Monday, October 17, 2016

Diane Rose-Solomon & Gonzo and Ninja

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Diane Rose-Solomon, in the middle; I’m a humane educator. I also write books about animal rescue. Gonzo is the studly blonde guy (whose face is partially hidden), he’s 7 and your guess about his breed is as good as ours. We think he’s some type of terrier, maybe some Whippet or Italian Greyhound and maybe Chihuahua? Ninja is the raven colored dapper dude, also 7 and from the side he looks like a Labrador, and from the front, some type of Pit Bull. Someone once asked me if he’s a Labrabull.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Considering Ninja is my Velcro dog, if I’m home and drinking coffee (or water, or tea, or wine) he’s generally nearby. We start the day in my home office predawn before the family gets up. He goes back to sleep on the daybed while I drink green tea, stretch, meditate and journal. When Gonzo hears the leashes come out of the drawer, he extricates himself from the warm bed upstairs.

What's brewing?

Morning time is Genmaicha green tea and some days I’ll have a decaf Groundworks or Peets coffee. Iced in the summer.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

I carry a bag of treats on our daily walks and use them for training purposes. Fun for them and they no longer go ballistic when they see other dogs. But if they just look at me they get a treat, so we connect a lot. They also get a treat after the walk too. Lucky dogs.

How were you and your dogs united?

We had heard about a boxer red listed to be euthanized who was pulled from the shelter by a local rescue group. By the time we got to the shelter to meet him he had already been adopted. They asked if we wanted a puppy instead and I said “no puppy!” You know what they did? They opened the door to the puppy room and let this six month old puppy out to greet us. My kids shrieked “A Puppy!” I lost. The puppy came home with us.

We found Ninja on Our gorgeous dog T-bone had just crossed the Rainbow Bridge and my son wanted a black lab. I wanted a Pit Bull type dog and we found Ninja. Something for everyone.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Gonzo is named for the muppet and also Gonzo journalism. We call him Little Man because he’s a Little Man! Often pronounced “Leetle Man”.

Ninja came with the name Jay because he had a big white “J” on his chest. That didn’t work for us because our first dog (and the namesake of my children’s book series) was JJ. It also didn’t fit. We soon realized that he was very stealthy. Seriously- how does a 65 pound dog with jingly tags sneak up on me while I’m washing the dishes every single time.

Please tell us about your new book.

What to Expect When Adopting a Dog, my newest book, is a guide to successful dog adoption for every family. In five modules, I lead the reader through the steps they should take to decide on a dog, then through the adoption process, as well as lifelong care.

What is each dog's best quality?

Gonzo is great at sitting in your lap, curling up with you while you are sleeping and making a part howl part bark sound when you come home. It sounds like “Rooo” and we call it Rooing.

Ninja is just funny. He’ll get up on the banquette after dinner and put his face on the table. Nothing cuter.

They both make coming home the greatest thing in the world. There’s an imaginary red carpet when I open the door. I feel special and loved.

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

Ninja would play with them all, but he destroys everything and then the dogs get into a fight, so only sometimes do they get balls, and it’s always supervised. Since he loves greeting us with something, when we walk in the door, he grabs one of his light dog beds and shakes it and runs around the house with it. Very proud.

Postman, cat, rabbit...?

All of the above. Squirrels too. Keeps me on my toes on a walk.

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

My dogs would simply want everyone to love each other for their unique beauty, kind of like the way we love them for their unique mutt beauty.

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

Ninja: Why must you bring possums in the house?

Gonzo: What in the world did you eat to elicit that smell from your body?

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

Ninja alternates between Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle, and Jack Black as Kung Fu Panda and Gonzo is sometimes Bert Lahr who played the cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, and Clint Eastwood. Mostly Bert Lahr.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Ninja would highly recommend laying on ones back, with legs splayed as a means of relaxation and stretching whilst soliciting belly rubs. He would also suggest sloppy dog kisses as a means of makeup removal.

Gonzo would recommend turning off the heat in winter and sleeping as close to a human as possible instead.

Visit Diane Rose-Solomon's website and learn more about What to Expect When Adopting a Dog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 10, 2016

Mike Nemeth & Sophie

Who is in the photo at right?

Hi, I’m Mike Nemeth and the pretty face with the deep brown eyes is Sophie. Like me, she’s a mixed breed of unknown components, and like me, she’s never met a human she didn’t find interesting, although I have to admit that Sophie is far more popular. While I write books (Cinderella’s Slipper, Defiled and soon, Absolved), Sophie protects my wife and me from all the other critters in the neighborhood.

What’s the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Sophie and I begin each day with a cup of coffee and a doggy treat in our backyard to cleanse our minds, and our territory, so we can be productive at our respective tasks. We’d drive to a coffee house if it weren’t for Sophie’s aversion to cars. She knows they too often lead to the vet’s office or the doggy hotel.

What’s brewing?

Gevalia Vanilla Latte most mornings, no sweetener. Sometimes Colombian.

Any treats?

Sophie always gets a bone. Sometimes my treat is my wife joining us for our morning ritual.

How were you and Sophie united?

Sophie was abandoned as a puppy and wandered into my brother-in-law’s yard to drink at his fountain. She was emaciated and near death. My brother-in-law texted us a picture and said, “Can you take one more?” At the time we had three other rescue dogs, all of whom are now in doggy heaven. We couldn’t resist Sophie’s sad brown eyes. And we still hang that original photo on our wall.

How did your dog get her name?

We thought Sophie’s svelte figure, ahem, deserved a name often given to beautiful actresses.

Does Sophie help or hinder your writing?

Sophie finds a sunny spot beside my desk and basks until it’s time to remind me to take a break from writing. Then we take a walk and the next writing scene becomes clear. Write, walk and think. Write, walk and think. That’s how we produce a book together.

Has Sophie inspired any fictional dogs?

No, but what a great idea. She’ll be in the next book!

Cat, postman, squirrel…

The cat on the other side of the cul-de-sac tortures Sophie constantly, walking around Sophie’s yard, lying in the street as though he owns the territory. Sophie watches from the dining room window and emits a constant low growl. I think the relationship works for both of them.

Ball, squeaky toy, stick…

Stuffed animals. At the moment she has a huge blue and white teddy bear that she drags from room to room, stopping to rip holes and distribute the stuffing.

Who is Sophie’s best pet pal?

Charlie, our next door neighbor’s poodle, comes for play dates. Hercules, our daughter’s Chihuahua, often comes to stay but Sophie is jealous of the lap time Hercules gets. Sophie is not built for laps. But Sophie’s best friends are the young kids on the street.

What is Sophie’s best quality?

Sophie knows how to chill. She’s fiercely loyal and loving and wants to meet everyone who comes to the door. She’s gentle (except for cats).

If Sophie could change one thing about Georgians, what would it be?

Stop testing that infernal bad weather warning siren. It drives her crazy.

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

Why do you hide your bones when you are the only dog in the house?

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

Kathy Bates. I think Sophie would love to sound menacing to cats and squirrels. Think: Misery.

What advice would Sophie give if asked?

It’s a wonderful life, so just chill and enjoy it. Like I do.

Visit Mike Nemeth's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Kelly Nelson & Sophie

Who is in the photo at right?

Hi! I am Kelly Nelson and the little cutie next to me is Sophie. At my job I crunch numbers, hunt down missing receipts, and tell scientists to stop spending money but during my free time I can be found training for my first half marathon, blogging about my training at The Hangry Waffle, and binge watching Netflix with Sophie. She is particularly fond of romance comedies. Sophie is a 6 year old maltipoo who has yet to find a lap that she did not like to be in.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

During the work week drinking coffee is a necessity but during the weekend drinking coffee becomes a treat. My schedule slows down and I am able to enjoy sitting at one of my favorite coffee shops with family and friends enjoying a latte. Today Sophie and I joined my brother Kevin for a coffee date.

What's brewing?

Sophie is enjoying a puppuccino (straight up whip cream) while I am having a greentea latte made with almond milk.

How were you and Sophie united?

I got Sophie when I lived in a small town in Oklahoma. The breeder had 2 puppies left and I choose Sophie because she was independent and had a sense of adventure. She was 13 weeks old and a 4 pound ball of fluff yet she was not afraid of anything.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

When it came to naming my pup I was torn between naming her Sophia, after the leading female character in the movie Letters to Juliette. Or, naming her Bear, because she looked like a mini polar bear from behind as a puppy. I ended up combining these two names and naming her Sophia Bear but only call her by her full name when she is in trouble.

Does Sophie do more to help or hinder your running goals?

She helped me recover from rupturing my Achilles tendon by steadily increasing the distance of our evening walks until we were walking 3+ miles without my ankle swelling. While she does not run with me these days she does help me loosen up my leg muscles up by walking with me then giving me kisses as I foam roll.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

She is a little squirrel hunter but has yet to actual catch one.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Squeaky-toys all the way. The squeakier the better… well, for Sophie, not so much me.

Who is Sophie's best pet-pal?

Sophie’s best pet-pal these days is Bandit, my parents’ 1-year-old springer spaniel puppy.

What is Sophie's best quality?

I would have to say Sophie’s best quality is her confidence. She has yet to meet a stranger and will happily sit in anyone’s lap whether or not she was invited. At the dog park she will go say hi to everyone there. She loves attention and she is not afraid to get it.

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

She would change my inability to sit still for long periods at a time so that I would stop moving her in between episodes during our evenings filled with Netflix marathoning.

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

Sophie, do you think I am crazy?

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

It would have to be Kristen Bell.

What advice would Sophie give if asked?

Great things await right outside your comfort zone.

Visit The Hangry Waffle website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 3, 2016

Ellen Byron & Wiley and Pogo

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm novelist Ellen Byron. My dogs are Wiley and Pogo. Wiley’s the white one, and I like to call him a Corgi-jack-huahua. I don’t know if he has any Jack Russell in him, but he might. He’s definitely part Corgi. The tan-and-white furbaby is Pogo. He’s a Chihuahua mixed with some kind of terrier.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I was taking a break from trying to outline the fourth book in my Cajun Country Mystery series. The doggies are always good for a break.

What's brewing?

I actually don’t drink coffee. I despise the taste of it. Most people who don’t drink it usually enjoy coffee ice cream or chocolates. Not me. I can’t stomach anything coffee-flavored for some reason. So my beverage of choice is a jasmine green tea that I order loose-leaf in bulk from Coffee Direct through Amazon. I drink it straight up, no milk or sweeteners.

Any treats for you or Wiley and Pogo on this occasion?

Oh, there are always treats for my boys!

How were you and your dogs united?

They’re both rescues we adopted from the Amanda Foundation, a Beverly Hills-based animal rescue. We had Wiley for five years before we adopted Pogo. I used the excuse that he needed a friend, but to be honest, I wanted a second dog. I just love them. I’d have a dozen of them if I could.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Wiley came with his name. For some reason, we never bothered to change it. Pogo was named Snoopy by the family that had to surrender him due to financial problems, but our daughter renamed him Pogo because he jumps up and down like a pogo stick. It fits him much better than Snoopy in our opinion.

Do Wiley and Pogo do more to help or hinder your writing?

I find their presence in the room when I write very comforting. But if I make eye contact with Pogo, he either jumps in my lap for affection or brings me a ball to throw. So that can be a hindrance, but it can also force me to take a much-needed break.

Have your dogs inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Absolutely! Gopher, the basset hound in my Cajun Country Mystery series, was inspired by our late lamented basset hound rescue, Lucy. I featured a dog inspired by Wiley in a mystery I’ve yet to sell, and I used Pogo as a model for a stray that Maggie, my protagonist, helps save in Body on the Bayou, the second book in my Cajun Country Mystery series. Then I felt badly about Wiley being in a book that hasn’t sold, so I turned him into the pet of a supporting character in the third book in my series, which is currently with the publisher.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?


Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?


Who are Wiley and Pogo's best pet-pals?

Right now, their besties are two little black rescue mutts who live up the street. But their best pal was truly Sophie, a retriever mix who lived across the street. Sadly, she crossed the rainbow bridge about a year ago. We all miss her.

What is each dog's best quality?

Their best qualities are the opposite of each other, interestingly enough. Wiley is totally chill and sweet. Pogo is rambunctious and assertive. He loves to play and demands affection, but in the cutest, funniest way. He’ll jump on your lap and nuzzle, or crawl under the covers and park himself next to you. They’re both super-loving, which is really rewarding.

If Wiley and Pogo could change one thing about Angelenos, what would it be?

The fact that they ignore the stop signs in our neighborhood.

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

What else do you need from me to live a happy life?

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

I think Wiley might be Owen Wilson and Pogo, Joe Pesci.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Spend less time working and more time petting us.

Visit Ellen Byron's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Natalie & Max and Rambo

Who is pictured in these photos?

Hey all, I am Natalie, a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, 21-Day Sugar Detox Coach, real-food blogger and photographer, a Type 1 diabetic (which brought me to the health and wellness field) and an American Sign Language Interpreter. Max (fawn coloring) is a 5 year-old Puggle but a very old soul; Rambo (black) is also a 5 year-old Puggle, but will forever be a puppy! They are not litter mates, but were born exactly 4 months apart.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

During the week I stick to homemade tea lattes, so it is basically just Caffeine with my Canines. My tea lattes are similar to my coffee beverages, except I swap out my favorite brewed tea for coffee. The weekends are meant for tasty coffee and relaxing in my front yard with the pups after our 6 AM walk.

What's brewing?

This is a Chai latte of my own creation; 1 cup coffee (Third Coast Coffee Roasters-Austin TX), 1/4 cup coconut milk, a splash of vanilla extract, 2 tbsp. Collagen Peptides, 1/2 tbsp. maple syrup, a pinch of sea salt and then a mixture of ground cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, all-spice and cloves. I throw all that in a blender which creates a lovely froth, then sprinkle on some additional cinnamon which helps to balance blood sugar levels.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

No matter the day, these dogs always get a little coconut cream. They love it!

How were you and your dogs united?

My husband and I were trying to agree on a breed. I love big dogs and he wanted small ones. We saw a puggle on TV and started our research. Two months later we got Max, and 4 months after that we added Rambo to the family.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Max's full name is Maximus Meridius, Russell Crowe's character in Gladiator. He also responds to Maxie. Rambo is named after Sylvester Stallone's character John Rambo. He looks pretty tough when he wears his red bandana.

Do your dogs have a role at A Nourished Appetite headquarters?

These dogs end up in most of my blog posts because there is usually some kind of kitchen shenanigans in which they are involved. They make great recipe testers as well, but do not provide much feedback! I also test recipes specifically for them, like baked sweet potato treats. They have both been on a grain-free diet since we got them due to Rambo's sensitive skin. Max recently started having idiopathic general seizures, which basically means the vets do not know why they started and what causes them. A holistic vet I took him to recommended I make their food and start treating his seizures with CBD oil and lepsilyte. Lepsilyte is a botanical medication formulated from extracts of skullcap and valerian. It significantly reduces the frequency and severity of seizures. CBD oil is derived from the cannabis plant and has been shown to greatly reduce seizures in animals and humans. We have had great success with this approach and I am happy to say his seizures are almost none existent. For their food, I throw a bunch of ground meats, organ meats, frozen blueberries, sweet potato, spinach, green beans, peas and carrots in the crock pot with bone broth. Sometimes their meals look more appetizing than mine!

Where is the dogs' favorite outdoor destination?

Luckily here in San Diego we have so many outdoor options. They love the Coronado Dog Beach! I try to take them there as often as I can but the trip always requires two humans because they both handle the beach in their own way. Rambo chases all the big dogs around, barking annoyingly when they won't play with him. Meanwhile, Max is busy raiding people's bags for snacks.

What is each dog's best quality?

Max is one of the smartest dogs I have ever owned. Unfortunately, he uses those smarts to manipulate treats from me! He will purposefully bring in rocks, sticks, clumps of dirt knowing he will get the "drop it" command and then walk directly to the treat cabinet to receive a reward. Now that I am on to him and his schemes, he only gets belly rubs, which he also enjoys. Max would let you pet him all day long if you had the time. Rambo is a little Mama's boy and follows me wherever I go. He cannot be in a room without me. I should have named him Shadow. Unlike Max, he only wants attention on his own terms. He tenses up when people try to pet him, especially small humans. When he decides he need attention, he will make it known by crawling on your lap and throwing his tongue in your mouth!

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

They lose their minds for anything that squeaks, balls especially. Rambo will play fetch till his lungs collapse. Max will chase the ball once, then lay down and try to destroy it. The dog has the craziest teeth and has eaten through softballs, tennis balls, golf balls, couches, name it, he will destroy it. I do not keep toys laying around because they will be chewed up in minutes. Toys come out on special occasions and Max has to be monitored. Rambo is not a destroyer. He will play with a ball or toy by himself, batting it back and forth like a cat or laying on his back and playing with it like an otter.

Postman, cat, rabbit...?

Any noise outside of our fence warrants excessive barking. We see stray cats, lizards, coyotes and rabbits on our neighborhood walks . They lose their minds and try to chase them down, which is why these two pups are always leashed!

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

I am sure they would prefer I were a stay at home dog mom, unfortunately that is not the case. They do get walks in the early morning and wrestle, fetch, pet sessions in the evenings, which they love.

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

Why can't you brush your own teeth? It's a lot of work for me!

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

Max-Tommy Chong; Rambo-Steve Buscemi.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Please do not get a dog if you cannot walk them daily and give them all the love they deserve. Dogs are meant to be a part of the family, not something you tend to if time permits.

Visit the A Nourished Appetite blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 26, 2016

SJ Goslee & Chewy and Guster

Who is in the photo at right?

Hi, I’m SJ Goslee, and I write books in the dead of night (most recently Whatever) and work on web sites by day. These two goofballs are Chewy & Guster. Chewy, our girl, is a rat terrier mix and is 10 years old. Guster, our boy, is a cane corso, and is only 4.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

A typical weekend morning, Chewy has to be on or near me if I’m sitting down, and Guster likes to hover, jealous that he’s too big to be a lap dog.

What's brewing?

Black and burning hot, I’m on a Starbucks’ Pike Place Roast kick right now.

Any treats for you or Chewy and Guster on this occasion?

No treats! Sometimes I like something sweet with my coffee, but I rarely get to sit for more than five minutes at a time in the morning with kids and five animals in the house. Chewy and Gus only get treats when Poppy comes around!

How were you and your dogs united?

We were actually puppy-sitting Chewy for a friend who had rescued her from a neighbor nearly 10 years ago and fell in love with her. We asked if we could keep her and she’s been by my side (and under my covers) ever since. Guster came along the same year we had my oldest son. We thought it would be neat to have them grow up together.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Chewy came to us with her name—we usually end up calling her “Chew-Chew”, or “Chew-bird”, or “Hey Jerky.” Guster’s official registered name is actually Burton Guster (after the Psych character), but mostly he’s just “Gus” or “Yuck Mouth.”

Do Chewy and Guster do more to help or hinder your writing?

Hinder—especially if I’m home alone, they just can’t stand not having attention!

Have your dogs inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

As of yet, no, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

…cars, knocks at the door, books dropping, basically anything that makes a noise sets Chewy off, and then Gus automatically barks to help her out, even if he has no idea what’s going on.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Antlers, mainly, but if you give them a stuffed squeaky toy it’ll be torn apart in five minutes or less.

Who are Chewy and Guster's best pet-pals?

Chewy will only cuddle with Gus or our oldest cat, Maude—we got her maybe three months before Chewy. Gus likes our youngest cat, Mildred, because she tolerates getting slobbered on.

What is each dog's best quality?

Chewy is a snuggler, she sleeps every night along my side, not sure if I could sleep without her now! Gus is a big doofus, and all he wants are pets.

If Chewy and Guster could change one thing about Pennsylvanians, what would it be?

Everyone should carry lunch meat with them everywhere. That should be a thing.

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

What the heck is living in the bushes that you’re so intent on getting?

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

Chewy: Kristen Wiig.
Guster: Vin Diesel.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Watch out for those striped black and white cat things, they stink.

Visit S.J. Goslee's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Stephanie Gangi & Enzo

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Stephanie Gangi, with Enzo at Bob’s Your Uncle in Manhattan. By the late afternoon, we’re both ready for a break, me from writing (my debut novel, The Next, comes out from St. Martin’s Press in October and I’m working on #2) and Enzo from sleeping off his busy mornings. He likes the long walk north from my apartment to the bar, through Riverside Park and then east across 106th Street.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Bob’s is owned by a writer friend of mine, Danielle. There are always dogs at the bar. Craig the bartender serves up the water bowls, the day-drinkers give scratches, the other dogs do the sniffing thing. It’s pretty mellow. I’ve got a Chardonnay and he’s got a fauxtini, and we’re engaged in our favorite Morningside Heights pastime, people-watching. Enzo is an eight-year old chocolate standard poodle. He’s huge, nearly 90 pounds.

Enzo has grown up in Manhattan. He is completely comfortable on the streets, especially because he gets a lot of attention. Out-of-towners always look worried – “That poor big dog cooped up in an apartment!” – but they don’t get it. I live a half block from Riverside Park, and dogs are off-leash before 9 a.m. and after 9 p.m. We get out there early and do the ball thing, and he has his posse of dog friends and they run like mad through the underbrush, the mud puddles, across the fields, probably doing more socializing in the park than suburban dogs in yards. On the way home he stops to say hello to all the Superintendent’s hosing down the sidewalks – and charms them into letting him drink from the hose. I live in a dog-friendly building. He’s very popular in the elevator. He has a great, active city life.

How were you and your dog united?

I got Enzo during the end days of a love affair when I knew in my heart that it was truly over. I hadn’t had a dog in a couple of years, and I thought it would be a healthy diversion. Considering his size and personality, he’s kind of turned into my rebound man. In limited ways!

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

I wanted to name him Victor but my kids voted up Enzo. I had not yet read The Art of Racing in the Rain, a great book about a dog named Enzo but everyone assumes I named him after that guy, especially because I’m a writer. At this point, I just say, Yes! I named him after the dog in the book! because people seem disappointed if I tell the truth. His only alias is Poppy, which is what my kids called my dad, now gone, when they were very little. Nicknaming him after my dad’s nickname just kind of happened, and then became fortuitous. The connection between my father and Enzo – they never met – morphed into a key element of my novel, without me really planning on it.

Does your dog do more to help or hinder your writing?

Enzo is a tremendous help to me as a writer. First and foremost, he is an early riser, and therefore, so am I. We’re out the door by six a.m., off to the park, rain or shine. Watching him play with gusto and pure dog joy is good for my soul. Not to mention, early mornings are great for the writer’s constitution, and walking helps me think through plot challenges. During early drafts of The Next, Enzo hung out nearby and every once in a while he’d nudge my arm with his giant nose, to kind of say, Take a break. And I would. I had no intention of having a dog character in the novel, but he found his way into the plot and would not leave until he’d pretty much taken it over. It’s an aspect of the book that emerged in an almost mystical way, and it felt completely right to let him in in the form of Tom, the dog character. And of course, as you can probably guess, Tom was my father’s name.

Visit Stephanie Gangi's website.

--Marshal Zeringue