PUPPY LOVE by Rula Sinara & Catherine Lanigan

Catherine's Golden Retriever pups

RULA:​ I bet that with Valentine’s Day around the corner, you all assuming that by ‘puppy love’ we’re talking about first romantic crushes. Nope! We’re literally talking about dogs or puppies who’ve stolen our hearts (in person or in books/TV/film), become family members or best friends and even heroes. Any fellow dog lovers out there?

The thing about Valentine’s Day is that not everyone has a romantic partner to celebrate it with and, because of that, a lot of people feel left out or downright depressed when the official day of romance rolls around. The pressure and stigma of not having a date can be stressful! As romance writers, we’re all about falling in love, but I say we should turn Heart Day on its head and push for it being associated more and more about LOVE in general. All kinds of love, including that of our furry friends. 

One of Rula's two labradoodles

Dogs of different breeds play a big role in my Turtleback Beach series for Harlequin Heartwarming. In my upcoming March release, ​Caught by the Sheriff ​ (book 2), the residents of the small town have a traditional beach bonfire celebration on Valentine’s Day, where there’s no pressure to have a date and everyone can celebrate the day regardless of relationship status. Many of the folks do bring their dogs along, though. I mean think about it…no matter where you are in life a beloved dog will always stand by your side and give you unconditional love. There’s a bit of dog romance going on in the story too ;). 

I’ve always had dogs growing up, from mixed breeds/rescues to cocker spaniels and labradoodles. I love dogs (cats too, but this is about puppy love). I used to be terrified of them when I was little, but watching the show “Lassie” growing up changed all that. One of these days I hope to have a rough collie (Lassie’s breed) of my own. In fact, the first book of my Turtleback Beach series, Almost a Bride, stars a rough collie like Lassie who plays a role in bringing my hero and heroine back together again, years after she left him at the altar. Oh, and the book has kittens too, for cat lovers ;). 

Rough Collie...just like 'Lassie'!
(image credit Clarita on Morguefile.com)

Caught by the Sheriff ​ includes the hero’s part Great Dane/mixed breed rescue (he takes in elderly dogs who are less likely to be adopted), a bulldog, the same rough collie, a Newfoundland puppy and many other breeds, since my heroine is a dog trainer/groomer who is on the run and hiding out in Turtleback Beach with a toddler who isn’t her own (yep…suspense!). Anyone love Great Danes or other ‘gentle giant’ breeds? What about bulldogs or toy breeds? 

Great Dane
(image credit Palomino at Morguefile.com)

What about water loving, giant Newfoundland dogs? I have a small flock of ducks and when they say a duck can turn a drop of water into a mud puddle, they’re not kidding. Well, the same is true of Newfies. They love water! I mean LOVE it. I’ve never owned a Newfie but I’ve met a few. They are great water rescue dogs, which is why the hero in the third book of the series (I’m currently writing)…who runs the beach water patrol/rescue…has a Newfoundland who’ll play a big role in the story.

(image credit Terranovesca at morguefile.com)
So do you have any favorite breeds or pets who’ve brought unconditional love into your lives? Any funny dog stories or situations you’ve run into? Or favorite dog characters in movies? What about you, Catherine? 

CATHERINE​: I, too, bless our furry family members who add so much to our lives and remind us every day that life is about so much more than just working, paying the bills, and struggling with family issues and illnesses. Life is about loving. All kinds of loving. One of the endearing qualities about Heartwarming novels is this all-encompassing perspective on love that pervades our stories. We write about family, friends, community in addition to the romance. 

Not only am I a puppy and dog lover, (cats, too as I’ve had several in my life), but I have the most adorable photos to share of my 8 Golden Retriever puppies who manage to make their way into more than half my novels. All my Goldens now live on the Rainbow Bridge waiting to be reunited with me, but the thing I love about being an author is that their loving spirits and antics have always added so much to my stories. 

Catherine's Golden Retriever pups eating dinner at Christmas
My “babies” were born on December 1st making them Christmas babies and believe me, the videos of my then, 14 month old granddaughter playing in the pen with 8 Golden puppies on Christmas Eve is right out of a Hallmark movie. 

Catherine's Golden pups

In my latest release for Heartwarming, HOME FOR CHRISTMAS, Titus and Adam Masterson are masters to a very pregnant Angel who gives birth to her puppies on Christmas Eve. Though I helped “midwife” my puppies into the world, I didn’t go into that much detail in the book. Some of you may remember that Sarah Jensen Bosworth’s Golden, Beau, was featured in LOVE SHADOWS and returned for encores in several subsequent stories. He’s always been a hit with the kiddos of Indian Lake. 

 And of course, in SOPHIE’S PATH, was adorable tiny “Frenchie” the Yorkie Poo who stole everyone’s heart, especially when I tweeted about the real life, Piper, and her antics when she came to visit me here at home. 

Frenchie the yorkipoo star of Sophie's Path

Frenchie the yorkipoo 

Scout...a German shepherd who belongs to Catherine's friend

So, everyone, what ARE your favorite breeds? Do you like writing about dogs and puppies? What are your favorites? Share your puppy love!

Caught by the Sheriff
(Turtleback Beach Book 2)
March 2020

If she follows her heart…

Will he follow the law?

Turtleback Beach, North Carolina, would be paradise—if Faye Donovan wasn’t on the run. With her sister’s life in danger and her small niece to protect, Faye tries to avoid handsome town sheriff Carlos Ryker. But Carlos offers her a refuge, and Faye feels she’s finally found home. And yet he’s still the sheriff. Can she trust him with the truth…even if it means risking everything?

Home for Christmas
(Shores of Indian Lake Book 12)
Nov 2019

Can a magical Christmas under glass…

…bring them back together for good?

Widowed dad Adam Masterson still doesn’t understand why Joy Boston left Indian Lake and broke his heart all those years ago. Now she’s returned to sell her grandfather’s beloved poinsettia greenhouse—and Joy and Adam’s connection is as strong as ever. But Joy has a life in New York. And Adam has only until Christmas to convince Joy that she belongs in Indian Lake—with him.

Sending everyone our love this Valentine's Day!

Rula & Catherine


  1. I don't know my favorite breeds, to tell the truth, although I do have a soft spot for Dachshunds. I tend to like friends' dogs. I love your pictures!

    1. Good morning, Liz! There are so many new breeds with all the "designer mixes" and these days, they're cuter than ever. My nephew and his wife have a very large black Poodle, Sadie, and she's adorable. Happy Valentine's Day!

    2. Hey, Liz! I used to work with someone who loved Dachshunds and had two. They were her kids and she loved sharing pics and stories about them. And Catherine, the father of my labradoodle in the pic above was a very large and tall black poodle! Her mom was a cream colored lab.

  2. I love all these photos of dogs. They really bring joy to people, don’t they? I had a dog in my first Heartwarming (For love of a Dog) but sometimes I forgot he was there! Left him sitting under a kitchen table for a whole chapter. Lol The Lassie collie (why is it called a rough collie?) is a breed I don’t see much of anymore in my area. Popular ones are those wee bulldogs. Thanks for this post ladies! Sweet! And congrats on the upcoming release Rula, which I look forward to.

    1. I loved watching my sister-in-law's Australian Shepherd herd ducks in her herding classes. She was better with cows. Those ducks made her crazy. I saw gorgeous and loving Border Collies. I could go for one of those!

    2. Thanks, Janice! The 'rough' in rough collie refers to the specific collie breed (as opposed to border collies) and stems from the type of coat they have. They have a double layered 'rough' coat that sheds dirt easily. Since they're a herding/farm dog, that's a helpful thing ;). The breed became really popular during and right after the Lassie series on TV and the movies, which led to some bad breeding practices. Some people just wanted to cash in on the popularity. Eventually popularity declined, but I think there's a bit of a comeback. I just love them and find their personality a good match for me. They're not as high energy as a border collie and they have an off switch (on barking too). I haven't had one join my family (yet), but I've researched them tons (a bit obsessed with them lol) and hope to adopt one from a rough collie rescue someday.

  3. I'll never forget the sound my daughter (then 2) made when we put a puppy on her lap for the first time. Pure joy!

    1. Those squeals of delight were the sound my granddaughter made in that pen with 8 new puppies. Sadly, she doesn't remember it. Sniff!

    2. Elizabeth, that's so cute! I can imagine they bonded instantly!

  4. Aw, love the pictures, and all the dogs. My favorite breed is usually the dog I'm petting at the moment. In my book coming out in May, we have goats instead of dogs, but there is discussion about getting a Great Pyrenees guardian dog. A malamute named Vitus plays a big role in the story I'm writing now for next Christmas.

    1. I love, love baby goats. Did you see the Hallmark movie with Lacey Chaubert when she had the baby goats on the house she had to share with the hero? AWWW. so cute.

    2. I love baby goats! And I love that you said your favorite breed is the one you're petting at the moment :). So true! You know, I researched Great Pyrenees a lot too, especially a year or two ago when we were having predator problems with our chickens. GP's are known to be great guardian dogs. We have a neighbor who has adopted GP's from a rescue. The one she has now is just gorgeous and enormous. Like a polar bear lol. They are gentle giants but boy do they dwarf the human who is walking them lol.

  5. My family has always celebrated Valentine's Day as a time to celebrate and express love of all kinds, not just romantic. As for animal love...that's such a special kind. At the fair, I always have to visit the animals. I have cat and dog friends throughout my walking route. If they don't have names, I give them my own.

    1. I love that about your family, Callie! And yes, animal love is truly special. So unconditional and non-judgmental.

  6. Callie, you reminded me of when I used to walk my Goldens down the Boulevard in Tanglewood in Houston. They were so rambunctious. I couldn't do three at a time, so I had to walk two at a time. Anyway, we met so many other doggies and we all shared stories and antics. It was the time of my life. Then when we lived in Ecuador, (Beau and Bebe had doggie passports...NO KIDDING!) we walked the dogs along the boulevards there. It didn't matter that I barely spoke Spanish, everyone loved our dogs and there is a Universal language shared by doggie parents worldwide, I've found. So much caring and compassion. I believe our pups bring out the best in us, because they are the best and most loving hearts.


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