It wasn’t love at first sight. For at least a year after Sam the golden retriever joined our household, I felt like he was sucking all the air from the house. He was just so needy! He followed me around, even when I just went from one room to another to get something. He was always underfoot, and he needed so much – forty-five minute walks morning and night, additional quick jaunts out to pee, feeding and play time and training.
But eventually he began to get under my skin. All that time we spent together and all that doggie devotion eventually came together, and I wasn’t just in love, I was besotted with my dog. We’d play tug-a-rope or ball toss, or I’d groom him with the special comb that grabbed the loose fur from his undercoat. He’d reward me with puppy kisses and long gazes with his big brown eyes.
After a while, I couldn’t resist. I had to write a book about my dog. But what kind of book? A mystery, of course, since that was the kind I loved to read. Walking Sam along the nature preserve that borders our gated community, IN DOG WE TRUST began to take shape. And thus Rochester was born, along with the start of the golden retriever mystery series.
Sam crossed the rainbow bridge three years ago, and though my heart was broken, I had Rochester to comfort me. He had so many of Sam’s details and mannerisms that it was like my wonderful dog lived on in my imagination and in my books.
After a few months, my partner and I were ready to get a new dog. I insisted on a golden, and compromised that we’d get a cream-colored one, rather than one with Sam’s golden coat. So Brody became the golden-in-charge in our household. He wasn’t Sam, but he wormed his way into my heart.
Thus came a problem. Brody is his own dog, and now that he has been with us for three years, I’m so accustomed to him and his habits. I have to keep reminding myself that Rochester wouldn’t do that, that Rochester’s fur was different. I didn’t want to get tripped up by changing Rochester’s personality or habits just because Sam was no longer by my side.
I solved the problem in part by introducing another dog to the series– a white golden retriever puppy named Brody, who belongs to one of the supporting characters. He gets my own Brody’s antics and description, like this one:
The hair on the puppy’s back was wavier than Rochester’s, and I wondered if that was because his coat was so light, almost white, while Rochester’s was a rich gold. Brown streaks came down from Brody’s eyes, making him look doleful. He stood beside Rochester with his tail hanging down. It hadn’t opened up yet, the way Rochester’s had, though I could tell it would soon.
So right now, I have the best of both worlds. I have Sam in my heart and in my books, and I have Brody (and his one-year-old brother Griffin) curled around my chair as I write, both of them always ready for play or walk.
Title: Dog Have Mercy
Publisher: Indie pubbed
Publication Date: February 2, 2015
Genre: Cozy mystery
Word count: 70,000
Available for purchase:
In the sixth golden retriever mystery, Dog Have Mercy, Christmas approaches and reformed hacker Steve Levitan tries to help a fellow ex-con now working at the vet’s office in Stewart’s Crossing. His curiosity, and the crime-solving instincts of his golden retriever, Rochester, kick in when liquid potassium ampoules are stolen from the vet and Steve’s new friend is a suspect.
Is this theft connected to a drug-running operation in North Philly? Or to a recent spate of deaths at the local nursing home? And can Steve continue to resist his computer-hacking impulses or will his desire to help others continue to lead him into trouble?
Monday morning after breakfast I kissed Lili goodbye and bundled Rochester into the car. The vet’s office was on the other side of Stewart’s Crossing and we drove through downtown to get there, beneath illuminated snowflakes hanging from light stanchions along Main Street. Storefronts were decorated with multi-colored lights, and Santa and his sleigh rested on the lawn in front of the hardware store, each reindeer wearing a tool belt.
I parked in the vet’s lot and took Rochester for a quick pee before going inside. He was still limping, but that didn’t stop his enthusiasm for sniffing every possible smell. The vet had put up a new sign out front, with room for custom messages, and that morning it read “Live Nude Dogs. Free Lap Dances.”
I was surprised to see my friend Rick’s truck in the parking lot, but I didn’t see him or his dog in the waiting room, though it was crowded with people and pets. A yappy Yorkie in one corner kept up a barking and snarling match with a persnickety Pekingese. There were cats in crates and dogs big and small on leashes, mostly sitting beside their owners.
I walked up to the receptionist’s desk with Rochester by my side. She was a young Indian woman I’d never seen before, with red dot in the middle of her forehead. Maybe it was the influence of the spy movie I’d seen a while before, but I couldn’t help seeing that dot as the target from a laser rifle.
“We have a small emergency,” I said to her. “Can Dr. Horz squeeze in a quick look at Rochester’s toenail? I’m afraid it’s infected.”
“Dr. Horz is running behind,” she said. “We’ve had some trouble this morning. But things should start moving again soon and I can squeeze you in.”
The tag on her blouse read “Sahima.” I signed in with my name, Rochester’s, and my phone number, and took Rochester to a chair by her window. He slumped by my feet and watched with interest the parade of pets. He tried to make friends with an elegant Lhasa Apso beside us, but she kept her queenly distance from the hoi polloi.
A twenty-something guy with bristly short hair and arms covered in tattoos stepped out of the door to the examining area. He called the Yorkie and his dad, a huge bald guy in a Harley Davidson T-shirt and as they went in, Rick came out, alone, to another cascade of barking from the Peke.
Rick walked toward me, but stopped at the receptionist’s desk. While he waited for Sahima to get off the phone, I asked, “Nothing wrong with Rascal, is there?”
He shook his head. “Business visit,” he said.
“Really? What happened? Someone got bit?”
Sahima ended her call as Rick pulled on his sheepskin-lined leather jacket. “Tell Dr. Horz I’ll call her later today,” he said.
“Rick–” I began.
He held up his hand. “Lousy day. I’ll talk to you later.”
He didn’t stop to pet Rochester on his way out the door, which was unusual for him. Even when he’d been mad at me in the past, he’d always made time for my dog.
I figured he wasn’t mad, just busy. The Peke went in next and calm fell over the room. I turned to the receptionist. “What happened?” I asked.
She leaned forward and spoke in a low voice. “There are drugs missing from Dr. Horz’s cabinet.” I could tell from her eagerness this was the most exciting thing that had happened in her life for a while.
Neil Plakcy’s golden retriever mysteries have been inspired by his own goldens, Samwise, Brody and Griffin. A native of Bucks County, PA, where IN DOG WE TRUST, THE KINGDOM OF DOG, DOG HELPS THOSE, DOG BLESS YOU and DOG HAVE MERCY are set, Neil is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University and Florida International University, where he received his MFA in creative writing. He has written and edited many other books; details can be found at his website, http://www.mahubooks.com. Neil, his partner, Brody and Griffin live in South Florida, where Neil is writing and the dogs are undoubtedly getting into mischief.
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JP4EL6