Dr. Wright's Breedfreak is a short book by a vet about the characteristics of various dog breeds. To say Dr. Wright has some strong opinions is like saying the ocean has some water.
Maybe that’s why I had brief dream about writing a HEE-larious article comparing my book characters to various dog breeds. Today I’m thinking, hey, it might not be as funny as the dream, but why not portray a few romantic heroes and heroines as dogs? It’s what Disney would do.
Heathcliff is obviously a pit-bull/Rottweiler mix, strong, loyal, and potentially dangerous and uninterested in socializing with strangers. And, as JoAnn Ross pointed out on Twitter, definitely a stray. My guess is he’d have some sort of terrier in his mix. So would Cathy. I have to say, I can’t think of what she’d be. Something neurotic and skittish but that barks bravely.
Scarlett O’Hara is a Yorkshire terrier, pampered, opinionated but at heart a working dog (they were ratters in the mills of Yorkshire). She’s someone who can make it through tough times.
The Scarlet Pimpernel would be a poodle. Silly-looking hair-cut, overdressed, willing to act the clown, but one of the smartest breeds around.
Mr. Darcy would be something rare and good-looking. I’d say a Borzoi because they are an expensive, fancy breed and tend to be rather aloof at the dog park. Never mind that they are Russian.
Austen’s Emma might be a shetland sheepdog. She’s well-bred, herds people around and is very intelligent, but tends to bark, a lot. And the Shetland sheepdogs I’ve met tend to be self-satisfied. They know they’re the smartest dogs on the block.
Sherlock Holmes would be a cross breed—a terrier because he refuses to give up and a border collie because they are the absolute geniuses of the dog world.
If we’re talking generic heroes, we get into some stereotyping, I’m afraid. Obviously the alpha males out there would be big breeds known for being protective: german shepherd dogs, rotties, Dobermans. The slightly exotic one might be a rhodesian ridgeback (known for hunting lions). Most of the working class alpha heroes would be mixes a la Heathcliff. The beta guys would be working dogs like huskies, golden retrievers, mastiffs (who are apparently more mellow than the dogs that jack up your home insurance).
The heroines would often smaller breeds and anyone in a chick-lit book set in New York or LA would probably end up one of those smaller lapdogs that need to go to the groomer. A Maltese or a shih tzu, both of which get thumbs up from the picky Dr. Wright, by the way. A high-strung one might be an Italian greyhound or a Dalmatian (speaking of Disney, they are usually not as sweet as they seem in the movie).
A homespun heroine who lives in a small town, or the secretary who wins the billionaire’s heart? Definitely a mixed-breed, with emphasis on the loyal, happy breeds that were created to be working dogs. There’d be some Labrador in there, or collie—a la Lassie, not the crazed, overbred version, like the one that bit me when I was a kid.
Villains? They’d be the Jack Russell terrier mix on the corner that barks all the time and snarls at baby carriages and digs holes under his fence. No, wait, scratch that. They’d be cats.
Kate Rothwell writes romance using her own name and the pseudonym Summer Devon. She lives in Connecticut with four men (three of whom are her sons). You can out more about her at KateRothwell.com and SummerDevon.com.