Please join us in welcoming author Amy Lane to TNA today on the tour for her new holiday novella, Freckles. Also be sure to check out the giveaway details below to see how to enter for the chance to win free e-books.
No Wrong Way to Get a Dog
So, the first dog Mate and I ever had was Worf. Worf was supposed to be a big-breed mix—or that’s what the kid said when he thrust Worf into my hands and ran away.
Worf was, in fact, part Dachsund and part Shit-hund. (Yes, I made that up.) Unfortunately, Worf came along at a really crappy time for me to be a dog parent. I was pregnant with my second, my first was an incredible challenge, especially as a toddler, and I was living in the middle of nowhere with a husband I saw once a week (he worked and went to school six days a week) and no car.
Worf had food and water and a place to sleep, but I was falling into bed exhausted every night after dealing with Big T—and very often, I was in tears. Worf didn’t get nearly enough love, and took off within a matter of weeks. The property was big enough—and surrounded by enough lightly forested acreage–that he could have ended up anywhere. I feel guilt for Worf to this day.
Fast forward six years. We have our own house in a suburb, with a fenced in back yard. Our children are still young, but they can talk and help with chores, and my husband is home every night.
A colleague of mine was teaching with the door open to a lovely fall morning when a half-grown Rottweiler-cross walked into his classroom.
Just walked. Into his room.
He called up my house that night when I was out and asked my husband if we wanted the dog, and the half-grown kitten he’d rescued. I’d already said yes to the kitten, but imagine my surprise to find Mate had said yes to the dog.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I didn’t really know what to do with Chiquita at first. I felt inadequate to be a dog mommy—I’d already failed with Worf. Couldn’t everybody see I was not dog mommy material?
But Chiquita stuck—and stuck. And stuck. That dog lived to be fifteen years old when every chart of every breed and crossbreed she could have possibly been said she should have made it to twelve, max. I mean, we couldn’t have been that bad as dog parents, if she wanted to hang around for so long, right?
I loved that dog—and when she left us, she left a ginormous hole in our hearts.
I’d already anticipated the hole—I’d adopted Johnnie using a rescue website about two months before we put her down. Somewhere in my archives I have a picture of the two of them, same posture, sitting side by side—he’s like a teeny copy of her, and we knew he’d grow in our hearts to fit—imperfectly, but completely—the Chiquita-shaped hole.
And we thought that was it. One dog. We would be a one dog family, right? I really didn’t have confidence we could handle more than one. Worf—remember? I had failed that dog in a big way. Why would we get two when the odds of having another Worf-sized failure loomed large in possibility?
And then, one day, another mom and I were talking while our offspring went and got frozen yogurt.
“So,” she said, smiling sweetly, “how’s Johnnie?” We had brought him over to play with her dogs a couple of times. Johnnie is a Chihuahua/mini-pinscher cross, and her dog Lily was an eleven-year-old Shih Tzu. Her other dog, Hercules, was barely a year-old Apple-Headed Chihuahua—gotten for their son because he worked his ass off for a pet, several times, only to have the goldfish/guinea pig/hamster/pet rat die within weeks, from no discernible cause. They were all similar sized dogs, even if they would mostly eye each other with distaste rather than play.
“Johnnie’s fine. How’s Lily and Hercules?”
“Well,” she said, taking a bite of her yogurt. “It’s funny about that. Last month I was petting Lily on my lap and I said, ‘Oh, Lily! You’re getting fat!’ And my husband came over and ran his hand along her body and said, ‘I don’t think it’s fat. Do you?’ And we looked at each other, just shocked. ‘Oh, Lily! You naughty old thing—we thought you were too old for such goings on!’ And then we wondered who the father could be, and we thought, ‘Well, we haven’t gotten Hercules fixed yet,’ I guess because Lily just seemed too old for him, you know?”
I am entranced at this point. I know exactly where this is going. PUPPIES is where this story is going, and I will know somebody with PUPPIES! Hey—just because I’m absolutely sure we’re a one-dog family does not mean I am immune to their charms.
“So,” she continued, “we tried to remember if the dogs have been together unchaperoned, you know,” (this is the sweetest woman—she blushed as she said this—I adore her!) “and we thought, ‘Hey—two months ago, didn’t we go out of town and leave them with my husband’s mother?’ And then we look up the gestation time for Shih Tzus, and do you know how long it is?”
Hey—even Worf got fixed. I have no idea how long a small dog is pregnant, and I shake my head dumbly.
“It’s sixty-two days. We were gone exactly sixty-one days earlier.”
I blink. “That was your only warning?” Because—oh my God!
“We had twelve-hours notice before she started having puppies.”
She nodded. “So do you want to see pictures?”
“Oh my God YES!”
Oh my God. The cute. There’s just… I mean, the CUTE. The indescribable, unescapable, I shall do anything, sacrifice anything, if only I am worthy of holding this feeling in my hand level of CUTE!
And Mate said we could have one. Mate said we could bring one home.
And her name is Geoffie.
And she is everything Johnnie didn’t know was missing from his life. Whereas Johnnie is a solid, steady sort of small hound, Geoffie is a small, loud, wiggly, potato-shaped mess. She barks at everything, even people she adores. She jumps up to nip your fingers and licks them between nibbles. She licks your hands for hours and plays with Johnnie at all times of the day. She’s a nine-lb, whirling dervish of fur, enthusiasm, and bad intentions.
Johnnie adores her.
She’s the problem dog, the dog it was impossible to potty train (and yes, even Worf learned to go outside within a week). She’s the dog that gets sick and costs our disposable income for antibiotics and the dog that gnaws holes in our favorite blanket. She’s the dog who’s afraid of the cats and who licks our chins when she’s not supposed to and who loves my oldest son best when he sometimes feels like the world has forgotten him because he is the oldest.
My older daughter has written sonnets to this dog.
Both the older kids have plans to visit home now that they’ve moved out, because while they have their own cat, she and Johnnie are the family dogs.
My younger children offered to give up Christmas presents to pay Geoffie’s vet bills.
And we do not love her more than Johnnie or more than Chiquita—but we do love the thing she taught us.
There is no wrong way to get a dog. (Well, short of dog-napping. That is wrong.) And while there might not always be room for a dog in your life, there is always room for a dog in your heart.
It’s an important lesson—and one I wish I’d known before I’d tried with Worf. But I’m glad I could pass it on to my children.
My life really would have been less vibrant without this singular unexpected dog.
Learn about another singular unexpected dog in Freckles, due out from Riptide on November 15th.
About the Book
Carter Embree has always hoped to be rescued from his productive, tragically boring, and (slightly) ethically compromised life. But when an urchin at a grocery store shoves a bundle of fluff into his hands, Carter goes from rescuee to rescuer—and he needs a little help.
Sandy Corrigan, the vet tech who helps ease Carter into the world of dog ownership, first assumes that Carter is a crazy-pants client who just needs to relax. But as Sandy gets a glimpse into the funny, kind, sexy man under Carter’s mild-mannered exterior, he sees that with a little care and feeding, Carter might be Super-Pet Owner—and decent boyfriend material to boot.
But Carter needs to see himself as a hero first. As he says good-bye to his pristine house and hello to carpet treatments and dog walkers, he finds that there really is more to himself than a researching drudge without a backbone. A Carter Embree can rate a Sandy Corrigan. He can be supportive, he can be a hero, he can be a man who stands up for his principles!
He can be the owner of a small dog.
Now available from Riptide Publishing
About the Author
Amy Lane exists happily with her noisy family in a crumbling suburban crapmansion, and equally happily with the surprisingly demanding voices who live in her head.
She loves cats, movies, yarn, pretty colors, pretty men, shiny things, and Twu Wuv, and despises house cleaning, low fat granola bars, and vainglorious prickweenies.
She can be found at her computer, dodging housework, or simultaneously reading, watching television, and knitting, because she likes to freak people out by proving it can be done.
To celebrate the release of Freckles, one lucky winner will receive Freckles in ebook and another ebook of their choice from Amy’s backlist! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on November 19, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!