I love animals. I grew up surrounded by them, and not just dogs and cats. We lived “off the land” for a few years when I was in my tweens, so we had chickens and goats and horses. Later I had reptiles and rodents as pets as well. The animal kingdom is amazing! So, of course I have something in nearly every story I write. Here are some examples.
1. Sally from A Change of Heart
Sally was the cow my hero and his business partner had their cattle breeding hopes and dreams pinned on. She was pregnant at the start of the story and then … well… you’ll have to read the story to find out. Here’s the place we meet her for the first time:
With a low moo, the cow ambled toward them. Bode pulled a compressed alfalfa cube from his pocket and held it out to her. After the bovine accepted the treat, he rubbed her forehead. “That’s my best girl.”
He clearly doted on the critter. Emily leaned way over and patted the cow’s shoulder, but got no response. The hugely pregnant creature was too busy rubbing her head up and down against Bode’s chest. “I think she’s in love with you.”
“The feeling’s mutual. Sally’s been with us for a while now.” He fed her another alfalfa cube. “We have high hopes when she drops this calf she’ll give us the bull we need.”
2. Spike from One Love for Liv
Spike is the neighbor mastiff, a friendly but very large dog who slowly changes Liv’s mind about animals. She doesn’t like him at all when they first meet (of course, she’s lying nearly unconscious on the ground, which may have contributed). Here’s where we meet Spike for the first time.
Something warm and wet swiped her face, both reviving and disgusting her. She kept her eyes closed and limply swatted at it. Her hand hit fur. “Ugh.”
“Spike, back off.”
Spike? What was going on? She gave a low moan and tried again to force her eyelids to obey her will, finally succeeding after a Herculean effort. A tanned face covered in five o’clock shadow and smears of black grease swam in front of her. Next to him, its neck surrounded by a studded black leather collar, sat the biggest brown dog she’d ever seen. The creature had drool suspended from its mouth and it looked as if it had swallowed a sneaker with the laces hanging out. Dear heavens, was that what had licked her?
3. Rett from One Love for Liv
Rett is a ferret that Mike inherits with the apartment. He’s cute and mischievous and terrifies Liv in the worst way. Here’s where she meets him:
She lowered the compact slowly, watching in terrified fascination as a man’s slipper moved across the floor toward her, apparently of its own volition.
A scream built in the back of Liv’s throat, bubbling up until it burst out in a short shriek. The sound surprised her. She didn’t think she’d ever made such a loud noise in her life. She looked about for some kind of a weapon, grabbed a nearby magazine and rolled it into a bat. She held it with two hands, fully prepared to do battle should the slipper get any closer.
It continued its slow and steady move forward. When it was a mere six inches from the tip of her toe, she whacked at it a couple of times with the magazine, gave another scream and jumped up onto her chair. Her legs quivered beneath her as she crouched and waited to see if the thing could climb. Liv was unable to pull her gaze away from it, finding it impossible to move but desperately wanting to run from the kitchen.
Mike burst into the room, shirtless and holding a hand towel. He looked around wildly. His hands were up and fisted and he looked ready to take on the world. “What’s wrong?”
Saved! Without a thought or the slightest warning, Liv leaped at him. The chair slipped backward from the force of her push-off. He caught her reflexively and pushed her behind his back, still glancing around for the danger. Liv slid her hand with magazine around his waist and gestured toward the black lump on the floor. “It moved.”
Mike squatted with Liv glued to his back. He lifted the slipper off the floor and she squeaked, a soft sound of fear. She gripped Mike’s shoulders, her neatly manicured nails biting into his flesh.
Underneath the bit of black felt crouched a light brown lump with a long tail and beady eyes that glared at Liv. It looked rumpled and was certainly more than annoyed at having been swatted. But, it shouldn’t have terrorized her. Served the weasel right.
4. Rose from Kitchen Matches
In this story, Cori is wooed by Micah, who treats her like a girl, when no one else really ever has. Here is where we meet Rose, the kitten, for the first time.
Early on Wednesday morning she lay wide awake and staring at the ceiling. Ten days since the last time she’d seen Micah, and she’d been unable to sleep as usual. Giving up trying, she got out of bed and tiptoed to the door to get the paper. When she opened it, a box sat just outside, tied in a huge red bow. What on earth? She leaned down to look more closely, and saw her name on the tag. When she lifted the gift, it cried and she nearly dropped the thing.
She brought the package inside and set it down, prodding it with her toe. Finally, she popped the top open and peeked inside. She smiled and pulled out the gift. A kitten. A tiny, fluffy, smoke gray kitten with bright blue eyes. She cuddled it to her chest with a sigh.
5. Maynard from Camilla’s Critters aka The Possibility of Forever — a WIP
This story is filled with animals as Camilla is a vet tech who fosters animals for a local rescue. Maynard is a rat. I wanted to make people realize that rats are great pets. I actually got feedback from an RWA judge that I managed to do just that when she would have considered rats repulsive. Here is the first time we see him.
She started for the bedroom, but made a quick detour to save her pet rat, Maynard. He perched on top of the dog kennel in the living room where Sasha, a rescued Greyhound, sat quietly salivating, her nose pressed against one of the air holes nearest Maynard.
“Come here, you, before you turn into a doggie treat.” She scooped up the gray ball of fuzz and put him on her shoulder where he burrowed into her hair, not seeming to mind the dampness of his new nest.
6. Dopey from Camilla’s Critters aka The Possibility of Forever — a WIP
The newest foster puppy, who also happens to be a mastiff. I love the breed, can you tell? Here is where the hero meets Dopey for the first time.
“Dopey’s still a puppy and not in the least bit dominant. He just wants to play.”
“Puppy?” Jed reluctantly released Roly’s collar and the dog sidled up to Dopey, shoving at the puppy with one black shoulder. “What breed is he, hippopotamus?”
Camilla walked her hands up the leash and unhooked Dopey. “Mastiff. Isn’t he beautiful?”
7. The Veggie-saur from Now That We’ve Found you
Okay, I’m cheating a little with this one…it’s the dinosaur bone that causes the H/h (and her daughter) to meet in this book.
“Wow.” The word came out in a breath of air. “Mommy, do you think… Is this a T-rex bone?”
“Actually,” a man spoke from behind them, his Scottish burr musical, “it’s the right humerus from a brachiosaurus altithorax.”
Sarah jolted in surprise at the sound of his voice, loud and unexpected in the quiet of the aisle. Melinda turned her gaze to the speaker, a tall, black-haired man in a tailored gray suit.
“That’s a veggie-saur,” Melinda commented.
“That’s right, he was an herbivore. You’re very smart.”
Do you like animals in the books that you read?