It was a horrible time. I was confused, depressed, and felt rejected by family, friends, and seriously doubted my sanity. Good things came out of that time: I found the woman I am married to still, I started writing again, and I got a new dog. For nearly 10 years, he was one of my best friends.
A friend offered me a room for rent in Prescott, Arizona. She came to pick me up from where I was staying in Phoenix, and had a dog with her. He had no place to sit for the hour and a half journey but on my lap. A friendship started. One eventually filled with hours of fetch, walks, petting, and old age.
Houston was a mutt. I’m not sure how old he was when I got him, and different vets had different guesses, but he was about 3 or 4. I’m sure he was abused, by the way he flinched the first time I grabbed a broom. He didn’t like to be inside much, preferring the freedom and the smells of the outdoors. But that dog would fetch anything I threw, and play the game until I made him stop. His nose was amazing. I even got him one of these.
It was my birthday. Black Friday, and Houston is almost blind. We were living down the street from Walmart. He still played fetch, still managed to find his way around, but this morning he got out of the back yard, and I couldn’t find him.
Someone already had. A lady in a Toyota, on her way to find a bargain. She hit him, and took him to the humane society down the road. At least she did that much. He didn’t make it.
My other dog, a lab named Indy, helped me deal with Houston’s passing. It took me a long time to get over it.
I was challenged to write a novel. It turned into a thriller about a man and a dog. The whole time I wrote it, I thought of Houston, and how much he helped me through a dark time in my life. A dog named Sparky jumped out of my imagination and onto the page.
Stray Ally will be released this spring by Tirgearr Publishing. A strange accident on the freeway, accusations of murder, and an encounter in the Idaho wilderness all propel Todd Clarke into a new friendship with a dog named Sparky. But Sparky is no ordinary dog, and there is more going on than Clarke could have imagined.
A military commander he investigated for Aryan activity and links to domestic terrorism is after him, and he’s not sure why until another chance encounter provides the answer.
With Sparky and the help of his canine friends, will he be able to figure out the Colonel’s plan and stop him in time? All Clarke knows for sure is none of it would be possible without the help of his Stray Ally.
And now, when you read the dedication, you will understand who I am talking about.
To my dog, Houston. You were my best friend for a long time, and have been gone for a while, but I still miss you. Here’s hoping you are chasing a ball somewhere in doggie heaven, where there is no more doggie blindness and your nose is a strong as ever.