Your Dog Could Be A Star!


Is your dog the reincarnation of Houdini? Can he find his way out of tight places? Is no fence safe?

I need a cover dog. And I’m willing to give the finished oil painting portrait of this dog (16″ x 20″ or larger) to whomever supplies me with the photo after I’m done photographing it for the cover. The winner gets the painting, I keep the reproduction rights. The winner and canine will also get an attribution in my book, along with a brief profile.*

The name of the book is Maximum Security. It features my dog Max as an escape artist. Only problem is, I featured Max on the cover of A Shot in the Bark and I can’t use her again. So I need another dog face.


I need a decent photo of a dog squeezing under a fence or other tight place. It must include the dog’s face, from the front or a slight angle. Extra credit for a manic look in the eyes. The more expressive, the better! More points for rescues. You can submit as many photos as you like. You don’t need to be a professional photographer, just be able to capture the face and have it in focus. I’ll post my favorites on this blog. Send your photo to Put “Caught in the Act!” in the subject line.

You must have taken the photo yourself and either own the dog or have the owner’s permission.

Rose and Izzy
Rose and Izzy

I expect to be working on the painting in August or September, so there’s plenty of time to take pictures. As an enticement, I am posting photos of prior covers and other pet portraits so you can see what I do. We’ll say the deadline is July 30, 2013.

Drool Baby
Max's Portrait
Max’s Portrait
cover for soon-to-be-released audiobook
Cover for soon-to-be-released audiobook

*By submitting your photo to this contest, you are giving me permission to post it on this blog. If your photo is selected, you are giving me permission to use it as source material for a painting to be used as a cover on my up-coming book, Maximum Security, and for other commercial purposes.The winner will receive the finished painting and no other compensation. The winner receives bragging rights only, and does not receive any reproduction rights associated with the finished painting.

I Don’t Have a Dog in this Fight

I don’t, really. But Robert Marx shot that pit bull at my dog park, on my stomping grounds and people are still talking about it ten days later. I’ve had two people enthuse how I should build a novel around it. This would involve people shooting vicious dogs, and the revenge killings that follow. It would be a blood-bath, I’m told.

Regarding this incident, the press is one sided and inaccurate. Robert Marx isn’t talking and Kaitlynn Hornsby isn’t telling the truth. She refers to Bruski as a “big baby” and paints him as a friendly dog who was initially attacked by Marx’s border collie mix. (Rumor has it that Hornsby has been asked to leave other dog parks and not come back.)

The most balanced reporting was in USA today, which stuck with police reports and did not quote Ms. Hornsby. Other news outlets contain such faux gems as:

Huffington Post: Kaitlynn Hornsby and Silas Parker say their pit bull was being playful with Marx’s dog on Tuesday when the other dog bit it. They say their pit bull bit back and Marx killed it within seconds.

Columbus Dispatch: “He didn’t even give me a chance to break up the fight,” said Hornsby.

Only one of the news outlets I checked have cited any of the witnesses.

This morning, a man I have known for years only as “Moe’s Dad,” was sharing what he saw when I arrived at the dog park today. He is one of two witnesses I’ve spoken with since the shooting.

The first witness I spoke with was sitting with Bob and his wife, Lois, when a melee between a large number of dogs broke out. He stated that Bob was sitting many yards away from the fight and you could here his dog screaming. Bob is 74 and has diabetes. He has limited movement and it took him some time to arrive at the fight. By then it had winnowed down to the two dogs, Bruski and Rowdy.

Both of my witnesses state that neither owner was nearby when the fight broke out. So I want to know, how does Ms. Hornsby know which dog started it? (Another news outlet states witnesses reported seeing Bruski attack Rowdy.)

Moe’s dad said he noticed Bruski behaving aggressively when he arrived at the park that afternoon, and that he told Ms. Hornsby that she needed to control her dog better. Then he took Moe to the back of the park to get away from any possible altercation between the dogs. When the fight broke out, he went to the fray. I forgot to ask him why. Possibly Moe ran towards the fight, as dogs tend to do. He did say he was trying to keep Moe out of it.

He arrived among the circle of onlookers after Marx tazed the dog. He stated both dogs were limp and perfectly still. He saw Marx lean over and “puff up the other dog like a loaf of bread,” Marx then moved around to the side of the dog, pressed his gun up on Bruski’s shoulder, 2 inches to the side of the spine and fired. He stated Bruski did not respond while Marx was handling him. He demonstrated the angle of Marx’s shot, which was about 30 degrees. He stated he was standing on the other side of the dog from Marx and was afraid at the time that the bullet would go through the dog and hit him. He said Bob never looked up to see what was on the other side of the dog when he fired. He also stated that it took several seconds after the shot was fired before Bruski responded by getting up and walking a short distance, then falling down.

Neither witness I talked to was able see whether anyone made any effort to separate the dogs before Marx tazed the dog. It can be concluded by the distance Marx had to cover to get to the fight that there was time for intervention before he arrived. Moe’s dad covered acres of ground to get to the fight and arrived before Marx shot Bruski.

Moe’s dad said Bruski’s jaws were still around Rowdy’s neck after he was tazed, and Marx made no attempt to separate the dogs once they were both laying limp on the ground. We both suspect (but do not know) that the dogs could have been safely and easily separated at that point.

I’m just sick about this.

Neither owner was in the right. Hornsby should have had better control of her dog and Marx should have stopped once the dogs were limp. Regardless of how you feel about pit bull attacks, Marx is guilty of shooting a firearm in city limits. It is against state law to use a firearm to defend personal property. Everyone who completes a concealed carry course is told this. They are also told that pets are classified as property.

As I said, I don’t have a dog in this fight. I’m not about to defend either owner. But there are things we can take away from this.

    1. All dog parks are potentially dangerous places.

    2. Keep your dog under close supervision when strange dogs are around.

    3. Know the difference between “rough play” vs. aggression and predator behavior, and if your dog tends towards aggression, don’t take it to the dog park.

    4. Dog fights are more likely to happen when a crowd of dogs forms. I see crowds of dogs forming because their owners are congregating in large groups, and dogs tend to stay near their owners when others are around. So don’t congregate in large groups.

    5. If you see a large group forming, take your dog to another part of the park.

    6. If you see a dog behaving in an aggressive manner, take your dog to another part of the park or leave.

    7. Dog parks are not a good place for small children. Even if the dogs are just playing, it’s easy for them to knock even adults over.

    8. If your dog starts behaving aggressively, put it on a leash and get it under control. Take it to another part of the park or leave.

    9. The safest way to intervene in a dog fight is to grab the aggressor (both dogs, if possible) by the hind legs, then lift the hind legs up while pulling to the side. A vet tells me she successfully used this maneuver on a pit bull.

    10. Do not bring treats or food into a dog park. Some dogs are food aggressive. Your dog may be fine, but you don’t know about the others.

Dog parks are an invaluable resource for those of us who do not have a fenced yard, have inadequate space for exercise, or want to provide socialization for their pets. To keep access to these places, it’s important to remain alert, be responsible and think defensively.

Aztec Diet: Holding Steady

Pounds Lost: 18

It’s been three weeks since I started at DRC. I find eating solid food in the evenings is not helping me at all. The project I’m on will end either tonight or tomorrow. I start a new, two-week project on Monday. Then I’ve got one month off before I start another two week project in June.

Right now, I’m settling for maintaining my 18 pound loss despite the ongoing temptations of baskets full of chocolate and vending machines full of sodas and salty snacks. I am not normally prey to junk food. When faced with trying to maintain my concentration in the late evening while reviewing hundreds of test papers, my stomach becomes very distracting.

I’ve been choosing caffeine over sugar and bringing air-popped popcorn with me for nervous munching. And I’m sticking to a few Aztec Diet approved lunches (for my dinner) and Aztec Diet approved snacks. It’s not a perfect solution, but at least I am not back-sliding.


Meanwhile, the very talented Jane Boyer is making progress with her audio recording of A Shot in the Bark. I’ve completed the cover art (above). I’m also building a web-site for my books, which I’ll launch as soon as the five minute audio sample is ready. Right now, I’m looking at a Memorial Day weekend debut for the audio-book.

I’m only getting in one day a week on Maximum Security, but I continue to refine plot points in my head. Really, murder is such a complicated business. It amazes me that anyone ever gets away with it.

Meanwhile, I checked in with Eric to make sure he understands what it means to be featured in one of my books. He thinks it would be totally rad to come to an awesomely gory end in literature. I think he’ll make a terrific stalker and will do what I can to ensure that his demise exceeds his expectations.

Meanwhile, I need to find an appropriate title. Current working title is Stalker, but that’s not doggy enough. I thought about Predator Instinct, but that sounds too much like John Sandford. Maybe something with the word Hound in it.

What do you think?

Back to work

The view from Primavista, my favorite Italian restaurant.

I took a hiatus from my diet yesterday evening so I could have Easter Dinner with Anna and Pat at Primavista. The view overlooking the city is fabulous, and so is the food. I DID have pine nut encrusted salmon in a nod to Dr. Bob. I was not nodding to Dr. Bob when I had the chocolate and pine nut flour-less tort with vanilla gelati.

This restaurant is the model for one in my upcoming book, Maximum Security, so I got to refresh my memory along with my taste buds. I can’t think of a more romantic place to eat in Cincinnati, though, given their druthers, George and Kitty would rather be hanging out in the backwoods of Oklahoma.

Right now I’m polishing the story of their first encounter for an anthology called “The End of the Road.” This vignette also appears in Maximum Security as a memory.

This is a short post. As you can probably tell, I am dying to get back to work.