Sunday, May 22, 2022

Ben Jones & Sloopy

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Ben Jones, a researcher at Penn State and author of Apocalypse without God, and with me is my pal Sloopy, a female Border Collie mix that is just under a year and a half.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

This is probably blasphemous to say on the blog, but I don't drink coffee. So all her coffee dates are with my wife Mackenzie [photo below left]. I take Sloopy out for her morning run or walk, and then she crashes on the couch with mom while she's drinking her morning cup of joe.

What's brewing?

Cold brew with Hazelnut flavored almond milk creamer from Califia Farms.

Any treats for you or Sloopy on this occasion?

In the morning she has her breakfast kibble, usually with some salmon jerky -- one of her favorites.

How were you and Sloopy united?

She came up north from a shelter in Kentucky through the organization Homebound Houndz.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

The inspiration for Sloopy's name is "Hang on Sloopy" by the McCoys -- the official rock song of the state of Ohio and a favorite of the Ohio State University (my alma mater) Marching Band. It yields no shortage of nicknames: Sloop, Sloop dog, the Great Sloop, the Sloopster.

Does Sloopy do more to help or hinder your writing?

Our Lab Shar-Pei mix Barlow [in photo, right] was my writing partner for my first book. He was always by my side, which made writing less lonely and much more enjoyable. He sadly passed away last fall at 13 and a half years old.

Like Barlow, Sloopy jumps up beside me and settles in while I'm writing. With the weather getting nicer, I've been spending more time working on our porch. Sometimes she hangs out there, other times in the back yard next to the porch. She's only been with us a few months and occasionally gets into something in the yard and needs to be called off it, which can interrupt my writing. But she's a quick learner and, overall, far more of a help than a hindrance.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Her great nemeses, right now, are deer and groundhogs. A bouncing fluffy white deer tail strikes her as the most perfect thing to chase, and utterly irresistible.

What is Sloopy's best quality?

Probably her confidence. In my previous experiences with rescue dogs, they have had various fears that they needed help working through. That's not Sloop. Her attitude is: What are we doing? Awesome -- let's go! Her gentle enthusiasm for children is also endearing.

Who is Sloopy's best pet-pal?

My co-worker's dog Utah. She loves to play with any dog that's up for it. But large, energetic, submissive dogs are her absolute favorite. Utah checks all those boxes.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

She's a tug toy enthusiast -- rope, flexball, and the like.

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

Allow her to meet every dog we see on our walks.

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

From your perspective, what aspect of the world is the most bewildering and difficult to understand? I probably would try to cajole whoever has this magical power to also allow me to ask Sloopy to explain, in vivid detail, the joy and experience of spontaneously herding the wheel barrel as a I roll it through the back yard.

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

Kelly Macdonald (voice of Merida in Brave).

What advice would Sloopy give if asked?

Let's go find me a canine brother or sister that I can play with every day! (Mom and dad are working on that...)

Learn more about Ben Jones's new book, Apocalypse without God: Apocalyptic Thought, Ideal Politics, and the Limits of Utopian Hope.

--Marshal Zeringue