I never thought I’d write a book with a dog as the main character. Uh no, I would have said if the absurd topic had been raised. I’m a law professor. I run a law school clinic that represents innocent people after exoneration. And as of late, I mostly write suspense novels. So no, thank you. I wouldn’t be writing any kind of pooch mystery. I certainly would not be writing a book where the dog is the number one agent of romance in the book.
But a few years ago, I got a dog, a little goldendoodle named Shafer. And I fell completely in love with that fourteen-pound bundle of energy. My agent, and eventually people at my publishers, started commenting that the theme of my online photos went from books and exonerees, to books and dogs, to books and Shafer, and then just to Shafer, Shafer, Shafer.
I hadn’t exactly noticed that yet when I looked, I found it was true. But I didn’t expect them to suggest a book featuring a dog. What would that look like, I asked? Should I get Izzy McNeil, my character in six mysteries to get a puppy? No, they said. Something more fun, a great beach book, and hey let’s dial up the romance. They gave no other suggestions; I was the writer, they said. I should figure it out.
Suddenly, it made sense—my dog influenced so many decisions in my life, including love life. I started playing around with the idea and soon, The Dog Park was hatched.
In The Dog Park a Chicago couple shares joint custody of their dog, and when the dog is in a video that goes viral, their dog becomes famous, throwing them together and raising secrets they hid from each other. In celebration of the release of The Dog Park, I’m stopping to remember some of my favorite books and movies that have also featured a furry friend.
Laura Caldwell is a former civil trial attorney, now Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Director of Life After Innocence, published author of thirteen novels and one nonfiction book.