Animals as Characters


TriumphandTreasureI’ve tried writing a book without animals of any kind. So far, I’ve failed; quite miserably actually.

Despite my best efforts, creatures of some sort creep in. I’ve used lots of dogs: dachshunds, boarhounds, spaniels, a one-eyed sheepdog, and other animals too: a three-legged cat, horses, a bad-tempered bull, blind mule, chickens, and an owl with deformed feet named Sophie, to mention a few.

I even named a dachshund, Kiki, in one of my books after a beloved pet that died from being poisoned by a chicken jerky treat two years ago.

I have a bunch of pets myself; too many to mention and not be considered a bit odd. I even write with a mini-dachshund on my lap. Occasionally, she inspires my prose. For instance, Ayva was having a rather gassy day, and before I knew it, I’d written a scene in which my hero’s dog succeeded in embarrassing him with her unfortunate digestive troubles, much to the amusement of the heroine.

I adore pets in stories (not just my own). Animals add a depth of reality and connectedness to books, and they can have wonderfully fun personalities.

The way a character interacts and responds to animals tells readers much about that person, and naming a pet character is one of my favorite things to do. I’m thinking of a fat cat named Sir Pounce, a pair of King Charles Spaniels named Moll and Lasses (Think molasses. Their master owns sugar plantations) and a Dalmatian named Sir Freckleton.

I had a professor once who claimed a story wasn’t complete unless it contained an animal of some sort. I’m not sure I agree with him, because I’ve read lots of great books that don’t mention a single animal. On the other hand, some of my favorite tales, ones that stick in mind for a long time are stories that have featured an animal, even as a secondary character.

Animals bring love, devotion, sacrifice, and humor to the pages, and I’ve fallen in love with many characters when I read how they interact with their pets. I’ve also wanted to smack a few people upside the head for being unkind to animals in books. I can think of one book I threw across the room.

Have you read any adult books where an animal especially touched your heart? Have you ever considered why?


Award winning, best-selling author, Collette Cameron, has a BS in Liberal Studies and a Master’s in Teaching. Author of the Castle Brides Series and Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series, Collette writes Regency and Scottish historicals and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and five mini-dachshunds. Mother to three and a self-proclaimed Cadbury Chocolate chocoholic, Collette loves a good joke, inspirational quotes, flowers, trivia, and all things shabby chic. You’ll always find dogs, birds, quirky—sometimes naughty—humor, and a dash of inspiration in her novels.

Her motto for life? You can’t have too much chocolate, too many hugs, or too many flowers.

She’s thinking about adding shoes to that list.

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