Monday, January 25, 2016

Mystery and Mayhem—Animal Style!

I have adored animals for as long as I can remember.  From my first German shepherd, a lovely animal named Duchess, to my Holstein cow Beauty, to my first kitty, Smokey. Then there was my childhood horse, Becky, and the other assorted, dogs, cats, turtles, fish, parakeets, gerbils, canaries—even a pigeon named Lollipop—that followed.  Each has commanded a special place in my heart.

My favorite childhood cow, Beauty.
When I was a child, cats followed me wherever I went like children chasing after the Pied Piper. I nursed injured butterflies back to health. One day, I tearfully convinced my fourth grade teacher to let me release the winged grasshoppers she’d accumulated for the science class’s dissection.  I’m pretty sure the grasshoppers were happier about my success than the school’s groundskeeper.
Hanging out with a herd of cats on "Cat Island"
Not much has changed since then. When I see a drowning earthworm, I relocate it. I move caterpillars off walking trails so they don’t get smashed. I save snails and slugs.  (Don’t tell my neighbors!) If it weren’t for my husband, I’d surely be locked away in whatever prison they use to hold well-meaning hoarders. 
So it’s not surprising that animals play prominent roles in my mysteries. How could they not?  After all, I write what I love, and I love nothing more than animals.  The mystery in Karma’s a Killer gave me the perfect opportunity to weave in some unusual animal characters.  The story revolves around an animal rescue group, a wildlife rehabilitator, and a group of animal activists who clash with deadly results.

Animal rescue and animal activism collide in Karma's a Killer

As always, my writing is fiction, but it’s strongly informed by my life. Many of the animals in Karma’s a Killer are based on real-life creatures.  Bella, the German shepherd, is in many ways a carbon copy of my own special needs German shepherd, Tasha. Blackie—a rehabilitated crow who plays a prominent role in the story—is modeled after a wild crow that has befriended her. Their relationship has touched me and changed my opinion of crows forever.


Tasha and a murder of her crow friends at Green Lake--one of the pivotal locations in Karma's a Killer.
Mister Feathers, the pigeon that decorates the entrance to Kates yoga studio, is similar to a pigeon that roosted above my own yoga studio, Whole Life Yoga, a few years ago. I saved him from a hawk attack, and the experience changed me in a profound way.  If you're interested, here's a blog I wrote about that day.
Raising goats is still a pipe dream, but I’m chiseling away at my husband’s resolve a little more every day.  If I have my way, pigs and a few chicken-girls will soon join the menagerie.  ;-)
Someday I'll have some chicken-girls!
How about you?  What animals are important in your life?  Tell me about your favorite furred, feathered, scaled, and exoskeletoned creatures in the comments.  Who knows?  Maybe they’ll end up in my next mystery!

Tracy Weber

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PS--all three books in my Downward Dog mystery series are now available!  Learn more at http://tracyweberauthor.com.  Thanks for reading!

10 comments:

Kay Bennett said...

I hope you get your goats and chicks soon. I am sure they would have a great life with you. We used to have chickens, had a lamb for a while and a horse all while living in what is basically the suburbs. I posted on fb about my 2 angels and I think I talk so much about my boy Tyler that the whole world should know who he is, lol. Love the post

Tracy Weber said...

Thanks for dropping by, Kay! I've never had a lamb. I'll bet they're cool!

Ellen Byron said...

Lovely post. And I really enjoy seeing the photos of you with your animal charges.

Tracy Weber said...

Thanks for taking a look! I couldn't find the photo of me at about 5 with my kitty Smokey. I'll have to locate it for a future post!

Billie Jackson said...

Dogs, dogs and more dogs. I only grew up with one dog, a cocker spaniel. My dad worked for a construction company that transfered their engineers so even a second dogs was not a good option. Mother was a stay-at-home mom so Princeses was seldom left without company and back inthose days we often lived in neighborhoods in which animals could safely roam free. She had chickens and sheep and cows as neighbors as well as cats and dogs. She was so awesome. Once I got married, we started with one poodle, then had to get a second because we both worked. Some friends gave my husband a lab. After the poodles passed my husband got me a long haired (mix) dacshund from the little of some friends. From that point on we collected babies as people got rid of unwanted pets (how can their be such a thing?) or as family found dumped animals. Our high was 7 and our low has been three since then; all house pets. We have no children so they have filled our lives for the last 33 years.

Tracy Weber said...

Dogs are wonderful, aren't they? I can't believe a person could abandon a pet. I don't have it in me...

Robyn Konopka said...

Growing up we've always had dogs and cats. My first pet that was 100% my responsibility as an adult was a cat named General. I was going through a hard time and I wanted a cat. One day, this kitten appeared out of nowhere. He saved me as much as I saved him. He was the best cat ever. He looked like a cat but had the heart and soul of a dog. He would come to me when I called him and he was the best friend and companion I could have ever asked for. :)

Tracy Weber said...

Robyn, Cats are amazing creatures. I've had cats that rode in my bicycle basket, cats that played fetch, and cats that would have rather shredded me than let me touch them. I loved each and every one of them.

Laura Thomas said...

I'm a lover of all creatures too. At one time I had 2 dogs, 2 cats, 2 parrots, and seven guinea pigs. Now I have one parrot, Spotty. He's a sweetie. I have my cat, Sheba. Black as coal and a snuggle buddy. And my black pitbull/hound mix dog, Quigley. He's my foot warmer and shadow. I used to have another dog, Lassie. She was a golden retriever,greyhound mix. Almost white in color and as fast and graceful as a gazelle. I called her and Quigley The Ghost and the Darkness. She used to feed him like he was her pup. When she took ill and I had to give her peace, Quigley wouldn't eat for days. I finally took food from his bowl and laid it in front of him. He ate it! Soon he was eating for himself. I swear I still hear her toenails scrambling on the tile floors. She truly lives up to her tag as the ghost:)

Tracy Weber said...

Amazing stories, Laura. I've never owned a guinea pig. I'm with Quigley. When my love, Tasha, goes, I'll probably refuse to eat, too. The only challenge of these loves is their lifespan. Which makes parrots an appealing choice!