NOTE FROM LOUISE: Since the dog named Annie figures so prominently in Looking for a Love Story , my two canine companions, Josh and Charlie, suggested rather strenuously, that they should be a part of this interview. In fact, they thought they should be the interview. So here they are in their own words, telling everyone what it’s like to live with an author. And, according to Joshua , giving humans a rare opportunity to explore our mutual existence from a canine point of view. I want it known that I take no responsibility for what will be said from this point on. Especially if it’s Charlie saying it.
INTERVIEWER: (TWO CANINES SEATED ON THE SUEDE SOFA THAT SHOWS EVERY HAIR THAT IS SHED AND EVERY BIT OF DIRT THAT IS DRAGGED IN BY MUDDY PAWS) So you guys are going to give us an insider’s perspective on Louise Shaffer the author.
CHARLI E: Josh and me, we call her Mommie.
JOSHUA : Actually my correct name is Joshua. And technically speaking, Charlie’s mother is a Loose Coated Wheaten Terrier and mine is an English Springer Spaniel -- of impeccable pedigree.
CHARLIE: I knew he was going to bring up the pedigree thing.
JOSHUA: My breed has been around for centuries. We were the companions of kings. You can find us in portraits painted –
CHARLIE: (BREAKING IN) During the time of Elizabeth the First – whoever she was…
JOSHUA : Only one of the greatest monarchs England has ever known.
CHARLIE : Like anyone cares.
JOSHUA: You are such a peasant.
CHARLIE : Who are you calling a pheasant? Do these feet look like wings to you?
JOSHUA: I said peasant, dummy.
CHARLIE: You want to take this outside, Hotstuff?
JOSHUA: Any time, Carpet Boy.
CHARLIE: You have no right to bring that up. The carpet thing was a mistake.
JOSHUA: Who eats the ornaments off a Christmas tree and then follows it up by chowing down on the carpet?
CHARLIE : I told you, my stomach was upset and the carpet looked like grass. I was just a puppy.
JOSHUA: You were an idiot. Our humans are still paying off your surgeries.
INTERVIEWER: Uh… guys. Could we get back to the subject?
CHARLIE: Right. You want us to talk about Mommie.
JOSHUA: We call her that because it makes her happy.
CHARLIE: Go figure.
INTERVIEWER: What’s it like living with an author?
JOSHUA: Most of the time, she’s thoroughly presentable.
CHARLIE: Except for the week before a deadline.
JOSHUA: Yes, that’s not pretty.
CHARLIE: Humans really should brush their hair every once in a while.
JOSHUA: And they shouldn’t wear the same nightgown all day for a week.
CHARLIE: Also, it’s better if they don’t walk around the house talking to themselves.
JOSHUA: She usually does that when she’s stuck on a plot point.
CHARLIE: Or when she can’t make her characters do what she needs them to do to make the plot work. That can get scary.
JOSHUA: She’ll walk into the middle of a room with this weird look in her eyes…
CHARLIE: Like that duck in the Aflak commercials…
JOSHUA: And she’ll talk to herself for a while, then she’ll start answering herself. Sometimes she uses different voices.
CHARLIE: That’s when you know it’s bad.
JOSHUA: That’s when Roger – he’s her husband, but he doesn’t make us call him Daddy, thank God – hides the car keys.
CHARLIE: Sometimes she even forgets our dinner time.
JOSHUA: And she does things like leave the refrigerator door open so certain people can inhale the smoked salmon she was going to serve at brunch before she cancelled it because she was stuck on a plot point. .
CHARLIE : I’ve always been partial to lox and bagels.
JOSHUA: A whole pound of lox? The vet was afraid they were going to have to pump your stomach.
CHARLIE: So I suppose you’ve never done anything wrong…
JOSHUA: Now that you mention it -- no. I can’t think of a thing.
CHARLIE: Sometimes I really want to bite you.
JOSHUA: You’re welcome to try.
INTERVIEWER: Guys? We were talking about Louise?
CHARLIE: Sometimes she can be really funny. Like when she tried to train us. Remember Josh?
JOSHUA: Oh Lord, yes!
CHARLIE: She bought books.
JOSHUA: Hired a trainer.
CHARLIE: She spent a whole summer walking us around our cul de sac, going “Sit!, Stay! Heel!”
JOSHUA: As if.
( THERE ARE CANINE CHUCKLES AT THE MEMORY)
CHARLIE: (MIMICKING LOUISE) “Sit, boys!” C’mon fellahs, stay…”
(THE CHUCKLES HAVE NOW TURNED INTO BELLY LAUGHTER )
JOSHUA: Stop! Really. Or I’m going to have to go outside for a potty break.
INTERVIEWER: So I’m guessing the attempt at training wasn’t a success.
JOSHUA: That depends on who you’re talking to.
CHARLIE: We were happy with it.
JOSHUA: It was all a part of the learning process.
CHARLIE: For Mommie.
INTERVIEWER: That brings me to an interesting point. The whole dog/mankind relationship. Would you guys care to speak on that a little?
JOSHUA: Okay, here’s the thing people need to know about any dog’s relationship to his humans. These creatures – these humans -- who have no sense of smell…
CHARLIE: … lousy hearing …
JOSHUA : … and absolutely no understanding of how the universe works, come into our lives.
CHARLIE: The poor things don’t know enough to drop whatever they’re doing on a beautiful day, and go outside to sniff the sunshine.
JOSH: They don’t know when it’s time to stop worrying about the bills or their work, and roll in the autumn leaves, or throw a ball for us to catch, or just sit quietly and pet us.
CHARLIE: They’re always worrying about what’s going to happen tomorrow.
JOSHUA: Or what happened yesterday.
CHARLIE: So it’s up to us, their dogs, to make them pay attention to today.
JOSHUA: Particularly if it’s a good day. They don’t seem to notice when things are going well.
CHARLIE: But they sure do complain when they aren’t.
JOSHUA: Teaching them to say “thank you” can be a challenge.
CHARLIE: They’re awfully stubborn.
JOSHUA: We just have to keep reminding ourselves that they aren’t the brightest species on the planet.
CHARLIE: When you think about it, about all they’ve really got going for them is the opposable thumb. Which is great for opening food cans --
JOSHUA: But on a metaphysical level – not so much.
CHARLIE: Whatever that means.
JOSHUA: It means no matter how limited or flawed they are, we still love them.
CHARLIE: Well, duh, that that’s in the Dog’s Credo. (RECITES) ‘Rule Number One: I swear to love my humans unconditionally.”
JOSHUA: Yeah. Somebody’s got to do it. (TURNS TO INTERVIEWER) You need more?
INTERVIEWER: No, I think that does it. I’m going home to pet my dog.
CHARLIE: A suggestion? Give him some steak.
JOSHUA: He’ll really appreciate that.
Looking For A Love Story is in bookstores everywhere April 27th, 2010.