Susan Vaughan here. It’s not yours truly gone to the dogs. I’ve never had more than one dog at a time, the current pup being a medium-size long-haired rescue named Sasha.

I’m referring to David Rosenfelt, author of thrillers and the Andy Carpenter mystery series. It’s no accident that New Jersey attorney Andy Carpenter owns a golden retriever named Tara and that every book in that series features a golden on the cover as well as dog-centric titles like Leader of the Pack and Unleashed. I haven’t read his thrillers, but David’s Andy Carpenter books are juicy legal mysteries, laced with laugh-out-loud humor, suspense, and doggy love.


Rosenfelt Signing 2-6-14 Susan 300


At last count, David and his wife Debbie had 21 rescue dogs, but that could change at any time. David appeared earlier this month at the Rockland Strand Theater in a benefit for the capital campaign of the Pope Memorial Humane Society of Knox County in Thomaston. The shelter is very grateful for his participation.

After signing copies of his new book Dogtripping, he spoke to a large audience. Dogtripping is a nonfiction account of his and Debbie’s dog rescue foundation and their five-day drive from California to Damariscotta, Maine, with “25 rescues, 11 volunteers, and 3 RVs.” Yes, you read that correctly.


No legal mystery in this one, but the author laces Dogtripping with his trademark humor, suspense, and doggy love. During the PMHSKC presentation, David kept the audience enthralled recounting tales—some humorous and some touching—about his writing and the “dog lunacy.”  Their saga began with the loss to cancer of their beloved golden, Tara, which led them to volunteering in their local California shelter and eventually to creating the Tara Foundation, which has rescued 4000 dogs from “death row” and placed them in loving homes.

In describing the odyssey to Maine, David kept saying it was awful, horrible torture. Finally his wife stood up from the front row and told us not to believe that. The trip was “wonderful, magical.” The rescues are for the most part larger, older dogs, some with complicated health issues.

When asked if the house was chaos with so many dogs, David replied that mostly the dogs “hang out” all day. Anyone entering his house would find them lying all over the place, a scene like “a Civil War Battlefield.” Dogs are on all the furniture—yes, shedding—including the bed. David said he “had to get there early” before Wanda the mastiff took his place. Who picks up the, um, you know? Said David, “You’re looking at him.” All pet lovers know how hard it is to lose a furry family member, so how is it to lose one of these rescues? At this question, his expression and voice changed from curmudgeonly droll to soberly affectionate. He and Debbie take comfort in knowing “for the time you have them, they’re safe and happy and loved.”

Rosenfelt House Dogs

David shared so much more than I can include here about life with all the dogs and about his writing. The presentation was wonderful and I’m now alternately laughing and crying my way through Dogtripping.

*** My newest release is Primal Obsession. You can find an excerpt and buy links at

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  1. A lovely tribute to two extremely caring people. What a wonderful life-purpose, and especially with large and older,some ill, dogs. It’s usually the “cute” young dogs who receive such attention. These are the type of people to admire. I get very “itchy” when unsportsmanlike million-dollar sports figures are esteemed because they can knock down other players.

  2. Aubrey Hamilton says:

    David Rosenfelt is doubly one of my heroes, one of the few people who intersect my mystery-reading life and my animal-rescue life. Meeting him at Bouchercon a couple of years ago was an unforgettable privilege. I am trying to figure out how to get him into the DC region to support a rescue fundraiser.

  3. Great post, Susan. Can’t imagine them making that drive! Why did they bring the dogs across country to Maine? You know I love Maine, but you’d have thought he’d find a closer place to take them. I love the pic of the pups lying all over. An obstacle course to maneuver around. 🙂 I’ll FB and Tweet. David and Debbie are to be commended as are all who rescue pups of any size or age.

    • Marsha, I actually asked him why Maine. He and Debbie are both East Coast natives, with children living in the NY, NJ area and wanted to return east. They’d visited a friend of his son’s in Damariscotta and fell in love with the area. They thought it a more “authentic” place to live and take care of their furry family. I have to agree.

  4. What an awesome story, Susan. I love dogs, but for anyone to take on 21 rescue dogs…well, David and Debbie are saints. I’m floored by their dedication and filled with admiration!

  5. I heard about this event from one of my clients and they said it was terrific. Thanks for sharing, Susan!

    PS the two most wonderful cats I’ve ever owned came from the Pope shelter…

  6. Liz Mugavero says:

    I had heard this story a few months ago and I think it’s amazing! As a big rescue person also, I can’t wait to read this book. And I can’t imagine the drive. When we moved with a large number of cats two hours away, that was…interesting, to say the least!

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