Austen Authors April 30, 2018: Therapy Dogs in Austen?

Last year, I wrote a post about dogs. I couldn’t have imagined then that a dog would play a central role in one of my books, but it has. In my current Work-In-Progress, called To Save Elizabeth, Lizzy has a therapy dog, a Great Dane named Brutus.

Now, therapy dogs were not a “thing” in Regency England, and I never refer to Brutus as that in the story. According to this article in National Geographic, the first therapy dog didn’t come about until the 1940’s. However, I would imagine that many people in the Regency took comfort in their pets, as people have since dogs were first domesticated.

As I said in last year’s post, Jane Austen put dogs in just about every book. Most were pets and/or hunting dogs for the heroes of her books, but some were just pets. Mrs. Bertram always had her pug with her. Who’s to say she did not derive comfort for her nerves from petting the animal? Now, I know that her life was far from stressful, at least for most of the book, but when Maria ran off with Henry Crawford and scandal touched the family, she had to have been stressed and nervous. Her whole life was turned upside down by that one act. If I’d been in her situation, I’d have taken comfort wherever I could.

In To Save Elizabeth, Lizzy’s dog, as I said, is a Great Dane that she has had since he was a pup. They have always been close, she and Brutus, and he saved her life at one point.

Brutus. Photo courtesy of Pinterest and

I got the idea for a therapy dog from one of my patrons at Patreon who has experience with dogs. I had added a note in with a post about the story, at a point where I was stuck and not sure what direction I should take it, and this patron messaged me with the idea. It was brilliant, and I promptly thanked her. 🙂 Of course, she had an image in her head of a tiny lapdog and I came up with a mammoth lapdog, but still. 😉 Despite the disparity, Brutus works very well as a therapy dog; I can do things with him that I could not do with a smaller breed.

You might be wondering why Lizzy needs a therapy dog in the first place. The answer is that, in this story, she is the only survivor of a horrific carriage accident, and she is terrified to ride in them.

To Save Elizabeth is about half-complete. I have no firm publication date at this point, but I hope to finish the writing in the next week and a half or so. Then, it will need some editing, and I’ll send it to a beta reader, so it won’t be published before May 15. Most likely it will be nearer to the end of the month.

If you’re curious about the story, you can find excerpts from each week’s writing session on my website. For as little as $1 a month, you can read full chapters on Patreon and get a free copy of the book when I’m done with it.

Do you have a therapy dog, or know someone that does, or even have a pet of some kind that serves in a similar capacity? I’d love to hear your stories, if you’d like to share! <3

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