Friday, September 21, 2018

Paula Munier & Bear

Who’s in the photo at right?

That's me, Paula Munier, and Bear.

I'm an author, an agent, and a writing teacher. My dog's name is Bear. He's a male, probably about three years old, a Newfoundland Retriever mix as far as we can tell.

Every morning we have coffee together. I drink coffee, he drinks water. Bear is a morning person, I am not a morning person. That’s why Bear has to wait for me to get my act together and come outside and sit down and drink my coffee. We live in New England in a big old 18th-century Colonial—19 acres of Sugar Maples and a lake, and lots of wildlife all around.

What's brewing?

What's brewing is coffee, black. I never drank coffee as a young woman. I drank Pepsi. When I got my first job as the only woman reporter on a tough-guy staff of a business magazine back in the 80s, they made fun of me. They said that real reporters drank black coffee. So I learned to do it. They taught me to curse, too, but that's another story.

Any treats for you or Bear on this occasion?

Bear always get a treat. If we're having bacon and eggs, he gets bacon and eggs. If we're having peanut butter toast, he gets a little peanut butter toast. He's spoiled. What can I say?

How were you and Bear united?

We adopted him. He's a rescue from Alabama. He'd been hit in the head (probably with a shovel) and abandoned. Double Dog Rescue found him, fostered him, and brought him up to New England for us. He's a lovely dog in every way.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

His name was Bear already when we got him. But I call him Yogi Berra because he's the same goofy, profound kind of character that Yogi Berra was. If you see a fork in the road, take it….

Does Bear do more to help or hinder your writing?

Bear is a great help to me in my writing. He served as the inspiration for Susie Bear, one of the dogs in my K-9 mystery, A Borrowing of Bones. She’s a Newfoundland Retriever mix like Bear. She works as a search-and-rescue dog with Vermont Game Warden Troy Warner. Like Bear, she’s friendly and cheerful—and a very good swimmer.

Cat, postman, squirrel…?

We have a rescue cat, a torbie tabby named Ursula. Bear chases her, but only with the aim of persuading her to play with him, which she naturally refuses to do. He really needs a pal, and we're on the lookout for another rescue dog to be his playmate.

Ball, squeaky toy, stick?

Bear doesn't show much interest in fetching, although he’s a very smart dog. He's done very well in obedience training, and we’re doing some agility and nose work now. (When we train him, we use treats as a reward.) We've taught him to go kayaking with us in our tandem kayak, and to jump up on my paddleboard with me when I go out on the lake, which is great for me because it adds almost 100 pounds to my workout.

What is Bear's favorite outdoor destination?

Bear likes to go anywhere anytime. He loves to go with rides from Michael in his truck, especially to Home Depot because he knows that every Home Depot run usually ends in a stop at McDonald's for a cheeseburger or a breakfast McMuffin depending on the time of day. (We are remodeling the house, so there are a lot of trips to Home Depot.) He likes to go on walks with me in the woods. He likes to go swimming in the lake. He likes to go anywhere and everywhere. He's always ready to have fun.

What is Bear's best quality?

I would say his best quality is his ability to live in the moment. He had a very rough beginning in Alabama. When we rescued him, he showed up with half of his upper teeth missing and it was apparent from the X-rays that his skull and facial bones had been fractured. Our vet removed the roots left from those missing teeth, and he seems to be fine now. But you’d never know that he’d had such a tough past. Our vet calls him The Happiest Dog in the World. He’s living large in the present. A good lesson for all of us.

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

That's a really funny question. I'm stricter with Bear than anyone else in the family, because I do the training with him. So, he'd probably like it if I let him get away with more at home. And he’d probably like our walks through the countryside to be even longer than they already are.

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

I'd ask him to tell me a little bit more about his past so that we'd understand him better. Or maybe I’d take a cue from his “Be Here Now” philosophy and just ask him what kind of playmate he'd like to have, now that we are actively looking for another rescue. (Or two or three or...after all, we do have 19 acres now.)

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

I would say Yogi Berra, because he reminds me so much of Yogi Berra in that zany Zen monk kind of way. But since Yogi Berra is no longer with us, Bear will have to settle for Tom Hanks.

What advice would Bear give if asked?

I think Bear would advise us to lighten up, have fun, and live for the moment. He'd also tell us to take care of one another. He's a very protective and loyal dog. And he pays very close attention to everything we do and say. I think he'd remind us to pay attention to the people we love. Just like he does.

Visit Paula Munier's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Borrowing of Bones.


--Marshal Zeringue

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