Monday, August 15, 2016

Alexandra Oliva & Codex

Who is in the photo at right?

Hi! I’m Alexandra Oliva. I’m an author, and this is my pup, Codex. She’s a shelter dog, so I’m not sure exactly what she is, breed-wise, but based on looks and temperament, my husband and I think she’s some sort of hound-retriever mix. If you want to get precise to the point of probable inaccuracy, I’d say she’s mostly a mix of Chesapeake Bay Retriever and Plott Hound. Whatever her breed, she’s about two and a half years old—and getting older by the day.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I needed my afternoon caffeine fix, and Codex got an extra walk out of the deal. (Lucky girl!)

What's brewing?

Cold brew iced coffee from a local cafe. I’m not sure what beans they use, but the sign said “single origin”, which I guess is a good thing? All I know for certain: It’s delicious.

Any treats for you or Codex on this occasion?

Nothing for me, but Codex is getting turkey-pumpkin bites because she’s a good girl who waved at the camera when asked.

How were you and Codex united?

When my husband and I moved to the Seattle area in 2014, we knew we wanted to get a dog ASAP. (We came from New York City, where our lifestyle didn’t mesh with pet ownership.) We found Codex online; her mom had been abandoned while pregnant and gave birth to a litter of brindled adorableness at a shelter. Codex’s coloring made her our favorite of the litter and once she hit eight weeks old, we road-tripped over to eastern Washington to pick her up and bring her home.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

It was important to me that my dog’s name not be common or overtly feminine. I can’t remember what made me first think of “Codex,” but it was some bookish word on a list somewhere. I was thinking it might be a fun name, and loved the literary connection (codices were the first bound manuscripts) but wasn’t sure the word was name-y enough until I remembered a web series called The Guild, in which a character’s gaming alter ego is named Codex. At that point, I was like: It is a name! And Codex has many aliases. Too many to list, in fact. Most are nonsensical rhymes like “Codex the Modex” or some variation on “Muffin.” E.g.: Muffin Face, Muffin Butt, Snuggle Muffin, The Muffin…

Does Codex do more to help or hinder your writing?

Hinder. Definitely hinder. She always seems to want to play at the worst possible time, writing-wise. I’ll just be hitting my stride with a scene and suddenly she’s shoving her tug-rope into the back of my knee or doing something equally adorable and distracting. Case in point: she’s literally doing figure eights between my legs as I type this sentence (I have a standing desk).

Has Codex inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Nope. At least not yet.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Squirrel. She’ll sit at the back door just watching a squirrel until the time is right, then she’ll sprint out and try to catch it. But she’ll bark at the other options too; the hound in her seems to take great pride in letting us know whenever there is an “intruder” on the property.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Codex is totally ball obsessed. If we allow it, she’ll play fetch until she keels over. Sometimes my husband and I have to hide the ball and force her to take breaks.

Who is Codex's best pet-pal?

Codex is pretty indifferent toward other dogs… except for her “boyfriend,” a chocolate lab named Banks. She’s known Banks since she was nine weeks old and loves him to death.

What is Codex's best quality?

Her love of learning, which maybe sounds silly, since she’s a dog, but it’s true: training is her favorite pastime. Sometimes she gets so excited she can’t pay attention to what you’re actually asking her to do and she’ll just run through her entire repertoire of tricks, hoping to hit the right one.

If Codex could change one thing about the denizens of the Pacific Northwest, what would it be?

She’d probably like for them to pay less attention to her. She’s a shy pup who prefers to sniff strangers when they’re not looking to being approached. That, or for everyone to always be carrying squeaky balls. As shy as she is, she’s easily won over by a squeaky ball.

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

Instead of asking a question, I’d use the opportunity of her briefly understanding English to explain to her that we’re moving soon and that our destination will be her new home. I’m worried she’s going to have trouble adjusting.

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

I could do it! I spend much of my average day having conversations with Codex in which I do both our voices. It’s hilarious! To me, at least. Hollywood pros probably wouldn’t agree. In which case… Kristen Schaal. I think she could capture Codex’s mix of adorableness and absurdity.

What advice would Codex give if asked?

Probably something not FDA-approved, like: “Eat more bacon. Eat only bacon.”

Visit Alexandra Oliva's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Last One.

--Marshal Zeringue


  1. Ali, LOVED the Page 69 test, and ordered your book! Love to hear rescued animal stories, too. Makes me love people again! I agree with Codex, BACON. All the time and only bacon! Karla from Coal City, IL

  2. Congrats on your book; give that sweet looking girl an extra ear scratch from Sam and me. 🐾

  3. Love adoption stories and the adorable things our furbabies do to put a smile on our face and to warm the heart!