Thursday, December 8, 2016

Zana Fraillon & Tishkin and Moomin

Who is in the photo at right?

That is me (Zana Fraillon) with my two gorgeous Golden Retrievers, Moomin and Tishkin (Moomin is the one lying quietly and calmly). I write books for kids, so I am lucky enough to spend the day working with my dogs at my feet. Taking them for a walk along the river is also a sure fire way to overcome writer’s block. Tishkin has just turned one, so we are hoping he is just about over his destruction phase (it is a phase, right?), and Moomin is 4. She is far more sensible, although has a thing for carrying shoes around – this has caused many a late morning when at least one of us will have to rummage in the garden for the missing shoe…

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Coffee is an essential part of my day, and sitting on the front porch is the perfect place to have it. The dogs always join me – both for the morning tea titbits which often find their way into the dogs’ mouths, and for the lovely morning sun that soaks the porch. We have all sorts of wild birds around here (including the rather bossy cockatoos who tear up the wood on our porch when the neighbours have neglected to fill their bird feeder) so the dogs are on lookout for intruders. Of course, they are a little scared of the cockatoos (they are huge birds), so bark from a safe distance.

What's brewing?

A latte is my coffee of choice. We usually use beans from our favourite café – Everyday Coffee in Collingwood – which at the moment is a blend of Colombia La Playa and Colombia Yancanquer.

Any treats for you or Tishkin and Moomin on this occasion?

I did enjoy some lemon syrup cupcakes left over from the kids’ lunchboxes, and shortly after this photo was taken the dogs both enjoyed their daily bone in the back yard. They have recently worked out that they can both enjoy their bones if they stick to separate spots in the garden, which makes for a much more relaxing morning.

How were you and your dogs united?

Moomin was the first Golden Retriever we have ever had. We bought her from a woman who wanted her dog to have just the one litter (and despite us pleading to have more after we bought Moomin, she stuck to her promise). We bought Moomin when our previous two dogs had reached 13 and 12 years of age. Moomin re-energised them both, and made the transition from ‘old dog’ family to ‘young dog’ family as smooth as it can be.

We knew after the success with Moomin that we wanted another Golden Retriever, and searched Golden Retriever Rescue for a long time. Most of the dogs there though were old and ‘needed a quiet life’ or interstate and unable to travel. With a fairly young dog already and three young boys we decided to go for a puppy instead. We found Tishkin through a reputable breeder and have really enjoyed watching him grow up with the kids.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Both the dogs are named after book characters. When we first got Moomin, she looked exactly like a Moomintroll – fat, white and fluffy. She also made a noise that sounded a lot like Chewbacca, so for a while we couldn’t decide. In the end we decided that if we called her Chewbacca she would get Chewy for short, which would surely only cement her desire to eat everything. As it is, she gets Moomy and Moom (or Moomin Troll Fraillon when we are being formal) and doesn’t chew a thing.

Tishkin was named after the character Tishkin Silk. This is a book by the wonderful Glenda Millard, and just a beautiful story. We had all read the book and loved it, and Tishkin suited the pup straight away. Funnily enough, he ended up with the same middle name as Moomin, so he gets Tishkin Troll Fraillon, which makes no sense at all.

Do Tishkin and Moomin do more to help or hinder your writing?

They definitely do more to help me write. Dogs are wonderful for bringing people back to the important things in life, and their daily walk is one of the best parts of the day. They have also taken me to explore places I wouldn’t otherwise have ventured to, and these places inevitably end up in my books.

Have your dogs inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Not yet – although they have inspired the creation of characters of different species. Undying loyalty and unconditional love are the hallmarks of dogs, as well as their ability to know when something is wrong without you having to say a single thing. They are perceptive and know exactly when to cosy up for a snuggle, or when what is really needed is a good game of fetch (which, by the way, they are both hopeless at. They chase the ball, they pick up the ball, then they drop the ball where they are and wait for me to come and get it. I guess they haven’t cottoned on to the ‘retriever’ part of their gene pool…)

Cat, postman, rabbits...?

Both Tish and Moom love chasing rabbits. I always wonder what would happen if they were fast enough to catch up to one – I suspect they would run away. They do also enjoy chasing cats, but only to play with. They look quite offended when the cat in question takes a swipe. The postman seems largely irrelevant to the dogs, although parcel deliveries which make it to the front door are always met with waggy tails and the hope of a pat.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Anything, especially if it is in the water. They both love swimming and taking them to the beach is wonderful. It always makes me wish we could live near enough to a beach that I could take them swimming more regularly. We have a river near us, but the risk of snake bite means we can only swim the dogs there for about 4 months of the year.

Who are Tishkin and Moomin's best pet-pals?

Each other. They love meeting new friends down at the park, but invariably end up charging around with one another, while their bemused new friend looks on.

What is each dog's best quality?

Moomin’s best quality is her calm nature. At some stage I will do some therapy dog work with her, because she is so in tune with people and so calm. I have taken her to the kids’ school where she has been surrounded by 50 excited, yelling 6 year olds, and she just sits in the middle of the circle and lets them pat her.

Tishkin is also wonderful at adjusting his play - he will lie down as soon as a baby arrives at the house, or when he meets a small dog. He is also fiercely intelligent so very easy to train. Of course, this does mean he can get bored if we are out for the day, but who wouldn’t?

If Tishkin and Moomin could change one thing about you, what would it be?

Not having enough time in the day. They are both very chilled dogs, and as I speed around trying to fit everything in, they do look at me wearily. If only life was one big holiday, we could all live as happily as dogs.

If Tishkin and Moomin could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?

I would ask Tishkin why he always steals the newspaper from the table and the tea towel from the oven door, even though he knows he shouldn’t…and I would ask Moomin what they actually do when we are out. I can tell by the look on her face when we return that they haven’t been sleeping quietly in the sun...

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

Oh that is so hard! My old dog Trapper, I would have said Clarke Peters (Lester Freeman from The Wire) but he is too old for Tishkin’s voice…If we could go back in time, I would choose Wayne Rogers (Trapper from M*A*S*H) for Tishkin, and Carrie Fisher for Moomin (because who wouldn’t choose Princess Leia to be their voice, right?) – although really I can’t imagine them having a voice at all. I have a feeling if they could talk, it would totally change their character. Things are much wiser when you can’t understand them…

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

‘Ladies and Gentlemen take my advice, pull down your pants and slide on the ice…’ (The dogs are both huge M*A*S*H fans as well…)

Follow Zana Fraillon on Twitter.

My Book, The Movie: The Bone Sparrow.

Writers Read: Zana Fraillon.

The Page 69 Test: The Bone Sparrow.


--Marshal Zeringue

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