I love incorporating dogs into my stories, and my readers clearly enjoy the addition of a canine. My heroine in The Protector owns a golden-retriever/German Shepherd mix named Winston, who helps protect her from the bad guy. Milly, the black Labrador retriever in The Enforcer, went from a bomb-sniffing dog to a therapy dog for my heroine with PTSD. And recently, I’ve incorporated a service dog in my latest novella, “Look Again,” about an injured Navy SEAL. Readers can’t get enough of these dogs!
I write mainly about Navy SEAL heroes, and as luck would have it, dogs can be Navy SEALs, too. I’m not kidding! The only named member of the DEVGRU SEAL Team that killed Osama Bin Laden was Cairo, a Belgian Malinois—a breed of dog that resembles a compact German shepherd. Belgian Malinois dogs are “faithful, fearless and ferocious,” just like their human counterparts.
The Navy takes their dog warriors very seriously, fitting them with super-strong, flexible body armor and high-tech equipment that includes specially designed and fitted dog goggles, called “doggles,” complete with night-vision and infrared capability! These dog warriors are trained to do almost everything the SEALs do, with the obvious exception of underwater ops. They can parachute out of planes in tandem with their handlers or alone, if the jump is into water. One dog named Cara and his handler, Mike Forsythe, have set the world record for highest man-dog parachute deployment. They jumped from the same altitude as a transoceanic passenger jet, more than 30,100 feet up. Like their human counterparts, SEAL dogs are “highly trained, highly skilled, highly motivated special ops experts” (http://navyseals.com/2163/the-dogs-of-the-+navy-seals).
I haven’t incorporated a SEAL dog into any of my stories, yet, but I’m sure that’s in the works. My peer and fellow-author, J.M. Madden, touches on the bond between dog and a handler in her short story, “SEAL’s Lost Dream,” featured in the SEAL of my Dreams Anthology. The love relationship between a man and woman is essential to romance, but when stories are layered with that special bond between people and their dogs, that makes for a truly satisfying read, especially when the dog proves to be as valorous as the hero.
Look Again, A Novella, is Marliss Melton’s most recent release and the prequel to her upcoming Echo Platoon Series. This is the story of an injured Navy SEAL, Tyler “T-Rex” Rexall, and the woman whose gift of a service dog gives him a life worth living.
Marliss Melton is the author of a dozen counterterrorist/romantic suspense stories, including a 7-book Navy SEALs series, a counterterrorist Taskforce Trilogy, two novellas and two short stories. She relies on her experience as a military spouse and on her many contacts in the Spec Ops and Intelligence communities to pen realistic and heartfelt stories about America's elite warriors and fearless agency heroes. Daughter of a U.S. foreign officer, Melton grew up in various countries overseas. She has taught English, Spanish, ESL, and Linguistics at the College of William and Mary, her alma mater. She lives in Williamsburg, Virginia with her husband and their youngest daughter, one of six children. Be sure to “friend” Marliss on Facebook! Visit http://www.marlissmelton.com for more information.