Thursday, November 19, 2009

Do You Drive A Dog?

Quick, who's one of the most beloved and funniest mystery authors in the country?
Yes, that one, and sure, her too, and we do love so many of them. But Elaine Viets is on everyone's list.

Here she is with her new car. And it has a name. But more about that in a moment.

I swiped this from her web page bio:

"As a young girl, Elaine Viets was taught the virtues of South St. Louis: the importance of hard work, housecleaning, and paying cash. She managed to forget almost everything she learned, which is why she turned to mystery writing."

I mean---what can I say. If you know Elaine, you see how truly complicated this bio snippet is . Hilarious, and full of truth and irony. She would never admit that. She'd say it's just--true. Which is what makes her such a good writer. And such a wonderful person. And such a good pal of Jungle Red.

Plus, she loves cars. And today--she has a confession to make.

I Don’t Drive a Dog

I am a cat person. I have two house cats, and drive a 1986 Jaguar sedan with a leaping cat hood ornament.

The Jaguar, with its sleek curved hindquarters, is the most beautiful car on the road, in my opinion. Except for the needle-nosed Jaguar XKE. But that wasn’t a car, it was a sculpture.

I’ve spent most of my adult years driving cat cars. In the mid-1980s, I had a silver Cougar XR-7 that looked like a satisfied tabby. In 1990, I bought my first Jaguar, a used 1986 owned by an accountant who only drove it to IRS audits. I named the car Ralph.

Other car owners joke about Jaguars being unreliable. “Buy two,” I was told. “That way you’ll have another one to drive while your Jaguar is in the shop.”

But Ralph was faithful. He never stranded me on dark roads or in dangerous neighborhoods. When he was ailing, he waited until he was home and I could safely call a tow truck. Ralph and I spent some 175,000 happy miles together. Earlier this year, I noticed light coming through Ralph’s floorboards. Peter, my mechanic, patched the hole, but Ralph was terminally ill. He was rusting out. I wept for his death.

Peter knew a man who had to sell one of his aging Jaguars. I bought another 1986 sedan. What can I say? It’s an addiction. My new-old Jaguar is Black Beauty, Blackie for short. So far, Blackie has been a paragon of beauty and faithful service.

I wrote my newest Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper novel in the middle of this car drama, and wondered why there were no cars named after dogs. Cats are seen as lazy and aloof. Dogs are supposed to be steady, hard working and faithful. So why are cars named after animals ranging from Mustangs to Rams? Where is the faithful dog?

Wouldn’t Chihuahua be the perfect name for a small, cute car? A Collie would epitomize faithful service. I’d feel safe driving my loved ones in a 2009 Collie, confident that I giving them the best protection. A Dachshund would make a good name for a long van. The Rottweiler could be a cool muscle car. Young drivers would streak down the highway in fast black Rottweilers with brown spots over the headlights.

Of course, dog cars could have perception problems. Who wants to drive a dog when that is a synonym for lemon?

Here’s a sliver of dialogue from “The Fashion Hound Murders,” where Josie Marcus and her best friend Alyce discuss the issue.

“I might like to drive a Golden Retriever or a big friendly Labrador,” Alyce said.
“Who wants to drive a Pit Bull?” Josie said. “And buying a Doberman is asking for trouble, especially if I had an accident. I could see a lawyer telling a jury, ‘That woman’s 2009 Doberman ran a red light and attacked my client’s innocent 2007 Golden Retriever.’
“And I’d be the bitch behind the wheel.”

I’m afraid cat cars will continue to rule the road. After all, a female cat is a queen.

HANK: Oh, now I'm obsessed with thinking of a good dog-car name. Do you have a 2009 Poodle? You know what that would look like. And once your car is all dented, it's clearly a Sharpei. What do you think?


The Fashion Hound Murders is available now!

(Josie Marcus has been hired to check out a big pet store's involvement with puppy mills. When an employee who clued her into the mills' existence shows up dead, Josie realizes that sinking her teeth into this case could mean getting bitten back...)

Win a free autographed copy of Elaine Viets’ new Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper mystery, “The Fashion Hound Murders.”

Tell us your best idea for a dog-car name. (A Labra-4-door?)

Or cat name. (A Chevy Catmaro?)

The Jungle Red team of highy-trained top-notch accountants will choose a winner from today’s comments!

And what's more:

Check out the first chapter of “Fashion Hound” at

And buy your autographed copy at


  1. A 2010 Alsatian -- black with buff interior. Or a silver Keeshond (said: KAYZ-hond -- rhymes with pond).

    Fun post, and glad for the introduction to Elaine and her work!

  2. Sounds like a fun read.
    How about a Toyota Purr-us?

    dlodden at frontiernet dot net

  3. A Great Pyrenees SUV. A dash of Spanish fire with oh so cool French refinement.


  4. LOL on your car names Susannah, Darcy and Santa. Detroit needs your ideas. Here's for going to the dogs.

  5. My SUV is a 2009 Newfoundland. Drover is big, drooly, and goes anywhere he wants. He's a working dog that can pull his load, swim rivers, and rescue me from the Walmart parking lot with a single bark.

  6. How about an offroad SUV or truck, the Ridgeback? (short for Rhodesian Ridgeback, of course) I can just see a luggage rack on top of the cab with a "ridge" in the middle.

  7. Given the problems with General Motors one would have to say a Chevvy Cat-Astrophe.

    The trouble with dog names is that they either sound reliable or indicate breathing problems. They never sound sleek, swift and dangerous, which of course cats are.

    Hi Elaine! Welcome and good luck with the new book!

  8. "The trouble with dog names is that they either sound reliable or indicate breathing problems."

    Yes! I'm thinking a 2009 Lurcher doesn't sound like a car you'd want to round corners in, and a Cockapoo just sounds like trouble all the way around (loud in the mornings and gas-smelling?).

  9. It's so funny that we;ret aling about his today:

    For Drive Time (coming out in Feburary) I had to make up car names. (Part of the story is "What really happens to your car in valet parking?")

    So for the cars that, dangerous...Ididntwant to use a real make and model. And it was more difficult than you might think to create an original name that seemed reasonable and not goody and not made up.

    What did I come up with? You'll have to read DT and see. Soon!

    And now, after reading these suggestions, I'll look at cars on the road much differently. I know I've already seen a Ridgeback!

  10. Not dogs but... In the wonderful Donald Westlake's last book "Get Real" his motley gang members “find"/steal: a “Chevy Gazpacho" and a “GMC Mastodon hybrid." Too bad he wasn't in automotive marketing--American automakers would still be thriving.

    Welcome Elaine!

  11. How about a pup, closely related to the mini? Enjoyed the post.

  12. The Honda Huskador Hybrid is a ruff-and-tumble, mixed breed SUV. Fully equipped it offers obedient handling, stop-and-go speed controls, and rather fetching long distance endurance statistics. Everything you want in a four-wheeled companion.

    The other car manufacturers have you on a short leash. Break free. Join the Huskador pack.

  13. Love Happy Dogs!!! My dog has separation anxiety but after a few days at Happy Dogs she runs right in the door in the morning. The staff are all so nice and really care about the dogs and their customer service is so great. I don't know what I'd do without them. female dog names

  14. Laughed at the cat named cars. funny thing, when I was a kid, many old cars had fins at the rears and I thought these cars looked like they had cat ears. I used to call them "cat cars". I also drew cars with cat ears and the drawings looked more like a cat than a car. Ha ha.