by Jean Herny Mead
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 that I shared with four younger brothers. The list grew to include a large variety of mixed breeds, one of whom was named Brillo, because the lovable terrier resembled a scrubbing pad on 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 a 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 that resembles miniature black and white 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 lovely cocker spaniel, she contracted cancer at the age of 12, and we drove her to the Colorado 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.
Dogs all 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 my new release, Murder on the Interstate, because my two 60-year-old feisty women sleuths were visiting a friend with six cats. That could have generated plenty of conflict but would have detracted from the book’s main theme of homegrown terrorism. But you can be sure that Bert will be bailed out of his kennel in my fourth Logan & Cafferty mystery novel, Magnets for Murder.