Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Peter Zheutlin & Jamba

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Peter Zheutlin, lapsed (failed lawyer) and now writer, with Jamba, the third of our three rescue dogs from Louisiana. She a girl, about three years old we believe, and though her rescuers said she’s a Lab mix, truly, without DNA testing, it’s anyone’s guess. The way she always has her nose to the ground we suspect she’s part hound, like about 99% hound.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I do almost all of my writing at Starbucks where I rent a table for about $5 a day. With three dogs at home it’s practically impossible to get work done there. Now, I’d like to say this was take your dog to work day at Starbucks, but it wasn’t, so I brought my coffee home so Jamba and I could work on your questions together on the deck. Oh, and it’s always a decaf mocha latte with whip cream for me and water for her with a few liver treats.

How were you and Jamba united?

Funny you should ask. We were actually helping our older son, who had recently graduated from business school, find a rescue dog. To his credit, he quickly realized that Jamba was too energetic to be home in his apartment while he worked so she moved in with us and our other two rescue dogs, Albie (an alumnus of Coffee with a Canine) and Salina. Our rescue contact in Louisiana for Jamba was Keri Toth, the same person who helped us adopt Albie.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

Our son went to Tulane University in New Orleans as an undergrad. And Jamba comes from Louisiana. So he named her after one of Louisiana’s most famous dishes, jambalaya. That’s her full name, Jambalaya, or Jamba for short. Of course our younger son started calling her “Juice,” as in Jamba Juice, so that also stuck.

Does Jamba do more to help or hinder your writing?

Both. She helps in that she provides a lot of good material. She’s a free spirit and a funny dog with a lot of zest for life. But she could play fetch with a tennis ball twenty-four hours a day and can be pretty insistent about it. It’s hard to say no.

Please tell us about your new book, Rescued: What Second Chance Dogs Teach Us About Living With Purpose, Loving With Abandon, and Finding Joy in the Little Things.

Rescued picks up the rescue story where my last book, Rescue Road, left off. Rescue Road took readers deep into the world of dog rescue, how it’s done and the remarkable people who do the really difficult work of saving dogs from terrible fates. That book ended with dogs being delivered into the arms of their new families. Rescued is about living with these second-chance dogs and the life lessons they teach us.

Cat, postman, rabbit...?

Albie and Salina are obsessed with critters. They’ll stare at a tree for hours after spotting a squirrel there. Jamba could care less. It’s all about the tennis ball. Albie and Salina also go nuts when the FedEx or UPS guy comes to the house. Jamba just barks to be part of the group. She has no idea why she’s barking except that the others are.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?



See above. She loves tennis balls more than Rafael Nadal. Her dream job would be to be a ball girl at the U.S. Open tennis championships.

Who is Jamba's best pet-pal?

A tennis ball. Any tennis ball. After that, Salina. They love to play
”defend the bed” in which they fight for control of our bed.

What is Jamba's best quality?


Innocence. In the fall when the leaves start to fall she will spend hours in the back yard chasing falling leaves. She looks like a child in a snow globe staring in wonder at what’s falling from the sky. I refer to her as the happiest camper in camp.

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

She thinks I’m perfect. It’s another of her admirable qualities. Please don’t ruin her fantasy.

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

Can we take a break from throwing the ball now?

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



Easy. Tina Fey. If Jamba could talk I think she’d be hilarious.

What advice would Jamba give if asked?

Get a ball, be happy that you have that ball, and forget the rest. Everything is just nonsense.

Visit Peter Zheutlin's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Coffee with a Canine: Peter Zheutlin & Albie.


--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley & Polly

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, and I write children's historical fiction. Polly is a female Lhasa Apso, right around 10 years old. (She would like to apologize for her goofy-looking ears, and say emphatically that it was not her fault. The groomer did it.)

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I drink coffee every morning. Polly does not drink coffee, but she has a special kind of dog treat she would like to have every morning. She doesn't always get one, but she usually does.

What's brewing?

A French press dark roast with copious amounts of half-and-half.

Any treats for you or Polly and Sarah on this occasion?

No, this isn't a special occasion. Polly and I go to work every morning.

How were you and Polly united?

I bought her as a gift for my husband, because he had a Lhasa growing up. But she's become a joint dog. She likes being with me during the day.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

Our first dog was named Under Dog, and so we named our second Sweet Polly Purebred, the name of Underdog's consort. (Under died a few years ago, at an advanced age. We still miss him.)

Does Polly do more to help or hinder your writing?

It depends on the day. Usually she sits in the windowseat of my office and lets me know if anyone is coming up the driveway. Sometimes, especially in winter when the heating vent under my desk is blowing warm air, she comes and lays on my feet. I find that very companionable. Sometimes, however, she falls asleep and snores so loudly that I have to go wake her up. I can't write with that much commotion.

Has Polly inspired the creation of any fictional dogs? Has Sarah inspired the creation of any fictional horses?

I'm astonished to realize that I don't have any dogs in my fiction. I'll have to remedy that. Sarah, my mare, has not yet inspired a fictional horse, but probably will some day as she's quite a character. Butter, the pony in The War That Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won, was inspired by Pal, my daughter's darling quarterhorse.

Cat, postman, rabbit...?

Polly is afraid of the barn cats, with good reason. She once almost tackled a groundhog, but thought the better of it at the last moment.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

No. Polly is too dignified for any of that nonsense. She does not fetch, and has no interest in playing with things she can not eat.

Is Sarah the mare Polly's best pet-pal, or is there a canine that holds that honor?

Her best pet-pal is her cousin Bogey, my sister's dog. We often take our dogs with us when we visit each other.

What is Polly's best quality?

Attentiveness.

If Polly could change one thing about Tennesseans, what would it be?

Nothing. All her favorite people are Tennesseans.

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

No idea--I'm not a movie person.

What advice would Polly give if asked?

Get plenty of sleep.

Visit Kimberly Brubaker Bradley's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Ismée Williams & Rowan

Who is in the photo at right?

This is Rowan. He’s an eighteen-month old Australian Labradoodle. I am the one wearing the dress. My name is Ismée Williams. I am a pediatric cardiologist and an author. My debut YA novel, Water in May, released Sept 12, 2017 with Amulet Books.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Well, Rowan had to have his influenza vaccine (something I recommend everyone should all get every fall, unless you have a contraindication such as an egg allergy or a history of Guillain-Barré syndrome – remember, I’m a doctor). Since Rowan did such a good job at the vet, I thought he deserved a treat!

What's brewing?

We love Starbucks, because they make something special for Rowan: a puppaccino (a cup filled with whipped cream). I prefer their decaf lattes but today I have a chocolate chip Frappuccino because it is hot and muggy out!

Any treats for you or Rowan on this occasion?

None other than the puppaccino!

How were you and Rowan united?

Our girls had been begging for a dog for years–basically since they could talk. Getting a dog didn’t fit into our hectic two-working-parent city lifestyle. So I always brushed them off by saying if I get a book published, we can get a dog. Well, you can bet that was the first thing they thought of when I told everyone about my book deal in 2015. The kids jumped from their seats at the dinner table and started shrieking, “Now we can get a dog!” So much for postponing the inevitable! But here’s the other catch: I am allergic to dogs. I always have been. I had horrible eczema and asthma as a child. So we did a lot of research before committing and found out this breed is supposed to be hypoallergenic. We even visited the home of a colleague of my husband’s who had an Australian Labradoodle from the same breeder we ended up using just to make sure it was true. A few months later, a tiny bundle of red joy arrived. Now I can’t imagine our family without him.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

There are five of us in the family. And we are all rather stubborn and opinionated. We must have gone through a hundred names. Finally, we settled on Rowan. It was my suggestion, based on the character from Sarah J. Maas’s amazing Throne of Glass series. I thought we would end up with an honorable, brave, stoic dog. My eldest daughter just this summer tore through the Throne of Glass series and announced that our pup Rowan could not be more different than Sarah J. Maas’s Rowan! Oh well. But there’s more to the story. My husband wants to point out that Rowan was the one name he didn't like. He was out of town when the final decisions were made. My 6-year announced the verdict to him over the phone and explained that his vote didn’t count as much as the four females in the house. Luckily, my husband didn’t mind too much!

Does Rowan do more to help or hinder your writing?

Rowan doesn’t hinder too much, except for when he is walking around the apartment looking pathetic because no one will play with him. He has perfected what we call the ‘saddest dog in the world’ face.

Has Rowan inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Not yet. But he has enough cuteness to star in is his own picture book series, I think.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Squirrel. Hands down. He loves to chase squirrels. Luckily, he’s not fast enough to catch them!

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Rowan loves all his toys. For my own sanity, I don’t give him squeakers. His favorite toy is a rubber Frisbee by Kong. He’s not the most athletic dog, but he will on occasion catch the Frisbee in mid-air.

Where is Rowan's favorite outdoor destination?

We have a small cottage in CT that has a fenced in pool area. That is Rowan’s favorite place because we let him off-leash and he can chase the Frisbee (and the squirrels).

Who is Rowan's best pet-pal?

My good friend has a very attractive and sweet goldendoodle named Maple who lives a few blocks away from us in New York City. Maple and Rowan met as puppies and they have been besties ever since. Sometimes the dogs see each other before my friend and I do and they start going nuts pulling us towards one another!

What is Rowan's best quality?

Rowan is very sweet and calm. He is even a certified therapy dog already! He loves to be pet and he is incredibly soft.

If Rowan could change one thing about New Yorkers, what would it be?

Rowan would make it a rule that every New Yorker has to stop and pet him. When he was a puppy we would laugh because his head would follow each person down the sidewalk, cocking as if in disbelief the person didn’t stop to pay him any compliments and attention.

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

What do you think about the whole dogs versus cats debate?

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

Chris Pratt from Jurassic World and Guardians of the Galaxy. He has just the right mix of cute humor and goofiness.

What advice would Rowan give if asked?

Chillax. Everything is going to be all right.

Visit Ismée Williams's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Christina Steiner & Sentry

C:\Users\Christina\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word\019.jpgWho is in the photo at right?

My name is Christina Steiner and I’m a writer, mother of two daughters, grandmother of twins (boy and girl). I have a great love for dogs, especially Hungarian Kuvasz and horses and a passion for nature. On the left is Sentry, at that time about six months old.

Sentry is my Hungarian Kuvasz, soon to be eight years old on 11/11/17. He is large for his breed, weighing in at around 160 lbs.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I’m an early riser, but not as early as my significant other. This has advantages. Tom brings me coffee every morning, at around five o’clock. Sentry at this time is still lounging on his dog pillow next to my bed… unless he has to defend me against possible intruders. Well that’s his job. His roommates, four Chesapeake Bay retrievers are scattered around the foot of the bed as well. Sentry looks at me, “Is it time to get going,” he seems to ask. I shake my head.

What's brewing?

The smell of freshly brewed coffee (a custom blend of ground Starbucks French Roast and Costco’s Colombian San Jose) with two spoons of sugar and heavy cream whipped to perfection permeates the room. Irresistible. What a way to start the day.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

In the meantime, I hear dog dishes prepared out in the kitchen. The spilling of kibble into the metal bowls wakes all the dogs to alert statues. With great expectations, they run out to Tom who measures out the portions for Sentry, Boomer, Harvard Girl, C:\Users\Christina\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word\052.jpgBetty Boop Boop and Flinn. Each canine has their specific kitchen corner for their dish. Treats in our house rare. Their favorites are raw turkey necks. They’re a special treat with the advantage that it cleans their teeth at the same time.

How were you and Sentry united?

Sentry is my third Kuvasz. I knew of a breeder in our area. I went to visit the litter when the puppies were six weeks old. He had 12 brothers and sisters. At 12 weeks, he was ready to join my household. At that time his name was Black Boy.

How did Sentry get his name? Any aliases?

Sentry as a puppy had the tendency to sit there on his haunches very quietly and astute, just like the queen’s guards. Hence fore the name Sentry. One of our friends calls him Yeti, the reason is obvious.

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

Without question, they all inspire me. My children’s books are about nature and looking into their soulful eyes gives me a view into the world of animals in general.

Have any actual dogs ever inspired dogs in your fiction?

I’ve written a short story, where the dog was the savoir. The dog Balderdash was fictional and I believe a combination of all my dogs from the past.

C:\Users\Christina\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word\20160511_073531.jpgCat, postman, squirrel...?

Squirrels absolutely…. In my recent book Shimji the Channel Island Vixen, there’s a chapter where the squirrels make fun of the dogs in the dog park. Most postmen and delivery people flee when they hear the ruckus of the dogs in the breezeway. But the dogs just do their job….

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Balls for our Chessies, who retrieve with abundance as that is what they were breed for. Sentry will go after the ball once, then he looks at me and says, “I know how to do this, besides I need to watch over the herd… What are you thinking…”

Never a squeaky-toy, it’s a sure measure to start a dog fight. Sticks are to be chewed on.

Who is Sentry's best pet-pal?

Betsy Ross, a Chesapeake Bay retriever born on the fourth of July in 2014, who is in the show circuit at the moment. Sentry and Betsy shared a kennel when we had to go out of town, which was a great consolation for Sentry in my absence.

What is Sentry's best quality?

Sentry is a true gentleman. Despite his awe-inspiring size he is very gentle with children and old people.

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

More off-leash parks and hiking areas. Though Ventura is great because dogs can surf and be leash free in many areas along our beaches.

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

This is a sad question. Because of Sentry’s age and size I would want to ask him, when I should let him go over the rainbow bridge.

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

Sean Connery would be perfect.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Please, humans, just relax. Enjoy life whatever it brings. Tomorrow is another day.

Visit Christina Steiner's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Jody Dean & Roxie

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Jody Dean, a California native, started my career as a PhD psychologist in Orange County, California and moved around in the field doing both clinical practice and healthcare strategy for large organizations. Roxie is a smooth coat dachshund, the AKC calls her coloring “black and tan with dapple markings”. She's 6 years old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

It's critical that I be fully caffeinated early because Roxie is a high energy dog who demands that we engage in what is called “dachshund cross fit”; running in the woods chasing squirrels or deer or whatever we might find. So, coffee with Roxie is a daily must do.

What's brewing?

Today Peet's Sumatra with cream and sugar. I self grind, because I like it strong and I get a bizarre satisfaction out of hearing the coffee beans ground to a fine consistency.

Any treats for you or Roxie on this occasion?

Roxie and her sisters get their breakfast early, they demand a 5 am feeding time. Even on Sunday, lord help the person who does not feed a dachshund when they are hungry.

How were you and Roxie united?

I have adopted dachshunds in the past from Southern California Dachshund Relief. One of mine had passed, so I needed another to be a pal to the other dog. Since dachshunds are like Lays potato chips, you cannot just have one. SCDR called me and told me they had a female 2 years old who needed “a home with dachshund experience”. This should have been my warning and a smarter person might have run like the wind but I fell for this trick.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

Roxie was “Roxie” when she came to me. It really fits her. I also call her Momo, Dork, Spaz and at times, Satan’s Little Helper.

Please tell us about your new book, Roxie the Doxie Finds Her Forever Home.

While it might just appear to be a fun kids book, Roxie the Doxie follows Roxie from foster care to her “forever” home. The book is intended to allow kids to navigate adoption or other family changes by talking about Roxie’s journey, because kids find it less threatening to speak of their own feelings when they can talk about a toy, a character or an imaginary friend having the feelings (that are actually theirs).

Does Roxie do more to help or hinder your writing?

Roxie is very helpful because each day she experiences an adventure which gives me inspiration and ideas.

Cat, postman, rabbit…?

What some people don’t know about dachshunds is that they have a naturally very high prey drive. Given the chance to develop this drive, which Roxie has done in various scent and hunting competitions, she is happy to bark or chase anyone and anything. That said, I don’t allow her to actually chase people nor does she really have a chance to catch a rabbit or cat! It's all in good fun.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick…?

Anything not tied down is a toy for Roxie. She can dismantle a squeaky toy in about 2 minutes, at which point she will stare at me with a look of such horrible disappointment as if to say “geez, that one was too easy”.

Who is Roxie's best pet-pal?

Daisy, who is also a dachshund and a rescue from SCDR.

What is Roxie's best quality?

Optimism. Roxie gets up each day assuming wonderful, fun and exciting things will happen. And for her, they usually do.

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

That I would never leave the house without her.

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

I would ask Roxie if she was happy.

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

Without a doubt, Lady Gaga. Because Lady Gaga has the ability to have a variety of speaking voices, and Roxie’s bark changes depending on her mood, it’s a perfect fit.

What advice would Roxie give if asked?

Roxie would tell everyone to lean toward the positive in life, to try new things even if you are scared, and when in doubt, go for dessert.

Learn more about Roxie the Doxie Finds Her Forever Home.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Katie Kennedy & Ernie

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Katie Kennedy. I write YA (Learning to Swear in America; What Goes Up), and MG. Ernie is a male Shih Poo (half Shih Tzu, half poodle). There’s some confusion as to how old he was when he got him from the pound, so he’s either ten or eleven.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We’re celebrating the release of What Goes Up, a YA light sci fi mashup.

What's brewing?

I’m drinking Swiss Miss with extra marshmallows because I don’t like coffee. It can be Hot Chocolate with a Canine, right? Ernie has water, but you can’t see it in the picture.

Any treats for you or Ernie on this occasion?

You bet! We are all about the treats. I have a scone and Ernie gets a beef treat. Later he’ll probably get half the cat’s food, too. [sigh]

How were you and Ernie united?

We got Ernie at the pound. He’d been surrendered by an older couple that couldn’t keep up with him. I imagined that they were elderly folk in poor health, tottering around with walkers, and just couldn’t have a dog underfoot. After we took Ernie home, we realized that he’s a lot to keep up with. That couple might have been running marathons and still have had trouble dealing with him.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

We kept the name his first family gave him, but he’s so disobedient and ornery that we decided he must not speak English. Why else would he ignore our every command? My husband calls him Ernesto, or Nesto for short, in the hopes that he’ll respond to commands in Spanish. So far it’s not working, but we’ve only tried for about five years.

Does Ernie do more to help or hinder your writing?

Oh, hinder. Ernie enjoys barking, and I don’t know how many sentences I’ve lost when he pulled me out of my story world. Needless to say, it’s totally worth it. I’d be lonely without my—loud, intrusive—little writing buddy.

Has Ernie inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

I had thirty pages devoted to a fictional dog in my work-in-progress, but I had to cut those scenes. I’m trying to figure out how to break the news to him. I do often work in a small black dog in some way or other, so he usually gets a cameo.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Ernie barks at everything except squirrels. He’ll bark because other dogs are barking, or because they aren’t and he wants to stir up trouble. But not squirrels. Pretty sure they made a pact at some point.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

He’s not a chewer, probably because his mouth is busy barking. But he does enjoy playing fetch and then refusing to give the toy up so I can throw it again. Also, the ottoman is home base. If he makes it there safely, I’m not allowed to grab the toy and play tuggy pull with it.

Where is Ernie's favorite outdoor destination?

He loves his walks and despite his tiny legs he’ll walk for blocks and blocks, no matter how cold it is. When he realizes we’re almost home he tries to trick me and head in the opposite direction. He’s a scamp.

Who is Ernie's best pet-pal?

I think he has a little crush on Emma, the dog next door. Every time he sees her he goes nuts barking. Did I mention that she lives next door? So he sees her every few minutes?

What is Ernie's best quality?

He’s incredibly loyal. He’s also incredibly brave. I was watching Jurassic Park with the kids once, and you know that scene where the T. Rex slowly turns its head and roars? Ernie stood between the kids and growled back. He weighed fifteen pounds. I’ll always love him for that.

If Ernie could change one thing about Iowans, what would it be?

People don’t drop hams enough.

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

If I only got one sentence, I’d tell him something--that it’s okay for him to sleep in the sunny window in the living room while I work in the study. He loves that room so much, but I can’t draft in it. He tries to lead me in there in the morning, and when I go into the study he sighs and follows, and stays as long as I do. I’d like him to know it would be okay if he took a little time off to enjoy his favorite place.

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

Meryl Streep. She can do anybody.

What advice would Ernie give if asked?

If you sneak around the island, you can sometimes make it to the cat’s bowl before Mom notices. And that is awesome!

Visit Katie Kennedy's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Kendra Elliot & Max and Liesel

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Kendra Elliot, an author, mom, and procrastinator. I have two Pomeranians. The one on the left is seven-year-old Max and the other is five-month-old Liesel.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We have coffee every day together. Liesel is an early bird who gets us up at the latest by six—Max prefers to sleep in and doesn’t join us until later. Liesel is hyper; Max is mellow. When Max goes down the stairs in the morning, he always stops on the second to last stair and looks over his shoulder at me because Liesel is spazzing out at the bottom, thrilled to see him and unable to climb up the stairs. The look in Max’s eyes says “Dude. There isn’t enough coffee in the world to deal with her first thing in the morning.” As soon as he hops off the last step, she attacks and chews on his ears and feet. It’s all in love, but Max doesn’t appreciate it first thing in the morning.

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

There’s nothing better than the soft snore of a dog nearby when I’m at my desk…but I don’t care for the hyper barking at every dog that walks by on the sidewalk.

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

I’ve mentioned this on Facebook before. Max would sound like Hodor from Game of Thrones and Liesel would be Elmo on fast-forward.

What's brewing?

Decaf drip brew. I gave up caffeine a year and a half ago (waits for exclamations of horror). During the withdrawal, I was in physical pain for a few days and then I was perfectly fine. I was shocked to discover I didn’t need caffeine to function in the morning once I shook the addiction. It was more that I needed a hot cup of something in my hand. I occasionally indulge in caffeine when we’re at a coffee shop.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Today we have dried turkey jerky for the dogs and jicama sticks for me. I’m trying to lose some vacation weight otherwise I’d be having anything chocolate.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

It’s hard to agree when there are five people to please. Max was easily voted on and the only holdout was my oldest daughter who wanted to call him Jasper after a vampire in Twilight. Liesel was hard. We had a huge list of names and voted and voted again. By process of elimination, Lila won. I didn’t like the name and overruled to the protests of my kids. A few hours later Liesel came up. Two of my daughters immediately shrieked yes, and I made an executive-mom decision. I’d always loved the name from The Sound of Music.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Both dogs love to play with our cats and bark their heads off at the postman and squirrels.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Liesel loves balls and leaves. Max prefers to simply sit and chew on snacks.

Who is your dogs' best pet-pals?

Max’s best pal is our cat, Paris. We got her as a kitten last fall and she immediately attached herself to Max. Liesel loves Max to death, but right now he finds her a bit ridiculous.

Have any actual dogs ever inspired dogs in your fiction?

My main characters in Chilled, Buried, Known, the Callahan & McLane series, and the Rogue River series have dogs. I can’t say they were based on any particular dog. I had a stray attach himself to the main character in the Callahan series because he seemed so unlikely to have a dog.

What is each dog's best quality?

Max is mellow and loving. Liesel shows us how to find joy in the simple things…like leaves.

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

Liesel would want me to play with her 24/7, and Max would prefer that I give more snacks and back scratches.

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

Why must you bark at the doorbell every time??

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Max: eat more peanut butter
Liesel: Play! Play! Play!

Visit Kendra Elliot's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Merciful Truth.

Writers Read: Kendra Elliot.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Tamara Bundy & Toby

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Tamara Bundy, a high school teacher, mom and author. I have seven non-fiction books to my name –but this summer my debut middle grade novel, Walking with Miss Millie comes out and I couldn’t be more excited. The cute little guy with me in the picture is Toby. He is around six years old and is a Cockapoo. This picture was the lucky day we brought him home from the SCPA.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

It’s always first in the morning. I take my first sips of the day and Toby tries to crawl into my skin to get as close to me as possible.

What's brewing?

The rest of my family spends enough money on daily Starbucks runs. I’m the practical one who home brews. I still like the occasion of a pot of coffee that allows you to “freshen” your cup.

Any treats for you or Toby on this occasion?

Toby’s favorite treats are the doggy “ice creams”. I think he sees me eating so much ice cream that he really feels he is eating ice cream too. Have to say I want to try it.

How were you and Toby united?

Toby was a “Surrender Dog”. I never have found out why his previous owners gave him up. He has had a lot of medical bills, so I wonder if they gave him up due to that. We got him through an adoption program at the SCPA. We were the lucky ones—he is an amazing dog.

How did your dog get his name?

They called him “Toby” at the SCPA so I thought that was his name –the one he was surrendered with. But after we started calling him that for a few months after we got him, I realized the workers gave him a random name. I think I would have chosen something different had I known –but it’s too late now. At least he finally answers to “Toby”.

Does Toby do more to help or hinder your writing?

Toby is the perfect dog. I’m serious. He never causes trouble. The only thing that hinders me is sometimes he is so close to my feet when I stand up, I trip over him.

Has Toby inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Believe it or not – he inspired a fictional …lamb! My next book – out in 2019 is about a lamb who becomes more of a pet. I used Toby’s expressions, and the way he’d look at me, to come up with details about my lamb in the book.

Who is Toby's best pet-pal?

My daughter rescued a sweet pit-mix named Milly. And while Toby and Milly look like polar opposites, they love to hang out together when my daughter comes to visit.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

When we first got Toby, he didn’t bark. At all. I thought maybe he couldn’t. But one day…three months after we got him, he did bark – at a cat on the deck. I guess he was just waiting for the right moment.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Squeaky toy… all the way.

Where is Toby's favorite outdoor destination?

Anywhere with me. He loves to go outside –just not alone.

What is Toby's best quality?

He is the best dog in the world. Seriously, he is so sweet. You just look in his eyes and you see such kindness and sweetness. And he has never had an accident in the house. Never.

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

Toby would change the fact that I sometimes leave the house. He would much prefer I never leave without him. And I think he’d prefer not to have to get some of the medication he’s on now.

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

I’d love to know the name he had for the first years of his life. I really want to know more about that time.

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

I picture Toby as such a kind, old soul, I’d have Morgan Freeman give him a voice.

What advice would Toby give if asked?

Toby would say everybody should lighten up a little, give more belly rubs, and take more naps.

Visit Tamara Bundy's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Michael P. Spradlin & Willow and Apollo

Who is in the photo at right?

The devilishly handsome guy in the photo is me, Michael P. Spradlin, author and international man of mystery with my two highly trained, well behaved, always silent and stealthy (not) Schnoodles, Willow (gold) and Apollo (Black). Schnoodles are Schnauzer and Poodle mixes.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Since I work at home, every day is coffee with a canine. Except for the coffee part. I’m not a coffee drinker. So, most days tend to be ‘hijinks with a canine days’.

What's brewing?

Usually it’s some type of flavored water. Most often Pineapple-Coconut which allows me to imagine I’m somewhere in the tropics.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Cheese. Always cheese. Cheese. It’s what’s for dinner. My dogs will do anything, and I mean anything, if there is the prospect of cheese at the end. Anyone who wanted to rob our house would only need to bring cheese to convince the dogs to lead them to the valuables.

How were you and your dogs united?

Willow (gold) is the oldest. She came to us first and we enjoyed her so much, we decided to get Apollo so she would have a friend. However, as it turns out, while Willow tolerates him, she’s quite convinced she is the only dog in the world and therefore can’t be bothered with his shenanigans.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Willow is named after the character Willow from Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. According to my family, Apollo is named after the Greek God, although I like to tell people he’s named after Apollo Creed from the Rocky movies.

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

Definitely help. Dogs are one of mankind’s great stress reducers. They love unconditionally, are always happy to see you, and when you are holding or petting them, it’s impossible not to relax and breathe. And properly caring for a dog, walking and exercising them, keeps you refreshed and active which is good for you. Many times when I’m stuck on a story, taking the dogs for a walk helps me clear my head and think.

Have any actual dogs ever inspired dogs in your fiction?

Both of my mutts have made appearances in my books. In the Youngest Templar trilogy, Tristan, the protagonist, is adopted by Angel, a small golden dog who bravely assists him in his journey. In the Killer Species series, Calvin has a black Schnoodle named Apollo. They both have agents now.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

All of the above. Willow is an ‘observe and report’ member of the pack. She notifies us of any unauthorized activity in the neighborhood including but not limited to neighbors getting their mail, meter readers, or undocumented leaves blowing into our yard. Apollo is the ‘observe and attack’ member of the pack and has a blood feud with the neighbor’s cat, and is a sworn enemy of all UPS, FedEx or US Postal services workers. As far as he is concerned they shall not pass.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Neither of them are big on toys or fetching. Apollo is a mighty hunter and brings us snakes, moles, mice, the occasional bird and frog. Both are big fans of rawhide chews.

Who is each dog's best pet-pal?

Unquestionably my wife. I’m purely here for back up. If my wife is gone, I’ll do in a pinch, but she is the center of their universe.

What is each dog's best quality?

Schnoodles are people dogs. They’re happiest when their ‘pack,’ which includes my children, and their mates are all together at our house as they should be. They’re always in a good mood, the first thing they offer is love and they’re big fans of naps. If nothing suspicious, like garbage pickup, is happening in the neighborhood.

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

Well they are Michigan dogs, so I believe in their minds they consider themselves superior to all other canines. But they’d probably say that instead of using our hands to point out to people where we live, we instead use those hands to hold cheese. On can never have enough cheese.

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

I would ask them how it is they can live so easily in the moment. They seem to be born Zen masters. I wish I could find that state as easily as they seem to.

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

Willow would demand that Meryl Streep provide her voice. And Apollo would not participate unless Samuel L. Jackson was his mouthpiece.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Life is simple. Talk a walk, have some cheese and then a nap. Repeat. And baths really aren’t necessary. You smell great.

Visit Michael P. Spradlin's website.

My Book, The Movie: Prisoner of War.

Writers Read: Michael P. Spradlin.

The Page 69 Test: Prisoner of War.


--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Melissa Scholes Young & Huckleberry Nacho Finn

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Melissa Scholes Young. I'm a writer and a teacher. This is the dog who picked me, Huckleberry Nacho Finn Scholes Young. He sits on my feet while I write books. We think he's about four years old. He's a chocolate lab/Pit Bull/Boxer/Love of my life mutt.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We're on our way to the dog park. He let's me take him as a reward if I make his morning chicken just right.

What's brewing?

Nespresso. Dry cappuccino with skim milk. Huck prefers his with whipped cream.

Any treats for you or Huck on this occasion?

I'm enjoying a salad and Huck is enjoying the salmon that used to be on top of my salad.

How were you and Huck united?

He chose me at a Lucky Dog adoption event. He leaned in. If you've ever had a dog lean in and claim you, you know the rest.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

I grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, Mark Twain's boyhood home, so I'm a big literary fan of Twain's. Huck just seemed to be a Huck, but the first time he ate an entire stick of butter off of our table Huckleberry Finn came out of my mouth in a certain tone that Widow Douglass would have used. My youngest daughter added the Nacho part to his name. He mostly goes by Huckanoodles and Good Boy.

Does Huck do more to help or hinder your writing?

He sits on my feet and makes me sit and stay. He reminds me to take breaks and walk him. He lets me throw his ball while I'm working out plot points in my mind. He snores a lot and there seem to be a lot of snoring dogs in my scenes.

Has Huck inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Yes. The novel I'm working on now has a Nacho in it. Nacho prefers sticks to balls but whatever.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Bunnies.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Ball. Ball. Ball.

Where is Huck's favorite outdoor destination?

Our woods. Anywhere there is water.

Who is Huck's best pet-pal?

Cinder. She's also from Lucky Dog Rescue and she is Huck's everything. She likes to play rough.

What is Huck's best quality?

He is absolutely the best listener ever.

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

They think their dogs have behavior problems. They're really only owner problems.

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

Do you know how much I adore you?

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

Matthew McConaughey with a southern accent.

What advice would Huck give if asked?

Don't work so hard. Take more naps.

Visit Melissa Scholes Young's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Trish Doller & Cobi

Who is in the photo at right?

I attempted to get a good picture of my dog and me, but it was kind of a perfect storm of weird lighting, new location, and Other Dogs. But I am Trish Doller, author of In a Perfect World, and this is my dog Cobi, a 10-year-old male Border Collie.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

My typical morning caffeine is usually a bottle of Coke (I don’t care for coffee), but since this was a special occasion, I took Cobi to Bennett’s Fresh Roast, which is simply the best place in Fort Myers for coffee and doughnuts.

What's brewing?

I opted for a red tea with cranberry and orange, and it was delicious, but left me kind of sweaty because the weather is so hot today!

Any treats for you or Cobi on this occasion?

Bennett’s has amazing homemade apple fritters and doughnuts in flavors like maple bacon, s’mores, and orange coconut. My favorite is the key lime-filled with a dusting of graham cracker pie crust. So delicious. (I gave Cobi a little nibble.)

How were you and Cobi united?

One of my favorite internet activities is browsing petfinder—even when I’m not actively looking for a pet—and about eight years ago, I came across a ridiculously cute Border Collie named Kobe. His profile said he was already in the adoption process, so I continued browsing. About a month later, Kobe was still there. I emailed the rescue agency and they told me the adoption had fallen through. I submitted an application and three days later he was mine!

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

His original name was Korbin, given to him by the people who eventually surrendered him to animal services, but he was renamed Kobe by the rescue agency. I was not huge fan of the name, but his rescue “mom” loved him so much that I felt a little disrespectful changing it. So we changed the spelling instead.

My whole family loves soccer, so Kobe became Cobi Jones (after the former US player) and his aliases are Mr. Jones, Jones, Bones, Kobayashi Maru, Cobi Wan Kenobi, and sometimes Jermaine. (Bonus points for anyone who figures out that last one.)

Does Cobi do more to help or hinder your writing?

Now you know who really writes my books. [photo right]

Has Cobi inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

I've written three novels with dogs as characters, but none of them are Cobi-inspired. Odd.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Cobi isn’t bothered much by cats or squirrels, but he barks at other dogs going past the house and at delivery people. I’m trying to teach him that we don’t bark at people who bring us food, but so far the lessons haven’t stuck.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Ball. And there is nothing that can’t become a ball. Plush toy? Ball. Sock? Ball. Plastic soda bottle? Ball. I once bought him one of those toys in which you put treats so the dog must figure out how to get the treats out. It’s a ball.

Where is Cobi's favorite outdoor destination?

He loves Dog Beach on Lovers Key. It’s kind of far, so we don’t go very often, but when we cross the bridge, he knows where we’re going and he gets so excited.

Who is Cobi's best pet-pal?

He doesn’t have a BFF, but Cobi likes just about every dog he meets.

What is Cobi's best quality?

He is the sweetest and most well-mannered dog I’ve ever owned, but his best quality is his charm. It’s impossible not to like him.

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

Cobi is a wanderer. When he was young, he used to dig under the fence to escape the yard. Once, he squeezed out a window. Fortunately, we’ve always gotten him back, but I would love to know where he goes and what he does when he’s wandering.

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

Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Dodgeball) is one of the best voice actors ever and if anyone could get Cobi’s voice, it would be him.

What advice would Cobi give if asked?

Stop what you’re doing and play ball with your dog. (Which is never a bad idea.)

Visit Trish Doller's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Robyn Harding & Ozzie

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Robyn Harding and I’m the author of the novel The Party. My dog, Ozzie, is a twelve-year-old, male papillon. He weighs 7.5 pounds and has no teeth.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Every morning, Ozzie and I have coffee together at home. Ozzie doesn’t like to go out for coffee. He is very nervous so he prefers to avoid people, traffic, and other dogs. In the mornings, I like to grab my coffee and start writing. Ozzie keeps me company.

What's brewing?

During the week, I drink Ethical Bean drip coffee with honey and milk. On the weekends, I’ll have a latte.

Any treats for you or Ozzie on this occasion?

Ozzie is very picky and doesn’t like treats, which is probably good because they’d be a challenge without teeth. But every morning, he gets a home-cooked breakfast with just a sprinkling of tiny kibble on top. He’s spoiled.

How were you and Ozzie united?

My kids had begged for a dog. I knew the care and maintenance would ultimately fall on me, so I said the smaller the better. Ozzie came from a family of show dogs but he isn’t “breed standard”, so they were getting rid of him. Apparently, he’s not cute enough to compete on the dog show circuit, but I beg to differ.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

The breeder had already named him Ozzie. My husband is an Aussie. When he heard the name he said, “That’s the dog for us!”.

Does Ozzie do more to help or hinder your writing?

He helps me by forcing me to take breaks. When we go for walks, it lets me plot out my story, and gives my neck and shoulders a break from typing.

Has Ozzie inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

No, but he’d be a great character in a children’s story – a sweet, fluffy little guy who is afraid of everything.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Squirrels. They’re the only thing Ozzie isn’t afraid of… although, if he ever actually caught one, I’m sure he would be.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

We have tiny tennis balls that he’s able to pick up in his small, toothless mouth. But in the last few years, he’s gotten pretty lazy. I’ll throw the ball or a small stick for him, and he just looks at me.

Where is Ozzie's favorite outdoor destination?

He loves to go to the beach – but not the dog beach. That’s terrifying! We take him to the human beach in the off-season (when there are no lifeguards around). He likes to run figure eights in the sand.

Who is Ozzie's best pet-pal?

Me. Or my husband or my kids. He doesn’t like any other dogs. And only a couple of other humans.

What is Ozzie's best quality?

His very sweet and compliant nature. He always wants to be a good boy, even when he’s getting a bath or a trim or I’m putting drops in his eyes.

If Ozzie could change one thing about Vancouverites, what would it be?

They wouldn’t have so many dogs! Everyone in Vancouver seems to have a dog or two. Ozzie would like to be the only dog in the whole city.

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

Do you remember your dog mom?

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

Steve Buscemi.

What advice would Ozzie give if asked?

Be careful! Everything could kill you!

Visit Robyn Harding's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 26, 2017

Heather Gudenkauf & Lolo

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Heather Gudenkauf, author and educator and this lovely girl (who, with no luck, we were trying to get to pose for a picture) is Lolo, a four-year-old German shorthair pointer.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

On weekends, Lolo and I have a ritual of hopping into the car and going to get a Diet Coke.

What's brewing?

For me, it’s a Diet Coke from a fountain with a skinny straw. Odd I know, but it’s the simple things in life that make us happy, right?

Any treats for you or Lolo on this occasion?


No treats for me today but I always keep a stash of dog treats in the car’s center console.


How did your dog get her name?

Lolo is named after Iowa native and Olympic athlete Lolo Jones.

Any aliases?

We call her Lo for short.

Back in 2010 you introduced us to the much-loved Maxine, also a German Shorthaired Pointer. Is there something about the breed that you really like, or can that be a coincidence?

It’s no coincidence and kind of a long story. Maxine, our mischievous German Shorthair Pointer, completed our family. If Maxine didn’t have the chance to run each day, destruction would follow. Shoes disappeared, food vanished from countertops, especially sticks of butter, and once we discovered a hole eaten out of the center of our mattress. But Maxine was also smart and loving. When one of our five was diagnosed with cancer, Maxine, once the bossy center of our household found herself on the sidelines. Between trips to the hospital, work and school, Maxine was often left alone for long stretches, but she was always there for whoever needed comfort.

We could cry into her soft fur when we became overwhelmed with the reality of the illness that changed our family. She would lie patiently at our side, head on our laps, when we had no energy to do anything else.

On a cold evening, ten-year-old Maxine died suddenly.

We were devastated. While we continued to feel the deep loss, we were mindful of the joy that having a pet brought us. One day I received an unexpected call from the man we bought Maxine from. He said he had a puppy if we wanted to meet her. We did.

The pup was returned to him by the hunter he sold her to because she was soft, scared of loud noises. She intermittently approached us and skittered away, but still, we fell in love. The man pulled out her papers and then brought out Maxine’s genealogy. He smiled broadly. The puppy’s mother was a littermate to Maxine. Maxine was this puppy’s aunt!

We named her Lolo and she seamlessly joined our clan. I imagine her Aunt Maxine, from the great beyond murmuring, That spot, next to the windows, is the best place to soak up the morning sun. Right there, in front of the fireplace is the perfect spot to lie down and chew on your bone. You can play in the woods, but don’t go too far (Lolo doesn’t). Don’t chew on shoes, they hate that (Lolo does). And I imagine that Maxine whispers to Lolo about us, her human family ~ all good, I hope.

Does Lolo do more to help or hinder your writing?

I love having Lolo nearby as I write. She looks out the window or snuggles up in a chair while I work at the computer. If I’m sitting for too long she reminds me that it’s time for a break and talks me into taking her for a walk.

Has Lolo inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

I think there is a lot of Lolo in Stitch from Not A Sound. Like Stitch, Lolo definitely has a mind of her own, is loyal and loving.

Cat, postman, rabbit...?

Rabbits, squirrels, anything small and crittery Lolo will get her attention.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

All of the above!

Who is Lolo's best pet-pal?

Lolo loves to hang out with the neighbor dogs – two yellow labs named Roxie and Bo.

What is Lolo's best quality?

Lolo is sweet, snuggly and always up for an adventure.

If Lolo could change one thing about Iowans, what would it be?

I think Lolo would encourage we Iowans to take a little time off work and get outside and hike the beautiful trails that many people don’t realize that Iowa has.



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



I would ask Lolo what she thinks of us all – though I’m a little afraid to hear the answer!

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

What a fun question! I would say Alexis Bledel, Rory Gilmore of Gilmore Girls.

What advice would Lolo give if asked?

Wake up each morning ready to explore the world around you, run hard, rest when you need to.

Visit Heather Gudenkauf's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Heather Gudenkauf and Maxine.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Claire LaZebnik & Harvey, Lula and Mabel

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Claire LaZebnik, book author, mother of four, and wife to a Simpsons writer. I have three dogs: Harvey (a male yellow Lab—he’s thirteen), Mabel (a female boxer/German Shepherd mix—mature adult but I’m not sure how old), Lula (female small terrier mix, also mature adult). And there’s Juno the cat but she doesn’t get to join us for coffee today.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Thought I’d grab my laptop and work a bit at a table outside of Starbucks, while Lula hangs out in my lap. She likes to sit in laps. I’d say her entire being is focused on getting into someone’s lap. She’s not picky about whose, although she prefers mine to anyone else’s.

What's brewing?

Black iced Americano. The most refreshing drink of all. It’s like slightly bitter water. If I’m hot and thirsty, it satisfies me like nothing else. You need the perfect ratio of ice to coffee though—too much coffee and the ice melts and the drink goes warm, which is unpleasant, and too much ice, you only get a few sips of coffee before it’s gone.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Starbucks sous vide egg whites—hot and smooth and delicious and as good for the pup as for me.

How were you and your dogs united?

We got Harvey, our old Lab, at a school fundraiser; I guess someone had asked his breeder to donate a puppy. Harvey was being passed from arm to arm and he was so calm and gentle, even my husband (who doesn’t always like dogs) was attracted to him. We’d both had a glass of wine, so I said, “Let’s bid on him,” and he said, “Sure—we’ll be outbid instantly so why not?” We bid and no one else raised a hand after. We were shocked. We thought tons of people would want him. We went home with him that night and our kids have never been more excited than when they discovered we had gained a dog while they were asleep.

Lula and Mabel are both rescues. My daughter fell in love with Lula when she was volunteering for a dog shelter and begged us to adopt her. Mabel’s also adopted but her story is long and complicated—I tell the whole thing in a book of essays and recipes I edited, called SisterWriterEaters. If anyone’s interested, it’s available on Amazon.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Harvey was named after the invisible rabbit Harvey from the play, because he was big and goofy and sweet. Lula is short for “Cholula,” my husband’s favorite hot sauce (we wanted him to like her). She had been named “Mandy” but we didn’t like that so we changed it. And Mabel came with her name—we liked it so we kept it.

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

Oh, hinder, definitely. They’re always barking at something and distracting me or needing walks or attention. Sometimes I have to leave the house and go to a coffee shop to write just to get anything done. On the plus side, they’re good for my health—I wouldn’t walk so much without them. And of course I love them.

Have any actual dogs ever inspired dogs in your fiction?

Yes, there’s a sweet big dog in one of my novels (If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home Now). She’s named “Eleanor Roosevelt.” I wish I’d named a dog that. It’s a great dog name. Anyway, she definitely has some Harvey-like characteristics.

Cat, postman, squirrel…?

Harvey loves the world and refuses to chase anything or anyone. We had ducks living in our pool and he did nothing to dissuade them. Lula only pays attention to humans and wants to sit in all their laps, but Mabel will chase and bark at absolutely everything. The poor UPS guy is terrified of her.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick…?

Ball. Harvey used to fetch for hours but he’s too old now to run. Lula doesn’t play with anything, and Mabel likes to run after balls but doesn’t bring them back.

Who is each dog's best pet-pal?

Harvey and Mabel are very close—they’re rarely far apart physically. Lula isn’t interested in other pets. Just people.

What is each dog's best quality?

Harvey is pure goodness. He would never hurt a fly. Our kitten used to swat at his tail and he would just let her.

Lula is like a living stuffed animal. She curls up with you when you sleep or work and makes every space feel cozy.

Mabel was probably abused in her previous life and is less overtly lovable, but the fact she has bonded to me and trusts me completely is really touching and meaningful.

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

Mabel would like all the friendly people who come near her to stop putting their hands in her face. People do it to introduce themselves—we’re all taught that with a new dog—but I think some owner must have hit her in the face because it’s scary to her.

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

I would ask Mabel about her previous life. I would ask Harvey whether anything hurts (he’s getting old and moving stiffly), and I would ask Lula why she likes to be held so much. And if the cat could speak, I would ask her about her nocturnal adventures.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which your dogs--and Juno the cat--could speak, who should voice them?

Harvey would be Morgan Freeman; Lula would be Kristen Schaal; Mabel would be Julianna Margulies; and Juno would be Scarlett Johansson.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Don’t step in the poop.

Visit Claire LaZebnik's website.

--Marshal Zeringue