Let me tell you a little more about her and you'll understand why this was such a blow, and what the subject has to do with writing.
|Serenity (top) and Sugar (at bottom)|
from approximately 2010.
And they certainly did their job well!
They'd be waiting for him by the door when he came home each night to what would have otherwise been an empty house. There antics kept him entertained and their companionship made his time away a lot more bearable. David was deployed for five years--all but six months of it at Ft. Bliss--and these two feline characters became his best buds.
|Serenity (left) and Sugar (right)|
When David drove home to the ranch for the weekend, he'd bring the two cats home with him. We used to joke that he was bringing them to visit their country estate. It was probably a good dress rehearsal for their later years, because when David retired from the military, the kitties came home to live at the ranch for good. That was the beginning of 2010.
|Serenity with the "real" Maura, who|
inspired StarDog #3 (about 2017)
She was a wonderful companion to all the dogs--but especially to our puppy, who became her playmate in the last year. They'd run and chase each other for hours then curl up together and sleep.
|Serenity just before going|
to the vet last week.
She ended up staying at the vet's overnight. And that stretched into a week. In spite of a battery of tests and treatments, she wasn't responding and continued to decline. We'd hoped to bring her back home, but it became apparent she was much too ill. We finally had a long chat with our vet, and though it was a heartbreaking realization, we knew it was her time.
Though 16 years is a pretty long life for a cat, we still wished she could have stayed with us for many more years. She is very missed, and not just by us. Our pup, Zoey, who just had a vet stay herself, is especially missing her, as is Sugar, who still calls for her.
And her loss hit us very, very hard.
All of these emotions got me thinking about pets in fiction, especially since several books in my series were originally part of the Pets in Space anthologies and included special animal companions called StarDogs. The stories tend to follow these companions while in their youth, and while their character/owners are off on big adventures.
But what comes later? When writing a series that involves important animal characters, that's really something to consider.
|Maura--the star of SpyDog and the|
third StarDog in my series. StarDogs
are bioengineered -- part dog, part cat,
but also carry weasel and mongoose DNA.
In the case of my fictional StarDogs it's more like 25, but the point is, someday the characters that love them are going to have to deal with the loss of their amazing little buddies.
Since I have (at least) one more StarDog story planned after Juggernaut--the upcoming story in Pets in Space 5--this is something I'll be facing with my fictional pets. That story is tentatively titled "The Last StarDog." Will it need to at least touch on the fate of the other four StarDogs that came before, as a continuation of the previous books?
That's a loaded question.
Many readers may not want to know about the StarDogs' eventual demise, but on the other hand, can their fate be ignored in a final wrap on the StarDog saga? Many played important roles in the overall arc of the series and in the lives of some of the main characters. How can I honor the memory of each of these smart, brave and resourceful sidekicks without the final edition becoming a depressing downer?
My experience this past week has shown me that I need to give a lot of thought to how I'll handle the wrap on these previous adventures...before I delve into that final StarDog chronicle in my series.
Have a good week.