Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Margaret Mizushima & Hannah

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Margaret Mizushima, author of the Timber Creek K-9 Mystery series, and I’m pictured here with our German shorthair pointer, Hannah, also known as Hannah Boo. Hannah is about eight years old, and she’s thin-skinned and almost hairless. Years ago when my husband brought her home in December as a puppy, she shivered like a tiny Chihuahua, and I couldn’t bear for her to be raised outside even though all of our dogs have access to a heated doghouse. So Hannah became our housedog and hangs out with me while I write.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Hannah and I are taking a break from work to cuddle with a book. Whenever I sit on the couch to read or watch television, Hannah is right there by my side with her head on my lap. Having her ears stroked puts her to sleep every time, and it also relaxes me.

What's brewing?

I had to give up coffee and tea years ago so I drink a variety of herbals, my favorite being Yogi brand Egyptian licorice or peppermint. This summer I became hooked on LaCroix sparkling water, especially the flavors Pamplemousse (Grapefruit) and Key Lime. I drink one every morning while I write.

Any treats for you or Hannah on this occasion?

Whenever I approach the pantry where her treats are stored, Hannah begs for a treat by barking and going into her play pose. This is a result of my misguided attempt at teaching her to speak. Consequently, she now speaks up several times a day whenever she wants a treat but doesn’t say a word when we ask her to “speak.” The patrol dog in my mystery series, German shepherd Robo, is sort of a wonder dog and very obedient—but I’m evidently not as good a trainer as my protagonist, K-9 handler Mattie Cobb, because Hannah has me wrapped around her little toe and pretty much runs the place.

Readers can learn more about Hannah from our 2018 Q&A. Anything notable happen with her in the last year?

Hannah is very much a creature of habit. As long as she has her food, treats, water, and daily run, she’s happy. She wakes up at the same time every morning, gets up from her bed on the couch, and lets us coax her outside at the same time each morning, afternoon, and night. Frequently she goes with my husband out to hunt birds or run at a nearby lake, but otherwise her life runs like clockwork. No notable changes this past year for her, but I’ve noticed the days certainly do slip by faster the older we get.

Please tell us about your new book.

Tracking Game is the fifth book in the Timber Creek K-9 series. It starts out with a bang when Deputy Mattie Cobb and her love interest Cole Walker have their first public date interrupted by an explosion near town. When they arrive at the scene of a burning van, they find Cole’s best friend injured and a local rancher dead, shot twice in the heart at close range. Mattie’s investigation begins, eventually taking her and her patrol dog Robo into Colorado’s mountain wilderness where they encounter not only a killer but also a dangerous creature. This mystery stands alone, but if you want the full character arc over the series, start with book one, Killing Trail.

I've heard that Hannah is averse to going outside unless she knows she's going out to hunt or going for a run. She sounds exactly like some human introverts I know. Do you have a theory of your own about why Hannah is like that?

I once thought it was because her thin skin made her susceptible to hot and cold weather, but she’s this way year round. We found it interesting when we learned that her mother is just like her, and her family says they could barely get her to go outside to do her business. Hannah is exactly the same way, which I thought might be because she was perhaps…could it be…spoiled? But now I have to ask, what part of this quirky behavior is nature and what part is nurture? (Please tell me I didn’t create this problem child myself.)

You've done some search and rescue training with past dogs. What was that like?

When our kids were toddlers, my husband and I took two of our dogs (an Australian shepherd and a Rottweiler) to search and rescue training sessions through our county. Although neither of us had the time to continue with the certification process, we and our dogs learned enough so we could have ready access to a SAR-trained dog if one of our children wandered off while we were camping or hiking. I learned a lot about tracking and trailing behavior in dogs and techniques for handlers, never knowing that someday I would use this knowledge base for a mystery series. Serendipity.

Have your experiences with watching bird dogs hunt influenced your writing?

Bird dogs have given me a sense of what it’s like to watch a dog air scent, quartering the field as they ping back and forth to narrow in on the bird’s scent cone. I was able to watch air scenting dogs trail humans during our days of search and rescue training as well, while some dogs like to put their noses down and track the scent of a human on the ground. Some dogs do both. All of these observations of doggie behavior have influenced my writing.

Readers of this site met Bertie, Lily and Tess last year. Are there any new dogs in the pack these days?

No, we have the same foursome. Lily is still with us, and though she’s become quite elderly, she still likes to putz around the yard and will play with the other dogs in short stints. She no longer likes to go for runs with the pack and prefers to stay home. Tess and Bertie are still their lively selves and enjoy going to the vet clinic with my husband. Our Tess has become quite the cattle dog and is a big help when moving the Angus cattle that we raise back and forth from the pasture. She’s also a sweetheart and likes to cuddle close to my husband when they get into the feed truck to feed each morning, a trait that we find endearing.

Visit Margaret Mizushima's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Margaret Mizushima & Hannah, Bertie, Lily and Tess.

Writers Read: Margaret Mizushima.

The Page 69 Test: Tracking Game.

--Marshal Zeringue


  1. Aww, that last image is so sweet. My son's GSP was very thin skinned too and needed to literally be tucked in with a quilt at night. It always made me smile seeing his nose peeking out from under the covers.

  2. It was so wonderful to stop by your blog to meet you and Hannah. Hannah is such a sweetheart in that last photo of her in the rocking chair. Thanks for sharing. Have a beautiful rest of your weekend.
    World of Animals