It’s A Dog’s World

It’s time to add another acronym to my collection of R words: IORs—In Order Readers; DTRs—Dead Tree Readers; ARs—Audio Readers. The new ones will be referred to SERs—Sharp Eyed Readers.

Several of those have written to me to point out that at one point in Missing and Endangered, one of Joanna’s deputies, while waiting in the outside office to see her, scratches Mojo’s ears. In actual fact he should have been scratching Spike’s ears. Mojo is the new active-duty K-9 in Joanna’s department. Spike is the retired K-9 who, after suffering a serious injury in Downfall, now spends his on-duty retirement hours contentedly dozing next to the desk of Joanna’s receptionist, Kristin.

Since I sometimes can’t keep the names of my kids or grandkids straight, I suppose it isn’t too surprising that I would occasionally slip and call my fictional dogs by the wrong names as well. Believe me, this error, after being brought to my attention, has been forwarded to my editors and will be corrected in future editions. So if you’re a late blooming SER, you don’t need to send this one along, but feel free to pass along any others you may find. After all, fixing those little problems helps make me appear to be smarter than I am.

Several readers have mentioned that there are a lot of dogs in my books. That’s true, and here’s the reason—there have been a lot of dogs in my life. In fact, some time ago, I believe I dedicated a book to the entire list—at least the list as it existed at the time–starting from almost the beginning. I don’t remember the long-coated English shepherd named Nicky who helped teach me how to walk back on the farm in South Dakota, but I do have a photo of the two of us together.

The first dog I actually remember was Daisy, a mongrel terrier puppy that I found when I was in first grade and dragged home after school. I claimed that the puppy had followed me home, but that was a lie. In truth I had carried her every step of the way. My mother wasn’t buying a word of it. No way were we having a dog! Evie told me to take the puppy back and leave her where I had found her, but that didn’t happen.

My mother’s parents, Grandpa and Grandma Anderson, were visiting us in Arizona at the time and staying in our downstairs apartment. The next morning when Grandma came upstairs for breakfast, she was wearing a loose-fitting green sweater. Whenever Evie’s back was turned, I noticed that Grandma was slipping tiny pieces of bacon and toast to something hidden under her sweater. Yup, you guessed it. Grandma had the puppy, and although Evie could certainly veto me, she couldn’t very well veto her own mother. Eventually Evie was the one who gave Daisy her name, and the dog was with us for the next dozen years.

In the course of my lifetime, I’ve had mostly large dogs—Huck, a javelina-chasing blue tick hound; Sunny, a tamale-stealing border collie; Scratch, a shepherd mix from the reservation; Specks, a garbageman-terrorizing Dalmatian; Barny, a fence-climbing black lab, and a collection of lovable golden retrievers—Mandy, Nikki, Tess, Aggie, and Daph. Our favorite pound puppy, the tiny creature who grew to be an enormous Irish wolfhound, was named Bony because he definitely was—bony that is.

It’s only in the last ten years or so that we’ve downsized to long-haired miniature dachshunds—Bella, Jojo, and Mary. Long ago Bill had an ankle-biting incident with a doxie that left him permanently traumatized. I somehow allowed his prejudice to influence me, and that leaked into my books. SERs may well recall that I sometimes referred to dogs like that as WOFs—wastes of fur. (I do like acronyms, don’t I!) Bill is over his problem with dachshunds now, and so am I.

Because my books are in many ways a reflection of my life, you may have already recognized some of my characters—Oho—Bone, in the Walker books and J.P. Beaumont’s Lucy in Proof of Life and Sins of the Fathers came from our real life Bony, Ali and B. have a fictional clone of our original dachshund, the late but amazing Book Tour Dog, Bella. And Joanna? She has a whole collection of familiar and unfamiliar dogs. Writing about these missing canine companions is a way for me to keep them in my heart.

And yes, if you happen to have kids or dogs in books there are occasionally going to be kiddie and doggy “issues.” Beau’s upcoming Nothing to Lose has just such an icky experience which, unfortunately, is based entirely on personal experience. If you’re offended by kiddie or doggie “issues” you’re more than welcome to skip those parts. That’s what I do whenever I’m reading a book and encounter an overly explicit sex scene. I simply skip it. I also don’t put fingers to the keyboard and write to the author to complain about it.

This is a new paragraph, folks, so now you’ll find that the story is about to take a sharp turn. My daughter, a widow, is a single mom with a full-time job as an essential worker and another full time job supervising her son’s freshman year of virtual non-learning. Weekends are devoted to my grandson’s bowling tournaments as well as attendance at various church-related events. So when does she shop? At the crack of dawn on Saturday mornings. She lines up the various opening times and is waiting to hit the stores the moment the doors open. (She tells me the stores are much less crowded then, but I have yet to witness that in person, and it’s highly unlikely that I ever will!!)

One of her favorite shopping venues, her local Safeway, posts a calendar of upcoming non-essential events—National Oreo Cookie Day, National Ballooning day, etc. You get the picture. Last year due, to a timely reminder from our daughter, Bill and I donned our masks, put the dogs in the back seat of the car, and made a fifteen minute pilgrimage to the nearest Krispy Kreme where we waited in the drive-up line for more than an hour to celebrate National Doughnut Day.

This Saturday, according to the Safeway Calendar, happens to be National K-9 Day—a day to remember and celebrate the canine officers and soldiers who serve our country as members of both law enforcement and the military. A few weeks ago, a K-9 officer in nearby Snohomish County was severely injured in a shoot-out and had to be medically retired.

So this Saturday, let’s make it a day to remember not only our own beloved canines, but also the ones we don’t know personally—the ones who sniff out drugs at airports and border crossings; the ones who participate in search and rescue operations; the ones who go out each night on routine patrol assignments. Like their human partners, those animals work every day to serve and protect. They deserve our gratitude.

And not just on National K-9 Day, either.

20 thoughts on “It’s A Dog’s World

  1. This is why I’m glad I don’t have a photographic memory. The fact that you referred to the “wrong” dog had zero impact on my enjoyment of the story.

  2. My brother in law is a retired canine patrol cop. He had several dog partners in his career, but we all remember Spike. Spike LOVED his job. He especially loved chomping on the arm or leg of the “bad guy” and was often not amenable to “Let go.” On one memorable occasion Spike was on duty in a midnight building search. As the order to “find him Spike” was given a quavering voice was heard from the blackness “Is that Spike? Call him off ,I’m coming out. We met before and I still have the scars. ”
    Good job Spike!”

  3. We had a lab retriever cross who could climb up the fenced pen and beat you across the yard back to the house. We ended up having to tie the fencing to the supports for the clubhouse the pen was under. She was a sweetheart, lots of good stories about her.

  4. Love reading about all your dogs and look forward to them in your books. I grew up with Rags–a cocker spaniel mix that would go after the clothes hanging on the clotheslines moving in the breeze outside. Although currently dogless, I’ve also had many dogs in my life, none of whom we “picked out” and all very special.

  5. I love your books and especially when they have dogs in them, because most of my life, we had a dog. Since we are now in our late 70’s and 80’s, we do not presently have a dog but several cats seem to appear on our property. We have adopted, or rather she has adopted us. She is spoiled and comes in the house and naps
    on my bed for a bit. She is so pretty with blue eyes and white fur and appears to be
    siamese mixture.
    Keep writing your stories with dogs, I enjoy them.

  6. Our neighbor had a wonderful black lab named Chip. We called him Chip the Blind School Flunky. He did not make the final step in the school and the school then sells these dogs. Chip was a great dog, warm and friendly. Our older son would take Chip on regular walks and play endless fetch the tennis ball. One Christmas, Chip gave our son a special FBI T-shirt as the owner was rather high up in that agency. It remained a favorite shirt for many years, and Chip remained a favorite “neighbor” for all of us.

  7. I think I have written to you about this before, but it is a message for the nit-pickers who point out mistakes in books. Ruth Rendell wrote a short story called “Piranha to Scurfy” which is the title of a volume in a set of encyclopedias that is part of the story. The main character is a poor soul who spends his time searching through new books looking for mistakes. Then he writes the authors hoping they will correct the things in new editions. Of course, he is ignored and things go from bad to worse. It is food for thought. Let someone else deal with corrections.

    As for dogs, when I was little I had a rat terrier named Spot who looked just like the RCA Victor dog. He was hit by a car and I’ve never had another dog.

  8. Let’s not forget the many dogs specially trained to help those with disabilities……guide dogs for the sight impaired, seizure alert dogs, hearing dogs, and many others with special training which enhance the lives of the people they serve. I’ve always had dogs in my life, starting with Rags which my sister Marianne mentioned above. For the past 50 years they have been purebred dogs with which I’ve been fully involved in the AKC world of dog shows. Such joy they have each brought to our lives!

  9. A working couple who needed someone to take their dog out as they commute and it’s a long day. A friend who worked at a care facility had an idea and it’s worked out beautifully. They drop the dog off early. Folks are so eager to take the dog out, walk the dog, that they have a sign-up list for turns. Also the dog is taken to rooms of those who can’t be out, for petting.

  10. Just today I received a new set of stamps from the post office: Military Working Dogs. Good and timely.

  11. So glad to hear about another dog lover who lives with her dogs.

    I have always felt badly for children raised in a dogless home.
    And I worry about women who won’t let a dog in the house (because of the dirt) and miss out on canine devotion –

    I hope you like my book “My Love Affair with Dogs” when it come out.

    • I don’t understand people like that who complain about the dirt a dog may bring in the house. You can always sweep it up. My grandma complained about the two little dogs we had in the house, but kept them. Both loved popcorn and when they heard the corn popper being used on the stove would come running for some. My sister and I loved tossing kernels to them. Well, this was on a farm in Iowa and we had to entertain ourselves in some way. 🙂

  12. I have bought and read both of your new books. Love them. I currently have a little Australian Terrier named Daisy. I have never had a small dog before. She is something else! She absolutely does not like other dogs! My cousin gave her to me because she was beating the snot out of cousin’s other 3 dogs (drawing blood). She sits in the recliner in the living room window and barks at all other dogs or people on the street, the UPS truck and the school bus also do not belong on her street! The mail lady has resigned herself to leaving packages on the chair on the front porch. However, if a man steps in the house all she wants is a belly rub. I live near Cochise College in Benson.

  13. I always enjoy it when you include dogs in your stories. You do it in such an interesting and heart warming way, not to mention realistic. When I find a series that includes dogs, i.e. CHET AND BERNIE, David Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter series, I usually read the entire series. I started a book not long ago that seemed like the dog was one of the main characters, but turned out to be a story about a cadaver dog. Too gruesome for my taste. Needless to say I put that book down not long after getting into it. I read for entertainment and that book was not in MY entertainment wheelhouse.

  14. I smiled at both the title and topic of this post.

    0ne of the things I appreciate and admire about the author that is you JA is your humility and sense of humor. Both are foundational to your writing which is understandable as they are part of your personality. It is indeed refreshing for someone to turn the spotlight on an error with both humor and humility.

    I find this increasingly rare today as I suppose people find it hard to face the fact of their humanity and the mistakes and errors that are inherent in our being.

    I also feel amazingly blessed to have the opportunity to have actual interactions with one of my favorite authors. I know in a previous blog post you mentioned that one of your first motivations for being so accessible and responsive was a customer service commitment. Well that may have been your initial motivation it’s clear now from both your social media and blog postings and the reactions of your loyal readers that it’s now an authentic connection.

    As

    • Thank you. Another SER contacted me about an additional error in Missing and Endangered. I’m not going to say what it is, since only one person appears to have noticed, but I have forwarded it to my editors with a suggested fix.

  15. I could qualify as a SER. I assume you don’t write the preview of the book on the dust cover, it doesn’t sound like you. Anyway, that is where I f saw that Beth (of M&E) was 16 years old. Wow, college at 16! And then when a 17 year old Beth was at the reading of her grandmother’s will I realized some editor or proof reader had goofed. Enjoying M&E.

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