|My daughter with Jett--a love/tolerate relationship. Can you tell?|
From the precious beagle pup my brother brought home from the farm where he worked, tucked into the front of his denim overalls, to the current 85-pound Rhodesian Ridgeback/Shepherd mix we rescued eleven years ago, a dog has been my constant companion. (Jett, who ate the last bite of my breakfast, is currently snoozing just inches from my feet.) I was raised in the country and, although we didn't farm, it seemed everyone around us did. So horses, pigs, cows, chickens, cats ... you name it; we were near 'em.
When I picked up Katrina Kittle's The Blessings of the Animals, I fell in love with not only the lovely writing, but the animals that played an integral part to telling the story. The main character, Cami Anderson, is a vet who assists in animal rescues. And while the opening scenes of a horse farm left unattended still make me uneasy, it's Kittle's use of one horse's journey to healing that parallels Cami's own emotional recovery. Cami's three-legged cat and crazy goat also add a lot to the story and give us more to love about her heart.
Sadly, my WIP is currently dogless. I feel one lurking about but I haven't decided what kind he is. Because the personalities of the family vary so much, I haven't fit them with the perfect pet. I think the boy would like a big yellow Labrador that chews his chemistry book and sleeps half on, half off his bed. I see the mom with a Puggle that joins her on her morning walks and snuggles in her lap as she reads at night.
But then there's the dad. He's not a dog guy. I can't really see him with even a cat! So, I'm trying to decide how much power he has over the house. Does he veto the dog notion? Does the mom get one anyway, to please her son? Does a dog just follow the mom home one day while she's out walking, and she can't turn him away?
Just as in The Blessings of the Animals, it's important to the story. Pet ownership tells something about you. If you adopt a rescue, I admire your caring soul. If you adopt thirty, then to me, you're a crazy hoarder. If you kick one to the curb when it wanders into your yard, then, well, you're not someone I'd like to know better.
So pets--both real and fictitious--say a lot about someone's character. I just have to decide what that animal will say about mine.