Saturday, August 18, 2018

Janna King & Melvin and Olive

Who is in the photos in this entry?

I’m Janna King and I’m an author, screenwriter and playwright who, on rare occasions, directs. I’m with my dogs, Melvin, a 4-year-old Husky/Staffordshire Terrier/Shepherd mix and Olive, an 8-year-old English/American Bulldog mix.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

They are my writing partners. In our photos together, I’m chatting with them at home where I work. We’re discussing my debut novel, The Seasonaires, and I’m letting them in on some upcoming projects. Mel is never impressed. Olive has no idea what I’m saying, but she’s a good listener.

What's brewing?

I’m indulging my two-a-day almond milk latte habit, brewed and frothed by my beloved Nespresso machine in mugs made with my kids (now 19 and 21) at Color Me Mine. I plunk in two heaping teaspoons of sugar. I affectionately blame my coffee sweet tooth on my Grandma Honey who used to make me “coffee milk” when I was a kid: a teeny bit of coffee, the rest milk and a whole lot of sugar.

Any treats for you or Mel and Olive on this occasion?

Mel is also not impressed by treats, but he does like carrots. Olive’s mouth doesn’t allow her to chew carrots. She covets Greenies, but they don’t really help with her pungent dog breath.

How were you and your dogs united?

My daughter volunteered at a Los Angeles pet rescue and she fell in love with siblings Olive and Sully. The rescue didn’t want them separated, so my ex-husband adopted Sully and I took Olive. That way my kids could be with both dogs. I dogsit Sully on occasion so brother and sister can hang out together.

I was looking for another rescue pup and leaning towards German Shepherds because I had one I adored, Teddy. When we saw Mel, we thought he would grow to be Shepherd size, but he stopped about halfway there. He’s a handsome fella in his own right and knows it.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

I can’t remember their original names when we adopted them. The kids are in charge of naming pets and tend towards very human names for pups. We call Melvin “Mel,” unless he’s in trouble, and then I use his full name. My daughter also calls him “Mooey," so we’ve all taken to that.

Olive is “Lady” because she’s such a pretty lady!

Do Mel and Olive do more to help or hinder your writing?

Writing can be very solitary, so they keep me company. They are usually pretty chill unless the doorbell rings or dogs pass by the house or the mail carrier comes or Amazon delivery or... Mel gets very antsy when I’m on the phone, but that’s probably because I’m antsy when I’m on the phone.

They distract me sometimes because I love to take their photos, often for their Instagram account 2bulliesandaroo, which they have with Olive’s brother Sully. The “roo” refers to Mel, who we think looks like a kangaroo and can jump about as high. When Mel made the Boop My Nose Instagram feed, I was more excited about that than pretty much any accomplishment.

Have any actual dogs ever inspired dogs in your fiction?

I have a bulldog in the book I’m currently writing. But I imagine this one being more like my first bulldog (over two decades ago), Stella, who was so fat that she looked like a plump seal lolling on the beach. This novel takes place in Malibu, so that seemed appropriate.

Cat, postman, squirrel…?

Mel goes after the squirrels and crows. Olive barks at anything that moves.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick…?

Mel is pretty good at catch. We take him to the park and he’s fast, but in short bursts. Then he plops down in the dirt and lets the other dogs take over.

Olive likes rope toys. The two play tug-of-war, which is an entertaining distraction.

Who is each dog's best pet-pal?

They love each other. Sometimes they bicker over food we accidentally drop during dinner. I’m not crazy about that. They also get along great with Sully, who is The Man!

What is each dog's best quality?

Mel is the sweetest dog ever! He just wants everyone to love him. But he also has some ‘tude and often looks at us like he thinks we’re dolts.

Olive is just plain goofy. She is the best "Saturday morning snuggies" for my daughter Izzy, when Izzy visits.

If Mel and Olive could change one thing about Angelenos, what would it be?

Mel would like Angelenos to stop looking at their cellphones on our hikes and say “hello” to him instead.

And Olive feels like drivers should chill out with the road rage.

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

I would ask Mel, “What’s the secret to life?” because he’s so confident and content.

To Olive I would ask, "What are you thinking about right now?” because I always want to know that when I’m looking at her face.

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

Christian Slater = Mel
Aubrey Plaza = Olive

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Mel would say, “You be you."

Olive would tell me that I need to take naps and drink more water.

Visit Janna King's website.

Check out Mel and Olive on Instagram.

--Marshal Zeringue

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