People often ask me did I base my dog Brutus in Love is a Four-Legged Word on a real dog.
Yes and no.
Brutus is a purely fictional creation and I had such fun writing about him. I guess he is an amalgamation of many dogs I have known. His womanizing (how do you translate that into dog-talk?) ways are certainly inspired by a childhood dog Copper – half basset hound, half golden cocker spaniel – who was always bringing girlfriends home. He wasn’t a big dog and the Afghan hound he was in love with was truly a challenge. Brutus’s leg-humping ways he has in common with several dogs of my acquaintance. His greed is certainly not a unique trait. And of course his loyalty is one of the characteristics I love about dogs in general.
But his name, that was inspired by a real dog, my former next-door neighbor. The real Brutus is not a scruffy Heinz 57 varieties kind of dog like my fictional Brutus, rather a silky terrier of impeccable pedigree. He’s getting old now. Twelve when this photo was taken but still sprightly and raring to go at the mention of the word “walk”. He’s also a fearsome watchdog. But what an amazing name for a very small, fluffy dog with a pretty little face, albeit one with a feisty nature. I couldn’t resist borrowing it when I started writing my story about a millionaire mutt.
WHAT I’M READING NOW: Duet by Carol Shields. The Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Stone Diaries is one of my favorite authors. I love the way she makes the everyday details of the domestic life of her characters into gripping fiction. This book is a re-labeled release of two earlier novels (her first, I believe) Small Ceremonies and The Box Garden written in the 1970s, linked yet separate stories of two sisters. I found the sisters’ stories as relevant as they must have been thirty years ago and I savored every word.