Spark the Cute Dog

Lisa Goldstein...

...lives in a 90-year-old house in Oakland with her husband Doug and her cute dog Spark.

Spark the Cute Dog
Spark the Cute Dog -- 2

Infrequently Asked Questions
about Spark the Cute Dog

1. What kind of dog is she?

She's definitely part German shepherd, but after that we're as much in the dark as you are. Labrador, Rottweiler, Doberman and bull terrier have all been mentioned. If pressed we mutter "Bulgarian Bagel Hound" and move on.

2. Where did she get her name?

From the dog in John Crowley's wonderful book Little, Big. The name turned out to fit her in a way we never expected, though — when she is pleased or excited about something she will leap straight into the air from a standing start. Otherwise serious-looking people — businessmen and women, goths in black — will break into amazed laughter as she passes.

3. What other tricks does she do?

She doesn't exactly do tricks, per se. The word "biscuit" will send her running to the biscuit jar in the kitchen. I used to say, just for my own amusement, "And what do good dogs get?" — now that phrase sends her into the kitchen as well.

She is trying to teach me a trick, however. Whenever she looks toward the back door I let her outside — now she's trying to see if I will give her a biscuit whenever she looks at the biscuit jar. I refuse to learn this one, however. You can almost see her thinking, "It's a simple enough trick — she learned the one about the back door okay— why is it taking so long?"

Another thing she can do is howl. After we watched a documentary on wolves in which a wolf-pack howled along with some people who were observing them, we howled ourselves to see if she would do it too. And she did! Other people have tried this with her but she seems to only howl with us. She knows who her pack is.

(She will also howl along when my husband plays the accordion. This is not to be construed as any kind of comment on his playing — he's actually pretty good, and she's really not very musical.)

4. Does she have any other quirks?

Many. She loves being chased by other dogs — particularly male dogs, particularly non-neutered male dogs. Unfortunately for her they are usually not interested — she was spayed at a very young age and probably smells wrong to them. One of the thing she will do is wait until someone throws a ball to one of these dogs, run after it, and then run out in front of the dog so that for a brief intoxicating moment it seems as if the dog is chasing her.

For me the most amazing part of this whole thing is that she is rarely disappointed when a dog ignores her — she just goes on to the next dog. We can learn a lot from dogs.

5. Has she influenced your writing at all?

Dogs seem to be popping up more and more in my writing, but so far I've only written one thing that is completely about dogs, a short story called "The Go-Between" (forthcoming in Asimov's Science Fiction). I got to thinking about how dogs will completely accept another species — us — as pack members, and wondered if they would be as accepting of aliens as well.

6. All right, how much do you want for her?

In your dreams, bub.