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Whatever You Do, Don't Kill the Dog
(May, 2004)

by David Rosenfelt, author of Bury the Lead

I can count the number of smart things I do each year on very few fingers, but one stroke of near brilliance was putting my email address in each book and inviting reader feedback. I've happily discovered that people are basically nice, and will only write if they've liked what they've read. The result is that I've gotten thousands of messages, and they are almost all positive. In the process I've learned that I very much like praise. I like fawning even better, though my first choice is gushing. All in all, getting up in the morning and going to my computer has become a far more pleasant experience.

However, there is one consistent thread of reader concern; they fear that at some point I will kill off Andy's golden retriever, Tara, and they beg me not to do so. Not knowing me, they have no idea what a total dog lunatic I am, and are therefore unaware that their fears are groundless. To put readers' minds at ease, I would like to use this space to tell a couple of hopefully enlightening stories.
Bury the Lead by David Rosenfelt
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Shortly after the real Tara died, my wife and I started the Tara Foundation, dedicated to rescuing golden retrievers and other large dogs. To date we have rescued and found homes for over 4,000 dogs. When a dog is too old or sick to be wanted by others, they come to our home to live out their years. At any one time we have close to 35, occupying every piece of carpet and furniture in the house.

Not only have I come to love dogs in a fashion that gives new meaning to the word 'eccentric', but I have seen first hand what they can accomplish for their human owners. A few years ago a couple in their sixties, retired, came to see us to adopt a dog. They brought with them their adult son, Richard, who quite obviously had some mental challenges. I don't know what the current politically correct term is, but when I was growing up we would have referred to such a person as 'slow'.

Richard's eyes lit up when he saw a seven year old Brittany Spaniel named Princess, and they adopted her. Three weeks later, they called us, and asked that my wife and I both get on the phone. They told us that Richard was 36 years old, and has been brain damaged since he was an infant. Since then he had been too difficult for them to handle full time, so he was in special care all week, while they had him on weekends.

Richard was already so in love with and attached to Princess, and the effect of having this companion was proving to be so beneficial, that, in concert with the doctors, they had taken him out of special care. Richard was going to live with them full-time. His parents had called us just to say "Thank you for giving us our son back." My wife and I knew that Princess was the one deserving the thanks, but we were too choked up to point this out.

What I'm trying to say is that dogs are amazing, and that readers can return to praising, fawning and gushing.

Because Tara will live forever.

Posted with permission of the publisher.

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