You know those people in your life that love animals, show you pictures of Mr. Buttons and Fido in hilarious poses, with sunglasses on or curled up on top of the TV or making that funny face you love and need to share with everyone, be it in person, on Facebook, at the grocery store or as your Twitter profile pic?
That ain’t me.
I’m not an animal lover, at all. I don’t necessarily hate them, but if I never see another cat, dog or goldfish again I won’t lose any sleep over it. There are currently two cats and a small dog that run around my house that I pretty much ignore. I get yelled at when Kim comes home and there’s dog crap in piles in the living room. I gently remind her that I was completely against animals and the main reason I reluctantly agreed to have them near me was that I didn’t have to feed, walk or clean up after any of them.
The reason I bring this up, is because one of my readers (yes, I have readers, as in plural, baby!) pointed out that I have a dog in one of the stories in Darlene Bobich: Zombie Killer that plays a very small part and then… well, spoiler alert: he simply runs off, because that’s what pets do when you leave the damn gate open.
I couldn’t really think offhand about any of my other stories (and I’ve written a ton in my lifetime) that had any other pets, especially a pet that had anything to do with the plot.
I grew up reading Dean Koontz books, which I loved. He seemed to always have a psychic dog or a special dog that saved the main characters in the end. Some amazing pet in his stories, and that never really bothered me… I also never thought about it until now.
So, me being me, I took a hard look at other authors that profess to love animals and write them into stories, and figure out… why. Here’s what some of them had to say about it (and then my own two cents directly after):
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“Here’s the reason I like to include animals, okay – dogs (I’m really a sucker for dogs) into my stories: I like my stories to resonate with people on a personal level. My goal is for readers to identify with the story, to think “Wow, this could happen to me” and dogs are a very common element in life. Let’s face it, the average person has never been shot at, but everyone has had an encounter with a dog.” – Tim Baker, author of four novels. His fifth novel, Pump It Up, will be released in July of 2012. From 1991-1998 he raised, trained and socialized puppies for use as guide dogs for the blind. His web site is www.blindoggbooks.com
I can understand that. Tim has animals, especially dogs, in many of his stories, and you can tell by reading his work he is a dog lover. I’m scared of dogs.
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“First and foremost because I love them, if a Zombie Apocalypse (or insert Armageddon event) happens I can’t imagine not going forward without my furry buddies! There is a scene in ZF1 where Talbot risks his life to save Henry, his wife thinks he’s off his rocker for doing it but the main character Mike never even thought twice about it. He considers the dog to be his 4th kid and that’s the way I feel. Animals give us their loyalty unquestionably. I definitely feel the need to return the favor. Animals are such a huge part of my normal life, I think that is why it is so easy for me to bring them over into the written world.
And for those ZF followers that are reading this HENRY IS FINE I PROMISE!” – Mark Tufo, author of the zombie Fallout series. www.marktufo.com
Mark also wrote a story I published in Undead Tales about a dog’s POV, “My Name Is Reilly”. The story is awesome, and it stars a dog. So I might not hate dogs completely, or maybe the story was just too damn good to leave out of the anthology.
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“I was down in the dumps when I had to put my 12 year old blue heeler, Jackson, to sleep. His heart was giving out and his lungs were filling with fluid. I wanted to find a way to immortalize him beyond my own memories. To fulfill that desire, I wrote a post-apocalyptic story about a wanderer who traveled with his dog, Jackson. The wanderer had medical training, but his methods of curing the suffering people he encountered were not the least bit conventional. It is the most violent story I have written. Jacksonnever took part in any of the wanderer’s madness. He was just included in the story as a loyal companion. Always at his master’s side, showing unconditional faith and love. “A Greater Love” can be found in End of Days volume 3.” – Dane Hatchell is the author of over 30 published stories. His first novel Resurrection X: Zombie Evolution will be published by Post Mortem Press in the June/July time frame. Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dane-T.-Hatchell/e/B003KAR05K
I’ve had dogs as pets growing up, never cats. My mother hated cats. My first dog was Darby, he was a white mutt, I got him when I was five. He was really the only animal I ever bonded with, but when he had to be put down it was tough. I remember I was probably eighteen when it happened, so the dog lived almost fourteen years. I’m softening up a bit.
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“Since my stories are more character-driven than plot-driven (even the mysteries) it works for me to round out the people in them by providing them with animal interactions. Characters will say and do things before an animal that they would never say or do in front of a human. And animals– and their views of the world– are just fun to write.” Melanie Jackson lives in the California Gold Country with a cat (also a writer who has a page on myspace) and their dog (who is hoping to get a page on facebook as soon as she masters typing). Melanie likes gardening but hates the deer who also like her garden, and she volunteers at a local animal shelter. http://www.amazon.com/The-Curiosity-Shoppe-ebook/dp/B0041T4F20
A valid point, but one I don’t know if I’d be comfortable with as a writer, unless it was more of an info dump situation, with the main character telling his trusted doggy companion what he was going to do or what he thought. It might be a good exercise for me to write a scene with just a man and his dog and see what happens. Hmmm…
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“I used to have aNilemonitor. I named him Smaug. I had him out of his cage and was holding him just like the pet store owner told me to do so; to train him somewhat to human contact. Those of you who have a monitor and don’t train them by getting them out everyday know all too well the nasty temper they quickly acquire. So I was holding Smaug one day and gently petting him. He turned and tilted his head and looked at me in just that odd mystical sort of way. A look that said he was smart and was trying to tell me something. I said to myself, “Now wouldn’t it be neat if he started talking to me.” The story came together in about five minutes. After Smaug was safely back in his cage and no pain stinging bites I began writing and finished the story in one sitting.” – John Prescott lives in the deep South with his wife Edie, son Grafton Caine, and their two cats. He loves to spend time with his family, take long walks, and draw, and he is, of course, an avid reader. He somehow finds time to umpire fast-pitch softball and be an art director. He also has a website dedicated to his writing at http://www.john-prescott.net. http://www.amazon.com/Before-Sunrise-John-Prescott/dp/1451537913/ref=lp_B007EJWXJ6_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1335532798&sr=1-3
I had a lizard when I was a kid, one of those you take home from school. We named him Izzy, which is odd now that I think of it, because my oldest daughter is Isabella, and everyone (except me) calls her Izzy. Just realized why I don’t call her Izzy.
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“I love my dogs, and they really can become close companions. I started thinking of a world where nobody was left alive except for one person. No zombies, just a world of corpses and this one poor guy. All the animals, however, survived. I think that the bond you would create with a dog – or any animal, really – would be incredible in that kind of scenario. And if you take it to the next step, the loss of that animal would be crushing – even more so if you accidentally caused the death to occur. I can’t imagine that with my dogs now, let alone if they were the only friend I had in the world. That’s where “When it Rains it Pours”, included in my collection Whispers from the Dark came from. The ending of that one is probably one of the most horrifying I’ve ever written, although not in the way most people think of horror.” – Bryan Hall is the author of numerous short stories, some of which are collected in Whispers from the Dark as well as the novel Containment Room 7 from Permuted Press and the upcoming Southern Hauntings Saga from Angelic Knight Press. http://www.amazon.com/Whispers-From-The-Dark-ebook/dp/B005Q339DQ/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1
I remember the scene from the I Am Legend movie with the Fresh Prince starring, with him and his dog. People found that quite jarring, but to me it was no big deal. Sorry, but don’t rip my head off. I just haven’t had that bond in my life, or haven’t had it in over twenty years. But I could see dog lovers grimacing at that point.
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“I don’t consciously add animals into my stories, but they often end up in them anyway; I’ve always had pets, so animals are to me part-and-parcel of everyday life. The very first story I had accepted for publication, “Metal Mouth”, featured pig-hunting dogs (they lived, in case you’re wondering). Unfortunately, it often ends up badly for the poor creatures in my fiction. I’m especially hard on birds and cats. In “Trading Up”, I kill off a bird ANDa cat – one accidental death by impact with a window, the other deliberately from carbon monoxide poisoning. But then, I’m a horror writer, so it usually ends up badly for the humans as well. It’s always a risk, killing off animals, especially cats, in fiction, because so many of my peers are verging on becoming crazy cat ladies. Stephen King got hate mail for killing a dog in “The Dead Zone”, and he had to patiently explain to readers that IT WAS NOT A REALLIVE DOG.” – Tracie McBride is a New Zealander who lives in Melbourne, Australiawith her husband and three children. Since making her first fiction sale in 2004, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in over 80 print and electronic publications. http://traciemcbridewriter.wordpress.com/
The Stephen King part is funny, but I can see that. Some people are nuts, and you never mess with crazy cat ladies in fiction or real life. I made the mistake on Facebook about six months ago of pointing out all the inane cat pictures people kept posting and it was annoying. The venom sent my way was unreal, and some of it from grown men. Scary to see what their mom’s basement (you know, where they live with ten cats and play PS3 all day at 35) looks like.
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“While writing The Lazarus Stone (Conspiracy Edit), I realized that I had hit a bit of an emotional wall. There was a nuclear annihilation, and there were some survivors. My cat, Mr. Pants, came walking in at that moment and I realized I didn’t like the idea of all those pets being blown up or worse, surviving and dying of fallout exposure. I mean, I write horror, but it doesn’t mean I remain completely unaffected by what I put to paper. The idea of Mr Pants and all the other animals dying horrible human-inflicted deaths so disturbed me that I had to deal with it. So I did something that made the most sense at the time. I made all of the animals disappear just before the blast.” – Suzi M writes for fun and occasionally profit. When not busy with her own work or getting pictures and autographs of people who recognize her on the street, Suzi helps support the efforts of independent artists, writers, musicians, and film-makers. You can follow her on Twitter @xirconnia or join the Suzi M Facebook fan page at http://www.facebook.com/suzi.m.author?ref=profile&v=info#!/pages/Suzi-M/54616181082
Looking at the many stories I’ve written over the years, it would seem I simply create worlds or characters where pets don’t exist. I’m too busy worrying about how to kill a human or evil trying to take over the world, rather than worry about anyone’s pets. Might have to think on that one further. I sense a story there in itself…
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“I loosely based the homicidal feline in my short story “Unleashed” upon my catMidnight. She was tough and must have been abused as a stray. She was deathly afraid of all humans other than me and my sons. I wanted to make a statement about animal abuse with it. I will also be adding two additional pets named Miro and Monkey (also cats) to some of the sequels for the short-story series “Unleashed” – Lori R. Lopez is the author of works spanning multiple categories, from Nonfiction to Fiction; novel to story to verse collection, children’s fiction and storybooks and more, usually with a blend of genres including Humor, Fantasy, Horror, Supernatural and so on. She is a songwriter, poet, artist, musician, actress, conservationist, wildlife and abuse advocate. She writes a humorous and darkly horrific column titled “Poetic Reflections” at www.trilllogicinnoventions.com.
I never had a nasty cat living with me. They usually just lay about, and lick their privates while I’m trying to watch the Red Sox game. I remember having the two cats we have now both licking their privates on the couch next to me at the same time. Very distracting, and I think they were showing off.
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“Two dogs play important roles in my novel, Frankenstein’s Daemon, a sequel to Frankenstein. The first is what I call an ‘Inuit’ dog of the north, which allows the monster to have a ‘save the cat’ moment in the plot. The monster saves the dog from Robert Walton’s burning ship. I did this to build sympathy for the creature that up to that point has been seen as a murderous beast. Ernest Frankenstein, Victor’s brother, also has a dog, an Irish Wolfhound. The dog acts as a minor character, leading Walton to the creature’s forest hut. I love writing animals into books because they give a novel added depth. They touch human needs and instincts.”- Michael Meeske writes across genres, including horror, romance and gothic fiction. His latest novels from Usher Books are Poe’s Mother and Frankenstein’s Daemon. www.michaelmeeske.com
I seem to remember Dean Koontz having one of his dogs being an alien or some weird thing like that, who leads the humans to the spaceship at the end. Or maybe I was just imagining that. Again, I don’t trust myself enough to write a dog into a story, especially as a major part of it. Of course, I also swore I wouldn’t write about a woman as a main character. I’ve written about a hundred thousand words on Darlene Bobich so far.
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“Animals, at least to me, represent, doing things right. We are supposedly the advanced species on earth but instead we seem to have been the only one to have received the memo detailing ‘self destruction, bad parenting, and putting weak people in charge of leadership positions.” Thus, I put them in stories where I can to represent the purity human beings lack.” – Alan Dale has been a sports and news journalist (for on and off) the last 25 years. He has won national awards for sports writing and received numerous accolades for his work. Recently he completed “The Enternet: Trapped Inside AWEB” and the first two parts of the “Dead Nations’ Army” horror-zombie-political-fiction series with four more left to go. He is hoping to getDNAcompleted by the beginning of 2013 and then he aims to work on his “NIGEL” Vampire trilogy and his “Resurrection of Game” young adult series. Currently, he lives inPortland,Oregonand enjoys time with his girlfriend, cat Kid, and two dog friends, Qi and Puck. http://www.amazon.com/DNA-CODE-FLESH-Nations-ebook/dp/B007PL1C18/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
Advanced species my ass. Explain reality TV then. Holding the animal to the higher power is an interesting concept, the old ‘they know better than their master’ concept. Which leads e back to Koontz and his super dogs. Now I get it. We’re screwed up, we’ll end up killing each other, but our pets can save us, and ultimately make us more human.
Or, our dogs are space aliens and they’re waiting for the mother-ship to come and rescue them.
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So what did I learn? That quite a few of my author friends like their dogs and cats and lizards and birds and…
Will let you know when I sit down to write a tale with animals playing major roles in it. Until then… I’m going to ignore the licking cats.