Merrill Markoe, author, “Cool, Calm & Contentious”

Merrill Markoe–The New York Times bestselling author of eight books, many of which prominently feature dogs, including the latest, a collection of essays, “Cool, Calm & Contentious”–discusses some of the new book’s essays and their topics, including her mother, who apparently was impossible to please, whether you were her daughter or an otherwise celebrated place like Venice. 


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(Merrill recounts a pivotal episode from one essay on her mom, showing Mrs. Markoe one of the spec scripts she’d written in hopes of launching a career as a writer and this was the verdict: “Well, I don’t happen to care for it. But I pray I’m wrong.”) She also traces her lifelong love affair with dogs, starting with the dog their family got when she was in kindergarten up through the four dogs she shares her home with currently. Expanding on a portion of an essay called “Why I Love Dogs” in which she writes “dogs have not really been pets to me so much as exceedingly cooperative exchange students from another planet,” she confesses to not being at all a stern disciplinarian, chiefly because she finds her dogs endlessly entertaining and funny. She also notes that little has changed over the years about her relationships with dogs and how she treats them, save for feeding them better food and giving older ones supplements like glucosamine. She also touches on the techniques of Cesar Millan, the boundless enthusiasm of dogs even in the midst of adversity (like the Malibu fires threatening Merrill’s home), and more. (,,

ALSO: We spoke with Wendy Kelly, the animal behaviorist who owns and operates Pet Peeves Animal Training in Clearwater, FL about her new book, “Buji & Me: 7 Lessons From The Dog Who Rescued Me.” (

COMEDY CORNER: Brian Regan’s “Animals” (

MUSIC: The Untouchables’ “The Lonely Bull (El Solo Toro),” eels’ “Dog’s Life,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: Yes’ “The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)”

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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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