By Tracy Weber
Fourteen years ago, I met one of the greatest loves of my life. Much to my husband’s chagrin, I’m not talking about him. This love was a five-week-old, completely imperfect German shepherd named Tasha. Who could resist falling in love with this cutie?
Not coincidentally, my protagonist also fell in love (even if she didn’t realize it at first) with a hundred pound, also completely imperfect German shepherd named Bella.
Readers often ask me if Bella is my dog. I give the same answer I do when they ask if Kate is me.
Some of the funniest dog scenes in my writing come straight from Tasha’s and my life together. Some of the hardest scenes are based on stories I’ve heard from others. For the record, here’s my comparison of these two Amazing canines. One is fictional, the other has passed on. But both are amazing creatures that I’m lucky to have known.
Bella and Tasha: Similarities
- Appearance: Physically, Tasha and Bella are twins. They are both gorgeous, primarily black, over one-hundred-pound female German shepherds. If they weren’t so busy taking care of their humans, they could be doggie supermodels. Don’t you agree?
- Health: Tasha and Bella both suffer from an autoimmune disease called Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI). Bella is diagnosed early in Murder Strikes a Pose. Tasha lived with the disease most of her twelve-year life. EPI is a lifelong condition and fatal if not treated, but with daily medication, dogs with EPI can live long, normal, happy, healthy lives.
- Personality: Both Bella and Tasha are what dog trainers call reactive, meaning that they are easily frightened, and when frightened, they try to scare the alarming thing away. This works great when they’re convincing a would-be burglar to avoid your house, not so great when they’re lunging at your neighbor’s toddler. In both cases, with positive training, love, and management, they can learn to overcome their fears.
- Loyalty: Tasha’s trainers and veterinarians all told me that Tasha would be willing to die for me. In fact, whenever she saw something scary, she placed her body between me and the perceived menace. I’ve never known any creature, human or animal, more committed to my well-being. Bella is equally loyal to Kate.
Bella and Tasha: Differences
- Health: I wish I could say that EPI was Tasha’s biggest health issue. The truth is, Tasha’s EPI was comparatively easy to manage. She also had a second autoimmune disease, four bad legs, and a bad back. I would never curse an animal, real or imaginary, with all of the health issues Tasha faced. Yet no dog has ever been more loved. That has to count for something.
- Personality: Like Kate and me, Bella and Tasha have different neuroses. For example, Bella isn’t fond of men with beards, but she’s thinks cats are just great. Tasha had no problem with beards, but she was convinced that cats were Satan’s squirrels.
- Loyalty: Although Bella’s adult life will be charmed, she came from a puppyhood of abuse. Tasha lived with me from the day she turned eight weeks old until the day she passed in my arms. She never experience harsh treatment. Not once.
Above all else, the two canines were loved by humans who cared for them, adored them, and prioritized their dog’s well-being over their own. In the end, what more could any pup want?
Anyone who’s ever loved an imperfect dog will identify with Kate’s struggles with Bella. Any dog who’s owned an imperfect human will identify with Bella’s struggles with Kate. Of course, the series revolves around murder, so you can bet that Kate and Bella stumble across dead bodies along the way.
Yoga, dogs, and murder. What could be more fun?