I’ve owned six dogs in my life. Two Labradors, Chloe and Jackson, a crafty Cocker Spaniel called Bonnie, two Rottweilers, Chris and Mia, and a Rotterman called Danny.
Inspired by Nicky Stratton’s new book ‘The Haunting of Mount Cod’, which features a Pug as its hero, I started to think - which of my pets would be my hero? I ruled out my cat straight away, so it really did come down to my dogs and as soon as I thought about them all, I could picture a Pink Panther style book where they’d all play a role - but the hero of my book would probably be Chloe. She did charge (hobble) down the stairs at 7am to chase off a burglar when she was 12 after all (while Mia stayed in bed).
So, which of your dogs would play your hero? It’s hard to choose but fun to think about, isn’t it?
Nicky tells us about her Pug shaped hero came as a surprise to her, but not the concept of a hero in the form of a dog, since she’s witnessed firsthand the comfort dogs can bring to those suffering from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.
She explains more.
You can see Parker the Pug on the cover of my novel ‘The Haunting of Mount Cod’. It’s a cosy crime comedy and he’s the trusty companion of the elderly heroine Lady Laura Boxford. Together they live in the retirement complex of Wellworth Lawns somewhere in the Cotswolds. The house used to be Laura’s home but the family ran into a spot of bother financially speaking. Luckily for Laura and Parker, Laura’s granddaughter married a very rich underwear manufacturer from Leeds and he bought the house and had it converted.
It is from here that Laura and Parker quite often find themselves embroiled in instances of miscarriage of justice. In this case, her best friend Venetia Hobbs is convinced that the owner of Mount Cod, Sir Repton Willowby murdered his wife Matilda, who happens to have been Venetia’s cousin.
Sir Repton says he’s being haunted by the ghost of an eighteenth-century serving wench but Laura believes he’s making it up in order to attract a new wife out of sympathy. Her determination to find out what really happened is fuelled by the fact that he owns an extremely unpleasant long-haired Dachshund called Sybil Thorndike.
‘Heroes come in all shapes and sizes’
All my life dogs have surrounded me. When I was growing up my mum had four Whippets and a very fat Labrador called Chip – she always said she preferred dogs to people and one of her many feats of generosity is that she has always bought my dogs for me.
When I got married and had two boys we also had Labradors. We progressed to mini wire-haired Dachshunds when my younger son aged six begged his grandmother to buy him a silky coated one. As we lived in a particularly muddy, brambly part of Warwickshire I put my foot down and suggested the wire-haired variety. We’ve loved the breed ever since and so it was with some surprise that I found the canine hero of my books to be a Pug.
I guess it’s something to do with the fact that they are so convinced by their own importance and for Laura, it could have been that she felt sorry for herself in reduced circumstances. But with Parker at her side with his adaptable good nature, she can go anywhere with her head held high.
It is with his help that Laura, often quite inadvertently, solves crimes. She, like him, can go off on a strong headed and misguided tangent leading sometimes to near disastrous consequences - often involving the local constabulary, but between them, they cheerfully realise the error of their ways and cut to the chase.
My recently widowed mum suffers from Alzheimer’s now and with the anxiety that comes with the disease, she is greatly comforted by the companionship of her fifteen year old Fox Terrier called Midge.
Nicky, pictured with her mum and their dogs, Midge and Mattie
Midge arrived from a very dirty farmyard with plenty of attitude and a great many fleas. When she got to my mum’s house she knew she had 'arrived'. Ever since she has been spoiled rotten and is extremely badly behaved – not helped by her now being stone deaf.
None of this worries my mum who brushes her tenderly each day and feeds her – sometimes more than once but luckily Midge isn’t greedy like my Dachshund, Mattie. Mattie is driven by her stomach and will, unlike Parker, switch her affections to whoever seems the most likely candidate to satisfy her hunger.
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‘The Haunting of Mount Cod’: A Teaser
Here’s a little excerpt from ‘The Haunting of Mount Cod’ that shows the close relationship of Laura Boxford and Parker. I hope you like it.
‘Sepulchral chill, I ask you? Venetia’s worked herself up into complete state over nothing,’ Laura said to Parker, as they went downstairs the next morning. ‘Fancy trying to get into my bed in the middle of the night.’ She tutted. ‘Lucky we found that extra blanket from the cupboard.’ Parker’s toenails clattered on the wooden boards beside her. ‘But this, on the other hand…’ Laura brandished the small piece of paper she was holding ‘…is much more interesting. I’m afraid we may have to stay another day and see what we can unearth.’
While she and Sir Repton had taken the dogs out the night before, Venetia had taken the lift up to her bedroom. She had seen the slip of paper on the floor when the lift doors had opened.
‘It’s Matilda’s writing, I remember it from Christmas cards,’ she said when Laura came in to say goodnight. ‘I don’t suppose anybody’s been in the lift since she died. It’s rather sad; she obviously suffered from dry skin.’
But Venetia was wrong, it didn’t say E45, it said P45. As Laura walked across the hall, she read it again. Along with needing matches and more granola, Matilda was going to sack someone.