Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Valerie & Pippa, Amy, Charlie and James

Who is in the photos at right and below?

I'm Valerie, 25-years-old and living in Belgium, with my four beautiful dogs - Pippa, Amy, Charlie (the white Labrador) & James (the brown Lab). Shortly after we adopted Amy (age 4), my beloved Doberman, Zita, passed away. A few months later, Pippa (3), a Greek stray dog, joined our little family.

In December that year, we decided to become a foster family and welcomed Charlie (3) to our home. Charlie is rescued from a pound in Serbia by a local organization. It didn't take long for him to concur my heart, so we decided to adopt him.

Last, but not least, James entered our lives and made our family complete. He is a purebred Labrador I bought from a befriended breeder.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

My dogs love to play in the yard or go for a run in the park. But when it comes to Coffee with a Canine, Pippa is my partner in crime. Whereas my other dogs don't have enough patience to join me for coffee and some casual shopping, Pippa loves those mommy-and-me moments.

What's brewing?

I love to treat myself to a Starbucks Caramel Machiatto! Yum!

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Unfortunately not. My dogs are not allowed to have 'human' food because it's bad for their health. But I always have some delicious dog treats on hand! If I know I'll take a while, I'll bring a chicken wrapped dog bone, to keep her busy.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

My boyfriend decided on most of the names, haha! I picked 'Amy', because I love The Big Bang Theory and Amy Farrah Fowler is my favorite character! I told her on Instagram, but she hasn't responded yet, haha!

Pippa [photo left] and Charlie were instantly decided, it was just a match. But we couldn't agree on James' name for over a week! He was just 'Puppy' for a while because we couldn't decide! But in the end, it all came together, and I think 'James' is just the perfect name for him.

Do your dogs have a role at Puppy Tales Studio headquarters?

Of course! They are the inspiration behind everything. When it comes to dogs, there is just so much to learn and to talk about. How to properly care for them, recognize signs of illness, wellbeing and mental exercise, puppy training..

Since three of my dogs are adopted, I hope to inspire people to consider adoption before they buy a dog. There are so many dogs in shelters, looking for their forever home and it breaks my heart to know that many of them will spend their life in a shelter. And if people do want a purebred dog, I want them to search for a responsible breeder. Owning a dog is a big responsibility; it's something to think through before you buy or adopt.

L to R: Amy, James, Pippa, and Charlie
Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Cat! Pippa was in the 'cat' section of the pound, so she has some cat-like behavior. But recently, she loves to chase them. Next to hunting down flies in the house, annoying cats is the next best thing!

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Squeaky-toys all the way for Charlie and James!! Amy is more a stick kind of dog!!

Where is your dogs' favorite outdoor destination?

In Oudenaarde, Belgium, we have 'de Donk'. It's a large recreational area with a lake. My Labradors love to swim, and Pippa and Charlie can run for miles and miles!

What is each dog's best quality?

Pippa's patience, Amy's loyalty, Charlie's clingingess and James' playfulness!

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

I think they would make me quit my job so that we could spend all our time together!

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

I would ask them if they would change anything about our daily routine to make them happier.

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

Haha, that's difficult! For James, I would pick Seth MacFarlane (the voice of Brian from Family Guy). I know Pippa is a girl, but she is such an old soul so Morgan Freeman would be amusing! For Amy, I would search for someone with a soft high pitched voice, very girly and gentle. Maybe Paris Hilton? And for Charlie, Kunal Nayyar, Rajesh from The Big Bang Theory. The accent would really suit his foreign background.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

To spend all your money on treats! It's the best investment possible.

Visit the Puppy Tales Studio website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Rebecca Meluch & Jeremiah

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Rebecca Meluch. I write science fiction as R.M. Meluch. My first novel was Sovereign, a Signet paperback, in 1979. Goddess empress Sheila Gilbert was my editor then and now.

My dog is Jeremiah, a/k/a JDog or JDawg. He's seven years old, born in Ohio. He's Shepherd mutt. (Best not look too hard at his parentage as long as we're living in New York. He's part abominable snow beast.)

We are a blended family, so I must also introduce my husband, Stevan Apter and his little bitty doggies, Muggsy, who is an American Bulldog, and Gigi, a petite little Rottweiler who managed to keep her tail. The boys don't get along, but we never worry about break-ins into this house.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I'm back in the USA and I got a book release today from DAW. It's the latest incarnation of Jerusalem Fire. We are joyous.

What's brewing?

Coffee. In any guise.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Chicken jerky, stuffed into a Kong to slow them down.

How were you and your dogs united?

Well, Stevan is the virtuous one. Gigi and Muggsy were Stevan's rescues before he and I ever met.

My first dog was a beautiful darling purebred Doberman princess who had every genetic flaw of the breed. She died in my arms. I was devastated. I could not live without a dog. So I bought the sturdiest creature imaginable. Jeremiah filled the bill. And Jeremiah did the match making. Stevan came down to Mexico where we (me and Jeremiah) were living. Stevan got out of the car. JDog was instantly all over him, tail wagging, whole body wagging, licking Stevan's face off. Didn't think I'd ever marry again, but that was the one.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Stevan's rescues have the names they were saddled with when he rescued them. My Jeremiah's name came from the Three Dog Night song. You know, Jeremiah was a good dog...

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

Well, I put dogs on the space battleship Merrimack. Gotta say they're a help.

Have any actual dogs ever inspired dogs in your fiction?

Yes. Inga is on board the Merrimack. Inga the doberman ate the Sargasson ambassador.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?


Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?


Who is each dog's best pet-pal?

Gigi and Muggsy are a set. JDog is my appendage, though he adores Stevan too.

What is each dog's best quality?

Love. Loyalty. Goofiness.

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

They would have unlimited treats. (Not happening, guys, not from me anyway. Go ask your father.)

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

Tell me if you're in pain.

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

Andre Braugher for JDog.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

More treats, please.

Visit R.M. Meluch's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Zana Fraillon & Tishkin and Moomin

Who is in the photo at right?

That is me (Zana Fraillon) with my two gorgeous Golden Retrievers, Moomin and Tishkin (Moomin is the one lying quietly and calmly). I write books for kids, so I am lucky enough to spend the day working with my dogs at my feet. Taking them for a walk along the river is also a sure fire way to overcome writer’s block. Tishkin has just turned one, so we are hoping he is just about over his destruction phase (it is a phase, right?), and Moomin is 4. She is far more sensible, although has a thing for carrying shoes around – this has caused many a late morning when at least one of us will have to rummage in the garden for the missing shoe…

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Coffee is an essential part of my day, and sitting on the front porch is the perfect place to have it. The dogs always join me – both for the morning tea titbits which often find their way into the dogs’ mouths, and for the lovely morning sun that soaks the porch. We have all sorts of wild birds around here (including the rather bossy cockatoos who tear up the wood on our porch when the neighbours have neglected to fill their bird feeder) so the dogs are on lookout for intruders. Of course, they are a little scared of the cockatoos (they are huge birds), so bark from a safe distance.

What's brewing?

A latte is my coffee of choice. We usually use beans from our favourite café – Everyday Coffee in Collingwood – which at the moment is a blend of Colombia La Playa and Colombia Yancanquer.

Any treats for you or Tishkin and Moomin on this occasion?

I did enjoy some lemon syrup cupcakes left over from the kids’ lunchboxes, and shortly after this photo was taken the dogs both enjoyed their daily bone in the back yard. They have recently worked out that they can both enjoy their bones if they stick to separate spots in the garden, which makes for a much more relaxing morning.

How were you and your dogs united?

Moomin was the first Golden Retriever we have ever had. We bought her from a woman who wanted her dog to have just the one litter (and despite us pleading to have more after we bought Moomin, she stuck to her promise). We bought Moomin when our previous two dogs had reached 13 and 12 years of age. Moomin re-energised them both, and made the transition from ‘old dog’ family to ‘young dog’ family as smooth as it can be.

We knew after the success with Moomin that we wanted another Golden Retriever, and searched Golden Retriever Rescue for a long time. Most of the dogs there though were old and ‘needed a quiet life’ or interstate and unable to travel. With a fairly young dog already and three young boys we decided to go for a puppy instead. We found Tishkin through a reputable breeder and have really enjoyed watching him grow up with the kids.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Both the dogs are named after book characters. When we first got Moomin, she looked exactly like a Moomintroll – fat, white and fluffy. She also made a noise that sounded a lot like Chewbacca, so for a while we couldn’t decide. In the end we decided that if we called her Chewbacca she would get Chewy for short, which would surely only cement her desire to eat everything. As it is, she gets Moomy and Moom (or Moomin Troll Fraillon when we are being formal) and doesn’t chew a thing.

Tishkin was named after the character Tishkin Silk. This is a book by the wonderful Glenda Millard, and just a beautiful story. We had all read the book and loved it, and Tishkin suited the pup straight away. Funnily enough, he ended up with the same middle name as Moomin, so he gets Tishkin Troll Fraillon, which makes no sense at all.

Do Tishkin and Moomin do more to help or hinder your writing?

They definitely do more to help me write. Dogs are wonderful for bringing people back to the important things in life, and their daily walk is one of the best parts of the day. They have also taken me to explore places I wouldn’t otherwise have ventured to, and these places inevitably end up in my books.

Have your dogs inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Not yet – although they have inspired the creation of characters of different species. Undying loyalty and unconditional love are the hallmarks of dogs, as well as their ability to know when something is wrong without you having to say a single thing. They are perceptive and know exactly when to cosy up for a snuggle, or when what is really needed is a good game of fetch (which, by the way, they are both hopeless at. They chase the ball, they pick up the ball, then they drop the ball where they are and wait for me to come and get it. I guess they haven’t cottoned on to the ‘retriever’ part of their gene pool…)

Cat, postman, rabbits...?

Both Tish and Moom love chasing rabbits. I always wonder what would happen if they were fast enough to catch up to one – I suspect they would run away. They do also enjoy chasing cats, but only to play with. They look quite offended when the cat in question takes a swipe. The postman seems largely irrelevant to the dogs, although parcel deliveries which make it to the front door are always met with waggy tails and the hope of a pat.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Anything, especially if it is in the water. They both love swimming and taking them to the beach is wonderful. It always makes me wish we could live near enough to a beach that I could take them swimming more regularly. We have a river near us, but the risk of snake bite means we can only swim the dogs there for about 4 months of the year.

Who are Tishkin and Moomin's best pet-pals?

Each other. They love meeting new friends down at the park, but invariably end up charging around with one another, while their bemused new friend looks on.

What is each dog's best quality?

Moomin’s best quality is her calm nature. At some stage I will do some therapy dog work with her, because she is so in tune with people and so calm. I have taken her to the kids’ school where she has been surrounded by 50 excited, yelling 6 year olds, and she just sits in the middle of the circle and lets them pat her.

Tishkin is also wonderful at adjusting his play - he will lie down as soon as a baby arrives at the house, or when he meets a small dog. He is also fiercely intelligent so very easy to train. Of course, this does mean he can get bored if we are out for the day, but who wouldn’t?

If Tishkin and Moomin could change one thing about you, what would it be?

Not having enough time in the day. They are both very chilled dogs, and as I speed around trying to fit everything in, they do look at me wearily. If only life was one big holiday, we could all live as happily as dogs.

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

I would ask Tishkin why he always steals the newspaper from the table and the tea towel from the oven door, even though he knows he shouldn’t…and I would ask Moomin what they actually do when we are out. I can tell by the look on her face when we return that they haven’t been sleeping quietly in the sun...

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

Oh that is so hard! My old dog Trapper, I would have said Clarke Peters (Lester Freeman from The Wire) but he is too old for Tishkin’s voice…If we could go back in time, I would choose Wayne Rogers (Trapper from M*A*S*H) for Tishkin, and Carrie Fisher for Moomin (because who wouldn’t choose Princess Leia to be their voice, right?) – although really I can’t imagine them having a voice at all. I have a feeling if they could talk, it would totally change their character. Things are much wiser when you can’t understand them…

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

‘Ladies and Gentlemen take my advice, pull down your pants and slide on the ice…’ (The dogs are both huge M*A*S*H fans as well…)

Follow Zana Fraillon on Twitter.

My Book, The Movie: The Bone Sparrow.

Writers Read: Zana Fraillon.

The Page 69 Test: The Bone Sparrow.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 4, 2016

A. J. Mayers & Dexter

A.J. and Dexter in the Mirage elevator
Who is in the photo at right?

I'm A. J. Mayers, a film studio marketer by day, and an author/novelist by night - but also day too! My dog is Dexter Whiskers Mayers, but we can call him Dexter or Dex. He's a 5 year old French Bulldog, male.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We went to Vegas for a Thanksgiving family trip. Dexter got to see his human grandparents and uncles.

What's brewing?

Dexter got to run around the casino - he's not old enough to gamble, but he enjoyed the people watching.

Any treats for you or Dexter on this occasion?

His minty bones so we can keep his breath fresh and clean.

How were you and Dexter united?

I found a breeder in Orange County and emailed him - he agreed to meet me with Dexter and his brother Bruce. I ended up picking Dexter because he had a cute white mark on his forehead that set him apart.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

I was going to name him Tex as I'm from Texas, but then I saw the season 1 DVD of the show Dexter on my desk and thought..Dex...Dexter! I sometimes call him "my little creature."

Does Dexter do more to help or hinder your writing?

He keeps me calm and happy. A nice break from writing to pet and play with him is always welcomed.

Has Dexter inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Yes! In my latest novel, Final Boarding, there is a man named Dexter which of course was inspired by my dog's name!

Cat, postman, squirrel...?


Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?


Who is Dexter's best pet-pal?

A pug named Lola.

What is Dexter's best quality?

His temperament.

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

Having the ones that own corporations allow your dog to go to work with your human if that isn't a perk already!

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

What do I do to make you most happiest?

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

Steve Carrell! He's great with accents and funny voices.

What advice would Dexter give if asked?

Whenever I leave for work, don't worry, you're on my mind and there's no need to be sad. I have to work to support you!

Visit A .J. Mayers's website and, and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Check out Dexter on Instagram.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 27, 2016

M. Ann Vanderlaan & her dogs

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Ann Vanderlaan, a former oilfield engineer and data management specialist. (My knees are to the left in the photo.) I studied Neurophysiology, Neuropsychology, and Veterinary Systems Physiology in graduate school. The common threads in this crazy patchwork are mathematics and a desire to know how things work in a crowd—takes more than one person to make a mob. I taught in courses in veterinary, medical, and nursing schools before moving on to jobs in the oil patch, advanced software development and data analytics.

The dogs in the photo (left to right) are:

Angel (4+ years at the time), male American Pit Bull Terrier mix; adopted October 2010.
Spike (3+ years), male Dogo Argentino/American bulldog mix; deaf, adopted June 2011.
R Kane (4+ years), male American Bully, adopted late July 2012.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

At the time the photo was taken in September 2012 I had recently added a new dog, Kane, to my pack. Almost all of our coffee moments are learning situations for my dogs. The occasion was a chance to socialize and reinforce behavior in an all-male pack of large dogs, which sometimes rescues are reluctant to consider as suitable homes for adoption or foster dogs.

The goals for this tête-à-tête were non-competitive sharing and “everybody gets a lick”, especially when there’s a stranger around to take pics and stir up the pot.

What's brewing?

The “Coffee with a Canine” moment started out with a nearly empty bottle of Starbucks Frappuccino and progressed to dipping the bottle neck in chicken broth—although Shiner Bock would have worked too. I prefer regular coffee from home-roasted beans (Kenya, Brazil, or Costa Rica) that I grind by hand before brewing or French-pressing.

How were you and your dogs united?

All of my current dogs are rescues. Since this picture was taken, I have adopted or fostered 3 more dogs, one of which recently died. So I currently have five bully breed dogs in my home.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

At the time I started adopting bully breeds I was first watching the Joss Whedon series Angel. Angel and Spike were perfectly matched to their characters in the series. I ran into difficulty when Kane joined the Thundertail Tribe. The obvious male character names available were Gunn, Lorne, and Lindsey (Pee-Pee demon was never a consideration). Since none of these seemed a good fit for a future therapy dog, I named Kane for the actor Christian Kane who played Lindsey.

All of my dogs except Spike have both call and “Don’t Mess With Me” (DFMW) names. Spike has a single hand sign.

Angel / Angelo (his rescue name).
Kane / R Kane – adopted. (The “R” stands for ‛raising’.)
Diva / Godiva (her rescue name) – adopted May 2014, deceased October 2016
Norma / Norma Jean (her rescue name) – hospice foster since January 2015
Fiona (her rescue name) / Madame –foster to adopt November 2016.

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

Always help. Play breaks, walks, and vet visits are very little to pay for what they teach me about behavior and how they manipulate humans. They are quite entertaining and great snugglers if you don’t mind being stepped on by seventy pounds plus.

Have any actual dogs ever inspired dogs in your fiction?

Kane’s ongoing therapy efforts and nosework have informed all of the tracking and therapy-related content in Lone Wolf.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

The only one of those we like are the UPS and FedEx delivery people who come bearing food boxes from Chewy.com or Petflow.com. Nobody barks when they come on the porch except for Fiona who hasn’t learned the rules yet. Diva hated cats so much she would growl at a cat statue at the vet.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Jolly Ball Horse toys and elk antlers to chew—they are big dogs.

Who is each dog's best pet-pal?

Spike and Angel.
Kane and the ladies (Diva, Norma Jean, Fiona).

What is each dog's best quality?

Angel (loyalty), Spike (earnest and honest), Kane (loves to comfort people and adores children), Diva (attitude), Norma Jean (sweet), Fiona (best snuggler, and she doesn’t weigh seventy pounds)

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

BBQ. Texans barbecue with mesquite and Kane is extremely allergic to mesquite. I can’t even bring leftovers home from a restaurant.

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

When we move to the mountains will heavier sweaters be enough?

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

That would be Diva Iron Paw Thundertail. Although she wasn’t with me for long, Diva was the perfect blend of life as we live it, powering through obstacles, voicing her opinion, and running the Tribe. I was only privileged to have Diva in my pack for 2½ years, but she was a true heart dog. She was the only dog I’ve ever had that watched TV. Her favorite show was Vikings—I think it was the screams.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

“Chill Mom, we got this” as they try to jump fences or chase frogs on the walls of the pond, and “Hurry up and feed us before we expire” if a meal is late.

Visit Ann Vanderlaan's Facebook page, and read more about Lone Wolf: An FBI K-9 Novel by Sara Driscoll (the pen name of Jen J. Danna and Ann Vanderlaan).

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 21, 2016

Bailey Fabricius & Moo

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Bailey Fabricius, and next to me is Moo, my 11-month-old Frenchton. Moo was born completely deaf and, while this may seem like a burden, he has been a complete blessing to my life. I am a senior at Oglethorpe University, studying Journalism and English in hopes of becoming a journalist/novelist.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Every Sunday afternoon, Moo and I stop at Starbucks on our way to the dog park.

What's brewing?

For me: a vanilla soy latte (iced in the summer). For him: a puppucino, of course!

How were you and Moo united?

French Bulldogs are my absolute favorite breed. When I moved into my first one bedroom apartment, I realized I needed a puppy to fill the roommate void! After months of searching for a Frenchie, I came across a Frenchton breeder in Florida who had one puppy left, which was 8 week old Moo!

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

Moo is black and white so naturally, he looks like a cow! I call him Moo or Moocow all day long but of course he has no clue what his name is.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Cats are his absolute favorite. In fact, he thinks all animals are friends but a hissing and back-raising cat clearly means friend.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

He loves all three. His favorite type of toy however is a stuffed animal. I think he likes the company it provides while I'm in class.

Who is Moo's best pet-pal?

Moo's best pal is a black Lab/Greyhound mix named Luna. She is owned by my boyfriend's sister so Moo feels a sort of "cousinly" kind of love for her. He's pretty good at holding his own with the large breeds.

What is Moo's best quality?

Moo is very perceptive to moods. Although he can't hear, he always knows what I'm thinking and when it's time to act like a rambunctious puppy (most of the time), and when it's time to chill.

Where is Moo's favorite outdoor destination?

Other than the dog park, Moo loves to visit the barn where my horse Giggles lives. The fresh air and the many acres of land excites Moo like nothing else. He is still amazed by the size of his "large dog friends."

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

If Moo could change the fact that I ever leave the house without him, which honestly isn't that often, he definitely would. He is so incredibly spoiled and probably treated better than my children if I had any.

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

Do you like being an only dog-child or would you like a brother or sister?

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

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

What advice would Moo give if asked?

"Eat poop, it tastes good!"

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Teresa Toten & Cheever

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Teresa Toten and Cheever Toten having our coffee date just this past week. I’m a Young Adult writer and Cheever is a 5 year old, male golden doodle.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I’d just finished my “ruff” draft of the novel I’m working on and Cheever wanted to get some points across before I started a full first draft.

What's brewing?

We only drink espresso. We’re tough like that.

Any treats for you or Cheever on this occasion?

No, it was a serious discussion.

How were you and Cheever united?

We bought him from a family as a puppy. Cheever was the runt of his litter and was seriously bullied by his siblings. He has issues but he is very cuddly snuggly.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

I named him after my favourite writer (long dead) named John Cheever. He used to write short stories for the New Yorker that I read as a kid. I loved those stories even though I had no clue what they were about. John Cheever was an absolutely brilliant, alcoholic, misogynist, closeted gay man. I should maybe have thought that one through better. As I say Cheever has issues.

Does Cheever do more to help or hinder your writing?

He is generally helpful although he can be very judgy. I have trouble sitting still when I write, so I tend to get up and walk around the house, talking out passages and dialogue. Cheever follows me around and provides input.

Has Cheever inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Well, there you have it, the point of our coffee. In my last book, Beware That Girl, there is a dog named Bruce and he’s wonderful. Cheever loved that! However, in this book I’ve got a cat named Cicero. Cheever is not handling this well. I think I’m going to stick to my guns though... I’m pretty sure...

Cat, postman, squirrel…?

All of the above all of the time.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick…?

Cheever lives to destroy his toys and can never, ever, ever get enough of sticks, balls and rocks.

Who is Cheever's best pet-pal?

Cheever doesn’t much see the point of other dogs. He either thinks he’s better than they are or he's terrified of them. Except for Oscar a little Shih Tzu who used to live next door. They had a real bromance going. Cheever even shared his bones and favourite ball with Oscar when they had sleepovers. Alas Oscar moved away. Cheever has not recovered.

What is Cheever's best quality?

He loves to to be read to, he loves to love you and he’s intensely loyal. What more do you want from a guy?

If Cheever could change one thing about Torontonians, what would it be?

Everyone on the street should be carrying a ball or a stick and be read to throw it!

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

How do you understand time? When we leave for 5 minutes or five hours we get the same hysterical greeting. Is there a difference for you?

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

Alan Rickman. Okay so, it’ s not a great match, but I just want an excuse to hear Alan Rickman’s voice again.

What advice would Cheever give if asked?

Love and cuddles will fix everything.

Visit Teresa Toten's website.

The Page 69 Test: Beware That Girl.

Writers Read: Teresa Toten.

My Book, The Movie: Beware That Girl.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Scott Jordan & Margaux

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Scott Jordan, co-founder and CEO of a clothing company called SCOTTeVEST, and loving parent of 12-year old standard poodle Margaux. One of our other poodles Susie is trying to get in the shot too! Margaux loves to dance to Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke” (even though she can’t hear it) and go on hikes with my wife Laura, myself and Susie and our two other standard poodles.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I spend mornings with Margaux to give her perimeter tours of our house, which helps her become more familiar with her environment without her sight and hearing. I’m also a huge coffee addict so use this time to get in 2-3 cups before I start my work day!

What's brewing?

Blue Bottle coffee in my awesome automated coffee machine! It can make any coffee drink you want or need. I could go on all day about this, it’s my favorite thing in our kitchen.

Any treats for you or Margaux on this occasion?

During work days, Margaux hangs out on the 3rd floor with Laura where she has tons of bones, rawhides and other treats. Her favorite treat is the Idaho Lamb bones that my wife Laura gets for her.

How were you and Margaux united?

On Laura’s birthday 11 years ago, she saw an ad in a local paper for apricot poodle in Pocatello, ID. So, we dropped everything we were doing to go and adopt her!

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

We always have liked French names, so decided on Margaux on the drive to go adopt her. Her only alias is “The Awesome and Amazing Margaux” thanks to her inspiring nature and persistent attitude to learn something new every day.

Please tell us about Margaux's health issues.

Three years ago, Margaux was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease (diffuse pyogranulomatous inflammation) which started attacking her body – starting with her paw. When that cleared up, it began affecting her eye and her veterinarian recommended it be removed. The other eye followed soon after, and to make matters worse, our vet found she had lost her hearing on August 14. You can follow Margaux’s entire journey on her Facebook page here.

How have your other poodles adapted to Margaux's loss of sight and hearing? Do they have complete awareness of her condition?

Our other poodles help out all the time! On walks, they began to help guide her by a leash, but soon enough Margaux was strong and confident to start leading them. Other than those times, it’s hard to tell whether they know fully or not as they generally act just sisters and don’t treat her any different! They play around her, bump into her and steal her bones (like they always have).

Who is Margaux's best pet-pal?

Our standard poodle Chloe because they’ve been together the longest.

What is Margaux's best quality?

Her smile! No matter what life hands Margaux, she has never lost her smile and fun-loving attitude.

If Margaux could change one thing about Idahoans, what would it be?

Margaux loves it in Idaho and all the people she meets, so this is a hard one. Maybe for them to eat less potatoes?

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

Do you follow me on Facebook?

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

Hmm, that’s a hard one -- I’d say Meryl Streep or Michelle Obama.

What advice would Margaux give if asked?

Always keep your head up and your smile bright! Take life moment by moment as you never know what will happen.

Follow Margaux’s entire journey on Facebook and visit the SCOTTeVEST website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 31, 2016

Melissa & Gigi and Diego

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Melissa, with my two fur babies - Gigi and Diego. Gigi is a 2-year-old toy Poodle and Diego is a 3-year-old Chihuahua! During the day, you can usually find us in this position - dogs on lap, laptop on knee, and coffee in hand. That's because I work from home as a writer and social media manager. I also run my own blog, Proud Dog Mom, where I share training tips, health advice, DIY dog project ideas, and original homemade dog treat recipes. My pups definitely enjoy their official day jobs as treat taste testers!

When we're not busy on the computer or creating healthy biscuits in the kitchen, you can usually find us on hikes, playing at the park, or on a road trip!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Diego and Gigi wake me up every morning at 7:20 like clockwork (I really don't need to set an alarm clock with these two)! Once we're up, it's over to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee and get to work. Right now, my morning coffee is accompanied with a few dog treats because I'm in the middle of creating and testing new recipes for our upcoming cookbook, Proud Dog Chef! Our book will have everything from gluten-free biscuits to flourless pupcakes, jerky chews, frozen snacks, and even safe icing recipes.

What's brewing?

In the morning, I love a breakfast blend. Since I'm all about quick and easy when I first wake up, I usually reach for a Green Mountain Keurig K-Cup. I like it black - no milk or sugar.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Right now my dogs are munching on my latest treat recipe, which is made from free-range chicken and a little turmeric. They are going crazy over them and I can't wait to share the recipe with everyone!

How were you and your dogs united?

When I moved half-way across the country for a job, it was the first time I didn't have a dog in my life. At first, I thought I would enjoy the quiet and lack of responsibility. That lasted two weeks! I very quickly realized that a house isn't a home without the sound of paws hitting against the floors and a wet nose waking you up in the morning. So I started searching for the perfect Chihuahua. Online, I came across a family that was looking to re-home their 2-month-old Chihuahua because they couldn't afford him. It was their last effort before taking him to the shelter. I met Diego the next day and we immediately clicked. I knew he was "the one!" He's been bringing my life joy ever since.

About a year later, I started working from home. That's when my boyfriend and I began toying with the idea of getting a second dog. We thought it would be fun for Diego to have a friend and I had the time to take care of another pooch. After a few weeks of searching with no luck, we stopped looking. Then, one of my boyfriend's co-workers came into their office with a photo of a toy Poodle puppy. The woman who bred her had passed away and he was trying to help find the puppy a home. We fell in love! We met her a few days later and immediately knew she was meant to be our next family member.

We've been one big happy family every since!

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

When Diego came into my life I wanted to honor his Mexican heritage. One of my good friends, whose family is from Mexico, turned to me and said, "How about Diego?" After a lot of online searching for the perfect name, it just clicked. A lot of times, though, I call him "Little Man." He responds to both!

Gigi has a similar story. Being a French dog, I wanted to give her a French name. I immediately came up with the name "Gigi" and my boyfriend thought it fit her perfectly. Since she is always smiling, I also call her "Happy Girl." I have a long list of nicknames for Gigi and she responds to all of them. I think she just assumes if I'm speaking then I must be talking to her!

Do your dogs have a role at your branch of Proud Dog Mom headquarters?

Diego and Gigi were the inspiration behind Proud Dog Mom. I often share our experiences with our readers. Also, the Proud Dog Mom Instagram is basically their personal photo album!

What is each dog's best quality?

Gigi has a heart of gold. She seriously loves everyone, wants to kiss all the time, and loves to play!

Diego is pretty much a human child trapped in a dog's body. Since I've been dressing him since he was a little puppy, he actually looks forward to getting dressed every morning. He also eats at the table with me. I put his plate at the edge of the table and he jumps up on a chair to keep me company. He truly is my best friend.

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

Definitely squeaky-toys. We have upwards of 50 plush toys in my house and Diego and Gigi are always playing with them. Tug-of-war and fetch are their favorite games.

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

They would come everywhere with me! While I work from home and try to take them out of the house as much as possible, there are certain places that I can't bring them (like the grocery store, yoga class, or movie theater). If it was up to them, though, they would be allowed wherever I go.

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

This is a really funny question because so many times I look at my dogs and say to them: "I wish you could speak English!" After I pick Gigi up from the groomer I always ask her, "Were they nice to you?" And when Diego curls up in a little ball, I ask him, "Do you feel okay?"

I think my dogs and I communicate very well, but there are some things I really wish they could tell me in English.

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

My little man has a lot of attitude and is very confident, so I think Al Pacino would play a good Diego. Gigi is more fun and outgoing so probably someone like Isla Lang.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Spend less time working and more time playing!

Visit the Proud Dog Mom blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 24, 2016

Cristina Crawford & Brando

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Cristina, with my four-legged love, Brando, who turns eight next month. I’m not working at the moment which is probably best since my boy isn’t fond of being home alone. I hold down the fort, cycle, practice yoga, and now that I cannot run, I enjoy long walks with Brando. I write in my blog, Ten Degrees of Bliss (which all of five people read) while he sits in my lap. Yes…that right, all 35 pounds of him. Brando is a medium standard poodle who thinks he’s a lap dog. More precisely, he is called a Moyen (french for medium), bred specifically for size and he is also called a Klein Poodle. His father was a miniature poodle and his mother a full-size standard poodle. Let’s just say a porch was involved in the process and leave it at that!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We used to live in Southern California, just two miles from the beach. It was so easy to take our boy with us to a plethora of outdoor eateries and coffee houses. There were countless trips to Peet’s Coffee after a long run (or leisurely walk) along The Strand or after a morning frolic at a nearby dog park. Now that we are in “Bama-Land” we are severely restricted by weather and places that are pet-friendly. I have to make a special effort to bring him with me to Starbucks when the temperature allows. If he could talk I’m sure he would demand we return to Southern California if for nothing else to escape the wrath of thunderstorms and tornado warnings!

What's brewing?

I’m half-Italian and therefore I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to my java fix. I drink espresso, sans anything, for my early morning brew. A simple, no frills Cappuccino or Non-fat Latte is my afternoon preference, often at Starbucks. I eschew syrups and mounds of whipped cream in my coffee —it just corrupts my brew and adds calories which I’d rather assign to a sweet treat.

Any treats for you or your poodle on this occasion?

My boy doesn't care a wit about bones or Kong toys stuffed with peanut butter. But he would dance on his head for cheese. He likes yogurt too. Most mornings I have yogurt with berries for breakfast. I always leave a bit in the bowl for my boy. He can be in a deep slumber in another room but when he hears the last scrape of the spoon against the bowl he’s at my feet in an instant knowing that his treat awaits. He’ll patiently waiting for me to put the bowl on the floor so that he can lick it clean.

How were you and your poodle united?

Initially, my husband wasn’t one for getting a dog. I had to work on him for almost ten years. While living in Southern California a friend told me about a great poodle breeder in Oregon so I began to get a bit more aggressive about changing my husband's mind. I’m not one bit ashamed to admit that I caught him completely off-guard during his “orgasmic” moment when his beloved Steelers won the Super Bowl. As he jumped up and down in euphoria at the winning touchdown I chimed in saying: “Great! So….can we go to Oregon and look at these adorable poodle puppies?”

“Yes, yes, yes,” he cried as he threw his hands up in the air in jubilation. Underhanded, I know. Of course I wanted him to be completely on-board with having a dog-pal; if his heart-strings weren’t pulled then we’d just chalk it up to a weekend getaway.

He chose me. My dog chose me. (swoon)
He chose me. My dog chose me. (swoon)
So….I had been conversing with the breeder for weeks before meeting her in Oregon. Based on photos from her website I had settled on a girl puppy. But several days before flying out she called saying that the girl was developing into a more high-active personality. My heart sank. I knew that for this to work with my husband I’d need a low-key kind of pup. Still, we decided to fly out. When I arrived at the breeders house I was escorted to the large back yard. There seemed to be a sea of puppies running to and fro. As I stood on the porch observing the happy chaos of all those puppies, one puppy came, as if from out of the blue, and snuggled himself down right on top of my feet.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

It was Academy Award weekend and we were living in Redondo Beach, California (Los Angeles County) when we brought our boy home. As we were driving to the airport with our new addition to the family in my lap I was texting back and forth with my sister who lived in Northern Virginia trying to come up with names. She came up with Brando paying homage to the late great actor, Marlon Brando. Aliases: Troy (as in Troy Polamalu, but only during a Steelers game); Einstein (because my pooch is so freaking smart) and Killer … when he actually got ahold of a chipmunk and knocked it dead!

Cat, postman, squirrel…?

Without question squirrels. He goes positively bonkers over squirrels. He’ll bark like crazy as they all but dance in front of the window to their “U Can’t Touch This” tune. Add to that, lizards in the yard. He tries to sniff them out of crevices then goes nuts trying to catch one as they skitter over and under rocks.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick…?

A squeaky soccer ball toy. I’d swear it’s like his crack toy. Sometimes the constant squeak gets annoying so I’ll hide it. He finds it every time. Once I’d forgotten about the ball. He was sitting quite patiently—like a statue—staring at a closet door. “What’s up with you?” I ask my boy. I opened the door only to realize I’d put the ball on a high shelf! He’ll eventually chew all toys to smithereens but he takes care of this one squeaky ball. We’ve had it for years. He could easily chew it away too—it’s the darnedest thing!

Who is Brando's best pet-pal?

In California, his best pals were Honey-Bear and Kerri, two Standard Poodles. Here in Alabama, he pines for a mutt named Daisy that lives down the street. When we are visiting my sis, it’s Nica-Roo, a beagle mix. They’ll play together from morning till night. We hated moving from Southern California. He loved his play dates with HoneyBear and Kerri. It was quite the sight to see the three of them together. I’d swear he was just as depressed over the move as I was.

What is Brando's best quality?

He is such a gentle, sweet-natured dog who adores me and loves just about everyone he meets. (Well…almost. There was one pest control dude that came to the house and things didn’t go so well. Brando went nuts and would not stop barking at the guy which was so out of character for my pooch. There must have lurked something mighty unsavory under the uniform cap about that guy.)

If Brando could change one thing about Alabamians, what would it be?

Properly contain their dogs. I cannot safely cycle without being chased down by un-contained dogs. It is rather terrifying since I have been attacked by a dog. Dogs come running out of their yards straight onto the roads. One incident was with a pit bull; he was one determined fellow running after me for a good quarter mile. I’m sad to admit I prayed for a car. Not good for the dog nor cyclist!

Where is your poodle's favorite outdoor destination?

We took Brando to the Outer Banks, North Carolina during one family vacation. Dogs were allowed on the beach without a leash. For a week Brando had the time of his life. Though it ruined his poodle coif for the week (they have hair you know!) we were overjoyed to see him so happy and running free. He also loves our large back yard and had a blast with his first snow a couple of years back.

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

Why o why are you so obsessed with licking your feet… and mine?

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

My boy has a touch of regal aloofness about him at times, especially after he’s come from the groomer, perfectly coiffed. We can be walking down the street and another dog will be going all-out Cujo at him. Brando may deign to give the dog a passive glance, with a look to me that says, “Really, what boorish behavior.” I suppose I’m giving my age when I say I’d love Cary Grant to voice my boy.

What advice would your poodle give if asked?

Chill grasshopper. Stop worrying. Bask in the moment of now, with me…the one who adores you so… who is happy on your lap. Oh..and while you’re at it, have some cheese and pass a piece or two over to me…. pretty please.

Visit the Ten Degrees of Bliss blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 17, 2016

Diane Rose-Solomon & Gonzo and Ninja

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Diane Rose-Solomon, in the middle; I’m a humane educator. I also write books about animal rescue. Gonzo is the studly blonde guy (whose face is partially hidden), he’s 7 and your guess about his breed is as good as ours. We think he’s some type of terrier, maybe some Whippet or Italian Greyhound and maybe Chihuahua? Ninja is the raven colored dapper dude, also 7 and from the side he looks like a Labrador, and from the front, some type of Pit Bull. Someone once asked me if he’s a Labrabull.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Considering Ninja is my Velcro dog, if I’m home and drinking coffee (or water, or tea, or wine) he’s generally nearby. We start the day in my home office predawn before the family gets up. He goes back to sleep on the daybed while I drink green tea, stretch, meditate and journal. When Gonzo hears the leashes come out of the drawer, he extricates himself from the warm bed upstairs.

What's brewing?

Morning time is Genmaicha green tea and some days I’ll have a decaf Groundworks or Peets coffee. Iced in the summer.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

I carry a bag of treats on our daily walks and use them for training purposes. Fun for them and they no longer go ballistic when they see other dogs. But if they just look at me they get a treat, so we connect a lot. They also get a treat after the walk too. Lucky dogs.

How were you and your dogs united?

We had heard about a boxer red listed to be euthanized who was pulled from the shelter by a local rescue group. By the time we got to the shelter to meet him he had already been adopted. They asked if we wanted a puppy instead and I said “no puppy!” You know what they did? They opened the door to the puppy room and let this six month old puppy out to greet us. My kids shrieked “A Puppy!” I lost. The puppy came home with us.

We found Ninja on Petfinder.com. Our gorgeous dog T-bone had just crossed the Rainbow Bridge and my son wanted a black lab. I wanted a Pit Bull type dog and we found Ninja. Something for everyone.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Gonzo is named for the muppet and also Gonzo journalism. We call him Little Man because he’s a Little Man! Often pronounced “Leetle Man”.

Ninja came with the name Jay because he had a big white “J” on his chest. That didn’t work for us because our first dog (and the namesake of my children’s book series) was JJ. It also didn’t fit. We soon realized that he was very stealthy. Seriously- how does a 65 pound dog with jingly tags sneak up on me while I’m washing the dishes every single time.

Please tell us about your new book.

What to Expect When Adopting a Dog, my newest book, is a guide to successful dog adoption for every family. In five modules, I lead the reader through the steps they should take to decide on a dog, then through the adoption process, as well as lifelong care.

What is each dog's best quality?

Gonzo is great at sitting in your lap, curling up with you while you are sleeping and making a part howl part bark sound when you come home. It sounds like “Rooo” and we call it Rooing.

Ninja is just funny. He’ll get up on the banquette after dinner and put his face on the table. Nothing cuter.

They both make coming home the greatest thing in the world. There’s an imaginary red carpet when I open the door. I feel special and loved.

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

Ninja would play with them all, but he destroys everything and then the dogs get into a fight, so only sometimes do they get balls, and it’s always supervised. Since he loves greeting us with something, when we walk in the door, he grabs one of his light dog beds and shakes it and runs around the house with it. Very proud.

Postman, cat, rabbit...?

All of the above. Squirrels too. Keeps me on my toes on a walk.

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

My dogs would simply want everyone to love each other for their unique beauty, kind of like the way we love them for their unique mutt beauty.

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

Ninja: Why must you bring possums in the house?

Gonzo: What in the world did you eat to elicit that smell from your body?

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

Ninja alternates between Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle, and Jack Black as Kung Fu Panda and Gonzo is sometimes Bert Lahr who played the cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, and Clint Eastwood. Mostly Bert Lahr.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Ninja would highly recommend laying on ones back, with legs splayed as a means of relaxation and stretching whilst soliciting belly rubs. He would also suggest sloppy dog kisses as a means of makeup removal.

Gonzo would recommend turning off the heat in winter and sleeping as close to a human as possible instead.

Visit Diane Rose-Solomon's website and learn more about What to Expect When Adopting a Dog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 10, 2016

Mike Nemeth & Sophie

Who is in the photo at right?

Hi, I’m Mike Nemeth and the pretty face with the deep brown eyes is Sophie. Like me, she’s a mixed breed of unknown components, and like me, she’s never met a human she didn’t find interesting, although I have to admit that Sophie is far more popular. While I write books (Cinderella’s Slipper, Defiled and soon, Absolved), Sophie protects my wife and me from all the other critters in the neighborhood.

What’s the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Sophie and I begin each day with a cup of coffee and a doggy treat in our backyard to cleanse our minds, and our territory, so we can be productive at our respective tasks. We’d drive to a coffee house if it weren’t for Sophie’s aversion to cars. She knows they too often lead to the vet’s office or the doggy hotel.

What’s brewing?

Gevalia Vanilla Latte most mornings, no sweetener. Sometimes Colombian.

Any treats?

Sophie always gets a bone. Sometimes my treat is my wife joining us for our morning ritual.

How were you and Sophie united?

Sophie was abandoned as a puppy and wandered into my brother-in-law’s yard to drink at his fountain. She was emaciated and near death. My brother-in-law texted us a picture and said, “Can you take one more?” At the time we had three other rescue dogs, all of whom are now in doggy heaven. We couldn’t resist Sophie’s sad brown eyes. And we still hang that original photo on our wall.

How did your dog get her name?

We thought Sophie’s svelte figure, ahem, deserved a name often given to beautiful actresses.

Does Sophie help or hinder your writing?

Sophie finds a sunny spot beside my desk and basks until it’s time to remind me to take a break from writing. Then we take a walk and the next writing scene becomes clear. Write, walk and think. Write, walk and think. That’s how we produce a book together.

Has Sophie inspired any fictional dogs?

No, but what a great idea. She’ll be in the next book!

Cat, postman, squirrel…

The cat on the other side of the cul-de-sac tortures Sophie constantly, walking around Sophie’s yard, lying in the street as though he owns the territory. Sophie watches from the dining room window and emits a constant low growl. I think the relationship works for both of them.

Ball, squeaky toy, stick…

Stuffed animals. At the moment she has a huge blue and white teddy bear that she drags from room to room, stopping to rip holes and distribute the stuffing.

Who is Sophie’s best pet pal?

Charlie, our next door neighbor’s poodle, comes for play dates. Hercules, our daughter’s Chihuahua, often comes to stay but Sophie is jealous of the lap time Hercules gets. Sophie is not built for laps. But Sophie’s best friends are the young kids on the street.

What is Sophie’s best quality?

Sophie knows how to chill. She’s fiercely loyal and loving and wants to meet everyone who comes to the door. She’s gentle (except for cats).

If Sophie could change one thing about Georgians, what would it be?

Stop testing that infernal bad weather warning siren. It drives her crazy.

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

Why do you hide your bones when you are the only dog in the house?

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

Kathy Bates. I think Sophie would love to sound menacing to cats and squirrels. Think: Misery.

What advice would Sophie give if asked?

It’s a wonderful life, so just chill and enjoy it. Like I do.

Visit Mike Nemeth's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Kelly Nelson & Sophie

Who is in the photo at right?

Hi! I am Kelly Nelson and the little cutie next to me is Sophie. At my job I crunch numbers, hunt down missing receipts, and tell scientists to stop spending money but during my free time I can be found training for my first half marathon, blogging about my training at The Hangry Waffle, and binge watching Netflix with Sophie. She is particularly fond of romance comedies. Sophie is a 6 year old maltipoo who has yet to find a lap that she did not like to be in.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

During the work week drinking coffee is a necessity but during the weekend drinking coffee becomes a treat. My schedule slows down and I am able to enjoy sitting at one of my favorite coffee shops with family and friends enjoying a latte. Today Sophie and I joined my brother Kevin for a coffee date.

What's brewing?

Sophie is enjoying a puppuccino (straight up whip cream) while I am having a greentea latte made with almond milk.

How were you and Sophie united?

I got Sophie when I lived in a small town in Oklahoma. The breeder had 2 puppies left and I choose Sophie because she was independent and had a sense of adventure. She was 13 weeks old and a 4 pound ball of fluff yet she was not afraid of anything.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

When it came to naming my pup I was torn between naming her Sophia, after the leading female character in the movie Letters to Juliette. Or, naming her Bear, because she looked like a mini polar bear from behind as a puppy. I ended up combining these two names and naming her Sophia Bear but only call her by her full name when she is in trouble.

Does Sophie do more to help or hinder your running goals?

She helped me recover from rupturing my Achilles tendon by steadily increasing the distance of our evening walks until we were walking 3+ miles without my ankle swelling. While she does not run with me these days she does help me loosen up my leg muscles up by walking with me then giving me kisses as I foam roll.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

She is a little squirrel hunter but has yet to actual catch one.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Squeaky-toys all the way. The squeakier the better… well, for Sophie, not so much me.

Who is Sophie's best pet-pal?

Sophie’s best pet-pal these days is Bandit, my parents’ 1-year-old springer spaniel puppy.

What is Sophie's best quality?

I would have to say Sophie’s best quality is her confidence. She has yet to meet a stranger and will happily sit in anyone’s lap whether or not she was invited. At the dog park she will go say hi to everyone there. She loves attention and she is not afraid to get it.

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

She would change my inability to sit still for long periods at a time so that I would stop moving her in between episodes during our evenings filled with Netflix marathoning.

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

Sophie, do you think I am crazy?

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

It would have to be Kristen Bell.

What advice would Sophie give if asked?

Great things await right outside your comfort zone.

Visit The Hangry Waffle website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 3, 2016

Ellen Byron & Wiley and Pogo

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm novelist Ellen Byron. My dogs are Wiley and Pogo. Wiley’s the white one, and I like to call him a Corgi-jack-huahua. I don’t know if he has any Jack Russell in him, but he might. He’s definitely part Corgi. The tan-and-white furbaby is Pogo. He’s a Chihuahua mixed with some kind of terrier.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I was taking a break from trying to outline the fourth book in my Cajun Country Mystery series. The doggies are always good for a break.

What's brewing?

I actually don’t drink coffee. I despise the taste of it. Most people who don’t drink it usually enjoy coffee ice cream or chocolates. Not me. I can’t stomach anything coffee-flavored for some reason. So my beverage of choice is a jasmine green tea that I order loose-leaf in bulk from Coffee Direct through Amazon. I drink it straight up, no milk or sweeteners.

Any treats for you or Wiley and Pogo on this occasion?

Oh, there are always treats for my boys!

How were you and your dogs united?

They’re both rescues we adopted from the Amanda Foundation, a Beverly Hills-based animal rescue. We had Wiley for five years before we adopted Pogo. I used the excuse that he needed a friend, but to be honest, I wanted a second dog. I just love them. I’d have a dozen of them if I could.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Wiley came with his name. For some reason, we never bothered to change it. Pogo was named Snoopy by the family that had to surrender him due to financial problems, but our daughter renamed him Pogo because he jumps up and down like a pogo stick. It fits him much better than Snoopy in our opinion.

Do Wiley and Pogo do more to help or hinder your writing?

I find their presence in the room when I write very comforting. But if I make eye contact with Pogo, he either jumps in my lap for affection or brings me a ball to throw. So that can be a hindrance, but it can also force me to take a much-needed break.

Have your dogs inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Absolutely! Gopher, the basset hound in my Cajun Country Mystery series, was inspired by our late lamented basset hound rescue, Lucy. I featured a dog inspired by Wiley in a mystery I’ve yet to sell, and I used Pogo as a model for a stray that Maggie, my protagonist, helps save in Body on the Bayou, the second book in my Cajun Country Mystery series. Then I felt badly about Wiley being in a book that hasn’t sold, so I turned him into the pet of a supporting character in the third book in my series, which is currently with the publisher.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?


Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?


Who are Wiley and Pogo's best pet-pals?

Right now, their besties are two little black rescue mutts who live up the street. But their best pal was truly Sophie, a retriever mix who lived across the street. Sadly, she crossed the rainbow bridge about a year ago. We all miss her.

What is each dog's best quality?

Their best qualities are the opposite of each other, interestingly enough. Wiley is totally chill and sweet. Pogo is rambunctious and assertive. He loves to play and demands affection, but in the cutest, funniest way. He’ll jump on your lap and nuzzle, or crawl under the covers and park himself next to you. They’re both super-loving, which is really rewarding.

If Wiley and Pogo could change one thing about Angelenos, what would it be?

The fact that they ignore the stop signs in our neighborhood.

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

What else do you need from me to live a happy life?

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

I think Wiley might be Owen Wilson and Pogo, Joe Pesci.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Spend less time working and more time petting us.

Visit Ellen Byron's website.

--Marshal Zeringue