The Importance of a Sidekick with Fur

Jami’s back to visit, and she’s bringing some furry friends she’s met in books along to entertain us.  Irish Wolfhounds and Newfoundlands–I sure wouldn’t want that dog food bill.  Welcome, Jami!

In between the roller coaster ride of life that includes the small humans, a job that pays the bill, the spouse who’d like to be acknowledged occasionally, the walking floor rug, the demands of the very loud voices of the characters in mind demanding their little slice of attention, and the never ending day to day list of stuff that must be accomplished…I sneak in a book or two to read.  Just to get away from the previously stated long list.

Evan as I prepared for the awesome blog tour that is beginning with the most fantastic Mona and arranged by the gorgeous Gibby Jackson from Black Opal Books, I’ve been wracking my brains for blog topics.  Since Mona’s hosted me before and we share a love of canine creatures, I started to notice how many Urban Fantasies have started to include furry sidekicks who tread through magic and mayhem with their hero/heroine.  Just for amusement, I thought I’d list a few of my favorites.

Let’s start with my latest discovery-Oberon, the magnificent Irish Wolfhound.  This rising star enjoys sausages, beer, and movies as he keeps company with his slightly older (give or take a 1000 yrs.) companion, Atticus, who just happens to be a Druid living in Arizona in Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles.  Not only does Oberon provide both the readers and Atticus a unique canine perspective on life, but he does occasionally help his companion fight off the odd god/goddess, demons, witches and Native American spirits that tend to cross their paths.  The added benefit? Oberon and Atticus can talk to each other, and some of these conversations will leave you on the ground in tears.  Oberon even comes up with some awesome words, such as “fetishistically”.  Just so you have a taste of Oberon, here’s a passage from Hexed:

Atticus—“You don’t offer werewolves treats if you want to keep all your appendages.  They think it’s undignified and degrading to be offered a treat.”

Oberon—“Well, the moon must have addled their brains when they were thinking that one through, because I don’t see a downside to treats.  Honestly, Atticus, it’s like they have no regard for the Canine Code.”

Atticus—“I beg your pardon?”

Oberon—“The Code. Has anyone taken the time to explain to them that treats are, by definition, a savory snack of succulence, appropriate at any time and for any occasion, with the possible exception of funerals?”

See—Oberon is a wise one, canny (yep, a pun!) and creative! All hail the Irish Wolfhound!

Our second hairy sidekick comes from Katie McAllister’s  Aisling Grey, Guardian novels.  Let me introduce Jim, a large, black Newfoundland, who just happens to also be a minor demon lord who loves to instigate things.  In You Slay Me when Aisling uses her new found (ha! Another pun!) ability to summon demon lords to assist with her dragon problems, she gets Jim. Here’s a taste of Jim’s personality.  To set our scene, he’s been summoned, Aisling is having a hard time equating a Newfie with a demon lord, even if it does talk.  After some disparaging comments on her currently living quarters (a 3 star hotel in Europe), Jim decides it’s time to deal with some basic challenges—like food and walkies.  The whole time, Jim pushes Aisling to her limits…

A mother and her two little kids strolled by, the woman pausing to say something harsh to me.  I had no idea what her problem was until I looked down to find Jim writhing in apparent agony, making the most tortured face a Newfie could possibly make.

I released Jim’s ear and patted it on the head as I told her, “Don’t pay any attention to it—it’s trying to drive me insane.”

“Sounds like a short trip,” Jim muttered just loud enough for me to hear as the woman snarled something in what I was willing to bet was gutter French before she stormed off.

“Oh, thank you so very much. Just make me look like the type of person who beats up on dogs!”

                “You held my ear hard,” Jim accused.

Ah yes, how many times have our treasured pooches done things we know were deliberate, just so we’d give in and they’d get what they want?  Add in being a demon lord and Aisling has her hands very full!

My last two sidekicks aren’t as verbally accomplished as Oberon and Jim, but they too play an important role in their stories.  Medea is a battle scarred cat who belongs to Mercy Thompson, the coyote shifter heroine of Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson series, and Cagney and Lacie are half Siamese cats who share space with October Daye, our half-Fae heroine introduced by Seanen McGuire in her October Daye novels.

I’m not the biggest cat person (thank you, allergies!) but our feline companions are just as important as our canine ones.  Though neither Medea or Cagney and Lacie ever say anything, they are there to offer their silent support to their challenge weary heroines.  No matter how hard the day has been facing down vamps, the Lord of the Hunt, other Fae, werewolves or whatever the flavor of the day is—it’s nice to know you can come home and find solace as your cat curls into your lap.  They’ll even let you discuss, without interrupting, the pros and cons of continuing your current dangerous lifestyle.  All they demand is a little food and some attention.

Maybe that’s why furry companions are on the rise.  Everyone needs a de-stressor after a hard day. Someone who will listen without interrupting, sometimes offering a pithy comment or a piercing insight, all while providing an instant lap or foot warmer. What more could you ask for?


Growing up on the Arizona-Mexico border, Jami Gray was adopted at the age of 14 and suddenly became the fifth eldest of 37 children. She graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s in Journalism and three minors-History, English, and Theater.  Shortly after marrying her techie-geek hubby (who moonlighted as her best friend in high school) she completed a Masters in Organizational Management from University of Phoenix Oregon.


Now, years later, she’s back in the Southwest where  she’s outnumbered in her own home by two Star Wars obsessed boys, one Star Wars obsessed husband, and an overly-friendly, 105-pound male lab.  Writing is what saves her sanity.

  Shadow’s Edge: Book 1 of the Kyn Kronicles is out now and




Shadow’s Soul: Book 2 of the Kyn Kronicles hits shelves Summer 2012.


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13 responses to “The Importance of a Sidekick with Fur

  1. livrancourt

    What fun! I LOVE the way Oberon and Atticus talk to each other. And as much as I love Mercy Thompson and Toby Daye, someone needs to do a good cat character who gets the good lines like Oberon does. Hmm…


  2. I agree, we all need a companion to snuggle with and vent out our frustrations, even if that “listener” is purring and don’t care what you’re going on and on about. I too suffer from allergies to cats, but I do love them and really must learn no to touch one, but I can’t resist. Then I’m all itching around my nose and eyes and can’t stop sneezing. Dogs don’t seem to bother me as much, but I never owned one and from what I hear from dog owners it’s like having another member in the family. My husband is not the one for those small yapping dogs, his theory is if you’re going to have a dog, get a real dog. And then there’s issue of when we go away even if for one night and if the dog isn’t welcomed there, what do we do? It really is like having another kid that never does grow up. Wow!


  3. Hi Jami and Mona.
    I love Jim. Love his spunkiness.
    I’m a dog person, dog less fro awhile. Lost my three friends in this past year. But will get another one sometime soon.
    Cats though love me. One hid in my car to escape the farm with me and my daughter has dropped off two over the years. Their opinion, three cats in one house is two too many.


  4. lrwight09

    Nice post Jami! I don’t have pets (kids have allergies) but I love other people’s pets. Jim is beautiful!


  5. Yep, maybe it’s because I have my own hellhound pretending to be a lab, but the idea of getting a sneak peak into their canine wisdom is just oh so fun!


  6. Hi Jami- Great post! I love dogs and cats. Have had both 2 cats and 2 dogs – at the same time – that was my own adventure along with a hubby and 3 kids.

    I love Newfies but Oberon cracks me up 🙂 I’m so glad someone decided thousands of years ago to domesticate dogs and cats. What would we do without them?



  7. Awesome post, Jami! I love me some big dogs, so Newfies and Wolfhounds are tops by me. Oberon is definitely one of the best sidekicks ever – as I’ve told Kevin, for some reason I always imagine his voice sounding like Bender from Futurama, LOL. Have fun on your blog tour!


  8. marciajames

    Hi, Jami! I LOVE Jim the Newfie! I gravitate to books with dogs in them, and I always have a 4-legged characters in my books — and I don’t mean shape-shifters. 😉 I think dogs and cats show a wonderful side of the human characters.

    — Marcia 😉


  9. You guys are awesome! Thank you so much for stopping by, and huge hugs and thanks to Mona for the host! Long live the furry sidekick!


  10. What a fun post. Loved Jim and Oberon. Thanks for sharing.


  11. Pingback: The Impending Release… | Jami Gray's Blog

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