However, I wrote a new novel, BEFORE MY EYES, with a dog, a blind dog, named King, as a key character. He “sees” what others can’t—particularly about his owner, 17-year-old Max Cooper, who is struggling at the end of a long, hot summer.
Not only do I own a cat, but as an adult, I have only owned a dog, a puppy, named Goldie, for three days, (and three very long nights), until my husband and I realized that we weren’t ready for a puppy. We weren’t ready for children either, but we were really not ready to take care of a puppy. We were in our mid-20s and barely able to take care of ourselves.
We wouldn’t have children until sixteen years into our marriage, and we would never have another dog. Over the years, we became committed cat people, specializing in bruiser cats—big, bold, neutered male cats—with old man names such as Marvin and Shelton.
Yet I wrote a second young adult novel in which the blind dog metaphorically saves one character’s life, and is a key part in literally saving others. I based his character on my brother’s dog, who is one of the smartest and most empathetic of creatures, and who is also a black Labrador.
The reader reaction to King has been strong and overwhelmingly positive. So I’ve been thinking about the reasons. A dog belongs to family in a way that a cat does not bother himself with being. In a novel, a dog can be taken outside, can be the excuse for a walk (this happens twice in my novel), can be critical to the play on a soccer field (also a key scene), and can express warnings, fears, love—all of which King does in BEFORE MY EYES.
Cats, frankly, can’t be bothered with humans much of the time; they aren’t anyone’s cipher but utterly unto themselves, at least the cats, I’ve known. As Mark Twain noted, “If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve the man, but it would deteriorate the cat.” On the other hand, Twain also looked highly on dogs, “Heaven goes by favor; if it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.” At the end of the day, I find favor in both cats and dogs, sometimes too, over man.
This time around I wrote about a heroic dog, a blind dog, named in King in BEFORE MY EYES—a novel about teens, mental illness and gun violence—appropriate for teen ages 14 and above, and adults of all ages. Read the book and find out why readers are rooting for this novel—and for King.