This week we said farewell to the beloved chocolate lab of my sister-in-law, Alicia, and brother, Ric. Marley’s sad exit after fourteen years, coincided with the publication of the e-book version of my new Tree Callister novel, The Hound of the Sanibel Sunset Detective. The book was inspired by another beloved family pet, our French hound Clinton. Below is an excerpt in I which I tell readers about the wonderful dog who inspired a book. You can download the entire novel by clicking HERE.
Writing The Hound of the Sanibel Sunset Detective was an experience filled with joy and sadness. On the one hand, the novel allowed me to bring back to life Clinton, the beloved family member we lost at the age of fourteen in July 2013. To have him running happily on the beaches of Sanibel and Captiva Islands, loved and loving again, was an unexpected delight.
On the other hand, I was reminded constantly that this was only a story, that Clinton really was gone and even the most artfully fashioned words could never really bring him back. In the past five years, I have lost my mother and several of my dearest friends, people who were close and played an extraordinary role in my life.
But I must say, the loss of Clinton, our French hound, hit me harder than the loss of just about anyone else. He was my baby boy, the friend I had with me day in and day out, the one certainty in an uncertain life, always welcoming at the door with a shoe in his mouth, his recurring present for returning friends.
As he does for Tree and Freddie, Clinton brought us untold amounts of joy while he was alive. I have said many times that my wife, Kathy, and I would not have had a social life in Toronto, Montreal, or Milton, Ontario, without Clinton. Thanks to him, we met people and made friends who are still in our lives.
Clinton even slept with us. Try as we might to be firm, and not have him on the bed, we soon gave up trying to resist the irresistible. I don’t believe he ever recovered from his inability as he grew old to climb the stairs and be with us. The last year of his life, I never slept through the night, slipping constantly downstairs to console an upset dog who only wanted to be with his pals.
However, writing the book also gave me the opportunity to explore within a fictional framework this deep, passionate love affair we have for our pets, how they manage to work their way into our lives and our hearts in ways we never could have imagined.
Any suggestion that they do not become family members is, of course, ludicrous. Only people who have not experienced pets would argue differently. Not only are they members of the family, they manage to become the most important members. We used to say, only half-jokingly, that Clinton didn’t live with us, we lived with Clinton.
The looming tragedy of all this, the cosmic joke the gods have chosen to play, is that our beloved pets do not stay long. We love and protect them in life, but then, all too soon, we must orchestrate their deaths. It is the heartbreak of our pet love—they must exit long before we do, leaving us shattered.
Kathy and I go on, we muddle through. But it’s not the same without Clinton. There remains an emptiness in the house every time we enter, and I doubt that will change any time soon. The memory of Clinton lingers always, the wonderful times we had with him, the ways in which he enriched our lives. Why, he even helped me write a book.
My unforgettable boy.
Want an advance look at The Hound of the Sanibel Sunset Detective? The new Tree Callister novel is available for download now. Please click HERE.