A little change of pace this week.
Most people would automatically think of the “dog days of summer” when reading the subject line, but in my case it means I have three needy dogs in the house. I have two large yellow Labrador retrievers and my daughter has a Chiwienie. For those who don’t know, a Chiwienie is half Chihuahua and half Dachshound. Sugar weighs in at 90 pounds and Murphy weighs in at 120 pounds. Clementine is an 11 pound whirlwind, and I’ll give you one guess who rules the roost in this house.
Sugar and Clementine had a battle of wills initially, but Sugar finally gave up. Now she occasionally growls at the little one, but it’s half-hearted. The funny side? Clementine has a doggie crush on big ol’ Murphy and drives him to distraction sometimes.
Why would I write about dogs? Because they play a large role in my life, and most of my books include dogs. Animals, in general, can play characters in books, and pets can add both humor and drama. Many authors include cats in their stories, but I’m a dog person. My husband used to occasionally refer to me at the Crazy Dog Lady of our neighborhood. If the shoe fits… I didn’t argue the point.
In How Now Purple Cow (which is actually about elderly spies), there’s a scene that has to do with Sherlock and Watson, two yellow Labs, being afraid of the dark. (I sure wish I’d picked different names for the dogs, but it’s too late now.) Anyway, this scene came from real life, just with different circumstances. Yes, Sugar and Murphy are afraid of the dark.
In the Bogey Man series, Sherlock often races Chris to the phone when it rings, sliding across the floor and into the wall. Real life? Yes, but different circumstances. If my daughter is out of the house and the phone rings, all three dogs go nuts because they think it’s her and she’s coming up the driveway. Weird, but true.
After moving from Arizona to Washington, the dogs seemed to forget everything they ever learned. At the moment, walking them is impossible. They’re out of control, but I’m working on a new formula for polite dog walking. Cross your fingers. In one of the Bogey books, Chris took the dogs for a walk and they managed to wrap their leashes around his legs. You can imagine what happened next. Again, a true story.
Bubba - He didn't like the camera. I had to get him to lie on his back
and I had to tickle his belly for this smile.
Bubba, in the Sandi Webster series, is also based on a real dog who was half wolf and half Golden retriever. He belonged to my boss and spent much of his time in the office with me. He was so big that he puts Murphy to shame. Bubba was a happy dog and he smiled frequently. Unfortunately, his smile was very toothy and he looked like he was baring his teeth at people. He was very protective of me, and when strangers came into the office he’d sit in front of me and smile. While it made me laugh, it made strangers keep their distance.
I’d be willing to bet that a lot of the dog or cat stories mystery writers include in their books are based on reality. Maybe loosely based, but still mostly true.
I believe that if a pet can participate in a story, even to a small extent, it can enhance the storyline, and I have a feeling that a small Chiwienie may soon add a new element to the Sandi Webster Mysteries.
For some reason the dogs have been very “needy” today. They’re on my mind and that’s why you’re hearing about them.
Afraid of the dark? Sliding into the wall when the phone rings? Imagine finding a King Snake in your backyard, and the dogs are so busy barking at the kids next door that they don’t even notice it. Uh, I noticed it and when I told the dogs to get in the house, my tone of voice told them I meant business – one of the few times they’d listen to me without an argument. Yes, when I tell Sugar to be quiet, she always has to get the last word (or bark) in. All I can do is shake my head.
Well, that’s enough about animals. Let me just say that I’ve read many books where a pet added a pertinent element to a story, whether it was humor or drama.
Until next time, remember how important pets can be both in life and in fiction. Watch them sometime – and take notes.
Comedy Relief - Do you think Murphy really wanted the lasagna?
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Choosing One Moment – A Time Travel Mystery, is a lot of fun, but believe it or not, there aren’t any pets included in the story.