Furry Collaborators

 By Alison Bruce

It's seems to me that, these days, a cozy mystery isn't complete without a furry collaborator... or possibly a feathered one. The twenty-nine Cat Who... books by Lillian Jackson Braun come to mind. I haven't read Susan Conant's series, but with titles like Ruffly Speaking and Paws Before Dying, I'm going to have to check it out.

As much as I love cats and dogs, if I every go the cozy route, my furry companions would be...
A Rat and Mouse story.


RRRoll Up the Rim Gym
The pet store was out of hamsters.

My kids wanted a pet. They had Beta Fish but they wanted something more interactive. Though I grew up with them, my allergies ruled out cats and dogs. (Who knew that was the reason I had a perpetual “cold” as a child.) Ronnie the hamster was the solution, but Ronnie was recently deceased and the store wasn’t expecting to get hamsters for another couple of weeks. Rats, suggested the pet shop associate. Have to get two though. Rats are very social.

So Tiffany and Nicole joined the household. Then Nick (as Nicole turned out to be) left the house because we didn’t want baby rats and we got a second female called Nikki.

Nikki might have been social with Tiffany, but she had a “flee, flee, run away” attitude toward me. She’d rather spend her quality time napping or running in circles on the hamster wheel.

Tiffany loved to get out an about. She’d ride on my shoulder and explore my workspace while I wrote. She especially loved it when I set up my laptop on the dining room table. I set up a jungle gym for her, made out of Roll Up The Rim cups from Tim Hortons. She liked the smell of coffee and would often check out my mug.

Some day I’m going to work a scene into one of my books based on the time I scared away an evangelist because Tiffany was on my shoulder when I came to the door.

Mostly Tiffany inspired me by being a good listener. Writing is a solitary occupation. It's hard to find decent sounding boards for your ideas. If you talk out plot points to yourself, people might think you’re crazy. If you do it with a rat, they know you’re crazy and leave you alone to write.

A shorter version of this post was published online by cbc.ca - Canada Writes in May 2014.


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