“If you get that dog, I swear I’ll divorce you.” I paused while cooking dinner to spew these words at my husband of three years on a hot, July day—and at the time, I was pretty certain I meant them.
We had just bought a new house, I had started a new teaching job, and I was 100% certain I didn’t want a slobbering dog to add to my list of responsibilities. But my husband had other ideas, and he was certain that the eight-week-old mastiff he’d applied to receive was exactly what we needed.
And, although I hate to admit this frequently, I can tell you in confidence now, five years later, that he was absolutely right.
To love a dog is to understand the truly magical power of the connection—but until you experience it first-hand, it’s difficult to appreciate just how much a dog can change a life. When our twenty-four pound, eight-week-old mastiff puppy ambled into our house, I swore to myself that I wouldn’t love him. Even after my husband agreed to name him Henry after my favorite childhood series, Henry & Mudge, I vowed that he would never win me over and that I wouldn’t fall in love with him.
I kept my promise for several weeks. I hated that dog when he ate my favorite shoes and when he popped a can of soda, the spray exploding all over the kitchen. I loathed him when he chewed on my pants while I was trying to lesson plan. I swore I’d divorce my husband a second time when Henry peed on my lap the first time I gave in and held him. For so many weeks, I knew that dog would never win me over.
Nevertheless, somewhere between the leaves falling and the first snow that year, the unexpected happened. Henry’s pawprints found their way into my heart, and our friendship was forged. I would never be the same again.
Over our five years together, our bond has only grown to the point that I can barely recognize the girl who hated the idea of having him. Thinking back, I smile at that girl who was stirring pasta, tears falling as her husband excitedly announces the news of the coming puppy. In many ways, I’m not that same person—and in many ways, that’s thanks to Henry.
Henry has taught me what unconditional love really looks like. Whether my world is falling apart or everything is amazing, Henry’s soulful eyes are right there, staring back at me and loving me just the same. He’s taught me to appreciate every moment we have together, no matter how simple. Some of the best days these past five years were days we spent together dancing in the sprinkler in our yard, napping on the sofa, or just playing in the snow. Henry has shown me that it’s not what you’re doing—it’s who you’re doing it with.
For years now, I’ve written romances that always include an appearance of Henry for no other reason than the fact I’m obsessed with him. He showed up as the lumbering, friendly giant down the street in All of You. He was Amelia’s client in her dog-walking business in Then Comes Love. He’s appeared as a puppy in To Say Goodbye and as Avery’s best friend in the Lines in the Sand series.
Still, this entire time, I’ve always known I wanted to write a romance that included Henry as a main character. I wanted to write a story that showcased the idea that a dog’s love is magical and transformative. I wanted Henry’s story to bring two characters together.
This is partially where The Trail to You came from—my love for my dog and my appreciation for the people who work hard to make dogs’ lives better.
In the novel, Henry is Ronan’s absolute best friend. When circumstances tear the two apart, Ronan knows he’ll do anything to get his beloved mastiff back, even if it means traveling hours away to a tiny town in Virginia.
Ally Hunter, on the other hand, is the girl who has lived through tragedy. A seemingly eternal vagabond, she’s never had a dog or understood the power of the bond between humans and dogs. When an ogre of a dog comes into her life, however, Ally will learn more than how to be a good dog mom. She’ll learn who she is and how to open her heart again.
The Trail to You is a sweet romance about two lost souls finding each other as they find themselves. However, it’s also the story about the bond between humans and their four-legged friends. The book is a celebration of that bond and of the amazing organizations that help make it possible.
When Henry came into my life, I had no idea how he would change me. I didn’t realize that the event I threatened to divorce my husband over would become one of my life’s best surprises. I didn’t realize that years later, I would write a romance that would be a tribute to our relationship and to the power Henry has had in my life.
Most of all, I never realized that the love we have for our dogs is the purest, realest love of all.