Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Lisa Gardner & Annabelle and Bowie

Who is in the photo at right?

The little brown brindle is Annabelle, a four year old cairn terrier poodle mix. She loves swimming, hiking, chasing squirrels and believe it or not, paddle boarding (summer is her favorite season). The fluffy white dog is Bowie, our one year old blue merle sheltie. He loves snow shoeing, snow flake chasing, and snow eating (winter is his favorite season).

I’m Lisa Gardner, a novelist, specializing in crime thrillers, many of which have involved savvy dogs to help save the day.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Years ago, I gave up coffee for herbal tea. But the dogs will tell you some days it still takes caffeine to get through the afternoon. I like to stop by J-Town Deli, in Jackson, New Hampshire, which is dog friendly. Annabelle and Bowie run immediately to the front counter and wag their tails furiously until cookies are produced. I’m not sure the dogs even know or care I’m getting coffee. In their world, a stop at J-Town is all about them.

What's brewing?

Mocha latte. Chocolate and coffee all in one cup. Mmm…

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

They are all about the dog cookies. And Annabelle likes being fussed over by the staff and other customers. She’s a social butterfly. Bowie is less convinced. He takes his cookie, then hangs out with me.

How were you and your dogs united?

We found Annabelle through a friend who also had a cairn terrier. We were looking for a smaller dog, but still active and outdoorsy, given that we live in the mountains of New Hampshire. Annabelle is happy to spend her days hiking the mountains or swimming in the lake, and her nights snuggled up on the sofa.

As for Bowie, we’ve always loved shelties. Our first pair passed away two years ago, leaving a significant hole in our lives. We returned to the breeder where we got our first sheltie, Murphy, who will always be the great love of my life. Bowie is a completely different dog, but still a joy to have around. He’s a total goofball, which is a nice fit with Annabelle, who is much more dignified.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Our daughter named Annabelle, thinking she would be called Annie. But Annabelle is Annabelle. Somehow the longer name suits her. We got Bowie right after David Bowie died. Given his one blue eye, it seemed appropriate to name him in the singer’s honor. If you ask our thirteen-year old daughter, however, he was named after the knife; she doesn’t do seventies pop stars.

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

Annabelle is a great writing companion, content to sleep at my feet.

Bowie is a youngster. As long as I’m just sitting there, surely I could throw a ball. I end having to bribe him with a chew bone if I want to get anything done. But writing is generally followed walking to work out plot problems. Bowie approves of that part of the process.

Have any actual dogs ever inspired dogs in your fiction?

My latest book, Right Behind You, features both a retired police dog, Luka, and a search dog, Molly. Luka is fictional, but Molly [photo right] is a real dog, a pit bull mix rescued by the Conway Area Humane Society. Abandoned and emaciated, Molly still managed to give birth to seven fat, healthy puppies and did an incredible job nursing them before finding her forever home with the shelter’s operations manager Deb Cameron. They are real heroes, deserving of a role tracking a spree killer in the wilds of Oregon.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Squirrel. Definitely squirrels, and we are surrounded by them!

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Ball. Bowie will fetch forever. Until Annabelle becomes frustrated, steals the ball from him and lays on it.

Who is each dog's best pet-pal?

Bowie worships the ground Annabelle walks on. Whatever she does, he does. Basically, he’s the annoying little brother, but he loves her so much, she puts up with him.

What is each dog's best quality?

Annabelle is a complete snuggle bug. She loves to sleep with her head on my lap, or curled up in a ball, tucked under my chin. There is no amount of snuggling that is too much.

Bowie is the best dog I’ve ever had off leash. He returns the moment he’s called, sits on a dime, will do whatever you want as long as you take him with you. He’s definitely a work dog—always looking to make sure the humans are happy and always ready for the next adventure.

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

New Hampshire has mountains, lakes and tons of dog-friendly people and businesses. Nothing to change, other dogs should come visit.

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

What is the secret to happiness?

Honestly, they greet each day, each moment with such enthusiasm. Being a moody writer type, I’d love to know their secret.

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

Annbelle should be voiced by Kate Hudson, feminine, energetic, beautiful.

Kevin Hart would make an excellent Bowie. Big loveable goofball. Perfect!

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Start every day with a tail wag and cookies will follow!

Visit Lisa Gardner's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Sally J. Pla & Leo

Who is in the photo at right?

Why, hello. It’s me, Sally J. Pla, debut author of The Someday Birds, with my golden doodle, Leo. He is large. Almost 80 pounds of large. A bit of a jumbo doodle. Let’s call him a Venti.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Leo jumps heavily onto the foot of my bed every morning. Then he drags me downstairs for coffee, a scoop of kibble, and a wee. Me, I’d rather slide straight from REM sleep right into writing, but it is never to be. So the occasion, here, is our every-morning routine…coffee in the kitchen.

What's brewing?

Bella Donovan roast, ordered online from Blue Bottle, in a Bodum French press, with cream and sugar. Leo always asks to lick the cup. I don’t usually let him.

Any treats for you or Leo on this occasion?

There’s a French cafĂ©/bakery down the road; on weekends, I’ll head down for a croissant to go. They have a raspberry almond variety that’s darn fine. That, on a Sunday, with The New York Times and the sun streaming in the kitchen, is a pretty optimum coffee-with-canine experience.

How were you and Leo united?

When my son was 10, he campaigned like crazy for second dog. We resisted, until the day he developed acute appendicitis. They wheeled my son into the OR, still pleading, hands clasped, suffering, angelic. “All this would be better if I only had a puppy!” he moaned. What monster would say no to that?

We got Leo soon after. And as the two homebodies of the family, Leo and I… bonded. Deeply. It happened almost from day one – while Leo loves my son, he has always been ‘my’ dog, somehow. I feel closer to him than to many people.

Several years ago, I was bedridden for a month after major surgery. Leo never left the foot of my bed. He never left me. My son had to pull him by the collar to get him to go downstairs to eat. Leo guards my bed every night, and is never more than an arm’s reach away from me at all times. When I leave to run errands, he parks himself by the front door until I get back. I can’t even go to the bathroom without him standing guard. It’s really a little ridiculous. But his loyalty and devotion is heart-melting. I’d do anything for that dog.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

He was carefully and lovingly named by my son.

Does Leo do more to help or hinder your writing?

He helps and hinders. He’s missed plenty of walks because I was too deeply in thrall to a scene, too immersed. He is infinitely patient, slumped nearby, sleeping, awaiting the Magical Sound of the Closing of the Laptop. When he hears it—no matter how softly I close that MacBook—he scrambles up quickly in exasperated anticipation: “Are we finally going to do something now?” he’ll asks me. (Yes, he talks.)

Has Leo inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

There’s a bit of Leo in the three-legged stray, Tiberius, that Charlie and his brothers rescue in The Someday Birds. And Leo’s goofy side is in Albert Einstein, the world’s least intelligent golden retriever of my second middle-grade novel, John Lockdown is in the Building (HarperCollins 2018). I cannot imagine writing a novel without a dog in it. Dogs rule!

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Cat-phobia. Squirrel-perplexion. Postal workers incite frenzied love-attacks.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

He’s a heavy chewer. The only thing that stands up is an elk horn or Galileo Bone, heavy as a rock, and when Leo chews on it, the whole house shakes.

Who is Leo's best pet-pal?

Although Copper, the neighbor’s teacup Yorkie, is fairly well tolerated, Leo’s not a dog’s dog. Leo thinks he’s a person. A timid person. At dog parks, he hides behind my knees like a kid on the first day of preschool.

What is Leo's best quality?

Could it be the intelligence and emotional honesty in his eyes? The warm leathery feel of the inside of his ears? How his floofy feet are the size of dinner plates? Could it be the unconditional mutual love? Seriously, it’s a problem how much I adore this dog.

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

He’d tell them to give homes to more real dogs, not those tiny spoiled yippy purse-toys.

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

Are you comfortable and happy?

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

Some magical meld of Jemaine Clement, Robin Williams, and Greg Kinnear.

What advice would Leo give if asked?

He’d say: “Stop obsessing about the pet hair on your leggings. Concentrate on the good stuff, on treasuring our every moment. A dog’s life is fleeting. Don’t forget to stop and smell the coffee.”

Visit Sally J. Pla's website.

--Marshal Zeringue