Hi! It's great to visit LASR this week and discuss one of my favorite topics -- dogs! ;-) Today, I'm blogging about fictional dogs, those 4-legged characters that make books so much fun.
When I wrote my first novel, comic romantic suspense At Her Command, I knew I needed the perfect canine foil for my DEA agent heroine. And what better drug-sniffing dog to go undercover than a tiny Chinese crested hairless dog? Who would suspect that unusual and petite breed of working for its Kibble? That character, Smokey, became my author logo.
[Speaking of Kibble, if you'd like a good laugh, check out this YouTube video of a Corgi doing his "Kibble Dance": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yD3yVwC0fjg]
Several of my readers questioned whether such a small dog would actually be used to fight crime, so I wrote the following mini-article:
Tiny Canines Take a Big Bite Out Of Crime
Move over German shepherds and Doberman pinchers! There’s a new breed of crimefighter on the street. Law enforcement agencies are adding toy dogs to their K-9 units. No ten-pound weaklings, these miniature hounds have the same keen senses as their larger brothers, combined with the ability to search smaller, tighter spaces for everything from drugs to explosives.
The partnership between police and specially-trained dogs has a long, proud history. In 1888 in England, two bloodhounds were used to search for Jack the Ripper. And large breeds, such as Labrador retrievers, have been trained for everything from crowd control to cadaver recovery. It’s not surprising these valiant dogs have found their way into fiction, such as romantic suspense author Iris Johansen’s search-and-rescue dog and mystery author Virginia Lanier’s tracking bloodhounds.
In the early 1960s, South American officers chose smaller dogs to search ships for smuggled coffee. And the Belgian Malinois, a lighter, quicker version of a German shepherd, has been used by the military for years. Navy SEALs parachute into enemy territory with Belgian Malinois partners, jumping in tandem with the dogs. In addition to size, the dispositions of breeds are being taken into consideration, too. U.S Custom’s officials employ beagles to sniff luggage for banned items, praising the poochs’ pleasant personalities.
Law enforcement agencies, sued by suspects who claim large K-9 dogs damaged their property, are considering smaller breeds, too. Until recently, however, toy dogs were deemed too fragile for crimefighting. But an Ohio police department took a risk and appears to hold the record for the tiniest drug-sniffing canine: six-pound Midge, a Chihuahua-rat terrier mix.
Midge, who has her own tiny vest and goggles for riding on the sheriff’s motorcycle, has been a PR phenomenon. Adults, including county jail prisoners, ask to pet her, and she’s a hit at local schools. Midge shows youngsters you don’t have to be big to make a difference. Here's a link to a CBS video of Midge at work: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/09/07/earlyshow/contributors/debbyeturner/main1982217.shtml
Many officers, however, are embarrassed to have a tiny K-9 partner, finding the miniature mutts un-macho. The potential for humor in such a situation is irresistible to me. And it's always fun when an animal "matchmaker" has a hand…er, paw in the hero and heroine’s happily-ever-after.
Since the release of At Her Command, every one of my books has included a Chinese crested hairless dog. But "cresties" aren't the only non-human characters in my books.
In my latest book, Sex & the Single Therapist -- the first in the "Dr. Ally Skye, Sex Therapist" comic romantic mystery series -- Ally has two cats, Crystal and Karma. And Marty, a big, black-and-white mutt who holds the world record for shedding fur, plays an important role in both the mystery and the romance. I really enjoyed having my Alpha hero, police detective Zack Crawford, fall for both the dog and the sexy sex therapist. Now if he could just stop worrying Ally's going to grade him in bed...
I'd love to hear about some of your favorite fictional animal characters! In addition to LASR's weekly prize, I'm giving away five copies of my At Her Command e-book this week (one a day) to a reader chosen randomly from each day's comments.
-- Marcia James
here. For an extra chance, leave a comment.