Thursday, December 23, 2021

Teresita Dovalpage & La Niña

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Teresita Dovalpage, college professor and author of three theater plays and twelve novels. The last four belong to the Havana Mystery series published by Soho Crime. Death under the Perseids is the most recent one, set on a cruise ship headed for Cuba. And then there is La Niña, a five-year-old English foxhound mix with some heeler and husky. A girl with an attitude!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

The beginning of a new day. My husband and I love to have our morning coffee with La Niña in the sitting room. She plops down on a chair and watches us. When she considers that we should be done with the cafecito, she rolls over on the rug and demands a tummy rub. Naturally, she gets it.

What's brewing?

Café Bustelo. Espresso. Muy Cubano, unsweetened and super strong for me so I can start the day energized. With half-and-half and tons of sugar for my husband.

Any treats for you or La Niña on this occasion?

She adores fruit peels—mango, pear and apricot peels are her favorites. In the summer, our orchard provides fresh pears and apricots, but at this time of the year, store-bought fruit has to do.

How were you and La Niña united?

When we adopted her, she was a bit skittish at first. But one day she came over and put what we now call her “possessive paw” on my hand. She left it there for what felt like ten minutes, and I didn’t move. Perhaps it was some kind of a test. Afterwards, she became more comfortable and began to offer kisses on a daily basis.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

I have always called her Niña, Spanish for “girl.” Sometimes we also call her Miss Fluff—tongue-in-cheek, because she has no fluff at all.

Does La Niña do more to help or hinder your writing?

To help, definitely. She sits on an armchair and takes long naps while I write. It’s a comforting, quiet presence, until she sees a squirrel outside. Then tranquility goes out the window! But usually she is just there, snoring softly. When I get tired, I take ten minutes off to snuggle with her—very relaxing. Inspirational, too. That’s how she made a cameo in Death under the Perseids. I was on “her” chair, proofreading a printed copy of the manuscript (it’s too easy to miss errors on screen) and La Niña placed her aforementioned possessive paw on a page. It was a scene where the protagonist’s grandmother, Mamina, complains about being lonely. So I gave Mamina a puppy and named her Nena—an affectionate Spanish term for “girl.”

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Squirrel! She has never caught one, though not for lack of trying. We have plenty in the backyard, but she has gotten a little Rubenesque lately, which makes chasing squirrels (and anything else for that matter) somewhat difficult.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Pillows. Of course, she has her own, but if she can get hold of some else’s, much better. Early on, she’d chew on books. La Niña mala! I am happy to report that she has outgrown that stage.

Who is La Niña's best pet-pal?

It used to be Maxx, our Rhodesian Ridgeback [photo, left] who is now in puppy heaven. Maybe it’s time to get her a new friend!

What is La Niña's best quality?

She is a people’s dog. She rarely meets a human she doesn’t want to play kissy face with.

If La Niña could change one thing about New Mexico, what would it be?

I think she would say something like: “The wind wouldn’t blow so hard here. It gets awfully windy in this corner of the world and it scares me!”

If La Niña could answer only one question in English or Spanish, what would you ask her?

Why do you always take bones to a rug and not, let’s say, the backyard, chica?

What advice would La Niña give if asked?

When offered treats or compliments, accept them graciously.

Visit Teresa Dovalpage's website,

Learn more about Death under the Perseids.

Writers Read: Teresa Dovalpage (April 2018).

The Page 69 Test: Death Comes in through the Kitchen.

My Book, The Movie: Death Comes in through the Kitchen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Ann Garvin & Peanut

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Ann Garvin, author, speaker, teacher, Tall Poppy Writer founder, and general nice lady. This is Peanut and he would never use his legs if I would only give in and carry him everywhere.

He is a mix from the humane society and is nine going on no idea. My newest book I Thought You Said This Would Work is a road trip book with dogs and sort-of friends. It’s funny and sad like all human beings.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Peanut and I have a standing coffee date. Every morning, I sip and he barks like a penned-in, irate New York cabbie at all mammals that walk past my house. We are not the wake up slowly couple, we are the wake up and shout at people couple seen in all romantic comedies (not really).

What's brewing?

The brew is whatever comes from Imperfect Produce where all the oddball foods that are too miss-shapen to get into the supermarket (Prom) go. I like their strange coffee because Peanut and I like a good weirdo.

Any treats for you or Peanut on this occasion?

He gets his antidepressant (not kidding).

How were you and Peanut united?

I went to the Humane Society on a whim and he was there, with a crazy look in his eye that I identified with. I said, I see you, dude. Let’s do this.

How did Peanut get his name? Any aliases?

It was the name he was given when I got him. He was so stressed out, I didn’t think it would be fair to change his name on top of a big move.

Does Peanut do more to help or hinder your writing?

Both. He makes me more compassionate but he has to pee no less than 100 times a day. It’s lovely and terrible but great exercise.

I don't imagine that it's a coincidence that the over-sized diabetic Great Pyrenees in your new novel is also named Peanut. How are the real and fictional Peanuts alike...and different?

I liked the idea that a Great Pyrenees would have a diminutive name. Also, it was a stunning moment of a lack of imagination on my part. They are alike as they both have serious issues with personal space. Peanut is constantly asking with his eyes, is this too close? Peanut from the book understands so much more than my Peanut. Book-Peanut is much wiser.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Absolutely apoplectic at the mailman. I made Peanut give the mailman a check for Christmas in apology. My mailman seems unfazed. He must be a very secure person.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

He only has eyes for me.

Who is Peanut's best pet-pal?

Asked and answered (see above).

What is Peanut's best quality?

Loyalty and major cuddle skills.

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

That I have friends.

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

Why is he so mad at other dogs?

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

Someone with a lisp. Peanut would have a lisp.

What advice would Peanut give if asked?

Never let your person go anywhere without consulting you.

Visit Ann Garvin's website.

Writers Read: Ann Garvin (July 2014).

My Book, The Movie: The Dog Year.

The Page 69 Test: The Dog Year.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Dorri Olds & Busta Rhymes

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Dorri Olds, holding my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Busta Rhymes for our very first walk. He’s in a blue puppy carrier. You know, the same kind that humans tote their babies in. My first name for the little feller came from his gorgeous brown eyebrows. I named him Buster Brown. It was also a play on words. There was an old-time Buster Brown shoe company. The logo was a winking kid and a bug-eyed brown pet.

However, many New Yorkers have an accent. We drop the R’s. Since I heard myself always calling him Busta, and because he was such a soulful dude, I changed his name to Busta Rhymes — you know, like the rapper. Sometimes I call him Busta Move. Or just Busta or Bustaboy. I never knew I could love anyone as much as I loved my previous pup Buddy. At first, I felt like I was cheating on Buddy by loving Busta so much. But my friend said, Buddy loved you so much, he’d want you to be happy.

I’ve been freelancing out of my Chelsea home-office since 1994. I am a writer, author, graphic designer, internet strategist, and more. I do branding, marketing, book design. I was born on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. I’ve checked out a few parts of this country, and Europe, but Manhattan is where I fit. Before I go on about me, here’s an interesting thing about Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. There are four types: Blenheim, Black and Tan, Tricolor, and Ruby. These can all be born in the same litter. I love him so much I painted his precious face [image left].

As a 15-year-old runaway, I discovered a magical place: Greenwich Village. It was stuck in a time-warp and I’d always wanted to be a hippie but was born too late for that. I got caught, went back to school, then got accepted at Boston University. I had ants in my pants and I loved to dance. It was so hard to find the right school. After attending four colleges, I took a two-year leave of absence from Parsons School of Design. I knew I was going to be rockstar. Ha! My poor parents. I became a waitress. I nabbed a cool apartment on MacDougal Street. I went back to Parsons. I was in an indie documentary —I even have an IMDb page now! I lived on MacDougal Street for 17 years. I loved it but it wasn’t magical anymore—too cleaned up. The creatives and the fun gritty-city characters were replaced by NYU staff and students.

After graduating Parsons, I bought a 1-bedroom in Chelsea and paid off my mortgage in nine years. Back then, I worked as an Art Director for a litigations graphics firm. We made huge charts that illustrated evidence for the jurors. We did high-profile cases the press nicknamed. These included John Gotti's Windows Trial, The Central Park Jogger, and the Exxon Valdez horrific oil spill. I worked about 60 hours a week. In my time off, I had exhibits and sold 51 of my paintings. I also kept writing and got short stories and articles published.

What's the occasion for your Coffee with a Canine?

Busta Rhymes is a Black and Tan Cavalier, but just like the Blenheim Buddy, Busta follows me wherever I go. I hear Busta padding behind me whenever I beeline to the kitchen. He sits and stares—just like Buddy did—watching me first flick the on switch and then open the fridge to grab a carton of Silk's vanilla soy milk.

What's brewing?

As Bustello espresso drips into its waiting glass cup, I foam the milk. Oh, that smell! I think of Italian cafes in the Village.

When the cup is full, I sprinkle a cinnamon-chocolate mix of powders on top of the steamed milk in the mug. After pouring the espresso in, I’m intoxicated by the aroma filling the room, then I down three delicious gulps.

Any treats for you or Busta on this occasion?

After my wake-up ritual, I turn towards Busta and stare back at him. He stays seated, but his tail starts swishing back and forth on the kitchen tiles. I say, “Busta, are you hungry?” The tail goes nuts, thump-thump-thumping. Then he looks at me like I’m the best doggie mom in the world. He eats slowly, chewing each morsel. Buddy inhaled his food. I know it’s weird to compare them, but I can’t help it. Buddy was so alpha, he demanded the spotlight—like his mama. Busta is mellower. It’s funny though. Whenever I tried to get Buddy to fetch a toy, he looked at me like, “Pullease. Whaddya think? I’m not a dog.” But Busta loves fetch almost as much as food and walks. It’s a dumb, monotonous game. Busta’s euphoria comes when he chases the ball. Then, he races up the doggie steps onto the bed. He pushes the slobbery ball against my arm, until I throw it again. I lose interest in whatever I was watching on Netflix.

How were you and Busta united?

After Buddy’s death, I was spiraling down. You know that blues song, “Gloomy Sunday”? Billie Holiday’s aching wail tells the story of a woman on her way to her boyfriend’s funeral. The mournful lyrics got the song banned. “Would they be angry if I thought of joining you?” I was getting that despondent after Buddy died. I didn’t know how I’d ever be ok again. But, just as Buddy had been a gift from a loving friend, my Mother and a different dear friend, brought me my puppy and told me, now I had to get out of bed. They were so right!! You know us creative types—high highs and low lows. But Busta is such a snuggly lovebug. As was Buddy.

What is Busta's best quality?

He is so sweet.

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

He’d say, “Mom, can’t you stop working so much? We could be playing right now.”

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

We have that covered: When I ask him “Busta, are you hungry?” his crazy thumping tail is the answer.

Or maybe the question should be this:
“Busta, can you please stop being a drama queen? Why can’t you understand that I have to finish this work before we can go see Uncle Terry for a playdate."

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

What a great question! My favorite voices are manly men like Mads Mikkelsen, and lovable and distinct kooky voices like Christopher Walken, and booming voices like James Earl Jones. But none of those would fit for my Bustaboy’s voice. It would have to be soft-spoken, and sweet. Jack Nicholson is too edgy. Clint Eastwood and Tommy Lee Jones are too raspy and tough. Oh! I know who could do it!! John Legend. He can sound very sweet.

What advice would Busta give if asked?

He’d say, “Mom, why can’t you get it? Those humongous plastic garbage bags outside by the curb freak me out! Especially if it is windy. I need you to hear me. Please respect my boundaries. And another thing, I don’t like wheels. I don’t like your laundry cart, or people on skateboards, or those baby strollers, or bicycles. No, I don’t need prozac, Mom. I need you to listen to me."

Visit Dorri Olds's website, Instagram page, Twitter perch, YouTube channel, and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 8, 2021

Mark Edward Langley & Lady Cora

Who is in the photo at right?

Why it’s Author Mark Edward Langley and his two-year-old Cockapoo, Lady Cora!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We hardly ever go out for coffee. When you have a Keurig Duo machine at home, relaxing on the patio surrounded by tall arborvitae and a warm breeze is the best place to be. Sometimes Lady Cora even lays on the patio table under the umbrella and relaxes.

What's brewing?

My choice of java depends on how I’m feeling—sometimes it’s Costa Rica blend, other times it’s Nantucket, and yet again other times it’s Bourbon Pecan.

Any treats for you or Lady Cora on this occasion?

Normally I sit and enjoy just the nectar of the gods by itself, but there are times when I may choose any flavor or yogurt or—as this morning—a hot cocoa roll with marshmallow icing. Cora doesn’t like to eat outside.

How were you and Lady Cora united?

After our first dog Denny Crane--named after you know who--crossed he rainbow bridge, it was a while before my wife and could get another family member. It took about five years, I believe, before we missed having that unconditional love around. That’s when we started looking and found Lady Cora.

How did your dog get her name?

As you might guess, my wife and I love Downton Abbey, so when she wanted to name our new love, she thought nothing fit her better than Lady Cora!

Does Lady Cora do more to help or hinder your writing?

I would say that she—like Denny—helps. Sometimes when I’m working, she will walk into my office and hop up on my leather recliner and lay down and just watch me. I wonder if she knows what I’m doing? Now the wolf dog that is Arthur’s buddy he rescued from an shelter in the Nakai series has every mannerism, every look and every emotion as our Denny Crane. As I was writing my first Arthur Nakai Mystery, he would come and sit with me. I told him that everyone was going to know him because I was using him in my books.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Aside from a few other dogs where we live, she loves to bark at squirrels that climb the arborvitae that surround the patio.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Lady Cora loves chasing her tennis balls, chewing on her squeaky toys and—most of all—taking out her ferocious, primal instincts on her limp rabbit, skunk and fox. They crunch when she bites them and flail when she shakes her head trying to render them lifeless. Funny to watch!

Where is Lady Cora's favorite outdoor destination?

Wherever there’s a pool, she’s the first to jump in! We don’t have one and don’t want the hassle of them, but if we take her anywhere there is a pool, she acts like Ester Williams!

Who is Lady Cora's best pet-pal?

I’d have to say Charlie. He’s an old white Golden Retriever. Cora loves him, but she’s too much of an excited teenager for him. He’s so past caring about the PYT’s.

What is Lady Cora's best quality?

That’s an easy question; the love she gives. Every morning I make my coffee and sit in my chair to catch some local news, she jumps up and lays in my lap, takes a big breath, and just lays there. She loves being petted, too. She lays in bed on my wife’s side, or between us, and takes up space and the end of the bed.

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

To work less so we could go on more walks in the park close by.

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

She is sooooo much like our Denny, I’d love to know if he was reincarnated inside her. The similarities are uncanny! We couldn’t get that lucky twice!

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

Hmmmmm? Dame Helen Mirren. I think she would have the perfect attitude to play Lady Cora!

What advice would Lady Cora give if asked?

Hey, Dad, make sure you take me out more times, okay? My bladder’s killin’ me here!

Visit Mark Edward Langley's website.

My Book, The Movie: Death Waits in the Dark.

--Marshal Zeringue