One of the major characters of DOGWOODS is Jeremiah’s faithful canine companion, Blueblood. I’ve had several people ask me about the ghostly dog who appears on the cover of the book. If you are a dog lover (and who isn’t?) then this blog is for you. The inspiration for Blueblood is a deceased member of my family, the late, great Orry Cain. Orry was a black lab mix that we paid $5 to acquire as a puppy in 1997. He grew to weigh about 130. Who knows what myriad dog breeds comprised his lineage, but he was an absolute joy to our family. I used to take him on 3-5 mile runs each day and we ran three races over the years designed for pets and their owners. Orry placed 2nd or 3rd each time (in a field of about 25) and he’d have placed higher if I had not slowed him down. He had a crazy, goofy bark that signaled his happiness and an angry, menacing bark when he felt someone was not where they were supposed to be. In 2002, he began to show signs of extended fatigue and kept getting little cuts that would not heal. The Vet told us that he had an incurable canine disease and that the situation would get worse and worse until he could no longer eat, drink, walk or stand. Orry died in my arms on November 25, 2002, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. My family and I mourn him still. When I decided to give the fictional character Jeremiah Bronson a dog, Orry was the logical choice. I initially named the dog “Blackjack,” leading his master to refer to him as “Jackie.” If you see the proposed comic pages posted on my Face Book site, you’ll see Jerry call the dog “Jackie Boy.” (Now you know why). I changed it to Blueblood as an inside joke for the characters in the story (as it is played out in the book) … the dog is clearly not a purebred Lab, hence the joke of naming him “Blueblood.” When Orry died, I suffered depression for many weeks afterward. One legend that gave me joy was the story of the rainbow bridge. Here is a good link to the story:
So as I was writing DOGWOODS, I wanted to include Orry in the story as well. I can’t imagine heaven being complete and full of happiness for me unless Orry is there as well.