Thursday, July 5, 2012



Last week on Mystery Maven Canada, Joan Boswell blogged that the Ladies' Killing Circle would receive the Grant Allen Award at the Scene of the Crime Festival on Wolfe Island on August 11. She also mentioned she was collecting news from our forty-seven contributors from our seven anthologies to put on our website: One of the questions she asks these authors is whether they have pets.

What is it about writers and their cats and dogs? My writing group, the aforementioned Ladies' Killing Circle, has an excess of riches in the pet department. Among the six of us we own eight dogs and two cats. We used to have even more and still miss Vicki Cameron's Giga, a splendid German shepherd who could leap tall buildings, or at least ten feet off a dock to retrieve a thrown stick or ball. A more recent loss was Barbara's cat, Henna, a dignified lady of uncertain age.

My life is run by an Australian Shepherd. Joan can often be seen being walked by three flat coat retrievers and Linda Wiken has two opinionated Siamese cats. Not many people boss Mary Jane Maffini about but you should see her two mini dachshunds barking out orders. Barbara Fradkin's Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers are the talk of her neighbourhood. Eva is a certified show dog honing her skills as a retriever of very dead ducks.

My Facebook friends are mostly writers and they post glorious photos of their four-legged friends. I can keep up with Tony Bidulka's poodles, Patricia Flewelling's hilarious Dixie, Robin Harlick's Sterling, Susan Gates' Winnie and Caro Soles "hounds", all without leaving the comfort of my office. I happen to know that Peggy Blair's cocker spaniel and her cat share a wing chair while Peggy is writing another Inspector Ramirez novel. Both Melodie Campbell's and Lou Allen's dogs dominate their Facebook pages.

I have lots of other friends, Facebook and otherwise, but they don't have nearly the number of animals living with them as my writing friends do. These non-writers are able to travel to exotic places and buy lovely clothes while my pet-owning friends and I bankrupt ourselves on veterinarian bills and boarding kennel fees.

So, I ask again, what is it about writers and their pets?

I have a theory about this. I believe our pets act as a buffer against those inner demons that criticize everything we write. While the voice in our head is telling us we can't write for beans, our pets are telling us everything we write is extraordinary. They are without doubt the kindest critics ever and as long as they are fed on time, get plenty of exercise and are allowed to curl up close by while we're writing, they think we're amazing.

Sue Pike has published a couple of dozen stories and won several awards including an Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Crime Story. Her latest, Where the Snow Lay Dinted appeared in the January issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine.

Sue and her husband and an opinionated Australian Shepherd named Cooper spend the winter months in Ottawa and the rest of the time at a mysterious cottage on the Rideau Lakes.


  1. I don't think of Winnie as a critic, Sue. I see her as company for a solitary pursuit and a quick conduit to the 'outside' world our walks and cafe visits.

    It also seems to me that an inordinately high proportio of writers are gardeners and foodies.

  2. Susan may be right! I think we have to be, to get all those details right!

  3. I'm allergic to fur and feathers so I'm a pet aunty instead to 3 dogs, 7 cats and a Frankenpoodle.