Last week while I was on vacation, I read Jennifer Crusie’s ANYONE BUT YOU. It was a hoot, a perfect beach read, and featured a “cookie-snatching, walk-avoiding, marathon-sleeping” dog who came close to upstaging the romance.

I like animals in books. They add color and humor and always tell you something about the main characters. Some authors put animals into every book. I think almost every Mary Jo Putney book I’ve read has a cat in it somewhere. Laura Kinsale’s “mascot animals” range from a pig to a shark.

I don’t try to write animals into every book, but there are a few I think of fondly.

One of my favorites is the hero’s horse in my first book, LORD LANGDON’S KISS. I based him on Jack, a horse I used to ride while I was on international assignment in England (sadly deceased of a fatal case of colic). I loved Jack! He was the perfect gentleman; his owner told me the only time he might turn headstrong was if a hunt came nearby. In that case, she warned me that he would join the hunt and told me to just hang on, trust that he would jump anything in his path and that he would settle down after a few miles. It never happened but what an opportunity for Regency research that would have been!

In SAVING LORD VERWOOD, the h/h rescue a seal pup (incident inspired by a visit to the Seal Sanctuary in Cornwall). I hoped they would put it on the cover, because it would have been something different. I was told a seal would be too cute. So they put ducks on the cover instead.

In LADY DEARING’S MASQUERADE, the heroine had a bunch of foundlings living on her estate, so I gave them a menagerie of pets, including a hedgehog that peed on the hero (based on a real incident at a nearby nature center).

Do you enjoy animal characters in romances? What are your favorites? Do you think seals are cuter than ducks, or the opposite?