Thursday, December 7, 2017

Casey Daniels & Lucy

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Casey Daniels, mystery author. My latest book is Smoke and Mirrors, the first in the Miss Barnum mystery series that follows the adventures of a (fictional) sister of PT Barnum as she works at his American Museum and solves mysteries along the way! My “date” for tea is Lucy. Breed? Your guess is as good as mine! Even the vet isn’t willing to try and figure that out. She’s very tall and very furry and though she sometimes acts like a herder (she likes to nip the legs of the other dog in the house), she also can howl like a hound. We suspect maybe some Irish Wolfhound is in there somewhere. It would explain the long legs. But the furriness and the herding instincts ... who knows! We celebrate Lucy’s birthday on December 15 and in 2017, she’ll be 2.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We’re home enjoying our afternoon cuppa.

What's brewing?

We have tea together every morning (Tetley British Blend), then we treat ourselves to a cup of Typhoo (a nice strong English tea) every afternoon.

Any treats for you or Lucy on this occasion?

Nope. We’re pretty careful about treats mostly because our other dog (a 12-year-old Airedale named Ernie) is on a restricted diet and can’t have much of anything. Lucy gets a couple treats now and then when Ernie isn’t looking!

How were you and Lucy united?

Lucy is a prison dog who I found online at a site called Terriers in Need. She was dropped at a shelter when she was about four months old and she lived there for a bit, then was part of a prison training program. Lucy lived with an inmate in a prison for about six months as part of a terrific program where along with compassion and responsibility, the inmate learns a skill (dog training) and the dog is taught basic commands. She was well trained when she came to us. Well, except for “come” which she thought was the funniest word on the planet and an invitation to run in the other direction and dare us to chase her. Happy to report she’s got that command down pat now!

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

Naming the dog sparked a family debate. Lucy was the one name we could agree on. As far as aliases, there are plenty: Loosey Goosey, Lulu, and the ever-popular Lucy-Fur (say it fast) for those times when she forgets her manners.

Does Lucy do more to help or hinder your writing?

Since I write all day and she snoozes all day, I’d say she’s a help.

Has Lucy inspired the creation of any dogs in your fiction?

Not yet, but she will one of these days especially since I am currently working on a contemporary mystery that features a woman who trains Human Remains Detection dogs. I’ve been on a training with HR dogs and it was fascinating. Lucy would love it! Me? Not sure I have the stamina!

Cat, postman, rabbit...?

She loves to watch everyone and everything outside--squirrels, the chickens next door, cars, trucks, falling leaves. All are a source of fascination. I often wonder if this is because she didn’t see much of the outside when she was in prison.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Mr. Bunny and Mr. Squirrel (durable canvas stuffed toys), a Kong, a squeaky bone. Nothing too fragile, she’s a big dog with a powerful bite.

Who is Lucy's best pet-pal?

She’d love, love, love Ernie the Airedale to be her best pal, but alas, Ernie would rather sleep than play. Still, recently when he was sick, she refused to leave his side, and she constantly offers him her toys. He’s an old guy, and very laid back, but Lucy is persistent. Sometimes too persistent! One of these days, she’ll learn you don’t mess with an Airedale.

What is Lucy's best quality?

When I first talked to the people at the prison about her, they said she was a “sweet” dog. Hmmm ... I wondered what that meant. I’ve had a few dogs over the years, and I’ve loved them all to pieces, but “sweet?” Then we met Lucy and I knew exactly what they meant. She really is a dear. She loves to be hugged, she likes to be petted. In spite of her size (and she’s a moose, far bigger than the Airedale), she is gentle and so quiet, she can slip in and out of a room without anyone noticing. This comes in handy especially when she’s stealing folding money or socks, two of her favorite things to walk off with.

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

See above, I bet she’d love it if I had the energy and the time to do something like HR work, or search and rescue, or agility. There’s a lot of energy packed into that furry body and she’d love to expend it with more running and chasing and jumping. Me, not so much.

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

I’d ask where she came from and how she ended up in the shelter.

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

Ha! It may be because she played Matron Mama Morton in the movie Chicago, and a lot of that movie takes place in a prison, but I always think Lucy’s voice would come from Queen Latifah.

What advice would Lucy give if asked?

She’d tell you to roll with the punches. She’d tell you that sometimes--like when you’re dumped at a shelter in the middle of the night and then you go to prison--things don’t look too good. But if you hang in, if you hang on, you can end up finding people to love who love you right back!

Visit Casey Daniels's website.

Writers Read: Casey Daniels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Jennifer Kincheloe & Monkey

Who is in the photo at right?

Monkey is a four-year-old Brussels Griffon mix. She’s a perfect angel, no matter what anyone says. (No, she did not bite that jogger.) I'm Jennifer Kincheloe, a public health research scientist turned writer of historical mysteries. My new Anna Blanc novel is The Woman in the Camphor Trunk.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

It’s the weekend.

What's brewing?

I buy green Ethiopian Yirgacheffe beans and roast them myself in a popcorn popper, grind, and brew them. These beans would blow your mind.

Any treats for you or Monkey on this occasion?


How were you and Monkey united?

It started in the 90s when my husband and I were first married. We were thinking about getting a dog. Our breed book had a picture of this creature who looked like Oscar the Grouch, but not much like a dog. It was kind of a running joke for us. We laughed about it for years. The breed was Brussels Griffon, and pretty rare in the west. I’d never actually seen one.

Fast forward to 2013. I saw Monkey on the Adopt a Pet website and wanted to make my husband laugh. So I woke up early so I could be at Petco at 6:00AM to wait in line for the adoption event. I sat on the dirty side walk for five hours with thirty or so hopeful dog-parents-to-be. When the event began, I nabbed her. My husband laughed and laughed, and we’ve been blissfully happy ever since.

Does Monkey do more to help or hinder your writing?

She’s good for historical research. Brussels Griffons were the “It Dogs” in the first century of the 1900s. Also, she keeps my blood pressure down.

Cat, postman, rabbit...?

Yes. Postmen beware.

Who is Monkey's best pet-pal?

Monkey doesn’t care for the company of other pets. She likes to scare my daughter’s dog, Buffy, who is a golden retriever.

What is Monkey's best quality?

Her devotion to me.

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

She’d want me to rub her tummy all the time instead of just half the time.

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

My daughter Samara would have to do it. She’s always talking in this funny “Monkey voice” attributing selfish attitudes and snotty dialogue to the dog. My daughter’s Monkey imitation is as funny as anything on the planet.

What advice would Monkey give if asked?

“Never get another dog.” She likes being the only one.

Visit Jennifer Kincheloe's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Woman in the Camphor Trunk.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Tracy Calhoun & JJ

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Tracy Calhoun and I am a full time hospice nurse, in addition to being the driver for JJ, a seven-year-old female Golden Retriever, who is a therapy and crisis response dog, working alongside me at our inpatient hospice house.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

While in Seattle, our favorite stop for coffee is, of course, BARK! Espresso, with it's own dog cafe on one side.

What's brewing?

Even if it is 10 degrees below zero, it's always an iced latte for me.

Any treats for you or JJ on this occasion?

While I grab a cookie, since there is always time in a day for a cookie, JJ has the special Pooch's Peanut Butter Latte and gives it a 4 paws up rating.

How were you and JJ united?

I actually caught JJ when she was being born. She had a tiny white "kiss mark" on her forehead and still has a white twinkletoe on one foot.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

JJ was named after one of my nephews, Jaret. It's hard to come up with a girl's name from this, but JJ stuck. Her nickname is ButterButt, because she was so big as a puppy.

Please tell us about your new book.

In 2016, I was approached by a publisher asking if I would be interested in writing a book involving JJ, her hospice work and her day to day life. JJ's Journey tells the story of a therapy dog dedicated to helping humans through crises, tragedy, and loss through love and comfort. While these stories are often emotional, they also highlight the power of the human-animal bond, bringing smiles, laughter and tears. While the topic of hospice can be difficult for people to think about, many of the stories are about living life and helping others, expressed with humor and canine chaos along the way, as only a dog obsessed with bacon, puppies, and swimming can do. Along the way, JJ's sassy voice captions the photos throughout the book.

Cat, postman, rabbit...?


Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Ball or retriever bumper, but with the very non-retriever like attitude of "No take. Throw. No take." It makes the game a bit of a challenge.

Who is JJ's best pet-pal?

Taz, also known as Cat-dog. He was rescued as a tiny kitten and raised by a pack of Goldens. He sleeps every night curled up with JJ. We haven't had the heart to tell him he's a cat.

Where is JJ's favorite outdoor destination?

Anywhere she can find a pond to swim in.

She still is trying to convince me that a pond time counts as bath time.

What is JJ's best quality?

Her intuitive nature and ability to seek out those who need her comfort and attention.

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

Eat more bacon. And share it with your dog!

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

How are you able to pick the people who need you most day after day?

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

This one is easy, since one of JJ's names for me is BossyPants. It would have to be Tina Fey, bringing life to a very sassy dog!

What advice would JJ give if asked?

During the time of writing these stories, JJ was diagnosed with lymphoma. Even during treatment, she has taught us all how dogs embody the concept of living in the moment. No one has told her she has a life limiting disease, so she continues to live life with zest and work at her second home.

Her motto has become "Barke Diem", a dog's take on Carpe Diem, meaning seize the day.

Visit the JJ Hospice Therapy Dog website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Amy Giles & Sally

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Amy Giles, and I’m a young adult author. My debut Now Is Everything is available November 7th. The sassy girl with the racing stripe down the middle of her head is Sally, my faithful canine companion. Sally is five years old. Because she’s a muttigree, our best guess is she’s a Shepherd mix with some Jack Russell.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Sally joins me every morning for coffee and snuggles. Since I work from home, she’s always by my side. We’re both homebodies.

What's brewing?

I’m not much of a bean snob (unlike Hadley’s father in Now Is Everything). Today’s selection is Eight O’Clock Coffee, on sale from Stop & Shop, but perked in my electric percolator. I have a French Press in case of emergency (power outage), but I have no idea how to use it, TBH.

Any treats for you or Sally on this occasion?

Sally gets a sprinkle of grated cheese on her morning kibble. She’s fancy that way. I’m having a Kind breakfast bar.

How were you and Sally united?

A few weeks after our dog Max went over the rainbow bridge, my family felt the time was right to go to the shelter and adopt a new pup. I didn’t think I was ready; my heart was still shattered. But they talked me into it, and I’m so glad they did. Sally was curled up in a tiny ball in her cage. When they pulled her out and handed her to me, it was love at first sight. Sally wrapped her paws around my neck and wouldn’t let go.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

Ha, welllll…my daughter Maggie named her Sally after Charlie Brown’s sister. My daughter Julia gave her the middle name of Hugsalot, because of Sally’s paws wrapped around my neck. That later evolved into Sally Peesalot when she urinated all over the vet’s office a few weeks later.

Does Sally do more to help or hinder your writing?

Sally is usually a great writing companion. If she needs to go out, she’ll put a gentle paw on my arm to tell me, “Okay, stop now and open the back door.” But one day when I had a deadline looming on a significant revision, a cute bunny took up residence in our flower bed. Sally barked out the window all day. That wasn’t fun.

Has Sally inspired the creation of any dogs in your fiction?

I have yet to put Sally in one of my stories, but now that you’ve pointed that out, I do feel a little guilty about it.

Cat, postman, rabbit...?

Squirrels, cats, rabbits, other dogs…any critter that dares to walk by the house will elicit the canine alarm. Nighttime can be brutal when the raccoons and possums come out to play.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

We’ve been trying to teach Sally how to fetch for five years. It’s still a game of catch me if you can.

Who is Sally's best pet-pal?

Sally plays nicely with Indiana, Franklin, and Augie. She just doesn’t pick up on the cues when they’re tired and no longer want to play. Indiana once hid behind a hydrangea bush to get away from Sally when he’d had enough.

What is Sally's best quality?

She is super lovable with everyone. She really is one of the most affectionate dogs I’ve ever met.

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

She’d want me to share her same boundless energy.

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

“Sally, what do you think happened in that last episode of The Sopranos?”

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

Amy Adams or Emma Stone.

What advice would Sally give if asked?

“See that deceptively benign patch of grass over there? Do not…I repeat…do not crawl on your belly over that. That’s a Yellowjacket nest. You do not want those buggers nipping at your nether regions. Trust me!”

Visit Amy Giles's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Valerie Constantine & Zorba

Who is in the photo at right?

This is Valerie Constantine, half of the writing team of Liv Constantine, author of The Last Mrs. Parrish, sitting with the amazing Zorba, probably the greatest dog in the world. He is a seven-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and he loves to read––mostly history and mostly about England, since his breed hails from there. And actually he prefers tea to coffee.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We have our morning coffee together and I bounce ideas off him before I begin writing. Here we are sitting at a friend’s lake house and enjoying the scenery.

What's brewing?

I have a big cup of Fancy Santos from Baltimore Coffee and Tea Company.

Any treats for you or Zorba on this occasion?

Zorba will eat anything I put in front of him, but his favorite treat is a petite Greenie. Today, though, he is having a Trader Joe’s Organic Chicken Brown Rice Recipe Stick. He loves those as well.

How were you and Zorba united?

My husband spotted a Cavalier sitting in a car at a grocery store parking lot and waited for the owner to return. When she got to the car, he asked where she had gotten the dog. It turned out she was a breeder, so he gave her our information and asked her to call us when the next litter came along. We forgot about it, but a year and a half later, she called to tell us that she had a new litter of two. The girl was already taken, but the boy was available, and that’s how we wound up with our favorite dog of all time.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

My husband and Zorba are both British. I am Greek. I guess I needed to be represented, thus the name Zorba, as in Zorba the Greek. Now he seems half and half to me. I like that. I occasionally call him Z for short.

Does Zorba do more to help or hinder your writing?

Zorba definitely helps my writing. He sits quietly near me when I write. He also gets me outside to walk, which often is a time that I’m hit with great inspiration.

Has Zorba inspired the creation of any dogs in your fiction?

Not so far, but my husband, who is also a writer, keeps talking about collaborating on a Zorba diary. Zorba has quite a mind of his own and isn’t bashful about letting us know. He also has a great sense of humor.

Cat, postman, rabbit...?

Squirrel, with a capital S. They drive him crazy, and he’s never caught one in his life. We have a fox and some deer that cross our lawn occasionally, and he goes mad with them as well. Loves the postman and UPS lady, because they give him treats. He’s not very fond of anyone walking past our house…

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

None of the above. Zorba won’t play with a toy unless someone plays with him. Tug of war is his favorite. He won’t fetch. He sort of looks at you like “You threw it, you go fetch it!”

Who is Zorba’s best pet-pal?

I am. He’s my best bud. The breeder told me that “a female dog will love you, but a male dog will fall in love with you.” That has worked both ways with Zorba and me.

What is Zorba’s best quality?

Without question it is his sweetness. He’s the most lovable dog ever!

If Zorba could change one thing about Marylanders, what would it be?

He would make them better drivers. They would also not do 50 miles an hour in the fast lane, but would instead move over so that I could pass them.

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

How much of what we say to you do you understand?

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

Colin Firth. Posh and British.

What advice would Zorba give if asked?

Take long walks, stop and smell the roses along the way, get enough rest and spread lots of love.

Visit Valerie Constantine's website. Learn more about The Last Mrs. Parrish: A Novel by Liv Constantine (the pen name of sisters Lynne Constantine and Valerie Constantine).

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Lynne Constantine & Greyson

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Lynne Constantine, and Greyson.

How were you and Greyson united?

We were actually on a list with two rescue sites for a golden retriever. My beloved golden, Tucker, was ill and our kids begged us to get a dog to keep him company and to help with the transition when he passed. I got an email that there was a three-month-old silver lab available asking if we were interested. My husband and I talked about it before telling the kids, and he went to meet him. He Facetimed me from the rescue and as soon as I saw him I knew he was for us. We picked him up a week later and he and Tucker, our golden got to play together for six weeks before we had to say goodbye to Tucker.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

He was called Ash when we got him, and we decided it sounded too much like another not so nice word. We through lists of names until our kids both decided that since he is a gray color, Greyson would be a good name for him. He sometimes answers to no no no, stop chewing that, or please don’t bite me.

Does Greyson do more to help or hinder your writing?

At this puppy stage, definitely hinders. However, Tucker was by my side when I wrote all my books to date (and he was a tough puppy) so I have hope that when Greyson matures, he will take his place next to me in my office.

Has Grayson inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Not yet. But if I have any plots that include a dog that shreds paper – he’s in.

Cat, postman, rabbit…?

Yes, yes, yes as well as other dogs, reflections in the glass that look like other dogs, animals on television and anyone wearing a hat or hoodie. All inspire ferocious barking out of character with his adorable face.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick…?

Loves them all as well as socks, shoes, cardboard, scarves….

What is Greyson’s best quality?

His exuberance. He embraces life whole-heartedly and goes after everything with gusto.

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

That I would be more flexible about letting him leap into our bed at night. Maybe when he calms down a little.

Visit Lynne Constantine's website. Learn more about The Last Mrs. Parrish: A Novel by Liv Constantine (the pen name of sisters Lynne Constantine and Valerie Constantine).

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

S.F. Henson & Francie

Who is in the photo at right?

Here you see me, S.F. Henson, attorney and author of Devils Within, my debut YA novel that's out October 31. In my lap, sitting so that I can't reach my sweet caffeinated nectar, is Francie. She's a little over a year old. We think she's a Golden Retriever mix. There could be some German Shepherd in there, but honestly Francie is probably the result of a drunken night, so anything could be mixed in. (Just out of sight, and reach, is my favorite coffee cup).

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We needed an afternoon caffeine boost (and by "we" I totally mean me. Francie doesn't need any additional energy!). The weather was gorgeous and Francie had just rocked her daily training, so we headed to the back porch to relax.

What's brewing?

Usually it would be a mocha from my favorite local coffee shop, Angel's Island, but since it's closed on Sundays I'm drinking a Gevalia mocha latte from the two-in-one autodrip/k-cup coffee maker in my kitchen.

Any treats for you or Francie on this occasion?

Francie got a mix of Pet Botanics chicken flavored training treats and good old fashioned milk bones. An afternoon with my pup was treat enough for me.

How were you and Francie united?

My husband and I adopted her from Animal Services about a month ago. We'd actually gone to look at another dog and saw Francie curled up on a cot in the back of her pen. We couldn't resist her tufted ears and sweet nature. We thought she was a calm, chill older dog who needed love when everyone else was interested in the puppies. Turns out she was younger than we thought and she'd just been spayed. So not calm, drugged. Saturday morning she was a whole new animal! We couldn't be happier with our choice, though.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

Our last dog--Atticus Hairyson Henson--was named after Atticus Finch (see the attorney and author part above) and my favorite Beatle (George Harrison), so we decided to stick with the literary and music theme. Her full name is Francis Lane Henson, Francie for short. Francie comes from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, a favorite book of both mine and my husband's, and Lane from "Penny Lane." She gets the full thing when she's bad, and Francie-bug when she's adorable (which is most of the time).

Does Francie do more to help or hinder your writing?

Right now, hinder, but she's learning. She was a stray before we adopted her, so she's been desperate for attention. The more comfortable she gets with us, though, the more she trusts that we're not going anywhere and the more independent she's becoming. It's really great to see her transform and become more confident!

Has Francie inspired the creation of any dogs in your fiction?

Not yet, but I have some ideas brewing.

Cat, postman, rabbit...?

Cat, rabbit, squirrel, bird, chipmunk, you name it. If it darts, Francie is on it! We're trying to find ways to channel her prey drive before she drives our two cats insane.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

She's a sucker for a squeaker, but she really loves her Frisbee. She hasn't quite figured out the catching part, but the chase is half the fun for Francie.

Who is Francie's best pet-pal?

She'd love it to be the cats, but seeing as how they want nothing to do with her, Francie's best friend is my husband. She knows the moment his car pulls in the drive and wags her tail so hard her entire body waggles.

What is Francie's best quality?

Francie is extraordinarily good-natured. She loves everyone she meets and is the most complacent dog ever. We can play with her paws, cover her eyes with her ears, or hold her like a shepherd carrying a sheep and she just goes along with it.

If Francie could change one thing about Alabamians, what would it be?

She'd want more restaurants with outdoor seating. Francie loves going out with us (anywhere, everywhere), but we may be getting a little tired of the same two or three restaurants that allow dogs on their patio.

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

Do you think you're actually a cat? Francie tends to lay on the back of the couch, and drape across our backs, and try to squeeze her body other places cats go that dogs don't fit, so I'm not sure if she understands that she's a canine at all.

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

Chloe Moretz. Francie is young, and kind of sassy. I can totally hear Chloe as her voice.

What advice would Francie give if asked?

If all else fails, roll on your back and show your tummy. Humans can't resist a good tummy.

Visit S.F. Henson's website.

My Book, The Movie: Devils Within.

--Marshal Zeringue