Thursday, October 29, 2015

Eva Matthews & Baba Ghanoush

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Eva Matthews and I’m the Program Manager of Hog Island Audubon Camp in Maine. For those that don’t know that’s a summer camp for adults run by the National Audubon Society and Project Puffin. My little office mate is Baba Ghanoush, Noushy for short. She’s a three-year old, sweet rescue dog.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Noushy sits in my lap every work day as I sip my favorite coffee and we sign people up to attend summer camp. Our camp registration just opened on October 15th so our days are busy answering phones, updating the camp’s website, and working on social media marketing.

What's brewing?

We prefer the Birds and Beans Scarlet Tanager, a French dark roast. This coffee helps save migratory songbirds, preserve Latin America forests, and protects rural community farmers and their families from harmful chemicals that are used in more traditional coffee practices. It’s also the only coffee we serve at Hog Island Audubon Camp.

Any treats for you or Noushy on this occasion?

Noushy loves treats but she only gets them when she’s on a walk or if she’s performing some office tricks.

How did Noushy get her name? Any aliases?

My partner always wanted a Baba Ghanoush named dog. When we adopted our little pup on Christmas Eve she was given the name, but it was quickly changed to Noushy because she was so little. A little dog needs a smaller name and one that conveys her spunky nature.

How were you and Noushy united?

At the time we adopted Noushy we had an older bulldog that was scared of other dogs but she loved puppies. We thought it would be good to give her a companion and we started searching the local shelter – Larimer Humane Society – for a perfect mate. On Christmas Eve, Baba Ghanoush’s photo went online at the shelter site and we jumped at the opportunity since she was a puppy and the perfect size for our scared older dog. We were at the shelter when it opened and she was ours – a perfect Christmas present for our family.

Please tell us about Project Puffin and Hog Island Audubon Camp.

Hog Island Audubon Camp has been running summer adult camps since 1936. Now we’ve expanded to also include camps for families and teens but most of our sessions are still for just adults. We offer 6-day programs that explore a variety of nature-themed topics. We currently operate under the Seabird Restoration Program which is a part of the National Audubon Society. We have weekly trips out to Eastern Egg Rock to see the reintroduced Atlantic Puffins on their breeding grounds. Project Puffin founder Steve Kress not only brought puffins back to the Maine coast but he also now is the Camp Director for Hog Island Audubon Camp.

Cat, postman, squirrel....?


Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?

Squeaky-toys for certain but a close second is a long rope toy to chase in the yard.

Where is Noushy's favorite outdoor destination?

Noushy loves to go hiking on Colorado’s beautiful trails. In the summer I live in Maine but the rest of the year I work remotely from my home in Colorado. Noushy lives year-around in Colorado and even though she’s small, she’s a true mountain loving dog.

Who is Noushy's best pet-pal?

Noushy’s best friend just recently passed away – our beloved bulldog Daisy. [photo left: Noushy & Daisy]

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

Less work, more playtime. Also, sleeping in during the morning hours with her.

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

Noushy would have the voice of a high-pitched anime character - perky and cute, just like her.

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

What breed of dogs were your parents? Noushy was found as a stray during a cold December week in Colorado. I would love to know what kind(s) of dog breed she is and how she became a stray puppy.

What advice would Noushy give if asked?

Live and love fully in each moment.

Learn more about Project Puffin and Hog Island Audubon Camp.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 26, 2015

Sheila Webster Boneham & Lily

Who is in the photo at right?

This is me, Sheila Webster Boneham, and my lovely BFF Lily with the judge on the day Lily finished her UCDX, which is an intermediate level obedience title (which some of the characters in my mystery series are working on, too).

Lily is retired from competition now, but we used to train and compete in obedience. We also did quite a bit of tracking, and Lily earned her Tracking Dog title at one year old. Lily is also a registered therapy dog, and a lovely hiking companion. She didn’t really like competing—it made her very nervous—so I retired her early and let her just be our best friend.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Forgive me, but I’m actually having Tea with a Canine. Every day after lunch Lily and I cuddle up in my big comfy chair to read (I’m pretty sure she can) with a cuppa. That’s occasion enough for us!

What's brewing?

I do love coffee, but it doesn’t love me anymore, so I drink various teas & herbals (much like Goldie Sunshine, my protagonist’s neighbor and BFF. But she bakes, and I barely know how to turn the oven on!). So today—ginger tea! Mmmmm.

Any treats for you or Lily on this occasion?

Lily gets lots of treats! She’s particularly fond of fruits (apples! pears! bananas!) and, of course, cheese! Today we’re nibbling a bit of sharp provolone.

How were you and Lily united?

I looked long and hard for a Labrador Retriever puppy. As a former Australian Shepherd breeder, a long-time rescuer (especially of Labs and Aussies), and the author of fourteen books about dogs, I’m very fussy about where I get my pets, especially if money changes hands. This applies to rescue organizations as well as breeders, by the way.

Our previous Lab, my lovely Annie, had serious orthopedic problems, and I was determined to find a pup whose extended family was healthy and carefully screened for genetic issues. I also had a very specific style of Lab in mind—I love a moderate, athletic dog—and I wanted her to come from a breeder who not only showed her dogs in conformation but also actively competed in performance events. It took months, but I finally found what I was looking for—mostly! I actually wanted a black male, but when I saw the all-yellow litter I thought, okay, a yellow boy. My husband, Roger, and I drove the three hours to see the puppies when they were five weeks old, and in the process of playing with puppies, assessing their structures and personalities and behaviors, we both zeroed in on baby Lily. Two weeks later we made the drive again and brought her home.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

My Aussie kennel name is Perennial, and I really liked the name Waterlily for a Lab, since they’re water dogs. Lily was bred by Gerry Cochran, whose kennel name is Diamond, and she generously allowed me to include my kennel name in Lily’s registered name, so she is officially Diamonds Perennial Waterlily (with a number of obedience, rally, tracking, and therapy titles attached!).

Unofficially, she answers to Lily, Silly Lily, Lily Billy, Lily Manilly, Lilybug, and several tooth-achingly sweet endearments.

[photo right: Jay the Aussie with Lily on the day she arrived.]

Does Lily do more to help or hinder your writing?

Aww, Lily can only help. She often lies under my desk when I’m writing, and occasionally she reminds me that all work and no play is a very dull life. She also helps around the house when I’m not writing—she carries empty plastic bottles and milk jugs to the recycling container, and carries dirty socks to the hamper and just-washed socks from the dryer to the bedroom! Besides, just looking at her face makes me happy, and that’s a big help.

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your writing?

Absolutely! My Animals in Focus mystery series is, of course, full of dogs and cats and a few other critters. Jay, the “protagdog,” is an Australian Shepherd closely based on my real-life Jay. Drake, a black Lab who belongs to “the love interest,” is a composite of my own three Labs—Raja, Annie, and Lily—and Winnie, the new Lab puppy who shows up in Shepherd’s Crook, was inspired by my lovely Annie and Lily, although neither one ever got into quite as much trouble as Winnie does! Other dogs in my books are all inspired by dogs I’ve known over the years.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?


Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Squeaky and mute furrytoy friends!

Who is Lily's best pet-pal?

Jay was her “big brother” and all-time best friend.

What is Lily's best quality?

Just one? She has so many! But okay, if I have to pick one, I’d have to say her sweet gentleness.

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

The North Carolinians Lily knows are lovely people just as they are. But there are areas in the state with terrible pet abandonment rates, so if she could, Lily would make sure everyone acts responsibly toward all their friends and families, animal and human.

[photo right: Jay & Lily, a few years ago]

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

“What do you think about?”

What advice would Lily give if asked?

“Play more! Eat more!”

Coffee with Canine: Sheila Webster Boneham & Sunny (May 2013).

Visit Sheila Webster Boneham's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Tracy Libby & Jiggy, Moses, Pony, and Haven

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Tracy Libby, and Pony -- one of my four Australian Shepherds—enjoying a brisk, sunny December day in the Cascades. I'm a freelance writer and photographer living in the great Pacific Northwest, so I take every opportunity to swim, hike, and hang out in the high country. It rains a lot in western Oregon, so when the sun shines it's a real treat. We never miss an opportunity to head to the high lakes to blow off the stink, take in the gorgeous scenery, photograph dogs, and re-energize our creativity.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We're celebrating my newest book—Reporting for Duty. True Stories of Wounded Veterans and Their Service Dogs—that hits bookshelves on October 27, 2015.

What's brewing?

I come from strong English stock, so I'm a tea drinker (but don't hold that against me!) I'm always game for new teas, but one of my favorite go-to teas is Earl Grey, but I also love a good Chai tea.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

My pockets are always loaded with tidbits of cheese, liver, turkey, etc (and the dogs know it!)

How were you and your dogs united?

I've owned Australian Shepherds and been involved in the sport of pure-bred dogs for three decades—exhibiting them in conformation, obedience, and agility. Pony was born in our spare bedroom and has spent every day of her life with me and my husband. Moses and Jiggs were bred by separate yet very responsible breeders in California. Haven was bred by a longtime breeder friend in California and came to live with us when she was one year old. It was love at first sight.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

When it comes to naming and registering pure-bred dogs, breeders and owners take that task very seriously. We're always on the lookout for fun, catchy names that have never been used, which is challenging. Of course, you also try to come up with a call name that plays off the registered name. Pony weighed 6 ounces at birth (compared to her siblings who weighed in at nearly 12 ounces). So tiny, she reminded me of a newborn filly—so we named her Pony, and it stuck. Her registered name then became Dancin' Eyes Pony Up at White Mountain. I'm pretty sure she's the only dog named Pony. Moses had already been named Parkhills Justice from Heaven, which we couldn't change, so we named him Moses, which I think is a super cool name for a dog. Haven was already named when she came to live with us. Her nickname is Miss B Haven because she can be quite the mischief maker. I loved the name Jiggs, so that's what we named him, but it has nothing to do with his registered name Lakehills HapyHour at White Mountain, but that's okay. It happens. His slew of nicknames include Jiggy, Mr. G, G-man, Red Dog, and Supermodel—because he loves posing for pictures.

Do your dogs do more to help or hinder your writing?

They disapprove of my working because when I'm working I'm not playing with them. They try their best to be patient, but I regularly give in to their pitiful looks and we head outdoors for some training, retrieving, swimming, etc. It's just part of loving the dogs that we keep. In a weird way, that helps with creativity because it gets me outside, clears my brain, and gets me thinking in a new light.

Please tell us about your new book.

In my newest book Reporting for Duty. True Stories of Wounded Veterans and Their Service Dogs you will meet 15 wounded veterans who unselfishly volunteered to protect our freedom, and in doing so, paid an enormous price. The meat and potatoes of the book are the 15 wounded veterans who share their stories of adversity and triumph and who benefit daily from the assistance, companionship, and unconditional love of a trained service dog. You'll also read about the history of guide dogs and dogs for the hearing impaired, as well as the history of therapy dogs, canine co-therapists, puppy prison programs (puppies who are raised and trained by prison inmates and then placed as service dogs), and the selection and training of shelter dogs as service dogs.

Do you have any favorites among the dogs you met while working on Reporting for Duty?

Picking a favorite is like asking a parent to pick his or her favorite child! All of the dogs are incredible, as are their owners. What I found most remarkable is that with all of the medical and scientific technology available to rebuild body parts—hands, arms, legs—it is the dog who saves the veterans' life. The dog who pulls them back from the brink of suicide. Getting to know the veterans and sharing their stories has become part of the deepest, happiest, most cherished part of my writing career.

Who is that on the cover of Reporting for Duty?

The editors picked this photo. It was taken by photographer Don Burk, and it appeared in the Florida Times-Union. An editor saw the photo, fell in love with it, and, as they say, the rest is history. It ended up on the cover of the book. A perfectly emblematic photograph, representative of the power of dogs.

What is each dog's best quality?

All the my dogs have beautiful, kind spirits and are nothing short of perfect. At five years old, Pony's happy-go-lucky personality and goofy sense of humor make my heart sing every single day. She fills my life with endless kisses, cuddles, and giggles. At 13 years old, Moses is retired and has slowed down just a tad. He still does everything with gusto—from retrieving to swimming to riding in the truck to eating. His enthusiasm for life is contagious. Jiggy is a gentle soul. Kind. Considerate. Calm...he overflows with intelligence and empathy. For nine years he has remained wonderfully loyal and fiercely protective when the need arises. Haven has two speeds: fast and go faster! Her high-drive and high-energy are quintessential Australian Shepherd. She's serious, focused and determined with a quirky, yet dry English-type sense of humor. I love that that she's head-over-heels in love with me.

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

Jiggy, Moses, and Pony would insist on endless play—all day every day. Haven would round everyone up and herd them to California.

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

They're Australian Shepherds — speaking English would be dumbing them down. They already think they're smarter than I am—and most days they are.

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

Yikes. I'm a bookworm. I haven't been to the movies in years. For the boys—Moses and Jiggy—he would have to be very manly, someone like Sam Elliott, Clint Eastwood, Gary Cooper, Gary Grant, or, my favorite, Gregory Peck. For the girls, definitely Katharine Hepburn.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Drive faster, mummy! We're going to be late for the show.

Visit Tracy Libby's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 19, 2015

Lacey Johnson & Lucy

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Lacey Johnson, and I am a writer living in Nashville, Tennessee. I am the content creator and founder of the online beauty, wellness & personal growth magazine I am also a regular contributor on The Huffington Post.

My silly bundle of joy is a 3-year-old dachshund named Lucy. Most people swear she is my twin. I find it to be the ultimate of compliments, though I could never compare to her level of irresistible beauty and cuteness.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Lucy is always welcome to participate in my coffee indulgences. She is the most obliging of sidekicks.

What's brewing?

Today was not typical for us, though it was delicious. My brew of choice was the vanilla nut blend at Einstein Bagels.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Always. Sometimes it is something of sustenance, however it is most often some type of indulgent confection. It is now fall, therefore various types of pumpkin deliciousness have been enjoyed in between coffee sips as of late. There is such an “aaahh” factor where the sweet meets the bitter.

How were you and Lucy united?

We are approaching the anniversary of our first beloved encounter, actually. It was a typical Saturday in October 2012. My husband and I had just returned from our honeymoon, and I had been promised a dachshund as soon as we were married. He spontaneously found her on the internet, and we immediately made the hour-long drive to see her.

She was one of three puppies remaining from her litter, and we had never seen a creature so effortlessly beautiful and clown-like at the same time. Her delicate markings appeared to have been hand-painted. She rested her tiny 10 week-old head against my neck, and we just “knew”. Also, on the way home, she vomited in my hair. It’s par for the course, I suppose…

Any treat for Lucy on this occasion?

Most of Lucy’s treats are of the healthier variety. Yes, I am one of “those” dog owners. Also, we have to monitor her weight. However, I’m okay with an occasional moment of rebellion. I allow her to indulge in the “pup cup” during our random trips to Starbucks. Her entire body is involved in begging for it each time we approach the drive-thru window. Her eyes greet mine intensely as if to say, “Momma, place with the fluffy stuff that ends up all over my snout.” If we depart Starbucks without being offered a “pup cup”, she whimpers and shakes to such a torturous degree that I typically return to the store and shamefully plead for it.

Does Lucy have any special role at The Daily Doll?

I often refer to her as my “assistant”. She generally prefers to be fur-to-skin with me, so when I’m stuck in a writing rut or dealing with a technical issue, the comfort of her fluffy goodness is a reminder that life is just a celebration. It’s a reminder that the point of my writing and creating something at all is for exactly that - for the mere creation and enjoyment of something. It’s a reminder to not take it all so seriously, and to now allow doubt or negativity to contaminate the process.

How did Lucy get her name?

She just looks like a “Lucy”. Also, my family has long compared my personality to that of Lucille Ball’s. This dog is every bit as entertaining as Lucille Ball in all of her glory. So, her name was an obvious choice.

Does she have any nicknames?

Since I was a child, I have loved to experiment with sounds and “play” with the names of the people and animals I adore. If I have a special fondness for someone, their name is guaranteed to be altered in some way. Lucy’s first nickname was “Lucci”, spoken with a very exaggerated (and likely dreadfully Americanized) Italian accent. “Lucci” became “Doochie”, which eventually evolved into the current “Yooji”. Don’t ask, for I have no adequate explanation for such ridiculousness...

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

Bunnies are her “friends”. She isn’t a typical canine in that regard, though. She has no desire to hurt them, but only to run like the wind with them.

Who is Lucy's best pet-pal?

Probably her Uncle Buddy. She appreciates that he allows her to dominate him despite the fact that he is eight or more times her size. Also, he obliges when she feels like making him her personal pillow. She also gets excited each time she sees her Aunt Sadie (who she secretly refers to as “a crabby old lady”) as well as her cousin Hank, a pit bull who oozes with love and goofiness.

[photo left: Lucy and Hank]

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

Squeaky toys are abundant in our home. Lucy loves tennis balls, but her dainty mouth and paws prevent her from gaining control of them. They always end up under something - a couch, a bed, an end table, a toilet - therefore, it creates little more than repeated episodes of whimpering and hopeless digging. We had to hide all of the tennis balls in our house. I hope she has forgotten about them by now.

What is Lucy's most endearing quality?

Lucy is 12 pounds of spunk, sweetness and manipulation. She considers herself to be the family bodyguard, for she is always eager to defend the safety of our home when threatened by the sound of “intruders”. The problem is, the minute anyone enters the door and pets her, she melts into a puddle of syrupy flirtation, gazing upward and beckoning for belly rubs with her eyes.

Where is Lucy's favorite place for an outing?

Lucy loves to ride. Each time she sees me reach for my car keys, she stands at attention and nervously shifts from paw to paw. Riding is Lucy’s idea of a day at the beach. She doesn’t need the window down, she doesn’t need the wind in her fur, nor the sun on her face. She needs nothing more than a view on the move.

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

Lucy would request that I stop moving her from my pillow in the middle of the night because, seriously, who cares if there is no place for me to lay my head? Who cares if I awaken with a stiff neck at 3 a.m. after several hours of having only being granted an inch of pillow space next her “highness” (or, more accurately, “wiener-ness”). I mean, I’m disrupting her sleep.

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

It would likely be Rachel McAdams for her effortless use of her feminine wiles, but with an occasional splash of Kristin Chenoweth.

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

I’d ask, “Lucy, why are you so adamant in your refusal to ‘go potty’ outside when the ground is wet? Why is it such a miserable task?” of which she would likely reply with something in the realm of, “I don’t ask you to ‘go potty’ outside when it rains, do I?”

Visit The Daily Doll website and read Lacey Johnson's contributions on The Huffington Post, including "Dear Coffee, I Will Forever Be Your Biggest 'Feen'."

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Julie Barton & Jackson

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Julie Barton, a writer and mom of two daughters, ages 11 and 8. Lying down next to me is dog Jackson, our 8-ish-year-old mutt, who we recently learned, via a pricey DNA test, is part Australian Koolie, part Chinese Crested Terrier, part Beauceron and part Greyhound.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

On weekdays, I have coffee every morning with Jackson. After the kids leave for school and my husband leaves for work, I make a latte and head to my desk. Jackson follows and settles in on the dog bed right next to my chair.

What's brewing?

A latte from our nifty Nespresso machine. We recycle the aluminum pods ourselves with this cool thing called an Outpresso, and we compost the grounds. We suffer much less environmental guilt that way. (

Any treats for you or Jackson on this occasion?

This morning I’ve got cereal. Pretty boring. Nothing for Jackson. He already ate, and I think he’s the only dog on the planet that doesn’t like dog treats. The only treat he has ever consistently liked is lunchmeat, and even then he loses interest after a few bites.

How were you and Jackson united?

I was thinking about getting a smaller dog and wanted to get a rescue. I found a middle aged Scottish Terrier on the web site of an adorable rescue in San Francisco called Wonder Dog Rescue. I contacted them and they said that the Scotty had been adopted, but that they had this new small black dog, about a year and a half old, that had just been surrendered. Apparently, we are Jackson’s fourth home. I don’t know much about his three other homes; I just know we are his last.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

The folks at the rescue organization named him Action Jackson. We thought the name fit. He’s extraordinarily fast despite his short and stubby legs. I also call him Jacks, Punkydoodle and many variations of Smoosh: Smoosher, Smoosherpoo, Mr. Smoosh, Smoochy…

Does Jackson do more to help or hinder your writing?

He helps, mostly. He’s usually quiet when we’re at home and will always give me a kiss if I ask for it. And when I take a break and pull out the leash to take him for a walk, he’s so happy that it’s infectious. The only distraction: I can be in the middle of writing, focusing on something intently, and if he hears a threatening noise (aka, a child on a scooter or skateboard), he barks so loudly and urgently it jolts me out of my chair.

Would you tell us about your new book, Dog Medicine: How My Dog Saved Me From Myself?

It’s the story of how, when I was 22, I was diagnosed with major clinical depression after a difficult first year out of college. Nothing helped until I adopted a golden retriever puppy who helped me begin to heal. Dog Medicine is about love and learning to accept healthy love, both the canine and human varieties.

How were you and Bunker united?

My mom and I found an ad for Golden Retriever puppies in the Columbus Dispatch classifieds. (It was 1996. Pre-internet.) The ad led us to a small family farm in Alexandria, Ohio, where Bunker was waiting for me.

What was Bunker's best quality?

I can’t possibly list them all here—but his sensitivity to mood was incredible. He leaned against me whenever I was having a hard time. He also went through a lot, at a young age, and showed me what resilience looked like. His fur was a beautiful dark red; a lot of people mistook him for an Irish Setter. His ears had the best little kinked curls, and he howled whenever he was happy.

Back to Jackson: if he could change one thing about Californians, what would it be?

That people build less and leave more open space for him to run. Also, dog-friendly everything please.

If Jackson could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him? What would you have asked Bunker?

Jackson: I would ask him what he has against scooters/skateboards and why he has to bark like a maniac every time he hears one within a two-mile radius.

Bunker: I would’ve asked him if he knew that he had saved my life.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Jackson and Bunker could speak, who should voice them?

Jackson: A young Fred Savage (Wonder Years era).

Bunker: I don’t think anyone could do Bunker justice.

What advice would Jackson give if asked?

Three things: “If all else fails, take a nap. Always give kisses when asked. And don’t worry if you have big ears. My mom says they’re adorable.”

Like Dog Medicine on Facebook, and visit Julie Barton's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 12, 2015

Emily Ruth Verona & Phoebe

Who is in the photo at right?

The person in the photograph is me and my name is Emily Ruth Verona. I am a novelist and entertainment writer. The little dog sitting there is Phoebe, she is a two and a half year old Cavalier King Charles poodle mix. Professionally speaking, she is a licker and a snuggler and rather fond of general enthusiasm.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

My first novel, Steady is the Fall, will be published on October 29 and since Phoebe is my writing companion, we are celebrating it in our own reclusive way. She also happens to be there when I eat my meals, so this particular publication celebration could easily just be a regular Thursday.

What's brewing?

My stomach is incredibly sensitive and so I cannot drink straight up coffee, but I enjoy the smell and enjoy a good iced coffee. Preferably caramel or mint with an excessive amount of sugar.

Any treats for you or Phoebe on this occasion?

She likes cheese. A lot. Like seriously. I cannot emphasize this enough. She really really really likes cheese.

How were you and Phoebe united?

I've been around dogs my whole life and while everyone in my family has at one time or another had a puppy, I had only known those dogs when they were older. Phoebe was my first puppy. I got her from a litter in the Midwest in 2012 and after a harrowing plane ride, which was filled with delays, to New Jersey we met for the first time at the airport. Ever since, we have been inseparable. It's sort of ridiculous. My friends often make fun of me.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

She is named after Phoebe Buffay from the series Friends. She shares her namesakes compassion and general determination.

Does Phoebe do more to help or hinder your writing?

For the most part Phoebe lies around while I write, often insisting that she stay right beside me. Occasionally she will put her paws on the keyboard as a sign of defiance, or walk around my room knocking over each shoe one by one if she thinks that we should be doing something together instead of my typing away and mumbling to myself.

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your writing?

Surprisingly no, though Phoebe has served as inspiration for a dog in a piece one of my friends is writing.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

None of the above. She is a surpassing pacifist.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Definitely a bone or small, squeaky stuffed animal.

Who is Phoebe's best pet-pal?

My parents watch her when I am away and so she is very fond of their two dogs who consistently teach her bad habits.

What is Phoebe's best quality?

She has an incredible enthusiasm for everything and is so very loving towards everyone.

If Phoebe could change one thing about New Jerseyans, what would it be?

The fact that we insist on transporting her places in cars.

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

I would ask her the meaning of the universe. I'm pretty sure she'd know it.

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

Carey Mulligan (Pride and Prejudice, Never Let Me Go) because she seems very wise.

What advice would Phoebe give if asked?

She would probably tell you to live, love, and eat cheese. She might advocate reclusiveness, but that is just a ploy. She will do anything to get someone to snuggle. She is incredibly fond of that.

Visit Emily Ruth Verona's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Nina Revoyr & Ariat and Russell

Who is in the photo at right?

This is Ariat, a Border Collie, and Russell, an English Springer Spaniel.

I’m Nina Revoyr, a novelist. We live in Los Angeles.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We’re marking the publication of my fifth novel, Lost Canyon, a mountain adventure story that features a Border Collie. The book is about wilderness, race, middle age, drug production, and Los Angeles. But Ariat doesn’t care about any of that—she only cares about the dog.

What's brewing?

I’m a huge fan of Mother Lode Coffee, which is produced in small batches in Sonora, California—a Sierra foothill town that saw its heyday during the Gold Rush. We always bring it home after trips to the mountains, and now I’ve converted a bunch of other city folk to Mother Lode, too. French Roast is my favorite, although I also love the 49er blend.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Coffee is Ariat’s favorite treat. She waits for us to turn our backs and then steals from our cups. Russell was a fan of lemons. He’d jump spectacularly to pick them off the tree, and would bark if he couldn’t reach them.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Ariat’s previous owners named her for a pair of cowboy boots she destroyed as a puppy. She was originally adopted from a rodeo, and then was running loose in the mountains. Russell, my Springer Spaniel, was a rolly-polly puppy boy, very sweet, and the name just fit.

How were you and your dogs united?

Ariat showed up one day during a blizzard in the Sierras, and completely wrapped us around her paw. The people she was living with were about to take her to the pound. They couldn’t handle her—she’d get out and dig through people’s trash, cross the highway. She was wild and beautiful, with an unruly spirit—and she clearly needed someone to love her. I got Russell from a breeder in upstate New York when he was eight weeks old. He’s the cousin of a friend’s dog—I used to live in the area—and they come from a line of goofy, good-natured, sweet and beautiful dogs.

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

Russell would lie at my feet, or next to me. He was always at my side. Ariat often disapproves of me working and paws at me. But they have always helped my spirit, which helps my work.

Have your dogs inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Russell was the inspiration for Brett in my last novel, Wingshooters. I am so very glad I wrote about him, because we just lost him recently, and it comforts me to know that he lives on in that book. Ariat is the inspiration for Timber in the new book, Lost Canyon. But it’s a bit misleading to say the dogs are fictional. The dogs are very much my dogs—personality, physical traits, everything. The dogs are real, but the stories are made up.

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?

Russell loved them all. In fact, there’s a comical scene of Brett with a massive stick in Wingshooters.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

Ariat hates them all, especially squirrels. She patrols our yard and chases them out.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Each other.

What is each dog's best quality?

Russell had tremendous emotional intelligence and empathy—he was a solid, wonderful, fiercely loyal, caretaking boy. Also a total clown.

Ariat is constantly engaged and energetic, very curious. She keeps us on our toes.

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

Russell would want everyone to chill out. Ariat would want everyone to get organized.

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

My spouse was amazingly good at channeling Russell’s thoughts and voice. No actor could measure up.

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

English isn’t necessary—they answer me all the time.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Get outside more often. And take more naps.

Visit Nina Revoyr's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 5, 2015

Waverly Fitzgerald & Pepe

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Waverly Fitzgerald, with Faizel Kahn, the owner of our favorite coffee shop behind the counter, and my co-author, Curt Colbert.

I'm holding Pepe, the Chihuahua who inspired the mystery novels Curt and I write together.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Curt and I meet every Tuesday at Café Argento (where this photo was taken) to work on our novels. We’ve written five of them so far and one short story. Pepe doesn’t usually come along but this time he did so he could have his picture taken.

What's brewing?

Curt always has black coffee. I get a Waverly latte (that is a latte made with half lowfat milk and half half-and-half). The coffee is locally roasted at Café Vita just down the street.

Any treats for you or Pepe on this occasion?

Pepe rarely takes treats from strangers when we’re out, although I think if they offered bacon he would accept. Curt usually has a bagel with cream cheese or butter. I sometimes I have a breakfast bagel with hot sauce.

How did Pepe get his name? Any nicknames?

My daughter [with Pepe, photo left] named him. She’s a singer and she sings a lot of Billie Holiday songs. After she adopted and named Pepe, we found out Billie Holiday had a white Chihuahua that looks just like him called Pepper. Pepe also goes by The Pepster, Peps, Babyface and Little Man. Sometimes I call him Pepperoni or Pepito.

How were you and Pepe united?

Pepe is my daughter’s dog but he lived with me for many years (after she moved back home). When she moved out again, she only moved next door so I get to see him almost every day.

Are there any dogs in your fiction that are inspired by Pepe?

Oh, yes, definitely. The crime-solving, talking Chihuahua, Pepe Sullivan, in our five mystery novels is clearly modeled after Pepe Fitzgerald. Like his namesake character, Pepe hates being dressed up and thinks he is much bigger than he is. Unlike his namesake character, he has a sweet disposition and doesn’t talk much.

Does Pepe do more to help or hinder your writing?

Since he’s the inspiration for the mystery novels, he definitely helps. Readers frequently tell us we’ve really captured the Chihuahua personality.

Who are Pepe's best pet-pals?

He currently lives with a cat named Idzy who he scrupulously avoids. He can get quite sulky if too much attention is paid to the cat.

Where is Pepe's favorite outdoor destination?

He loves to go for walks in the neighborhood and he loves to be the one who chooses the route. Mostly he appears to be checking up on other dogs and what they’ve been marking. He’s really an indoor dog, not an outdoor dog. When it rains, as it does all the time in Seattle, he will get to front door and just stare out, as if to say: You’ve got be kidding. You want me to go out in that?

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

A squeaky toy. His favorite toy is the detachable tail off a stuffed Eeyore. He wants us to throw that so he can show off his prowess in capturing it and worrying it to death.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

If he encounters a cat while on a walk, he will go in a big circle around it, which always confuses the cats. The postman is fine. He loves visitors and he loves getting things in the mail. He doesn’t seem to notice squirrels but chases crows and pigeons.

What is Pepe's best quality?

His adorableness. He can get away with almost anything because he is so cute.

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

Pepe would like to be worshiped by everyone he meets. Also he would appreciate more sunshine. And he would like to be able to go into restaurants and stores, like dogs do in more civilized countries.

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

I had to ask Curt because I don’t watch enough movies to know. Curt thinks Pepe would sound like Robert Downey Jr. But the fictional Pepe, who speaks Spanglish, would sound like Antonio Banderas.

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

Who is the alpha dog? Me or you?

Visit The Wonderful World of Pepe blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Peter Zheutlin & Albie

Who is in the photo at right?

The human’s name is Peter Zheutlin. He’s a writer and his new book is Rescue Road: One Man, Thirty Thousand Dogs and a Million Miles on the Last Hope Highway. The dog is Albie, a yellow lab mix who was found wandering alone on a road in rural Louisiana in early 2012. He managed to survive for several months in a high-kill shelter before he was rescued by a local humane organization and adopted by Peter and his family in Massachusetts. The vet thinks he is about 5 or 6 years old now but no one knows for sure.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

No special occasion. We just love each other’s company and go as many places together as we can.

What's brewing?

I’m a Starbucks regular unless I can find a funky, independent coffee house around. For me it’s always a decaf mocha latte wherever I am. Albie doesn’t drink coffee but he can have a spoonful of the whipped cream.

Any treats for you or Albie on this occasion?

Well, today Albie got a special treat because he was especially good while I was being interviewed about the book. He just lay at my feet quietly the whole time amidst the lights and cameras. So he got his own cup of vanilla frozen yogurt today.

How were you and Albie united?

Long story, but the short version is that we found Albie online through a terrific organization called Labs4rescue based in Connecticut. They work with rescue organizations, primarily in the southern states where the dog overpopulation problem is huge, to save these sweet souls. Once we formally adopted Albie he rode north with a man named Greg Mahle who runs Rescue Road Trips. He’s the main figure in the book, a big hearted, devoted man who has driven over a million miles bringing “rescue” dogs to their forever homes in the northeast. It takes a village to save a dog and Greg was just one of many people who extended their hands and hearts to help Albie make the journey to safety and give him a second chance at life.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

While researching the book I met the woman in Louisiana who actually saved Albie’s life. She went to the shelter where he was a couple of times a week to walk him and feed him and hug him while she and another woman looked for a home for Albie. She gave him the name and we kept it. I asked her how she came up with name. I thought there would be some deep meaning behind it. But she said it was the name of one of the people on the TV show Real Housewives of New Jersey. My wife and I both grew up in New Jersey so I guess it was meant to be.

Does Albie do more to help or hinder your writing?

Oh, not even close: he inspired the whole book! And before that he inspired a whole series of columns I wrote for The Christian Science Monitor. I wish he could type!

Please tell us about your new book.

The book was my attempt to understand how and why Albie, and many thousands like him, come north every year from the deep south. I wanted to learn why there’s such an enormous dog overpopulation problem down south, and who works to save these dogs and get them safely north. It can be heartbreaking work because for every dog like Albie that finds a loving home, countless others find nothing but heartache and death. The book is both the saddest of stories and the happiest of stories; the joy at the end of each of Greg Mahle’s rescue road trips, when dogs and their new forever families are united, is something to behold. I cry every time I see it. It’s a book about the deeply compassionate people who sacrifice so much to get these dogs to safety.

Do you have any favorites among the many dogs you met while working on Rescue Road?

Yes, but if I tell you I will spoil the ending. There were so many wonderful, sweet, vulnerable dogs that I met along the way. Not all of their stories ended happily.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

If you work for the Postal Service, UPS or FedEx, best to just leave the package on the doorstep and get back in the truck quickly. Albie never used to bark at anyone, but for some reason that changed. He seems to have it in for people in uniforms. And what Lab isn’t obsessed with rabbits and squirrels?

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

All of the above, but no squeaky toy that resembles a critter lasts more than three minutes before its insides are out.

Who is Albie's best pet-pal?

Me, of course. Oh, you said “pet-pal.” Again, I’d spoil the ending of the book if I said.

What is Albie's best quality?

He is incredibly earnest.

If Albie could change one thing about Massachusettsans, what would it be?

He’d clarify whether they should be called Massachusettsans or Massachusettsites.

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

I would ask him to tell me everything about his life before he came to us, whether he lived with people and, if so, how they treated him, how he came to be wandering alone and frightened on a road in rural Louisiana and how he survived. His previous life is a mystery.

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

I am tempted to say Seth MacFarlane who voiced Brian, the dog in Family Guy. But Albie isn’t quite as world-wise as Brian; Albie is an innocent. So maybe Mark Ruffalo. Actually, if I were casting the movie of my book (wouldn’t that be nice?) I’d cast Mark Ruffalo as Greg Mahle, the central figure in the book. He’d be perfect.

What advice would Albie give if asked?

Eat all your vegetables and be kind to all living things (except delivery men in uniforms).

Visit Peter Zheutlin's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue