Paw Love: My Very First Pet


What could make seven contemporary romance shorts by award-winning and best-selling authors even better? Add seven sweet, scene-stealing pets . . . and then make the whole project a benefit for animal rescue charities!

That’s just what we’ve done. LOVE PAWS features short stories with a little bit of steam, a little of sweet and happy endings all around. Each story also includes a pet, just to give the romance a little boost.

This anthology releases April 19th, in celebration of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month. You can preorder your copy today exclusively through iBooks.

I am an animal lover. I’m one of those people who talks to cats–always–and can’t stand to see those horrid abused dog ads on TV. (You can usually hear me shrieking, “TURN IT OFF! TURN IT OFF!!” across the house.) And because of this love, I have lots of sweet animal love stories–the type between me and the many pets I’ve been privileged to love.


My First Dog

FullSizeRender 8In 1966, my father left for his first tour in Vietnam. My mother stayed behind in New Jersey, where she lived with her in-laws . . . and me, in utero. Yes, she was pregnant.

While he was in country, my dad worked with a platoon of Vietnamese (south) soldiers, who had a dog with puppies with them. I don’t know all the details–or perhaps I’ve forgotten them–but he fell in love with one of the puppies and adopted him. According to my father, adopting this pup likely saved him from being someone’s dinner. (YUCK!!!) He named the dog Nam, which means five in Vietnamese, since that was my dad’s call number there.

In Vietnam, Nammy became the platoon’s mascot. He rode on the top of the armored personnel carrier, unless the fighting was too dangerous. Every night, he slept under my father’s cot, in their tent. Years later, when I met the men who’d served with my dad on that tour, they all remembered Nam! 

Meanwhile, back in New Jersey . . . in April, I was born. Two months later, it was finally time for my father to come home. And of course, there was no way he was leaving his dog behind. He managed to pull some strings and send Nam home . . . two weeks ahead of his own arrival.

My mother was not a dog person. She and my grandfather left me with my grandmother while they FullSizeRender 6drove across the bridge to pick up this new and foreign friend. Poor Nammy . . . he had never seen a house, and being inside freaked him out. My grandfather spent the day building him a kennel in the backyard, but when the time came for him to go into it, turned out Nam didn’t love it. He howled and carried on, and when my unhappy grandfather went out in the middle of the night to calm him, he found the poor dog had tried to dig his way, gotten stuck and was nearly strangling. Sa (that’s my grandfather) took Nam inside with him. The dog curled up next to Sa’s bed and slept there. For the rest of his life, whenever we stayed with my grandparents, Nam slept there, next to Sa.

For me, Nam was my first friend. When we lived in Kentucky, he and I would vie for a spot at the door to watch for Daddy. Apparently I pulled out his whiskers, poor doggy . . . and every night, when my father came in to read to me (as he did my entire childhood, from babyhood to the night before I left for college), Nam would come, too. 

FullSizeRender 7He traveled with us across the country, not once but twice. He had a habit of leaning his head on my dad’s shoulder as he drove and falling asleep there, his head becoming dead weight. He also was a runner. We had to keep Nam inside or he would take OFF. People learned this lesson the hard way. He was a fierce defender of his family. 

I was in eighth grade when it became apparent that Nam was suffering; he’d run out into traffic at some point in my childhood and been hit, and though he recovered fully, in his old age, that injury was affecting him. When he could no longer walk and was clearly in pain, my father made the difficult decision to let his buddy go. 

It was the first time I’d seen my father cry. I remember with such clarity how horrible that day was. (Yes, I’m crying now as I write this.) Daddy brought Nammy home and buried him in our backyard, and later he made him a grave marker. (If you live at 15 Mansfield Avenue in Pitman, New Jersey, that marker is probably still there in your backyard.)

My parents used to say that we weren’t dog people. We liked to travel too much, and both my sister FullSizeRender 3and I were timid around strange dogs. But Nam was more than a dog. He was family. He was my sibling before I had one, he was my homework buddy, my reading pal and my companion on my earliest journeys. 

I know there is controversy about whether or not dogs go to heaven, or if they go to the same heaven people do . . . but I know with steadfast surety that Nam is with my dad in the Great Beyond.  I know they are sharing old memories and enjoying each other once again. 

When I think of Nammy, I think of the Biblical phrase: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”




Becca BoydFire Up

Rene FolsomBy Chance: A Playing Games Spin-off Novella

Alison FosterSaving Grace: A Beautiful Ruin Story

Olivia Hardin:  All in the Takeoff: A Rawley Family Romance

Tawdra Kandle: My One and Always (An Always Love Short)

Lyssa LayneDig Deep

Juli ValentiTaunt : A Twisted Wolf Tale