Sunday, April 22, 2018

Arin Greenwood & Murray

Who is in the photo at right?

That's my sweet dog Murray Rothbark. He is going on 10 years old. My husband and I adopted him when he was about a year and a half old. We don't know what breed he is - we've never had him genetic tested - but he seems to have some hound in him. What I can say for certain is he's a Very Good Boy.

I'm Arin Greenwood. I'm an animal writer and former lawyer. I live in St. Petersburg, Florida, with my Murray, three cats - Elfie, Jackie, and Chappy - and one very tolerant husband.

I used to be animal welfare editor at The Huffington Post, and now I freelance animal stories for a whole lot of publications like The Today Show's website, The Dodo, and The Washington Post. I have a new novel about dogs, and robot dogs, and love, that came out on April 17 - it's called Your Robot Dog Will Die.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

The occasion for Coffee with a Canine is that the day has begun, and so I must have coffee. Murray very patiently lets me drink one big mug of it before our morning walk.

What's brewing?

I have one of those coffee makers with a timer on it, so that I wake up to a full pot of coffee. I want to thank the person who invented this device from the bottom of my heart. I drink dark roast coffee with a splash of almond milk - my husband complains the coffee tastes like burned sludge but I like it quite a bit.

Any treats for you or Murray on this occasion?

Murray and I eat our breakfast after getting home from our morning walk. I'll have my second gigantic cup of coffee with a big bowl of Wheaties, while Murray enjoys his bowl of kibble.

How were you and Murray united?

My husband and I wanted to adopt a dog. We were looking for a dog who'd get along well with our cat. We found Murray - then called Baxter - on Petfinder. A local rescue group called Rescue Angels got him out of a shelter in the south. He was being fostered at a doggie daycare in Washington, D.C., where we were living at the time.

We went to go meet Murray at the doggie daycare, and he just rolled right over for belly rubs. We were smitten. We brought him home overnight for a test run, just to make sure he and our cat would be good. (They were!)

The second we walked in our apartment door, Murray ran into our bedroom and hopped up onto the bed. It's like he knew he was home.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

The general rule in our household is that I bring home the pets and my husband gets to name them. Our dog's full name is Murray Rothbark. He's named after one of my husband's favorite economists, Murray Rothbard. My husband works at a think tank called the R Street Institute, and our Murray actually holds a position there as well - he's director of canine policy. He's got bylines on a couple of published op-eds, too, if you can believe it.

Does Murray do more to help or hinder your writing?

I'd say overall he's a neutral influence on my writing, but he's a tremendously positive influence on my life. So to the extent that I am a happier person because of Murray, I'm also a happier writer.

Has Murray inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Not yet. Stay tuned, though.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Murray is so funny about cats. We have three cats now, and they all desperately want to be friends with Murray, and he is just not interested. He doesn't pay them any attention. But when he sees strange cats - out on the street or at other people's houses - he gets so excited that he'll start to cry. He wants to go sniff them and lick them. He loves them. Our cats, though - nope, he has no time for them.

He hates people who deliver mail to our house, or packages. He'll bark at UPS drivers, even if we see them miles away from our house. He sometimes even barks at random brown vans if we happen to spot one. Squirrels, likewise, do not bring out Murray's best qualities.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Yes to all the above.

Where is Murray's favorite outdoor destination?

He loves playing fetch in our yard. And his favorite thing in the world is when we take him to this magical place called Dog Beach. My husband and I call it the happiest place on earth for dogs. It's a beach at a park in St. Petersburg where dogs can go run around and swim, and play. It's so wonderful. Unfortunately for Murray, a trip to Dog Beach is usually followed by his least favorite thing in the world - a bath.

Who is Murray's best pet-pal?

Murray loves me and my husband, and likes a couple of other people, but he doesn't have that many dogs he likes to play with. He's not mean or anything, just mostly kind of disinterested. There is this one dog named Banjo who Murray really loves, though. She's one of the only dogs he's ever loved to play with. I don't know what is different about Banjo, but it's very sweet to see him have a doggie friend.

What is Murray's best quality?

That's like asking what is the best thing about being alive, or about sunshine and flowers. Everything about Murray is perfect.

If Murray could change one thing about Floridians, what would it be?

He wishes they would set off fewer fireworks. Those stupid explodey things really scare the bejeezus out of him.

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

"Can we go to dog beach now, but how about we skip the bath afterwards?"

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

Oh, that's a good question. I guess the obvious answer would be Bill Murray. (Get it????)

What advice would Murray give if asked?

I think it would be something along the lines of: "Eat more snacks, take more naps, abandon all baths."

Visit Arin Greenwood's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 16, 2018

Jennifer Caloyeras & Reba and Dingo

Who is in the photo at right?

This is me, Jennifer Caloyeras, and my two rescue dogs, Dingo, 4 (the brown one) and Reba, 15! We actually had both our dogs genetically tested since we last spoke, so I can say, with more certainty that Dingo is part Australian Shepherd and part chihuahua and Reba, although she received every recessive gene possible, is a pit bull!

I am a writer and I also teach writing at UCLA Extension's Writers’ Program.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

My third book was recently published. It’s called Unruly Creatures and it’s a short fiction collection full of wonderful weirdness. And lots of unruly creatures.

What's brewing?

I’ve been into the Stumptown coffee out of a french press. It says it has hints of citrus and chocolate. I don’t know about all that, but it does help me wake up in the morning!

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

They are enjoying some hip and joint turkey jerky for dogs. It’s smells so good. I almost want to eat it.

Readers can click back to your 2015 Q &A to learn how your dogs got their names, but I wonder: have Reba and Dingo acquired any new nicknames in the last couple of years?

We call Reba sleeping beauty because she literally sleeps almost all day.

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your new story collection?

There is one story in the collection, “Big Brother” that has a very loyal dog in it. I remember watching Reba napping and dreaming and using that to describe how this dog was dozing.

Now that Reba is 15 years old, is she facing any special geriatric challenges?

She really has slowed down a lot of the last few years, although, every once in a while she’ll bound across our yard with the energy of a puppy. (and then she follows it with a four-hour nap.) She suffers from some hip pain and the stairs are a bit more difficult to navigate. She’s on medicine for high liver enzymes. But other than that, she’s really doing pretty great!

Where is your dogs' favorite outdoor destination?

We recently took them to Three Rivers, California at the base of the Sequoia National Park. They loved it! There was a small creek for them to play in and so many new smells to smell. Coyotes definitely came out at night, so we were sure to keep them inside once the sun went down.

When I last asked about your dogs' best pet-pals you mentioned guinea pigs and humans. Have Reba and Dingo met any special canine friends since then?

Dingo especially loves a good dog playdate. She has some dog friends - Gryphon and Charlie, who come over to play with her. They have concocted all sorts of intricate games with their own set of rules. It’s very fascinating to watch.

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

They’d want me home all the time. And in my bed, so they could snuggle with me. I think, I would like this too!

When I last asked who should voice your dogs in a movie about your life, you mentioned Soleil Moon Frye for Dingo and Helen Mirren for Reba. Are there any new actors you'd consider for the job?

I’m very pleased with my casting choices.

Visit Jennifer Caloyeras's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Coffee with a Canine: Jennifer Caloyeras & Reba and Dingo (May 2015).

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 2, 2018

Sarah Albee & Rosie

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s Rosie. She’s an eight-year-old standard poodle with what the French—her compatriots—call joie de vivre. She knows we’re heading out soon and is wondering what’s taking so long.

I'm Sarah Albee, and I write nonfiction books for kids. My new book is Dog Days of History: The Incredible Story of Our Best Friends.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I just had my second cup of coffee and now we’re heading to the library, which is a pleasant walk down the hill. (It’s slightly less pleasant walking back up the hill.) I have an ILL (inter-library loan) book waiting for me, so she gets an extra walk this morning.

What's brewing?

A rich, delicious, French-press brew, made by my husband. He gets up at 4:30 to make the coffee and prep for class. (He’s a history teacher.) I get my first cup of coffee delivered to me in bed at 5 am. Sadly, I have to drink it black these days because my doctor says I have to watch my cholesterol, so I have to give up everything that makes life worth living, including milk in my coffee. But it’s still a delicious cup of coffee.

Rosie is quite familiar with the routine, and stays in bed while I get a couple of hours of writing in.

Any treats for you or Rosie on this occasion?

She knows all the guys on the grounds crew at my husband’s school. Her very good friend, Ernie, keeps a box of dog treats in his golf cart, so we’re always on the lookout for him as we head to the library.

How were you and Rosie united?

A friend of a friend let me know that there was a litter of puppies available two towns over. My kids had been begging for a dog. So I made a stealth visit to investigate. I never intended to get a fancy breed of dog (I grew up with a succession of great mutts), but I fell in love with Rosie.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

Our family had endless discussions, and Rosie emerged as the front-runner name. I love flower names like Rosie, Daisy, Violet, Lily. Also it totally fits her delightful personality.

Growing up, my older brothers always got to name our pets. We had a (female) dog named Igor and a ram named Chuck Knox.

Does Rosie do more to help or hinder your writing?

Rosie is always part of the solution. Except when she rolls in something gross.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Bark her head off but keep well back/Bark once and then assume her “adorable” pose in hopes of a treat/outrun it in an open field and then wonder what to do next.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Meh/Meh/prance around with one then lose interest.

Where is Rosie's favorite outdoor destination?

She likes walking around campus because everyone knows her. Sometimes I bring her down the “main hall” if we need to get the mail, and she visits every office where treats can be had. There are many offices where treats can be had.

Who is Rosie's best pet-pal?

Rufus the English sheep dog. They’re BFFs. [photo right: Rosie and Rufus]

What is Rosie's best quality?

She’s amazing with small children. She never growls, ever. When we go away, our friends with four small children look after her. Shenanigans ensue.

If Rosie could change one thing about Connecticuters, what would it be?

Eliminate all dog brushes from the state. She hates having her ears brushed out.

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

What do you dream about? (She makes a lot of noises while she sleeps sometimes.)

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

Peggy Lee of course. (We love Lady and the Tramp.)

What advice would Rosie give if asked?

Wring joy out of every moment of your life.

Visit Sarah Albee's website.

--Marshal Zeringue