Monday, May 9, 2016

Elizabeth Crane & Percival Fontaine Barksdale Brandt

Who is in the photo at right?

This is me, Elizabeth Crane, and Percy, our ten-year-old Catahoula.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Percy and I do actually have coffee together every day, usually on the sofa, but when the weather gets nice we take it to the yard, as we did today.

What's brewing?

Trader Joe's French Roast, black. We do mix it up sometimes, but this is sort of our house brand.

Any treats for you or Percy on this occasion?

Percy is enjoying a stick.

How were you and Percy united?

Well, the short version is that he's a rescue, who we got through a friend who fostered Catahoulas. We weren't looking for a particular breed, and she had another foster (some kind of mountain dog-border collie mix? Big.) that we thought we might be interested in. But when she came to our house with that guy and Percy, Percy went straight for our sofa and curled up on it, and I was pretty much all in right then.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

My husband and I spent a weekend trying to get the right name for him and nothing was quite right. I thought maybe Avon Barksdale, and then finally Ben remembered a childhood dog he had named Percy, and that seemed to be the one. Of course, he has so many aliases it's hard to keep count. Buddy, Mr. Buddy, Mr. Boo, Mr. Badoo, Mr. Schmoo, MooMoo, NuNu, MooMooNu (clearly anything with either a B, a Mister in front of it, or an OO sound works), Horse Dog (he's big and has long legs and sometimes when he lies on his side he looks like a sleeping horse), Puppeeee, Handsome, Creature.

Does Percy do more to help or hinder your writing?

Help! Except when he steals my seat. Which happens often. (I often write with my laptop, on the sofa, in case you were picturing an 80-lb dog in a desk chair.) But I'm still sticking with help.

Has Percy inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Oh, definitely. There's one story in particular, set in a dog park, that features a version of him, but basically if there's a dog that I wrote after 2006, he's in my mind. Even if it's a different breed. The dog in my last novel was for sure based on him.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

All of the above. My dog is a cliché, and I tell him so all the time.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Also all of the above. Clearly, he is a multifaceted dog. But these things are all needed and each called for, depending on the situation. He loves to swim out in the river to fetch a ball. Sticks are fun in the backyard. Squeaky toys (fuzzy ones are preferred) as he sees it, are designed to be torn apart upon receipt, so that the evil squeaker can be discarded.

Who is Percy's best pet-pal?

We've moved a few times, so he's got besties in a few different cities. Well - a couple of them are gone now. But he doesn't know that. Piper, a sweet German Shepherd, was his best gal in Chicago, Arthur was our next door neighbor in Austin who he loved (in spite of their size differences, Arthur was maybe 10 pounds) and here in Newburgh he has two good buds, Skillet, with whom he shares a passion for hiking, and Rocky, who he plays with (but they also enjoy parallel napping just as much as anything).

What is Percy's best quality?

Ben might have a different answer, but to me it's that in certain ways he's not super doggy, like, covering you with sloppy kisses. He's affectionate for sure, but he has boundaries. He likes his space. I like that about him.

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

Ahaha! That they would all know to give him his space on the street. We talk about this all the time. It's a shared interest.

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

I would for sure ask him about his life before he was found (he was about 10 months old, was found - wait for it - near Percy, Illinois, which we didn't know until long after we named him). Although I fear it might break my heart.

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

My husband and I had some different thoughts on this. He said Clooney. Which I get, because he is a handsome dog. And he has occasional moments of goofiness that I think Clooney could really nail. But I don't feel like Clooney has Percy's gravitas. He's a serious dog. I mean, look, I'm open to creative casting, and I like Clooney. Maybe he could stretch, if he's willing to put something on tape. So when Ben suggested Michael Fassbender, at first I hesitated because Fassbender is so sexy. But then Ben pointed out that Percy is a pretty sexy dog. Which is true. So if Fassbender's available, I think I'd put in the offer.

What advice would Percy give if asked?

Keep your eyes open, unless you're napping.

Learn more about The History of Great Things and its author at Elizabeth Crane's website.

The Page 69 Test: We Only Know So Much.

My Book, The Movie: We Only Know So Much.

--Marshal Zeringue

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