Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mysterious Dogs

Cats are usually associated with mystery novels, but dogs find their way into mine: from Bert, a retired police dog in Diary of Murder to Miranda, an Australian Shepherd, who chews furniture in my first children’s novel, Mystery of Spider Mountain.
I’ve always had at least one canine in residence since Brenda, a small bulldog I shared with four younger brothers.The list grew to include a large variety of mixed breeds, one of them named Brillo because the lovable terrier resembled a scrubbing pad with legs. He once jumped with muddy feet into a car full of white-habited nuns, but that’s another (embarrassing) story.

Then there was Prince, a small mixed breed, who learned to dig under our backyard wooden fence to roam the neighborhood. In a matter of months there were a number of puppies in our area that closely resembled him. When I had him neutered, Prince literally disowned me for months.

For a while, we raised Shetland Sheep dogs. The Sheltie is a beautiful, hyper breed which resembles miniature collies, which I’ve always longed to own. We then adopted C.J., whose kennel name was Countess Juanita de Sangria because she came from New Mexico’s Sangria Mountain area. A buff-colored cocker spaniel, she contracted cancer at the age of 12, and we drove her to the Colorado State Veterinary Teaching Hospital every five weeks for chemotherapy. She did quite well for 18 months until we lost her. And as all pet owners know, it was heartbreaking.

We then adopted Mariah, an Australian Shepherd, who served as the model for Miranda, the Hamilton Kids’ furniture chewing dog in Spider Mountain, although Mariah only chewed the legs on our dining room furniture. Mariah has an almost human quality about her. She’s the only dog I've ever known who can out-stare me. Most canines will look away after five or six seconds, but Mariah can hold her stare for a full minute without blinking. It makes me wonder whether she’s an incarnated ancestor.

Dogs have distinct personalities and quirks of their own, which can be successfully incorporated into novels. Although Bert, my retired German Shepherd police dog, appears in the second novel of my Logan & Cafferty mystery suspense series, he’s only mentioned in Murder on the Interstate because my two feisty 60-year-old  women sleuths were visiting a friend with six cats. That could have caused considerable conflict but might have detracted from the book's theme of homegrown terrorism.Then again, it may have added to it.

I plan to bail Bert out of the kennel in my fourth (WIP) mystery novel, Murder on Gray Wolf Mountain.


  1. I'm with you. I love a book with a crazy dog in it. Or at least a funny one, and I've been known to add a few dogs to my books myself. They do add a certain character to the story. Can't wait for your next book.

  2. Thank you, Marja. I've always been a dog lover and like to incllude them in my novels whenever I can.