Monday, November 30, 2015

Lisa Edwards & Pinball

photo credit: Jill Ferson
Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Lisa J. Edwards, professional dog trainer, behavioral consultant, and author.

Pinball is the orange and white dog next to me, and the smiling little boy is my son Indigo. I have been a nationally certified dog trainer and behavior consultant for almost 17 years. Five years ago, Pinball was born at one of the shelters where I am the lead trainer. I met him on the day he was born. His mama was a sweet small-medium mix dog and the rumor was the father was a beagle. The rumors are supported by Pinball’s beagle howl. Pinball has snuggled at my feet through the writing of two books to date.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine? 

What's brewing? Any treats for you or Pinball on this occasion?

Every morning as I curl up in the red leather chair with a big bowl of French or Colombian roast—made strong, one-and-a-half scoops to every cup, Pinball comes down to hang out with me. The house is quiet because it’s before anyone else gets up and he sits close enough so I can scratch him behind the ears for a while and then he usually asks to go outside. He enjoys lying out on the deck in all weather, so he does need a treat lure to get him to come back in from outside.

When we learned about Pinball in 2012 you said his name fit his energy level. Has that changed much?

Pinball’s energy has become more moderated as he has matured, at least when inside the house unless one of his favorite people comes to visit or I come home. But, he remains the “pinball” energy machine when outside in the yard, zooming over rocks, fallen trees, and flying up the stairs on one side of the deck then over them into the grass on the other side as he continues his whirlwind zoom around the yard. My son loves to watch Pinball zooming from rock, to tree, and then digging in the ferns before he’s off again. And, Pinball seems invigorated by my son’s laughter.

Please tell us about your new book.

My new book is Please Don’t Bite the Baby, and Please Don’t Chase the Dogs, Keeping Our Kids and Our Dogs Safe and Happy Together is part-memoir and part training-tips. Each chapter is split into memoir followed by a tips section that details the skills, exercises and management techniques I used in that chapter as I balanced three complicated dogs and a newborn baby. My goal was to walk the reader through my quest to keep my son safe in a house with these three loving but issue-filled dogs, then offer pointers on what parents could do in their own home.

Cat, postman, squirrel...? Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

The cat is Pinball’s best animal buddy—they love each other and trust each other to the point that they snuggle together, and when they play, I occasionally interrupt the play wondering if it is too rough on the cat (one third Pinball’s size) but she than comes back (with a typical cat look of disdain) to see why he hasn’t followed her.

Pinball is a tug and chase dog. Part of him loves to be chased when he has something, and another part of him is made very anxious by that—hence his resource guarding. Tug is a game he would play until we all dropped from exhaustion. I usually drop first. He tugs appropriately, drops the toy when asked to and waits patiently to be presented with the toy again. I know he is really having fun when he actually lifts off the ground to become airborne a little bit creating his own canine carnival ride.

Who is Pinball's best pet-pal?

I am Pinball’s first best pal, then he has a couple doggie friends who set up play dates with him. He loves my son, and Auntie Jill is his second or third favorite human (I can’t know what order we all fall into). Pinball loves to be where my son, Indy is. Initially I had to manage the dogs to keep the newborn safe, but now I have to manage the three-year-old boy to keep the dog safe. I am sure it will balance out shortly.

Pinball’s two doggie housemates passed away last year and he was inconsolable for several months. He is getting used to being the only dog while we wait for the house to be safe enough from the long reach of the toddler for another dog to join us.

Where is Pinball's favorite outdoor destination?

There is a huge hole that Pinball has dug under a gigantic collection of ferns in the way back of the yard. He will frequently settle into that hole and fall asleep in all but rainy weather.

If Pinball could change one thing about New Yorkers, what would it be?

Pinball would love it if everyone, not just New Yorkers, would always ask before petting or approaching him or any dog. There was a time when he was a leery of strangers and while he is much more comfortable, he wants to be the one to make the invitation for people to pet him, not have them take the liberty.

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

Was there any one thing that made you so anxious, or was this just something you were destined to be?

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

I would have to say Jeff Goldblum because his quote from The Lost World, Jurassic Park, fits Pinball perfectly, “Oh, yeah. Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and screaming.”

What advice would Pinball give if asked?

Always think before you bite.

Visit Lisa J. Edwards's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Lisa Edwards & Boo, Porthos, and Pinball (November 2012).

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Lauren Schmidt & Gypsy Marie

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Lauren Schmidt, a fashion and lifestyle blogger and founder of, an entrepreneur, author, model and photographer. I live each day doing what I love!

Gypsy Marie, 1.5 years old long- haired chiweenie residing in beautiful Scottsdale, AZ. Gypsy is a socially savvy diva with a big heart and an even bigger personality. When she isn’t flirting and showing off her fluffy tail she is taking naps cuddled up to her favorite furry toy.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Gypsy and I had a coffee date on our way to a local dog park.

Any treats for you or Gypsy Marie on this occasion?

A coffee date always consists of treats for Gypsy and me. We stopped at a Starbucks before making way to the park and Gypsy got her absolute favorite, a puppuccino, and I got a salted Caramel mocha. Tis The Season for delicious treats and walks through the park!

How were you and Gypsy Marie united?

Gypsy & I were united when I made a trip to a local no kill shelter. I wasn’t necessarily looking to adopt right away but sometimes things are just meant to be. I asked an employee if I could play with her outside of the kennel she shared with two other dogs and as soon as I picked her up she went from stiff and scared to relaxed and calm. Holding her was the moment I knew that I needed her and she needed me and the rest was history.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

My dog got her name from her playful and warm-hearted spirit. She is a lover, a wanderer and has a free spirit.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

She loves everyone and anything except for spiders and crickets. She loves the postman, has a fascination with cats and wishes she could have a squirrel for a BFF.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

All the above! My dog loves toys! She is not picky when it comes her to toys however her inner diva does come out when she has to share with her fellow canine friends.

Where is Gypsy's favorite outdoor destination?

Gypsy's favorite outdoor destination is definitely the beach! She loves to play in the sand and chase after seagulls.

Who is Gypsy's best pet-pal?

Gypsy Marie has two best pals. Urie is a big beautiful male Lab that she loves to visit in California. They love to go on walks together and have play dates! Her other furry friend is an 11-year-old Blue Russian male cat named Miles. You can often find Gypsy and Miles napping and watching TV together.

What is Gypsy's best quality?

Gypsy’s best quality is her unconditional love. I find myself taking her with me when I run errands and go shopping. People love to interact with her whether it’s just to say hi or to pet her; these interactions generate smiles on faces, and it's priceless and also amazing to witness.

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

Gypsy thinks that there is a crazy amount of awful drivers in Arizona and would like that to change.

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

I would ask her how I have done as a mom and if I could improve on anything? I would also thank her for rescuing me. The quote that always resonates with me is, “Who rescued who?”

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

I definitely think my dog is naturally sarcastic and has a sense of humor based on her daily dose of comedic acts that she does on the reg. I would definitely say Amy Schumer would be the perfect voice to represent her.

What advice would Gypsy Marie give if asked?

Be true to yourself, do what you love, be kind and empathetic of others and stay fierce and fabulous because you are a star and you were meant to shine!

Visit the Gypsy Marie Fashion & Lifestyle blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 23, 2015

Jenifer Meadows & Lola

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Jenifer Meadows and I am a Licensed Massage Therapist! This is Lola, our 4-year-old female Cavalier Puggle!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Today Mommy and Daddy have the day off, so we went on a run at the park, and on some days we will end it with a Starbucks coffee date!

What's brewing?

I had a tall soy caramel mocchiato, my fall favorite!

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Daddy had a bacon gouda breakfast sandwich.

How were you and Lola united?

We did a lot of research before bringing home a pup, and realized a puggle was the ideal dog for us, because they are happy to stay inside and tug on lazy days, and also excited to take a nice walk or hike! We searched for about 6 months to find one, and finally came across a ad for someone who's puggle had made puppies with a cavalier spaniel, and was looking for homes! We went to look at the litter, not sure who we would choose, and little Lola made it clear she wanted to be with us. She would follow us around, and bring us toys, but was also relaxed and not very aggressive, giving us a chance to play with the others, always making it known that she wanted our attention! We have been inseparable ever since.

Any treats for Lola on this occasion?

Lola loves to get a Pupicciono, a cup full of whipped cream! We only do this every now and then, but she knows as soon as we pull into the drive thru it is coming, and gets so excited!

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

I have always loved the name Lola, so we picked it out before we met her, and it seems to fit! She does have lots of nicknames! Her full name (because I am silly) is Lola Bella Meadows, so sometimes we call her Bella, sometimes Bubba, sometimes Bo, and sometimes Pooper!

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

Squeaky-toy and Balls for sure! She has a crab that squeaks that is her favorite toy ever, and chasing a ball is her second favorite pastime, next to eating!

Postman, cat, squirrel...?

Lola loves to chase squirrels and birds at the park! We have two cats as well, and she is more intimidated by them then anything!

Where is Lola's favorite place for an outing?

Lola loves the forest and the beach equally ! Lots of trails, smells and things to investigate in the forest!

And at the beach she gets to run, dig and play! She loves the way the way the sand feels under her paws! You can see the excitement when the ocean air hits her nose, and her whole face changes when paws hit the sand!

Who is Lola's best pet-pal?

Lola's best pet-pal is my grandmother's Karen Terrier Bentley.

What is Lola's most endearing quality?

She is so loving, and always so happy to see us. When we are sad or sick, she is extra loving. When we have been gone and come home, she greets us with a furious amount of excitement and kisses!

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

I definitely think Lola would want me to quit my job and be home always, or that the world would allow her to go with me everywhere! She gets so sad and pouty when I get ready to leave, it's hard to imagine anything else she would change.

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

Lisa Kudrow, as Pheobe from Friends! She is light hearted and playful, always looking on the bright side!

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

Do we make you happy? I know that is silly, because we can clearly tell she loves us, but it would be great to know how we could make her life even better, because she makes our hearts so full!

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Cherie O'Boyle & Shiner

Who is in the photo at right?

This is Cherie O’Boyle and Shiner. I am a retired professor of psychology who now writes the Estela Nogales humorous cozy mystery series, including Fire at Will’s (pictured), Iced Tee, and coming in February, Missing Mom. Shiner is an almost eight-year old border collie who plays himself in the mysteries. In real-life, Shiner loves to hike in the mountains. He earned his Canine Good Citizen degree at nine months, and is a certified therapy dog. He’s also a four-second flyball racer, has earned his “started” title in sheepherding, and swims like an otter. These days he’s working on agility and dock-diving, in addition to his duties as Canine Consultant for the mystery series.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Every day is an occasion for coffee for me. While the coffee’s brewing, Shiner and I play fetch in the big backyard. He’s the kind of guy who behaves as though he’s already had way too much coffee, so I down enough fresh brew to half-way keep up with him. Another round of fetch. Another cup of coffee. I write a while, drink more coffee, and take the auxiliary dog for a walk, thinking about what comes next in the plot. After lunch, it’s more coffee, more writing and more fetch. At the end of the day we’re off to agility class, swimming, walks along the river and lots more fetch.

What's brewing?

Home brewed coffee with a little milk. I’m not picky about brand-name, but the coffee must be “fair-trade” and strong. And the eggs have to be stamped “certified humane”. Chickens deserve a (reasonably) happy life too.

Any treats for you or Shiner on this occasion?

After inhaling his morning kibble, Shiner can’t waste any more time eating. It’s ball-chasing time! No pastries for me either, as I already bear a striking resemblance to a well-stuffed cheese Danish.

How were you and Shiner united?

After decades of working 60 hours a week and leaving my dogs home alone, I wanted a companion who would hike and compete in dog sports with me. I picked Shiner out of a litter of five when he was just five weeks old. He came home at eight weeks and got right to work running me ragged with his activities. Not surprisingly, Shiner ‘temperament tested’ as the most focused and competitive pup in his litter.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

Check out the face. One big black eye. He started out with one black eye, then as his snout got longer, his black eye got even bigger. He’s my Shining Star or sometimes Mr. Shinerman.

Does Shiner do more to help or hinder your writing?

Both Shiner and his fictional border collie brother, Scout, are critical to solving the mysteries in the quirky village of Arroyo Loco. They don’t talk, or think in human language, or do anything the average dog wouldn’t do. They just behave like dogs and that helps the humans figure out whodunnit. For example, (small spoiler alert) what if a dog, unnoticed, does some dog stuff at what later turns out to be the scene of a crime, and the stuff is stepped in by the perpetrator and tracked around? That would provide good circumstantial evidence, right? Honestly, after I wrote that I started to wonder why real bad guys don’t step in dog stuff more often!

The real-life Shiner also likes to be read to, especially the scary parts. And he really loves to hear the scary parts when his name is in the story! Yikes! In addition to providing a great model for my fictional dogs, Shiner also helps a lot with editing by listening while I read the entire manuscript out loud for a final edit.

Have your dogs inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

The village of Arroyo Loco hosts a variety of fictional non-human characters. There’s Shiner and his older brother, Scout. They pal around together and protect the protagonist, Estela Nogales. The beagle, Itches, is always running off and getting into trouble. There’s an untrustworthy basenji, Zero, who leaves important clues when he makes an unauthorized visit to the community kitchen. Then there are the cats, Mocha, Peaches, and Spumoni, who have a tendency to scatter on approach. Shiner has learned that three cats are significantly harder to herd than a hundred sheep. There’s a turkey vulture who helps find the murder weapon in Iced Tee. Oh, and there was that skunk...

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Squirrel, definitely squirrel. Grrr ... the very word sends Shiner into an excited romp around the yard to find the cheeky invader. He’ll even spit out his ball to chase a squirrel, prompting a new game called “find” when the ball gets lost. Shiner has never come close to catching a squirrel, which only proves how truly terrified he has them all.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Yes, yes, and yes!

Who is Shiner's best pet-pal?

Real-life Shiner spends most of his time with his adopted sister, “Dog who fell from the clear blue Sky”, so-named because we found her dumped alongside the highway between snow storms. She’s your typical little sister, an annoying pest who pokes you, gets you into trouble, and is always breaking your toys. Both dogs try their best to avoid the two-year-old kitten. She takes the cake in the pest department. Literally. Her name is Patience, but not because she’s got any.

What is Shiner's best quality?

He is gentle and kind with everything that lives (he’s just kidding with the squirrels). He was even voted the “most gentlemanly square-dance partner” at Camp Winnaribbun dog summer camp one year.

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

He would ask Californians to stop wasting water giving baths to dogs! Use it to fill up lakes, ponds, and rivers to swim in instead. Dogs who go swimming don’t need baths anyway. Unless they find a delicious rotting salmon, which, since it is salmon fishing season here, is tantalizingly likely.

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

Dogs live in a different universe than humans, a universe of smells. If there are words in English that could describe Shiner's universe, I wish he could tell me what that's like.

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

Marcel Marceau. Just kidding. Marceau was a mime. Like Marceau, Shiner doesn’t speak. He hardly ever even barks. The very idea of Shiner speaking completely wigs-out his human friends. Like your typical border collie, Shiner is non-stop activity. If he ever started speaking, he’d never stop.

What advice would Shiner give if asked?

Shiner is very concerned about the rate of human over-population and how they are taking over the best beaches, parks and trails. He believes firmly that spay and neuter programs should be instituted and fully-funded for humans immediately. He does admit that baby humans smell yummy, and their cheeks are so lick-able. He just thinks there are too many of them.

Visit Cherie O’Boyle's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 16, 2015

Greg Hartwich & Lady

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Greg Hartwich. I'm the artist behind Little Beagle Studio, my traditional art and graphic design business. Lady, my five year old dog, is the "little beagle."

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

This is a special occasion, because I don't get to see Lady a lot. Jacqui (my fiancée) and I recently moved to Upstate New York, and my little beagle stayed behind in Massachusetts with my parents and my younger sister. I was back in MA visiting my family, and I really liked the idea of spending some quality time with Lady by having coffee in my hometown's park.

What's brewing?

Straight black coffee from the Dunkin' Donuts down the street from my house. I like to keep it simple.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

A bacon, egg and cheese croissant breakfast sandwich. Not health food, but one of my favorite ways to start the day.

How were you and Lady united?

Lady joined our family three years ago. She was a rescue from a shelter in Massachusetts. My parents, my sister and I visited Buddy Dog (a local animal shelter in Sudbury, MA), and out of all the dogs they had, Lady was the only one with whom we felt an instant connection. We were lucky to get her, because she was actually scheduled to be picked up by someone else. She ended up coming home with us when the other interested party was a no-show. Their loss, our gain.

Any treats for Lady on this occasion?

She loves chicken jerky, so I brought some along for her. Once, when we left her alone for a few hours, she ate an entire bag of this stuff. She was so happy! No regrets.

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

Like I said, Lady is a rescue dog, and we kept the name she came with. She's accumulated a few nicknames over the course of the three years that we've known her: my neighbor calls her "Lady Jane,“ and Jacqui and I call her ”Ladybug."

Please tell us about Little Beagle Studio.

Little Beagle Studio is a joint effort between myself and my fiancé, Jacqui. I make the art, she handles the marketing and website upkeep. I draw portraits of pets, design logos, and make other custom artwork. We are currently starting on our holiday season, and are ramping up with orders for custom portraits of dogs, cats and more. I take a few pictures from people who place orders on my website or email me directly about having a portrait of their beloved pet. I take those pictures and draw a portrait of their pet and have it enlarged to whatever size the customer wants. Then I mail them the original image hand drawn usually only 3x5 size and the enlarged size they want. What makes me unique is how small I draw the original drawing. I like to get a lot of small details into every image from those little things that make your pet unique, to texture and this is done by working very small.

What role does Lady play in your design work?

Lady is my muse. Whenever I run into a little artist's block, I'll draw her to get past it. I also do funny sketches of my little beagle for holidays, which I typically post on our Facebook page. One of my first pet portraits featured Lady, her face is part of our logo that's featured on business cards, stickers, our website... She's a huge part of my design work.

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

Lady gets really excited about any toy that 1. looks like an animal (fox, squirrel, skunk, etc.), and 2. has a plastic bottle inside it that she can crunch. Her favorite thing to do is to sprint around the house while chomping on her toys.

Postman, cat, squirrel...?

She loves people, so mailmen are no problem. Any stranger coming to our door gets a quiet, sweet, enthusiastic greeting. Apparently she hates rodents, though. Anytime she spots squirrels, rabbits or chipmunks, she has to chase them.

Where is Lady's favorite place for an outing?

Lady's favorite place to walk is at the state park in Ashland, MA. The scenery is beautiful, there are about five miles of trails to explore, and there are plenty of other dogs and people to socialize with.

Who is Lady's best pet-pal?

Lady's best pet-pal would have to be the next-door neighbor's dog. Darcy is a female black lab with lots of energy, and both her and Lady love to sprint around and roughhouse. They don't get to see each other a lot, so whenever they meet, sparks fly.

What is Lady's most endearing quality?

Lady's especially endearing because she's so loving. She used to be nervous around people, but that only lasted a few weeks after we got her. Nowadays, it seems like she hasn't met a person she doesn't like.

If Lady could change one thing about upstate New Yorkers, what would it be?

Lady likes to get to the park quickly, which is not a problem around Bostonians who drive fast. When she's visiting us out here, it takes longer to get start our walks because of the slow upstate New York drivers. If she could change that, she would! I think mostly Lady would love Upstate New York, it has more parks than where we lived in MA and she loves to go to parks and on long hiking trips.

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

The consensus is Emma Stone, because she's sassy, which I suspect Lady secretly is as well.

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

I was thinking I'd ask her this: "Who's your favorite, me or my dad?" However, I know the answer, it's my dad. She loves him more than anything. Oh well. I'm not sure what my question would be.

Visit the Little Beagle Studio website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Mark Rogers & Chompers

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Mark Rogers, and my friend Chompers the Corgi. I’m a pet photographer from San Francisco and Chompers is a client of mine from a few years back who’s now a good buddy. He’s a three-year old Pembroke Corgi with a pretty-much-constant grin on his face. My dog, Bizzy, is a little jealous he didn’t get to join us but he’s dealing with the cat back at home and couldn’t make it today.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We’re celebrating the release of my new book — Chompers is on the cover — and figuring out our publicity plan. Chompers always thinks better on a full stomach.

What's brewing?

I’m a straight-up coffee guy. No foamed milk or anything fancy-schmancy for me. Being a Corgi, I figured Chompers would be a tea-and-scone type but turns out he’s more into water and biscuits.

Any treats for you or Chompers on this occasion?

I got biscuits for both of us but Chompers ate mine when I went to get my coffee at the counter.

How did you and Chompers meet?

Chompers won a contest a couple of years ago— one of many, he’s pretty good at that — and the grand prize was a photo session with me. I remember going through the photos from that session and thinking two things: 1) This dog is going to be a star and 2) I’d love to have him on a book cover one day. Looks like both have panned out!

How did Chompers get his name? Any aliases?

His name is derived from a combination of his parents' last names. He also likes chomping down on his food. Then there’s the street cred (a corgi needs a tough name to balance out that big smile).

Please tell us about your new book.

It’s called Thanks for Picking Up My Poop: Everyday Gratitude from Dogs and I can’t tell you how pleased I am that I’m almost 50 with my first book coming out and it has the word poop in the title. I’m so proud! It’s essentially a love letter-with photos-to all the great dogs I’ve worked with over the last ten years. I’m always so grateful to be able to do what I do and thought a book based on gratitude and humor was a great way to go.

Are you planning a sequel?

Definitely! I want to call it Thanks for Picking up My Poop #2, which is a little redundant but I still like it! For the next one I’d like to do something that really focuses on rescue animals. There’s a lot of them in this current book but animal welfare is big reason I do what I do and I’d love to see that front and center.

Does Chompers know any of the other dogs featured in the book?

Chompers pretty much knows everyone. He’s a connected guy.

You've got lots of great photos on your website and blog. Do you often do battle the Bay Area's famous fog when trying to get the right light?

I actually love working in fog. Keeps things cool and overcast skies are a photographer’s best friend for the most part. It makes the the light really soft and even so there’s no harsh shadows. That said, it can get too foggy and I’ve definitely had to postpone shoots because the Golden Gate Bridge disappeared for the afternoon.

Who is Chompers' best pet-pal?

Chompers' best pal is his nephew Linus. The two are truly two tri-colored peas in a pod. You know when you hang out with someone too much, you two start looking like each other? Thank goodness they have slightly different markings on their backs or we'd have a problem.

Where is Chompers favorite outdoor destination?

Anywhere with lots of space to run, or in corgi-speak, FRAP! Golden Gate Park, Ocean Beach, the outdoor patios of dog-friendly restaurants. Yes, definitely the outdoor patios.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

A ball is a must, especially a squeaky Kong ball! Chompers will play fetch until he that point, give him a few minutes to recharge, then he'll be ready for more! Watching that bunny butt bouncing around is one of the cutest things in the world.

What is Chompers' best quality?

He adores people. Almost to the point where he prefers people to dogs. At the park, he may not always say hello to all the dogs there, but he'll make his rounds to greet all the dog owners!

If Chompers could change one thing about San Franciscans, what would it be?

To scale back the road-rage, especially during the morning commute. Sip your Philz coffee and relax, people!

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

Boxers or briefs?

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

Chompers' mom is lobbying for Morgan Freeman or Ty Burrell. I think I’d have to go with a Back To the Future era Michael J Fox or Bart Simpson.

What advice would Chompers give if asked?

If you're having a bad day, ask someone to give you a belly rub. And a treat. Works every time!

Visit Mark Rogers' website, and learn more about Thanks for Picking Up My Poop: Everyday Gratitude from Dogs.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 9, 2015

Chloe Tse & Clark Kent

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Chloe Tse, a journalist, co-founder of, a Gaysian activist forever fighting for what's right in this world.

Clark Kent, 10, is a male beagle who is having a hard time training his human. We both work to keep kibble in Clark's bowl.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Clark and I frequent Ideal Coffee in Kensington Market, downtown Toronto. It's just around the corner and the perfect way to start our days. Every time we go in, some new random stranger (fast friend) hangs out with him outside. We've had to do this since the incident in the summer when some random local awful person kidnapped him.

What's brewing?

We enjoy the americanos from Ideal — fixed with a little sweetener and some milk.

Any treats for you or Clark on this occasion?

Clark is far from deprived. He enjoys baked goods — of both the canine and human varieties. Today, the beagle consumed a pig's ear (and rather quickly).

How were you and Clark united?

Clark Kent, formerly Swiper, was a rescue from the Toronto Humane Society. He was recovering from disc replacement surgery on his neck and when we met, he was docile and calm. It was love at first sniff — I'd meant to adopt a cat a few months following my late cat, Lois Lane's death. But instead, I came home with a beagle who lives to outsmart me every day.

How did Clark get his name? Any aliases?

Clark Kent, the super beagle, was named after the leading male of the 90's drama Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman — like his late sister Lois Lane — who was named after Teri Hatcher's character. If we are in the dog park, Clark is one to pretend he doesn't know how name when he doesn't want to go home. So calling out "cookie", "pizza", "burger", "pleasecomeherenow" or "imleavingyouhereandgoinghome" is common.

Please tell about Does Clark have a role in the project?

Clark Kent is a columnist at He had a column called "Tails from the Doghouse" for Bell Media on TheLoop from 2013-2014. He's a human ally, socially aware and fights for equal rights. He's been seen in The Toronto Star, been involved in interviews on CP24 and Fairchild. He's a news hound.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

...he hates skateboards.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Clark enjoys sucking on his blanket over 'playing'. He'll just suck on his blanket for hours. He spent three seasons of Orange Is The New Black and every episodes of Orphan Black sucking on that blanket.

Who is Clark's best pet-pal?

Clark's best friend is Gus. He has a cousin called Pi. But lately he spends time with BB (Betty Blue).

What is Clark's best quality?

Clark is active, ambitious and always looking for the next adventure. He's kind, affectionate and doesn't discriminate. He's a really good listener and won't interrupt people when they're sharing. His emotionality is high and knows how to fill people's hearts with warmth. He's a decent dog, that Clark.

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

Nothing. Clark accepts people as they are. That's part of his charm. A few years ago, he demanded I take a job that affords me the opportunity to be at home with him more. Since, I've only accepted employment that allows me to work from home some of the week.

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

I'd ask him to tell me exactly what he wants and needs from me and how I can accommodate him for the rest of his life. I just want Clark to be happy.

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

Clark has a father who currently lives in New York. In our heads, he has a nasally voice and would sound pretty nerdy. We'd find a really strong cartoon voice actor to get it right.

What advice would Clark give if asked?

Eat first, ask later. It's easier to beg for forgiveness than to ask permission. They always come around. Just be yourself. These are the types of things Clark stands by.


--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Ethan Bethune & Simon

Who is in the photo at right?

This is Simon. Our beagle mix. Or at least we think. On his last visit to the vet he weighed 20lbs....but he definitely has hound in there. I'm pretty sure he just thinks of the vet as a cool place to hang out and meet new animals. He is right around six months old.

My name is Ethan Bethune. I am a 26 year old writer of poetry, essays and short fiction. I live in Alabama.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We have coffee every morning. Sometimes I carry it with me on our walk.

What's brewing?

Southern Girl Coffee. Colombian blend. Although it really is time for the holiday spiced this and peppermint that.

Any treats for you or Simon on this occasion?

Absolutely. Chocolate Cake for me, personally. And Simon is...well he's ignoring his milk bones and digging up earth worms.

How were you and Simon united?

Simon is a rescue dog. We found him with A New Leash On Life in Huntsville. He was left in a ditch when he was just a few weeks old. But he has been just fantastic.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

I remember they were calling him Silas... And my wife looked at me and said "he's not a Silas...look at those ears....he's a Simon."

So I guess that's how we got the name. He looked at us like "thank you." It just worked.

Does Simon do more to help or hinder your writing?

Oh, he helps tremendously. I was really nervous at first. I've always thought of having a cat. You know, because on TV writers have cats and stuff. But he gets me outside which is good for getting vitamin D and other things and he stays up with me. It's pretty great.

Has Simon inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Hmmm. I don't think so...maybe some werewolf creatures, definitely non fictional though. I started Beagle in the City. Which is weekly posts about life from his perspective, narrated by him. And it's been a big hit.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

It's weird. He loves the postman. Because he brings us all this cool stuff. We shop a lot online. But he goes crazy for squirrels and cats. He really tries to approach them and figure out what they're about.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

He collects things. Sticks, bark, big leaves and he loves squeaky toys. We got him a big Coon one and a Giraffe. He carries them around the house just making them squeak. I haven't seen him ignore anything really. He is just so enthusiastic...he was playing with a grub worm the other day.

Who is Simon's best pet-pal?

Probably our building's house cat. They have a strange relationship. Just following each other around...she watches him chase things.

What is Simon's best quality?

He's an old hound dog. If we want to just lay around all day after walking him...he is totally fine with that... He even watches Buffy and old movies with us.

If Simon could change one thing about the good people of Alabama, what would it be?

Hehe...I'm fairly certain he would make everyone flash dance in the street and give him treats.

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

Where did all my socks go...?

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

Tom Hiddleston.

What advice would Simon give if asked?

Adopt don't shop. And cities...cities...come on...get dog parks.

Visit Ethan Bethune's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 2, 2015

Kristine Smith & Gaby

Who is in the photo at right?

My name depends on which book you're holding. I'm a writer--I've written a supernatural thriller entitled Gideon that was released earlier this year under the pseudonym Alex Gordon; the follow-up, Jericho, will hit shelves and e-readers in April 2016. I've also authored science fiction and fantasy under my real name, Kristine Smith.

Gaby is a female terrier mix, and she's about 8 1/2 years old. That's a guess because she was a rescue.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We've just arrived at puppy playcare, which is a daytime playdate at a local kennel. Gaby usually gets two playdates a week. I started bringing her in 2013, after we lost her buddy, King, because I wanted her to have the chance to play with other dogs.

What's brewing?

I brought along a cup of home brew. The current brand of choice is Steep 'n' Brew. Just regular drip grind with a shot of half and half.

Any treats for you or Gaby on this occasion?

No--we both had breakfast, so it's just coffee for me. After her breakfast, Gaby had a treat, followed by a second treat, so she's not hungry now, either. I think.

[photo left: Gaby & King]

How were you and Gaby united?

In August 2008, someone left Gaby tied to the front door of my vet's office--the staff arrived that Monday morning to find her waiting for them, along with a note that she had all her shots. No name or other information. The next day, I brought King in for a check-up, and during the exam the vet made note of his uncharacteristically timid behavior. A month earlier, King and I had suffered the loss of Mickey, a lab mix who had been King's good buddy for over 4 years. King was in pretty bad shape after that. He was a worrier who hated change, and he had suffered through a lot of it over the previous 12 months--in addition to losing Mickey, he had lost his best friend when my Mom passed away the previous year.

I tell you this because when the vet recommended that I consider adopting Gaby, I was concerned. She appeared malnourished, and weighed only 26 pounds. How would she adjust to playing with King, a 115-pound GSD-lab mix who tended to get rough? But I couldn't forget her face, or the way she gave me her paw when I bent to pet her. After a few days' consideration, I decided to give it a shot.

I shouldn't have worried. King's bouncy personality reasserted itself as soon as the two of them hit the backyard, and Gaby became his new best friend. We did hit a few speed bumps along the way. It turned out that Gaby's malnourished state was due to undiagnosed inflammatory bowel disease. It took a while to adjust her diet, but she eventually gained weight--she's 38 pounds now--and got healthy. And so it went until we had to say goodbye to King in March 2013.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

Gaby was the name given to her at the vet's office. They named her the double-b version, but I changed it to Gaby with one b. Short for Gabrielle, Xena's companion.

Aliases? The list is long and ever-changing. Gabamatrix (after the film The Matrix, for reasons I can no longer recall). The Gabanomicon, because like the Necronomicon, the Lovecraftian grimoire, she is a repository of evil. Also, Naughtiness. Evilness. Little Girl. Fluff Monster. Whatever pops into my head.

Does Gaby do more to help or hinder your writing?

A little of both. I'm a morning writer, but before I am able to sit down and work, I have to take Gaby for a morning walk. We walk 4-5 miles, 5 days a week, weather permitting. She loves it, and even though I lose chair time, it really does do me a world of good both physically and mentally. I have worked out more sticky plot issues during these walks than I ever did while sitting at a desk. Something about the fresh air and the ability to ponder the scenery and let the backbrain do its thing.

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your writing?

Oddly enough, as much as I love dogs, I have not yet managed to work any into my stories. I have tried, but other than mentions of a barking in the distance, I can't make them fit.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Squirrel. A very fast squirrel. The slow ones have moved on for reasons of self-preservation.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Ball. A tennis ball, which is about the largest size that Gaby can handle. She doesn't play fetch often, but when she does, she zooms around the yard, ball in mouth. Then she drops the ball and catches it on the bounce.

Who is Gaby's best pet-pal?

She is currently an item with a Shih Tzu at playcare--I'm withholding his name for the sake of privacy.

What is Gaby's best quality?

She's so sweet. She loves people. Other dogs. People smile when they see her. She has that movie-dog-that-brings-everyone-together quality. Friends call her a Disney dog.

If Gaby could change one thing about Illinoisans, what would it be?

All Illinoisans would be required to carry stinky treats in their pockets. Salmon treats are a favorite. The fishier-smelling, the better.

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

Was she well-treated at her first home?

I'd like to think she was, since whoever it was left her at a vet's office instead of turning her in to a shelter or releasing her in the forest preserve. And she had no behavioral issues that led me to think she had been mistreated.

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

Amy Poehler during the deadpan, terrier-laser-stare moments.

During the zoomy, Playtime! moments, Kristin Chenoweth, complete with musical interludes.

What advice would Gaby give if asked?

The world would be a better place if everyone took more walks through the woods, or along the lake. Walks are the best things ever. So are splashes in the lake, followed by rolling in the grass.

Visit Alex Gordon's website and Kristine Smith's website.

--Marshal Zeringue