Sunday, November 13, 2022

Barry Wilker & Sam

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Barry Wilker. I am a retired interior designer who spent 43 years in the depths of residential interiors. Now I write, paint and read. I have written a book, The Lapone Sisters, which is my debut novel.

My canine friend here is Sam, an 18-month-old Springer Spaniel puppy.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

This is more a cocktail with a canine than Coffee with a canine. Every evening around 6:30, just before dinner, David has a Gin and I have a Scotch. We sit with Sam and talk about the day and what we are going to do tomorrow. Sam just listens. Before our dinner we give him his cocktail, which is a training treat.

What's brewing?

Gin and scotch.

Any treats for you or Sam on this occasion?

Just the normal treats. Training treats and kisses.

How were you and Sam united?

We were united via kismet. We are a dog family. Our previous two PBGV’s (Petit Brussels Griffon Vendeens) died 2 years apart. We were waiting for the breeder to let us pick one from a new litter that was 6 months in the future. We became pretty morose. We lost our last PBGV in November of 2021. During the depths of depression, a neighbor became worried about us and came across Sam at 7 months old. Sam was up for adoption due to a divorce situation. We were interviewed here at our home and loved him immediately. He had been professionally trained so there was very little for us to do other than love him and get him used to having parents 24/7. It was easy for the 3 of us.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

He came with his name. Sam. That was somewhat problematic at first because my father’s name was Sam. Toward the end of my father’s life, we were not very close. After trying to think of names that rhymed with Sam, once he entered our lives, I knew he had to keep his name.

Sometimes I call him Sammy-Whammy.

Does Sam do more to help or hinder your writing?

Writing, does he hinder? Not in the least. He lays by me in his bed and sleeps.

I truly think that he understands about 150 words. In fact, I know he does.

Speaking of writing - I want to share something that I wrote about 8 years ago.

“When I look at my Dog and stare deep into his eyes; I often wonder If he was once a person, and now he is still a person, only with Locked in Syndrome.

And when I think, maybe; and wonder possibly as a person he talked too much, and never bothered to listen?

Being a dog is sort of an abstract punishment; you can have all the love in the world and yet, the only way to say thank you is to wag your tail.

Being mistreated and punished is the same thing. You have nowhere to turn; only curl up in a corner and be miserable.

Some people only like to do that as a sport.

Being miserable is their comfort.

But being a dog is to remain silent, good or bad.

I love Dogs.” ---Barry Wilker

Has Sam inspired you to create any fictional canines?

Just Sam the dog that speaks with his eyes. I have never had a dog this literal with his body language.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Sam is always after the chipmunks in the yard. He has realized that all of the deer are his gentle friends. And he flips out at the sight of turkeys. It’s about the only time he barks. Turkeys hate loud noises and he scares them off, after which he proudly struts away with me.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

I’ve included a photo of Sam with his favorite doll [photo right]. Mr. Piggy. He loves to find sticks and chew, but that is when he gets the comment in English, “No, drop it,” and he does.

Who is Sam's best pet-pal?

Sam has a number of neighborhood dogs that he socializes with during his morning walks. He is infatuated with Goya and Luna (small mixed breed dogs) and he also has a good relationship with two Beagles, Wyatt and Liddy. He is telepathic with an older Standard Poodle, named Cody. Cody is generally dog averse. They sit across the road and communicate while we communicate with Cody’s owner. There are many more. Every so often Sam has play dates in our yard with my brother’s Weimaraner, who is named Asher.

What is Sam's best quality?

Sam’s best quality is being himself.

If Sam could change one thing about Nashvillians, what would it be?

Sam should be a poster dog for kindness in Nashville.

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

If I could ask Sam one question in English, it would be “Who were you before we met at this time? I know you are someone from the past-- and you know who it is, but you can’t tell me.”

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

I think Sam could use the voice of Paul Newman.

What advice would Sam give if asked?

His advice would be “Love me and I will Love you.” And Sam also has some helpful hints from Heloise that we won’t go into.

Visit Barry Wilker's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Alysa Wishingrad & Cleo and Lucy

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Alysa Wishingrad, I write upper middle grade books with a historical and fantastical twist. My debut The Verdigris Pawn came out in July 21 and my next book Between Monsters and Marvels will be out Fall ‘23.

My friend here is Lucy, a 5-year-old beauty with some shepherd and who knows what else in her who, along with Cleo, was rescinded in Alexandria, Eqypt.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We like to have our morning tea outside anytime we can. This was a balmy Halloween morning- perfect time to sit in the sun!

What's brewing?

I have to admit I don’t drink much coffee anymore. But I am very devoted to, and picky about my tea.

AM: A cup of Joko tea with a splash of oat or almond milk – JOKO is a South African black tea in the style of a Morning Breakfast. had never been a fan of black tea my
best friend, who is from SA, introduced me to the tea. It’s so smooth and lovely, I can’t start my day without a cup.

Mid-Day is for a second cup of black tea– maybe a cup of Paris with steamed oat milk – the perfect treat!

Evenings are not complete without a cup of Rooibos, yup again, with a splash of oat or almond milk.

Any treats for you or the dogs on this occasion?

The dogs get plenty of treats throughout the day, so they tend to skip tea time.

How were you and the dogs united?

A friend of a friend rescued them in Alexandria, Egypt. She’s a flight attendant and had friends and family in Egypt who were devoted to rescuing street dogs – of which there are countless numbers.

Cleo [photo right] was found in a box with her siblings at just a few days old. They all had parvo, she was the only one to survive.

Lucy was found wandering the streets on her own at about eight weeks old. The rescuers put the two girls together and they bonded immediately.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Cleo was called Sugar in Egypt.

Lucy was called Princess.

We didn’t much care for those names, and the girls didn’t seem terribly attached either. It took our family days to land on their names but we finally reached an agreement.

As for aliases, how much time do you have?

Here’s how their nicknames have evolved:

Cleo (short for Cleopatra) > Cleopatricia > CleoPat > Patty Anne > Patty > Pat.

Lucy [photo left]: We had a lot of debate in our family before landing on her name – I wanted to call her Lulu, no one else did. So, we named her Lucy and ... you guessed it her nickname is Lulu!

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

When they were younger they did a lot more to hinder my writing, but now that they’re 5, almost 6 years old they don’t demand quite as much attention.

I do value my twice daily long walks with them though- I do some of my best thinking and knot untangling during our walks.

Have your actual canines inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

I’ve yet to write any dogs into my books, although there is a little Beasty in my next book, Between Monsters and Marvels, whose personality was certainly informed by all the beasts I’ve had in my life.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?


[photo right: Lucy and Cleo back in Egypt]

And hawks, and coyote, fox and deer shouting in the night.

And cars in the driveway.

And deer off in the woods.

And and and and and....

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

They used to love to tear apart soft toys and chew on antlers, but they’re not that interested in them much anymore.

What is each dog's best quality?

Cleo is the sweetest, most lovely girl, and she’s very funny too.

Lucy is a great big cuddle bunny, she’ll put her head on your lap and stay as long as you let her.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Mae, our cat [photo left].

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

That I’d give them a cookie every single time they walk back into the house.

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

Would you like to have dinner?

And they’d answer: We’ve been waiting for you to ask for hours!

(Reader: they eat dinner at 5-5:30, about 8-9 hours after breakfast, not exactly an interminable wait.)

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

Cleo: Scarlett Johnasson

Lucy: Tina Fey

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Watch out for the basement door, there’s something down there!!!!!

Visit Alysa Wishingrad's website.

--Marshal Zeringue