Sunday, December 24, 2017

Katie A. Nelson & Wookie

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Katie A. Nelson, author of The Duke of Bannerman Prep. I'm hanging out on the couch with Wookie. He's a male labradoodle, a little over two years old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Since I work from home, Wookie and I hang out together most days. He loves to follow me from room to room, and helps me stay on task.

What's brewing?

I don't actually drink coffee, but it's gotten cold here lately, so I usually make a hot chocolate mid morning. Otherwise diet Pepsi is my go to when I need a pick me up.

Any treats for you or Wookie on this occasion?

We're sharing my potato chips left over from lunch as we speak. (Er ... type.)

How were you and Wookie united?

We got Wookie as a puppy. We hadn't planned on getting a dog yet, and had just been looking around to see what was out there. When we found out he was available, we drove over to meet him and fell in love! It wasn't great timing, as my husband and I left for Europe a week later, but luckily Wookie's aunt was willing to take care of him while we were gone.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

We love Star Wars, and it seemed to fit him. Much like Chewbacca, Wookie likes to act tough, but sometimes runs away in the face of danger. Or, you know, a really mean Canadian Goose.

Does Wookie do more to help or hinder your writing?

Wookie is a great help most days. He keeps me company while I'm at my computer, and is always up for a walk when I get stuck and need to work something out. He also keeps me from eating too many snacks while I write.

Has Wookie inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Actually, there is a dog in the book I'm working on right now that is inspired by Wookie. Wookie thinks he's the hero of the story and needs a larger role. We're working that out in revisions.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Squirrel! We have a large tree in our front yard and Wookie corners all kinds of squirrels there.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

All of the above!

Where is Wookie's favorite outdoor destination?

Walks around the lake in our neighborhood.

Who is Wookie's best pet-pal?

His best friend was a golden lab named Ranger who lived next door to us in California. Sadly, we moved a few months ago and he misses his friend!

What is Wookie's best quality?

He's very intuitive and always knows when someone is sad or lonely. Wookie will rest his head in your lap or come over and lay on your feet to offer comfort.

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

He's not a fan of rap music and gets agitated when someone in the car next to us is blasting it. Wookie likes alternative rock, and singing along to Disney show tunes.

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

What's so scary about the vacuum?

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

Lin Manuel Miranda!

What advice would Wookie give if asked?

Quit wasting time on the internet and get back to work!

Visit Katie A. Nelson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Gavin Ehringer & Onda

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Gavin Ehringer, a journalist and author, and he’s Onda, my 8-year-old Aussie shepherd...and truly my best friend. We’re inseparable.

What's brewing?

Black coffee for me, water served in stainless steel for Onda. We keep it simple.

Any treats for you or Onda on this occasion?

I like carrot cake, and always keep cheese-flavored Charlie Bear treats in my pocket for Onda.

How were you and Onda united?

He was bred by Las Rocosa Australian Shepherds - the Hartnagle family were foundation breeders of Aussies, and I’ve been a family friend for 30 years. All eight of my dogs have come from their farm.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

Onda means “wave” in Spanish. I first saw Aussies at the beach in California as a kid. I called them “surfer dogs,” because I didn’t know their breed! Later, I encountered them in Colorado. This one’s actually Onda No. 2.

Please tell us about your new book.

Leaving The Wild, The Unnatural History of Dogs, Cats, Cows and Horses considers how these animals became domesticated, and what they got and gave up in return. It’s really an examination of how animal breeding influences animals’ lives, for good and bad.

Skateboard? Really?

Yes! Onda rides a Dogtown-brand Slateboard, as well as competes in Frisbee, agility, dog shows and herding. I worked at teaching him to ride off-and-on for nearly two years before he mastered it.

Is it true that Onda is not shy about performing in public?

Yes, he’s not. He often does agility and “trick” demos for charity, and we do tricks in front of coffee shops and outdoor restaurants to amuse people...He’s like a street busker, and can draw a crowd.

Who is Onda's best pet-pal?

Well, we have a new puppy named Whammo! (with an exclamation mark). They’re pretty close, despite the age difference.

What is Onda's best quality?

Gosh, he has so many! He’s just laid back and happy, and always eager to learn new things.

Where is Onda's favorite outdoor destination?

He likes going to the farm where he was born, to herd sheep. He also likes the beach, as one would expect of a surfer dog.

If Onda could change one thing about Coloradans, what would it be?

Well, the Aussie actually should be the official state dog, in his opinion. The state played a big role in the breed’s development, and I think he’d be grateful for some recognition of that. Aussies aren’t really from Australia.

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

Well, he’s trained to understand Spanish! I suppose I’d ask him, “Estas muy contento?” (Are you happy?) He’d answer “Si!”

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

Matt Damon. Like Matt, Onda is smart, talented and has a great sense of humor. And he’s ruggedly handsome.

What advice would Onda give if asked?

I’d probably ask him for advice. He’s the brains in this partnership.

Visit Gavin Ehringer's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Casey Daniels & Lucy

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Casey Daniels, mystery author. My latest book is Smoke and Mirrors, the first in the Miss Barnum mystery series that follows the adventures of a (fictional) sister of PT Barnum as she works at his American Museum and solves mysteries along the way! My “date” for tea is Lucy. Breed? Your guess is as good as mine! Even the vet isn’t willing to try and figure that out. She’s very tall and very furry and though she sometimes acts like a herder (she likes to nip the legs of the other dog in the house), she also can howl like a hound. We suspect maybe some Irish Wolfhound is in there somewhere. It would explain the long legs. But the furriness and the herding instincts ... who knows! We celebrate Lucy’s birthday on December 15 and in 2017, she’ll be 2.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We’re home enjoying our afternoon cuppa.

What's brewing?

We have tea together every morning (Tetley British Blend), then we treat ourselves to a cup of Typhoo (a nice strong English tea) every afternoon.

Any treats for you or Lucy on this occasion?

Nope. We’re pretty careful about treats mostly because our other dog (a 12-year-old Airedale named Ernie) is on a restricted diet and can’t have much of anything. Lucy gets a couple treats now and then when Ernie isn’t looking!

How were you and Lucy united?

Lucy is a prison dog who I found online at a site called Terriers in Need. She was dropped at a shelter when she was about four months old and she lived there for a bit, then was part of a prison training program. Lucy lived with an inmate in a prison for about six months as part of a terrific program where along with compassion and responsibility, the inmate learns a skill (dog training) and the dog is taught basic commands. She was well trained when she came to us. Well, except for “come” which she thought was the funniest word on the planet and an invitation to run in the other direction and dare us to chase her. Happy to report she’s got that command down pat now!

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

Naming the dog sparked a family debate. Lucy was the one name we could agree on. As far as aliases, there are plenty: Loosey Goosey, Lulu, and the ever-popular Lucy-Fur (say it fast) for those times when she forgets her manners.

Does Lucy do more to help or hinder your writing?

Since I write all day and she snoozes all day, I’d say she’s a help.

Has Lucy inspired the creation of any dogs in your fiction?

Not yet, but she will one of these days especially since I am currently working on a contemporary mystery that features a woman who trains Human Remains Detection dogs. I’ve been on a training with HR dogs and it was fascinating. Lucy would love it! Me? Not sure I have the stamina!

Cat, postman, rabbit...?

She loves to watch everyone and everything outside--squirrels, the chickens next door, cars, trucks, falling leaves. All are a source of fascination. I often wonder if this is because she didn’t see much of the outside when she was in prison.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Mr. Bunny and Mr. Squirrel (durable canvas stuffed toys), a Kong, a squeaky bone. Nothing too fragile, she’s a big dog with a powerful bite.

Who is Lucy's best pet-pal?

She’d love, love, love Ernie the Airedale to be her best pal, but alas, Ernie would rather sleep than play. Still, recently when he was sick, she refused to leave his side, and she constantly offers him her toys. He’s an old guy, and very laid back, but Lucy is persistent. Sometimes too persistent! One of these days, she’ll learn you don’t mess with an Airedale.

What is Lucy's best quality?

When I first talked to the people at the prison about her, they said she was a “sweet” dog. Hmmm ... I wondered what that meant. I’ve had a few dogs over the years, and I’ve loved them all to pieces, but “sweet?” Then we met Lucy and I knew exactly what they meant. She really is a dear. She loves to be hugged, she likes to be petted. In spite of her size (and she’s a moose, far bigger than the Airedale), she is gentle and so quiet, she can slip in and out of a room without anyone noticing. This comes in handy especially when she’s stealing folding money or socks, two of her favorite things to walk off with.

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

See above, I bet she’d love it if I had the energy and the time to do something like HR work, or search and rescue, or agility. There’s a lot of energy packed into that furry body and she’d love to expend it with more running and chasing and jumping. Me, not so much.

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

I’d ask where she came from and how she ended up in the shelter.

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

Ha! It may be because she played Matron Mama Morton in the movie Chicago, and a lot of that movie takes place in a prison, but I always think Lucy’s voice would come from Queen Latifah.

What advice would Lucy give if asked?

She’d tell you to roll with the punches. She’d tell you that sometimes--like when you’re dumped at a shelter in the middle of the night and then you go to prison--things don’t look too good. But if you hang in, if you hang on, you can end up finding people to love who love you right back!

Visit Casey Daniels's website.

Writers Read: Casey Daniels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Jennifer Kincheloe & Monkey

Who is in the photo at right?

Monkey is a four-year-old Brussels Griffon mix. She’s a perfect angel, no matter what anyone says. (No, she did not bite that jogger.) I'm Jennifer Kincheloe, a public health research scientist turned writer of historical mysteries. My new Anna Blanc novel is The Woman in the Camphor Trunk.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

It’s the weekend.

What's brewing?

I buy green Ethiopian Yirgacheffe beans and roast them myself in a popcorn popper, grind, and brew them. These beans would blow your mind.

Any treats for you or Monkey on this occasion?


How were you and Monkey united?

It started in the 90s when my husband and I were first married. We were thinking about getting a dog. Our breed book had a picture of this creature who looked like Oscar the Grouch, but not much like a dog. It was kind of a running joke for us. We laughed about it for years. The breed was Brussels Griffon, and pretty rare in the west. I’d never actually seen one.

Fast forward to 2013. I saw Monkey on the Adopt a Pet website and wanted to make my husband laugh. So I woke up early so I could be at Petco at 6:00AM to wait in line for the adoption event. I sat on the dirty side walk for five hours with thirty or so hopeful dog-parents-to-be. When the event began, I nabbed her. My husband laughed and laughed, and we’ve been blissfully happy ever since.

Does Monkey do more to help or hinder your writing?

She’s good for historical research. Brussels Griffons were the “It Dogs” in the first century of the 1900s. Also, she keeps my blood pressure down.

Cat, postman, rabbit...?

Yes. Postmen beware.

Who is Monkey's best pet-pal?

Monkey doesn’t care for the company of other pets. She likes to scare my daughter’s dog, Buffy, who is a golden retriever.

What is Monkey's best quality?

Her devotion to me.

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

She’d want me to rub her tummy all the time instead of just half the time.

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

My daughter Samara would have to do it. She’s always talking in this funny “Monkey voice” attributing selfish attitudes and snotty dialogue to the dog. My daughter’s Monkey imitation is as funny as anything on the planet.

What advice would Monkey give if asked?

“Never get another dog.” She likes being the only one.

Visit Jennifer Kincheloe's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Woman in the Camphor Trunk.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Tracy Calhoun & JJ

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Tracy Calhoun and I am a full time hospice nurse, in addition to being the driver for JJ, a seven-year-old female Golden Retriever, who is a therapy and crisis response dog, working alongside me at our inpatient hospice house.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

While in Seattle, our favorite stop for coffee is, of course, BARK! Espresso, with it's own dog cafe on one side.

What's brewing?

Even if it is 10 degrees below zero, it's always an iced latte for me.

Any treats for you or JJ on this occasion?

While I grab a cookie, since there is always time in a day for a cookie, JJ has the special Pooch's Peanut Butter Latte and gives it a 4 paws up rating.

How were you and JJ united?

I actually caught JJ when she was being born. She had a tiny white "kiss mark" on her forehead and still has a white twinkletoe on one foot.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

JJ was named after one of my nephews, Jaret. It's hard to come up with a girl's name from this, but JJ stuck. Her nickname is ButterButt, because she was so big as a puppy.

Please tell us about your new book.

In 2016, I was approached by a publisher asking if I would be interested in writing a book involving JJ, her hospice work and her day to day life. JJ's Journey tells the story of a therapy dog dedicated to helping humans through crises, tragedy, and loss through love and comfort. While these stories are often emotional, they also highlight the power of the human-animal bond, bringing smiles, laughter and tears. While the topic of hospice can be difficult for people to think about, many of the stories are about living life and helping others, expressed with humor and canine chaos along the way, as only a dog obsessed with bacon, puppies, and swimming can do. Along the way, JJ's sassy voice captions the photos throughout the book.

Cat, postman, rabbit...?


Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Ball or retriever bumper, but with the very non-retriever like attitude of "No take. Throw. No take." It makes the game a bit of a challenge.

Who is JJ's best pet-pal?

Taz, also known as Cat-dog. He was rescued as a tiny kitten and raised by a pack of Goldens. He sleeps every night curled up with JJ. We haven't had the heart to tell him he's a cat.

Where is JJ's favorite outdoor destination?

Anywhere she can find a pond to swim in.

She still is trying to convince me that a pond time counts as bath time.

What is JJ's best quality?

Her intuitive nature and ability to seek out those who need her comfort and attention.

If JJ could change one thing about Oregonians, what would it be?

Eat more bacon. And share it with your dog!

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

How are you able to pick the people who need you most day after day?

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

This one is easy, since one of JJ's names for me is BossyPants. It would have to be Tina Fey, bringing life to a very sassy dog!

What advice would JJ give if asked?

During the time of writing these stories, JJ was diagnosed with lymphoma. Even during treatment, she has taught us all how dogs embody the concept of living in the moment. No one has told her she has a life limiting disease, so she continues to live life with zest and work at her second home.

Her motto has become "Barke Diem", a dog's take on Carpe Diem, meaning seize the day.

Visit the JJ Hospice Therapy Dog website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Amy Giles & Sally

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Amy Giles, and I’m a young adult author. My debut Now Is Everything is available November 7th. The sassy girl with the racing stripe down the middle of her head is Sally, my faithful canine companion. Sally is five years old. Because she’s a muttigree, our best guess is she’s a Shepherd mix with some Jack Russell.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Sally joins me every morning for coffee and snuggles. Since I work from home, she’s always by my side. We’re both homebodies.

What's brewing?

I’m not much of a bean snob (unlike Hadley’s father in Now Is Everything). Today’s selection is Eight O’Clock Coffee, on sale from Stop & Shop, but perked in my electric percolator. I have a French Press in case of emergency (power outage), but I have no idea how to use it, TBH.

Any treats for you or Sally on this occasion?

Sally gets a sprinkle of grated cheese on her morning kibble. She’s fancy that way. I’m having a Kind breakfast bar.

How were you and Sally united?

A few weeks after our dog Max went over the rainbow bridge, my family felt the time was right to go to the shelter and adopt a new pup. I didn’t think I was ready; my heart was still shattered. But they talked me into it, and I’m so glad they did. Sally was curled up in a tiny ball in her cage. When they pulled her out and handed her to me, it was love at first sight. Sally wrapped her paws around my neck and wouldn’t let go.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

Ha, welllll…my daughter Maggie named her Sally after Charlie Brown’s sister. My daughter Julia gave her the middle name of Hugsalot, because of Sally’s paws wrapped around my neck. That later evolved into Sally Peesalot when she urinated all over the vet’s office a few weeks later.

Does Sally do more to help or hinder your writing?

Sally is usually a great writing companion. If she needs to go out, she’ll put a gentle paw on my arm to tell me, “Okay, stop now and open the back door.” But one day when I had a deadline looming on a significant revision, a cute bunny took up residence in our flower bed. Sally barked out the window all day. That wasn’t fun.

Has Sally inspired the creation of any dogs in your fiction?

I have yet to put Sally in one of my stories, but now that you’ve pointed that out, I do feel a little guilty about it.

Cat, postman, rabbit...?

Squirrels, cats, rabbits, other dogs…any critter that dares to walk by the house will elicit the canine alarm. Nighttime can be brutal when the raccoons and possums come out to play.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

We’ve been trying to teach Sally how to fetch for five years. It’s still a game of catch me if you can.

Who is Sally's best pet-pal?

Sally plays nicely with Indiana, Franklin, and Augie. She just doesn’t pick up on the cues when they’re tired and no longer want to play. Indiana once hid behind a hydrangea bush to get away from Sally when he’d had enough.

What is Sally's best quality?

She is super lovable with everyone. She really is one of the most affectionate dogs I’ve ever met.

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

She’d want me to share her same boundless energy.

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

“Sally, what do you think happened in that last episode of The Sopranos?”

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

Amy Adams or Emma Stone.

What advice would Sally give if asked?

“See that deceptively benign patch of grass over there? Do not…I repeat…do not crawl on your belly over that. That’s a Yellowjacket nest. You do not want those buggers nipping at your nether regions. Trust me!”

Visit Amy Giles's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Valerie Constantine & Zorba

Who is in the photo at right?

This is Valerie Constantine, half of the writing team of Liv Constantine, author of The Last Mrs. Parrish, sitting with the amazing Zorba, probably the greatest dog in the world. He is a seven-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and he loves to read––mostly history and mostly about England, since his breed hails from there. And actually he prefers tea to coffee.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We have our morning coffee together and I bounce ideas off him before I begin writing. Here we are sitting at a friend’s lake house and enjoying the scenery.

What's brewing?

I have a big cup of Fancy Santos from Baltimore Coffee and Tea Company.

Any treats for you or Zorba on this occasion?

Zorba will eat anything I put in front of him, but his favorite treat is a petite Greenie. Today, though, he is having a Trader Joe’s Organic Chicken Brown Rice Recipe Stick. He loves those as well.

How were you and Zorba united?

My husband spotted a Cavalier sitting in a car at a grocery store parking lot and waited for the owner to return. When she got to the car, he asked where she had gotten the dog. It turned out she was a breeder, so he gave her our information and asked her to call us when the next litter came along. We forgot about it, but a year and a half later, she called to tell us that she had a new litter of two. The girl was already taken, but the boy was available, and that’s how we wound up with our favorite dog of all time.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

My husband and Zorba are both British. I am Greek. I guess I needed to be represented, thus the name Zorba, as in Zorba the Greek. Now he seems half and half to me. I like that. I occasionally call him Z for short.

Does Zorba do more to help or hinder your writing?

Zorba definitely helps my writing. He sits quietly near me when I write. He also gets me outside to walk, which often is a time that I’m hit with great inspiration.

Has Zorba inspired the creation of any dogs in your fiction?

Not so far, but my husband, who is also a writer, keeps talking about collaborating on a Zorba diary. Zorba has quite a mind of his own and isn’t bashful about letting us know. He also has a great sense of humor.

Cat, postman, rabbit...?

Squirrel, with a capital S. They drive him crazy, and he’s never caught one in his life. We have a fox and some deer that cross our lawn occasionally, and he goes mad with them as well. Loves the postman and UPS lady, because they give him treats. He’s not very fond of anyone walking past our house…

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

None of the above. Zorba won’t play with a toy unless someone plays with him. Tug of war is his favorite. He won’t fetch. He sort of looks at you like “You threw it, you go fetch it!”

Who is Zorba’s best pet-pal?

I am. He’s my best bud. The breeder told me that “a female dog will love you, but a male dog will fall in love with you.” That has worked both ways with Zorba and me.

What is Zorba’s best quality?

Without question it is his sweetness. He’s the most lovable dog ever!

If Zorba could change one thing about Marylanders, what would it be?

He would make them better drivers. They would also not do 50 miles an hour in the fast lane, but would instead move over so that I could pass them.

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

How much of what we say to you do you understand?

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

Colin Firth. Posh and British.

What advice would Zorba give if asked?

Take long walks, stop and smell the roses along the way, get enough rest and spread lots of love.

Visit Valerie Constantine's website. Learn more about The Last Mrs. Parrish: A Novel by Liv Constantine (the pen name of sisters Lynne Constantine and Valerie Constantine).

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Lynne Constantine & Greyson

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Lynne Constantine, and Greyson.

How were you and Greyson united?

We were actually on a list with two rescue sites for a golden retriever. My beloved golden, Tucker, was ill and our kids begged us to get a dog to keep him company and to help with the transition when he passed. I got an email that there was a three-month-old silver lab available asking if we were interested. My husband and I talked about it before telling the kids, and he went to meet him. He Facetimed me from the rescue and as soon as I saw him I knew he was for us. We picked him up a week later and he and Tucker, our golden got to play together for six weeks before we had to say goodbye to Tucker.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

He was called Ash when we got him, and we decided it sounded too much like another not so nice word. We through lists of names until our kids both decided that since he is a gray color, Greyson would be a good name for him. He sometimes answers to no no no, stop chewing that, or please don’t bite me.

Does Greyson do more to help or hinder your writing?

At this puppy stage, definitely hinders. However, Tucker was by my side when I wrote all my books to date (and he was a tough puppy) so I have hope that when Greyson matures, he will take his place next to me in my office.

Has Grayson inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Not yet. But if I have any plots that include a dog that shreds paper – he’s in.

Cat, postman, rabbit…?

Yes, yes, yes as well as other dogs, reflections in the glass that look like other dogs, animals on television and anyone wearing a hat or hoodie. All inspire ferocious barking out of character with his adorable face.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick…?

Loves them all as well as socks, shoes, cardboard, scarves….

What is Greyson’s best quality?

His exuberance. He embraces life whole-heartedly and goes after everything with gusto.

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

That I would be more flexible about letting him leap into our bed at night. Maybe when he calms down a little.

Visit Lynne Constantine's website. Learn more about The Last Mrs. Parrish: A Novel by Liv Constantine (the pen name of sisters Lynne Constantine and Valerie Constantine).

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

S.F. Henson & Francie

Who is in the photo at right?

Here you see me, S.F. Henson, attorney and author of Devils Within, my debut YA novel that's out October 31. In my lap, sitting so that I can't reach my sweet caffeinated nectar, is Francie. She's a little over a year old. We think she's a Golden Retriever mix. There could be some German Shepherd in there, but honestly Francie is probably the result of a drunken night, so anything could be mixed in. (Just out of sight, and reach, is my favorite coffee cup).

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We needed an afternoon caffeine boost (and by "we" I totally mean me. Francie doesn't need any additional energy!). The weather was gorgeous and Francie had just rocked her daily training, so we headed to the back porch to relax.

What's brewing?

Usually it would be a mocha from my favorite local coffee shop, Angel's Island, but since it's closed on Sundays I'm drinking a Gevalia mocha latte from the two-in-one autodrip/k-cup coffee maker in my kitchen.

Any treats for you or Francie on this occasion?

Francie got a mix of Pet Botanics chicken flavored training treats and good old fashioned milk bones. An afternoon with my pup was treat enough for me.

How were you and Francie united?

My husband and I adopted her from Animal Services about a month ago. We'd actually gone to look at another dog and saw Francie curled up on a cot in the back of her pen. We couldn't resist her tufted ears and sweet nature. We thought she was a calm, chill older dog who needed love when everyone else was interested in the puppies. Turns out she was younger than we thought and she'd just been spayed. So not calm, drugged. Saturday morning she was a whole new animal! We couldn't be happier with our choice, though.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

Our last dog--Atticus Hairyson Henson--was named after Atticus Finch (see the attorney and author part above) and my favorite Beatle (George Harrison), so we decided to stick with the literary and music theme. Her full name is Francis Lane Henson, Francie for short. Francie comes from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, a favorite book of both mine and my husband's, and Lane from "Penny Lane." She gets the full thing when she's bad, and Francie-bug when she's adorable (which is most of the time).

Does Francie do more to help or hinder your writing?

Right now, hinder, but she's learning. She was a stray before we adopted her, so she's been desperate for attention. The more comfortable she gets with us, though, the more she trusts that we're not going anywhere and the more independent she's becoming. It's really great to see her transform and become more confident!

Has Francie inspired the creation of any dogs in your fiction?

Not yet, but I have some ideas brewing.

Cat, postman, rabbit...?

Cat, rabbit, squirrel, bird, chipmunk, you name it. If it darts, Francie is on it! We're trying to find ways to channel her prey drive before she drives our two cats insane.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

She's a sucker for a squeaker, but she really loves her Frisbee. She hasn't quite figured out the catching part, but the chase is half the fun for Francie.

Who is Francie's best pet-pal?

She'd love it to be the cats, but seeing as how they want nothing to do with her, Francie's best friend is my husband. She knows the moment his car pulls in the drive and wags her tail so hard her entire body waggles.

What is Francie's best quality?

Francie is extraordinarily good-natured. She loves everyone she meets and is the most complacent dog ever. We can play with her paws, cover her eyes with her ears, or hold her like a shepherd carrying a sheep and she just goes along with it.

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

She'd want more restaurants with outdoor seating. Francie loves going out with us (anywhere, everywhere), but we may be getting a little tired of the same two or three restaurants that allow dogs on their patio.

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

Do you think you're actually a cat? Francie tends to lay on the back of the couch, and drape across our backs, and try to squeeze her body other places cats go that dogs don't fit, so I'm not sure if she understands that she's a canine at all.

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

Chloe Moretz. Francie is young, and kind of sassy. I can totally hear Chloe as her voice.

What advice would Francie give if asked?

If all else fails, roll on your back and show your tummy. Humans can't resist a good tummy.

Visit S.F. Henson's website.

My Book, The Movie: Devils Within.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Peter Zheutlin & Jamba

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Peter Zheutlin, lapsed (failed lawyer) and now writer, with Jamba, the third of our three rescue dogs from Louisiana. She a girl, about three years old we believe, and though her rescuers said she’s a Lab mix, truly, without DNA testing, it’s anyone’s guess. The way she always has her nose to the ground we suspect she’s part hound, like about 99% hound.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I do almost all of my writing at Starbucks where I rent a table for about $5 a day. With three dogs at home it’s practically impossible to get work done there. Now, I’d like to say this was take your dog to work day at Starbucks, but it wasn’t, so I brought my coffee home so Jamba and I could work on your questions together on the deck. Oh, and it’s always a decaf mocha latte with whip cream for me and water for her with a few liver treats.

How were you and Jamba united?

Funny you should ask. We were actually helping our older son, who had recently graduated from business school, find a rescue dog. To his credit, he quickly realized that Jamba was too energetic to be home in his apartment while he worked so she moved in with us and our other two rescue dogs, Albie (an alumnus of Coffee with a Canine) and Salina. Our rescue contact in Louisiana for Jamba was Keri Toth, the same person who helped us adopt Albie.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

Our son went to Tulane University in New Orleans as an undergrad. And Jamba comes from Louisiana. So he named her after one of Louisiana’s most famous dishes, jambalaya. That’s her full name, Jambalaya, or Jamba for short. Of course our younger son started calling her “Juice,” as in Jamba Juice, so that also stuck.

Does Jamba do more to help or hinder your writing?

Both. She helps in that she provides a lot of good material. She’s a free spirit and a funny dog with a lot of zest for life. But she could play fetch with a tennis ball twenty-four hours a day and can be pretty insistent about it. It’s hard to say no.

Please tell us about your new book, Rescued: What Second Chance Dogs Teach Us About Living With Purpose, Loving With Abandon, and Finding Joy in the Little Things.

Rescued picks up the rescue story where my last book, Rescue Road, left off. Rescue Road took readers deep into the world of dog rescue, how it’s done and the remarkable people who do the really difficult work of saving dogs from terrible fates. That book ended with dogs being delivered into the arms of their new families. Rescued is about living with these second-chance dogs and the life lessons they teach us.

Cat, postman, rabbit...?

Albie and Salina are obsessed with critters. They’ll stare at a tree for hours after spotting a squirrel there. Jamba could care less. It’s all about the tennis ball. Albie and Salina also go nuts when the FedEx or UPS guy comes to the house. Jamba just barks to be part of the group. She has no idea why she’s barking except that the others are.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

See above. She loves tennis balls more than Rafael Nadal. Her dream job would be to be a ball girl at the U.S. Open tennis championships.

Who is Jamba's best pet-pal?

A tennis ball. Any tennis ball. After that, Salina. They love to play
”defend the bed” in which they fight for control of our bed.

What is Jamba's best quality?

Innocence. In the fall when the leaves start to fall she will spend hours in the back yard chasing falling leaves. She looks like a child in a snow globe staring in wonder at what’s falling from the sky. I refer to her as the happiest camper in camp.

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

She thinks I’m perfect. It’s another of her admirable qualities. Please don’t ruin her fantasy.

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

Can we take a break from throwing the ball now?

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

Easy. Tina Fey. If Jamba could talk I think she’d be hilarious.

What advice would Jamba give if asked?

Get a ball, be happy that you have that ball, and forget the rest. Everything is just nonsense.

Visit Peter Zheutlin's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Coffee with a Canine: Peter Zheutlin & Albie.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley & Polly

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, and I write children's historical fiction. Polly is a female Lhasa Apso, right around 10 years old. (She would like to apologize for her goofy-looking ears, and say emphatically that it was not her fault. The groomer did it.)

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I drink coffee every morning. Polly does not drink coffee, but she has a special kind of dog treat she would like to have every morning. She doesn't always get one, but she usually does.

What's brewing?

A French press dark roast with copious amounts of half-and-half.

Any treats for you or Polly and Sarah on this occasion?

No, this isn't a special occasion. Polly and I go to work every morning.

How were you and Polly united?

I bought her as a gift for my husband, because he had a Lhasa growing up. But she's become a joint dog. She likes being with me during the day.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

Our first dog was named Under Dog, and so we named our second Sweet Polly Purebred, the name of Underdog's consort. (Under died a few years ago, at an advanced age. We still miss him.)

Does Polly do more to help or hinder your writing?

It depends on the day. Usually she sits in the windowseat of my office and lets me know if anyone is coming up the driveway. Sometimes, especially in winter when the heating vent under my desk is blowing warm air, she comes and lays on my feet. I find that very companionable. Sometimes, however, she falls asleep and snores so loudly that I have to go wake her up. I can't write with that much commotion.

Has Polly inspired the creation of any fictional dogs? Has Sarah inspired the creation of any fictional horses?

I'm astonished to realize that I don't have any dogs in my fiction. I'll have to remedy that. Sarah, my mare, has not yet inspired a fictional horse, but probably will some day as she's quite a character. Butter, the pony in The War That Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won, was inspired by Pal, my daughter's darling quarterhorse.

Cat, postman, rabbit...?

Polly is afraid of the barn cats, with good reason. She once almost tackled a groundhog, but thought the better of it at the last moment.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

No. Polly is too dignified for any of that nonsense. She does not fetch, and has no interest in playing with things she can not eat.

Is Sarah the mare Polly's best pet-pal, or is there a canine that holds that honor?

Her best pet-pal is her cousin Bogey, my sister's dog. We often take our dogs with us when we visit each other.

What is Polly's best quality?


If Polly could change one thing about Tennesseans, what would it be?

Nothing. All her favorite people are Tennesseans.

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

No idea--I'm not a movie person.

What advice would Polly give if asked?

Get plenty of sleep.

Visit Kimberly Brubaker Bradley's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Ismée Williams & Rowan

Who is in the photo at right?

This is Rowan. He’s an eighteen-month old Australian Labradoodle. I am the one wearing the dress. My name is Ismée Williams. I am a pediatric cardiologist and an author. My debut YA novel, Water in May, released Sept 12, 2017 with Amulet Books.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Well, Rowan had to have his influenza vaccine (something I recommend everyone should all get every fall, unless you have a contraindication such as an egg allergy or a history of Guillain-Barré syndrome – remember, I’m a doctor). Since Rowan did such a good job at the vet, I thought he deserved a treat!

What's brewing?

We love Starbucks, because they make something special for Rowan: a puppaccino (a cup filled with whipped cream). I prefer their decaf lattes but today I have a chocolate chip Frappuccino because it is hot and muggy out!

Any treats for you or Rowan on this occasion?

None other than the puppaccino!

How were you and Rowan united?

Our girls had been begging for a dog for years–basically since they could talk. Getting a dog didn’t fit into our hectic two-working-parent city lifestyle. So I always brushed them off by saying if I get a book published, we can get a dog. Well, you can bet that was the first thing they thought of when I told everyone about my book deal in 2015. The kids jumped from their seats at the dinner table and started shrieking, “Now we can get a dog!” So much for postponing the inevitable! But here’s the other catch: I am allergic to dogs. I always have been. I had horrible eczema and asthma as a child. So we did a lot of research before committing and found out this breed is supposed to be hypoallergenic. We even visited the home of a colleague of my husband’s who had an Australian Labradoodle from the same breeder we ended up using just to make sure it was true. A few months later, a tiny bundle of red joy arrived. Now I can’t imagine our family without him.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

There are five of us in the family. And we are all rather stubborn and opinionated. We must have gone through a hundred names. Finally, we settled on Rowan. It was my suggestion, based on the character from Sarah J. Maas’s amazing Throne of Glass series. I thought we would end up with an honorable, brave, stoic dog. My eldest daughter just this summer tore through the Throne of Glass series and announced that our pup Rowan could not be more different than Sarah J. Maas’s Rowan! Oh well. But there’s more to the story. My husband wants to point out that Rowan was the one name he didn't like. He was out of town when the final decisions were made. My 6-year announced the verdict to him over the phone and explained that his vote didn’t count as much as the four females in the house. Luckily, my husband didn’t mind too much!

Does Rowan do more to help or hinder your writing?

Rowan doesn’t hinder too much, except for when he is walking around the apartment looking pathetic because no one will play with him. He has perfected what we call the ‘saddest dog in the world’ face.

Has Rowan inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Not yet. But he has enough cuteness to star in is his own picture book series, I think.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Squirrel. Hands down. He loves to chase squirrels. Luckily, he’s not fast enough to catch them!

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Rowan loves all his toys. For my own sanity, I don’t give him squeakers. His favorite toy is a rubber Frisbee by Kong. He’s not the most athletic dog, but he will on occasion catch the Frisbee in mid-air.

Where is Rowan's favorite outdoor destination?

We have a small cottage in CT that has a fenced in pool area. That is Rowan’s favorite place because we let him off-leash and he can chase the Frisbee (and the squirrels).

Who is Rowan's best pet-pal?

My good friend has a very attractive and sweet goldendoodle named Maple who lives a few blocks away from us in New York City. Maple and Rowan met as puppies and they have been besties ever since. Sometimes the dogs see each other before my friend and I do and they start going nuts pulling us towards one another!

What is Rowan's best quality?

Rowan is very sweet and calm. He is even a certified therapy dog already! He loves to be pet and he is incredibly soft.

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

Rowan would make it a rule that every New Yorker has to stop and pet him. When he was a puppy we would laugh because his head would follow each person down the sidewalk, cocking as if in disbelief the person didn’t stop to pay him any compliments and attention.

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

What do you think about the whole dogs versus cats debate?

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

Chris Pratt from Jurassic World and Guardians of the Galaxy. He has just the right mix of cute humor and goofiness.

What advice would Rowan give if asked?

Chillax. Everything is going to be all right.

Visit Ismée Williams's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Christina Steiner & Sentry

C:\Users\Christina\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word\019.jpgWho is in the photo at right?

My name is Christina Steiner and I’m a writer, mother of two daughters, grandmother of twins (boy and girl). I have a great love for dogs, especially Hungarian Kuvasz and horses and a passion for nature. On the left is Sentry, at that time about six months old.

Sentry is my Hungarian Kuvasz, soon to be eight years old on 11/11/17. He is large for his breed, weighing in at around 160 lbs.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I’m an early riser, but not as early as my significant other. This has advantages. Tom brings me coffee every morning, at around five o’clock. Sentry at this time is still lounging on his dog pillow next to my bed… unless he has to defend me against possible intruders. Well that’s his job. His roommates, four Chesapeake Bay retrievers are scattered around the foot of the bed as well. Sentry looks at me, “Is it time to get going,” he seems to ask. I shake my head.

What's brewing?

The smell of freshly brewed coffee (a custom blend of ground Starbucks French Roast and Costco’s Colombian San Jose) with two spoons of sugar and heavy cream whipped to perfection permeates the room. Irresistible. What a way to start the day.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

In the meantime, I hear dog dishes prepared out in the kitchen. The spilling of kibble into the metal bowls wakes all the dogs to alert statues. With great expectations, they run out to Tom who measures out the portions for Sentry, Boomer, Harvard Girl, C:\Users\Christina\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word\052.jpgBetty Boop Boop and Flinn. Each canine has their specific kitchen corner for their dish. Treats in our house rare. Their favorites are raw turkey necks. They’re a special treat with the advantage that it cleans their teeth at the same time.

How were you and Sentry united?

Sentry is my third Kuvasz. I knew of a breeder in our area. I went to visit the litter when the puppies were six weeks old. He had 12 brothers and sisters. At 12 weeks, he was ready to join my household. At that time his name was Black Boy.

How did Sentry get his name? Any aliases?

Sentry as a puppy had the tendency to sit there on his haunches very quietly and astute, just like the queen’s guards. Hence fore the name Sentry. One of our friends calls him Yeti, the reason is obvious.

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

Without question, they all inspire me. My children’s books are about nature and looking into their soulful eyes gives me a view into the world of animals in general.

Have any actual dogs ever inspired dogs in your fiction?

I’ve written a short story, where the dog was the savoir. The dog Balderdash was fictional and I believe a combination of all my dogs from the past.

C:\Users\Christina\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word\20160511_073531.jpgCat, postman, squirrel...?

Squirrels absolutely…. In my recent book Shimji the Channel Island Vixen, there’s a chapter where the squirrels make fun of the dogs in the dog park. Most postmen and delivery people flee when they hear the ruckus of the dogs in the breezeway. But the dogs just do their job….

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Balls for our Chessies, who retrieve with abundance as that is what they were breed for. Sentry will go after the ball once, then he looks at me and says, “I know how to do this, besides I need to watch over the herd… What are you thinking…”

Never a squeaky-toy, it’s a sure measure to start a dog fight. Sticks are to be chewed on.

Who is Sentry's best pet-pal?

Betsy Ross, a Chesapeake Bay retriever born on the fourth of July in 2014, who is in the show circuit at the moment. Sentry and Betsy shared a kennel when we had to go out of town, which was a great consolation for Sentry in my absence.

What is Sentry's best quality?

Sentry is a true gentleman. Despite his awe-inspiring size he is very gentle with children and old people.

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

More off-leash parks and hiking areas. Though Ventura is great because dogs can surf and be leash free in many areas along our beaches.

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

This is a sad question. Because of Sentry’s age and size I would want to ask him, when I should let him go over the rainbow bridge.

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

Sean Connery would be perfect.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Please, humans, just relax. Enjoy life whatever it brings. Tomorrow is another day.

Visit Christina Steiner's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Jody Dean & Roxie

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Jody Dean, a California native, started my career as a PhD psychologist in Orange County, California and moved around in the field doing both clinical practice and healthcare strategy for large organizations. Roxie is a smooth coat dachshund, the AKC calls her coloring “black and tan with dapple markings”. She's 6 years old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

It's critical that I be fully caffeinated early because Roxie is a high energy dog who demands that we engage in what is called “dachshund cross fit”; running in the woods chasing squirrels or deer or whatever we might find. So, coffee with Roxie is a daily must do.

What's brewing?

Today Peet's Sumatra with cream and sugar. I self grind, because I like it strong and I get a bizarre satisfaction out of hearing the coffee beans ground to a fine consistency.

Any treats for you or Roxie on this occasion?

Roxie and her sisters get their breakfast early, they demand a 5 am feeding time. Even on Sunday, lord help the person who does not feed a dachshund when they are hungry.

How were you and Roxie united?

I have adopted dachshunds in the past from Southern California Dachshund Relief. One of mine had passed, so I needed another to be a pal to the other dog. Since dachshunds are like Lays potato chips, you cannot just have one. SCDR called me and told me they had a female 2 years old who needed “a home with dachshund experience”. This should have been my warning and a smarter person might have run like the wind but I fell for this trick.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

Roxie was “Roxie” when she came to me. It really fits her. I also call her Momo, Dork, Spaz and at times, Satan’s Little Helper.

Please tell us about your new book, Roxie the Doxie Finds Her Forever Home.

While it might just appear to be a fun kids book, Roxie the Doxie follows Roxie from foster care to her “forever” home. The book is intended to allow kids to navigate adoption or other family changes by talking about Roxie’s journey, because kids find it less threatening to speak of their own feelings when they can talk about a toy, a character or an imaginary friend having the feelings (that are actually theirs).

Does Roxie do more to help or hinder your writing?

Roxie is very helpful because each day she experiences an adventure which gives me inspiration and ideas.

Cat, postman, rabbit…?

What some people don’t know about dachshunds is that they have a naturally very high prey drive. Given the chance to develop this drive, which Roxie has done in various scent and hunting competitions, she is happy to bark or chase anyone and anything. That said, I don’t allow her to actually chase people nor does she really have a chance to catch a rabbit or cat! It's all in good fun.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick…?

Anything not tied down is a toy for Roxie. She can dismantle a squeaky toy in about 2 minutes, at which point she will stare at me with a look of such horrible disappointment as if to say “geez, that one was too easy”.

Who is Roxie's best pet-pal?

Daisy, who is also a dachshund and a rescue from SCDR.

What is Roxie's best quality?

Optimism. Roxie gets up each day assuming wonderful, fun and exciting things will happen. And for her, they usually do.

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

That I would never leave the house without her.

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

I would ask Roxie if she was happy.

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

Without a doubt, Lady Gaga. Because Lady Gaga has the ability to have a variety of speaking voices, and Roxie’s bark changes depending on her mood, it’s a perfect fit.

What advice would Roxie give if asked?

Roxie would tell everyone to lean toward the positive in life, to try new things even if you are scared, and when in doubt, go for dessert.

Learn more about Roxie the Doxie Finds Her Forever Home.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Katie Kennedy & Ernie

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Katie Kennedy. I write YA (Learning to Swear in America; What Goes Up), and MG. Ernie is a male Shih Poo (half Shih Tzu, half poodle). There’s some confusion as to how old he was when he got him from the pound, so he’s either ten or eleven.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We’re celebrating the release of What Goes Up, a YA light sci fi mashup.

What's brewing?

I’m drinking Swiss Miss with extra marshmallows because I don’t like coffee. It can be Hot Chocolate with a Canine, right? Ernie has water, but you can’t see it in the picture.

Any treats for you or Ernie on this occasion?

You bet! We are all about the treats. I have a scone and Ernie gets a beef treat. Later he’ll probably get half the cat’s food, too. [sigh]

How were you and Ernie united?

We got Ernie at the pound. He’d been surrendered by an older couple that couldn’t keep up with him. I imagined that they were elderly folk in poor health, tottering around with walkers, and just couldn’t have a dog underfoot. After we took Ernie home, we realized that he’s a lot to keep up with. That couple might have been running marathons and still have had trouble dealing with him.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

We kept the name his first family gave him, but he’s so disobedient and ornery that we decided he must not speak English. Why else would he ignore our every command? My husband calls him Ernesto, or Nesto for short, in the hopes that he’ll respond to commands in Spanish. So far it’s not working, but we’ve only tried for about five years.

Does Ernie do more to help or hinder your writing?

Oh, hinder. Ernie enjoys barking, and I don’t know how many sentences I’ve lost when he pulled me out of my story world. Needless to say, it’s totally worth it. I’d be lonely without my—loud, intrusive—little writing buddy.

Has Ernie inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

I had thirty pages devoted to a fictional dog in my work-in-progress, but I had to cut those scenes. I’m trying to figure out how to break the news to him. I do often work in a small black dog in some way or other, so he usually gets a cameo.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Ernie barks at everything except squirrels. He’ll bark because other dogs are barking, or because they aren’t and he wants to stir up trouble. But not squirrels. Pretty sure they made a pact at some point.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

He’s not a chewer, probably because his mouth is busy barking. But he does enjoy playing fetch and then refusing to give the toy up so I can throw it again. Also, the ottoman is home base. If he makes it there safely, I’m not allowed to grab the toy and play tuggy pull with it.

Where is Ernie's favorite outdoor destination?

He loves his walks and despite his tiny legs he’ll walk for blocks and blocks, no matter how cold it is. When he realizes we’re almost home he tries to trick me and head in the opposite direction. He’s a scamp.

Who is Ernie's best pet-pal?

I think he has a little crush on Emma, the dog next door. Every time he sees her he goes nuts barking. Did I mention that she lives next door? So he sees her every few minutes?

What is Ernie's best quality?

He’s incredibly loyal. He’s also incredibly brave. I was watching Jurassic Park with the kids once, and you know that scene where the T. Rex slowly turns its head and roars? Ernie stood between the kids and growled back. He weighed fifteen pounds. I’ll always love him for that.

If Ernie could change one thing about Iowans, what would it be?

People don’t drop hams enough.

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

If I only got one sentence, I’d tell him something--that it’s okay for him to sleep in the sunny window in the living room while I work in the study. He loves that room so much, but I can’t draft in it. He tries to lead me in there in the morning, and when I go into the study he sighs and follows, and stays as long as I do. I’d like him to know it would be okay if he took a little time off to enjoy his favorite place.

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

Meryl Streep. She can do anybody.

What advice would Ernie give if asked?

If you sneak around the island, you can sometimes make it to the cat’s bowl before Mom notices. And that is awesome!

Visit Katie Kennedy's website.

--Marshal Zeringue