They say behind every great story is a granule of truth, no matter how miniscule the grain might be, and though I have heard many a writer deny such a claim, I am here to tell you it is the truth, whether the writer is acutely aware of it or not. Be it fiction or the “God’s honest truth”, found in the folds of every page is some shadow of an experience or person or place we writers either loved or loathed.
My Chronicles of Mister Marmee stories are no exception, and I am unafraid to say that though there is no one person who stands out in my mind as being the archtype for this or that character, there are shadows… ghosts if you will….of people or places that have struck my fancy. I am a collector of characters. A people watcher. A studier of human nature, and so I cannot help but pick up on the comical moments I observe from time to time when I am out and about, living life. The character of Sir Happy Heart is special because he was very, very real.
Sir Happy Heart, or Happy as we called him, was a miniature Dachshund. The first of that breed we as a family had ever owned. He was all boy. Though fixed at an early age, he marked everything he could reach, he played hard, he loved even harder, and he redefined what it meant to be amazed by a dog and his intelligence. There was no place you could put his favorite squeaky toy that he wouldn’t find it or find a way to get it. He could open cabinets, canisters, and cupboards. He could open Ziploc bags without marring them. He could snatch an entire Muffin from your hand in a walk-by and somehow make you feel guilty about it. He was sassy and saucy and everything that was perfect. He helped to raise my little Peanut when I got her. I loved him with all my heart and still do.
Happy was a one of a kind dog that had a unique voice and demanded a one of a kind story where he was at its heart. The first Mister Marmee story began to take shape after one of his many escapades. Mister Marmee was patterned after a talkative car we had, and the rest, as they say, is history, or so the stories go.
Sir Happy, my Sir Happy, passed away in February 2013. He was a few days shy of his 15th birthday. Though my Happy dog is no longer with me to rule the house and make the kind of mischief that was always a delight, and though the halls no longer echo with the joyfulness of his bark, my stories still honor his memory, capturing the spirit of a dog that truly was larger than life.