A Dog Blog Reject

I wrote this thinking it was what was wanted for a Sins of the Fathers on-line interview. It was rejected but I wanted to share it with someone, so it’s today’s blog..

My detective, J. P. (Jonas Piedmont) Beaumont, has been in my writing life for decades. Early on, I gave him my birthday as his birthday so I’d be able to remember it for both of us. Incidentally, we both turn 75 next month. Because Beau’s father died in a motorcycle accident before his parents married, he was raised by a single mom in the aftermath of World War II.

With only a high school diploma, his mother supported the family by working as a seamstress. They lived in an apartment over a bakery in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. As a consequence, he didn’t have pets growing up, not a dog or a cat or even so much as a goldfish. And that continued into adulthood. Since he’d never had a pet, he had no idea what he was missing.

Then, in the last book, Proof of Life, all that changed. His wife, Mel, is the newly-appointed police chief in Bellingham, Washington. In the aftermath of a domestic violence incident, a family in her jurisdiction goes into a shelter situation, but they are unable to take their dog, Rambo, with them. As a result, Mel comes dragging home with the dog—an immense Irish wolfhound—with the news that she and Beau are going to foster the animal until the family is able to move into permanent housing.

Occasionally, people ask me if characters in my books are based on real people. Over the course of the book, Beau learns that Rambo’s real name is actually Lucy. In the process of creating Rambo/Lucy I drew on two separate dogs in my life. The first was Boney, a tiny pound puppy who, much to our astonishemnt, grew to be an Irish wolfhound and Stormy Girl, our grandson’s dog who, tragically, died of canine melanoma earlier this year at age 5. Lucy’s unblinking and very disturbing black-eyed stare is all Storm’s. On road trips, Lucy’s love of riding in the back seat with her head resting on the driver’s shoulder is all Bony. (By the way, Bony shows up as Davy Ladd’s dog in Hour of the Hunter.)

In Proof of Life Beau, a lifelong non-dog person, is reluctantly dragged into being placed in charge of a dog, and not just a little dog, either—a huge dog. That results in a pretty steep learning curve for both of them. Toward the end of the book, when Lucy is severely injured, he’s thrust into the equally unfmailiar territory of being a canine care-giver. When Lucy’s original family decides that they won’t be able to take her with them when they leave the shelter, Lucy becomes a permanent part of Beau’s life. His relief at that outcome shows he really does love Lucy!

And that’s where things stand when Sins of the Fathers begins. Beau has gone from being a reluctant dog owner to being a willing one. He has learned to enjoy the company Lucy’s presence offers him as he transitions from his days of being a sworn police officer to being a private investigator. There was no such thing as a Frisbee when Beau was growing up in Ballard, but Lucy loves chasing Frisbees, and he has learned to throw them. When standing on her hind legs, she’s tall enough to peer over the top of their six foot tall wooden fence (That was Stormy!) so it’s a good thing she’s been through the extensive training program at Bothell’s Academy for Canine Behavior. (Also a real place by the way. I may write fiction, but I’m too lazy to make up EVERYTHING!)

I once read an early book from a now namebrand author where a dog was included in the story, but he was there for the sole purpose of dying in a house fire at the end of the book. It was the the author’s way of showing just how bad the bad guy really was. People who read crime fiction expect a certain amount of mayhem because bad guys do bad things to people and to animals. In one of my books, Exit Wounds, the victim happens to be an animal hoarder and seventeen dogs die in her overheated mobile home as a result of her murder. My problem with the book I mentioned previously was that in the course of the story nobody paid any attention to the dog. No one fed it or played with it. When the family left home for a number of days, the dog was left on its own with no mention of a dog sitter anywhere in sight.

My position is that, if authors are going to put kids or animals in their books, someone needs to provide for them when they’re off screen. In Lucy’s case, that person is Beau. He’s the one who’s put in charge of walking her, picking up after her, playing with her, and feeding her. In the process, he learns that there are a whole lot of other caring dog owners out there in the world, including the homeless guy who lives in the fire-escape alcove of the church next door to Beau’s downtown Seattle highrise.

I’ve been a dog person all my life since I dragged a stray puppy named Daisy home from Greenway School in Bisbee, Arizona, when I was in first grade. Over the years I’ve learned a lot of surprising things about dogs. For instance, they are excellent at telling time. Our current miniature dachshunds, Mary and Jojo, come to us with unwavering eye contact and chomping on obnoxious squeaky toys at the stroke of 8 AM and 3:30 PM. That’s their meal time, and they know it.

Over the course of Sins of the Fathers, Beau is forced to come to terms with the idea that Lucy definintely has a mind of her own. The only question ends up being what is he going to do about it. Don’t expect me to tell you the answer to that question. You’ll have to read the book.

This message is brought to you and approved of by Daisy, Huck, Sunny, Specks, Azaelea, Scratch, Bootsy, Barney, Bony, Nikki, Tess, Agatha, Daphne, Bella, Mary, and Jojo.

16 thoughts on “A Dog Blog Reject

  1. I love your books, I was in AZ. and went to Bisbee to see the area because of your books. I live north of you and plan on going to your book signing in Bellingham. My favorite are Joann Brady and J.P. Beaumont. J.P. got me first because I went to school in West Seattle. Anyway can”t wait to see and listen to you.

  2. I love animals and grew up with dogs and when married we had cats and dogs; one of each at a time. As we are older now, our animals have passed and we no longer feel like we could have animals. We feed stray cats and deer and whatever the raccoons can find to eat.
    I agree that it makes ones like more complete with a pet.
    I look forward to reading Sins of the Fathers, I am currently on the waiting list at the library.

  3. I’ve read all of the J.P. Beaumont books and really looking forward to reading SINS OF OUR FATHERS. I love how you’ve developed J.P.’s character throughout the books. Your stories are so real to me and yet I never feel overly anxious as they develop, as I know you would never write a true tragedy into a story and leave me feeling overly sad. I just wish there were more writers out there, with your style and talent of always writing the greatest stories, and I have found many, but your books are at the top of my list as the ones I can’t wait for the next one to come out. Also hoping you’ll have another Ali Reynolds come out soon. She’s also a favorite character of mine. P.S. I’m also an animal lover. My husband of 55 years passed six months ago and his cat Baxter has become my best friend. I don’t know what I’ll do if something ever happens to him. He’s only 7 yrs old, though, and a rescue, so hoping he’ll be with me for a very long time. We’ve developed a close bond. I think I’m slowly taking my husband’s place as Bexter’s best buddy. I really don’t know what I’d do without him during this terribly sad time in my life.

    • Dear Sue No Last Name,

      You may be in my database, but there are lots of Sues, so I’m unable to send you a private e-mail. Please accept my condolences on the passing of your husband. And I’m so glad you and Baxter have each other. If you would like to be in touch, please send me a note: jajance@me.com.

  4. I just finished a perfectly adequate mystery (not by anyone we know….) that was terribly flawed because one character that previously had always had a dog, cared for the dog, etc, suddenly appears hiding in a church with no dog mentioned. I had to go back a chapter to make sure the dog hadn’t met some terrible fate previously – nothing mentioned. THEN a chapter or so on the character is back with the dog, no mention of dog hiatus. So, it was hiding in the church with him? Tied outside (and thus in danger)? This really detracted from the book for me. Sigh. And yes, I have been loving Beau and his dog. Can tell their creator knows her dogs.


  5. I got two cats from a sailor being transferred to Italy in October 2015 , so I’ve had them 3 1/2 years now. The male warmed up within two days but the little female, while arm length friendly after a couple weeks, has been very standoffish most of the time. I had a private care client this summer that lasted 24/7 for ten weeks. I had two six hour off times twice a week and about four weeks in little miss standoffish came running down the stairs and jumped in my lap! She had made herself a nest in my fleece throw on the top of my bed where she continues to sleep every night. I guess she missed me! My roommate took care of them while I was gone and she still runs and hides from her. It took being gone for her to let me close and now she “talks” to me too! The sailor really missed them so I sent him pics every five days until he shipped out so he could see they were fine. He said I spoiled them when he saw the big cat tree. It had to be 8 feet tall so they could see over the patio fence and watch the geese and ducks in the empty lot. I like dogs but I’ve raised my kids and don’t want any more!

  6. I can’t wait to read your latest Beaumont book! The only downside of Irish Wolfhounds is their very short lifespan.

  7. I read the first book, when Beaumont had to babysit Rambo/Lucy and it was one of my favorite’s in the series. Having a dog was a big adjustment for him but it was one that he needed now that he was semi-retired. I can’t wait to read the next installment. Hope you had a wonderful summer. and Happy upcoming Birthday next month! My mom is October 10 so Libra’s are special in my book.

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