Susan Daffron always has room in her novels for some canine personalities.

Among writers, there’s an old saying that you should “write what you know.” In the case of my novel Chez Stinky, that included some of the pets I’ve known over the years. Many people have asked if the pets in the story were real. To some degree, the answer is yes. Aspects of the dogs’ personalities are based on dogs I have owned.

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If you have ever lived with a dog, you might recognize the canine personality types that appear in the novel:   The Spaz In Chez Stinky there’s a hyperactive Golden Retriever named Tessa who makes life difficult for the main character, Kat. Although the human prevails in the end, it’s not without some trials and tribulations. Tessa was based on a Golden I had named Tika.

Although I loved her, Tika was constantly in motion and extremely difficult to deal with in her youth. For the first year we had her, my husband couldn’t touch Tika without her leaping all over the place and sometimes piddling on the floor. I used to call Tika my “learning experience” dog. In my novel, Tessa teaches Kat some things too.

The Big Sweet Dog: Many of my readers fell in love with Linus, who Kat refers to as “The Big Guy.” In the story, I describe him as a “cross between a horse, a bear, and a wookie.” He weighs about 200 pounds, and his size tends to scare people at first, but then they discover that he’s a big softie.

Linus is loosely based on my dog Leto who was a Great Pyrenees mix. He wasn’t brown and he didn’t weigh anywhere near as much as the dog in my story, but he was a goofy, gentle dog, just like Linus.

The Weird Dog In Chez Stinky, Chelsea is a slightly odd dog who likes to hang out under a table in the basement. She is loosely based on a dog we had named Cami who was what dog owners often refer to as “a head case.” Cami had a bunch of odd little habits, but we loved her anyway. And Kat learns to love Chelsea too.

I love reading books that include dogs and cats. Pretty much every writing book says you should write the book you want to read, so I had to include pets!

Screen Shot 2014-06-05 at 9.14.47 AMKat Stevens is a slightly insecure, mostly bored technical writer who likes her cat a lot more than her boss. She hasn’t laid eyes on her great aunt Abigail since she was eight, so she’s stumped when she inherits Abigail’s house in the small hamlet of Alpine Grove.

Kat’s uncomplicated life gets decidedly less so when she discovers the inheritance comes with some hairy conditions: four dogs and five cats that her aunt wanted her to love as her own. Of course, the house smells like a barn – with a touch of antique skunk – and, naturally, has serious roof issues. And that’s before the three-legged cat gets stuck in the wall and the shower goes kablooey.

When Kat meets Joel, an unemployed techie type with no love lost for his sister, Kat looks past his obvious flaws, given his timely and desirable skill set: a talent for fixing things (and his own tools). Despite out-of-control dogs, cat fights, dust dinosaurs, massive spiders and an old grizzled hippie passed out in the yard, Kat discovers the tranquility of the forests of Alpine Grove starting to seep into her soul.

And why she can’t she stop thinking about Joel?


Susan Daffron is the author of one novel and 12 non-fiction books, including several about pets and animal rescue. She lives in a small town in northern Idaho and shares her life with her husband, two dogs and a cat – the last three all “rescues”. Her latest book, Chez Stinky ( is the first of a series of romantic comedy novels that will feature the small town of Alpine Grove. Susan is the president of Logical Expressions, Inc., a book and software publishing based company in Sandpoint, Idaho. She is also the president of the Small Publishers Artists and Writers Network ( and was also the founder of the National Association of Pet Rescue Professionals (NAPRP).

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