07-14-18 Cassandra O’Leary

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

True Confession: My Romance Writing Has Gone to the Dogs!

by Sarah Raplee

When I began to write for publication, something unexpected happened. At least, unexpected for me. I’m a cat person.

But dogs infiltrated my Romance novels!

I admit I’m an animal lover from way back. We always had a cat and a dog when I was growing up. And guppies or a parakeet or two.  One of my earliest memories is of sitting beside the parakeet cage on the kitchen floor when I was two and talking to the pretty bird. But deep down, I’ve always been a cat person.

Generally speaking, it was understood that the dog was Jack’s responsibility and the cat was mine and my sister, Diana’s. The dog stayed outside, while the cat was allowed the privilege of coming inside the house and sleeping on one of the girls’ beds. 

Diana and I were happy with our cuddly cat. Growing up, I was totally convinced I was a cat person and I’d always be a cat person.

 After I married, we always had a cat. None of the dogs we tried worked out for one reason or another. Finally, we adopted Sidrah, a four-month-old Siberian Husky/Border Collie mix who stayed with us for fifteen years. She was so smart that I swear she understood English. And she was friendly with children and adults she knew, but protective of our kids around strangers. This gorgeous, affectionate canine was a joy to have in the family. (Yes, she got to come indoors—much to the cat’s chagrin.)

We’ve had a number of dogs since Sidrah passed away, each with their own strengths, foibles and delightfully unique personalities. And now we have Penny. At two years old, she’d already been through three owners when we adopted the beautiful German Shorthair. These dogs need to get plenty of daily exercise. They are amazingly well-rounded dogs, but that need for exercise means they are not for everyone.

Like Sidrah, Penny seems to understand English. She is sweet and loves her kids (our grandkids.) She likes people, but barks at strangers. She’s my almost-nine-year-old beauty.

And darned if she didn’t show up as a character in my first book! In fact, my heroine is a dog trainer and owns a pet services business. She owns two rescue dogs, Beauty (modeled after Penny) and The Beast (whose personality is modeled after our Great Dane, Roxie.) These two dogs are secondary characters who affect the suspense plot and the romance. A half-dozen minor canine characters appear in Love Unleashed.

My second book introduces a blind heroine and her Guide dog, Freddy. I have four other books planned, and dogs feature prominently in all of them. 

Ironically, both Penny and our cat, Freckles, keep me company when I’m writing. Freckles has accepted the honorary position of Desk Ornament. Go figure!
Do you consider yourself to be a dog person or a cat person?


Judith Ashley said...

Definitely a dog person. We had one long-haired Persian cat when I was growing up and had to make the choice of never having our favorite aunt visit or finding another home for the cat - when I think back on it, I don't remember anyone being really upset when Ollie left for another home.

Although currently dogless, I've had some wonderful dogs in my life and live in a neighborhood where people constantly walk their dogs - well, that may be overstating it a bit. I don't see them out at 3 a.m. but they are out around 5 a.m. and a few straggles are finishing up about 10 p.m. so if the are walkers and not joggers I can easily get a dog fix!

Sarah Raplee said...

I think I'm closer tot he middle, Judith, although I must admit to a fondness for cats with dog-like qualities. Freckles loves to play fetch!

Paty Jager said...

I'm a dog person. We have two, three counting our daughter's mini aussie we're dogsitting. I've always had a dog. Cats are for the barn. They are to catch rodents and keep a tack room free of mice. That is their purpose to me.

I did put a cat in my Christmas book. It just made sense for the heroine to have a cat to keep the mice away when she was living in an abandoned store.

There are dogs in my contemporary westerns, not my historicals. And the mystery I'm writing, the main character has a big, mixed variety dog while a secondary character has a cat.

I think adding pets to a story helps a reader get to know a character better by their actions with the animals. Great post!

Sarah Raplee said...

Thanks for stopping by, Paty! I agree that pets can serve a variety of roles in our stories.

I remember the cat in your Christmas story!

Diana Mcc. said...

Tough question! I don't have a cat or a dog at the present time. Right now, I have no desire to have either. One reason being my mom doesn't need to trip over one. Second reason, I don't want to worry about who's going to take care of the pets when we go away for the weekend or week. Some day I would like to have an outside dog and a cat again, but that is far in the future. Great post! I'll be adding a puppy to my work in progress, as you know, Sarah! :))

Sarah Raplee said...

Thanks for stopping by, Diana! Can;t wait to 'meet' the puppy!

Anonymous said...

The answer is Yes! I've had both dogs and cats. When my DH and I married, I came with two large dogs (Akitas) and he came with three tiny cats. Akitas are known to think of cats as a food source. So, it was an interesting first six months of training to make sure the cats survived the marriage.

I think it's easier to write about dogs because they are so much more trainable. Also the universal psyche has many examples of dogs as companions, heroes, and partners. Cats--though loving and friendly--in general are independent.

However, if I had to choose I'd say I was a cat person. I "grok" them (for all you Heinlein fans). Because of their independence, for me their love of me is that much more sweet.

Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel said...

My six dogs say I'm a dog person. :) Got away from cats when my younger son had severe allergies and cats were one of his triggers. Though they have fascinating faces, as I rediscovered when I worked at the shelter and took photos of the furbabies there. Pets of some kind usually show up in my books, though not always dogs. My sister had a rooster with a unique personality that I still want to feature in a story. Enjoyed your post!

Sarah Raplee said...

Thanks for stopping by, Genene and Maggie!

I 'grok' cats, too,LOL. I once had seven cats - so I understand your six dogs, Genene.

We're down to one of each species at this time.

Louise Pelzl said...

Loved your post and can relate. I am a animal person as well. Currently don't have any cats or dogs and don't plan to in the near future. Don't want to be tied down with the responsibility of any pets. I enjoy being around my friends pets.

Sarah Raplee said...

Hi Louise! We went through a year with no pet, but my husband was convinced I needed a cat. I'm glad he talked me into one. :)

I enjoy my friends' animals, too.