5 months old in Los Angeles (where we used to live). She was living off pizza crusts and chicken bones (she still loves pizza crust)! He was in school at the time and I was worried that he wouldn't have time for a dog... but it was totally the best decision ever.

[photo left: Sally and Eric, shortly after he adopted her]

You've got some beautiful wedding photos on your website. Which are more challenging to photograph: dogs or brides?

Haha! I'd say dogs. And thank you!

How did Sally get her name? Does she have any nicknames?

My husband named her when he saw her - thought she looked like a Sally. We call her about a million things including Sal, Sallymander, Salsal, Princess, Sea Captain, The Captain and all kinds of nonsense.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

Squirrel and cat! Also opossum, raccoon and skunk.

Tennis ball, Frisbee, squeaky-toy...?


Where is Sally's favorite place for an outing?

Probably the mountains in California where we used to live. We'd take her on long hikes all the time. A close second would be Folly Beach here in Charleston where we bring the ball slinger and she plays beach fetch.

Who is Sally's best pet-pal?

Probably Zoey, our best friend's great dane mix. We all used to live together and hike a lot. Unfortunately, we just found out yesterday that Zoey has bone cancer which is so very sad.

What is Sally's most endearing quality?

Her excitement towards people. She will squirm and wiggle her butt so hard to greet you and then wants to lick and cuddle. She even does this to strangers! She also is very floppy and relaxed and will lie comfortably in anyone's lap and all kinds of contorted positions.

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

She would have me take her on even more and longer walks -- oh and probably never use a leash.

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

Wow, I have no idea. Maybe Shailene Woodley.

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

Probably if there is anything she needs! (I really love my dog!)

Visit the Noni Elizabeth Photography website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 24, 2015

Pressley Baird & Darby

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Pressley Baird, and this is Darby, my coonhound mix. I'm a reporter turned grad student at UNC-Chapel Hill, where I study and teach journalism. Darby sleeps in sunny patches, howls at sirens and eats lots of peanut butter.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Darby and I just moved to a new house with a beautiful back porch where I can drink my coffee every morning. Darby's just here for the sun.

What's brewing?

Milk and sugar with a little coffee.

Any treats for you or Darby on this occasion?

No treats today, though Darby gets plenty. Peanut butter is her favorite.

How were you and Darby united?

Darby is the first dog I've had that's all mine. I adopted her from the American Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue in 2013, a few years after I graduated from college. After I'd proven I could keep myself alive, I decided to add another living thing to the mix.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

When I adopted her, Darby's name was Brownie. I wanted to change it but needed to keep the "ie" sound.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Postman. Darby loves all people.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Fluffy stuffed animals that she can rip to shreds.

Who is Darby's best pet-pal?

Avett, my parents' blind Labradoodle puppy. (Yes, he is as cute as he sounds.)

What is Darby's best quality?

She has never met a person she didn't instantly adore.

You're a Roy H. Park Fellow in UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Media and Journalism. Is UNC a dog-friendly campus?

It is! Most of Chapel Hill, with its wide sidewalks surrounded by trees, is very dog-friendly.

If Darby could change one thing about Tarheels, what would it be?

She'd have this year's basketball team work on their offensive prowess and talk Harry Giles into signing on for the 2016-17 season. (Darby really likes basketball.)

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

"What was your life like before we met?" Since Darby is a rescue, I don't know much about her life before I got her -- including exactly when she was born. (She's probably 8 but maybe 10.)

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

Elizabeth Taylor. Darby lives a very luxurious life.

What advice would Darby give if asked?

Give everybody a chance. Cute ears will get you far in life. And always eat the peanut butter.

Learn more about Pressley Baird, journalist (and baking and basketball enthusiast).

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Katie MacBride & Sally

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Katie MacBride; a writer and a young adult librarian. On my lap is Sally, my 7 (ish) year-old Chihuahua-Terrier mix.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I’m lucky to have a Peet’s within walking distance of my house. It’s a perfect little walk for Sally and a late afternoon (hence the sun being in my eyes) coffee break for me.

What's brewing?

Iced coffee with a little almond milk.

Any treats for you or Sally on this occasion?

Sally loves these chicken rawhide things. I have heard that rawhide isn’t good for dogs but being the chicken-focused gal that she is, she just gnaws at the bone until she gets the chicken off. I think her teeth are too small to do any damage to the rawhide.

How were you and Sally united?

Sally came to me through the Oakland SPCA. She was terribly traumatized; she had been used as bait in a dogfighting ring. While she’s still nervous around new dogs and people, she continues to get a little braver every day.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

The trainers at the SPCA gave her the name Sally, but I have a million nicknames for her. Tootie (short for Tootie Bootie), is a common one, as is “Baby Girl” and, more recently “Butt Butt.” I don’t really know where that last one came from.

Does Sally do more to help or hinder your writing?

I’m just finishing a draft of a young adult novel and in order to accomplish that without disruption, I had to write the thing while Sally slept on my lap. I had to stretch over her sleeping body to reach the keyboard. This was not the most efficient process. That said, she keeps me happy and sane and those are two key ingredients to a daily writing routine.

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your writing?

Yes! In my novel, the protagonist's boyfriend has a dog, Abby, who is inspired by the black lab my grandparents had when I was growing up. I know I have created a fictionalized account of her but it makes me feel a little less sad about losing her, knowing that she’s in the pages of my novel.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Sally’s responses: [to cats] please don't see me, please don't see me; [to postmen] Stranger Danger!; [to squirrels] Hey! The only thing I'm not too scared to chase!

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?


Who is Sally's best pet-pal?

She gets along well with my grandmother’s dog, Buzzy. They are about the same size, though Buzzy is much older. She wants Buzzy to chase her and Buzzy is more interested in getting a good sniff in Sally’s butt, but it’s a generally agreeable relationship.

What is Sally's best quality?

I know this could be said for all dogs, but Sally is 100% pure love. All she wants to do is kiss and cuddle (and eat and sometimes play) and I love her more than anything in the world.

If Sally could change one thing about Bay Area Californians, what would it be?

More dog friendly establishments! If I have to run into the store to pick something up, it can be tricky. I don’t want to leave her in a hot car and would be terrified if I tied her up outside and went into the store without her. It would be nice if I could just pop her in the cart while I grabbed a few groceries.

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

Why are you sometimes so picky about eating kibble but will happily eat other dogs’ poop?

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

The character that Sarah Silverman voiced in Wreck it Ralph, Vanellope, would be pretty dead-on, I think.

What advice would Sally give if asked?

Eat. Sleep. Cuddle. Try not to worry so much.

Visit Katie MacBride's website and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 17, 2015

Camille Griep & Dutchess Marie Siefker-Griep

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Camille Griep, and I’m an author and editor, living just north of Seattle. Pictured with me, is my girl Dutchess Marie Siefker-Griep, a 4-year-old Olde English Bulldogge. (They’re a bit different from standard English Bulldogs.)

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

As is standard for our morning routine, I take a couple hours (and a couple cups of coffee) to catch up with the news, literary and otherwise, so I can attempt to write without the distractions of social media and the 24-hour news cycle. Dutch has her own miniature office in the form of a fluffy grey bed underneath my desk. She’s here to ensure I stay on task.

What's brewing?

I’m not as much of a coffee snob as many of my fellow Pacific Northwesters, but I’m drinking the quite wonderful Bistro Blend by CafĂ© Vita, run through our Braun espresso maker on the 2XL cups of coffee setting. (The regular-sized cups of coffee must be for hobbits or something.) I add heavy cream to the first cup of the day and drink the remaining cups black. (Did I mention I’m a Gemini?)

Any treats for you or Dutch on this occasion?

Summer has brought some amazing strawberries and blueberries to the store, so I’ve thrown some in a bowl of yogurt.

Meanwhile, Dutchess is also having a seasonal snack: peanut butter and bacon doggie ice cream from The Bear and the Rat. This summer has been abnormally hot for us, and so I try to start her day with something cool. In the afternoons we work from the basement.

How were you and Dutch united?

My grandmother, who still lives in my hometown of Montana, had wanted a puppy and the one she picked out was very ill, so the breeders offered her one of their adults who hadn’t been successful as breeding dogs. However, my grandmother’s boxer, who is very much a one-person sort of dog , didn’t appreciate the arrival of another adult female and she and Dutch fought terribly, requiring stitches for them both more than once.

Last summer, while helping my grandmother move to a smaller house, complicating the situation for the dogs, I offered to take Dutchess home with me instead. She’s been here for a year now and is doing a great job adapting.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

When my grandmother received the dog her name was Nova. Coincidentally, her boxer nemesis was also Nova, My grandmother settled on Jade, but my uncle kept referring to her as Dutch Chocolate aka Dutchie because of her rich brown coat. For whatever reason, I like two syllable dog names, so it was natural to stretch it into Dutchess. Her nicknames are Dutch, Button, and Muffin, for no particular reason.

Does Dutch do more to help or hinder your writing?

Most of the time she is very quiet company. But there are rare days when she’s an insatiable snacker (mooch) and we have to do a good bit of negotiating before I can really settle in and get work done.

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your fiction?

In my satirical, epistolary fairy tale, Letters to Zell, Rory (Sleeping Beauty) adopts an English Bulldog named Snoozer. Snoozer is modeled directly from my late friend Wynnie. She was a traditional English Bulldog, whose talents were sleeping and stealing sandwiches from improbable heights.

I also wrote a short story called “Robodog” in which the Wild Dog in the story was modeled after my mother’s mixed breed sweetheart, Festus.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Dutch will chase cats, raccoons, and, apparently, the terrier who sneaks into our yard from next door. She doesn’t take much notice of squirrels, but she loves the Chinese food delivery driver. The feeling seems to be mutual: occasionally we’ll find things accidentally tucked into our order for her.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Though Dutchess does not deign to play catch or fetch, she does love squeaky toys. She had one caterpillar with six or seven squeakers in it, and she was in heaven. Her other favorite activity is bouncing on the guest bed. (Don’t tell the guests.)

Who is Dutch's best pet-pal?

We haven’t had a whole lot of pet dates, but I’d say it’s probably her writing retreat friend, Buddy. He’s a Boston Terrier who belongs to another local writer, G.G. Silverman.

What is Dutch's best quality?

Even though she’s a super low maintenance dog, I think my favorite thing about her is how much she loves the humans in our house equally. Growing up in a household of one person dogs, I was afraid she wouldn’t bond with Adam since she spends the days with me. That hasn’t turned out to be true. She loves us differently, yet equally, and I’m thankful she and Adam have grown so close, as she’s his very first dog.

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

She would take away their insatiable appetite for the fireworks that remain maddeningly legal in our little unincorporated enclave.

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

Are you happy?

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

Perhaps Kat Dennings, Eva Amurri, or even Zooey Deschanel – ladies with a bit of snark and edge, yet still able to be languorous and playful.

What advice would Dutch give if asked?

Sniff everything with one nostril then the other, just in case the first one leads you astray.
Always eschew presents for the box they come in.
When possible, hold out for a hamburger.

Visit Camille Griep's website.

The Page 69 Test: Letters to Zell.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Madison Weaver & Riley and Molly

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Madison, from the blog Color Me Madison and I am a student at the University of Texas. The two cuties with me are my dogs Riley (with brown fur) and Molly (with black and white fur). Both are female, longhaired, dapple dachshunds. Riley is about 5 and a half years old while Molly is 4 years old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Since I’m leaving for my second year of college soon, I’m trying to spend as much time with my pups as I can! So if that means having a coffee date with them, then I’m game.

What's brewing?

Iced coffee from Starbucks with cream and sweetener. Since summer in Texas is miserably hot, the only way to drink coffee is with ice.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Sprinkles Cupcakes in Highland Park, Texas make adorable little doggie cupcakes. It also gives me an excuse to snag a few cupcakes of my own…

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

I named Riley and my older sister named Molly. We got Riley first, and for some reason, the name Riley just stuck out to me… so not too much of a story there. My sister got to name Molly since I named Riley. It was only fair, right?

How were you and your dogs united?

Since I was a little girl, my family and I always went to a Pet Land near our house. We would go almost every weekend and hold way too many puppies. One night, my parents and I went and got dinner and made our way to Pet Land after, like we usually did. We walked in just to look at dogs for fun, but my dad immediately locked eyes with Riley and fell in love. Seriously, it was love at first sight, like you see slow motion in the movies. A couple of minutes later, we’re holding her and decide to take her home – no question. At the time, we were unaware of the horror of puppy mills and the part that Pet Land had in it. Now that we have Riley, we are so happy that we saved her from potentially going back to a puppy mill. After doing more research on puppy mills, from now on we decided that rescuing dogs is the best option. With Molly, my dad was set on getting another dachshund. He found her online and brought her home as just a baby. We have two perfect dogs, but we are more informed now and know that in the future we should rescue and give dogs a second chance at a home.

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?

All of the above. Give our dogs anything, and trust me, they’ll destroy it. We have yet to find anything that can survive over 24 hours under their care.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

Definitely squirrel. Just saying the word squirrel gets them barking.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Each other! Having two dogs is so great because they have a buddy who is with them all the time.

What is each dog's best quality?

Riley is such a lover. She is our little cuddle buddy! She is always there to give kisses and love. With Molly, well, she’s just crazy. She’s fun to mess and play with. She loves to be active, play outside, and go on walks, so she always gets me moving.

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

Like I said earlier, Texas is hot. So in the summer, Texans tend to stay inside with this awesome thing called air conditioning. So I guess they would change our tendency to stay inside since they love to be out in the fresh air running around and chasing squirrels, even though they get visibly hot as well. In the Texas summer, it’s important to be extra careful as to not let your dogs get overheated.

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

It’s funny you ask this, because my dad loves coming up with voices for my dogs. But, since my dad isn’t a Hollywood actor, his voices won’t do. For Molly, I think of someone like Meryl Streep because I think Molly can sometimes be a bit pretentious. For Riley, I imagine Ellen DeGeneres because she is sweet and fun.

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

I would ask them what makes them happy. The most important thing to me is that they are happy and loving the life they have. So if that means more treats and more walks make them happy, then I’ll do it! They bring us so much joy and they deserve just as much. I remember reading a quote that said, “To you, dogs are just a part of your life. To them, you are their whole life”. I think that is so true and really puts into perspective how important it is to make them happy.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

When the family is eating dinner, always sit by Madison or Dad because they are pushovers and will always slip you something to eat (and always whine for bacon, because bacon is awesome).

Visit the Color Me Madison blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 10, 2015

Jenny Chapman & Dexter

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Jenny Chapman. I go by the alias "ZooGirl" online and I am a green and white Michigan State University graduate with my degree in Zoological Sciences. I have done pretty much any zoo-related job you can think of: event planning, zookeeper, veterinary care, you name it! My wildest dream though, is to get involved in the field of zoo education, so that I may use my experience and enthusiasm for wildlife to teach others about the world and all the furry, scaly, and feathery neighbors we share it with. I like to do this through a medium of YouTube videos, blogging, and social media. The handsome furball next to me there is Dexter. He is a 2 1/2 year old (if you ask him, the half counts!) Pembroke Welsh Corgi. He is also an avid MSU fan (smart dog!) and my best friend.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

For me, it's hard to even think about hopping onto the computer without a mug of coffee in my hand! It's always nice to be able to start the day with a nice cup of coffee and some canine company before I tackle my wild project for the day! I think Dexter understands the routine and looks forward to what is usually the only calm point of our day.

What's brewing?

It is hard to imagine a world without Dunkin Donuts. Whether it's sunny or snowing, I am an iced coffee fan all the way. I like it "extra extra," the New England way, with plenty of cream and sugar. I also love coconut and never forget a shot of the yummy flavor in my chilly brew.

Any treats for you or Dexter on this occasion?

Being a corgi, Dexter is very prone to getting overweight. While he does get the occasional treat (he loves peanut butter pupcakes!), I've resorted to using the two meals of kibble he gets a day as a reward in itself. I clicker-train him and because corgis are so food-motivated, he doesn't seem to know the difference between kibble and treats. As long as my voice sounds excited, he's excited!

How were you and Dexter united?

In late winter of 2013, I began looking into PWC litters in my area. I had always been a corgi admirer and finally felt ready to take on the tough job of being a mom to a stubborn, hyper, stubby-legged furball. After a bit of searching, I stumbled across a picture of Dexter and his littermate, the last two red male pups left at a breeder in Western Michigan. The next day, I drove the 2 hours to Paw Paw (yes, that's really the city's name!) and met the 5-week-old babies. I met Dexter's brother first and he was very calm, sweet, and loving. He seemed perfect and I almost didn't want to meet the other pup. The breeder then introduced me to Dexter. He came barreling at me at top-speed, tripping over his awkward short legs, floppy ears bouncing, whites of his eyes shining. All five pounds of puppy fluff hit me like a truck. I believe I smelt like puppy breath for days after. I've often heard that when you go to "pick a puppy," the dog really picks you instead. Now I know it couldn't be more true; it was meant to be. The breeder asked me, "Are you sure you want him?" and I told him I had never been so sure. Despite the breeder's warning about Dexter's larger than life personality, three long weeks later, I brought him home. We've been together ever since.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

I had liked the name "Dexter" for quite a while. It was reminiscent of three TV shows I loved and a popular bowling brand (I had been spending a lot of time at a bowling alley at the time). As I got to know him, he eventually got his full name of Poindexter Parkour Chapman. You see, I love the movie Revenge of the Nerds. Also, ever since Dexter was a puppy, he was very clumsy in how he moved. "Parkour," according to The Office, is "getting from Point A to Point B as creatively as possible" and my new puppy did that to a tee. While I rarely use his full name, he most often hear me calling him "Dex," "Stubby," or sometimes even just "Corgi."

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Dexter has quite a strong prey drive, probably because of his breed's herding instinct. He is very friendly with people but has a tendency to assume any other living thing is either a threat or food. Whether it's a squirrel, bird, or sometimes even a leaf, he is very good at the two professions he gave himself: guard dog and glutton.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Dexter is pretty playful with most toys but especially loves anything that he can eviscerate the cotton guts out of. He even has to sleep with a plushie toy that he mouths like a pacifier until he falls asleep. Oddly enough, he's been a bit skittish around sticks ever since a branch fell out of a tree and hit him in the noggin. He is happy and healthy and I assure you, Dexter has been an exceptionally dopey dog from the beginning.

Who is Dexter's best pet-pal?

My boyfriend's dog, Zack, is by far, Dexter's best friend. They are about the same size and both have high energy levels so they wrestle and play all the time. They generally like each other's company, though if you were to give Dex a choice between Zack and a dog treat, the edible option would win every time. After all, he has his priorities.

What is Dexter's best quality?

My favorite thing about Dexter today is the same thing that made me fall in love with him in the first place: he has an enormous lust for life. He has an energy level I can only hope to experience with all of the Dunkin Donuts on the East Coast. He is playful, hilarious, and always up for an adventure. He is also a "satellite dog." He follows me everywhere and always has to be in the same room as me. I can not even take a shower without him waiting by the door so I never feel lonely, even if I do feel slightly stalked!

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

He would certainly make me less strict about his diet. He would probably also insist that it is futile for me to keep trying to fix the cotton stuffing toys.

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

That's a tough one. I feel like Dex and I understand each other pretty well, but it'd be very tempting to ask him if he understands how much I love him and if I bring him as much joy as he brings me. Although, on the flipside, I've always wondered how he feels about not having a tail to wag (though he does just wiggle his butt instead).

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

I "hear" Dexter's voice all of the time. He's a very opinionated dog. However, when he does try to articulate something, he always has the voice of "Dug" from the movie, Up so it is sometimes hard to take him seriously. As bright as he is when he applies himself, he usually just oozes with dopeyness, ADHD, and klutzyness. It must be why he sheds so much; he's making room for all that personality!

What advice would Dexter give if asked?

Chase your dreams even if your legs are stubby, listen to your heart with giant ears, and wag with happiness whether you've got a tail or not!

Visit the Be-Zoo-Logical blog, Twitter perch, and YouTube channel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Chelsea Knezevich & Jack

Who is in the photo at right?

This is Jack, also known as Jacky (and sometimes Jacky-poo, admittedly). He's a ten-year old dachshund who spends a lot of time taking naps and urging humans to play fetch. I'm Chelsea Knezevich, his caretaker, a campus coordinator at a Montessori school.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Today, Jack and I are taking a walk to our community garden to check on the tomatoes.

What's brewing?

Ruta Maya coffee, black, fresh from the percolator.

Any treats for you or Jack on this occasion?

Apple slices.

How were you and Jack united?

I've known Jack since he was a puppy, and we decided to live together some years ago. My mom is the caretaker of Jack's brother, Baron.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

He was named after Jack Black, the comedian who had starred in the movie School of Rock a few years prior to his birth. One quote from the movie goes, "Dude, I service society by rocking." I think Jack lives up to his name.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

The postman.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Squeaky-toy is his preference until the squeak mechanism is thoroughly destroyed (noisy toys have short lifespans around him so they're reserved for special occasions). His daily toys are a Kong tire and a ball.

Who is Jack's best pet-pal?

His brother Baron, named after another comedian who was widely quoted by high schoolers. Hint: "Very nice!"

What is Jack's best quality?

When he's very excited he rolls over to offer his belly and gets wiggle convulsions. Jack has many good qualities but rubbing his belly when I come home makes me smile everyday.

If Jack could change one thing about Austinites, what would it be?

He would make sure dog owners pick up and dispose of waste properly. Scoop the Poop!

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

"Are you happy, dog baby?" And Jack would answer in a German accent.

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

Werner Herzog.

What advice would Jack give if asked?

"Let's walk it off together. Everything will be OK. And bring the ball!" he would say.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 3, 2015

Gennifer Choldenko & Sasha

Who is in the photo at right?

Sasha is a five-year-old German shepherd. I am Gennifer Choldenko, the author of twelve books for kids. My best-known book is Al Capone Does My Shirts, which won the Newbery Honor and has sold more than one million copies.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I have coffee with Sasha whenever possible. Our apartment is within walking distance of a whole host of coffee houses. My favorite is: Taste of Rome where I drink cappuccino and Sasha curls up under the table, waiting patiently for other dogs to walk by.

Any treats for you or Sasha on this occasion?

Unfortunately, she has a sensitive stomach, so definitely no dog treats for Sasha. I am a caffeine queen. Any food taken with the caffeine, only dilutes the effect.

How were you and Sasha united?

Sophie, our last German shepherd, died suddenly after a fantastic holiday at the beach. My son, my daughter and I were absolutely distraught. My husband, not so much. He and I had agreed to wait to get another dog, but alas he left for Europe on business ... and my daughter, then eleven, went to work. She found Sasha and lobbied hard for her. I talked to my husband about this by phone. I discussed my concerns about buying a dog over the internet, my worries about taking my kids then eleven and fifteen with me to a strange person’s home to get the dog and how exactly we might pay for said dog. But none of this quite registered with him. It was when we were driving home with the adorable puppy Sasha curled up at my daughter’s feet, that it finally dawned on him ... we were dog owners again. Needless to say, he was not pleased.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

My son wanted to name her: Dakota. My daughter was in favor of Stella. Sasha was a compromise. My son’s nicknames for her are: Dogliss and Sausage.

Does Sasha do more to help or hinder your writing?

Sasha mostly helps. However, at five o’clock every day she presses her chin on my keyboard so that all that gets written is DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD, until she’s had her walk.

What is Sasha’s favorite book?

Chasing Secrets due out August 4. Sasha is a huge fan as nothing is more exciting than a good chase. If there are small rodents involved, all the better.

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your writing?

My dog Lucy, also a German shepherd, inspired me to create the dog Pistachio in my first published novel, Notes from a Liar and Her Dog. Pistachio was nothing like Lucy, but the love the protagonist, Ant, had for Pistachio was every bit as intense as my love for Lucy and now Sasha. Ant’s first rule of life? Dogs are better than people. Though I can’t say I believe that exactly, I do think that there’s nothing as calming as giving your dog a belly rub.

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

California law should mandate that every homeowner or apartment dweller must leave a squeaky toy, a stick, or a ball on his or her driveway.

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

Julie Kavner, the voice of Marge Simpson.

What advice would Sasha give if asked?

Dig a hole. And when you finish, dig another.

Visit Gennifer Choldenko's website.

--Marshal Zeringue