John Martel is a New York Times best selling author of legal thrillers who lives in Rancho Mirage with his wife Bonnie. This well known American novelist is also a former trial attorney who brings realism and stunning insight to legal fiction. His popular novel “Billy Strobe” will soon be made into a motion picture. The theme of amazing rescue dogs weaves its way through many of John’s novels, delivering a subtle message that leaves the reader wanting to go out and experience the magic of adopting. John is a huge dog lover.
John and his son adopted a rescue dog that was in a high kill Los Angeles shelter. “My son and I got a rescue dog who was abused, and only the two of us could get close to him. I was ready to despair, but we hung in there, and now he’s returned our love over a thousand times. At first the dog was easily threatened and snarled at anyone other than my son and I. He was badly damaged, and it took time and patience for Walter to turn into a loving dog. We got Walter before my grandsons were born, but Walter turned out to be incredibly gentle with children. My two grandsons ages 3 and 6 don’t want to go anywhere without the dog. Walter is like my third grandson.” John is pictured here enjoying a hike with Walter.
John states, “Most of my books incorporate a dog as an important character. I try to convey the notion that there are so many lonely people whose lives could be enriched by a canine friend who is silently waiting to be discovered at a shelter.” The Coachella Valley is full of retired people, single and widowed, many of whom would find their lives enriched by the companionship of a dog. Loving All Animals recently adopted a dog to a 75 year old widow who never owned a dog before, and she reports she cannot now imagine life without him.
The hero in Conflict of Interest, young lawyer Seth Cameron rescues a 3 legged dog from a shelter on the eve of his scheduled euthanasia. The dog he named Fat Dog or “Fats” becomes his best friend and accompanies him to his law practice. An exerpt from the book describes their relationship, “Fat Dog was probably supposed to have been a Golden Retriever, but something had gone wrong – possibly a male basset hound – during mating. Then, not far into life, a car attack left him an orphaned pup with three legs, which is the way Seth found him at the Bakersfield SPCA, just in time to commute his sentence. In Seth’s case, after Rosie’s departure, Fat Dog wasn’t ‘man’s best friend’, he was his only friend.” Themes of animal love and loyalty can be found in most of John’s novels. He hopes to inspire readers to venture forth and save a dog so that they in turn may be “saved” by that dog.
In the 2011 novel Billy Stobe, Billy’s partner and best friend Mr. Dog, was also saved by his human hero on the eve before euthanasia. When Billy himself is sentenced to prison in Soledad, Mr. Dog leaves his adoptive parents in Los Angeles and sets off on foot to unite with Billy almost 400 miles away – - with disastrous results. Here’s a brief exerpt from that book, “Prison etiquette. It wouldn’t matter much anyway. Darryl Orton struck me as just another decent human being who had been run over by life somewhere along the way. Like Mr. Dog, whose sentense at the L.A. dog pound I’d commuted at the eleventh hour. Mr. Dog eventually got over his slinking around, but it’s a scientific fact that humans have better memories than canines, though not as much good sense. When the mail came with only twenty-eight hours to spare, it was both good and bad. The good part was an order from the Superior Court of the City and County of San Francisco, granting my motion for a new trial on behalf of Donald Giovanni Campora. I wept with relief when I saw it, then wept with grief when I read the second piece of mail. It was from the friend watching my dog for me. Seems that Mr. Dog had been hit and killed by a car while trying to cross Wilshire Boulevard. He had been heading north, towards Soledad. Toward me.”
During our interview, John discussed his thoughts on the psychological resilience of dogs. Their psychological system allows them to recover from trauma that goes beyond what humans are usually able to do. “Our dog Walter was once quite neurotic and now he’s completely well adjusted and happy. A dog can get past its trauma and not act out their vengence on the new owner.” Amazingly, these canines have the abiity to heal trauma in their owners. Some of our combat Veterans returning from Iraq and Afganistan with post traumatic stress disorder use service dogs to ease their anxiety. Some people suffering from childhood trauma now take service dogs with them into the workplace. These soothing animals allow them to work and participate in daily activities that might otherwise be too stressful. Dogs have an amazing ability to adapt and form new bonds, teaching us through example. As the familiar bumper sticker reads, “Who Rescued Who”.
Enjoy a John Martel novel this summer. Adopt a rescue dog who will joyfully and gratefully sit next to you on the couch while you read. More information is available on John Martel’s website www.johnmartel.com.