Thursday, April 5, 2007

My Dog-Loving History

Speaking of history, my plotting for the sixth Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mystery has led me to researching the history of dogs. They’ve been part of human culture for longer than our recorded history, back to the time of our caveman forefathers and foremothers. No wonder we love one another. What’s the plot? Well, for now that’s my little secret!

But here’s my own pet history.

I have to admit that my pets over the years have tended to be more of the usual kinds: goldfish and turtles when I was young, but my dearest loves have been dogs. I must have been born a dog lover. I always wanted a puppy. The first one I got was a sad story. I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, and one Sunday afternoon my grandfather took me to a pet store to buy me a puppy. I’m not sure he even asked my parents. I brought home the most adorable little mutt I named Cuddles, and the next day, while I was in school, my mom took Cuddles to the vet for an exam. Now, this was a very long time ago, and hopefully a lot of the less than admirable standards for pet stores have improved, but poor Cuddles had distemper. Apparently, all puppies at that store were sick. We took Cuddles back and my grandfather got his money back, but I wasn’t even allowed to have another dog in the house for three months for fear of passing along the disease.

During that time, I studied Dog World Magazine to learn all I could about different breeds of dogs. By that time, my parents were in on the situation and, even if they weren’t thrilled, they agreed that I could get another puppy--a healthy one. I was told it would have to be a short-haired breed, one that wouldn’t get very large.

The result? I soon got Frisky, a brindle and white Boston terrier.

Frisky was adorable. And, she was nuts. We had a window in our front door at eye-level to an adult, and Frisky would leap up high enough to look out. I adored her, insisted that she sleep in bed with me. We had her until I was out of college, but I made a poor judgment call when I asked my parents to fly her to where I was living at the time, out of the country. She was too old and hyper, for one thing. Even worse, in those days, unbeknownst to me, airplanes were not pressurized properly for handling animals. She didn’t survive the trip. I was devastated.

I next got a Saint Bernard puppy--in an apartment. Another bad call. He got bigger and didn’t fit in well, so sadly I had to find him a good home with someone else.

But did I give up on dogs? No way!

Not long afterward, I happened to be in London on the Underground, when I saw a woman with an adorable little spaniel. It was love at first sight--at least from my end. I suspect it was partly the result that people tend to choose dogs who resemble them. No, I don’t think I look like a Cavalier, but the first one I saw was the Blenheim coloration: red and white. And I do happen to have red hair....

That was many years ago. I got my first Cavalier not long afterward--Panda, short for Pandaemonium, an adorable male. I met my husband Fred soon thereafter. Fred had to decide to love my dog if he wanted to love me, and that somehow worked out. Fred and I have been married for many years, during which time I’ve always had a Cavalier or two around, too. And now that we’re empty nesters--as to our human kids--we have two fur-kids, Sparquie and Lexie. Love ‘em!

And it’s no real coincidence that my mystery protagonist, Kendra Ballantyne, who’s a sort of alter ego of mine, also happens to have a tricolor Cavalier named Lexie.

By the way, it’s fun blogging. And I’m also a guest at another blogger’s website this week, a Los Angeles Romance Authors friend, Kate Willoughby. Come see my interview at:

-- Linda


Janie Emaus said...

Hi Linda,
I love dogs, too. And I think it might be time for a new puppy. I've loved all our family pets, except for Pepe, a poodle that my parents got when I was about 10. The dog terrorized me so much that I wouldn't cross the street to come home after school if he was in the front yard. Needless to say, Pepe wasn't part of family for very long.


Kate Willoughby said...

This is a great idea for a writerly blog. It was nice to have you as my guest, Linda!

Linda O. Johnston said...

It was great being your guest, Kate. And, Janie, it's a wonder you still love dogs after Pepe's treatment of you as a child!