Pet Spotlight: Lou Berney

My dog, and writing partner (I write; he sleeps tangled up at my feet), is a 12-year-old golden retriever named Jesse. We adopted him from the Sooner Golden Retriever Rescue in Oklahoma City when he was one. These are some possibly interesting fact about him:

TOYS. He takes his toys very seriously. They fall into two categories, soft and bite, and each toy in the rotation has a very specific function. For example, Mouse Rat (which looks exactly like what you’d imagine) is his primary day-to-day carry-around-in-the-mouth-and-slobber-on-it soft toy, while The Little Man (which looks like something you’d burn in effigy, but covered in very soft fleece) is for when he’s tired and needs something very soft to rest his chin on. When he’s really really excited by some happy and astounding development (e.g., my wife comes home from work), he goes straight to his NylaBone, carries it into a corner, and gnaws it frantically.

GAMES.Jesse has invented and taught us many games over the years. His favorite is Brave Hunting Dog on the Savannah of Africa. It goes like this: while you are on the phone or otherwise distracted, he sneaks up behind you and silently deposits Mouse Rat at your feet. He then sneaks away and hides around a corner or behind a piece of furniture. He lurks there, peeking out, until you glance down and notice Mouse Rat. At which point you have to kick Mouse Rat so the Brave Hunting Dog can spring out of hiding and snare his prey! You have to get the kick just right: Jesse likes a challenge, but not too much of one.

SPECIAL POWERS. He can create what we call a Vortex. This is not a joke! If it’s kind of rainy outside, and a little chilly, and he gets up in bed with you in the morning, and curls up against you with his big soft furry head on your stomach, the Vortex will open and you will not be able to get out of bed no matter how many things you have to get done that morning! Your limbs will go slack, your breathing will slow, you will feel a warm sensation spreading over you and YOU WILL SLEEP UNTIL HE CHOOSES TO RELEASE YOU FROM THE VORTEX! Very dangerous! We’ve had dog sitters who laughed when we told them about the Vortex. Trust me, they were not laughing later!

Lou Berney’s novel, GUTSHOT STRAIGHT, was nominated for a Barry Award and named one of the best debut crime novels of 2010 by Booklist. The follow-up, WHIPLASH RIVER, will be published in July by William Morrow. You can find him at his site and on Facebook.