Saturday, January 9, 2016

Savvy Saturday: The Inspiration Behind D.J. Davis' Courageous Cain

Our lives, like good books, have themes that run through from beginning to end. Often setting the course of events or reflecting the outcomes. Sometimes they’re glaringly obvious or perhaps subtle and hard to recognize.

A main theme in my life is dogs. I was born into a family of dog lovers—dogs usually outnumber humans at our family gatherings. I have never been without at least one good dog at my side. That led me to work a dozen years at a veterinary clinic and that led to working with shelter dogs. Those deep in the trenches of animal rescue see things that threaten to destroy belief in mankind, but also see those bright moments that restore their faith in the human spirit.

Many years after leaving that line of work, I started writing. Dogs, and the way they respond to good treatment— or abuse—became a theme in my debut novel “Courageous Cain.” We’d all like to live in a world where there is no abuse and every dog has a home, but that’s not reality. Putting myself back in that situation through my character, Josie Shepherd, rekindled many of the feelings I had when working with shelter dogs. Well, that could only mean one thing: it was time to adopt another dog.

I have a soft spot for big breeds and had a Great Dane pup who wanted a playmate her size. I found a wonderful rescue specializing in large breeds, Big Bones Canine Rescue in Windsor, Colorado. They had just brought in a dog from a high kill shelter in California. A year old, male Boxer mix. When went to meet him and he was a perfect match for us. He was also starving and in desperate need of a home. We named him Ty.

I wish I knew his story, but he can’t tell me. It wasn’t good, I know that much. I always enjoy watching my dogs dream. Twitchy, rabbit chasing dreams. But not Ty, he had nightmares for weeks after we brought him home. He would cry, yelp, and cower in his sleep. That all seems to be behind him now. He’s healthy, happy, and loves playing with the Great Dane. He was never taught anything, so has been learning things like how to live in a home, good manners, and basic commands. I bought him a backpack and he enjoys his new job, carrying light loads on our hikes.

Ty’s been with us six months now and the changes in him are dramatic and satisfying. But it isn’t enough. Big Bones, like all shelters, is struggling to keep up with the demand. There are far more dogs than there are homes for them. And, like most shelters, they are in constant need of food, supplies, and veterinary care, all of which cost money. So, once again I find myself wanting to help shelter dogs, but this time in a different way. A portion of sales of “Courageous Cain” are donated to Big Bones.

The story I’m currently working on features a dog. Naturally, it’s the theme of my life.

DJ Davis is a Colorado native and the rugged high country sets the scene for her stories. When she's not writing, she can be found hiking with her dogs, photographing the wildlife, or camping with her husband. A Great Dane runs her life.

A portion of each sale of her novel Courageous Cain will be donated to Big Bones Canine Rescue in Windsor, Colorado. Help us help big dogs in need.

Find Courageous Cain on Amazon, Kobo, and the Champagne Bookstore

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