Saturday, July 15, 2017

Tamara Bundy & Toby

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Tamara Bundy, a high school teacher, mom and author. I have seven non-fiction books to my name –but this summer my debut middle grade novel, Walking with Miss Millie comes out and I couldn’t be more excited. The cute little guy with me in the picture is Toby. He is around six years old and is a Cockapoo. This picture was the lucky day we brought him home from the SCPA.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

It’s always first in the morning. I take my first sips of the day and Toby tries to crawl into my skin to get as close to me as possible.

What's brewing?

The rest of my family spends enough money on daily Starbucks runs. I’m the practical one who home brews. I still like the occasion of a pot of coffee that allows you to “freshen” your cup.

Any treats for you or Toby on this occasion?

Toby’s favorite treats are the doggy “ice creams”. I think he sees me eating so much ice cream that he really feels he is eating ice cream too. Have to say I want to try it.

How were you and Toby united?

Toby was a “Surrender Dog”. I never have found out why his previous owners gave him up. He has had a lot of medical bills, so I wonder if they gave him up due to that. We got him through an adoption program at the SCPA. We were the lucky ones—he is an amazing dog.

How did your dog get his name?

They called him “Toby” at the SCPA so I thought that was his name –the one he was surrendered with. But after we started calling him that for a few months after we got him, I realized the workers gave him a random name. I think I would have chosen something different had I known –but it’s too late now. At least he finally answers to “Toby”.

Does Toby do more to help or hinder your writing?

Toby is the perfect dog. I’m serious. He never causes trouble. The only thing that hinders me is sometimes he is so close to my feet when I stand up, I trip over him.

Has Toby inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Believe it or not – he inspired a fictional …lamb! My next book – out in 2019 is about a lamb who becomes more of a pet. I used Toby’s expressions, and the way he’d look at me, to come up with details about my lamb in the book.

Who is Toby's best pet-pal?

My daughter rescued a sweet pit-mix named Milly. And while Toby and Milly look like polar opposites, they love to hang out together when my daughter comes to visit.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

When we first got Toby, he didn’t bark. At all. I thought maybe he couldn’t. But one day…three months after we got him, he did bark – at a cat on the deck. I guess he was just waiting for the right moment.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Squeaky toy… all the way.

Where is Toby's favorite outdoor destination?

Anywhere with me. He loves to go outside –just not alone.

What is Toby's best quality?

He is the best dog in the world. Seriously, he is so sweet. You just look in his eyes and you see such kindness and sweetness. And he has never had an accident in the house. Never.

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

Toby would change the fact that I sometimes leave the house. He would much prefer I never leave without him. And I think he’d prefer not to have to get some of the medication he’s on now.

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

I’d love to know the name he had for the first years of his life. I really want to know more about that time.

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

I picture Toby as such a kind, old soul, I’d have Morgan Freeman give him a voice.

What advice would Toby give if asked?

Toby would say everybody should lighten up a little, give more belly rubs, and take more naps.

Visit Tamara Bundy's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Michael P. Spradlin & Willow and Apollo

Who is in the photo at right?

The devilishly handsome guy in the photo is me, Michael P. Spradlin, author and international man of mystery with my two highly trained, well behaved, always silent and stealthy (not) Schnoodles, Willow (gold) and Apollo (Black). Schnoodles are Schnauzer and Poodle mixes.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Since I work at home, every day is coffee with a canine. Except for the coffee part. I’m not a coffee drinker. So, most days tend to be ‘hijinks with a canine days’.

What's brewing?

Usually it’s some type of flavored water. Most often Pineapple-Coconut which allows me to imagine I’m somewhere in the tropics.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Cheese. Always cheese. Cheese. It’s what’s for dinner. My dogs will do anything, and I mean anything, if there is the prospect of cheese at the end. Anyone who wanted to rob our house would only need to bring cheese to convince the dogs to lead them to the valuables.

How were you and your dogs united?

Willow (gold) is the oldest. She came to us first and we enjoyed her so much, we decided to get Apollo so she would have a friend. However, as it turns out, while Willow tolerates him, she’s quite convinced she is the only dog in the world and therefore can’t be bothered with his shenanigans.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Willow is named after the character Willow from Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. According to my family, Apollo is named after the Greek God, although I like to tell people he’s named after Apollo Creed from the Rocky movies.

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

Definitely help. Dogs are one of mankind’s great stress reducers. They love unconditionally, are always happy to see you, and when you are holding or petting them, it’s impossible not to relax and breathe. And properly caring for a dog, walking and exercising them, keeps you refreshed and active which is good for you. Many times when I’m stuck on a story, taking the dogs for a walk helps me clear my head and think.

Have any actual dogs ever inspired dogs in your fiction?

Both of my mutts have made appearances in my books. In the Youngest Templar trilogy, Tristan, the protagonist, is adopted by Angel, a small golden dog who bravely assists him in his journey. In the Killer Species series, Calvin has a black Schnoodle named Apollo. They both have agents now.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

All of the above. Willow is an ‘observe and report’ member of the pack. She notifies us of any unauthorized activity in the neighborhood including but not limited to neighbors getting their mail, meter readers, or undocumented leaves blowing into our yard. Apollo is the ‘observe and attack’ member of the pack and has a blood feud with the neighbor’s cat, and is a sworn enemy of all UPS, FedEx or US Postal services workers. As far as he is concerned they shall not pass.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Neither of them are big on toys or fetching. Apollo is a mighty hunter and brings us snakes, moles, mice, the occasional bird and frog. Both are big fans of rawhide chews.

Who is each dog's best pet-pal?

Unquestionably my wife. I’m purely here for back up. If my wife is gone, I’ll do in a pinch, but she is the center of their universe.

What is each dog's best quality?

Schnoodles are people dogs. They’re happiest when their ‘pack,’ which includes my children, and their mates are all together at our house as they should be. They’re always in a good mood, the first thing they offer is love and they’re big fans of naps. If nothing suspicious, like garbage pickup, is happening in the neighborhood.

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

Well they are Michigan dogs, so I believe in their minds they consider themselves superior to all other canines. But they’d probably say that instead of using our hands to point out to people where we live, we instead use those hands to hold cheese. On can never have enough cheese.

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

I would ask them how it is they can live so easily in the moment. They seem to be born Zen masters. I wish I could find that state as easily as they seem to.

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

Willow would demand that Meryl Streep provide her voice. And Apollo would not participate unless Samuel L. Jackson was his mouthpiece.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Life is simple. Talk a walk, have some cheese and then a nap. Repeat. And baths really aren’t necessary. You smell great.

Visit Michael P. Spradlin's website.

My Book, The Movie: Prisoner of War.

Writers Read: Michael P. Spradlin.

The Page 69 Test: Prisoner of War.


--Marshal Zeringue