Pet Spotlight: Dogs I Have Known by Tracy Kiely

Dogs I Have Known

My family has always owned Golden Retrievers. Well, that’s not true. Our first dog, O’Connell, was a beautiful, six-month old Irish Setter that my parents acquired from a nearby farm. Unfortunately, we quickly discovered O’Connell suffered from kennelosis, a condition brought on by lack of human contact. In layman’s terms that meant he treated us with a disdain normally reserved for smug house cats. After O’Connell ripped off the wallpaper in our kitchen during a much regretted twenty-minute period of solitude, my parents thought he might be happier back on the farm with fellow canines. After that we stuck with Goldens. They just seemed friendlier.

Fergus was our first. We got him from a breeder who interviewed us over several weeks before agreeing to let us take him home. Even though we had no intention of showing him, the breeder insisted that we give him a show name. My parents finally decided on Golden Pineapple of the Sun, which pretty much guaranteed that the other dogs would make fun of him should they ever find out. Fergus was many things, sweet, loyal, playful, but perhaps more than anything else, he was horny. Really, really horny. Fergus would hump anything; legs, chairs, air. He was not picky; he was permanently frustrated. One day a woman from the county came to our house on business. Fergus got out before we could stop him and “greeted” her in our driveway. By the time my mother and I pulled him off of her, Fergus was no longer, um, frustrated. We ended up sending the poor woman flowers.

Cullen, short for Cuchulain, was next. He was the classic Golden. Big block head, reddish blonde coat, and a born retriever. He would retrieve anything; even if you didn’t ask him to. Even if, let’s say, you really, really preferred him not to. Cullen was never deterred; he had a duty to retrieve. And that duty is why several of our guests over the years were treated to the spectacle of my underwear hanging out of his mouth. The only thing that fazed Cullen was thunderstorms. He’d freak out and frantically try to dig himself into a hole at the first rumble. During one particularly violent storm, my grandmother awoke not only to crashing thunder and flashing lightening, but to her bed levitating a good two feet off the ground. Cullen had apparently taken refuge under her bed and then decided mid-storm to stand up. We were lucky Grandma had a strong heart.

Cormac was the first Golden that my husband and I bought together. Cormac was a love, but God gave him looks and that’s about it. I once awoke to find Cormac sprawled on his back, legs up in the air…peeing… on himself. Another time, feeling an on coming bout of diarrhea, he crawled under our bed, directly over the floor outlet, and started a small electrical fire. I’m pretty sure the firefighters didn’t believe us, and I really can’t blame them.

See that intelligent gaze? It’s because I’m holding a piece of cheese.

Carrick (and yes, all our dogs are named after Irish Kings/Folk Heroes – don’t judge.) is our current dog. Like all the others, he is a love and is completely unaware that he is a dog and that we are his masters. Words like “come” have no meaning to him. However, the word “cheese” does, which is why I can be found most days holding a piece of said dairy product in my hand while softly crooning “cheeese” at a dog in the street.

These are the dogs I’ve been lucky to know and love.

Tracy Kiely
Tracy Kiely is a self-proclaimed Anglophile (a fact which distresses certain members of her Irish Catholic family). She grew up reading Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, and watching Hitchcock movies. She fell in love with Austen’s wit, Christie’s clever plots, and Hitchcock’s recurrent theme of “the average man caught in extraordinary circumstances.”

After spending years of trying to find a proper job that would enable her to use her skills garnered as an English major, she decided to write a book. It would, of course, have to be a mystery; it would have to be funny; and it would have to feature an average person caught up in extraordinary circumstances. She began to wonder how the characters in Pride and Prejudice might fit into a mystery. What, if after years of living with unbearably rude and condescending behavior, old Mrs. Jenkins up and strangled Lady Catherine? What if Charlotte snapped one day and poisoned Mr. Collins’ toast and jam? Skip ahead several years, and several different plot ideas, and you have her first mystery Murder at Longbourn.

While she does not claim to be Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, or Hitchcock (one big reason being that they’re all dead), she has tried to combine the elements of all three in her books.