Monday, February 1, 2016

Leza Lowitz & Bingo and Memo

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s Memo on the left, and Bingo on the right, chilling out in the early morning before their first walk. They’re both rescue dogs, so we don’t know their exact ages or breeds. But Memo is about eight and part Shiba Inu and part Corgi (we think). Bingo is about five and part Shiba Inu and part Japanese tanuki or fox-- something totally undomesticated and undomesticatable. Is that a word?

I’m Leza Lowitz and my husband is Shogo [photo left]. We don’t have many pictures of us with the dogs because they don’t stay still for anything, let alone a camera. We write books and run a yoga studio in Tokyo.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Just waking up. Any occasion to crowd the ‘Rents pillow, you know? Give us a soft spot and we’ll take it over. That’s our motto.

What's brewing?

Since we live in Tokyo, it has to be green tea. Anything green tea. Matcha with a traditional bamboo whisk. Or a matcha latte.

Any treats for you and Bingo and Memo on this occasion?

A one-hour walk and lots of love.

How were you and Bingo and Memo united?

It’s a modern love story: Shogo found Memo on the Internet. It was just after the earthquake and tsunami, and she was rescued from the mountains outside of Tokyo. When she got picked up, she gave birth to eight puppies in the rescue truck. All the pups were adopted, but Mama dog was still waiting for a forever home. She looked exactly like our previous rescue dog, Aska, who we’d brought with us to Tokyo from San Francisco, so Shogo was kind of stalking her online to see if she’d get adopted. When she didn’t, we decided to take the plunge. The little one, Bingo, was connected to Memo by some kind of invisible string, even though she wasn’t one of Memo’s pups. There was no way we could separate them. So we brought them both home.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Memo is the name she came to us with. When Bingo came, she was named Karen. Bingo is a totally wild dog, always jumping long distances suddenly with a boing and landing somewhere completely unexpected, like on top of a table or a lap. Needless to say, the name “Karen” was way too boring. At the time, our six-year-old son was learning the English song, “There was a Farmer...” and you know the rest. He gave her the name Bingo.

Do Bingo and Memo do more to help or hinder your writing?

The verdict is still out on that one. They do keep us active though. And laughing.

[photo right: Lowitz and Aska]

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your writing?

We wrote an epic adventure story about a female ninja, called Jet Black & The Ninja Wind, in which there is a bad-ass ninja dog guessed it--Aska!

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Definitely cat. Our little Tokyo alley seems to attract people who leave out food for stray cats who drive the girls crazy. We also have a pretty wild garden, so the unwitting cats inevitably make their way into the ninja dog’s den. Then the fun begins.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Do cats qualify as any of the above? Try telling that to Memo and Bingo.

[photo left: The Boy and Memo]

Who are Bingo and Memo's best pet-pals?

A Shiba Inu named Riku and two huge white giant poodles who shall remain nameless because they belong to the local yakuza gangster (in full tattoo--we know because we’ve seen him at the bathhouse) and his paramour. These two characters also have a young black Kai breed male dog, who is totally tough and wild, and of course the girls love him.

What is each dog's best quality?


If Bingo and Memo could change one thing about you, what would it be?

Uh. That five letter word called a....leash?

If Bingo and Memo could answer only one question in English or Japanese, what would you ask them?

Inu ni umarette shiawase desu ka? (犬に生まれて幸せですか?)Are you happy you were born a dog? (This is from our ten-year old son).

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

Memo would be voiced by Anthony Daniels, the actor who voiced C-3PO.
Bingo would be voiced by Lady Gaga or Jennifer Lawrence.

What advice would Bingo and Memo give if asked?

Live Free (from Shogo).
Treat People Well (from the ten-year-old).

Visit Leza Lowitz's website, and learn more about her latest novel, Up from the Sea, which BuzzFeed chose as one of five new YA novels you should read this January.

The Page 69 Test: Up From the Sea.

--Marshal Zeringue


  1. You look like you would be lots of fun. Lady Caroline

  2. Lady Caroline, we try our best to laugh around here. The dogs help a lot!