Sunday, August 28, 2022

Erin Flanagan & Mavis and Lorna

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m the human, Erin Flanagan, author most recently of the novel Blackout. Mavis is the Springer Spaniel (she just had a birthday and turned 10!) and Lorna is the Poodle (5).

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

All of us are so excited to get up in the morning for coffee and breakfast it’s amazing we can sleep at all. We’re writing this now (Erin is transcribing and all are contributing) after two bellies full of Purina Pro Plan and a spoonful of liverwurst (with pills hidden inside for Mavis; shh, don’t tell!) and a cup of coffee for Erin.

What's brewing?

Folgers Colombian with vanilla Premier Protein.

Any treats for you or the dogs on this occasion?

Just each others’ company (and the liverwurst mentioned above).

How were you and the dogs united?

Mavis was a gift from Erin’s soon-to-be fiancĂ©, Barry, back in 2012. She was on leave from work for the year and Barry thought it would be a good time to get her the puppy she’d always wanted. Barry would be moving in a year later, and Erin’s father thought it was hilarious that he got her a puppy first so he wouldn’t have to train her. He took this as a sign Barry would be able to hold his own against Erin.

Lorna came to us through 4 Paws for Ability, a local organization that trains service dogs for clients nationally. She flunked out of the program because she wasn’t willing to walk on the right side of her person, but is incredibly intelligent and sweet. Mavis has anxiety and Lorna is like her service animal. Whenever Mavis gets worked up, Lorna runs over and licks inside her ear which seems to really calm her down. She tried this with Erin once and it had the opposite effect.

How did Mavis and Lorna get their names? Any aliases?

About a week before Mavis came home, Erin was walking on a bike trail and someone behind her started calling “Mavis! Mavis!” She turned around and was being chased by a pig. The man yelling the name finally emerged and yelled, “Be careful!” Having grown up on a hog farm, Erin knew pigs could get mean so stayed still and hoped for the best. She still doesn’t know if the pig was family or dinner. Mavis’s nicknames are Hoob and F*cknut.

Lorna was named by Barry, a compromise Erin agreed to in order to get a second dog. Lorna also goes by Doone, Lor-pie, and Poodle.

Do your dogs do more to help or hinder your writing?

The dogs provide Erin with so much joy they are definitely a help, but she doesn’t always remember this when they start up one of their pointless barking sessions and annoy the crap out of her.

Have your dogs inspired you to create any fictional canines?

Oh, this is terrible. In Erin’s novel Deer Season there’s a Springer named Patty that bites a neighbor and gets shot.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

These dogs are equal opportunity annoying and will bark at absolutely anything, and sometimes at nothing just to let you know they’re still on the job. Their white whale is the Rumpke dump truck that comes on Friday mornings. If they ever catch that, they can retire.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

The best dog toy on the market is the Jolly Pets Tug-a-Mals animals in size Large. Any one of us would be happy to do a sponsorship deal.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

They are best friends and also love it when their buddies Alma and Riley come to visit. Alma is a Black Lab/Golden Retriever (also from 4 Paws) and lives with Erin’s ex-husband, and Riley is a Goldendoodle who lives with Erin’s parents.

What is each dog's best quality?

Mavis is the most loving dog on the planet and looks at her people with so much adoration it’s almost embarrassing. Lorna is a self-sufficient problem solver, and when she shows affection it’s like you’ve won the lottery because she’s so selective. Both dogs appreciate you not asking for their worst qualities.

If Mavis and Lorna could change one thing about Ohioans, what would it be?

Less pollen would equal more walks outside.

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

Mavis, why must you bark at absolutely everything?
Lorna, exactly how high on the counters can you reach?

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

Mavis would be voiced by Eeyore. She’s not depressed, but the voice we use for her is very similar to this only not sad. Jane Lynch would be perfect for Lorna. She needs to be voiced by someone smart, confident, and condescending, who can portray that they think they’re better than everyone else, but still be loveable.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Mavis would tell you to stay vigilant. Do not let anyone pass without saying hello. They might have pets to give and they deserve the opportunity. Lorna would tell you to figure things out on your own. Erin’s advice is that everyone needs two such great dogs.

Visit Erin Flanagan's website.

The Page 69 Test: Blackout.

My Book, The Movie: Blackout.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Jehanne Dubrow & Lola and Bandit

Who is in the photo at right?

This is Lola the Bedlington Terrier on the first day I met her, when she was only ten weeks. She’s now nearly nine. Bandit, who is her littermate, came to live with us when he was five, after he retired from his fancy show career. I'm Jehanne Dubrow, poet and author of creative nonfiction. My new book is Taste: A Book of Small Bites.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Our favorite coffee expedition is to a little drive-through place in town called The Mug. I always get a lavender latte with almond milk.

What's brewing?

I make many, many espressos, lattes, and mochas at home. In my early twenties I was a barista and managed a small chain of gourmet coffee shops. I’ll give myself any excuse—I’m tired, it’s the afternoon, we just ate dinner—to drink a cup of caffeine.

Any treats for you or the dogs on this occasion?

Lola and Bandit are fans of the grain-free Pumpkin & Cinnamon Treats from Blue Buffalo, which we call cookies of course.

How were you and the dogs united?

After Argos—our beloved Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier—died when he was only seven, I swore that I would never have another dog. Argos was my first dog, and I hadn’t realized until his death how much the loss would hurt. But, five weeks later, I adopted Lola! The house was just so lonely without a dog. I went to meet Lola at a dog show, telling myself that I wasn’t going to take her home. As you can see from the photograph above, it was love at first sight. We adored one another instantly. For the first week after I adopted her, she wouldn’t leave my lap and just curled there, deep asleep. Holding that little gray seashell of a dog helped me to mourn Argos’s death and to recognize that dogs will always find room in our hearts.

Bandit lived with the breeders until he was five; after that, he stopped showing, came to live with us, and entered a life of leisure.

How did Lola and Bandit get their names? Any aliases?

Lola and Bandit came from what was known as “the Vegas litter.” Their sire was Vegas, a very successful show dog. All the puppies in the litter were given Las Vegas-themed names. Lola is a showgirl, as the song goes. And Bandit, well, I guess there are lots of robbers and outlaws in Vegas?

Lola also goes by Mouse. Sometimes she sits and looks up at me like the little rodent in If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, smart and quizzical and most certainly in need of a treat.

Bandit is also known as Moose and Big Caribou. When he first came to us, he still had his show cut, which included a rather tall top knot and luxurious mane. Bandit is a gangly fellow, and I became convinced that he looked more like a caribou than a show dog. I have a theory about comedy: if I say something enough times, eventually I can persuade others that my jokes are funny! I kept calling Bandit a caribou until eventually my husband gave in and agreed. And that’s how Moose and Big Caribou came into being.

Do your dogs do more to help or hinder your writing?

Well, they bark a lot. Other than that, they are tremendously helpful writing assistants. They both inspire me and frequently end up in my poems and essays. I also do some of my best writing when I go on walks with them. All that contemplative sniffing is good for brainstorming, for working out a difficult line in a poem or a paragraph that doesn’t want to cohere.

Did Lola and Bandit know Argos?

They didn’t! Occasionally, however, when they do something that reminds us of Argos (a look, a particular behavior), my husband and I will joke that Argos left them “Instructions for Being a Dog” pinned to the underside of the sofa.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Oh, they have a particular hatred for all forms of delivery people. Since they’re terriers, Lola and Bandit also have an incredible prey drive. Lola, in particular, can become a real hunter if she smells a rodent or a toad in the grass. She could track a suspicious scent for hours.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Lola prefers a squeaky-toy because she likes the sound, the feeling of throttling a small animal (yikes). Bandit prefers a ball. He enjoys sitting on the couch with a tennis ball held in his mouth (until his jaw grows tired and he eventually drops it).

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

One another. Lola was attacked by a 150 lb. off-leash dog when she was a tiny puppy. The fact that she has come to love Bandit is a huge accomplishment. For a long time, I thought that she would fear all other dogs.

What is each dog's best quality?

Lola is terrifyingly smart. She’s sensitive and thoughtful. She’s also very independent.

Bandit is a love-bug. He just wants to receive side-belly rubs and hang out with his people. When he’s really happy, he hums a beautiful song. Sometimes I will hum at him, and then he hums back to me; we make a delicate duet.

If Lola and Bandit could change one thing about Texans, what would it be?

I think they would probably ask for an occasional snowfall. Both enjoy romping in the cold.

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

Who is your favorite dog from literature?

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

Bedlington Terriers originated in England. Lola would be voiced by the elegant and brilliant Emma Thompson. And Rowan Atkinson (or maybe John Cleese) would voice Bandit, because he has a gift for comedy.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Lola: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a gray dog in possession of a hungry belly must be in want of a cookie.”

Bandit: “To misquote Glengarry Glen Ross, always be tail-wagging.”

Visit Jehanne Dubrow's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Jehanne Dubrow and Argos.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Laurien Berenson & Dash

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Laurien Berenson and I write the long-running Melanie Travis canine mystery series. The debut of my new spin-off series, Peg and Rose Solve a Murder, comes out this month. With me is Dash, who's a 12-year-old smooth Collie.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Early summer mornings, Dash and I are almost always outside. We live on a small farm so there are peacocks squawking and rabbits to chase, and Dash usually likes to say hello to the neighbor's donkey.

What's brewing?

I know it seems like heresy but I'm a tea drinker: English Breakfast Tea with a splash of milk.

Any treats for you or Dash on this occasion?

Dash is a great dog so he gets treats on any and all occasions. His favorite treat is tuna fish, which is even better if he can lick the bowl while my husband eats a tuna sandwich.

How were you and Dash united?

I got Dash from a wonderful breeder whom I'd met at a dog show. She and I have since become good friends. Dash and I met for the first time when he was 2 weeks old. Over the next 6 weeks until I could take him home, I also got to know his sire and dam and all the puppies in his litter.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

I like short names, and Dash just seemed to fit. He also answers to Dee-Boy and Snoop Dog (although he rolls his eyes at the latter.)

Does Dash do more to help or hinder your writing? Has Dash inspired you to create any fictional canines?

He definitely helps. My Melanie Travis mysteries are all about dogs and Dash serves as a wonderful inspiration for all things canine. Plus, when I get stuck, he's already ready to go for a run.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

None of the above. His specialties are rabbits, peacocks, and guinea hens.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Absolutely squeaky toy, and the noisier, the better. As soon as he picks up a toy, he locates the squeaker and bites down on it repeatedly.

Who is Dash's best pet-pal?

Dash's best pet-pal was our other smooth Collie, Blaze, who we unfortunately lost recently. Now it's probably the donkey.

What is Dash's best quality?

His intelligence. Dash has never met a problem he can't solve. If I show him something twice, he's already learned it. He will follow the direction of a pointing finger so I can send him anywhere. And being a Collie he herds beautifully, even though he's never been trained to do so.

If Dash could change one thing about Kentuckians, what would it be?

I think he might ask that they have fewer horses and more dogs.

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

Do you want me to get another puppy to keep you company or do you like being an only dog?

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

George Clooney.

What advice would Dash give if asked?

He'd probably tell me to stop worrying and just take life as it comes.

Follow Laurien Berenson on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue