Behind the Scenes

Many years ago I read newspaper stories about a San Diego couple who divorced and got into a huge legal battle over custody of their pointer-greyhound mix. The wife hired a videographer to film her bathing and walking the dog, and the husband hired someone to do a study on dogs’ attachment to their people. I think the couple paid over $100,000 for their trial, and the judge finally awarded custody to the wife.

When I heard about the fight, I kept wondering: What about the dog? What impact did the bickering have on her? How did she feel about being separated from the husband, who loved her as much as the wife did? I tucked those questions in the back of my mind and hoped one day to write about people fighting over custody of a pet. Now I have.

As for the fight over the historic house in Earnest, I drew on personal experience because my husband and I renovated a Victorian farmhouse, built in 1880 and hardly updated for a hundred and twenty years. Every architect and contractor we talked with urged us to tear down the house and start over with a new one, but we could never bring ourselves to do it. To me, the house was like a living thing, and I could practically feel the presence of all the people who had lived in it before I did. So in Earnest I am definitely on the side of historic preservation, though I can also understand the need for progress and embracing the future.