The Value of Animals in Stories

Linda Broday

I’m filling in for Phyliss today and still talking about my new release – A Cowboy of Legend. Hope you’re not tired of it.

I just love putting kids and animals in my stories because they add whole other levels of emotion and depth. They’re such a great literary device in that you can show a lot about characters without really coming out and stating it. And they certainly entertain the reader.

Mostly, I’ve written in the normal dog, cat, horse, and mule. Although I did put a raccoon named Bandit in The Mail Order Bride’s Secret.

In this story, I added a little spider monkey named Jesse James. He’s dressed as a cowboy right down to a small gun and holster. Each time he yanks his gun out and fires, a puff of smoke comes out the barrel. I laughed so hard writing his scenes.

And then, he leaps onto the cat Sarge’s back and the war is on.

Jesse James arrives at the Three Deuces Saloon in Fort Worth’s Hell’s Half Acre and Deacon Brannock is sure he’s hit on a gold mine. Folks flock in from everywhere to watch the lunch and supper shows. Just wait until he gets his hands on a real loaded pistol……

Here’s a short excerpt:

Harry muttered something that sounded like, “That little shit,” and hurried to get the monkey away from a customer’s plate where it was cramming food into its mouth. “JESSE JAMES!”

Clearly no love lost between them, the monkey chattered, shaking a finger at Harry. As the skinny bartender grew closer, Jesse James yanked a little pistol from his holster, and shot, all the while chattering and shrieking fit to wake the dead. The miniature gun gave a little pop and discharged smoke. The customers were laughing hysterically.

Deacon watched, entranced. This could have money pouring in. People would flock from all over to watch the hairy little outlaw with the perfect name.

Land. He saw his piece of land.

Just as Harry closed in to capture the monkey, Jesse James leaped from table to table then the long bar. As he reached for a full bottle of whiskey, Clyde clapped sharply, and the monkey clambered down and back onto the man’s shoulder.

* * * *

In the book I just finished that will be out early in 2022, I added a talking parrot named Casanova. He’s even funnier than Jesse James. Plus, he plays dead. Who knows what I’ll come up with next. Maybe a lion. Now there’s a thought.

What pets have you had? Anything exotic? I’m giving away a copy (ebook or autographed paperback) to someone who leaves a comment.

Giveaway rules apply.

Here’s the book trailer for your enjoyment.

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Here in the Texas Panhandle, we do love our cowboys. There's just something about a man in a Stetson and jeans that makes my heart beat faster. I'm not much of a cook but I love to do genealogy and I'm a bit of a rock hound. I'm also a NY Times & USA Today bestselling author of historical western romance. You can contact me through my website and I'd love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. HAPPY READING!

54 thoughts on “The Value of Animals in Stories”

    • Hi Anxious! Thanks for coming. It’s always nice to see you. Pets can be work for sure. And some are destructive when their owners don’t make them mind which is why some apartment buildings don’t want them. Have a wonderful day.

  1. I don’t have any pets now, but I did have a dog when I was growing up. He was half Australian Dingo and half golden retriever. His name was Dingo and lived until the age of 17 years. My parents got him when I was 5 years old and he was only a puppy, just a few weeks old, from the animal shelter. I was very fortunate to have him through my whole childhood.

    • Hi, Diana! Dingo sounds like a very special dog and I’m sure he provided great companionship for you growing up. I had a dog named Snapper. He wasn’t the most friendly and worked best out at my sister’s in the country where he roam and explore. I loved that dog. Have a good day and thanks for coming.

  2. As a kid, we had gerbils, guinea pigs, and ferrets–not at the same time. Plus we rescued a rabbit, but it was kept outside in a hutch Daddy made. And a pet mouse for a week–stinky.

    My brother had a chameleon.

    • Denise, it sounds like you had a lot of animals around your house. I once bought my kids some rabbits and made a hutch for them. They were so cute but a ton of work. I’m so happy you stopped by to comment.

    • Janine, cats are interesting animals. I’ve never owned one but my sister had one she kept for a long time named Amanda. She was a very beautiful cat but I don’t think she liked me much. Ha! Have a lovely day there.

    • Debra, snakes give me the willies! I can barely stand to look at them when they’re behind glass. How interesting though. I have a niece who loves them and has a lot in her house that roam free. I don’t care to visit her. Thanks for coming. Have a gorgeous day.

    • Hi Estella, I’m so happy to see you. You know, as we get older, I’m finding that it’s hard enough to take care of me much less an animal. I don’t have any at this point in my life. But pets provide that love that we need. Have a lovely day.

  3. When my girls were younger at one time we had more pets than people in our house. A rabbit, 2 hamsters, 2 dogs, and 4 cats for 5 people. My grandchildren have ferrets, a guinea pig, a rabbit, cats, and dogs. Years ago my aunt had a pet coon.

  4. The only pet I have now is a cat named Little Man. Many years ago I had a small parrot named Chico it was a spectacle amazon. It could say hello and Chico pretty bird. He could also wave by by. If you set down to eat he would yell until you fixed him a plate. He was a funny bird. Chico stayed out of his cage when we where home and I worked full time. Needless to say taking care of a bird and a small child didn’t work so had to get rid of bird but still miss that bird.

    • Hi Quilt Lady! I love it! Little Man and Chico! You are really going to relate to the book I’m writing now. Parrots can be so funny. I’ve really enjoyed writing about Casanova. He sure thinks he’s human and he’s very protective. I hope your day is filled with love and blessings.

  5. Good morning Linda. Happy Early Mother’s Day to you my Sweet Sister friend. Oh wow, What animals have I had? Horses, cattle, sheep, chickens, dogs, cats, hampsters, fish… I can’t think what else. But as a kid I was fascinated by Horney Toads. I used to get them and keep them in my room until mom or dad found them and made me set them free.
    I love animals as you know. I loved this book and Jesse James was a hoot. I know I told you the last book was my favorite, but again you outshined and this book is now my favorite. Thank you for writing the most heartfelt books of anyone I know. Your imagination must never stop. I love you and May you have a nice mini vacation while waiting on your next masterpiece.

    • Hi Tonya! Thank you so much for the Mother’s Day wish. Yes, you’ve had a lot of animals. I haven’t seen any horned toads in such a long time. I guess they’ve gone extinct. As a kid in New Mexico they were everywhere. You had a big heart and still do. Your love bursts out and touches everything and everyone. I’m so happy you enjoyed A Cowboy of Legend. There was a lot going on in it. I am really enjoying my two month vacation. This is the first time in my life to get a break and I really needed it after the hard long days of writing this latest. I love you dearly. Give Miss Casino a big hug for me.

  6. I once had a iguana and parakeets. A raccoon and squirrel. Horses, cows, goats, rabbits and chickens growing up.

    • Hi Charlene! Wow! You had a lot of animals and a bird. Must’ve been interesting at your house. I doubt you had little free time to relax. I’m happy you stopped by. Take are and have a lovely day.

      • Hi Linda. With six kids running around my had it covered. Lol. Have a wonderful day. Hugs ?

  7. Welcome. Nope not tire of hearing from you. Always a pleasure. I love animals in books I read. You are so right they really help fill out a character. And many times the pet can be a huge asset to the story. I lived on a farm so we had all kinds of animals. So there were a lot of family pets. But my pets on the farm were: horse, cow, pig, bunny, hawk,, finch
    When I got married we had: dog, three cats, two finches that had babies always, Guinee pig, two hamsters, many fish, lizards
    quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

    • Hi Lori! My goodness! You’ve always had a lot of pets but it just shows your big heart. You love freely and spread it around. My next series will have a young man with Down’s Syndrome who opens his hand and birds land on his palm and eat from it. He’s a very special character. I think animals and birds sense the specialness of people with disabilities. Animals and birds are amazing creatures and can help us show the softness inside. Thank you for liking my stories. Much love.

  8. At one time we had 4 cats and 1 dog. Our cat Zach and our dog Hershey were best buddies.

    • Hi Julie! That’s a lot of cats to go with your one dog. Ha! Zach and Hershey must’ve been adorable together. I hope you took pictures. Cats and dogs don’t have to be enemies. Have a very blessed day.

  9. Can’t wait to read about Jesse James! Haha! We have only had the normal animals around like dog, cats, horse, chickens, rabbit, hamster, and many fish. I love when odd pets or animals are in stories.

    • Hi Susan! Thanks for coming. I think Jesse James will keep you in stitches. I just hated that I couldn’t put him in earlier in the story. He was priceless. I hope you like him. Have a blessed day. Much love.

    • Hi Pam! Thank you for liking my quick post. And maybe the mention of my monkey will spark more interest in my book. I really had a lot of fun writing about Jesse James. At times he was a holy terror and Deacon Brannock was sorry he came. I was happy to help Phyliss out. I hope she feels better soon. Much love, Filly Sister. Have a blessed day.

    • Hi Melanie! You’re my first goat owner. I love to watch the baby goats. I forgot I put goats in my book The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride. The little blind girl Violet loved the goats. Much love. I hope you have a lovely day.

  10. We have a peacock! he’s of the green peafowl breed and he’s called Raja, which means ‘king’ in our language. He is royalty embodied and loves to be treated like that. My family’s had Raja since I was fifteen, so these past five years have made him family basically. My uncle also recently adopted an orphaned baby elephant and I named her ‘guzel’ which means beautiful and it’s been only a month with her and she’s already become my life

    • Hi Jude! Oh my goodness! I can just see your peacock. Bet he struts around like a king. The name suits him. And the baby elephant….that melts my heart. They are so sweet and loveable. I’m sorry she lost her mother but it won’t be long before she comes to love her human one. I wish I could see her and Raja. Love them and take care. I’m very happy you came over to read my post. 🙂

  11. I just love kids and animals in stories! I have had quite a few pets over the years… dogs, cats, different types of rodents, lizards, birds, fish, etc. My best friend growing up was a parrot named Oscar… he was the best, gave me kisses, guarded my room, played peek a boo with me… loved that bird.

    • Hi Colleen! Oh my gosh! How wonderful to grow up with your best friend’s parrot! You’ll totally relate to Casanova that’s in Book 3 of this series. I can’t wait to present it to the world. Have a wonderful day and keep loving those pets.

  12. Nothing unusual for me – just cats, dogs and horses. My dad was a coon hunter so occasionally he would bring a raccoon home to train his dogs with, but not as a pet.

    • Hi Linda Orr! Thanks so much for coming. I almost cried for the raccoon your dad would bring home just to train his dogs. I hate to ask what happened to them but I imagine I know. Thanks for coming. Blessings and much love.

  13. I love how your books develop a story line involving pets, kids, and cowboys seeking their Mail Order bride. My love for horses is especially dear to my heart. And you have done well describing them in your stories. Thank you for blessing me with such wonderful books. You are an awesome author! I love you!

    • Dearest Kathy, I feel immensely blessed that you like my stories. I’ve rescued a lot of kids and animals in them over the years. I can’t bear to hear of a child in need of love. Breaks my heart. I’m glad I haven’t messed up too badly in describing my horses and the action with them. Thank goodness. I hope you’re able to travel soon and see some more wonderful sights. I love you very dearly, Kathy.

  14. Hi, we have had 2 Green winged Macaws, a Military parrot, we have had parakeets, canaries, and other different birds now we only have 1 pup. Have a great week and stay safe .

    • Oh my goodness, Alicia! Then you know how they love to talk. That’s amazing that you love birds. I have to say that few people keep a bird as a pet much less several. I’m so happy to know that. I’ll bet you have stories to tell! Thanks for coming.

  15. I appreciate when children and animals are included in stories. Those you include in your new books seem to provide comic relief and a bit of excitement – always a nice addition to a story. For me, they provide another important role. Animals and children are both vulnerable and to a degree innocent. How an adult treats them tells you much about their character. Are they cruel, users, dismissive of or just forget those in their care? Are they understanding, caring, playful, nurturing, loving when they are dealing with those dependent upon them or they just come in contact with. Anyone who kicks a dog or pushes a child out of their way goes into the Bad Guy/Gal column. Those with a sense of caring and humor who treat people and animals with respect and care, go into the Nice Guy/Gal column.

    As for pets, our family is the type that pretty much has had everything and the children are continuing the tradition. We have had dogs, cats, gerbils, hamsters, mice, rats, guinea pigs, ferrets, chickens, ducks, rabbits, lizards, frogs, fish, and did rehabilitation on a variety of wild animals. The most exotic were a ball python and a flock of peacocks. Our children have continued with dogs, cats, pigs, goats, llamas, sheep, emus, turkeys, horses, and cattle. My only rule was it couldn’t be poisonous or dangerous.

    Your idea of a lion is interesting. I watched a video of a panther and dog that must have been raised together. They were chasing each other, tussling, and just romping around together. They were both adult animals and must have been raised together since they were a puppy and kitten. They were running free in the forest with the owners. Not something I would do because wild animals will always be wild and can’t be trusted not to revert to natural wild behavior. However, you are writing fiction, so why not. I am sure a mountain man or two in the past raised and kept a bear or lion.

    Have a safe and good move.

    • Hi Pat! Always so nice to see you. Does my heart good. A python??? Oh my dear Lord! You have a lot more guts than I do. I’m not one bit fond of snakes. I agree that I wouldn’t trust a panther running wild in the woods. Scary. You have a great evening. Much love.

  16. We currently have three indoor cats, Luci, Daisy and Fearless. Luci and Daisy we rescued from the Humane Society. Fearless was brought in the house as a kitten. He was born in the area. We feed the outdoor cats. When the cat mom’s have babies, they usually bring them to our yard. Fearless was determined he was going to live inside with us. When I was able to work, he sat on the front porch in the mornings to walk me to the car. My husband would need to get him out of the car so I could go to work. He would be waiting to greet me in the evenings when I returned home from work. Thank you for the opportunity.

    • Hi Debra! Awww, how sweet. I love the name Fearless! I wouldn’t have been able to make him stay outside. He wanted to be loved and he chose you. Bless you for feeding the mamas. Thanks for coming to read my post. Much love.

    • Hi Joye! I’m so happy to see you. We sure go back a long way. I think you and I met with Knight on the Texas Plains. I’ve put a lot of dogs in my stories. In fact, Marley Rose in Knight called their large dog Boobie because she couldn’t talk very well. Keep loving the dogs. Have a wonderful evening. Much love.

  17. I love dogs and have had poodle mixes for the last 46 years..a poodle Pomeranian who lived 15 years then a schnauzer poodle mix who was 19 years 9 months old when he passed then my last dog a Bichon poodle mix who was 12 years old. All three precious dogs. And I am getting a toy poodle in June. So excited.

    • Hi Jackie! Thanks for stopping by. Congratulations on the new toy poodle you’ll get in June! How wonderful. Those are so cute. Such sweet faces. My oldest granddaughter had a schnauzer who recently died. Broke her heart. She was such a sweet, loving dog. Have a great evening. Much love.

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