Books for Everyone!

Pets, Real and Fictional

Our beloved beagle, Bootsie, was a profound source of inspiration for me to complete THE DAWN. On a sunny, warm day in early February 2011, at nearly 14 years of age, he had to leave us. I’d been at work in the midst of revising the scene where Arthur and Camille meet again in Chapter 52. And so the noble spirit of that soulful hound persists until the end of the novel.

I would be remiss without mentioning the two abandoned cats that I adopted in the spring of 2008. They were victims of the sub-prime collapse; their owner left them when her house, adjacent to mine, was short-saled and she was evicted. My mostly Burmese black cat, Annabella, quite easily took the form of Gisele in THE DAWN. And Gabrielle is the Snowshoe who became Penelope in NOCTURNE. My 13-inch beagle, Bridget, has not yet been fictionalized, but she is a second cousin of the famous Uno and Miss P, and so that claim to fame will have to suffice for a while.

There was also our first beagle, Bonnie. Bootsie, the second beagle, was the triumph of hope over experience. Our veterinarian for Bonnie once had to spend a night of observation with this willful hound. She then told me that she’d never met a more obnoxious dog in all her years of practice and she sternly requested that I never bring her back for overnight care for gastroenteritis. When Bonnie died, this vet kindly assured me that this hound had been a loving pet, and I had to confess that she really wasn’t. Nevertheless, the young Bonnie, who somehow survived to the ripe age of 12, willfully found her way into the creation of Little Dell in NORTHSTAR; and later of Chiot in THE DAWN.

On 22 August 2015, our beagle Bridget journeyed to the other side where she joined her Hero, Bootsie, and – who knows – perhaps even Bonnie! I’ve no doubt that the lovely Bridget let the first beagle know just who is really #1.

Welcome Home Chance!

We welcomed home Chance Beaumont Milligan on 14 October 2016, a rain-soaked Friday in northern California. Born on 2 July 2016, my Lucky Charm is quite a little guy!!

We are still early days in the knowing of our new beagle but little Chance is a Lanbur and already he promises to live up to his bloodline. It will be a wonderful walk in the park with this sweet, adorable, intelligent, playful, sensitive, curious, adventuresome and affectionate Chance, our Lucky Chance!

And he is quite the canine communicator: he talks not only with his big, soft, pleading eyes but with his big soft puppy paws, alluringly touching you! Want to come pet me . . . ? Rub my pink spotted belly . . . ? Maybe play with the stuffed sock . . . ?

Even before Mr. Chance arrived by my side to assist in editorial emotional support, I discovered the little guy was already working right along beside me! The various websites that I use during my work and down-time featured sponsored ads with photos of our future pup from the doggie placement service online where we decided to take a chance. And he’s a rare chance at puppy love!

For anyone in the U.S. interested in this wonderful organization, here is the link to this private breeder network which places their babies only with caring families. We are thrilled at the chance to offer a chance to anyone else willing to take a chance to find his or her Lucky Chance!

Easter 2017 Update

How are the cats getting along with Chance, the wonder beagle? They’re all a wonder to behold each day!

The cats certainly love his dog bed or, rather, the pet bed that became their newest cat bed. Chance has a tendency to devour any bed bought for him. He is what has been described as a “tenacious chewer” and so we have decided to forego purchasing the bed that can be chewed but not destroyed whilst he lays upon it. We grant him the option of any couch, chair or horizontal surface that he wants. There is a lot of Boostie in him!

As usual, the cats claim the front half of the property and the hound claims the back half, although I have seen the classic daring (“chase-me”) pose that Gabrielle strikes in front of the gate that divides the felines from the canine. It is always amusing to watch her go from demure to provocative in the space of 12 seconds. As for Annabella, whilst maintaining her calm Cleopatra pose, she keeps an EYE on this busy beagle who barks but has proven that he has better things to chew — like one of my favorite handmade placemats! I am sure it is the handmade quality that attracts him to the cotton. He is a natural fiber lover!

The cats reign supreme in their tiny terraced parterre of flowers. I still must chase away the occasional intruder cat. Chance has yet to become trained in the art of chasing cats we do not want on the grounds but cozying up to the cats who were here first — the cats we want and love!

Happy Easter to all cat and dog lovers!

The Double-Yankee-Doodle-Dandy

When we first brought Chance home, we knew that this beagle had some very large paws to fill, although his paws are quite humongous.  Since his birthdate is July 3, he shares that special day of birth with his esteemed, beloved and dearly departed predecessor, Bootsie.

From those wide open romping fields in the sky, the old Liberty Dog is showing the young Liberty Dog how to live fully, with a spirit of independence, second to none!  So, on this day, we all salute you, Chance:  Happy Birthday!

Chance is a full-grown dog now.  He obeys!  This behavior is not typical of any beagle.  Here is a breed whom one must convince that, first, listening to a command is in the dog’s best interest.  And then, actually obeying the order, that response would be good for all concerned.  The greater good, in fact, is what must guide the spirit of this independent-minded hound.

I believe the obedience from my Puppy Love is part of his birthday gift to me.  Obedience and love:  they do not always coincide!

Hunger and this beagle also do not always coincide, a circumstance that I can tell you, from decades of dogged doggie experience, is not normal.  Every night, and it is rather late for dinner, toward nine, the Master has to encourage this hound to eat his chicken-and-rice kibble.  First he gives Chance a few nibbles which are eaten somewhat gingerly.  Chance has to warm up to the meal!

Perhaps because it’s not one of our meals?  I am not about to find out by crunching a bowl or two (his usual serving) of the canine food to grant him that deeply shared experience that he so hungers for!

The 1-year-old Chance has developed his own routine:  after an arduous 3-mile walk through the countryside with the Master each morning, he has his little Pyrex dish of morning tea with me and a couple bites of a Digestive (Diggy) Biscuit.  He then jumps atop the soldier-blue flannel sheet on the sofa of his choice (Chance likes options).  I will then start to work at my laptop after slipping into the Bose a CD of some Classical Music.  Chance favors Chopin, but he will accept the strains of violins from Bach or Schubert, as well as a repertoire of romantic themes, quiet moods to suit his quiet mood.  Chance Beaumont is a cultured hound!

Once the soft music has begun, Chance hops from, usually, the parlor sofa to the leather chair where he re-arranges with those big puppy paws a blanket and two pillows for himself.  He then naps for about two hours!

Anytime that Chance is not sleeping, he is . . . playing!

He does enjoy some rest time in the sun, during the warmer weather, soaking up some California rays with me for about twenty minutes.  Of course, I must share my ice cubes with him, sans Vitamin-Water.  After he grinds up the first one, he looks up at me, as if to say, “What’s happening?  A second ice cube?”

The melted water drools from the dog gaskets that are always overflowing, and I tell him, “No.”  He accepts the limitation.  He’s a highly unusual beagle, with unusually large flews.  Most beagles are quite flew-sy, but this one is flewsier than most!

In the late afternoon, Chancey Boy likes to fetch some z’s in his personalized dog bed, by his basket of toys, in the sunroom.  During that hour, which is far from blue, he prefers Spanish guitar music by Segovia and Julian Bream, although Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez” lulls him right to sleep.  Chance did not really like to use his dog bed, until the thing got moved into the sunroom during some housecleaning.  The dear sweet devoted Puppy Love needed his own room!  I call it his Romper Room.

Since Mr. Chance has his very own name stitched onto his bed, he must now learn to read!  Do not pity him.  I grade generously and fairly.  Every day when the Master arrives home, after a long day of labor mixed with leisure, I give Chance his grade.  It now ranges from A to A++++.  The days of C to F are gone!

One rapid, poetic movement that this dog makes while he runs downhill is quite distinctive and elegant, like a gazelle.  He is spring-loaded!

Yes, Mr. Chance is a very handsome boy!  Very strong!  He is the James Bond of Beagles!  I envision him driving an Austin-Healey, perhaps to the beach, where he can build a castle much like Alnwick.  Pail and shovel are in the back seat!

We bought Chance a little plastic kiddie pool for the summer, the hard plastic kind, not the blow-up model because he would tear into it and chew it up.  (Just this morning, though,I did catch him, on the patio, trying to carry off the emptied pool with his super-jaw.  I put a large rock in the pool to weight it down; Chance found the rock un-chewable and left the scene!)  This winner of a dog can now cool off during the hundred-degree heat waves and get some water.  He has his own little Horsie Trough!  He loves running through the sprinkler too during those triple-digit-days.

This beagle does love his toys!  He’s a pack-rat about them:  he will not give up one toy, even after it has been nearly chewed out of existence and another one has been bought for him.  Yes, with a tenacious chewer, the toys come and, once shredded, they (surreptitiously) go.  The online company, Chewy, offers Auto-Delivery, but I am putting my foot down on that one.

Speaking of feet, I have to say that my shoes, and feet, are perhaps his favorite chew toys among his mouth-mangled menagerie.  Chance gnawed his way through 3 pairs of thongs and he does not understand why I do not give to him my new pair of Dr. Scholl’s to quietly gnaw.  They are made of the same resin as his phoney-pretend antler!  I bought a back-up pair, in red, just in case . . .  My first thought now regarding any physical object is:  I hope he doesn’t chew it.  My second thought is:  Where do I put it so that he will not chew it?

Chance tends to . . . cling to things that he loves . . . like his Gekko squeaker toy, the pink-and-gray Spotted Cow flannel rattle (a replacement for the brown-and-orange flannel Owl of his puppyhood), an old pair of Chukka Boots, and, amazingly, a sock from many months ago that had once adorned my foot.  From time to time, he drops it at my foot, a token of his love.  There was also the leather work glove that he chewed out of recognition.  He then would bring the thing to me and gently drop it at my feet, each night, at bedtime.  The Love Glove, I called it.

These gestures form a more gentle approach than when Chance first sees me emerge from the Home and I venture out, onto the grassy grounds.  He bullet-dogs up the sloped hill to me with excitement, carrying his 4-foot long stick.

I somehow do not share his ardor.  In fact, I tell him, “Your undying love is killing me.”

Sounds like a Bond plot line!