Saturday, January 29, 2022

Rosiee Thor & Tess

Who is in the photo at right?

This is Tess, 13-year-old black lab/springer spaniel mix and snuggler extraordinaire. I'm her trusty human, Rosiee, semi-dependable source of food and walkies. I'm also an author and garden enthusiast.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We always start the day with a warm beverage for me and a warm snuggle for Tess before we get to work. Writing is a fairly focus-heavy job, so I always make sure Tess gets lots of attention during my morning routine before I sit down to write--and I get a little caffeine.

What's brewing?

I sadly had to give up coffee about a year ago for health reasons, so I start the day with black tea. Today's is spiced fig loose leaf.

Any treats for you or Tess on this occasion?

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, which Tess ate in record time. I'm snacking on a sliced pear and some rice crackers.

How were you and Tess united?

Tess used to be my partner's brother's dog, but when he expanded his family and started having kids, Tess didn't do well with the little ones. She really prefers to be the baby herself, so it wasn't a great environment for her. She's got some sensitivities with her ears and kiddos don't always respect boundaries, so we offered to take her instead, since we have a child free home. She's been the perfect dog for us and we love her more than we ever could have imagined.

How did your dog get her names? Any aliases?

Tess came to us with her name, but we've taken great joy in nicknaming her. Sometimes we call her Tessaroo, Tessaroni, Tessaroni and Cheese... you get the idea.

Does Tess do more to help or hinder your writing?

Tess is an old girl, so she naps for much of the day, which allows me to get lots of work done. She does get a little antsy if I don't take breaks, so we always take a walk at lunch, and sometimes I have to end my day early to play with her, but overall she's very good about letting me work.

Has Tess inspired you to create any fictional canines?

Not yet, but there's still lots of time and lots of books to go!

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Skunk, actually. We have a family of skunks living in our neighborhood and she looooves to chase them. We decidedly don't love the smell.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Squeaky toy! Tess knows her toys as her "babies" and loves to squeak and thrash them around. In her old age, she's gotten a little deaf though, so sometimes she picks a toy with a broken squeaker and she can't tell the difference.

Who is Tess's best pet-pal?

Definitely Prince the Pomeranian. Sometimes Tess gets to go to work with her other mom, and Prince, the mostly toothless pomeranian, is her old man buddy at the office. He can't eat his treats because of his toothless situation, so his mom collects cookies from drive throughs and gives them to Tess instead.

What is Tess's best quality?

How can I choose?! She's so good! I will say I'm partial to her little white toes--it makes her look like she's just pranced through some flour or something.

If Tess could change one thing about Oregonians, what would it be?

Definitely our cold winters. She gets a little arthritic and it's hard for her to go for long walks in the cold.

If Tess could answer only one question in English, what would you ask her? I would ask her if she knows how much we love her. It's a common occurrence in our house that we worry she doesn't know, so that would put our minds at ease for sure.

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

Maybe Maya Rudolph or Kate McKinnon... definitely someone from SNL!

What advice would Tess give if asked?

When in doubt, sit on the couch! Preferably next to her!

Visit Rosiee Thor's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Nikki May & Fela and Lola

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m the human (Nikki May, author). The beast draped around my shoulders is Fela, my standard schnauzer. He’s seven and a real mummy’s boy.

Fela’s sister, Lola (standard schnauzer) is out of shot, she’s looking at us both disdainfully and rolling her eyes.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

My first coffee of the day, I usually have four or five. As always, it’s made by Peter (husband, editor, plot advisor and barista).

What's brewing?

We live in the middle of nowhere, our nearest coffee shop is a fifteen minute drive away, so husband has become an expert at making my iced coffees. His recipe: One shot of espresso made with a Nespresso Firenze Arpeggio capsule, four squirts of sugar-free vanilla syrup, a dash of skimmed milk and five ice cubes. Chuck all of that in our KitchenAid blender and pulse a few times. Served with a paper straw.

Any treats for you or the dogs on this occasion?

Today was a good day. Husband served my iced coffee with a slice of white sourdough toast with butter and marmite – just the way I like it. Of course I shared it with Fela, he adores toast.

How were you and the schnauzers united?

I first saw Fela when he was six weeks old and it was love at first sight. That dome head, those gorgeous eyes, that button nose. His sister Lola joined us a year later, they are distant cousins.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Fela is named after the late and great Fela Kuti, the pioneer of Afrobeat, a Nigerian hero and a political insurrectionist. I also call him Roo for reasons even I cannot fathom.

Lola is a proper little madam, she’s ruled the roost since she was nine weeks old, she’s a showgirl and her name was inspired by "Copacabana."

[photo right: Fela at six weeks old]

Have your dogs inspired you to create any fictional canines?

Yes! My first dog, Tosca (he’s now chasing squirrels in heaven), got a walk-in part in my debut novel, Wahala.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?


Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Squeaky ball for Fela. We have to have five minutes of chasing the ball around the bedroom every morning.

Lola doesn’t do toys, she’s all about squirrels.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Fela fell in love with Kiwi, my neighbour’s chocolate lab, when he was a puppy. She was a bit of a cougar – about eight years older than him. She’s now in heaven but he still wags his tail when we say, “Kiwi”.

Do the schnauzers do more to help or hinder your writing?

Mostly help – my best ideas come on dog walks and they insist on a ninety-minute trek every morning. They are less good at editing though – this is Lola [photo left] interrupting me at work.

What is each dog's best quality?

Fela is loyal, Lola is a comedienne.

If your schnauzers could change one thing about Dorset, what would it be?

Slower squirrels. Ideally snail-paced and unable to climb trees.

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

‘Do you really think that if you sit at the foot of the tree barking for forty-minutes, the squirrel will jump into your mouth? Seriously?’

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

Fela – Will Ferrell (doing his Elf voice).

Lola – Jodie Comer (as Villanelle).

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

There is no problem that can’t be resolved with a long walk on the beach followed by fish & chips.

Visit Nikki May's website.

Learn more about May's new novel, Wahala.

--Marshal Zeringue