Monday, March 14, 2011

Kathleen O'Brien: Do you love dogs?

In FOR THEIR BABY, the book I just finished writing for Harlequin Superromance, my heroine, Kitty Hemmings, is trying to cope with the world-changing consequences of her one-night stand with a gorgeous stranger. She’s going to have a baby. As she gets to know David Gerard, the strait-laced lawyer who is the father, she’s relieved to discover that he’s honorable, kind and prepared to share the responsibility of their child.

Whew. He could have been anything—a gambler, a married man, a murderer. But then she learns something about him that just might be equally bad.

David doesn’t like dogs.

Did that sentence make you raise your eyebrows just a little? A hero who doesn’t like dogs? Okay, maybe that’s not on a par with bigamists and murderers, but it’s a real problem. If you’re like me, that’s darned near a deal-breaker.

Seriously. I don’t think I could fall in love with a guy who didn’t like dogs. Dogs have been a part of my life as long as I have conscious memories. I never knew my father’s Irish wolfhound, Mr. Dooley, which he had when he was a younger man, but I knew the stories. That dog was bigger than my father, smart as a whip, and practically a member of the family.

Then there was Rooney, the Irish Setter we owned when I was in kindergarten. And then Snowy Obie, and Friendsy, and Honey, my sister’s blonde cocker spaniel. Honey ate the front off my brand-new, double-breasted London Fog raincoat. I was a teenager, and that coat was super Mod, so I cried a million tears over that coat. But, as you can see from the picture, I loved the silly mutt anyhow.

My own children have never, ever lived in a house without a pet. We started out with Popo, who was His Highness’s dog before we married. His Highness was so good to that dog that somehow I knew my own heart, and my children-to-be, would be safe with him, too. Then we had Mackey and Mischief, the two Shelties who shepherded my kids down the hall to bed every night.

And now there’s Lily. Ah, Lily, the spoiled Bichon who runs this house. She and His Highness are special friends, reminding me every day how right I was to pick him.

How about you? Do you think Kitty should run, now that she’s learned about David and dogs? Could you fall in love with a man who didn’t like dogs? Or…at least a kitten or two? :)


Nas Dean said...

Hi Kathleen,

Lovely photos.

Most probably this hero, David, have something in his past related to his hatred of dogs?

Congratulations for the upcoming new book!

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Nas, you're too smart! ;-) Thanks for the congratulations! I'm very excited about this one, as it finally gives David Gerard, who got dumped in FOR THE LOVE OF FAMILY, the happily ever after he deserves! I couldn't relax until I proved that nice guys *don't* always finish last!

Ann said...

It does sound like a strange thing, but then when you think about it would cause all sorts of problems.

Congratulations on your book success. Yay!

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Thanks, Ann! It's true, isn't it? Sometimes, even when everything big seems right, the little things will torpedo a relationship. Although...I'm not sure how little it is when a guy doesn't like animals. Somehow, unless there's a really good reason, it seems...kind of creepy! LOL! Thanks for stopping by!

ev said...

It has been a deal breaker for me before. I have always had pets- cats, dogs, guinea pigs and rabbits. To me it's a tell about who they are deep down.If there's a reason for it, I could understand it, but I couldn't be anything other than friends.

My hubby is such a softie when it comes to the animals. They'll go to the dr. before he (or me) will and hey, need to make an emergency run to the animal ER on Xmas Eve? No problem.

Years ago we had a kitten who got crushed under a recliner (per the vet, it happens quite a bit) and he got rid of the recliner.

So I got the right guy for me.

Mary Anne Landers said...

Thank you for your new post, Kathleen; and ev, Ann, and Nas for your comments. I've never had a dog, and I've never put to the test the idea that a man's attitude toward pets indicates how he'll relate to children. Still, I'll do my best to answer your question.

If I were in Kitty's shoes, I'd hang on to David anyhow. I get the impression that he's a mature, responsible, understanding type. That must be part of what drew her to him in the first place.

Therefore, sooner or later David will realize that the woman he loves is a package deal. Such is always the case in romantic relationships, in both fiction and real life.

Her dog is part of the package; he's not an option. So David will have to live with him, even if he doesn't like him. Kitty should be worth it!

I haven't read this book, seeing as it hasn't been published. But I can think of a related complication that might already be in there. What if the dog doesn't like David?

Good luck with your new novel!

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Ev, it certainly does sound as if you have an awesome guy! Hugs about the kitty that was crushed by the recliner. I know how traumatic that can be. The first time I can remember realizing my father (who was my hero) was really just a mortal came when he had to tell me he'd accidentally shut the refrigerator door just when my new kitten had stuck her head inside. The grief, guilt and pure pain on his face are still horribly vivid for me, all these decades later. He was one of the wonderful animal-lovers of the world, too. Give your guy a special hug tonight--just because! :)

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Mary Anne, you're so right that, with a baby on the way, Kitty isn't in a position to start jumping to conclusions about David. And LOVE your idea of a complication! Wish I'd thought of that! :)

Mary Anne Landers said...

Kathleen: The idea of a dog not liking his human's boyfriend came naturally to me. If I had a fellow who was falling in love with me, one of my cats might pose a problem.

I can't imagine little Farrah, my calico-tabby bobtail, taking a dislike to anyone. Or vice-versa; she's such a sweetheart. And my tuxedo cat Archimedes has terrific people skills---better than many people.

But as for Spartacus, my big golden tabby---well, he's the alpha cat around here. He's very possessive of me and set in his ways. He can be sweet and loving when he wants to; but at other times, he can display quite an attitude problem.

Spartacus hasn't taken well to other male cats. How would he react to a human male trespassing on his turf?

I don't know. But it gives me some ideas for a romance novel!

Pat Cochran said...

Only one dog and cat in our
family's life. Although two of
our offspring & their children
have presented us with what we
call "granddogs." LOL. Our focus
was always on the children and
their activities.

Pat Cochran

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Kathleen O'Brien said...

Mary Anne, I just love the names of your cats! And they have such distinct personalities...what fun!

An idea for a romance? Now that really *is* fun! It's a happy day for me when I stumble across a good idea! :)

Kathleen O'Brien said...

LOL, Pat C, at the darling idea of "granddogs"! We aren't there yet, but our daughter and her husband have an adorable maltipoo (is that how you spell it?) who has become our Lily's best friend. Their sleepovers are wild enough to rival the ones our real kids had!

I'm so glad you posted here, because I wanted to let you know you were one of the winners on my last "Love is a Rose" blog, back on Valentine's Day! Because I was so slow getting the news out (laid low by a nasty flu...ugh), I'm offering *two* books to each of the winners. Send me a message at, and let me know which ones you'd like!

Thanks so much for coming--last time *and* this time! I love hearing your stories!

desere_steenberg said...

Great post Kathleeen !! I adore all animals dogs or cats so for me it would be more of a situation of , could I love a man who does not love animals !

Take care

Michele L. said...

Must love dogs because they always love me first! My mom has had a lot of dogs and they all were so loving and kind. A beagle, shitzu, dachsund, schnoodle, irish setter, but sadly there are all gone now.
I just can't ignore their cute little noses with those big eyes looking at me, searching my face, as if they are saying, you love me, don't you? I sure do! Every last one of them!