Guest Chick: Liz Milliron

Please join us in welcoming back our wonderful friend Liz Milliron, author of The Laurel Highlands Mysteries series and The Homefront Mysteries! We are very excited to hear about her newest book–check out the gorgeous cover below.

Hello to all the Chicks and thanks for having me back (again). Yes, it feels like I was just here. Maybe because I was. That’s life when you have multiple book releases per year.

The latest in the Laurel Highlands Mysteries series features the world of greyhound racing. How’d I get here? Well, it’s a story.

Early in 2019, my husband told me it was time to get another dog. I was very happy. I’d been waiting (somewhat) patiently for this moment since our last dog died in 2011. I’d prepared. I knew what kind of dog I wanted. I’d know ever since I met Solomon, a retired-racer greyhound belonging to a friend of mine. The Hubby, of course, took a little more convincing. But in March 2019, we met Koda at the kennel and the rest is history.

I’ve had dogs before. I figured I knew all about dog ownership. Well, yes, but…no. I didn’t know about greyhound dog ownership. While ’hounds are like “normal” dogs in some ways, they are very…unique in others. They are sometimes called “the cats of the canine world” and three years later, I know why.

First, I was not prepared for the regimented schedule of a greyhound. I suppose that makes sense. After all, at the track life is scheduled to the minute. Time to eat, time to exercise, time to train, time to race. This carried over into retirement. My last dog (Casey) was very flexible. Breakfast at seven, six-thirty, eight or even nine (especially on the weekends)? No problem. Not Koda. He presents himself at my bedside promptly at six-thirty Every Stinking Morning. Weekday, weekend, holiday…doesn’t matter. He gets antsy in the late afternoon. Inevitably, I look at the clock and it’s five. I call him “the amazing time-telling dog” because he’s rarely off by more than a few minutes either way.

I was not that scheduled. I am better-trained now.

Casey loved to snuggle. If I sat on the couch, Casey would leap up to be beside me. If I happened to be sitting next to The Hubby, Casey would worm his way in.

Not Koda. It’s not that he doesn’t like affection. He does. But on his terms. He will seek me out and demand pets. If I try to leave before he is done, I get “the paw of more,” where he reaches out and “holds” me in place. However. Much like a cat, when he is done, he is DONE. He’ll get up and retire to his bed or a back room to snooze. Sometimes I can follow and continue, sometimes not.

A weird combination of points one and two, is Koda’s bedtime routine. First, I brush his teeth (yes, with a toothbrush – greyhounds are prone to bad teeth). Then he gets a Greenie. Then he goes outside. After that, he comes upstairs to get a drink from the toilet (hey, to him it’s a perfectly-placed water dish that is automatically refilled). Then he comes into my bedroom and flops down. I have to get on the floor (because Koda has never attempted to jump up on furniture and has no interest in doing so) and pet him. This lasts for anywhere from five to fifteen minutes. At that point, he pops up, leaves the bedroom, and goes to his own bed.

Message received: Thank you, human slave. You’ve been dismissed.

Casey used to run to the door to greet me. Even if I only went as far as the trash cans, it was as if I’d been gone forever when I returned.

You guessed it, not Koda. Oh, sometimes he’ll run to the gate to meet me, say if I’ve been gone for a few days at a convention. The family tells me he most definitely pines for me when I’m not around. But you wouldn’t know it. If I’m gone for a few hours, he doesn’t move from his bed. He enthusiastically thumps his tail and reaches his snoot forward for attention. If I enter and walk past him, he’s upset. But get up and run to me? Not on your life. No, the “dog of pharaohs” demands the humans come to him, not the other way around.

But for all that, I wouldn’t trade my 85-pound goofball for anything. After all, he also knows that the best place for him while I’m writing is on his bed at my desk side, being quiet, and making no demands.

Which makes him the perfect dog for a writer.

Pet owners: What behaviors from your pets surprised you? Or what would you like to know about greyhounds in general?

Liz Milliron is the author of The Laurel Highlands Mysteries series, set in the scenic Laurel Highlands and The Homefront Mysteries, set in Buffalo, NY during the early years of World War II. She is a member of Pennwriters, Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and The Historical Novel Society and is the current vice-President of the Pittsburgh chapter of Sisters in Crime. Liz splits her time between homes in Pittsburgh and the Laurel Highlands, were she lives with her husband and a very spoiled retired-racer greyhound.

About Lie Down With Dogs:

Trooper Jim Duncan’s first day with the Criminal Investigation Division starts off with a bang when he is called to a murder scene with a badly decomposed body. After he finds an abused greyhound in the victim’s garage, the simple homicide becomes more complicated. Why would anyone want an unreliable racetrack employee dead, especially when greyhound racing is illegal in Pennsylvania?

Assistant public defender Sally Castle is facing her own career change. When she accepts a position with an old law school friend, her first case seems to be one that is exactly what she wants to do. Then she learns the greyhound adoption group her client may have embezzled from has ties to the shooting victim. What else is her client hiding?

Jim and Sally work their respective investigations, which may or may not be related. Along the way, they learn important lessons about themselves, those they work with, and the people they protect. But can they complete their tasks without falling prey to a killer?

36 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Liz Milliron

  1. I can relate, Liz! My CHUG (part Chihuahua and Pub) named Rango is a Dr. Pepper dog. At 10, 2, and 4, he’s ready for walkies. And when he runs ahead, he twirls. It’s like he’s telling me to hurry! When Rango and Rusty (our tabby) run side by side, the random “twirl” throws the cat into a high leap to avoid a collision. Too funny.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Koda sounds wonderful! For just shy of 20 years, we had 2 Siamese Cats. They were littermates and very bonded. They say that Siamese are the “Dogs” of the cat world. They would run to the door to meet us and any strangers who came into the house had to be checked out.
    They demanded attention and followed us around the house like a puppy. I truly miss my playful and loving boys. We were blessed to have them for so long.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. My Jack Russell mix, Ziggy, reminds me a bit of Koda: She wants affection, but on HER terms; and she’s very bossy about breakfast time and her morning walks. But she’s the best dog I’ve ever had–smart, curious, and the best little digger the world ever did see!

    Thanks so much for visiting the Chicks today, Liz, and congrats on the new book–it sounds terrific!

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Liz, Lie Down with Dogs sounds AMAZING! And loved this post. Our cat is the one with the built-in clock. She’s relentless. But Farley, our golden, well…he’s something of an odd duck. My hubby tried to teach him a bedtime routine that included “say good-night to Mommy”–i.e. trot over for pets before heading into his sleeping crate. It was hilarious–Farley would stay just out of reach of my fingertips and stand there, refusing to look at me. Literally, he’d lean just a hair’s breadth away. Husband would get annoyed and send him back a few times, same thing. Then Farley would trot into his crate. I wish I could have some dog whisperer come and tell me why he plays that game. I am definitely #3 in the pack–Hubby, Farley…Me.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, and I forgot: Koda’s favorite thing is to demand to go outside, I open the door, he sticks his nose out and decides, “Ehhh, never mind.” This is especially true if it’s raining. I swear he looks at me as if to say, “I can hold it.”

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lisa. I’m sure Farley has his reasons. Even if they only make sense to him. Goldens always get a rap for being the “blondes” of the canine world, but they are much smarter than people say – considering how well they’ve trained us.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Liz, this is so sweet! I always love your Koda pictures and it’s wonderful to get a little insight into his personality.

    Pogo, our rescue chihuahua mix, is around 16. We know because his first family found me on Facebook not long after we adopted him and we’ve stayed in touch. He’s not a pogo stick anymore. We’re pretty sure he’s blind in one eye and can’t hear very well. He’s developed two habits in his dotage. Instead of sitting with us on the couch at night now, he takes his ball and circles the house with it, whining if we don’t at least pretend to grab it. (It’s weird because he has a leg injury from last year, and he’ll still do this for an hour or two, even if he hops a little, at which point I give him a pain med.)

    Another development is that when I have to leave town for a con, he’ll full-on howl when I’m gone. It’s tough on whoever’s sitting for him, like my husband. When we were both gone for Eliza’s graduation, it drove our sitter mad. So, big family travel plans are on hold while he’s with us. (We tried taking him to a weekend wedding with us but he freaked out going on walks and instead peed twice in the hotel room, sigh.)

    Liked by 3 people

  6. My dachshund is a pip! She’s very head-strong. Very vocal, but she’s also my hearing service dog. She alerts me to a knock at my door, A fire alarm in my building if my hearing aids are out. But food… that’s her game! This girl would outeat me if I’d let her. She’s really bossy!!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I can understand and empathize with your challenges getting used to another breed, Liz. I had Newfoundlands for nearly 30 years, but after we lost our last big boy, the wife told me she’d really like to downsize. Also, Newfs had gotten really expensive over the years, to the point where the cost of a good dog was prohibitive. So we looked at other breeds and decided to try a Cardigan Welsh Corgi (the ones with a tail).
    Cardigans and Newfs couldn’t be more different. Newfs are laid back and Cardigans are wired. We also have four cats, and some days the house is like a circus with everybody chasing everybody else.
    In all the years I had a Newf, I had three or four instances of food theft. You literally cannot turn your back on a Cardigan if food is anywhere in reach (and you’d be surprises at what those short-legged dogs can reach!) Sam climbed up on a chair as silent as death, to eat an entire bowl of shredded chicken while I was six feet away with my back turned. He got a bag of 10 chocolate cupcakes from the center of a waist high table (we still have no idea how) and ate all of them, which necessitated a call to poison control since chocolate in that quantity is toxic to dogs.We had to pour hydrogen peroxide down his throat to get him to give back the bulk of the cupcakes (yeech!), We can’t free feed him because he will clean out any sized bowl.
    Newfs are very gregarious and don’t play favorites, but the Cardigan had adopted my wife and is seldom far from her. He will start baking and whining if I show her any attention.
    All in all, the Cardigan is a good dog, but he sure is different. Some days I really miss my Newf.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Tom, my first dog ate an most of a bowl of mini chocolates one year after we went out trick-or-treating with the kids. The bowl was in the middle of the table and all the chairs were pushed in Casey was not a big dog. We still don’t know how he did it. Fortunately, there were no side effects.

      Koda snatched a quarter stick of butter and gobbled it down, wrapper and all. I put it on the counter, turned, turned back and it was gone. And he just stood there licking his lips and looking innocent. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Imagining your house with all the pets chasing each other, Tom–ha! Farley and the cat have taken to working in tandem on the food stealing. Farley stands there looking cute and innocent, distracting, while Lucy snags the goods by batting them onto the floor. Works every time.


  8. Love the photos of Koda and the fascinating facts, Liz! Also, congrats on your new book! (If only there were a dog on the cover…) I remember growing up and riding Greyhound buses and clamoring for a greyhound as a pet (my parents refused).

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Jennifer! I considered a dog on the cover, but there was that pesky branding thing (all the series covers are nature, no animals or people).

      I swear I’m going to get Koda a bus costume one of these years for Halloween.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I love Koda! Nala is part greyhound and I sure wish I would have known the thing about their teeth earlier. We got her when she was four and so much about Koda could have been written about my quirky girl. She does not like the toothbrush, though. Sigh.

    Best of luck with the new book!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Becky. The paperwork from the adoption group taught me about the teeth thing. Even if you give Nala a Greenie (or something similar) it helps. Koda tolerates the toothbrush because he knows he gets a Greenie afterward.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Koda sounds great. Loved the stories and the photos. We had a black lab/pointer mix when we first got married. We used to keep Hershey kisses in a bowl on the coffee table. We would come home and find wrappers on the coffee table and accused each other of eating them. Then we saw him jump up on the table and do that. Needless to say, we moved it, apologized to each other and were glad that it did not hurt him. How he got the wrapper off, I will never know. We now have a golden retriever who is great for the geriatric set (we are in our 70s). She sleeps till we are up ever since she was 8 months old. She is very well trained, has a great vocabulary, understands complete sentences, watches TV (her favorites are dog commercials, and she knows all of the music and will come in from the other room to watch), is a happy dog, does her business on command, and loves to ride in the car. We call her our Doggler Radar because she tells us 1 hour before a storm by getting in her bed. They truly make a house a home full of love.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love Goldens, too. Jim Duncan has a Golden named Rizzo.

      Our last dog, Casey, devoured most of a bowl of Hershey’s mini chocolates one Halloween. Like you, I never did figure out how he got the wrappers off (no harm done to him, either).

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you so much for visiting us, Liz!

    LOVE this post and the pics too. Dogs really are so wonderful. Our dog/queen rules the house, no question.

    The cover of your book is so pretty–can’t wait to read!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. First, congrats on another great release! So happy and excited for you–and US!!

    I’ve had a couple of friends with greyhounds and they are (pardon the pun) a breed apart. I love them!

    What surprises me most about my pup, Olive, is what a little person she is. She is brimming with personality with the entire range of emotions.

    Liked by 1 person

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