A pit bull in a wheelchair named Robert is a catalyst for romance in novelist Jennifer Probst's new book.
Without giving too much away, let's just say that gun-shy yoga instructor Arilyn Meadows and closed-off cop Stone Petty wouldn't get to the sweet romance -- and hot sex -- they've been aching for since page one of "Searching for Always" without an animal rescue subplot that takes this pair on a series of wild adventures -- including a pretty fantastic, probably illegal, vigilante dog recovery mission.
Obviously, we needed to know more: like who that romance-facilitating pit bull is based on, and whether animal rescue is the key to love in real life as well as in fiction.
We caught up with Probst by email for a (spoiler-free) Q&A.
HuffPost: There's a pit bull in a wheelchair in "Searching for Always." Is that dog based on anyone you know?
Probst: That is my beloved Robert! Robert is a real dog who was rescued by Pets Alive [in Westchester, New York].
Robert is a pit bull, and has both of his back legs paralyzed so he can't walk. He was on death row and ready to be put down, when Pets Alive looked into his face and saw a hope in his eyes that called out. The shelter quickly rescued him, brought him home, and so many people rallied to get Robert the medical attention he needed.
He was fitted with a scooter so he could run and play again. And he was adopted by a beautiful owner who loves him. You can actually find him on Facebook at Rockin' Robert.
This gentle soul reminds me that disabled doesn't mean disposable. His story needs to be shared widely because it makes everyone believe in hope. I couldn't get his story out of my mind, so I decided to incorporate it into my book.
Is that scene in the book with a very exciting, not entirely above-board, dog rescue based on your own experiences?
I loved writing that scene! No, it actually wasn't based on my experience, but many times I've gotten frustrated with how hard it is to remove animals from a terrible situation, and dreamed of doing this.
Who doesn't dream of turning superhero/vigilante to make sure justice is served? I think it's a popular theme for writers to imagine.
I've heard that as soon as you rescue a dog, you'll find true love with a prince or a cop. Is that true?
No. You'll find true love every time you look into your rescue dog's eyes and see the gratitude and love there. They know you have saved them and given them a second chance. That, in my mind, is priceless. Much better than a cop or a prince!
Are you hoping to change your readers' attitudes about pit bulls?
I know so many owners who have pit bulls and they are the sweetest dogs.
I'm hoping to bring some awareness so the next time a reader looks at a pit bull, he or she doesn't anticipate aggression or meanness or anything negative. Like people, dogs have different personalities and behavior issues, and should be looked at on an individual basis, not generalized.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
"Searching for Always" comes out on June 30.
Get in touch at email@example.com if you know an inspiring pit bull, or have another animal story to share!