Huckleberry Gets Top Billing

I remember the day I started Spies and Prejudice.  It was a Saturday morning in June 2009.  I had a seed of an idea that formed earlier in the week, and decided to try writing a few pages to see where it went.

I made it as far as the second chapter before the dog showed up. At first, she showed up in exposition, as Berry described the detached condo where she and her dad lived:

                           "Every house is painted exactly the same salmon pink and dominated
                           by a two-car garage in front. Perfect cover. With two bedrooms and two
                           baths, our house is just big enough for Dad and me, not quite big enough
                           for Little Lulu, our Saint Bernard."

I had never owned a Saint Bernard, but as soon as I wrote this passage, I started researching them. I found a breeder about two hours away that had a litter of puppies. Our Akita, Duke, had died in his sleep back in February, and while I thought we would wait a few more months to get another dog, I was seized with longing.

I walked into the living room where my real life love interest was watching a baseball game on T.V.

"Honey?" I asked, peeking over the back of the couch. "Is it okay if buy something?"

"What do you want to buy?" A fair question.

I took a breath. "A puppy."

To his credit, he didn't flinch. "What kind of puppy?"

"A Saint Bernard?"

He looked at me skeptically. "Do you know how messy a Saint Bernard is?"

I shook my head, my excitement turning to panic. "There is a litter of puppies in Corning."

He didn't say no. To this day, I'm not sure he said yes exactly. But he definitely didn't say no.

And so, less than 24 hours later, I found myself driving in my daughter's SUV, armed with a kennel in the back and a blank checkbook, to "look at" the puppies.

And that's when I met Huckleberry.  He had polka dots on his legs and face, and he kept coming over and setting his chin on my arm or leg.  He picked us.  He slept all the way home.

He loves the days when I sit on one end of the couch and write.  He usually curls up in the opposite corner.  And every scene in Spies with Lulu has a little bit of Huckleberry on the page:

                    "In the morning Tanner is gone.  Lulu is curled up on the couch where
                    he sat last night, her head resting on a blanket folded into a neat square.
                    I scratch the soft spot behind Lu's ears, but she doesn't lift her head.

                    'Trust me Lu, he's not worth pining over.'  Not that I can't relate.  I spent
                    most of the night trying to figure out how things got so far with Tanner
                    that he could hurt me so easily.

                    I curl up on the other side of the blanket and rest my head next to Lulu's.
                   There's a faint hint of cinnamon that's only tolerable because it's overpowered
                   by Saint Bernard breath."

In the three years since we got Huckleberry, I finished writing my first novel all the way through.  And my second.  And my third.  I went to my first conference, met the Muses, got an agent, sold a book, and in September, my first book will be out. 

Coincidence?  I don't think so.  I attribute it all to the Saint Bernard curled up on the corner of the couch (and occasionally in my lap).


Huzzah for Huckleberry! He makes me want a Saint Bernard. But since I can barely clean up after myself...alas, it is not meant to be and I'll just have to covet yours.

And I love how he shows up in Lulu in the SPIES book.

My goodness he's big! But I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one that lets her furniture get ruined by her four legged children as well as her two legged ones. Does he nudge your arm when he wants you to pet him?

I'm certain Huckleberry was lucky for you. Dogs just are that way.

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