Soulful brown eyes gaze longingly back at me. He watches my every move. The slightest nuance. Each breath. Unmasked desire smolders in his expression. I weaken, surrender to him, and he barks his delight. That’s right, folks, barks! It’s "cookie time," and my dog lets me know it like clockwork.
As an author, I spend much of my day in a chair. Solitary—that’s a writer’s life—because no one can put in the long hours, except for me. Yet I’m blessed. I share my home with pets, so I’m never truly alone. Only two dogs now since we recently lost one to the perils of old age, but our pack will grow again soon with the addition of another rescue dog. A puppy this time. At least, that’s the hope, and my family can’t wait.
I'm currently the “mother” of one very needy Dachshund and a fun-loving BeaBull. (Beagle/Bull Dog mix) Days include the added responsibility of being the door-person, meal-maker, treat-provider, head-walker, tick-checker, vacuum-killer, and cuddler-in-chief. (Phew! That’s a lot!) I’m never permitted “alone time,” and I’m constantly flanked by a fierce protector (Who knew that FedEx dude was SO dangerous?!) and one that loves everybody, including the vet. It’s a charmed life I’m sure many of you share. Face it, we LOVE our pets! And I love them in my books.
My latest release, Hellfire and Handbaskets, includes an endearing animal character named Rocky. He’s Dr. Rick Hauser’s four-year-old German Shepherd, and he not only adds to the story line but provides everything from tender moments to comic relief. Like most dogs, Rocky is more in-tune with emotions. He’s been in love with my heroine, Amelia Pennington, since day one. He’s also a support dog for Rick, who suffers with PTSD from his military service.
It’s interesting, I didn’t start out saying, “Gee, I should put a dog in this book.” It just happened. Barney, Murph's one-eyed cat, landed there, too. (Based on a real cat from my past) These unique animal characters wove their way into the plot as effortlessly as human ones. They’re part of who I am as a writer and a person—an animal-lover—so they live on my pages.
The wonderful pets sharing my home, now and in the past, are a great source of happiness and inspiration. From our BeaBull’s distinctive bark…more like a bellowing yell or scream (Yup…it has even been picked up by a neighbor’s trail-cam acres away) to our Doxie’s outstanding sense of timing, (If I pretend it’s not supper time, someone else gets the shakedown) how can they not end up in a story?
Even little Elsa, our sweet elderly Dachshund, the one we just lost, wormed her way into my latest WIP. She’s crossing paths with a seriously bad-ass hero. Of course, she’ll win his heart. After all, she melted Mr. H the second she waddled through our doorway. And there’s the magic…the ability of these animals to warm even the coldest nights and blackest souls. (Not Mr. H, haha, that hero)
So, if you love animal characters in your books, OR if you just love animals, and find them inspiring…tell me! Share your stories and pictures, I’d love to hear from you. 😊