Welcome Liz Milliron

Edith here, packing to go on vacation in New Hampshire and Maine for a week!

And also so happy to welcome Liz Milliron back to the blog, with a new Laurel Highlands mystery. Read on and you’ll see why this one is close to her heart – and isn’t that a gorgeous cover?

Here’s the blurb: Trooper Jim Duncan’s first day with the Criminal Investigation Division starts off with a bang when he is called to a murder scene with a badly decomposed body. After he finds an abused greyhound in the victim’s garage, the simple homicide becomes more complicated. Why would anyone want an unreliable racetrack employee dead, especially when greyhound racing is illegal in Pennsylvania?

Assistant public defender Sally Castle is facing her own career change. When she accepts a position with an old law school friend, her first case seems to be one that is exactly what she wants to do. Then she learns the greyhound adoption group her client may have embezzled from has ties to the shooting victim. What else is her client hiding?

Jim and Sally work their respective investigations, which may or may not be related. Along the way, they learn important lessons about themselves, those they work with, and the people they protect. But can they complete their tasks without falling prey to a killer?

Thanks, Wickeds, for having me back. I’m very excited about this book, Lie Down with Dogs, the fifth in the Laurel Highlands Mysteries series. Let me explain why.

In January of 2019, my husband said the words I’d been waiting for since my last dog passed away in 2011. “I think it’s time to get a dog.”

I, of course, was prepared for this. I knew what dog I wanted. I’d known for several years, ever since a friend of mine brought her retired-racer to a morning swim practice (our kids were on the same summer swim team). I wanted a greyhound. Solomon was a beautiful, gentle, well-mannered dog in a lovely fawn color. I was determined to own a retired-racer one day.

Of course, it wasn’t that easy. My husband wasn’t convinced. We did research. In the end, he agreed and we filled out an application to adopt a greyhound. And in March of 2019, we met Koda at the kennel and that, as they say, was that.

Needless to say, there aren’t a lot of greyhounds in my neighborhood, so I always got a lot of questions when I walked him. I also did “meet and greet” events at a local pet store with the adoption group I worked with. People were fascinated by the dogs. Here are the top five comments/questions I received (and still do when Koda and I are out).

1. Is he fast?

Yes. Koda was not a superb racer, which is why he retired early. But he did place in slightly more than 60% of his races. As a breed, a greyhound can run up to 45mph and it takes him just three strides to hit that speed. That makes him the second-fastest land animal on the planet. Of course, he’s a sprinter, so after about thirty seconds to a minute, he’s ready to lie down and take a nap.

2. He’s so soft!

When people see a dog with short hair, they expect them to feel a bit bristly. Add this to the fact that a lot of hounds have slightly oily coats. That’s because they spend a lot of time outdoors in the rain. Greyhounds are velvety soft all over. Koda is especially fun to pet after he’s been to the groomer and had his bath. And his ears are like velvet. Fortunately, he likes ear rubs, because I like touching them.

3. Is he hyper?

No. Greyhounds sleep anywhere from 18-20 hours a day. See above about being sprinters. A greyhound needs 1-2 good walks a day, or access to a nice-size yard. After that, he’s pretty chill. They are nicknamed “45mph couch potatoes” and they come by that name honestly. They make great apartment dogs, because they don’t bark a lot, don’t require excessive amounts of exercise, and can curl themselves up in surprisingly small spots.

4. He’s so friendly!

Greyhounds in general do not make good guard dogs. Why? Because they like people. For a snack and a belly rub, Koda will show an intruder where we keep the silver and smile while he does it. The dogs truly are gentle giants, good with small children and older people. Some greyhounds can be slightly aloof. They gladly accept affection, but they can be indifferent about seeking it. Not Koda. He’ll trot up and introduce himself to anyone. In a way, it’s a good thing because it means on the few occasions he’s gotten out of the yard, he never gets very far before he meets someone and has to stop for attention.

5. Does he eat a lot?

Yes. Besides his two-cups-of-dog-food-per-meal, Koda is a bottomless pit. He’ll eat just about anything, not just meat or fish. He once won a contest called “my dog will eat that.” Some of the odd things he’s gladly munched: broccoli, green beans, carrots, spinach, parsley, grapefruit, orange slices, marshmallows, cereal, asparagus, peas (in and out of the pod), cooked mushrooms (not raw), celery, berries, and melon. I’ve probably forgotten something, but you get the idea.

If you’ve gotten the idea that I’d heartily recommend a retired-racer greyhound as a pet, you’d be right. Some people think they look big and scary, but they truly are sweethearts. To learn more, visit www.ngap.org or look for a greyhound adoption group near you.

Readers: What questions do you have about greyhounds?

Liz Milliron is the author of The Laurel Highlands Mysteries series, set in the scenic Laurel Highlands and The Homefront Mysteries, set in Buffalo, NY during the early years of World War II. She is a member of Pennwriters, Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and The Historical Novel Society and is the current vice-President of the Pittsburgh chapter of Sisters in Crime. Liz splits her time between homes in Pittsburgh and the Laurel Highlands, were she lives with her husband and a very spoiled retired-racer greyhound. Find her at her web site, on Facebook , and on Instagram.

30 Thoughts

  1. You’ve sold me, except for my allergies, of course.

    Congrats on the new book! I do need to start this series.

    1. They’re easy on the allergies. Not allergy free, of course, but Koda doesn’t bother The Hubby. Just sayin’. (wink, wink)

      Thanks, Mark! I hope you enjoy it.

  2. Awww, cute puppy!! That’s called brindle color, right? Congratulations on your new book!

    1. Thanks, Kathy!

      Yes, Koda is a red brindle. The black stripes are what make the brindling. Other variations are fawn, white, and blue brindle.

  3. That’s quite a list of foods! Has Koda ever eaten anything he shouldn’t? (Dogs aren’t supposed to have chocolate, I think, but I don’t know what else.)

    1. I think he has snarfed a bit of chocolate. The thing I learned about chocolate is amount and type matter. What is actually toxic is a chemical in the cacaoa (it’s toxic to humans as well, but our metabolisms convert it to caffeine – a dog cannot do that). The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is. But it takes 2 grams for every pound of dog to be a problem. Koda weighs about 85 pounds, so he’d have to consume 170 grams of chocolate before he’d be in the trouble. One chocolate chip isn’t going to bother him.

      Other things dogs need to stay away from are grapes (toxic seeds), onions and garlic (those aren’t toxic, but can cause tummy problems).

      Oh, and Koda once chowed down a watermelon rind, which isn’t the greatest, although not toxic. Didn’t bother him in the slightest.

  4. Cheers to you for adopting Koda, Liz! Wishing you all many more years of fun together.

  5. I can attest that Koda is a big loveable goof. He’s always happy to see me…until he remembers that I’m the person who takes his mom away for a LONG time (actually only a couple of days for mystery conventions, but he thinks it’s forever). He does forgive me when I bring her home.

    I can also attest this book is AWESOME.

  6. ” Lie Down with Dogs” sounds like a marvelous book. Can’t wait for the chance to read it.

    Love all dogs and think it’s fabulous when “discarded” one can find loving homes to finish out their lives. Having worked with placing dogs, I know how important that is. Education is the best weapon to achieving that. Glad you are getting the word out with such a handsome and loving example.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Thanks, Kay.

      It was very important to me when we adopted that whatever dog we ended up with was a rescue. There are too many wonderful dogs out there languishing in shelters waiting for just the right home.

      I saw a post on Facebook today from a greyhound rescue in the UK that is full up and can’t take any more dogs. Apparently while there aren’t enough ‘hounds to meet demand in the US, it’s hard to place them in the UK. Go figure.

  7. Welcome back and congratulations on the new book! We had friends who adopted a retired greyhound. And was like Koda in personality! Dogs are the best.

    1. That is the one creature Koda won’t welcome – a cat. He’s not much of a cat guy. But maybe Hops could win him over.

      Hope you enjoy the book and see you next month!

  8. What a cutie! Having been a racer, does that put him more at risk for arthritis and such later, or give him better odds, because his breed is designed for running?

    1. Hi Alicia!

      Fortunately, Koda was never injured during racing, so there’s no arthritis fallout from that. Some greyhounds do get arthritis, but so much of their anatomy is designed for speed – from the flexibility of the spine down to the natural shock-absorbing quality of the paw pads. So while arthritis is always a possibility, it is not a huge risk.

      Thanks for the question!

  9. Congratulations on your latest – and yes, I love the cover!

    Koda is a beauty-cutie. There was an active greyhound rescue near where I lived in Florida and they were very successful. It always amazed me how friendly, loving, and goofy those dogs were knowing how difficult their racing years were and how little affection they received during that time. I had wondered about all that energy though. Glad to know they have long daily rest periods!

    1. Thanks, Kait!

      Not only do they get long naps, a greyhound usually races only 1-2 times per week. They train on other days and some days are devoted to rest, where they are exercised during 2 “turnout” periods a day.

      Yes, rescues in the U.S. are very successful. Greyhounds truly don’t have a mean bone in their bodies.

  10. Liz, your baby Koda is so beautiful! Not sure how you can get work done with him around to pet and hug all day. Congrats on the new book, and I look forward to checking out your series. I grew up southwestern PA, so I’m sure I’ll enjoy the setting as well as your characters and story.

  11. How do they get along with other animals? We have three cats that live indoors as well as feed the stray cats in the neighborhood. My other question would be how hard are they to train? My husband and I are both disabled. We would have trouble controling a strong dog. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.

    1. Sorry for the late response, Debbie. But great questions.

      Greyhounds get along with just about everyone – any other kind of dog, people (old and young), and any animal that is not their natural prey (small fluffy things). The place you have to be careful is cats. Some greyhounds are what they call “cat tolerant,” which means they are fine with cats – at least indoors (outdoors all bets are off, I guess). Others don’t do well with cats. As mentioned above, Koda is not a cat guy. But all you have to do is say you’re looking for a cat-safe ‘hound.

      They are also pretty easy to train because they are very smart and want to please you. Coming from a kennel environment, Koda was already what they call “crate trained,” which means is he knew not to soil his crate. I had to teach him that a house was just a bigger crate and that took about a day and a half. One firm “no” stopped the counter-surfing (retired ‘hounds know nothing about houses). Same with begging at the table and chewing inappropriate things. They are leash-trained, although you may have to teach them to walk slower if you need it – something that may be counter to their nature. LOL

      The hardest part of training would be stairs. Greyhounds have no concept of stairs and you have to teach them to go up and down. If you have one-floor living, not a problem. But it did take two weeks to get Koda comfortable.

      In your situation, I would recommend working very closely with an adoption group to get the right dog. These groups are very motivated to match you with the ‘hound that fits your needs and will introduce you to multiple dogs. I would also recommend a female or a smaller male. Koda is 85 pounds. A female will weight twenty pounds less.

      Thanks for asking!

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