Once our son’s grew up and left home, my husband and I got puppies. So now we do agility with our dogs, a Scottish terrier named Smokey and a Pembroke Welsh corgi named Bandit.
So now I’m thinking about how to incorporate dogs into my stories. Since I write (mostly) in the American west, there are plenty of opportunity to have a dog as a character. In one story the cowboy hero brings his new wife a puppy. Ranches often had dogs, as they were useful in helping drive cattle. My husband’s family had a dog, Buster, that would help his father round up the cattle. Our Welsh corgi would be over the moon if we had some cows so we could tell him to go get and drive them in for milking.
Dogs were also served to hunt vermin, especially terrier type dogs. Cats get mice, but terriers can get rats. And farmers always have grain to protect.
And, of course, all dogs are watch dogs, who bark when something out of the ordinary happens. I was always impressed by Buster, as if you drove up to my in-laws’ house in the Oklahoma county side, Buster would bark a warning as you drove up the long driveway. If, however, my in-laws were not at home, Buster would just lay on the porch and give you look like ‘nobody home, silly.’
I would assume that most dogs in the American west were not the purebreds we would see today at a dog show. If a hunting dog had a reputation of being a good hunter, people would want puppies from them. Same with herding dogs, or terriers based on their ability.
Finally, one of the most common reasons for keeping a dog was for companionship the dog provided. And while our dogs have the run of our house, I’m pretty sure my heroine who runs a boarding house will only allow the dog in the back kitchen. Our dogs don’t know how good they have it.
Blain’s Smokey of Santee, CGC, NA, NAJ
& Blain’s Sundance Bandit, CGC, NA, NAJ, CTL2-F, CTL2-H