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Friday, March 16, 2012

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY -- GUEST AUTHOR MELINDA LEIGH


Our Book Club Friday guest author today is Melinda Leigh who describes herself as a fully recovered banker, wife, mom, lifelong dog lover, and second degree black belt in kenpo karate. She is also the author of She Can Run, a kindle bestselling romantic suspense released in November 2011 from Montlake Romance. Her next book, Midnight Exposure, will be released in June 2012. Find out more Melinda at her website.

Melinda is offering a signed copy of She Can Run to one of our readers who posts a comment this week. -- AP

More Than Man’s Best Friend

In She Can Run one of my characters, a police dog reject, struck a chord with readers. In fact, Henry nearly stole the show from my hero. When I wrote the book, I had no idea how much my love of dogs would influence his character. Nor did I anticipate how much readers would fall in love with him.

No one can pinpoint exactly when humans first domesticated dogs, but archeologists suggest it was around 15,000 years ago, when people first started living in settlements and wolves would likely have been attracted to our garbage. Dogs and humans share a similar social structure. Perhaps these similarities helped the two species to bond. Since then, canine genes have been manipulated into an array of breeds bred to perform specific tasks.

Dogs have become an invaluable asset to humankind. They herd cattle and sheep and protect livestock from predators.  Guard dogs protect owners and their property. Hunting dogs help their owners find and retrieve game, or as it was historically known, dinner.

Their superior canine senses make them far better scouts then their human counterparts. Canine soldiers sniff out explosives, drugs, or other substances for the police and military. Police dogs tackle criminals, control crowds, and search buildings.  Dogs have been used by military forces since the BC years. The Romans and the Greeks trained large breed dogs to fight in battle. The Conquistadors employed Mastiffs to terrorize conquered peoples. Military dogs have been used as messengers and to haul equipment. They’ve even been used to drag wounded soldiers from the battlefield. Dalmatians are mascots for firehouses, but in the times when fire rigs were pulled by horses, the dogs would protect the horses and equipment. They also ran ahead of the rig to clear a path for the horses.

Search and rescue dogs find survivors in disasters, and their bond with humans is so strong, that when they find only the deceased, the dogs become depressed. Over 100 dogs worked tirelessly at Ground Zero.

Today, dog jobs are even more varied. Dogs can tell the hearing-impaired when the fire alarm is going off, the phone is ringing, or someone is knocking on the door. They help blind people navigate a seeing world.  Service dogs turn door knobs or fetch items for the physically handicapped, motivate chronically sick children to take their medicine. Dogs are good for our health.  Simply being around pets lowers blood pressure.

My two dogs don’t have a specific job (other than crumb patrol), but I can’t imagine my house without them. They are truly members of our family and a constant source of pleasure and companionship.

If you’re looking to add a canine companion to your household, please visit your local animal shelter. Dogs don’t deserve to be discarded after all they’ve done for us.

Thanks for joining us today, Melinda! Readers, if you’d like to read about Henry, post a comment for a chance to win a copy of She Can Run. -- AP

21 comments:

Norah Wilson said...

Melinda, what a great blog! I LOVE dogs in books. (I immortalized my own beloved Bandy, an SPCA rescue, in one of my RS stories.) I have SHE CAN RUN on my electronic TBR pile, and after reading this, you've just moved up to the top. I love a hero with a soft spot for an animal.

Melinda Leigh said...

Norah, a dog ends up in everything I write. In fact, my latest rescue, Bandit, nosed his way into my fall 2012 release. Thanks for stopping by.

Pattie said...

Love this blog! A few years ago, I pitched an article to the RWR editor about writers who have dogs, cats, birds, etc. in their books--she said the idea didn't have universal appeal. She was so wrong! If I don't win a copy, I will definitely buy your book.

Melinda Leigh said...

Pattie, I'm finding out that an awful lot of people LOVE dogs in books, many more than I would have thought. Hope you enjoy Henry. He is truly unique.

Marsha said...

One of my dogs (an older Jack Russel Terrier) is "being with me" right now. She lies down next to my chair while I type. My other dog (a red, long haired Chihuahua-also rescued, hops on my lap for a brief rub before going to the large pillow and stretching out. Nobody loves you like a "puppy." We call them puppies regardless of age. Thanks for the great post and good luck with sales. I look forward to reading your books.

Patricia said...

Ah, another animal lover! I like you already...and your book, too. I have had dogs in my life since I was small but the dogs were small as well. When my husband and I got our first dog we had a Rhodesian Ridgeback. After he died it's been Chocolate Labs all the way. I can NOT imagine my life without my furry friends. They always are there when I'm sad or happy. I love them to death. And a book with a furry one in it always captures my attention.

Melinda Leigh said...

Marsha, my dogs like to hang around while I write, too. Thanks for joining me today.

Patricia, labs are such sweet dogs. They have beautiful dispositions. Hope you enjoy the book.

traveler said...

I have two sweethearts. A Maltese who is a loveable ball of fluff, called Guido. Bogie, a lapdog rescue who is so intuitive and sensitive. I enjoyed your wonderful post today. best wishes and much enjoyment.

petite said...

Melinda, Yoor blog was great. I love dogs and especially portrayed in books. They contribute to our health and well being and are so important. Keep writing and man y thanks.

Melinda Leigh said...

Thanks Traveler. Enjoy those pups.

Petite, my dogs are the best stress relievers. Thanks for reading.

Liz said...

Melinda, my rescue pup begs to suggest that dogs domesticated humans, with only minimal success.

Anonymous said...

The local libraries have days when kids can read aloud to a therapy dog who sits and listens. The dog is non-judgemental and will not complain if the child reads a word wrong. Therapy dogs are also popular in hospitals and nursing homes where the patients will perk up to pet the animal. You're right, dogs are man's best friend (but a woman's best pal is her cat).
Sally Carpenter

C.K.Crigger said...

Loved your post, Melinda. Nearly all my books, too, have had a dog in one capacity or another. I believe, as long as the dog is there, in giving him or her a job to do.

Anita Clenney said...

Melinda, great blog. I think we forget how many wonderful things they do other than make us feel happy. Thanks for the reminder.

Anita Clenney said...

Speaking of making us happy, I have a white boxer named Lily and she's just adorable. Not good for much besides crumb patrol, as yours. LOL. She's been known to take lots of things off the counter. Loaves of bread, you name it. And she loves cat patrol. She goes from window to window making sure no cats come near. She goes nuts when they do.

Vonnie said...

Having a four-legged friend in a book clinches it for me. Love the way they bring out the protagonists' characters. We lived with a police dog 'reject' (huh!) for ten years. Okay, we've had a couple of other dogs since and we had many before him but Kaiser was, quite frankly, the best, most intelligent BEING I've ever known. I used to go jogging in the dark and felt totally safe because he got between me and whoever was coming. He knew everything - how to unclick locks, whatever. I believe the real 'reject' came later when they jettisoned his ex-owner out of the dog squad because HE didn't measure up. Too late, suckers. We already had Kaiser and you didn't get him back. He was loved by everyone he met (and feared by a few, too).

Sheila W. Boneham said...

I'm late (was out with my dogs!), but this is a topic close to my heart. I've been writing NF about dogs and cats for many years, my new mystery series also focuses on dogs, cats, and other animals, and I'm working on a memoir cum natural/cultural history about dogs. The evidence actually now shows that the split from wolves probably occurred much earlier than previously thought, and that the traits that make dogs our best friends probably developed BEFORE human beings began selecting for specific traits. In any case, anyone who doesn't think dogs and other animals have nearly universal appeal hasn't been in a bookstore lately! I look forward to reading your book - great blog! Woof!

Anonymous said...

Would love to read this ... Henry sounds like a winner!

boots9k at wowway dot com

Melinda Leigh said...

Liz, I think your dog might be right. (which one of us is carrying the poop bag?)

Sally, therapy dogs have so many uses, I can't even list them all.

CK, I love books with dogs of every kind.

Melinda Leigh said...

Anita, thanks so much for stopping by. Pooches sure cut down on the vacuuming.

Vonnie, I would LOVE your Kaiser!

Sheila, I hope you love it.

Melinda Leigh said...

boots9k, thanks for reading today! Enjoy the book.