Meet My Muse, by Lauren Carr
Meet My Muse
By Lauren Carr
Regular readers of my mysteries may have noticed a special dedication in the opening pages of Candidate for Murder:
To My Muse
The Real Gnarly
Candidate for Murder was Gnarly’s book. This Mac Faraday Mystery told the fictional Gnarly’s story. Therefore, I felt it was only right that I dedicate it to the real Gnarly—my canine best friend, constant companion—my muse.
Little did I know while writing Gnarly’s book and that dedication, that my muse would soon leave me.
On Thursday, December 8, 2016, my heart was broken when my handsome guy, and best canine friend, Gnarly passed away from cancer. He was only four years old.
For two months, I prayed continuously that God would bless this beautiful dog with a miracle to save him. It wasn’t like I was asking for a big miracle. Gnarly was just a dog—but he was my best friend—my muse. God, can’t You bless me with this one little miracle?
The breeder who I had gotten Gnarly from as a pup, Debbie was one of the experts I sought out for advice on how to save Gnarly. Deb and her late husband have been friends for years. As time wore on, and Gnarly’s health deteriorated, she offered that, if the worst was to happen, that when I was ready, I was welcomed to the pick of the litter for a new puppy.
No, I insisted. It’s not cancer and Gnarly will get better.
On Thursday, December 8, I let Gnarly go. That afternoon, I called my sister to blubber out the news of Gnarly’s passing. After a long talk, Karen asked, “Are you going to take Deb up on her offer for a puppy?”
Not that she was suggesting that any dog could possibly replace Gnarly. However, we also had another German shepherd, Storm, a two year old female who had enjoyed Gnarly’s company. At this point, however, we were uncertain if she would be able to adjust to being an only dog.
“No,” I said, “we don’t really want to go through the puppy training stuff.” I went on to explain that we weren’t even going to actively look for another dog. My heart needed time to heal. “I’m leaving this in God’s hands. When the time is right, He’ll send the perfect dog my way.”
The next day, December 9, I called Deb to give her the sad news about Gnarly’s passing. Kindly, I declined her offer for a free puppy, explaining that we did not want to go through the puppy training.
“Well,” Deb said, “if you don’t want a puppy, maybe you’ll be interested in Gnarly’s nephew.”
On Thursday, December 8, the very same day that Gnarly had passed away—his nephew landed in an animal shelter.
Gnarly’s sister, Morgan, had been adopted by another dog breeder, Vicki. One of her puppies, Sterling had been adopted by a family who lived one state away. In the midst of a nasty divorce, neither parent wanted the responsibility of the German shepherd so the wife surrendered him to the county animal shelter. During check-in, the animal control officer discovered that Sterling had been microchipped, which was still registered to the breeder, and called Vicki to notify her that they had one of her dogs.
Luckily for Sterling, his adopted family never bothered changing the microchip registration. Otherwise, Vicki would have never discovered that he was in the big house. She has every one who adopts her puppies sign an agreement that they will not turn the dog into the pound or shelter. If the new owners can’t keep the dog, they are to return it to Vicki who will find the dog a new home.
Vicki had a cow! She called everyone from the humane society to the sheriff in an effort to get Gnarly’s nephew released into her custody. Unfortunately, fighting the doggie jail system is not that easy. One of Vicki’s calls for help was to fellow breeder Deb, who told me.
Gnarly’s nephew is in jail!
Yes, I know I was emotional, but immediately I saw the love connection that God had in mind for us. I lost Gnarly—my best friend—on the same day that his nephew lost his family and his home—all right before Christmas.
Vicki and I connected on Facebook. For eleven days, we battled the system for Sterling’s release.
Sterling’s owners had signed an agreement that they would turn him over to Vicki if they could not keep him. Therefore, she informed them, she could sue them. She didn’t want to sue then. All she wanted was to get Gnarly’s nephew out of jail. The shelter would release Sterling to her if they simply called the shelter and told them to do so.
They’re response: See you in court. They knew Vicki didn’t have the money or time to bother with a lawsuit. Nor would they call the shelter to have Sterling released.
Meanwhile, Gnarly’s nephew remained locked up.
On Day 11 of Sterling’s incarceration, I was at the animal shelter one hour before they opened. After all of my phone calls to them, they knew I was making the hour and a half drive to complete all the paperwork and pay Sterling’s bail for his release, so they let me in.
After completing the dozens of forms and paying all of the necessary fees, the animal control officer explained that Sterling would need to be transported to their vet to be neutered before I could pick him up the next day. “Do you have any questions?” she asked after we had wrapped up all the bureaucratic paperwork.
“Can I meet him?” I asked.
The animal control officer’s eyes got big. “You haven’t met him?”
That’s right. I was adopting a year-old German shepherd sight unseen simply because he was Gnarly’s nephew. For me, that was enough.
Still, it would be nice to meet him before I took him home to my family.
So, I waited in the reception area for them to bring out the. Sure, there were a dozen things that could be wrong with him. Sterling could be a vicious dog who didn’t like people. Maybe he didn’t get along with other dogs, which would create chaos with Storm, our other German shepherd.
Whatever the case, I was prepared to do what I had to deal with it. On the same day that I lost Gnarly, Sterling lost his family. That told me it was meant to be. Nothing was going to keep this dog from being a part of our family.
A few minutes later, I heard this loud deep bark as the animal control officer was dragged into the reception area by Canine Inmate #227.
After eleven days of living in a cage, Sterling was bouncing off the walls, overturning water dishes, jumping all over anyone who came near him. This good looking guy clawed his way toward me and I knelt down to meet him eye to eye. As our eyes met, Sterling drop down onto the floor and laid his head in my lap—just like those last moments that I had with Gnarly.
The bond between us was instant.
Stroking his tall bronze ears, I burst into tears and hugged him. He sat up and licked my whole face as if to say, “Yep, you’re the one. You’re the Mom I’ve been waiting for.”
You couldn’t ask for a better Christmas present. Even the animal control officer got teary eyed.
Since his release from jail, Sterling has fit into our family like a glove. Of course, it is impossible to not compare him to Gnarly, who had a lot of bad boy ways that endeared him to me—like opening doors, which my husband hated.
Sterling has some of his uncle’s strong willed attitude, which makes him even more lovable to me. That we had on the floor in that reception area when he placed his head in my lap has grown only stronger with every day.
It’s as if the two of us were destined to be together—the mystery writer and her muse.
I still really miss Gnarly, but Sterling is helping to heal my broken heart. I feel like I still have a piece of him here with me—taking on Gnarly’s role as my muse—inspiring me with story-ideas—like the one about Gnarly’s nephew who ends up in jail after being wrongfully accused ….
From Mystery Suspense Reviews…
Since the first book we read by Lauren Carr, we have been fans both here and at Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine. We know who Gnarly is in the Mac Faraday series–you can’t miss him! Knowing of real-life-Gnarly’s wonderful short life and his struggle, make both Gnarlys extra special. Thank you Lauren for this lovely article. Best of luck with your latest, now on tour. We wish you many years with Sterling too!
After months of marital bliss, Jessica Faraday and Murphy Thornton are still discovering and adjusting to their life together. Settled in their new home, everything appears to be perfect … except in the middle of the night when, in darkest shadows of her subconscious, a deep secret from Jessica’s past creeps to the surface to make her strike out at Murphy.
Determined to uncover the truth and find justice for the murder victims, Jessica and Murphy return to the scene of the crime with Dallas Walker, a spunky bull-headed Texan. Can this family reunion bring closure for a community touched by tragedy or will this prickly get-together bring an end to the Thorny Rose couple?
Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!
Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.
Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.