Heroic Dogs in Fiction: Who Needs ‘Em?

My mom Cathy has a serious addiction. She devours murder mysteries, although she says, “I’m getting fussier and it’s harder to find good ones these days.” Her current fave authors are Marcia Muller, Lisa Scottoline, Margaret Maron and (especially) Sharyn McCrumb. But she reads others too and she just picked up Dog On It by Spencer Quinn.

“The best dog mysteries feature Susan Conant’s Holly Winter,” she told me. “But I keep trying, This one isn’t bad.”

She read some paragraphs aloud to me while I pretended to sleep. This book is about an amazing dog named Chet who was trained as a police dog. Chet is owned by Bernie, who was (apparently) trained as a police offficer. Bernie is the standard down and out detective, driving a beat-up car and scrambling to make a buck from divorce cases. Of course Chet goes along for the  ride (literally) and writes the books.

Chet’s not a bad writer, as dogs go. I like to think I’m the best dog writer in the world, but my mom tells me to be realistic. “And this dog is a real hero,” she says. “He’s always there to protect his owner from the bad guys. He sniffs out drugs. He finds his way home when he’s kidnapped.”

Well, not exactly. There’s a bit of coincidence here and there.

“Gracie, that dog keeps saving his owner. He’s so loyal he skips eating sometimes.”  We both know I will never, ever turn down food.

“There’s one scene where  the dog’s chewing helps rescue the owner. There’s hope for you yet,” Mom says.

I don’t deign to look up from my nap. Since when do I have to measure up to some fictional dog who is (at least fictionally) trained as a police dog?

Luckily for me, Mom thought the book was good but not great. “The plot gets a little far-fetched,” she said. “All those Russians.”

Good. I get to be appreciated for the CUPPIE that I am. And now it’s time for our pre-bedtime walk.

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