Trial and Tribulation: Charlie

May 5, 2023 | Trial and Tribulation

This is Remy Martin (above), a Bouvier des Flandres. In real life Rem is a good ole boy with a weakness for well-ripened brie and a willingness to meet a good pinot noir halfway. He is the model for the character ‘Charlie’ who has now appeared in three of my books and plays an important role in Trial and Tribulation, my new book which will be published on June 6th.

And this is Charlie, a King Charles Cavalier, who kept me company for many years, curled up under my desk as I wrote. He kept us safe from marauding squirrels and plundering rabbits until, last summer, he moved on up to the big golf course in the sky. RIP.

My Breaking Point novels are set in World War II, a conflagration that engulfs my two principal protagonists, ‘Johnnie’ and ‘Eleanor.’ ‘Charlie’ in these novels is the character who understands—better than they do—that there are things which are far more important than the war.

From Trial and Tribulation:

Charlie plopped down and lay with his mighty head on the floor, looking up at her.

“Don’t look at me that way, Charlie. He’s gone. He’s in Australia on the other side of the planet, for God’s sake. They have kangaroos and koala bears instead of Bouviers. You’re not even a marsupial: you simply wouldn’t fit in.”

Charlie continued as before.

“It’s not my fault.”

She began to dress in her ugly utilitarian WAAF uniform, which seemed to have been designed deliberately to make women as unattractive as possible.

“Alright, alright, it is my fault. I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do about it now. You’ll just have to get over it. I made a mistake, alright? Everyone makes mistakes … well, Bouviers don’t, I admit.”

She laced up her ugly utilitarian shoes.

“I didn’t leave him because I never had him to begin with. Well, technically I left him, if you insist on being pedantic, but you can’t lose something you never had. He was always… he was never…”

Charlie yawned.

“Dammit, Charlie, stop being so judgmental!”

Dogs understand life in ways that many humans don’t or simply have forgotten. Dogs understand the verities of honesty and loyalty. They understand the need to forgive and move on. They understand the ceremonies of daily life that bring order and purpose amidst the hurly-burly. They understand that each day is a gift to be enjoyed to its fullest possibilities. They understand the glue that binds us all together. They are our better selves.

Theories abound about the close relationship between dogs and humans. Some argue that modern humans emerged as the dominant species on earth because they had dogs to help them hunt, herd, and act as guards, thus multiplying human access to food supplies. (Cat people will argue that this is nonsense. Cats killed rodents on ships thus permitting humans to carry food supplies long distances, thus enabling humans to spread across the globe. Dogs, in this telling, simply went along for the ride.)

Charlie would, I think, listen carefully to both sides of the argument and then conclude: “Whatever.”

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