Let's Talk with Maggie Toussaint

Gone To The Dogs

September 28, 2023

The Dog Days of summer are finally gone, and I’m celebrating with a doggie retrospective. This cute little terrier was on a neighborhood walkabout as I was recently driving to a photo shoot. Josie’s owner wasn’t home, so I left a message for her person and took Josie with me. The best photos were of me and Josie.Though I am pet-free now, I enjoy being a pet aunt to my sister’s dog. Stinky is a hound mix, and he’s an expert in finding shade. He hunkers down inside when its thundering. And he never misses a meal. Smart dog.Above is my sister Ginny treating the neighborhood dogs at our favorite bench. We have several who are treat-trained. Now the question is: were the dogs trained or did they train us?My husband and I started marriage with his black lab named Zak. As a pup, Zak had obedience trouble until he realized everyone at the dog class was watching him. Then he aced the final test. Months later at home, Zak ate the cover off my guy’s prized Ernie Banks baseball. Zak presented him with a treasure at day’s end, a soggy unrecognizable mess… Misery occurred, but everything came out fine in the end.
After Zak’s long and happy life, we got a black lab puppy that we named Max because of his big feet. Max is shown above in his Easter finery. He adored tennis balls. He mouthed them until they were in position, and then he’d spit them across the yard at your leg. Direct hit every time! Max had regular checkups, until one day he had bone cancer, everywhere. That was a horrible, no-good, awful day.
Our next dog came from my mother-in-law when she moved to a care facility. St. Luke the Holy Terrier, a blonde cairn terrier, was high maintenance and a pistol. If the kids didn’t latch the back gate just right, Luke would take off. He was shaped like a football, and he ran just fast enough to beat us, then he’d slow until we caught up, and then scoot out of range again. He became ill after a few years and required homemade dog food twice a day. For many months, I carried him outside and held him while he went to the bathroom.
Since Luke, we’ve been pet-free, and I enjoy visiting with other people’s dogs. I’ve never met a dog who didn’t like me. I jokingly claim I have animal magnetism. I’m glad to experience the unflagging trust and licks of all dogs. Above is a blast from the past (circa 1973) with me, my father, and Ryan, the Irish Setter. Ryan loved to spin in circles in front of cars. Luckily there were many ruts in the dirt road so people didn’t drive fast, and everyone recognized this loopy dog on sight!

With such a history of memorable dogs, is it any wonder dogs appear in my mysteries? There’s Madonna, the pregnant St. Bernard in my Cleopatra Jones series, who arrives in book 1, In For A Penny; Oliver, the Great Dane ghost dog in my Dreamwalker series, who shows up in book 3, Doggone It; Bailey, a Black lab, who appears in all of the Lyndsey & Ike Mysteries; and Artie, the German Shepherd, who features in my culinary cozy series starting in book 2, Spawning Suspicion. As of now, there are no dogs but there are two cats who feature in the Valona Jones’ penned books.Leap into fall with some great reads! Try Snuffed Out and then preorder In the Wick of Time, which releases October 17. This Magic Candle Shop Mystery series is a page-turning, fast read of murder, mystery, and mayhem in the candle shop.

There will be lots happening in October with this book’s release. If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, do that right away so you don’t miss out! Sign-ups are through my websites, and those addies are listed at the bottom of this post.

For a chance to win a print (US only) or digital ARC of IN THE WICK OF TIME, comment below about a pet you’ve known. The winner will be selected by random.org on Tuesday, October 3 and the winner’s name posted on this page. THE WINNER IS CAROLK! Congratulations, Carol!

Our October contest begins Oct.1. One winner gets two books. How cool is that? After Oct. 1, this link will be live: CONTEST

Want to know more about author Maggie Toussaint? Visit her MAGGIE website or her VALONA JONES website.

Posted in Let's Talk, with Maggie Toussaint • Tags: , , , , |  26 Comments


26 thoughts on “Gone To The Dogs

  1. When my husband and I first got together he told me I could get a kitten. He’s a dog person but didn’t have one but I love cats. I tried everywhere to find a kitten but it was winter and none of the shops or shelters near us had any. I had to write essays on why I would make a good cat mom and everything. One day my ex called me about something so for the heck of it I asked him if he knew of anyone that had a cat that was expecting. He said he would check around. I got a call back from him in Feb. and someone in my old neighborhood, her cat was expecting and I could have the first pick of the litter. I got another call and the mother cat only had one kitten and it was mine if I still wanted it. I did!! He was black and white with a cute little mustache. My husband named him Sox. He was such a good cat. He played fetch with us with his toy mousie. He followed my husband everywhere around the house and yard. He layed in the bed with me while I read when the hubby was at work. Then one day I felt a lump on his neck and took him to the vet. He had the same cancer that my dad had passed away from just a month ago. That had to have been the worst year on my life. Lost my dad in Jan. and Sox in April. I still miss him and it’s been 10 years. Thank you for the chance at your giveaway. pgenest57 at aol dot com

    1. Thanks for your heartfelt reply. Loss always socks us in the heart, and I’ve found that the pain doesn’t always go away. It stays right there and sneaks up on you when you’re not expecting it. But so glad you had the time you did with your loved ones.

  2. Your pet pictures are adorable! My first dog was a year old when I was born and completely devoted to my mom. Her name was Tiny.

    1. Hi Carol. How lovely that you grew up with pets in the house. Tiny sounds like a wonderful family pet.

    1. Thanks, Cheryl. It was a delight to put it together. There’s a certain freedom in being petless, but also a void. That’s why I try to fill it with other people’s pets. We’ve had both dogs and cats and sometimes simultaneously. With the cats, when we came home it always felt like they rushed out yammering “where have you been?” Whereas with the dogs, the greeting from them was always “you’re here! You’re here!”

  3. After a long dry spell of no pets, Snickerdoodle – our Chihuahua furbaby, came into our lives. He was special to a lot of folks.

    My Dad loved dogs, but I’d never seen him get to emotionally connected to one before Snickerdoodle. I have such fond memories of his laying on Dad’s check while they both took naps while Mom and I cleaned house. After Dad’s sudden passing just 7 months later, Snickerdoodle went to live with Mom for company and to keep her occupied during those long lonely days. When Mom was ready, he came back to us, but went to visit on my trips to Mom’s and often stayed with her if we had to leave town.

    Then Mom came to live with us after cancer surgery and the onset of Alzheimer. He was her constant buddy laying beside her and giving her hand’s something to do by petting him. He is the one that she never forgot who was. After her passing, he was there for us reminding us that the world goes on – through unconditional love.

    Sadly, we lost our precious baby at the age of 17 years, 7 months, 17 days. He’s left a huge whole in our heart in his absents. We remember the fun times and what great joy he brought to all those around him. Like how we had a special little sidecar for our Goldwing trike complete with windshield. How wearing his leathers, helmet and goggles he would make folks smile and hammer to get his photo. He never met a stranger and never had them walking away without a smile on their face. To us he was not a dog, but a loved family member. Now our home has an empty space and maybe someday we will fill it. I’m sure we would love a new family member, but there will never be another Snickerdoodle.

    Thank you for the fabulous chance to win a print copy of IN THE WICK OF TIME! On my TBR list and I can’t wait for the opportunity to read and review it.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. HI Kay, Thank you for sharing about your beloved Snickerdoodle. What an intuitive dog! It sounds like he knew when to be comforting and when to be entertaining. There’s a special place for dogs who always go the extra mile. Hugs.

  4. I have a dog named Max he is a pug and I adopted him from family friends when he was 3. He is a fun dog he likes to bark at the dogs going to the park across the street as if he thinks it is his park. He alerts us if anyone passes our house and seems to know when someone is coming to the door as he rushes to the door before they even ring the bell. He stands at the window and looks out standing on his hind legs to look out. It is pretty funny he looks like an old Man yelling at the kids to get out of his yard.

  5. How fun that Max was the gatekeeper of not only your place but also by proxy of the park across the street! It sounds like he kept every one of their toes.

  6. We currently have a cat named Luna who was a rescue. Many years ago, we did have a black Labrador named Samson. He was a gentle giant. Our niece and nephews, when they were very little, would enthusiastically greet him. This often involved poking him in the eye or nose roughly. He never got angry though. He just would move that area away carefully so that he did not knock them down. He was great with them.

    1. I love that gentleness that is characteristic of black Labs. It is so wonderful to be able to trust a dog around children and to understand their exuberance isn’t aggression. Three cheers for Samson!

  7. I have been lucky enough to have had several wonderful dogs in my life. I currently live with Bailey a 16 year old Boxer/German Shepherd mix. He’s an old boy who still thinks he’s a puppy and I love him dearly.

    1. How lovely, Sherry. Pets can bring us such delight and comfort. Here’s to more good times with Bailey!

    2. Love your heart-warning yet heart-breaking dog stories! Dogs are man’s best friends (so are cats,,)
      When I was a kid, we lived in a studio apartment (very small) and we had a kitty. The night we moved into this studio; he took off. He came back a few days later, and then he took off again, for good. I think he didn’t like the apartment. Many years later, I married to my husband who already had two kitties, JC and Raven. He got them through a newspaper advertisement posted by the owner. By the time he contacted the owner, that’s one left – a tuxedo – nobody wanted her. Hubby named her JC (hubby’s initials). A couple days later, the same owner called hubby asking if he wanted a black cat which was returned to him due to the kids were allergic to cats. Hubby took her in and named her Raven (we thought JC and Raven were sisters).
      I think myself and cats have some special bonding, and I consider myself a cat lady.
      Unfortunately, Raven passed away when she was about 9 yo due to cancer. It hit me hard because she literally died in my arms. I cried a lot after she had passed. We showered JC with as much love as we could give her, and she was really spoiled. Then, JC also crossed over the rainbow bridge in 2019, also due to cancer. The pain of losing my kitties has eased some but would never go away because they have left their pawprints in my heart..

      1. Emily, I’m sorry you lost both kitties to cancer, but I’m glad you had years with them before this. Pets are truly a miracle of love. I loved “…left their pawprints on my heart.”

  8. We had a cream-colored poodle named Misty for 17 years. She was a sweet little dog and very cuddly. It broke our hearts when the time came to say goodbye. We are happy now to be pet-free without any responsibilities in that regard. Misty was the model for Marla’s dog, Spooks, in my mystery series.

    1. Ah! No wonder Spooks feels so real. How nice to have had Misty in your life, Nancy. I understand your decision to be pet-free in this stage of life. We can still enjoy cuddling with dogs of friends or family.

  9. I am a cat lover. When I first married, my husband wanted a dog, so we went to a shelter to pick one out and came home with a cat. After much pouting (he couldn’t decide, so the shelter wouldn’t let him take one home), we adopted a Sheltie. She was my only dog, and she was a sweetie. I continued to have cats until my last rescue died a few years ago and we haven’t had the heart strength after losing such valued family members to adopt another one. Or two. But I miss my fur babies—all of them through the years—every day

  10. Ohhhh, Karla. How well I understand your term “heart strength.” That nails it perfectly. So glad you enjoyed your Sheltie and your wealth of cats.

  11. Maggie, love that pic of you with Josie. We’ve always have cats and dogs (right now an Italian Greyhound and Mini Aussie plus two black kitties) and can’t imagine living without them. I think all books are better for having a critter or two in them. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Diane. I love books with pets. Not just because they are great character foils, but they are often smart and clever and adorable.

  12. I love all animals – I wasn’t allowed pets growing up (except fish once I was in my teen years), so it wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I adopted my first cat. She was a girl named George and she waited for me to be ready to adopt her. She was perfect and stayed with me for almost 19 years! Overlapping that time, I also adopted a sweet boy – originally named Spaz by a former housemate of mine. When she left him outside as she moved, I had him flown cross-country to be with me – I renamed him Joe (after Joe Cool) and he was with me for another 12 years despite developing a brain tumor and diabetes. The two of them, George and Joe, were so wonderful and I am so grateful for all the time I had with them!

    1. I love that you had cats named George and Joe Cool, and even better, George is a girl! I am in awe of your pet love!

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