by Cynthia Chow
& Tracy Weber
This week we have a review of Murder Strikes A Post by Tracy Weber. We also have a great guest post from her about animal rescue and special needs dogs, which plays a part in her book. At the end of this post you will find details on how to win a copy of the book.
Murder Strikes a Pose: A Downward Dog Mystery By Tracy Weber
Review by Cynthia Chow
As the owner of Seattle’s Serenity Yoga and a yoga instructor, one would think that Kate Davidson would have perfected the art of remaining calm and contemplative in the face of unexpected situations. However, when homeless George and his uncontrollable barking shepherd named Bella park themselves near her Greenwood neighborhood studio’s entrance to sell the local newspaper, Kate finds herself at the brink of explosion no matter how many deep breaths she inhales. While the bribery of buying out his day’s supply of papers works temporarily, the struggling studio’s budget cannot continue the practice and Kate is forced to find other methods. Purchasing a crate for Bella and befriending George does prove to be surprisingly effective, but the unfortunate result is that it is all the more upsetting when George is murdered and the police write it off as a probable fight between drunks.
Despite her best intentions to find a home for Bella, the behemoth-sized puppy requires expensive medication and her unpredictable violent reactions towards strangers make the pooch an unlikely shelter adoptee. Initial training sessions prove just as futile, and yet Kate is heartbroken when she learns that Bella has a microchip and the owner from whom George “rescued” Bella is asking for the dog’s return. With the help of a charming pet store owner, Kate relentlessly pursues both a safe home for Bella and the person responsible for the death of her owner.
Perhaps what is most engaging about this mystery is just how flawed, and how frustrating, Kate proves to be at times. For a career yoga instructor Kate has definite anger management issues, an inability to control her impulses, and a habit of jumping to conclusions. Kate also has a neurotic phobia about beards and the germs they may contain, making her initial introduction to Michael, the handsome, single, and very bearded owner of Pete’s Pets, rather unfortunate. That Bella seems to share Kate’s reaction either makes them perfect partners or codependent enablers, but hopefully training will cure them both of this issue. However, Kate’s imperfections are what make her relatable and likable, and her acerbic sense of humor balances out her attempts at yoga/serenity-for-all meditations.
Author Tracy Weber has crafted a mystery featuring a down-to-earth heroine and a plot that highlights issues facing both the homeless and the many exploited and vulnerable canines who become lost in the cities. This is a fun mystery that never becomes too weighted with messages and instead entertains with sparkling wit and an unstoppable and engaging lead character.
Saving Lives: One Dog at a Time
By Tracy Weber
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Mead
Most people start reading Murder Strikes a Pose because they are intrigued by the idea of a yoga teacher who gets tangled up in murder. While reading, they chuckle at the antics of Kate (the sleuth) and her German shepherd sidekick, Bella. But what stays with them–what touches them, if you will–is the relationship that develops between Kate and Bella, two imperfect souls who need each other more than either realizes.
Horse-sized, ill-mannered Bella isn’t exactly the picture of perfect German shepherd health and temperament. She doesn’t like other dogs, and she suffers from an autoimmune disease called Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI). To put it simply, Bella can’t digest food. She will starve to death unless she is given medication with every meal. When her owner is murdered, the chances of Bella finding a new home…well…let’s just say they’re not good.
At least not until Kate Davidson enters Bella’s life.
Bella’s disease is real and her story isn’t all that unusual. Dogs like Bella are often surrendered to shelters. Many are euthanized. The lucky ones often spend much of their lives in foster care, but sometimes wonderful people like Kate come forward and help. The dogs I describe below all have EPI, but every homeless, special-needs animal faces similar challenges. Thanks to wonderful people like Pamela, Monica and Melissa, sometimes their stories end “happily ever after.”
Tulia and Pamela:
Tulia, a sixteen-week-old Australian shepherd mix, needed a home. Puppies are usually easy for shelters to place, but Tulia came with a catch. A big one! Tulia had EPI. Her foster home had successfully treated the condition, nursing Tulia from less than three pounds at eight weeks old to twelve pounds at sixteen weeks.
Pamela stumbled across Tulia’s profile on Petfinder. She and her husband weren’t looking to adopt a healthy dog, much less one with a permanent health condition. After all, they already owned one dog with EPI. Pamela understood EPI and knew that Tulia needed a home that would commit to her lifetime needs for medication. Pamela immediately called the shelter and adopted Tulia two days later. Now, at seven months old, Tulia is a “non-stop crazy typical puppy,” who is training to be a therapy dog.
Sophie and Monica:
Cassie and Melissa:
Cassie’s story is one of my favorites, mainly because I followed it from the start. Cassie was literally starving to death because of EPI and her owner wasn’t able to care for her due to serious family issues. Cassie’s owner turned to k9-EPIGLOBAL–a Yahoo support group for owners of dogs with EPI–for help. Melissa (who already owned a German shepherd with EPI) agreed to adopt Cassie. There was only one problem: Cassie lived in Connecticut; Melissa, in South Carolina. The members of k9-EPIGLOBAL banded together to form a multi-state Cassie relay. Some volunteers drove two hours at a stretch; others, significantly longer. At the end of the multi-day relay, Cassie arrived at her new home weighing only forty-two pounds (less than 50% of her healthy weight).
Melissa fed Cassie every two hours around the clock for the first several days, praying that Cassie would survive. She not only survived, but thrived. She is now, according to Melissa, “ninety pounds of solid muscle.”
There are many more stories like this and I wish I had room to print them all. Michele Daniels (who rescued Dexter, a German shepherd with EPI) said it best: “Where the stories really begin is with the amazing people who come together, where they pull the last penny they have, where they take in a dog someone else has looked at and said has no hope. To me, that is the true story behind EPI.”
I feel the same way. Loving my EPI dog,Tasha, transformed me. Maybe it’s the amount of work that goes into preparing her food. Maybe it was watching my eighteen-month-old puppy lose twenty-five pounds in the month before diagnosis. Heck, maybe my husband is right. Maybe I’m just “The Creepy Puppy Lady.” One thing’s for certain: now that I’ve loved a dog with EPI, I’ll never be the same. No dog should lose its home, much less its life, simply because he has been diagnosed with this disease. EPI dogs make amazing recoveries and live full, long, happy lives. The medication they need can be purchased at much lower cost than most veterinarians realize. Each shelter that helps, each person that donates, each foster that steps up, helps saves a life. It’s that simple.
Not every dog is a special-needs dog, but every dog is worth saving. Anyone reading this article can help. Offer to drive an animal to its new forever home. Donate a few dollars for life-saving medication. Share a Facebook post. The special people involved in the stories above will tell you: whatever you give will be repaid many times over.
When caring people work together, lives once deemed hopeless can be transformed.
Just ask Tulia, Sophie, and Cassie–and, of course, Bella!
To enter to win a copy of Murder Strikes A Pose, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Pose,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 22, 2014. U.S. residents only.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.