Saturday, September 8, 2018

Margaret Mizushima & Hannah, Bertie, Lily and Tess

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Margaret Mizushima, and I write the Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries. Please allow me to introduce you to our pack—from left to right we have: Hannah, a German shorthaired pointer; Bertie, also a GSP; Lily, a yellow lab; and Tess, a border collie. Our eager beaver Tess thought this photo shoot was loads of fun, while Hannah…not so much. Though she’s never liked to have her picture taken, she was a bit more relaxed for the picture in the chair.

What’s the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

My drink of choice is herbal tea, and I have a cup in hand every morning when I go upstairs to my office to write. The dog who likes to follow me is Hannah, because we’re attached at the hip. Tess and Bertie go with my husband to work at his veterinary clinic, and Lily, who is quite elderly, likes to sleep.

What’s brewing?

My favorite is a Yogi brand tea, Egyptian Licorice. It’s spicy, naturally sweet, and it tastes like licorice. Yes, licorice is one of those flavors that you either love or hate, and I happen to love it. Inherited that trait from my dad.

Any treats for you and your dogs on this occasion?

Treats come at breakfast time, and Hannah barks at us if we forget. When she was a pup, we taught her to sit on the stairway for a treat. Now, at seven years old, she perches on the steps and watches us until she gets one. If we don’t respond to the silent begging, she barks for our attention.

How were you and your dogs united?

My husband is a veterinarian, and he seems to need a pack of dogs to be happy. His work provides him with many opportunities to adopt a new pet. We’ve been married thirty-six years and have shared our space with dozens of dogs and cats, the occasional tank of fish, and an exotic bird or two.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Lily was soft and sweet as a puppy, which reminded us of a flower. Hannah came next, and she got a name that I love because it reminds me of someone who’s kind-hearted and dear, which Hannah is to a fault. Tess is a cattle dog, and we needed a short name that we could use for her training; it’s also the name of Cole Walker’s assistant, the vet character in my Timber Creek K-9 mysteries. (Both the dog Tess and the character Tess assist their vets at work.) And Bertie just seemed like a good name for a rollicking puppy.

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

They all definitely help my writing. I’ve spent years observing dog behavior, traits I utilized to develop Robo, the K-9 German shepherd in my books. I think that dog behavior is interesting, and I try to stay true to dog nature when I write. Here is one reviewer’s take on characters Mattie and Robo in Killing Trail, the first book in the series: “Winning heroine…strong debut…a realistic view of how a K-9 team works, treating Robo as an important character, but never stooping to anthropomorphism. And it’s impossible not to fall in love with Robo.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

Cat, postman, squirrel?

Birds and mice. We live in the country, so a postman doesn’t come to the door. Our dogs have grown up with cats, so cats are just part of the pack. We don’t have squirrels in our yard, but we have plenty of birds and mice. Our bird dogs—Lily, Hannah, and Bertie—point birds in the trees, and Hannah even pointed an airplane in the sky when she was a puppy. Tess, our border collie, loves anything that moves, and going after mice in the grass is a favorite pass-time.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick?

All four love squeaky-toys. It sounds like an orchestra warming up when they’re all chewing at once.

What is each dog’s best quality?

Each one is sweet and they all make great companions, but I’m fascinated with the propensities associated with each breed. If you watch the foursome play in the yard, the bird dogs will be pointing and flushing sparrows in the bushes, the cattle dog will be circling the sprinkler snapping at the droplets, and the water-dog retriever will be rolling on the wet grass or picking up the sprinkler head to carry it around while the water sprays in her mouth.

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

What’s keeping you girls from learning how to cook dinner?

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

This is a fun question! Lily would need someone old-fashioned and blonde—Doris Day comes to mind. Tess needs a voice from someone who plays characters that are tough and brave, maybe Sigourney Weaver. Bertie is a clown—how about Goldie Hawn or Kate Hudson? And Ashley Judd should play our sophisticated and regal Hannah.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Eat food that’s good for you, enjoy your work, and take a walk every day.

Visit Margaret Mizushima's website.

--Marshal Zeringue


  1. Nice article Margaret and congratulations on the success of your series. I just bought the first 2-they sound terrific!

  2. That's quite a good looking pack there! I will check out your K-9 series. Love a good mystery series!