Mason's Memory

Mason's Memory
March 18, 2019 by Modern Pets
Death by Dog Show cover

In Partnership with Kensington Books


Death by Dog Show is the perfect murder mystery for the dog-lover in your life. We spoke with author Arlene Kay about the inspiration for her novel as well as the role her furry four-legged friends play in her life. 



Mason passed almost three years ago at 14 ½, but he’s still with me in so many ways. I couldn’t part with his special food dish or favorite toy, and the collar bearing his Therapy Dog tag holds pride of place in my office. Every time I visit the beach, I visualize Mason streaking gracefully across the sand chasing his beloved ball and attracting a throng of admirers. Friends called him “Big Guy,” and at 105 pounds and 28 inches tall, he was indeed a giant Belgian Tervuren. Together we achieved many goals but one we missed was securing his AKC Championship. Although he amassed 10 of the 15 required points, he grew too tall and was permanently dismissed from the show ring after failing the “wicket” test.


Death by Dog Show

When Lord Byron entered our life, I decided to try again. Like his namesake the famous poet, this silver Tervuren pup was “mad, bad, and dangerous to know.” Initially he refused to even walk around the show ring but gradually with a bit of gentle persuasion he grew to love the excitement and thrill of competition. Like most pet parents I lauded his achievements and sulked when he was overlooked. (That judge must need glasses!). Gradually, with the help of a professional handler, Byron inched toward his championship. That long, laborious process often required trudging to small town venues across the east coast and bedding down at some dubious lodgings whose only distinction was their pet friendly policy. In the end it was all worth it.


One week a blizzard blanketed Pennsylvania Dutch country, temporarily halting the dog show. Tempers frayed (human not canine), and it occurred to me that this was the ideal setting for a murder mystery. Where else, outside of an Agatha Christie country house cozy, would such a seething caldron of boredom, frustrated ambition, and backbiting exist? Needless to say, no dogs were among my victims. Creating venial, vile characters who invited mayhem was a cinch as it is in most human endeavors! Thus, Death by Dog Show was born.


By the end of the year, I completed my novel and Lord Byron became an AKC champion, and subsequently a Grand Champion!


Although Mason was often dismissive of his younger sibling, I know he would be proud of Lord Byron’s victory. The “Big Guy” had absolutely no insecurities about himself. He knew instinctively that despite that dreadful wicket test, he was and always would be a Grand Champion too.


Author Arlene Kay and her dog



Arlene Kay spent twenty years as a Senior Federal Executive where she was known as a most unconventional public servant. Her time with the federal government, from Texas to Washington, DC, allowed her to observe both human and corporate foibles and rejoice in unintentional humor. These locations and the many people she encountered are celebrated in her mystery novels. She is also the author of the Boston Uncommons Mystery series as well as Intrusion and Die Laughing. She is a member of International Thriller Writers. Visit her on the web at


Photo Credit: Kim Rodriques Photography


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