By Rebecca Adler 

Here in Texas, spring has sprung! The beautiful dogwood and redbud trees are in bloom on every block. My heart is singing with the possibility of new beginnings.

If spring has made an appearance in your neck of the woods, you probably aren’t the only one jumping for joy. How about your pets? In Cinco de Murder, the third book in my Taste of Texas mystery series, reporter-turned-Tex-Mex-waitress Josie Callahan and her spunky long-haired Chihuahua Lenny are gearing up for that beloved Texas celebration of Mexican culture, Cinco de Mayo. I love that Lenny and I both find spring to be our favorite season of the year. And since we both jump for joy at the sight of dogwood blossoms, I began to wonder about the positive effects of spring on our pets, especially dogs.

Here’s what I found in a wonderful article by K9 Magazine entitled “5 Reasons to Love Spring If You’re a Dog.” (Not that our cats and other pets don’t enjoy the joys of spring too!)

Banish the winter blues! Did you know that recent research shows pets can suffer from seasonal affective disorder just like humans? The lighter mornings and longer days mean more time for you and your dog in the great outdoors—always a great way to enjoy a more active, healthy regime.

More opportunities to socialize with friends! With more time outside in the great outdoors it follows that dogs, and owners, will widen their social circle.

More crops of fresh produce! With more fresh fruit and vegetables available, you and your dog can add more healthy treats to your diet.

Winter skin is banished!  If harsh winter weather can wreak havoc on our own skin, you know it can harm our pets’ skin. Colder weather can mean our dogs and other pets suffer from dry skin during the winter months, too.

More Vitamin D! With warmer weather, your dog and other pets can soak up more natural goodness from the sun just simply by being outdoors for longer – vitamin D helps to build immunity and strong bones.

Here in Texas, spring is synonymous with Cinco de Mayo, a celebration to show pride for the wonderful Mexican culture with dancing, bright colored costumes, parades, traditional music, and eating lots of yummy Tex-Mex. In Cinco de Murder, my amateur sleuth Josie Callahan, her feisty abuela,and her spunky long-haired Chihuahua Lenny are polishing their traditional folklóricodances for Saturday’s big Cinco de Mayo parade. (If you’ve never had the delight of seeing a dog dance while wearing a mariachi costume, then this book if for you.)

Not to be outdone, Josie’s Uncle Eddie is adding his own spicy event to the fiesta menu: Broken Boot’s First Annual Charity Chili Cook-off. But Uncle Eddie’s hopes of impressing the town council go up in smoke when a cantankerous chili cook is found dead in his tent. And when Josie’s beloved uncle is accused of fatal negligence, she, Lenny, and the steadfast Detective Lightfoot must uncover who ended the ambitious chilihead’s life–before another cook kicks the bucket.

One of the joys of writing the Taste of Texas mystery series has been sharing with readers my love of dogs especially my fictional fur baby, Lenny, the long-haired Chi. Why are mysteries with dogs, cats, birds, and even a hamster named Rex so appealing to readers? Why not? Pets are such an important part of our life, sharing with us unconditional love and affection. How could we possibly leave them out of our books?

May you have a beautiful spring, wherever you call home. And if you’re in the mood for a tasty, fun-filled mystery—with Tex-Mex recipes—I hope you’ll pick up a copy of Cinco de Murder (A Berkley Prime Crime Book, 286 pages, $7.99 US/$10.99 Canada)