I’ve always loved animals so it’s perfectly logical that they’d find their way into my writing. This is also in keeping with long established literary traditions. They can also provide a lot of inspiration. Edgar Allen Poe was a struggling writer when he managed to finagle a luncheon meeting with Charles Dickens, who was touring the United States. Poe noticed that the famous author was beside himself with grief and inquired what was wrong. Dickens replied that he’d received word that his beloved pet, a raven, had just died. After the meeting Poe went home and penned his most famous poem.
Pets have shown up in a lot of good books. Who can forget Asta, the cure little schnauzer belonging to Nick and Nora Charles? And cats are one of the necessities in a lot of cozies, such as Lilian Jackson Braun’s popular series. And take note of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series in which his dog, Pearl, was a regular character. I was in an anthology called Crafty Cat Crimes with a story called “Six-Toed Ollie” about a polydactyl feline who helps the protagonist solve a murder. The editor subsequently contacted me and asked for a couple slight changes. I made them and that same week someone brought a stray kitten into the police station with six toes on both front feet. I knew it was a sign and promptly adopted him. Sammo became my writing partner for many subsequent years, either sprawled on my lap as I wrote or stretching out in front of the keyboard to give me an occasional encouraging glance.
Not that a story has to be classified as a cozy to feature a cat. My hardboiled PI hero, Ron Shade, has a couple, and he acquires a third one in Windy City Knights when he rescues a stray kitten on the way to a job interview. Needless to say, he doesn’t get the job, but acquires a new kitty. I’ve also used dogs in my writing. My short story, “Inquest,” for instance, features a dog named Feller who saves the protagonist’s life. He’s just as much a character as the antagonists.
Animals enrich our lives. Our pets offer us unconditional love and affection. It certainly makes sense that they can enrich our fiction as well.