How to Own a Small Dog
By Amy Lane
Does anybody remember those old Goofy How-To videos? Here—let me refresh your memory:
There are a zillion of them, but the gist—the existential truth of all of them—is that while it’s easy to tell somebody how to do a thing, the actual accomplishment is much harder in real life.
When I thought about who Carter was in Freckles, I realized that, although fairly accomplished in his academic life, he was really very much of a “Goof” in all other areas. He readily admits to Sandy that he’s never owned so much as a goldfish, and his first recourse in owning a pet is going to be a manual.
Finally—finally—he was in his flannel pajama pants and T-shirt, sliding into bed with a copy of Owning a Small Dog that he planned to read cover to cover before he fell asleep that night. A part of him was unamused that this was where his speed-reading skills from law school had brought him, but most of him was just frickin’ beat.
Ten thirty? It was ten thirty at night?
Jesus, he’d gotten home at nine the night before, and Greg had taken that as a hint to leave because it meant Carter was a selfish bastard. And yet Carter had spent the last four and a half hours dedicating his time to the needs of a thing not Carter.
For a moment, Carter allowed this to seep in, because it was important. He had assumed he was the one at fault in that scenario. He worked long hours, he had trouble communicating when he got home from work, emotionally unavailable, yadda, yadda, yadda—but . . .
But that tiny dog thought he was worthwhile.
Carter sat up in bed, shoved Greg’s pillow behind his back, and settled down to read.
“‘Congratulations on your purchase of a small-sized or “lap” dog—’” Grunt. Yip. Clatter. Carter looked over to the other side of the bed and saw nothing. “Freckles, stay,” he said sternly.
“‘The first thing to remember as you welcome your new family member into your home is to make sure your new pet knows its limitations—’”
Grunt. Yip. Clatter. “Freckles? Stay!
‘Small dogs may look helpless and adorable, but they are just as intelligent as their larger hunting and herding counterparts, and they need to be treated with the same resp—’”
Grunt. Yip. Clatter. Yip. “Freckles!”
And then he saw it—two eyes appearing at the edge of the bed and a flurry of paws as Freckles tried her damnedest to latch on to the comforter and pull herself up onto the bed.
“Aw . . .”
Clatter. Bound! “Yip!” Scrabble!
And like his voice was the magic word, the dog actually made it, digging and scrambling and probably pulling loops from the 600 thread-count sheets. She came trotting across the bed like an astronaut on a lunar landscape, and Carter watched her helplessly.
The dog licked his face like he was the best human on planet earth and Carter and only Carter could save her from a life of loneliness and frostbite in the hostile environment next to the bed.
Carter scratched her head and told her no licking, and knew her bullshit for what it was.
The book was trying to tell him to scold her and set her back down in the dog bed. But she was a warm-blooded creature, and she wanted to sleep next to him, and honestly? Greg hadn’t wanted to do that almost since the beginning, really. But still . . . that terrible vision of the ginormous foot squashing poor Bambi morphed into an image of Carter, sprawled on his stomach with an abandon he’d never shown heretofore in his adult existence, and a lifeless little Freckles pancake under his chest.
Okay. So, maybe a bid for sanity. Tucking Freckles into the crook of his arm, Carter walked around his sled-framed bed and picked up her dog cushion, setting it right square in the middle of where Greg used to sleep. He slid into bed himself and put her back on her cushion, making sure she had one of her rawhide chews from his three-hundred-dollar PetSmart purchase.
She curled up happily, and he scratched the back of her neck while he read. Inside, he was thinking that he needed to put the halter on her in the morning, because he had the feeling there were walks—many walks—in both of their futures.
“‘Small dogs need to be shown who is boss and that the pack leader is a strong and determined personality. If you are establishing a boundary, be it where the dog should sleep or what times it should eat, be firm and unwavering. The dog may protest for a while, but if these protests are ignored, the barking or whining will gradually desist.’”
“Well hell.” Carter looked at Freckles, gnawing happily on her rawhide, and she pulled away long enough to lick his hand. “Okay, Freckles, if the book people ask, I have established your boundary for where to sleep as on top of my bed. This is a choice, okay?”
Freckles went back to her rawhide, and Carter could tell she’d been deeply touched by his assertion of authority. As he ploughed his way through Owning a Small Dog, he could also tell something else. He was in a lot of trouble.
Carter Embree has always hoped to be rescued from his productive, tragically boring, and (slightly) ethically compromised life. But when an urchin at a grocery store shoves a bundle of fluff into his hands, Carter goes from rescuee to rescuer—and he needs a little help.
Sandy Corrigan, the vet tech who helps ease Carter into the world of dog ownership, first assumes that Carter is a crazy-pants client who just needs to relax. But as Sandy gets a glimpse into the funny, kind, sexy man under Carter’s mild-mannered exterior, he sees that with a little care and feeding, Carter might be Super-Pet Owner—and decent boyfriend material to boot.
But Carter needs to see himself as a hero first. As he says good-bye to his pristine house and hello to carpet treatments and dog walkers, he finds that there really is more to himself than a researching drudge without a backbone. A Carter Embree can rate a Sandy Corrigan. He can be supportive, he can be a hero, he can be a man who stands up for his principles!
He can be the owner of a small dog.
Now available from Riptide Publishing. http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/freckles
About Amy Lane
Amy Lane exists happily with her noisy family in a crumbling suburban crapmansion, and equally happily with the surprisingly demanding voices who live in her head.
She loves cats, movies, yarn, pretty colors, pretty men, shiny things, and Twu Wuv, and despises house cleaning, low fat granola bars, and vainglorious prickweenies.
She can be found at her computer, dodging housework, or simultaneously reading, watching television, and knitting, because she likes to freak people out by proving it can be done.
Connect with Amy:
- Website: greenshill.com
- Blog: writerslane.blogspot.com
- Twitter: @amymaclane
- Facebook group: Amy Lane Anonymous
- Goodreads: goodreads.com/amymaclane
To celebrate the release of Freckles, one lucky winner will receive Freckles in ebook and another ebook of their choice from Amy’s backlist! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on November 19, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!