I love animals in a romance novel. If I find the heroine has a four-legged buddy that tugs along with her, it raises her from average to interesting in one little sentence. I do love dogs (cough, cough bullmastiffs, coughs, coughs) but I’m flexible. It doesn’t have to be a dog. A chameleon will do as long as it has personality.
In my humble opinion, pets can be great characters and they have the potential to be fantastic comedy reliefs. They’re also a part of real life. Most of us have some sort of little being in our life, even if it’s only a cactus. Adding a pet to a character gives them depth and vulnerability. What’s more attractive than a muscled firefighter? One that has a pet parrot he inherited from an elderly aunt with the personality of Attila the Hun. Already, I like him more. See?
My issue is when pets become…perfect. For example, when the new lab puppies the heroine just rescued from certain death at the shelter, fall magically asleep so she can have hot sex with her love interest. Or the kitten that appears at our hero’s door and waits without food or water for a week while the hero accepts that this is the cat for him. Hm. Right. When have my pets ever done that? Wait…Never!
Maybe I’ve had a run of odd luck but all our dogs had personalities and issues. Buddha, our rottweiler was living proof that dogs can get ADD, Merlin had an obvious eating disorder and would eat anything not nailed to the floor (rocks included), Lobo had multiple phobias and Ocean has OCD around waking up on the weekends. None were or are perfect. And, in my opinion, that’s what makes them interesting–especially in books but also in life.
I know, I know. I should remember that when I grumble and curse at 6 am on Saturday mornings…