Celebrating Creativity

creative-blogger

I’m honored to know that another writer sees me as a creative sort. That’s particularly inspiring as that writer, Jack R. Cotner, is one of the most creative souls I’ve ever encountered. He writes poetry, short stories, and novels in addition to painting and sculpting. You can see his work and learn more about his stories on his blog at https://jackronaldcotner.wordpress.com/. You can find his short stories published here, and his novel here. Jack writes compelling fiction that pushes the boundaries of traditionally recognized genres. I previously mentioned his Celtic murder mystery here on this site, and I hope we’ll soon see the next book in that excellent series.

Following the pattern for this award, I’ll share five facts about myself. Then, in my own adaptation of the Creative Blogger award, I’m “nominating” 15 sites that I frequently read and hope that you will enjoy, as well. No obligation to either bloggers or readers—just an invitation to browse interesting sites and celebrate creativity in different forms!

Five Facts…

#1. When it comes to writing, I’m a world-class procrastinator. This post is proof—I should be pushing my current WIP toward the finish line, and instead I’m writing this. I keep meaning to create a character who shares this lamentable trait but somehow there’s always something else to do first…<wink>

#2. I’m a binge reader, with books in every room of the house. Novels, textbooks, anthologies, children’s books, journals, how-to books. Books by authors (both famous and obscure) in myriad genres and categories and styles. From  leather-bound classics to treasured first editions to tattered  paperbacks, you’ll find them all here.

#3. My passion for detail has led to some interesting adventures. Topping that list would be a private cave tour when I was researching Deadly Ties; we were a quarter-mile underground when somebody up top switched off the generator powering the lights in the cave passages. Fortunately, we each had a small flashlight, which saved us from taking a nasty tumble more than once as we inched our way back to the surface. And that’s the backstory to how I came to develop a character who’s afraid of the dark.

#4.  I can claim just a few athletic achievements in my lifetime. The best one? A bike race during an annual aerobics test. I came in first, ahead of every single Marine in the pack. I would have hollered for joy if I hadn’t been too busy gasping for breath…

#5. If asked to describe myself in one word, I choose “happy.” I love where I live, what I do, and who I share my life with. I’ve travelled much of the world and met wonderful people in magical places. These hills I call home have an enchantment all their own, and every day is an adventure.

Here are my 15 recommendations* for your own virtual enjoyment: 

  1. Dog lover? https://nodogaboutit.wordpress.com/
  2. If you’re a writer and/or fan of paranormal: http://jamigold.com/blog/
  3. Love photography? Outdoors? http://stevecreek.com/blog/
  4. Because you can’t have too much beauty: http://www.toddphotos.com/photo-blog/
  5. Follow the hunt for looted antiquities in the world’s museums: http://chasingaphrodite.com/
  6. If you’re an eclectic reader, you’ll want to see http://doranna.net/wordplay/
  7. Mystery & humor abound at http://www.marjamcgraw.blogspot.com/
  8. “Because you can never have too many books” go to http://bookviewcafe.com/blog/
  9. Looking for new-to-you books? Check Susan Toy’s https://readingrecommendations.wordpress.com/
  10. Enjoy Pat Gilgor’s view of mystery and suspense: http://pat-writersforum.blogspot.com/
  11. Victorian fans will want to visit the Front Parlor: http://mlouisalocke.com/blog/
  12. Interested in Irish mythology and contemporary fantasy? http://aliisaacstoryteller.com/
  13. Meet more writers: http://evelyncullet.com/
  14. “Tales of a former indie bookseller” at https://cncbooksblog.wordpress.com/
  15. Did I mention you can never have too many books? http://www.shelleyreadsandreviews.blogspot.com/

*Note: I tried my best not to double-tag any blogger nominated by previous award recipients.

Nominees: if you’d like to participate, there are just three simple things to do: 1) acknowledge the blogger who nominated you by name (me) & URL (http://dogmysteries.com/); 2) share five facts about yourself; and 3) nominate 15 bloggers whose sites you enjoy.  (Apologies if I inadvertently included any “award-free” blogs)

Readers, jump in! Have a site you’d like to nominate? Post the link in the comments!

Advice From Hiker-Dog’s Trail Partner

In addition to featuring dog-related fiction and information, I also showcase writers, photographers, and bloggers who live and work in the Ozarks. I find it’s a great way to introduce readers to the beauty of this place I call home, and readers tell me they enjoy learning more about the Ozarks region.

Hiker-dog says, “The less you carry, the better you move.”

Hiker-dog says, “The less you carry, the better you move.”

As I’m working on Dangerous Deeds, the second book in the Waterside Kennels mystery series, I’ve been researching hiking trails across the Ozarks. Many are on private lands, accessible with permission to individuals and groups for hiking and camping, often in exchange for trail maintenance. Other trails, including the famous Ozark Highlands Trail, are almost completely on public lands, with private landowners granting OHT easement for the rest. Much of that trail is maintained by volunteers. One of those is Jim Warnock of the ozarkmountainhiker.com blog. Longtime followers of this blog might remember I shared Jim’s story of how Hiker-dog came into his life last year with an update here. Since then, Jim has generously shared his expertise and experience on the trails, making my research much easier. (Thanks, Jim!) With his permission, I’m reblogging his advice to novice hikers. Even if you’re a veteran of the trails or live beyond the Ozarks, you’ll find some good information here.

“Hike anywhere your feet will take you.”

What do I wear? What do I take with me? Where should I go?

When should I go? What are the dangers? Will a bear get me?

Many questions come to mind when you consider taking a hike for the first time. We’re going to consider these questions and be sure we have some simple answers before heading out. A few good questions can keep us out of trouble and ensure that we want to continue hiking after our early experiences.

Disclaimer: This is not an all-encompassing day hiking guide. These are just my thoughts based on personal experience and a few mistakes along the way.

What do I wear?

You can wear almost anything and get away with it on the trail. Don’t worry about fashion, but function. We’ll look at this from the ground up since feet are very important to hikers.

Oboz hiking shoes

Oboz hiking shoes

  1. Socks are among a hiker’s most important pieces of clothing. I use SmartWool socks, but there are other options. Don’t wear cotton socks unless you like blisters and soggy, smelly feet. Any tennis shoes of reasonable strength are fine for day hiking. Don’t go purchase a heavy pair of hiking boots unless you just want to. I don’t even wear heavy boots when backpacking. I use low-top hiking shoes. I like Oboz right now, but whatever feels good on your feet should guide your decision.
  2. Pants – If the weather is nice, any pants will do. If it’s cold, I prefer anything but cotton pants. Cotton gets wet (making you colder) and then will not dry out in the humid Ozarks until a few days later. When hiking in the Ozarks I almost always wear long pants because of undergrowth, briars, and ticks.
  3. Underwear – For a short day hike, you can use cotton, but as you work up to longer hikes, you’ll want a pair of undies made from a fabric other than cotton.
  4. Shirt – A cotton shirt in summer is alright but if there is a chance of colder temperatures, something like an UnderArmor t-shirt will keep you warmer than cotton.
  5. Hat – A hat is good for sun protection and heat retention, depending on the weather. I accidentally left my hat in my car at the Grand Canyon once and was thankful I had a bandana to tie into a makeshift hat. In some conditions, a hat is a necessity!
  6. Rain protection (especially in cooler temperatures) – A light rain jacket can be wadded up in the bottom of your daypack and forgotten about until needed.
  7. Gloves – Anything but cotton and only if needed. I wear some cheap army surplus wool glove liners when I hike, and they’re fine. I also have some nicer gloves for colder weather but am nervous about losing them. They hook together which is nice for storage in my pack. Finding one glove is more irritating than finding one sock in the drawer.

What do I take with me?

As little as possible is my short answer, but there are some essentials you’ll want to have depending on the conditions.  This list is drawn from the ten essentials that are published in many forms. Below is my list roughly by personal priority.

Filtering water from Spirits Creek with a Sawyer Filter

Filtering water from Spirits Creek with a Sawyer Filter

  1. Water and access to water – Put your water in a bottle or a bladder in your pack. One expert hiker friend, Grey Owl, swears by prune juice bottles. He gave me a couple, and I use them all the time. I carry a small Sawyer water filter in my daypack in case I run low. It doesn’t add much weight and has made me a few friends on the trail when others needed water.
  2. Food – Snacks that you’re used to eating are what you should take on the trail. This is no time to try something new in the food department.
  3. Extra clothing – Think protection from the elements. If it looks like rain, carry rain protection. If it looks like cold, carry an extra layer. My all-time favorite is an insulated vest. Stuff it in the bottom of your pack and it’s like a little insurance policy against a cold snap.
  4. Navigation – Don’t assume that you can’t get lost on a well used trail. Like Jeremiah Johnson, “I’ve never been lost, just confused for a month or two.” Fortunately, I’ve only been confused an hour or so, but it can be a little scary if you’re not prepared. A trail map of the area you’re hiking can make or break your trip. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Sometimes I just copy the appropriate pages from a trail guide and put them in a zip-lock bag. A compass is important. Even a general idea about directions can save you some grief. Don’t count on the compass app on your phone or GPS. Batteries don’t last. I have a small compass/thermometer that ties to a belt loop or my day pack. It’s always there.
  5. Illumination – A small headlamp or flashlight in your pack can be a big help if a hike takes longer than anticipated and you’re walking the last part of your trail in the dark. I carry a small LED light in my day pack at all times.
  6. Sun and bug protection – A little sunscreen can make you a happy and healthy hiker. Bug spray around the cuffs of your pants can discourage ticks. A little spray around your hat area can discourage deer flies and mosquitoes if you’re hiking in summer. Check for ticks often. If they get attached and stay awhile, your chances of getting one of several tick-borne diseases increase. I can usually feel the little guys climbing up my legs and pick them off before they attach.
  7. First Aid supplies – I like a zip-lock with some bandaids and any medicines I might need if stranded for a while. Keep it simple and light and then forget about it until you need it. Avoid purchasing a first aid kit because it will not be customized for your needs and you’ll be carrying unnecessary stuff.
  8. Fire – I carry a lighter. Don’t smoke, but I always have a lighter with me just in case I need a fire.
  9. Emergency shelter – This is simple to do. Cut a 8-10-inch hole close to the bottom of a large trash bag. I stuff it in the bottom of my pack and forget about it. I can put the bag over me and sit inside for shelter. The small opening allows me to see and breath but protects me from the elements. I’ve never used this but it’s like that cheap insurance policy I mentioned earlier.
  10. Most ten essentials lists include repair kit, but for day hiking I don’t carry any tools other than a small pocket knife. One of my hiking poles has some duct tape wrapped around it for emergencies. I’ve used this twice to reattach a shoe sole for other hikers.

***

novice hiker guide photo 4

Link to the rest at ozarkmountainhiker.com, to include an important reminder to always tell somebody where you’re going. Sign in at the trailhead, leave a note, and tell a friend. And as Arkansas Parks & Tourism likes to say: “Go Outside & Play!

Nosing Out a Series

Mysteries, amateur sleuths, and dogs: a common combination, some might say. Browse the shelves of any bookstore (physical or virtual) and you’ll find a fascinating collection of mystery fiction, with no two books alike. Each of us brings a different twist to the story; sometimes it’s the regional setting, or perhaps the sleuth’s occupation, and it’s certainly the dogs! You’ll find all sorts featured, to include Basset Hounds, Beagles, Labrador Retrievers, and Poodles. Then there are hybrids, mixed breeds and of who-knows-what dogs, all equally loved and cherished for the wonderful companions that they are. That’s certainly true about the dog in the series featured today.

First, an introduction to today’s honored guest:

KroupaSue&Shadow400Susan J. Kroupa is a dog lover currently owned by a 70 pound labradoodle whose superpower is bringing home dead possums and raccoons and who happens to be the inspiration for her Doodlebugged books. She’s also an award-winning author whose fiction has appeared in Realms of Fantasy, and in a variety of professional anthologies, including Bruce Coville’s Shapeshifters. Her non-fiction publications include features about environmental issues and Hopi Indian culture for The Arizona Republic, High Country News, and American Forests. She now lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Southwestern Virginia, where she’s busy writing the next Doodlebugged mystery. You can find her books and read her blog on her website, as well as her Amazon Author page.

Now here’s Susan, sharing the background that inspired her terrific series:

Doodle, the highly independent labradoodle who narrates the Doodlebugged mysteries, is not afraid to admit he’s a service-dog flunkee. “Smart and obedient don’t always go hand in hand,” he says unapologetically about his “career change.” In the series, he works as a bed-bug-detecting dog for “the boss”, Josh Hunter of Hunter Bed Bug Detection. Doodle and Molly, the boss’s ten-year-old daughter, who’s equally independent, always seem to end up in trouble and with a mystery to solve. Bed-Bugged cover

I can see you crinkling your nose already. “Bed bugs?” you ask, barely suppressing the “euwww” that comes to mind. “How did you happen to write about that?”

The answer lies in the misfortune of one of my sons, an attorney who lives in the Arlington, VA. He called one day, quite upset, to tell me he was covered in tick bites.

“Ticks?” I asked. “Are they still attached to you?”

“No,” he said. “Just bites.”

“Can’t be ticks, then,” I told him. I live in the woods near the Blue Ridge Parkway where there’s no shortage of ticks. Inevitably, a tick bite comes complete with a tick, at least for the first few days. (And can also come complete with months or years of disease, but that’s another story.) “Could the bites be from bed bugs?” I asked.

bed-bug-dog (1)At the suggestion, my son investigated the possibility and discovered that bed bugs had infested the apartment directly over his. He complained to the manager, who promptly sent out a bed bug inspector. With a dog. The sniffer dog, as scent-detection dogs are often called, promptly found evidence of a substantial colony of bed bugs in my son’s apartment.

Bad luck for him, but great for me, because I’d been toying with the idea of writing about a scent detection dog that—how should I put it?—wasn’t in one of the glamour jobs of nose work. And I envisioned the books to be light cozy mysteries, suitable for dog lovers from kids through adults. Sniffing out bed bugs wouldn’t put Doodle in the potentially gritty situations that being a narcotics or police dog would.  Plus, I’d already decided that he would be a labradoodle, a cross between a poodle and a Labrador retriever, not the kind of dog that generally works in those professions. As Doodle puts it in Dog-Nabbed, when an undercover cop asks if he’d like to be a police dog, “Not sure what he means, since everyone knows German shepherds are the ones who go into police work. A little too intense for my taste, but in my experience German shepherds are all about intensity.”

I set out to do research and discovered that while sniffer dogs in the bed bug profession generally tend to be beagles or Labrador retrievers, there were, in fact, some labradoodle bed-bug dogs. I already had a model for Doodle in mind—the extremely independent, often challenging, and sometimes affection-impaired labradoodle we’d adopted as a puppy a few years earlier. His antics gave me plenty of material for a starting point.

ShadowPuppyX400

But I wanted the series to be more than “cute dog solves mystery”. Other than the fact that he’s the narrator, with some admitted stretching of his understanding in certain situations, Doodle acts like a dog: nose driven, literal (as in metaphor-impaired), attuned to body language more than words, and prone to misunderstanding what the humans around him are saying. He can’t speak except through his own body language, and he’s the first to complain how clueless humans are in understanding that.

And more than having him be a semi-realistic dog, I wanted him in a real family who has real problems outside the mystery of the moment. Though Molly drives the action and is the one who solves the mysteries, throughout the course of the books, the reader sees “the boss”, Josh, struggle as a single parent, sees his own fears and triumphs, and the budding possibility (beginning in book two) of romance—all filtered through the eyes of a dog, who sometimes gets it and sometimes doesn’t.

The series now has four books with a fifth one due out in the fall. You can read an excerpt of Bed-Bugged, the first Doodlebugged mystery, here. And you can read all about the books on Susan’s Amazon sales page or on her website.  And here’s a special offer from Susan:

And, for a limited time, you can get Bed-Bugged for only $0.99 at most ebook retail sites and learn just how Doodle got himself into the bed bug detection business, and, more importantly, how he met the boss and Molly.

Doodle would call that a win-win situation. I hope you will too.

Doodle

 

We Have a Winner!

congratulations

It’s been a busy week here at dogmysteries.com! Thanks go to our fabulous guest Susan Conant for giving us a behind-the-scenes look at her Dog Lover’s Mystery Series and her life as a writer.

As promised, everyone who posted a comment either here or on Facebook was entered into the drawing for a gift copy of Susan’s new book, Sire and Damn, the 20th in her series.  I used www.random.org to generate a list and Susan picked a number (without knowing who’s where on the list) to make this as random as possible.  And the winner is….Ramla Zareen Ahmad. Congratulations, Ramla! Please send a message to me [dogmysteries at gmail] and I’ll have your gift copy delivered right away!

I want to thank everyone who joined us for this week’s conversation with Susan. For those just discovering her series, you can see the complete list and purchase copies at Amazon. To keep up with the latest news about the series, follow Susan on Facebook.

Happy reading!

The Writer’s Craft

fountain penEarlier this week, Susan Conant (seven-time winner of the Dog Writers Association of America’s prestigious Maxwell Award) came by to discuss her Dog Lover’s Mystery Series. Today, she’s back to talk about the writing process and changes in the publishing industry–something that impacts writers and readers alike. I hope you’ll leave a comment for Susan so we can enter you into the drawing for a gift copy of her new book,  Sire and DamnWe’ll announce the winner here Saturday, so check back!

Writing a long-running series takes talent, vision, and persistence. Susan introduced us to dog writer and dog trainer Holly Winter and her Alaskan Malamutes back in 1990. To my way of thinking, staying true to the heart of the series while allowing your characters to grow and change and learn takes a special kind of writer. Susan is that kind of writer, as evidenced by the enthusiastic reception each book in the series earns. Here’s what one fan has to say about Sire and Damnthe 20th in the series:

Susan CSire and Damnonant’s Dog Lover’s Mysteries are always a doggy good read, and this one is no exception. While the plot is strong enough for general readers, Sire and Damn (like all in this series) is a particular treat for Dog People (you know who you are!). There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, and it’s always such a relief to know someone truly *gets* what it’s like to be all dogs, all the time, even while solving murder mysteries.

Now here’s Susan, talking about the craft of writing:

What’s most important for you in telling a story?

My connection with my readers is everything. I want to lure in my readers so that they are lost in my story. In other words, what I’m after is hypnosis. Or seduction. I want to cast spells.

 There seems to be a trend to “push” the murder to the very front of the story. What’s your opinion of this expectation that we produce a body by chapter 3?  

Incredibly, there are still editors who will demand a rewrite unless the murder happens at the beginning of a book. Some editors, I suspect, assume that the writer is unfamiliar with a hackneyed formula that the writer is, in fact, eager to avoid. The formula: The murder occurs. As the saying goes, nobody cares about the corpse; the investigation is everything. The detective, amateur or professional, interviews suspects, collects evidence, and discovers that the murder was committed in some bizarre fashion, often by the least likely suspect. It’s a formula to be avoided unless your aim is to cure the reader’s insomnia.

The publishing industry has changed significantly since your first book. How have those changes impacted you and your series?

Hurrah! I am free! No more deadlines ever again! No more trying to be polite about cover art I hate! No more grinding my teeth about prices I think are too high!

I have just self-published my twentieth Dog Lover’s Mystery, Sire and Damn. I chose my own editor, Jim Thomsen, and my own proofreader, Christina Tinling. Jovana Shirley did the formatting. The gifted Terry Albert did the Kindle cover and the cover for the trade paperback. I love working with the people I chose, people who have become my friends.

Will the entire series be available in Kindle/ebook editions? 

Yes. But not immediately.

Some visitors to this site are aspiring mystery writers. Suggestions for them?

Many years ago when my daughter and I were on a panel together at a mystery convention, I blurted out advice to aspiring mystery writers. In saying exactly what I really thought, I managed to annoy and offend some established writers, one of whom took me to task in public. My daughter calls this little event the Foot in Mouth Episode. The experience has left me wary of offering advice to aspiring mystery writers. Advice is usually wasted, anyway; the people who need it seldom take it.

That being said:

Write the kind of book you like to read. Never mind whether anyone else will like it! What’s certain is that if you don’t like it, no one else will, either.

Edit your work. Delete anything that bores you; if you don’t want to read a sentence, a paragraph, or a whole chapter, no one else will, either. Ditch it.

Look up everything. Use Merriam-Webster. Subscribe to the online Chicago Manual of StyleCultivate pride of craft.

If you intend to self-publish, hire an experienced professional editor. Hire a professional proofreader. Have the book professionally formatted. Hire a professional to prepare the cover. A great many self-published books are amateur junk. They drag all of us down. Please help to lift us up!

Finally—Foot in Mouth, Part 2?—if you have struggled and struggled to write a mystery novel but can’t sense the living presence of the characters, can’t hear them speak, have no idea what happens next, and feel no driving compulsion to tell a story, stop! Consider the possibility that you weren’t born to write mysteries. Go back to reading mysteries. Write nonfiction. Run marathons. Study Mandarin. Grant yourself peace.

Thanks, Susan! 

Okay, readers and fans: it’s your turn! Leave a comment here, or drop by Susan’s Facebook page, or you can leave a comment on my own Facebook page. If you’ve read the series, let us know if you have a favorite. You’re welcome to ask questions, too! We’ll enter your name in a drawing for a Kindle edition of Sire and Damn to be sent to you (or the gift recipient of your choice). The winner’s name will be posted on Saturday, so be sure to check back.

Mistress of the Dog Lover’s Mystery

Susan Conant with Django

Susan Conant with Django

I’m delighted to share my site this week with the terrific author Susan Conant. A seven-time winner of the Dog Writers Association of America’s prestigious Maxwell Award, Susan is the author of the Dog Lover’s Mystery Series. Since publishing A New Leash on Death in 1990, Susan’s given us years of enjoyment as we followed the adventures of dog writer and dog trainer Holly Winter and her Alaskan Malamutes. This year, she’s published Sire and Damnthe 20th in the series, and she’s here to discuss the series and her work as a writer.

Be sure to bookmark the site and return later this week when Susan will return to discuss changes in the publishing industry and talk about the writing process. Leave a comment here or on Facebook (links provided at the end of the post). When you post a comment, we’ll enter your name in a drawing for a Kindle edition of Sire and Damn to be sent to you (or the gift recipient of your choice). Now here’s Susan, talking about her series and what’s next:

Along a range of say, lighthearted cozy to dark mystery, how would you describe the overall atmosphere of the series?

Although some of my books deal with serious subjects, my writing is lighthearted. My narrator, Holly Winter, is an extroverted optimist. The same could be said about her malamutes. She loves the world she writes about: she loves the dogs and the dog people. Her affection is, I hope, infectious.

You’ve been writing about Holly Winter (dog writer, trainer, and amateur sleuth) for many years. How has she changed over time?

She has become less judgmental and less naive over the course of the series. Also, in the early books, she is fiercely independent and never intends to marry. As it turns out, marriage suits her well.

Like most professions, the dog world has its own vocabulary, with much of it unfamiliar to people who don’t breed, show, or train dogs. How do you decide what (and how much) to include for readers unfamiliar with dog shows, breeds, or canine behavior?

What’s enough but not too much? It’s essential not to blather on in jargon that will make many readers feel left out, but it’s equally essential not to bore readers senseless by explaining terms they already know or don’t care about. Oy veh! Well, I always explain anything that’s necessary to understand the story. Not every reader will know that frozen means frozen semen! And canine semen at that.

Because I’m inviting readers to visit the world of dog training, breeding, and showing, I also try to make the invitation welcoming to anyone who is a stranger in that world. Furthermore, I love having fun with the eccentric language of the dog world: He bred to her. She has bad fronts. He threw woollies. I love that language. Fortunately, so do the people who are fluent in it!

Do you have a personal favorite in the series?

I’m particulDogfather Susan Conantarly fond of The Dogfather because I have happy memories of writing the entire book in longhand. It was an utterly impractical way to write a book. I’m not recommending it, and I hope never to do it again. I did it because I had some irrational sense that it was how the book wanted to be written. In my illegible handwriting! But the story flowed, and I had fun.

 What’s next?

I now have my first sheltie, Tori, who is my first herding breed and my first small dog. She is certainly a contrast to my malamutes and to the other dogs I’ve owned. I am so crazy about her that I owe her a book. I haven’t decided whether my sheltie story will be a Holly Winter mystery, a stand-alone novel, or the beginning of a series. I have a lot of scrawled notes about the book. Sooner or later, the story will come to me. I am waiting impatiently.

Susan with Tori

Susan Conant with Tori

Where can fans buy your books?

I own three Kindles, and I have Kindle apps on my Mac, my iPhone, and my iPad. I subscribe to Amazon Prime and Kindle Unlimited. Amazon offers incentives to authors who decide to make their books Amazon exclusives.  Amazon has taken over my life. Oh, the question. You can buy my books on Amazon.

Sire and Damn

Okay, readers and fans: it’s your turn! Leave a comment here, or drop by Susan’s Facebook page, or you can leave a comment on my own Facebook page. If you’ve read the series, let us know if you have a favorite. You’re welcome to ask questions, too! We’ll draw the winner of the Sire and Damn on Saturday, so be sure to leave your comment before then.

Breeds & Bites

This week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week.  As I edit a scene in the forthcoming Dangerous Deeds, I’m reminded that many people assume it’s always the dog’s fault. Even more often, people assume specific types of dogs are aggressors and push to enact breed specific legislation. Like the AKC, my character Maggie Porter will tell you that breed bans don’t address the real issues of owner responsibility and training. (Read the AKC issue analysis here.)

Having been bitten as a small child I can personally testify it’s a scary experience, but in my own case I was the guilty party. I put myself and the dog at risk. Thinking back, I’d agree with dog trainer Victoria Stillwell’s assertion that many dog bites are the result of  “a perfect storm of situation and circumstance and environment.” She reminds us to focus on the behavior, not the breed. Here’s the entire clip, which I found posted to the AKC website:

This fact sheet, courtesy of the AKC, highlights key facts and statistics we should all know:

AKCDL_DogBite_2015_Infogfx650Here are a few links to help make your community a safer place for people and dogs alike:

Some dogs need space: get the facts

Dog bites: 10 risky situations to avoid

The Yellow Ribbon Project: tie a bow against dog bites 

10 risky situations to avoid

Education and awareness, combined with basic common sense, can help prevent dog bites. The scar on my right arm is a daily reminder to respect dogs and take responsibility for your own behavior.

Take the time today to share this information with your family and friends. And remember: focus on behavior, not the breed!