A dark-haired, handsome guy shares domestic life with me, and I treasure him dearly. As romance heroes go, he has some creds. For example, he never says much unless he’s worried for my welfare, and then he’s as vocal as he needs to be. He’s kind to kittens and others of his ilk, and never asks much for himself. He’s protective of me, asks little, and is great company. On my bad days, he’s always up for a hug, and he’s never spoken a harsh word in my direction.

I met Sarge when my mastiff died, and my bull mastiff needed a buddy. I didn’t want a puppy, because the bull mastiff was elderly, and puppies of any species take a lot of patience. My daughter is a veterinary technician, and told me that black dogs have a hard time at the shelters. People do not adopt old dogs, big dogs, or black dogs, she said, and those parameters are so well established, it’s called, “Black Dog Syndrome” among shelter professionals.

That made my choice easier when I went to the pound. “I want your biggest, oldest, blackest dog,” I said.

The guy behind the counter jabbed a thumb toward the back. “Take your pick.”

Hooboy. With few exceptions, every dog they had was big and black—a rottie cross, a dobie cross, a shepherd-something-something cross. They were big, they were full of beans, and they all needed a home.

Talk about heart break.

And yet, one dog didn’t even sit up when I stood outside his door. He didn’t thump a tail, didn’t do more than twitch an eyebrow. He saw me, but remained where he was, slightly grizzled chin on his paws. Thirty other dogs were hopping around, barking, and doing the canine version of “Pick me! Pick me!” while this guy merely regarded me out of dignified, calm eyes.

Noble hound, he was not. His pedigree was part rottie or pit bull, maybe some bloodhound. But those eyes…

“You,” I said. “You are my dog.”

He stayed where he was—no pushover, this guy.

“You are my dog,” I said again, amid the din of barking dogs. “You come home with me.”

I got a tail thump for that public service announcement, but I’d still apparently not found the right sentiment.

I tried again. “I am your person. I belong to you now.”

He came over to the door, tail wagging, though he remained quiet and reserved compared to his neighbors.

Sarge is still quiet and reserved. All I know about his past is that he was found wandering in the truck stop parking lot, wearing a camo collar that said, “Sarge.” Somebody must have loved the daylights out of this dog, because he’s beautifully well trained, gets along with all of the other animals in the household, and has never put a paw wrong. I want to tell his former owner, “Your boy is doing just fine. He’s well loved, he’ll never want for anything.”

But the backstory really doesn’t matter. What matters is that Sarge and I can be part of each other’s happily ever afters, and if some other fellow tries to steal a piece of my heart, he will have to measure up to the standards of loyalty and consideration that Sarge has already established.

Grace Burrowes


Ms. Burrowes is giving away print copes of the first two books in her series: Tremaine’s True Love and Daniel’s True Desire to one lucky US based reader. Make a comment below to be entered in this drawing.

graceburrowes-headshot-01Grace Burrowes began writing romance as an antidote to empty nest, and soon found that writing is an antidote to most of what ails us. She’s the sixth out of seven children, has been reading romance for decades, and practices child welfare law in western Maryland. Her most recent book is Will’s True Wish.