Pets Our Characters Love

Pets play a big part in the world of traditional and cozy mysteries. Does your character have a pet? How did you decide what pet to have? Does having a pet complicate your character’s life?

Edith: Yes! All my protagonists have cats, and they’re all taken directly from my own real life cats. My late Birdy is on the cover of every Country Store mystery. Felines are so independent, they don’t complicate my characters’ lives much. The exception is Mac Almeida in the Cozy Capers Book Group series. She’s allergic to cats and dogs, so she has an African gray parrot, who really livens up some of the scenes with what she says. Mac does have to get home to feed Belle and clean her cage, but so far that hasn’t been a problem.

foggedinncoverBarb: Yes, pets are a complication for a busy sleuth! When the Maine Clambake series opens, Le Roi, the Maine coon cat, lives on Morrow Island during the summer and spends the off-season on the mainland with the island caretakers. By the end of Clammed Up that arrangement is no longer an option, so that fall he goes home with my protagonist, Julia Snowden. Le Roi loves Julia but takes a very dim view of her boyfriend Chris, who, in fairness, did arrive on the scene after Le Roi. Le Roi spends the second summer of the series on the island living with Julia’s sister Livvie’s family. By the fall, in Sealed Off and Haunted House Murder, he is living at Julia’s mother’s house and quite content about it.

Liz: Ha, you have to ask?? Both Stan Connor of the Pawsitively Organic Mysteries and Maddie James of the Cat Cafe Mysteries are surrounded by pets. For Stan, she starts out with one cat, the famous Nutty, in Kneading to Die and seems to pick up a new friend in every story of the series, both dog AND cat. (And they say writers try to keep themselves out of their characters, ha!)

And Maddie James finds a stray in the cemetery in Cat About Town, and by the second book, Purrder She Wrote, she opens a cat cafe, JJ’s House of Purrs. Which means she’s surrounded by cats all the time and loves it. 

IMG_0865Jessie: Usually pets have not played much of a role in my books so I was surprised to discover the important part played by Edwina Davenport’s dog Crumpet in the first Beryl and Edwina Mystery, Murder in an English Village. He has continued to add good excuses for lurking about searching for clues and for giving both sleuths a daily dose of exercise. Just yesterday I wrote a scene where he accompanied Edwina to a shop on the High Street. I’ve grown to like him so much we’ve added a real life dog to our own household. Sam isn’t a Norwich Terrier like Crumpet since I am allergic to most dogs but has provided much delight and inspiration nevertheless.

Sherry: Sarah doesn’t have a pet. While she was a military wife she saw the complications of moving a pet from place to place. Now, she’s too busy for a dog and allergic to cats. However, her landlady and friend, Stella Wild, has a tuxedo cat, Tux, that she rescued. Sarah does love Tux and the feeling is mutual.

Readers: Which is your favorite literary pet? Do you have an animal at home?

22 Thoughts

  1. I love when pets take an active part in mysteries, either just always being around or being part of the sleuthing team whether the protagonist knows it or not! And, yes, I like it when animals talk to each other or to humans. I guess I just really love animals and wish they could talk human.

  2. Jim Duncan has a Golden Retriever, Rizzo. Originally purchased to piss off his ex-wife, Rizzo became a loyal companion once the wife had exited the scene. Of course, dogs require more attention than cats. Being a cop means not always making it home on time, but Jim’s neighbor is always happy to help. Sally (who lives in a building where you can’t have pets) loves Rizzo. The feeling is mutual. 🙂

    I’m still waiting on a call to meet my new greyhound. To say I’m impatient would be an understatement.

  3. I’m allergic to digs and cats, so I have to get my animal cuteness through books. Although I must admit that Stan’s home gives me allergies just reading about it. Love the series, Liz, but all I can think about are my allergies. 🙂

  4. There are tons of great literary pets out there. One of my favorites is Diesel from Miranda James’ Cat in the Stacks series. I grew up in a household with multiple dogs & cats, but only have one kitty right now.

  5. Meg (Corey) Chapin in the Orchard Mysteries is really the only character with pets. She has a rescue cat named Lolly (short for Lavinia, Emily Dickinson’s sister), and Seth has Max, a Golden Retriever. Then I gave Meg a pair of female goats early on–Dorcas and Isabel. They were about to be turned into a dinner for a Greek restaurant. They’re not too much trouble, and I find them interesting, especially their weird eyes.

    Can I vote for Charlotte’s Web as perhaps the best book involving animals that I’ve read? (I myself have three cats, all rescues and very sweet.)

  6. Not a mystery series, but in one of the older Judy Blume books, a girl named Karen has a cat named Mew. I still remember Mew after all these years, like she was a real cat!

  7. My favorite pets in literature (cozy mystery) are KoKo and Yum Yum from the Cat Who series. They directed and completed each story in the series. Our love is dogs (I’m severely allergic to cats). Until the past 24 months we had 4 dedicated service dogs). 3 have crossed the Rainbow Bridge and our eldest original (Stitch a 16 1/2 year old Golden) has a lymphoma so his time with us will be limited. We do have my successor service dog, Susy. She is a Yellow Lab/Great Dane cross who is way too smart many days. She is doing medical alert for 3 individuals at present and functions as my hands and feet hours every day. She does both with a bounce in her step and tail wagging! Susy loves to work and cuddle. She is, also, my reading companion. I can’t imagine life without my precious girl. After we finish raising the funds to cover Sudy’s Training we hope to raise enough for a successor dog for one of our daughters. Unconditional love.

  8. I have never been an animal person. I never owned a pet when I was young. I finally “gave in “ and agreed to get a dog, a few months after Katrina. So my husband and a friend found a Welsh Corgi p, from a woman who had to downsize her farm. It was love at first sight. I fell in love with the dog as well as the breed. We are on our second Copernicus and he is “my little boy.”

  9. Thanks. I enjoy cats – they usually are very independent & self-sufficient. I really like Stan’s pets and the ones in Soffie Ryan/Kelly’s books & Karen Rose Smith’s books.

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