Sunday, December 4, 2016

A. J. Mayers & Dexter

A.J. and Dexter in the Mirage elevator
Who is in the photo at right?

I'm A. J. Mayers, a film studio marketer by day, and an author/novelist by night - but also day too! My dog is Dexter Whiskers Mayers, but we can call him Dexter or Dex. He's a 5 year old French Bulldog, male.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We went to Vegas for a Thanksgiving family trip. Dexter got to see his human grandparents and uncles.

What's brewing?

Dexter got to run around the casino - he's not old enough to gamble, but he enjoyed the people watching.

Any treats for you or Dexter on this occasion?

His minty bones so we can keep his breath fresh and clean.

How were you and Dexter united?

I found a breeder in Orange County and emailed him - he agreed to meet me with Dexter and his brother Bruce. I ended up picking Dexter because he had a cute white mark on his forehead that set him apart.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

I was going to name him Tex as I'm from Texas, but then I saw the season 1 DVD of the show Dexter on my desk and thought..Dex...Dexter! I sometimes call him "my little creature."

Does Dexter do more to help or hinder your writing?

He keeps me calm and happy. A nice break from writing to pet and play with him is always welcomed.

Has Dexter inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Yes! In my latest novel, Final Boarding, there is a man named Dexter which of course was inspired by my dog's name!

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Squirrel.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Squeaky-toy.

Who is Dexter's best pet-pal?

A pug named Lola.

What is Dexter's best quality?

His temperament.

If Dexter could change one thing about Angelenos, what would it be?

Having the ones that own corporations allow your dog to go to work with your human if that isn't a perk already!

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

What do I do to make you most happiest?

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

Steve Carrell! He's great with accents and funny voices.

What advice would Dexter give if asked?

Whenever I leave for work, don't worry, you're on my mind and there's no need to be sad. I have to work to support you!

Visit A .J. Mayers's website and, and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Check out Dexter on Instagram.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 27, 2016

M. Ann Vanderlaan & her dogs

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Ann Vanderlaan, a former oilfield engineer and data management specialist. (My knees are to the left in the photo.) I studied Neurophysiology, Neuropsychology, and Veterinary Systems Physiology in graduate school. The common threads in this crazy patchwork are mathematics and a desire to know how things work in a crowd—takes more than one person to make a mob. I taught in courses in veterinary, medical, and nursing schools before moving on to jobs in the oil patch, advanced software development and data analytics.

The dogs in the photo (left to right) are:

Angel (4+ years at the time), male American Pit Bull Terrier mix; adopted October 2010.
Spike (3+ years), male Dogo Argentino/American bulldog mix; deaf, adopted June 2011.
R Kane (4+ years), male American Bully, adopted late July 2012.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

At the time the photo was taken in September 2012 I had recently added a new dog, Kane, to my pack. Almost all of our coffee moments are learning situations for my dogs. The occasion was a chance to socialize and reinforce behavior in an all-male pack of large dogs, which sometimes rescues are reluctant to consider as suitable homes for adoption or foster dogs.

The goals for this tête-à-tête were non-competitive sharing and “everybody gets a lick”, especially when there’s a stranger around to take pics and stir up the pot.

What's brewing?

The “Coffee with a Canine” moment started out with a nearly empty bottle of Starbucks Frappuccino and progressed to dipping the bottle neck in chicken broth—although Shiner Bock would have worked too. I prefer regular coffee from home-roasted beans (Kenya, Brazil, or Costa Rica) that I grind by hand before brewing or French-pressing.

How were you and your dogs united?

All of my current dogs are rescues. Since this picture was taken, I have adopted or fostered 3 more dogs, one of which recently died. So I currently have five bully breed dogs in my home.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

At the time I started adopting bully breeds I was first watching the Joss Whedon series Angel. Angel and Spike were perfectly matched to their characters in the series. I ran into difficulty when Kane joined the Thundertail Tribe. The obvious male character names available were Gunn, Lorne, and Lindsey (Pee-Pee demon was never a consideration). Since none of these seemed a good fit for a future therapy dog, I named Kane for the actor Christian Kane who played Lindsey.

All of my dogs except Spike have both call and “Don’t Mess With Me” (DFMW) names. Spike has a single hand sign.

Angel / Angelo (his rescue name).
Kane / R Kane – adopted. (The “R” stands for ‛raising’.)
Diva / Godiva (her rescue name) – adopted May 2014, deceased October 2016
Norma / Norma Jean (her rescue name) – hospice foster since January 2015
Fiona (her rescue name) / Madame –foster to adopt November 2016.

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

Always help. Play breaks, walks, and vet visits are very little to pay for what they teach me about behavior and how they manipulate humans. They are quite entertaining and great snugglers if you don’t mind being stepped on by seventy pounds plus.

Have any actual dogs ever inspired dogs in your fiction?

Kane’s ongoing therapy efforts and nosework have informed all of the tracking and therapy-related content in Lone Wolf.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

The only one of those we like are the UPS and FedEx delivery people who come bearing food boxes from Chewy.com or Petflow.com. Nobody barks when they come on the porch except for Fiona who hasn’t learned the rules yet. Diva hated cats so much she would growl at a cat statue at the vet.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Jolly Ball Horse toys and elk antlers to chew—they are big dogs.

Who is each dog's best pet-pal?

Spike and Angel.
Kane and the ladies (Diva, Norma Jean, Fiona).

What is each dog's best quality?

Angel (loyalty), Spike (earnest and honest), Kane (loves to comfort people and adores children), Diva (attitude), Norma Jean (sweet), Fiona (best snuggler, and she doesn’t weigh seventy pounds)

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

BBQ. Texans barbecue with mesquite and Kane is extremely allergic to mesquite. I can’t even bring leftovers home from a restaurant.

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

When we move to the mountains will heavier sweaters be enough?

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

That would be Diva Iron Paw Thundertail. Although she wasn’t with me for long, Diva was the perfect blend of life as we live it, powering through obstacles, voicing her opinion, and running the Tribe. I was only privileged to have Diva in my pack for 2½ years, but she was a true heart dog. She was the only dog I’ve ever had that watched TV. Her favorite show was Vikings—I think it was the screams.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

“Chill Mom, we got this” as they try to jump fences or chase frogs on the walls of the pond, and “Hurry up and feed us before we expire” if a meal is late.

Visit Ann Vanderlaan's Facebook page, and read more about Lone Wolf: An FBI K-9 Novel by Sara Driscoll (the pen name of Jen J. Danna and Ann Vanderlaan).

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 21, 2016

Bailey Fabricius & Moo

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Bailey Fabricius, and next to me is Moo, my 11-month-old Frenchton. Moo was born completely deaf and, while this may seem like a burden, he has been a complete blessing to my life. I am a senior at Oglethorpe University, studying Journalism and English in hopes of becoming a journalist/novelist.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Every Sunday afternoon, Moo and I stop at Starbucks on our way to the dog park.

What's brewing?

For me: a vanilla soy latte (iced in the summer). For him: a puppucino, of course!

How were you and Moo united?

French Bulldogs are my absolute favorite breed. When I moved into my first one bedroom apartment, I realized I needed a puppy to fill the roommate void! After months of searching for a Frenchie, I came across a Frenchton breeder in Florida who had one puppy left, which was 8 week old Moo!

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

Moo is black and white so naturally, he looks like a cow! I call him Moo or Moocow all day long but of course he has no clue what his name is.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Cats are his absolute favorite. In fact, he thinks all animals are friends but a hissing and back-raising cat clearly means friend.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

He loves all three. His favorite type of toy however is a stuffed animal. I think he likes the company it provides while I'm in class.

Who is Moo's best pet-pal?

Moo's best pal is a black Lab/Greyhound mix named Luna. She is owned by my boyfriend's sister so Moo feels a sort of "cousinly" kind of love for her. He's pretty good at holding his own with the large breeds.

What is Moo's best quality?

Moo is very perceptive to moods. Although he can't hear, he always knows what I'm thinking and when it's time to act like a rambunctious puppy (most of the time), and when it's time to chill.

Where is Moo's favorite outdoor destination?

Other than the dog park, Moo loves to visit the barn where my horse Giggles lives. The fresh air and the many acres of land excites Moo like nothing else. He is still amazed by the size of his "large dog friends."

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

If Moo could change the fact that I ever leave the house without him, which honestly isn't that often, he definitely would. He is so incredibly spoiled and probably treated better than my children if I had any.

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

Do you like being an only dog-child or would you like a brother or sister?

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

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

What advice would Moo give if asked?

"Eat poop, it tastes good!"

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Teresa Toten & Cheever

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Teresa Toten and Cheever Toten having our coffee date just this past week. I’m a Young Adult writer and Cheever is a 5 year old, male golden doodle.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I’d just finished my “ruff” draft of the novel I’m working on and Cheever wanted to get some points across before I started a full first draft.

What's brewing?

We only drink espresso. We’re tough like that.

Any treats for you or Cheever on this occasion?

No, it was a serious discussion.

How were you and Cheever united?

We bought him from a family as a puppy. Cheever was the runt of his litter and was seriously bullied by his siblings. He has issues but he is very cuddly snuggly.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

I named him after my favourite writer (long dead) named John Cheever. He used to write short stories for the New Yorker that I read as a kid. I loved those stories even though I had no clue what they were about. John Cheever was an absolutely brilliant, alcoholic, misogynist, closeted gay man. I should maybe have thought that one through better. As I say Cheever has issues.

Does Cheever do more to help or hinder your writing?

He is generally helpful although he can be very judgy. I have trouble sitting still when I write, so I tend to get up and walk around the house, talking out passages and dialogue. Cheever follows me around and provides input.

Has Cheever inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Well, there you have it, the point of our coffee. In my last book, Beware That Girl, there is a dog named Bruce and he’s wonderful. Cheever loved that! However, in this book I’ve got a cat named Cicero. Cheever is not handling this well. I think I’m going to stick to my guns though... I’m pretty sure...

Cat, postman, squirrel…?

All of the above all of the time.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick…?

Cheever lives to destroy his toys and can never, ever, ever get enough of sticks, balls and rocks.

Who is Cheever's best pet-pal?

Cheever doesn’t much see the point of other dogs. He either thinks he’s better than they are or he's terrified of them. Except for Oscar a little Shih Tzu who used to live next door. They had a real bromance going. Cheever even shared his bones and favourite ball with Oscar when they had sleepovers. Alas Oscar moved away. Cheever has not recovered.

What is Cheever's best quality?

He loves to to be read to, he loves to love you and he’s intensely loyal. What more do you want from a guy?

If Cheever could change one thing about Torontonians, what would it be?

Everyone on the street should be carrying a ball or a stick and be read to throw it!

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

How do you understand time? When we leave for 5 minutes or five hours we get the same hysterical greeting. Is there a difference for you?

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

Alan Rickman. Okay so, it’ s not a great match, but I just want an excuse to hear Alan Rickman’s voice again.

What advice would Cheever give if asked?

Love and cuddles will fix everything.

Visit Teresa Toten's website.

The Page 69 Test: Beware That Girl.

Writers Read: Teresa Toten.

My Book, The Movie: Beware That Girl.


--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Scott Jordan & Margaux

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Scott Jordan, co-founder and CEO of a clothing company called SCOTTeVEST, and loving parent of 12-year old standard poodle Margaux. One of our other poodles Susie is trying to get in the shot too! Margaux loves to dance to Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke” (even though she can’t hear it) and go on hikes with my wife Laura, myself and Susie and our two other standard poodles.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I spend mornings with Margaux to give her perimeter tours of our house, which helps her become more familiar with her environment without her sight and hearing. I’m also a huge coffee addict so use this time to get in 2-3 cups before I start my work day!

What's brewing?

Blue Bottle coffee in my awesome automated coffee machine! It can make any coffee drink you want or need. I could go on all day about this, it’s my favorite thing in our kitchen.

Any treats for you or Margaux on this occasion?

During work days, Margaux hangs out on the 3rd floor with Laura where she has tons of bones, rawhides and other treats. Her favorite treat is the Idaho Lamb bones that my wife Laura gets for her.

How were you and Margaux united?

On Laura’s birthday 11 years ago, she saw an ad in a local paper for apricot poodle in Pocatello, ID. So, we dropped everything we were doing to go and adopt her!

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

We always have liked French names, so decided on Margaux on the drive to go adopt her. Her only alias is “The Awesome and Amazing Margaux” thanks to her inspiring nature and persistent attitude to learn something new every day.

Please tell us about Margaux's health issues.

Three years ago, Margaux was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease (diffuse pyogranulomatous inflammation) which started attacking her body – starting with her paw. When that cleared up, it began affecting her eye and her veterinarian recommended it be removed. The other eye followed soon after, and to make matters worse, our vet found she had lost her hearing on August 14. You can follow Margaux’s entire journey on her Facebook page here.

How have your other poodles adapted to Margaux's loss of sight and hearing? Do they have complete awareness of her condition?

Our other poodles help out all the time! On walks, they began to help guide her by a leash, but soon enough Margaux was strong and confident to start leading them. Other than those times, it’s hard to tell whether they know fully or not as they generally act just sisters and don’t treat her any different! They play around her, bump into her and steal her bones (like they always have).

Who is Margaux's best pet-pal?

Our standard poodle Chloe because they’ve been together the longest.

What is Margaux's best quality?

Her smile! No matter what life hands Margaux, she has never lost her smile and fun-loving attitude.

If Margaux could change one thing about Idahoans, what would it be?

Margaux loves it in Idaho and all the people she meets, so this is a hard one. Maybe for them to eat less potatoes?

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

Do you follow me on Facebook?

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

Hmm, that’s a hard one -- I’d say Meryl Streep or Michelle Obama.

What advice would Margaux give if asked?

Always keep your head up and your smile bright! Take life moment by moment as you never know what will happen.

Follow Margaux’s entire journey on Facebook and visit the SCOTTeVEST website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 31, 2016

Melissa & Gigi and Diego

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Melissa, with my two fur babies - Gigi and Diego. Gigi is a 2-year-old toy Poodle and Diego is a 3-year-old Chihuahua! During the day, you can usually find us in this position - dogs on lap, laptop on knee, and coffee in hand. That's because I work from home as a writer and social media manager. I also run my own blog, Proud Dog Mom, where I share training tips, health advice, DIY dog project ideas, and original homemade dog treat recipes. My pups definitely enjoy their official day jobs as treat taste testers!

When we're not busy on the computer or creating healthy biscuits in the kitchen, you can usually find us on hikes, playing at the park, or on a road trip!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Diego and Gigi wake me up every morning at 7:20 like clockwork (I really don't need to set an alarm clock with these two)! Once we're up, it's over to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee and get to work. Right now, my morning coffee is accompanied with a few dog treats because I'm in the middle of creating and testing new recipes for our upcoming cookbook, Proud Dog Chef! Our book will have everything from gluten-free biscuits to flourless pupcakes, jerky chews, frozen snacks, and even safe icing recipes.

What's brewing?

In the morning, I love a breakfast blend. Since I'm all about quick and easy when I first wake up, I usually reach for a Green Mountain Keurig K-Cup. I like it black - no milk or sugar.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Right now my dogs are munching on my latest treat recipe, which is made from free-range chicken and a little turmeric. They are going crazy over them and I can't wait to share the recipe with everyone!

How were you and your dogs united?

When I moved half-way across the country for a job, it was the first time I didn't have a dog in my life. At first, I thought I would enjoy the quiet and lack of responsibility. That lasted two weeks! I very quickly realized that a house isn't a home without the sound of paws hitting against the floors and a wet nose waking you up in the morning. So I started searching for the perfect Chihuahua. Online, I came across a family that was looking to re-home their 2-month-old Chihuahua because they couldn't afford him. It was their last effort before taking him to the shelter. I met Diego the next day and we immediately clicked. I knew he was "the one!" He's been bringing my life joy ever since.

About a year later, I started working from home. That's when my boyfriend and I began toying with the idea of getting a second dog. We thought it would be fun for Diego to have a friend and I had the time to take care of another pooch. After a few weeks of searching with no luck, we stopped looking. Then, one of my boyfriend's co-workers came into their office with a photo of a toy Poodle puppy. The woman who bred her had passed away and he was trying to help find the puppy a home. We fell in love! We met her a few days later and immediately knew she was meant to be our next family member.

We've been one big happy family every since!

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

When Diego came into my life I wanted to honor his Mexican heritage. One of my good friends, whose family is from Mexico, turned to me and said, "How about Diego?" After a lot of online searching for the perfect name, it just clicked. A lot of times, though, I call him "Little Man." He responds to both!

Gigi has a similar story. Being a French dog, I wanted to give her a French name. I immediately came up with the name "Gigi" and my boyfriend thought it fit her perfectly. Since she is always smiling, I also call her "Happy Girl." I have a long list of nicknames for Gigi and she responds to all of them. I think she just assumes if I'm speaking then I must be talking to her!

Do your dogs have a role at your branch of Proud Dog Mom headquarters?

Diego and Gigi were the inspiration behind Proud Dog Mom. I often share our experiences with our readers. Also, the Proud Dog Mom Instagram is basically their personal photo album!

What is each dog's best quality?

Gigi has a heart of gold. She seriously loves everyone, wants to kiss all the time, and loves to play!

Diego is pretty much a human child trapped in a dog's body. Since I've been dressing him since he was a little puppy, he actually looks forward to getting dressed every morning. He also eats at the table with me. I put his plate at the edge of the table and he jumps up on a chair to keep me company. He truly is my best friend.

Tennis ball, stick, squeaky-toy...?

Definitely squeaky-toys. We have upwards of 50 plush toys in my house and Diego and Gigi are always playing with them. Tug-of-war and fetch are their favorite games.

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

They would come everywhere with me! While I work from home and try to take them out of the house as much as possible, there are certain places that I can't bring them (like the grocery store, yoga class, or movie theater). If it was up to them, though, they would be allowed wherever I go.

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

This is a really funny question because so many times I look at my dogs and say to them: "I wish you could speak English!" After I pick Gigi up from the groomer I always ask her, "Were they nice to you?" And when Diego curls up in a little ball, I ask him, "Do you feel okay?"

I think my dogs and I communicate very well, but there are some things I really wish they could tell me in English.

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

My little man has a lot of attitude and is very confident, so I think Al Pacino would play a good Diego. Gigi is more fun and outgoing so probably someone like Isla Lang.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Spend less time working and more time playing!

Visit the Proud Dog Mom blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 24, 2016

Cristina Crawford & Brando

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Cristina, with my four-legged love, Brando, who turns eight next month. I’m not working at the moment which is probably best since my boy isn’t fond of being home alone. I hold down the fort, cycle, practice yoga, and now that I cannot run, I enjoy long walks with Brando. I write in my blog, Ten Degrees of Bliss (which all of five people read) while he sits in my lap. Yes…that right, all 35 pounds of him. Brando is a medium standard poodle who thinks he’s a lap dog. More precisely, he is called a Moyen (french for medium), bred specifically for size and he is also called a Klein Poodle. His father was a miniature poodle and his mother a full-size standard poodle. Let’s just say a porch was involved in the process and leave it at that!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We used to live in Southern California, just two miles from the beach. It was so easy to take our boy with us to a plethora of outdoor eateries and coffee houses. There were countless trips to Peet’s Coffee after a long run (or leisurely walk) along The Strand or after a morning frolic at a nearby dog park. Now that we are in “Bama-Land” we are severely restricted by weather and places that are pet-friendly. I have to make a special effort to bring him with me to Starbucks when the temperature allows. If he could talk I’m sure he would demand we return to Southern California if for nothing else to escape the wrath of thunderstorms and tornado warnings!

What's brewing?

I’m half-Italian and therefore I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to my java fix. I drink espresso, sans anything, for my early morning brew. A simple, no frills Cappuccino or Non-fat Latte is my afternoon preference, often at Starbucks. I eschew syrups and mounds of whipped cream in my coffee —it just corrupts my brew and adds calories which I’d rather assign to a sweet treat.

Any treats for you or your poodle on this occasion?

My boy doesn't care a wit about bones or Kong toys stuffed with peanut butter. But he would dance on his head for cheese. He likes yogurt too. Most mornings I have yogurt with berries for breakfast. I always leave a bit in the bowl for my boy. He can be in a deep slumber in another room but when he hears the last scrape of the spoon against the bowl he’s at my feet in an instant knowing that his treat awaits. He’ll patiently waiting for me to put the bowl on the floor so that he can lick it clean.

How were you and your poodle united?

Initially, my husband wasn’t one for getting a dog. I had to work on him for almost ten years. While living in Southern California a friend told me about a great poodle breeder in Oregon so I began to get a bit more aggressive about changing my husband's mind. I’m not one bit ashamed to admit that I caught him completely off-guard during his “orgasmic” moment when his beloved Steelers won the Super Bowl. As he jumped up and down in euphoria at the winning touchdown I chimed in saying: “Great! So….can we go to Oregon and look at these adorable poodle puppies?”

“Yes, yes, yes,” he cried as he threw his hands up in the air in jubilation. Underhanded, I know. Of course I wanted him to be completely on-board with having a dog-pal; if his heart-strings weren’t pulled then we’d just chalk it up to a weekend getaway.

He chose me. My dog chose me. (swoon)
He chose me. My dog chose me. (swoon)
So….I had been conversing with the breeder for weeks before meeting her in Oregon. Based on photos from her website I had settled on a girl puppy. But several days before flying out she called saying that the girl was developing into a more high-active personality. My heart sank. I knew that for this to work with my husband I’d need a low-key kind of pup. Still, we decided to fly out. When I arrived at the breeders house I was escorted to the large back yard. There seemed to be a sea of puppies running to and fro. As I stood on the porch observing the happy chaos of all those puppies, one puppy came, as if from out of the blue, and snuggled himself down right on top of my feet.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

It was Academy Award weekend and we were living in Redondo Beach, California (Los Angeles County) when we brought our boy home. As we were driving to the airport with our new addition to the family in my lap I was texting back and forth with my sister who lived in Northern Virginia trying to come up with names. She came up with Brando paying homage to the late great actor, Marlon Brando. Aliases: Troy (as in Troy Polamalu, but only during a Steelers game); Einstein (because my pooch is so freaking smart) and Killer … when he actually got ahold of a chipmunk and knocked it dead!

Cat, postman, squirrel…?

Without question squirrels. He goes positively bonkers over squirrels. He’ll bark like crazy as they all but dance in front of the window to their “U Can’t Touch This” tune. Add to that, lizards in the yard. He tries to sniff them out of crevices then goes nuts trying to catch one as they skitter over and under rocks.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick…?

A squeaky soccer ball toy. I’d swear it’s like his crack toy. Sometimes the constant squeak gets annoying so I’ll hide it. He finds it every time. Once I’d forgotten about the ball. He was sitting quite patiently—like a statue—staring at a closet door. “What’s up with you?” I ask my boy. I opened the door only to realize I’d put the ball on a high shelf! He’ll eventually chew all toys to smithereens but he takes care of this one squeaky ball. We’ve had it for years. He could easily chew it away too—it’s the darnedest thing!

Who is Brando's best pet-pal?

In California, his best pals were Honey-Bear and Kerri, two Standard Poodles. Here in Alabama, he pines for a mutt named Daisy that lives down the street. When we are visiting my sis, it’s Nica-Roo, a beagle mix. They’ll play together from morning till night. We hated moving from Southern California. He loved his play dates with HoneyBear and Kerri. It was quite the sight to see the three of them together. I’d swear he was just as depressed over the move as I was.

What is Brando's best quality?

He is such a gentle, sweet-natured dog who adores me and loves just about everyone he meets. (Well…almost. There was one pest control dude that came to the house and things didn’t go so well. Brando went nuts and would not stop barking at the guy which was so out of character for my pooch. There must have lurked something mighty unsavory under the uniform cap about that guy.)

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

Properly contain their dogs. I cannot safely cycle without being chased down by un-contained dogs. It is rather terrifying since I have been attacked by a dog. Dogs come running out of their yards straight onto the roads. One incident was with a pit bull; he was one determined fellow running after me for a good quarter mile. I’m sad to admit I prayed for a car. Not good for the dog nor cyclist!

Where is your poodle's favorite outdoor destination?

We took Brando to the Outer Banks, North Carolina during one family vacation. Dogs were allowed on the beach without a leash. For a week Brando had the time of his life. Though it ruined his poodle coif for the week (they have hair you know!) we were overjoyed to see him so happy and running free. He also loves our large back yard and had a blast with his first snow a couple of years back.

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

Why o why are you so obsessed with licking your feet… and mine?

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

My boy has a touch of regal aloofness about him at times, especially after he’s come from the groomer, perfectly coiffed. We can be walking down the street and another dog will be going all-out Cujo at him. Brando may deign to give the dog a passive glance, with a look to me that says, “Really, what boorish behavior.” I suppose I’m giving my age when I say I’d love Cary Grant to voice my boy.

What advice would your poodle give if asked?

Chill grasshopper. Stop worrying. Bask in the moment of now, with me…the one who adores you so… who is happy on your lap. Oh..and while you’re at it, have some cheese and pass a piece or two over to me…. pretty please.

Visit the Ten Degrees of Bliss blog.

--Marshal Zeringue