I was beyond delighted when I learned that the fifth book in the series, Ruff-Housed, won the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy and Canine Good Citizen Award sponsored by the American Kennel Club for the best writing about the AKC Canine Good Citizen Program. (Yeah, that’s a mouthful, but I wanted the description to be accurate.)
In Ruff-Housed, Doodle has to take the Canine Good Citizen test (CGC). The CGC is basically a test of canine behavior in public. The dog must pass a ten-part test that includes walking on a loose lead, sitting politely to be petted, staying calm when walking through a crowd, not over-reacting to distractions, coming when called, and staying in place when commanded.
Doodle’s not worried about the test. Compared to the stringent scent-detection certifications he has to pass as a bed-bug detecting dog, he thinks the CGC will be a piece of cake. But then again, getting cake isn’t always easy for a dog, and he certainly didn’t expect explosions.
Within minutes of finding out about the award, I called my daughter, to ask if she’d to accompany me to New York City for the DWAA banquet. “Is the Pope Catholic?” she replied. (Okay, she didn’t actually say that, but she’s a born traveler and has never heard of a trip she doesn’t want to take.)
And so we met at the airport in Newark, stayed in a lovely room at the historic New Yorker, and had a wonderful time. At the banquet, I was humbled by the sheer amount of dog and writing related expertise assembled in the room.
Five years earlier, shortly after Bed-Bugged was published, I started researching sites about dogs, hoping to figure out how to make my books known to people who love dogs. I came across the DWAA site and thought, Wow! I need to join this organization. (I remember posting on FB, in awestruck tones, “There’s a professional organization of dog writers. Who knew? Is that cool or what?”
The only problem was that joining DWAA required sponsorship from two current members. At the time, all my fiction publishing credits were in science fiction and fantasy and my many friends, list-serves, social groups, and professional organizations were in that field. My nonfiction was mostly about music (I worked as a freelance music reviewer and columnist for the Bloomington-Herald Times) or, after I moved west, about Native American and environmental issues. How could I get to know other dog writers? I searched the web and read blogs and friended any dog-book author who would accept me, and gradually made my way into the community. Along the way, I made a lot of friends who were generous with their support and advice, and got to read a lot of terrific books.
In 2013, still not yet a DWAA member, I entered Out-Sniffed, the second Doodlebugged mystery in the DWAA’s annual writing competition and was honored when it was one of the nominees in the Children’s Fiction category. That gave me the courage to ask a couple of DWAA members for sponsorship, and in early 2014 I became a member myself.
And now I’ve been able to attend the banquet and meet a great group of writers and photographers who love dogs. Plus, my daughter and I got to attend the Westminster Agility trials and the Meet the Breeds event on Saturday. It was all what I call doggone fun!
It’s all in the haircut! Spanish Water Dogs at the Meet the Breeds event.
If you’d like to read the real life story of Shadow, the dog who inspired Ruff-Housed and all the Doodlebugged mysteries, click on the link below.
You know that perfect dog from your childhood? The one that did everything right, was intensely loyal and loved you more than anything? I had a dog like that once.
This is not the story of that dog.