We are big pet lovers around my house, and I mean big in more ways than one. Sure, we have a couple of dogs, and more than a few barn cats, but we also have seven horses. Horses are big pets! While we train our horses for show and competition, they are all really more like big dogs to us. They each have their own personalities, quirks, and are majorly spoiled. They know the way to their stalls, and greet us in the mornings with their ears forward and friendly whinnies—the equivalent to a dog waging his tail. To us, our horses aren’t just horses; they aren’t just a means to a trophy. They are family. And when you lose a member of your family, well . . . that’s a tough one.
A few weeks ago we faced such a loss. One of our old horses, Oliver, who was really and truly the first pleasure horse our kids had the privilege to learn how to ride and show, passed onto greener pastures. There were a ton of tears by all of us, and the atmosphere around the barn was forever changed. I’ve never claimed to be a poet, but the morning after we lost Oliver, and as I was doing chores for the first time and he wasn’t his stall to greet me, words overflowed in my heart and the following poem, AN EMPTY STALL, came to be. It really sums up what he meant to us as a family, who he was, and what we hope for him now that he has moved on. I’m sharing it with you below.
Since I’m an animal lover, I like to include pets in my books. In COWBOY FLING you meet Napoleon the Dachshund, in WOMAN IN CHARGE you meet Casey’s dog Brudy and Terri’s cat Thomas O’Malley, in EIGHT SECONDS, my heroine, Taylor, is a rancher and so has lots of animals on her place, and now in my new Studs 4 Hire “short”, ELF TROUBLE, coming in November, you get to meet Holly Everwood’s pal, Jack Frost. Holly volunteers for an animal shelter and when she found an abandoned Jack, all she had to do was look into those big, Golden Retriever eyes and she was lost. And trust me, Jack is going to have a little influence on the hero, Gil Boyd, when it comes to learning to love Christmas!
I know of a lot other authors who like to include pets in their stories, and in some the pets have major roles–like Lillan Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who series. Good friend Julie Miller often includes dogs in her stories, and Peggy Webb’s A Southern Cousins Mystery series features a Basset Hound named Elvis who helps his mistress solve mysteries.
How about you? Do you like pets in novels? Have any favorites you’d like to recommend? Leave a comment here and your name will go into the monthly drawing for a $25 online gift card sponsored by Ann Stephens.
See you all next month when the ghosts and witches will be about!
In the meantime, Happy Reading!
An Empty Stall
There is an empty stall in the barn.
Your name plate remains there still.
No longer do we hear the click of your hooves in the alleyway,
Your greeting of a soft whinny from behind the door.
The swishing sound of your tail has gone silent.
Your velvety muzzle will nudge us no more.
You no longer graze upon the pasture,
or meander through the reeds in the creek bed.
No more will you come to the gate at night to return to the barn,
loping off to your stall where you knew it would be safe and warm.
You logged many a mile inside an arena fence.
You could compete with the best.
You were a champion
from head to tail, from heart to soul.
You stood the test.
You were a Guardian Angel here on earth.
You kept our children safe,
taught them how to ride and respect.
You bestowed upon them the joy of their first ribbons,
Their very first wins.
Always a sport.
You loped at their requests.
You were always patient,
Were always kind.
We…were, oh, so blessed.
Yes, you were a horse.
But, oh, so much more than that.
You were a friend.
You were family.
You were GOD’s gift to us.
Now, it’s time for us to let you go.
It’s your turn.
Go run with the Angels.
Drink from crystal clear lakes.
Graze the sweet grasses amongst the stars.
You are free to fly
‘Fore you’ve earned your wings,
Your rightful place above in the sky.
So, let your sorrel mane flutter in the wind.
Let your magnificent hooves thunder through the clouds.
Go now on to Heaven.
GOD has called you home to rest.
By Sherry James, Copyright 2013
A Studs 4 Hire “Short”
Coming November 2013
Gil Boyd hates Christmas, so when his bosses at Studs 4 Hire assign him to construct a Santa House for a local animal shelter fundraiser, he’s forced to quiet his inner Grinch and get the job done.
But Gil doesn’t count on quirky shelter volunteer, Holly Everwood, her unwavering holiday spirit, and her mangy mutt to tempt his resolve to remain unattached. Can Holly show him the real magic of Christmas exists if only he’ll open his heart?