Murder in the Wine Country by Janet Finsilver – Dogs Helping People

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Murder in the Wine Country by Janet Finsilver
A Kelly Jackson Mystery #6
Lyrical Press • April 28, 2020

Curl up with a glass of merlot and travel to California wine country, where a sweet, unsuspecting town becomes the site of mischief and murder…

This is a cozy mystery that will check all your boxes: a charming bed and breakfast, a clever heroine and a lovable cattle dog named Rex…you are sure to fall for this series!

Weeding out killers wasn’t part of the job description…

Kelly Jackson, manager of the Redwood Cove Bed and Breakfast, is excited to participate in an event to raise awareness for the plight of struggling veterans in their Northern California coastal community. Local wineries are sponsoring tastings, and to prepare for a culinary competition, professional chefs will forage for wild edible greens. Kelly plans to come along, despite a warning to beware of poachers, who have been stealing the highly valued succulent Dudleya farinosa.

The senior sleuths who call themselves the Silver Sentinels join forces with environmental activists known as the Succulent Saviors to thwart the poaching operation. When a consultant for the sale of a local winery is murdered, the poachers are suspected—but so is a wine merchant, Kelly’s friend Phil. As Kelly and the Silver Sentinels attempt to root out the real killer, what she digs up might just put her permanently underground…

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Dogs Helping People

by Janet Finsilver

Many years ago, I read an article about dogs being trained to detect cancer. I was fascinated by what I learned. The dog featured in the story was an apricot-colored poodle that would signal she suspected lung cancer by sitting on a person’s foot and would lie down in front of a person she thought had breast cancer. The dog had about a 90 percent accuracy rate.

I began researching canine detection of cancer. I located many articles and learned how much they were capable of finding. My first mystery started to take shape in my mind, and I knew I wanted one of these dogs in my story. I decided on a Basset Hound and named him Fred.

I had Fred being trained at a clinic. He failed his final test and was given to a young boy, Tommy, as a pet. Tommy and Fred are in all the books. As I wrote my first book, Murder at Redwood Cove, with Fred bounding through the pages, I found I had a heightened awareness to anything in the news about dogs with special talents. I saved the articles I discovered and decided that I would feature specially trained dogs in each of my books. I liked the idea of people learning how much dogs contribute to our lives.

My second book, Murder at the Mansion, introduces Jack and Jill, two rescued beagles. They travel around the country with their owner in a motorhome. On the side of the vehicle, a slogan with their photos says, “Bedbugs? Termites? If you’ve got ’em, they’ll find ’em. Get the four-legged pros on the job and have a restful sleep tonight.”

Generally, dogs can find an infestation of bedbugs within minutes compared to a much longer period of time needed for a person to search a room. One article said they have about a 97 percent accuracy rate compared to 30 percent with humans using their sight for detection.

They are being used in much the same way to find termites. They use their sense of smell as well as their ability to hear to locate the bugs. The canines can do this through a variety of building material. This helps to prevent destruction of property which can happen when people look for termites.

On to Murder at the Fortune Teller’s Table where Princess, a tan Chihuahua, and Sergeant, a black no-nonsense Chihuahua, enter the scene. They are trained hearing assistance dogs and are considered to be service animals. Princess became hard of hearing herself and was replaced by Sergeant.

Hearing assistance dogs alert their owners to a number of sounds such as phones ringing, someone knocking on the door, and the owner’s name being called out. They make physical contact with their owner in some way like pawing or nudging. Once they have the person’s attention, they lead them to the sound.

Murder at the Fortune Teller’s Table also has a Bernese Mountain Dog, Jake, that joins the story part way through. He’s trained to help people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This was a very interesting area to research. The needs of the owners vary so the dogs are taught to meet their specific needs. I also learned about a device called a dog phone. It’s programmed with an emergency number. The dog is taught to tap the call button in conjunction with a specific behavior from their owner.

A police bloodhound trained to track is featured in Murder at the Marina. Most people have probably seen them in action in movies or television shows. I took an introductory class with my Rhodesian Ridgeback, Kylie. What I discovered is that what really happens is much different than what I’d seen on the screen where the dogs are racing after someone. A tracking dog usually walks very slowly checking for scent as it goes.

Murder in the Wine Country has Rex, a cattle dog, as the featured canine. He is a seizure alert dog. This is an innate ability to know that a seizure is going to take place. It isn’t something they can be trained to do. He is also a seizure response dog. This is an animal that has had specific training on what to do during and after a seizure to support their owner.

There is a dog with special training in Murder at the Mushroom Festival. However, I don’t want to say what it is because I feel it would be a spoiler. His role as a service dog comes as a surprise part way through the story. He also is trained to find mushrooms, which the reader learns early on!

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about how dogs can improve the quality of life for people.

About the Author

Janet Finsilver is the USA TODAY best-selling author of the Kelly Jackson mystery series. She worked in education for many years as a teacher, a program administrator, and a workshop presenter. Janet majored in English and earned a Master’s Degree in Education. She loves animals and has two dogs—Kylie and Ellie. Janet has ridden western style since she was a child and was a member of the National Ski Patrol. One of the highlights of her life was touching whales in the San Ignacio Lagoon. MURDER AT REDWOOD COVE, her debut mystery, was released on October 13, 2015. Five books followed with her most recent release on April 28, 2020, of book six, MURDER IN THE WINE COUNTRY.

Janet Finsilver and her husband reside in the San Francisco Bay Area. She enjoys cooking, and a recent attempt to reduce the number of cookbooks in the cupboard wasn’t very successful. She’s an avid reader—of course!

Please feel free to visit and/or contact me on my author Facebook page and my website.

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