Gotta Read ’em: Cozy Mystery

To follow up on last Monday’s post about my Rottweilers, today’s Gotta Read ’em is Rottweiler Rescue, a mystery for dog lovers by Ellen O’Connell. This book has been out for a couple years, and I can’t remember where I saw it–maybe on a Yahoo group I’m in that the author is also on. But where ever it was, she had me at the title. The book cover didn’t hurt either. 🙂

In Rottweiler Rescue, Dianne Brennan is a computer trainer who volunteers with a dog rescue organization in her community. One day, she’s delivering a dog to his new owner, and finds the man dead–and the presumed killer escaping out the back. Dianne goes to the police, but someone else goes after Dianne. After a number of scares and suspicious mishaps, Dianne can only conclude that the dog trainer’s killer is after her. The police aren’t getting very far, so Dianne starts looking into things on her own. With her own Rottweiler and Robo, the dog she was in the process of rehoming, in tow, she finds and follows up on her own leads. But the closer she gets to finding answers, the more her quarry retaliates as he continues to elude her.

The book takes us into the fascinating world of dog shows and rescue operations, and of course acquaints us with the dogs themselves. My only criticism of the book is that there is sometimes a lot of detail given in getting Dianne from one place to another–street names, neighborhoods, and landmarks–which aren’t really of interest to someone not familiar with the area, and during which nothing really happens. I don’t read a ton of cozy mysteries, so maybe this is common. However, this is just a minor nitpick–I have read books where it was too much and put the book down. That wasn’t an issue here.

But the best part of the book was the dogs.They weren’t just window-dressing to draw in dog lovers, but were an integral part of the plot. Yet they also didn’t steal the show from Dianne, nor were they over-personified.  They were wonderfully and accurately characterized, with Rottweilers’ typical, enthusiastic interactions with people they know, and guarded attitude toward strangers. Yes, there were acts of Rottweiler heroism in the book as well. 🙂 Another aspect I liked was Dianne’s growing relationship with Robo, the rescue dog who’s would-be owner was killed. Robo didn’t have a Rottweiler’s typical, ebullient personality, and instead gave little reaction to anything–a dog that had clearly been abused.  Seeing Dianne slowly draw him out and the role he played in the book’s conclusion was particularly rewarding.

The mystery plot itself was satisfying, with a baffling puzzle and appropriate twists, turns, and red herrings. There was also a minor romantic subplot involving Dianne and one of the cops, which added to the enjoyment factor.

If you like dogs, and like reading mysteries, I highly recommend Rottweiler Rescue.

What about you? Do you like books featuring animal characters? And if so, do you prefer them portrayed realistically, or in more of a fantasy?

My Town Monday: Rottweiler Labor Day

Wolfgang and Evita are expert loungers

Today is Labor Day in the U.S. It’s supposed to be a day of relaxation, of enjoying time with friends and family, and most of all, an extra day off work for those of us with a traditional workweek. In honor of the holiday, I’m going to share a bit about those in my house who have relaxing down to a science:  our dogs, Wolfgang and Evita.

Wolfgang and Evita are Rottweilers, a breed that carries a lot of misconceptions.

The biggest misconception is that they’re aggressive and vicious. This is an unfortunate result of the Rottweiler’s popularity with thugs and gang members before they moved on to pit bulls (another misunderstood breed). These lowlifes often trained the dogs to be aggressive, and engaged in dog fighting. While some Rottweilers may have that temperament, it’s usually a result of breeding for it and/or training, and the exception rather than the rule. Rottweilers are more often big babies that crave attention and love people, especially kids. They’re a great family pet, and while they can be playful and rambunctious, they’re also gentle with smaller children and tolerate grabby toddlers with ease.  They are, however, fiercely protective over their own family, and if someone appears to be threatening a family member, the dog will aggressively protect his family.

Some other facts about Rottweilers:

  • There are two primary types: American and German. American bloodlines are typically bigger–100 – 120 lbs.–while German bloodlines tend to go around 80 lbs. German lines have larger, boxier heads with shorter snouts, and their mahogany markings are darker. German bloodlines can be found in the U.S.  Our dog Wolfgang is German-bred, and Evita is American-bred. American Rottweilers are more likely to be out of show spec as far as AKC guidelines go. Being bigger to start with, they’re more likely to have been bred extra-large, up to 160 lbs.
  • The breed originated in Germany, and is named for the town of Rottweil.
  • Rottweilers make great family pets, but demand a lot of attention. Like any big dog, they need plenty of room to run and play. Daily walks are recommended. Some will want to chase critters; others won’t. Wolfgang is very interested in chasing squirrels and rabbits during walks; Evita couldn’t care less. In the house, Wolfgang enjoys gerbil TV. They don’t require grooming, but love to be brushed, and shed like crazy when the seasons change.
  • They aren’t yappy dogs–ours typically only bark when a person or dog is in view, and not always even then.
  • Rottweiler puppies are exceptionally cute! They can also be destructive chewers – and don’t “grow out” of chewing until they’re around three years old. Older dogs will still occasionally chew. They love hard chew toys like Nylabone and Kong toys.
  • Wolfgang’s first night home

    Their lifespan is considered to be about 10 years. Our two past dogs lived to be 12 and 14. Evita is 12, and Wolfgang is 5 years old.

  • For show purposes, they are classified as a Working breed.
  • Rottweilers’ tails are docked at birth. The story behind this is that in historical times, Rottweilers were often farmers’ dogs, and accompanied merchants to the marketplace. After the produce/livestock were sold, the dog would carry the money home in a pouch around its neck. The lack of a long tail to grab made it difficult for robbers to get to the money pouch. Today, tails are docked because of tradition, although I wouldn’t want to be around a full size, wildly-wagging Rottweiler tail! From what I’ve read, the practice has fallen out of fashion in Europe (according to Wikipedia, it’s banned in some countries).
  • While traditionally a herding dog, Rottweilers also commonly serve as guard dogs, service dogs, and do police work.
  • They get a bad rap in the media, but Rottweilers can also be heroic. We’ve read stories of Rottweilers pulling unconscious or disabled people from burning buildings, bringing food to a diabetic person about to slip into a coma, and of course, saving their owners from being victims of crime.

Rottweilers work hard and play hard–and when the work’s done, they are experts in relaxation!

If you’re in the U.S., happy Labor Day! Did you do anything special for the holiday? We’re having a cookout for my dad, whose birthday is today (Happy Birthday, Dad!). And whether or not you celebrate Labor Day, who’s the best at relaxing in your home?

And if you want to experience some extreme cuteness, check out these videos from the Animal Planet show, Too Cute. The first one starts with a commercial, but it’s totally worth it to see the five-week-old Rottweiler puppies wrestling with each other, and with toddlers! 😀