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Pet Spotlight: Holly West and Stella

cute_stellaOur dog, Stella West, is a long haired Chihuahua mix. I like to say she’s 25% dog, 25% cat, and 50% demon. Any discussion of her requires a reading of this post I wrote for my personal blog in 2009, roughly a month after we adopted her:

The Story of Stella

Here is the gist of it, for those of you who can’t be bothered:

“You might be asking yourself how Mick and I ended up with this little bundle of, er, joy. We went to the gym one day and found they were having a pet adoption day. Mick said, “Don’t look!” as I ran over to the cages to see the dogs. “It’ll be okay, I don’t want another one,” I replied, even as my eyes locked on the precious ball of fur that was to become, at least temporarily, the bane of my existence. I picked her up and that was pretty much it. Mick did put up a good fight for about 20 minutes but in the end, Stella won. Stella always wins.”

A lot has happened since then. We moved house, we lost her beloved brother, Stuart, I published my first novel. But through it all, Stella has more or less remained the same. She’s a bitch, in all senses of the word. She’s aloof and self-serving. Her sense of entitlement is palpable. She is, dare I say it (and I will, since this is Crimespree, after all), something of a femme fatale. She gives us just enough affection to keep us wanting more, then blinks at us arrogantly as she pees on the carpet while we scream “Stellaaaaaaa!” Stanley Kawalski-style.

Seriously. She pees on every rug I’ve ever brought into the house within twenty-four hours.

holly_stella_1kI never thought I’d want a small dog. All that yapping, you know? But Stella is so convenient I might never have a big dog again. She weighs in at about ten pounds, just small enough to fit under an airplane seat. The first time I flew with her, there was a couple with a new baby on the same flight. They told me the baby’s name was Stella and I proudly said, “That’s my dog’s name.” They seemed insulted, so I followed it up with, “Well, it was my dog’s name first.”

Despite Stella’s faults special qualities, she’s a damned good companion. I work from home and she spends probably 95% of any given day with me in my office, perched in her Danish modern lounge chair or sleeping on her IKEA faux sheepskin under my desk. Though she’s mostly an ice queen, she loves my husband so much that all I have to say is “Where’s Daddy?” to get her as excited and playful as a puppy.

And the socks. My God, the socks. That dog would walk five miles, barefoot in the snow, just for one dirty sock to carry around in her mouth. I think the most she’s ever managed is four at one time. You always know when she’s got a couple because she walks around the bedroom crying, her poor little mouth stretched beyond capacity. And yet, she refuses to let them go.

Sure, Stella always wins. But I love that girl, and as far as I’m concerned, we’re the real winners.

Holly West is the author of the Mistress of Fortune series (Carina Press). The first in the series, Mistress of Fortune, was published in February 2014 and the second, Mistress of Lies, will be released in Fall 2014. She’s currently writing her third book, a stand-alone crime novel set in 1948 Philadelphia. Holly lives, reads, and writes in Los Angeles with her husband, Mick, and, of course, their dog, Stella.