It’s always been my theory that the things that excited you as a ten-year-old, before all the limits and temptations of life lead you astray, are your true passions. For me, those early loves included mystery books, humor and dogs.
Since then, I’ve spent most of my life writing mysteries and owning dogs. Two out of three. It wasn’t until the producers of the TV show “Monk” hired me and threw me in with a bunch of comedy writers, that I developed enough confidence to try my hand at humor.
My most recent book began with my friend , Jeff Johnson, and me watching an infomercial. It could have been “Things The Banks Don’t Want You to Know.” Or “Things The Government Doesn’t Want You to Know.” At some point, one of us turned to the other and said, “Sure, how about ‘Things Your Dog Doesn’t Want You To Know.’” And that’s how it started; the title came first.
Like many humor books, this one started out as a blog. Our first posts were on the most obvious topics: “What We Do When You’re Gone” or “Sticking My Head Out The Car Window.”
The initial idea was to keep them generic, in a sort of Everydog persona. But we soon realized that the humor was in the specifics. It was funnier if the dog had a real personality, and even funnier if we invented a variety of “dog bloggers” with radically different personalities.
For inspiration, we used Nelson and Charlie, our miniature Schnauzers, and spent a lot of time at the local dog park, mostly observing the humans, who always seemed clueless about their dogs’ behavior. If that wasn’t grist for a humor book…
A few weeks after we started, the site garnered enough attention to get a publisher calling. That’s when the fun really began.
We wound up creating eleven dogs, from tiny and obnoxious (Tinkerbell, author of “My Life in Your Purse”) to large and dumb (Axelrod, author of “The Reason I Ate the Sofa”). And we gave each dog an arc, which is a writerly term for “all the little stories add up to something.” For example, Sarge is a German Shepherd and a working dog. In each of his stories, he gets a new job and it always winds up being a disaster. By the time Sarge tells his tenth story, he has finally been adopted by a great family. But he still thinks it’s a job, and this one he doesn’t want to lose.
The blog morphed into a website called ThingsYourDog.com and it’s still up and running with new content all the time. And if you submit a question about your own dog’s behavior, one of our 11 dog experts will answer it (in a humorous way, of course).