"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Save the dog!

There's a certain hesitance in writers to include pets in their stories. The reason to include a pet might be to disclose something about the character, but if you're not careful, they can be treated as an afterthought, or even forgotten. 

If you are a pet owner, you know that neglecting a pet makes you a bad person, so if you are a writer and your nice character has a nice pet that they love, you have to make sure they don't forget them.

Even when I put the fat orange tabby in HIT OR MISSUS (aka Mr. Mustard, renamed by Benny to Matt Helm), I knew I was taking on the responsibility of virtual pet ownership. When Matt Helm went to live with Benny's friends, the Nickels, I had to make sure the readers knew he was being taken care of...through every one of the remaining Peri Minneopa Mysteries I'd ever write.

"Forget me? Don't be ridiculous."

Having had some success in keeping the cat alive, I ventured to put a dog in MURDER ON THE HOOF. It seemed natural to have Willie Adams owning a dog, since she spends a lot of time at a horse show, and horse people tend to have dogs. It's just a thing we do. Rudy the miniature schnauzer held his own as a character, even helping Willie at various points in the story.
"Don't let her kid you - I solved that case, all by myself."

For some reason, I decided at the beginning of writing A MORE DEADLY UNION to add a dog to the story. I could give you a calculated and creative answer about why, but seriously, who knows why writers do anything? We just get a wild hair and go with it. 

My couple, Jared and Willem, needed a dog, perhaps to anchor them to the idea of being a settled, monogamous couple, ready to legally tie the knot. Their dog served as a baby for them to dote on. A sweet, fluffy, little...


I've never owned a pitbull, but I have friends with pitties (is that how you spell it?) and they are a much-loved dog. A mystery author has to be thinking of dangerous situations for her characters, so it seemed that owning a pittie would open up a world of danger, more so than a Chihuahua. 

"Really, I'm lovable!"

Yes, a pitbull is sturdier than a toy breed, but they're the most often assumed to be aggressive. Anyone with a weapon, facing a pitbull, is probably going to shoot first and worry about it later. If ever. For the hundreds (thousands) of pitbulls who are big babies, pussycats, sweethearts, this is a danger they face too often.

Any danger Jared and Willem face would be doubled with a pitbull at the end of a leash.

Anyway, I'd like to introduce you all to Miss Moonie:

(Peri) spotted a black and white lump staring at her from the porch. An American Pit Bull Terrier sat askew, its back legs jutting at awkward angles, and a goofy grin splitting its broad face. One eye had a black half-moon underneath and the other had the matching half over, giving it the look of someone who’d been in a fight but was still too dazed to remember who won.

Hey, Moonie.” Peri rubbed the dog’s head as she passed. Moonie’s tongue rolled sideways, the grin widening.


I've been looking all over the internet for a pittie that looks like Moonie, to no avail. Perhaps you could help a girl out. Anyone got a pittie, or a picture of one, who looks like my little Moonie, as I've described her? 

Post it in the comments below - I'd love to meet your babies!

No comments:

Proud Member of ALA!

I support fair and equitable library access to ebooks and so should you.