Thursday, March 9, 2017

Ellen Emerson White & Patrick

Who is in the photo at right?

That is me (Ellen Emerson White), and clearly, in addition to being a writer and sports photographer, I’m a Red Sox fan. His name is Patrick, and he’s a Labrador mix. Probably about ten years old now.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

It was Tuesday. (Or one of the other six days of the week.)

What's brewing?

Starbucks decaf quad espresso. Vanilla powder added, if they have it out on the side station.

Any treats for you or Patrick on this occasion?

No, but hope springs eternal. A multitude of snack options upon arriving home, though.

How were you and Patrick united?

I adopted him from Arkansas, after requesting “a black dog” from the animal rescue group, since they are the least likely to be adopted. (What’s up with that, anyway?) His very kind foster owner sent him up on a pet transport truck, and we went to pick him up in Nyack, NY—where a stream of black dogs came out of the truck to meet their new owners. I had no idea which one was mine. I sat in the backseat with him on the way home to the city, and he apparently decided that I was the vet tech, and my sister (who was driving) was The New Owner. He was disconcerted—and possibly disappointed--when we got to Manhattan, and found out that he was coming home with me, instead.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

He came with the name Webster, but I preferred Patrick—for no discernible reason. I called him Patrick Webster for a few weeks, and gradually dropped the Webster. However, at the vet’s office, he is in the computer as Patrick Webster White, and they tell me he is their only client with a middle name. His nickname is “The Bad Hat,” because—despite his sweetness—his size intimidates people. Also, it amuses me.

Does Patrick do more to help or hinder your writing?

Mostly, he naps quietly, or chews a rawhide bone or something, but sometimes, he feels compelled to stand next to my chair and—do nothing. He just stands there, staring straight ahead at nothing in particular. This can last for an hour or more. The family refers to it as “Patrick having a stand.” I find it rather unsettling.

Has Patrick inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

As it happens, he is the star of one of my books, Webster: Tale of an Outlaw (in which he is goofily grumpy and disgruntled, which bears no resemblance to the actual Patrick). And he’s the dog in something new I’m working on, although I haven’t decided on the name yet. Also, I throw Bad Hat photos up on social media all the time, generally showing appalling, anti-social behavior on his part. It goes without saying that this is a complete sham, since he is unusually good-natured.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

None of the above. He is a peaceful soul. Although three men tried to mug me one night, and he broke it up, so I guess it’s fair to say that he does not care for criminals.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Rawhide chew. Despite being a retriever mix, he has absolutely no interest in fetching anything. He does have a few squeaky toys, though, now that I think about it. If I shout, “Get Kylo Ren!,” he will grab that particular one and violently subdue it. Jedi dog, all the way.

Who is Patrick's best pet-pal?

He has a very congenial relationship with the two cats (Bert and Dorothy) who share his home.

What is Patrick's best quality?

He is incredibly pleasant, and also easily amused. It’s a good combination.

If Patrick could change one thing about the good people of New York, what would it be?

He would probably prefer it if his fellow New Yorkers were a little less tightly-wrapped.

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

Honestly, I would ask him what things would make him the most happy, so that I could be sure and do them for him.

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

Let’s go with Kyle Chandler, when he’s using a stronger Southern accent than usual. I am certain that Patrick has a Southern accent.

What advice would Patrick give if asked?

One shudders to think, really. Less fussing and fretting, particularly when it comes to writing, I suspect.

Visit Ellen Emerson White's website, and learn more about her latest YA book, A Season of Daring Greatly.

--Marshal Zeringue