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Animal lover? I thought so. Most of us are, and that love isn’t usually limited to cats and dogs. We humans seems to get a kick out of the antics of all kinds of creatures. In the cat vs. dog debate, however, I personally lean toward the feline persuasion, having blogged “Keep Your Valium, Doctor, I Have My Cat!” and sharing oodles of adorable pics of my cuddly companion on Facebook and Twitter.
Our fascination with adorable non-human creatures is demonstrated by the endless stream of animal video clips that go viral on the internet. If you search “animal video” on YouTube, almost 20 million choices pop up. If you narrow your search to “funny animal videos for children,” you still have approximately 4 million clips. Personally, I love animal videos and baby videos, but the babies with animals make me nervous. I understand most pets would never harm a child, but they are animals and as such I think they can be unpredictable. Here’s a cute cat video compilation. I especially like the cat falling asleep at 1:15, the cat boxing with the TV at 2:38, and the cat giving the another cat a massage at 6:08.
If you don’t care to watch a longer video, here’s an adorable one for a minute of your time.
Animals in Books
Animals also play a role in literature. My favorite book as a child featured an animal. FOLLOW MY LEADER by James Garfield is about a boy’s life after he’s blinded by a firecracker over the Fourth of July holiday. Jimmy eventually gets a guide dog, Leader, who becomes his eyes and connection to the sighted world. That story, to me, was as much about Leader as it was Jimmy. I read that book in 1976 and still remember it as if I read it yesterday. That’s the power of a great story. You haven’t heard of that title? Another of my favorites is BLACK BEAUTY by Anna Sewell, the classic tale about a girl’s love for a horse.
As a contemporary romance writer, I include animals in the story when it makes sense for my characters. In ONE MORE SUNSET (Entangled, Late Fall 2014), heroine Abby Stone is on the run from her ex-boyfriend. She isn’t in a situation where she can care for an animal. Yet when creating my hero, Ben, for A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW (Tule Publishing, Nov 2014) I immediately envisioned him with a large, well-mannered dog. Sadie is a sweet Golden Retriever who appears in most scenes with Ben. She even has a career as a therapy dog at the town’s local senior center.
Of course, I’m not the first author to feature an animal in a contemporary romance, Kristin Higgins is well-known for including dogs in her books. In fact, when I searched on Amazon for her titles, ten of her book covers included a canine with the couple. My close friend and talented author Jeannie Moon gave her cat, Mo Kitty, a part in her Forever Love novel, THE TEMPORARY WIFE.
Animals in Daily Life
This inclusion and love of animals makes sense to me as a reader and writer of contemporary fiction because the reality is, whether we have pets or not…animals are part of most people’s daily lives. Generations of squirrels have cohabitated with my family on our quiet tree-lined street, entertaining us with their playfulness. We lamented their fates after Hurricane Irene hit and knocked over one of our large oak trees in the front yard, forcing us to make the difficult decision to cut the others to avoid future home damage, which in turn left some of those furry creatures temporarily homeless. We have taught our children about the many species of birds that fly onto our property and have built bird houses and fed the winged creatures through the more than two decades. In fact, a friendly baby bird inspired this post–tapping on my front screen door and hopping around (so cute!) on our front step.
What are your favorite stories featuring animals? What role do animals play in your daily life? Have a favorite animal video to share?