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

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