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Pet Spotlight: Annie Ward and Izzy

Apr 1, 2022


by | Apr 1, 2022 | Features, Pet Spotlight

Otherwise known as “Baby Doggins” by my two boys

Igrew up on a thirty-acre farm in the Midwest. We had six Irish Setters that roamed free back in those days, and it seemed like we always had a litter of puppies to look after in our basement. I moved away at eighteen and then spent my twenties writing and living in tiny little apartments in very big cities around the world. When my husband and I decided we’d like to spend more time with my elderly parents, we moved from our New York City studio to a house in Kansas.

It had a nice yard so the very first thing we did was add to our family with dogs. Pictured here are our two girls Big Boo and Little Izzy. We think they are both part Beagle. They were inseparable best friends for thirteen fantastic years of walks, games of tug of war and fetch, visits to my parents’ farm and lazy afternoons napping. Boo is no longer with us, so I thought it would be better to focus on Little Izzy.

My dogs were my constant companions during those early years after moving back, as my husband worked overseas for months at a time. Izzy was just a baby herself when our first was born, as you can see in the following two photos. (Ready to pop in the first, new baby in the second.) I spent a lot of time alone at home when the kids were toddlers. I wrote, tried to stay sane, and was incredibly thankful for Boo and Izzy as I worked on my second novel, BEAUTIFUL BAD.

I almost always write pets into my stories. Here I am pictured with Izzy on what is left of the farm where I grew up, which is also a location in BEAUTIFUL BAD. Izzy is featured in the opening chapter, where she is discovered by a police officer responding to a frantic 911 call– and where a terrible murder is about to be discovered.

Not only is Izzy a playful, affectionate friend, but she also helps me channel some of the inevitable frustration that seems to go along with spending long periods of time alone writing descriptions of blood-spattered crime scenes. This is Izzy with a portion of one of my manuscripts and clearly she isn’t pleased with the draft. My husband has gotten very good at consoling bad cases of writer’s block and self-doubt over the years 🙂

Certainly, one of the very best things about Izzy is her easy-going, amiable and well-behaved presence at family get togethers. She is a wonderful listener. Sometimes I run my ideas past her when it’s just the two of us. As you can see, she really makes you feel like you’re the most interesting person in the room. Some good advice… find someone who looks at you the way Izzy looks at my husband when he comes home from an assignment abroad after two months!

Like many of the characters in my books, Izzy does have a wild side. She can be a bit of a party girl, which comes in handy for me when I’m on deadline and need to pull an all-nighter. Izzy can be counted on to be the last one standing (or slouching) after keeping me company into the wee hours of the morning.

One of Izzy’s least favorite things is when the boys leave for school. Her two best friends disappear on a bus, and she’s stuck with the lady who sits at a computer most of the day. This is her at the window, watching them go with the saddest expression. This is also where she likes to sit and watch for birds, squirrels, rabbits and other little animals that she can’t catch—though she pretends otherwise. (She’s in the lower right-hand corner.)

This is Izzy sitting up with me on one of the afore-mentioned all-nighters. I was doing hand-written edits on the second draft of my new book coming out March 22 from Park Row, THE LYING CLUB.

That brings me to the end of a pet story that started with two dogs but ends with only one. I am not too proud to admit I cried a few times writing this. I am heartbroken to report that Izzy’s best friend Boo passed away peacefully from old age complications last spring. We miss her more than I can possibly explain. Luckily, Izzy has plenty of people who love her dearly and she definitely doesn’t mind the extra hugs and treats from my kids (one pictured here) who spoil her rotten. I’m hoping she’ll be my writing partner through my next book, tentatively titled THE CONSERVATORY, which she and I are just starting work on this week.

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