It’s Not Doggy Enough

- by Denise Dietz

My goal in life is to be as good a person as my dog thinks I am.

While waiting tables at Eastside Mario’s in Colorado Springs, I met two Canine Companions ladies and their well-behaved dogs. The ladies said there were too many “cat mysteries” and not enough “dog mysteries,” and I promised to write a dog mystery. And donate a portion of my profits to Canine Companions, an organization that trains dogs to help the handicapped. My lovable Great Dane-Irish Setter-Lab mix, Cherokee, volunteered to be the model for “Hitchcock the Dog.”

Here’s a brief description of Hitchcock the Dog: “In his own mind, Hitchcock is the quintessential well-trained pooch, even though he only knows eight commands and responds best to gooddog, baddog, and getdownoffthecouchyousonofabitch.”

I began writing FOOTPRINTS IN THE BUTTER – an Ingrid Beaumont Mystery co-starring Hitchcock the Dog – a week after meeting the Canine Companion ladies.  When it was completed, my rejections ranged from “My list of amateur detectives is full” to [and I swear I'm not making this up] “The heroine is engaging, the mystery works well, and I love the dog, but I didn’t find anything special about the book.” For the record, I’ve hated the word “engaging” ever since. Then I received the following: “Thank you for submitting ‘Footprints in the Butter.’ I like the writing, but it’s not doggy enough.”

In the back of my mind, I heard my promise to the Canine Companions ladies. I simply HAD to get this book published. I sent it to Hard Shell Word Factory. The publisher liked it. It was published as an e-book and I put an excerpt on my website. Which was seen by a print publisher, who published the book in hardcover. A rave Library Journal review contributed to phenomenal library sales. The novel hit a few bestseller lists and was reprinted by Harlequin/Worldwide in mass market paperback. Then it came out in large-print, in both the US and the UK.

Not bad for a book that wasn’t “doggy enough,” and I’ve been able to send several generous checks to Canine Companions.

Many people have asked me if I’m writing a “Hitchcock the Dog” sequel. The answer is yes. It’s working title is The Lollipop Guild. And…

BETTE MIDLER, if you’re reading this blog, I wrote Footprints in the Butter with you in mind. My heroine/sleuth not only composes scores for movies, but she sings! Which reminds me. I’ve been meaning to get in touch with Barry Manilow, ask him to write me a couple of songs that make the whole world sing…for The Lollipop Guild.


  1. “My goal in life is to be as good a person as my dog thinks I am.”

    As good as our dogs think we are? That’s setting the bar a little to high for ANYONE to reach!

    Laura Resnick

  2. I would love to read Footprints in the Butter.

  3. Hi Denise,
    I admire your determination to get FOOTPRINTS IN BUTTER published and its wonderful success! Sometimes we know how good our books are, but give up. You inspire me to keep pushing the manuscripts I’ve not sold.

  4. Oh, what a great story! I love how Hitchcock describes himself. That is certainly ‘doggy’ enough for me. Good for you!

  5. It’s nice to hear you went on to become very successful after your e-book was published by Hard Shell Word Factory, which also happens to be my publisher!

    I’ve got a dog, Rascal, I’m writing a story about. She can’t hear my commands because she’s deaf, but most of the time she knows what I mean. Unfortunately, sometimes she chooses to ignore my wishes. (G)
    Morgan Mandel

  6. I just wanted to say Cherokee is a beautiful dog. :)