The Sacred Dog

The Real Sacred Dog

Although those who know me might feel differently, nobody in my next novel, The Sacred Dog is based on a real person. The one exception is the dog, Louise, who belongs to Frank Hooker, a main character in the book. At some point Frank decided to rename his bar The Sacred Dog in honor of her. Louise also has a pivotal role later in the book. 

The real inspiration for Louise is a dog named Sheena. We didn’t call her that but she knew the name, so we were stuck. Hank and I were living with our parcel of six kids in a small town in the sticks of Western Massachusetts when she found us.

Her owners, who lived down the road, left her tied up when they moved to the other side of town until she broke loose and found our compost heap. Her owner said we would keep her after I called. When the man came to drop off her bowl and chain, the dog lay on the deck and didn’t even acknowledge his presence. Sheena knew better.

Sheena, who was a black Labrador retriever, came with habits. She liked to wander the neighborhood, which was heavily wooded, visiting every dog and home. She knew where there were handouts from the neighbors. She was the alpha dog and all the dogs bowed to her as if she was indeed a queen. She enjoyed rolling in cow manure at a farm up the road. She enjoyed manure, period. Sheena also was pregnant, we found out later, and after the litter was born, we had her spayed. 

Sheena took to our family and sat regally amidst the hubbub of six kids playing inside. That’s when I dubbed her “the sacred dog” since she would put up with any amount of noise and activity.

At the time I worked as a reporter at home for a local newspaper. When I wrote at my desk, Sheena slept beneath my legs. As soon as I turned off the computer, she got up and found something else to do. Her job was done.

When Sheena died, I grieved longer for her than I did relatives I loved. And then she became a character in the book I began before the turn of the new century. (More on that another time.) Now, I am glad the book is being published thanks to darkstroke books. 

By the way, The Sacred Dog is a tale about a feud between two men — Frank Hooker and Al Kitchen. And I can honestly say nothing good is going to come from this feud.

Here’s a scene from The Sacred Dog involving Louise. Frank is at a river with Crystal, his 9-year-old daughter who has just returned to town with her mother, and his dog.

“Is it true your bar used to be named for Mommy, but you began calling it after your pet dog because you were mad we moved to Florida?” She looked directly at him. “Am I right, Daddy?”

Frank sat upright. “Well, honey, that isn’t the real story. I’d never do somethin’ like that,” he lied. “The new name just seemed like a fine idea at the time. The Sacred Dog. It has a certain ring to it. Don’t you think?”

His daughter’s head shook energetically. “Oh, yeah,” she said.

“Besides, Louise is an awfully good dog.”

Crystal knew Louise’s story. Frank wrote her after he found the dog hanging around his trashcans one afternoon when he took a break from writing up the monthly liquor order. He called Monk Stevens, in his capacity as Holden’s dog officer, and he told Frank she was probably dumped there because she was bone-skinny and had no collar. “She’s yours if you want her,” he told Frank. “You know what’ll happen if you don’t.”

Frank decided on the spot to save her. It’d been a while since he had a dog, and he took to calling the dog Louise after a girl he once knew who bore the same mournful expression. He fed her as much food as she wanted and within a few weeks, she became eternally grateful. One slow night, when Frank and Early played cribbage, Louise nudged the topside of her head beneath Frank’s hand. After a while, he told her to “git,” and though the dog was clearly disappointed, she left him alone while he played and talked with Early.

“You know Early. That dog is a saint, a pure saint. She never complains, even when those kids come in Sunday night to bother her. Look at ’er. The way she sets there, you’d think she was somethin’ sacred.” He paused while he studied the fan of cards in his hand. “Yeah, that’s what she is. Louise is the sacred dog.”

“Oh shit, Frank. You’ve gone off your rocker. Dogs aren’t sacred. They shit where you go. They eat shit and roll in shit.”

“Louise is different, I tell you.”

“Why don’t you shut the heck up and get me another beer?”

What had been a pet owner’s moment of tenderness now became an inspiration for Frank. A few weeks later, he decided to officially change the name of his bar, which was still Ronnie’s, to The Sacred Dog. Truthfully, he was thinking about getting a new name after it dawned on him it was rather foolish to have a bar named for his ex-wife. He discounted using his own or anything with the word Holden in it. The town had enough buildings named after John Holden, the town’s founder. Early suggested the Bowtie, but Frank said no one ever wore one in his bar and he expected no one ever would.

“A John Deere cap or torn T-shirt would be more like it,” Frank said, and Early laughed as if he had a tickle in his throat.

The Sacred Dog suited Frank fine, so he asked a lawyer in town to draw up the papers to make it legal. Then he asked Early to make the sign. The regulars thought Frank was joking, but when he told them the story, they agreed it was a good name for a bar. Some stiffs in the back room of the general store did grumble to Frank about it. The pastor of the Holden Congregational Church called to complain, but Frank, who had only been to church as an adult for funerals and his own wedding, told the men he didn’t see the connection.

LINK: The Sacred Dog is available for Kindle readers to pre-order. I am grateful if you do as it helps with ratings. The official release is Dec. 27 and paperback will follow. Here’s the link: https://mybook.to/thesacreddog

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: That’s Sheena and me, when I had dark hair.

Standard
6Ws, Author Interview

6Ws with Gary Kruse

The next author in this 6Ws series is Gary Kruse from the UK. I so enjoy getting to know my fellow authors and what they are willing to share about their writing. How’s this? Gary wrote the majority of Badlands on his phone during his lengthy work commute. Up next? Bleak Waters, a supernatural mystery. But I will let Gary take over this post.

Who is author Gary Kruse?

I’m a writer of novels, short stories and flash fiction from Hornchurch in Essex. I’m married with two sons, and in my day job, I work in the educational/charity section as an Administration Manager. I like rock and alternative music and play guitar, enjoy football and tennis and love reading, cinema and theatre. 

What is your latest book?

My latest published book is my dark thriller Badlands, a story of deception, betrayal and conspiracy inspired by and set on the wild rugged coastline of North Cornwall. 

Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, Jane Harper, James Herbert and Robert Goddard, it’s the story of Willow, a runaway who’s dragged back into the life she fled when she gets a call for help from her estranged sister. 

When she returns to the Cornish coastal village of St. Agnes where she grew up, Willow finds that her sister was involved in a local scandal, but has since gone missing. 

To dig into the secrets of her sister’s life, Willow must confront her own mistakes and with every revelation Willow finds herself dragged deeper and deeper into a murderous conspiracy who’s roots lie a lot closer to home than she realises. 

It’s a story of sisterhood, broken families, smuggling and hidden identities with a hint of social commentary and even a dash of the paranormal. 

My current WIP is called Bleak Waters. It’s a supernatural mystery set in Hickling on the Norfolk Broads. 

Twenty-five-years after a young woman went missing in broad daylight, a stranger turns up asking questions about the disappearance. 

Lost in her own grief, the stranger’s arrival is a welcome distraction for twenty-three-year old local girl, Lily West, but when she starts uncovering the web of secrets and lies surrounding the disappearance, Lily realises that she’ll have to choose between protecting the people she loves, and uncovering the truth.

When did you begin writing?

I began writing in 1996. I went to see the Craft in the cinema, and I’d recently seen the Lost Boys, and in the days that followed I started thinking what would happen if the girls from the Craft met the Lost Boys? From there, I began writing a series of short tales about the conflict between a gang of witches and a vampire crew, and this eventually became my first (and gratefully unpublished) novel, Blessed Be

How do you write?

These days it’s mainly on laptop, but I wrote the majority of Badlands on my phone on my commute to and from work. I used to commute from my home in Hornchurch, to my job in Hampstead, North London, which was an hour and forty minutes each way, which meant I had around 3 hours a day of solid writing time. 

Where do you write?

We did a loft conversion a couple of years back, and now I have a writing space in the corner of the loft. But at the minute most of my writing is done in the local library on my lunch break from the day job. Occasionally I’ll write in coffee shops too. 

Why do you write?

To tell the stories that I want to read about the places I love, but that I can’t find in bookshops. 

More about Gary Kruse: parting words; links to your books; social media

Thank you, Joan for hosting me! Readers can find links to all my social media, my mailing list, website and published works through this link: www.linktr.ee/garykruseauthor

Badlands is available from Amazon on kindle, kindle unlimited and in paperback: http://mybook.to/badlandsdarkstroke

Standard