Oct 18 2011 2:00pm

Not Just Man’s Best Friend: Pets in Paranormal and Urban Fantasy

Weapons? Check. Magic? Check. Animal sidekicks? Check and Check!

In attempting to discover just what we love about urban fantasy and paranormal romance, we have dissected the hero and the heroine at length. Discussed alpha and beta status. Admired and sometimes laughed at weapons and super powers. We’ve cheered and bemoaned emotional entanglements and the lack thereof.

What we haven’t touched on is the pets. That’s right. Those lovable, hilarious, furry sidekicks that our hero and/or heroine end up with, regardless of whether they want them or not. Some heroes and heroines fight injustice in the world with a four-legged sidekick riding shotgun—here are some of them.

Kate Daniels, from Ilona Andrews’s rock’em sock’em urban fantasy series, finds herself the proud owner of a black standard poodle whose love of garbage and carpets is only surpassed by his love of her. Grendel, the poodle, has a unique gift. He is a magical fey being who becomes the size of a horse when he or his mistress is in danger.

Jaye Wells’s feisty heroine Sabrina Kane doesn’t go anywhere without her sarcastic, potty mouth, porn addicted, bi-species humping mischief demon Giguhl. Giguhl spends his time as a hairless cat since Sabrina’s little magical accident in Red Headed Stepchild. *cough-cough*

Rachel Morgan, from Kim Harrison’s outstanding Hollows series, has recently come into the possession of a teenage gargoyle named Bis. Bis doesn’t say or do much. But when the things get tough for Rachel, he flies across time and space- kicking arse and taking names for her.

Allison Pang went all out in her Abby Sinclair series and gave her heroine an underwear-sniffing, bacon-loving minature unicorn named Phineas. His magical abilities are distinct, but it’s his attitude that has you rolling with laughter and wanting one for your very own.

In Kevin Herne’s Iron Druid series, our hero Atticus O’Sullivan hero has an Irish wolfhound named Oberon. Whom he communicates with, telepathically.

Hellhounds, part dog, part demon, are frequently found in both urban fantasy and paranormal romance. Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s collaboration, Good Omens, is a comedy/parody on the end of days features a hellhound ironically named dog by his 11 year old master, the Anti-Christ.

In Nalini Singh’s Angel series, guild director Sara and her OMG smexy hubby Deacon are the proud owners of a slobbering, bad-breath, child-loving hellhound. Kelly Gay’s Charlie Madigan series also features a child loving hellound. Even Larissa Ione gets in on the action in her Lords of Deliverance series when the heroine of Eternal Rider saves and imprints with a baby hellound who becomes her champion regardless of the consequences.

We, of course, could not forget the wonderful kindred in Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels series. The Kindred are powerful warlords and witches in their own right, but choose to interact and bond with certain humans. These animals are definitely not pets but comrades and are treated accordingly.

In my research, it seems that the reading world is torn between loving the little critters and wanting to see them permanently banned from literature. So tell me, do you enjoy your favorite characters when they’re paired with an animal or would you rather have them footloose and pet-free?

Poodle image by greg westfall via Flickr; Irish wolfhound by me’nthedogs via Flickr

Tori Benson, Smexybooks and at Twitter.

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Carmen Pinzon
1. bungluna
Pets, like children, can be annoying, true, but when they are done well they add joy to the reading experience. You've mentioned all my favorites except, you forgot Mouse and Mister from the Dresden Files!
EC Spurlock
2. EC Spurlock
Don't forget slobbery, sarcastic demon-in-a Newfoundland-body Jim from the Asiling Grey, Guardian series by Kasey Michaels.
Victoria Janssen
3. VictoriaJanssen
I think pets are okay so long as they don't get conveniently forgotten whenever they would be an inconvenience to the plot...any hellhounds abandoned in parking lots?
EC Spurlock
4. jsmom2
I'm with bungluna, this list needs a Mouse on it
EC Spurlock
5. Darlynne
There's a Newfoundland in a paranormal series? I am going to be all over that. Thanks, EC Spurlock.

My favorite, hands down, is Devon Monk's Stone, a sort of large dog-size gargoyle that Allie Beckstrom accidentally magics to life. Stone loves to build things out of whatever is around--tea cups, utensils--and his skills improve with each outing. I think his last creation may have been a scale reproduction of the Coliseum in Rome. Stone croons in his gravelly voice, saves the day and generally soothes everyone, including me. I love that gargoyle.
EC Spurlock
6. Dragon47
I love the dust bunnies -- especially Fuzz -- from Jayne Castle's Harmony books.
EC Spurlock
7. torifl
How could I forget mouse and mister from the Dresden Files and the dust bunnies from Jayce Castle's Harmany series? *bad Tori*
I LOVE those dust bunnies!!!
Pamela Webb-Elliott
8. Spaz
My favorite is Phin, oh and Giguhl! Those are my faves :)
9. cicatricella
@Darlynne, @EC Spurlock - there is indeed a slobbery demon in Newfoundland form named Jim in the Aisling Grey books, but those books are written by Katie MacAlister
EC Spurlock
10. EC Spurlock
@cicatricella -- Thanks, I realized my mistake after I had posted and was not able to get back to correct it. I appreciate you fixing it for me. My bad, I love both those authors and because the names seem similar to me I am forever getting them mixed.

@Dragon47 - I will have to check out the dust bunnies!! I'm envisioning them as something like the Soot Sprites from Miyazaki movies.
EC Spurlock
11. PJ Schnyder
I love the kindred in the Anne Bishop Black Jewels world. And Phin, awesome unicorn!

And as a writer, I've included Chester the ferret in Hunting Kat and Toby the mechanical flying squirrel in Evie's Gift. Pets play a big role in the upcoming third book in the Terra's Guardians series as well. I love writing them as much as I love reading them. :D
Synde Korman
12. SyndeKorman
I love it when a UF character has pets.. it makes them more beliveable!
Like Atticus and Oberon...
Great article Tori
EC Spurlock
13. Grace S
I'm a huge fan of the aforementioned dust bunnies and I wish I had one of my own. :)

That said, I enjoy Galahad, Eve and Roarke's obese and very spolied cat from JD Robb's In Death books. Harvard the dog from Lara Adrian's Midnight Breed series is fun, too.

Going full on old school, I always wished I had a dragon to ride ala Anne McCaffrey's Pern books or at the *very* least, a pet fire lizard.
Jennifer Meriwether
15. JenM
I love pets of all kinds in paranormal series as they are usually great for comic relief. I'm currently reading the World of the Lupi series by Eileen Wilks. Lily, the main heroine has a big rescued alley cat named Dirty Harry that constantly challenges Lily's werewolf mate for dominance. The books are pretty serious, so it's nice to have a touch of comedy in there. Shelly Laurenston also has a heroine in the Main Event, her first Pride book who owns two huge rottweilers (I think) and falls in love with a lion shifter who isn't thrilled about her dogs.
16. Rose In RoseBear
Amazed that no one has mentioned the Black Dagger Brotherhood's resident critters, Boo the cat and George the Seeing-Eye dog. Boo's presence is used to highlight pivotal scenes in the books. George is the embodiment of Wrath's kinder, gentler aspect.

Mercy Thompson has Medea, perhaps the only cat in the Branverse who likes werewolves. I wonder about Medea. She's sure a lucky cat ...

And, since Catherine Coulter's Wizard's Daughter has paranormal elements, can I include racing cats? I love racing cats!
EC Spurlock
17. jedihawk10
Love Robin Owens series with the fams (cat, fox, bunnies, dog, etc.) that bond with their humans. Wish I could talk telepathically with my cat...or maybe not. Zanth is still my favorite!
EC Spurlock
18. Dragon47
@ EC Spurlock: I had to look up the Soot Sprites, LOL. That's one of the reasons I love this website. I'm always learning about new books, movies and TV shows ;) The dust bunnies have six legs, tatty fur and two sets of eyes. They're much cuter than they sound. While the series is formulaic, like Castle's Jayne Ann Krentz and Amanda Quick novels, the dust bunnies are the reason I keep reading.

I have plenty of catching up to do -- Except for Nalini Singh's hellhound and J.D. Robb's Galahad, I'm not familiar with most of the critters mentioned.

I recently finished reading Christina Henry's "Black Wings" and "Black Night." I checked them out from the library. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed them, since I'd never heard of Henry's books. I'm looking forward to the next installment, "Black Howl." One of the secondary characters is a cute gargoyle named Beezle. He's addicted to popcorn and doughnuts; he eats constantly when he's stressed out -- which is often, or the books wouldn't be interesting.
EC Spurlock
19. Larisa
First thought was "What about Mouse & Mister?" Glad I'm not the only one!
And yes, Jim is a key reason to not drink anything while reading Katie MacAlister's Aisling Grey books. Have had a few close calls snorting and almost ruining library books.
EC Spurlock
20. Cali
I just love the animal friends. I adore all of Robin Owen's series because of the familars. The Celta series is the best with talking cats--one who even wants to be painted. There are also foxes and house fluffs. Love it!
EC Spurlock
21. Roxanne Rhoads
I love Allison Pang's Phineas. A mini unicorn with attitude too funny
EC Spurlock
22. MusingBookworm
Wow- my TBR pile has just tripled. I love pets in UF & PNR. I think they can be used to great effect. One of my favorites is Sir Pup the hellhound in Meljean Brook's Gardian series. He helps establish the softer, maternal side of his Heroine's (Lilith) character as well providing comedy relief.
EC Spurlock
23. filkferengi
I'm a huge fan of the rose goblins in Seanan McGuire's Toby Daye books.
Angela Gradillas
24. Gradia
I love Mercy Thompson's werewolf-loving cat Medea. I like when the pet is part of the story continuity, they are mentioned as part of the hero's daily life, but aren't usually major players. Medea is used to introduce werewolf Adam, and he leaves a nasty note threatening to eat her the next time he catches her on his property, but we find out he spent quite some time holding and petting her, so he can't be such a bad guy. :) Medea continues to pop up occasionally throughout the series as she interacts with the whole cast of characters.
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