I’m writing a new mystery, and since I like to push my main characters to their limit and beyond, I decided to give this main character a pet. While I was researching, I found one that had its own type of personal challenge. Wicks, the English Setter in my latest, is deaf.
10-12% of all English Setters become deaf weeks after birth. It has to do with their coat and skin tones. Many are destroyed for that reason.
My main character is a softhearted dog lover trying to be a tough business woman.
When I made the match, this is what I considered:
An extremely gentle animal, not a guard dog, doesn’t do well being left alone all day.
When they catch the scent of a small animal/bird, they move in slowly and eventually mesmerize their prey.
Easily distracted by birds. (I remember meeting an Irish Setter that barked into the sky every time a flock passed overhead.)
She will need pampering and trips to the beauty salon.
Long silky hair will be shed constantly.
They need a lot of exercise.
They can be very stubborn to the point where refuse to move. Think donkey.
Deaf dogs must be kept on their leash outside of their home.
Deaf dogs are called by a vibrating collar, flashing lights, or stomping foot.
When waking a deaf dog, one must do it gently so not to frighten them.
Some of the things I thought I’d incorporate in to my story:
Wicks is very dependent and stubborn. Dog/people arguments will happen, during bath time, car-ride time, exercise time and anytime the main character is in a hurry.
Wicks and the main character will communicate through hand signals. They will start off with sit, down, and wait. Then move on to seek, retrieve, and hide. She’ll be directed to search for evidence and when she finds the item, she’ll retrieve it. I’m thinking that Wicks will do this without being asked occasionally to increase story tension.
Being a birder, Wicks is okay with guns. She can altert the main character when someone is carrying a weapon.
Wicks will stalk and mesmerize other people’s pets, kids and whatever else catches her eye.
And here I’m pushing the envelope—Wicks will learn some commands by scent. The MC bestie is an essential oils queen. I want my MC to communicate through scent. Rose means stay close. Therefore, the main character rubs some oil on someone and her dog will follow them. Another scent could mean distract. I don’t know if it will work or not but I plan to include it in my first draft.
I’m really looking forward to driving my soft-hearted dog-loving main character crazy with her new puppy. Can you think of any other challenges or behaviors Wicks could add to the story?