An Interview with Smythe True, Canine Hero

A guest post by Lola Lola's Serious Face

You all know how much my person loves books. Recently, she read an exciting new mystery, Desired to Death by Julia Munroe Martin writing as J.M. Maison. It’s the first book in Maison’s The Empty Nest Can Be Murder series.

There’s a brave dog in the story, Smythe, who is the trusty canine companion of Maggie True, amateur sleuth. Today, I had the chance to talk to Smythe about her life and adventures and I’d like to share our conversation with you.


Lola: Names are very important to dogs since we hear them so much. When I meet people and they learn my name, they usually start to sing. Sometimes they sing about a showgirl, sometimes about me getting whatever I want, and sometimes they just sing La La La La Lola. I don’t really care which song it is, I just like it when humans sing. My person says the people at the shelter thought I looked like a Lola, so that’s what they called me. I feel like a Lola, so it worked out pretty well.

What about you, Smythe? What’s the story behind your name?

 Smythe: First, Let me say thank you for the chance to appear as a guest on your (and your person’s) blog. It’s the first time I’ve been asked to answer a Q&A, and I’m so honored! We Labs are a humble bunch and I never thought I’d be asked! And I love your name, Lola! No one ever sang to me before, but my person reads to me all the time.

 When my person’s family first adopted me, my human girl was in third grade, and her teacher’s name was Ms. Smith. It was her favorite teacher ever, and she wanted to name me after her. But the bigger humans said something about Ms. Smith feeling sad a puppy was named after her (can you believe that?), so they changed the spelling of my name to “Smith with a y and an e.” The worst part about my name is when we go to the dog doctor, the human who sits in the front always says my name wrong, so I think it’s another dog’s turn.

 L: I’ve found that humans are easily confused by words and letters. It’s strange, because their language is a powerful tool, but sometimes they can’t smell the things that are right under their noses.

 S: Exactly. Like the trail of that yippy dog Chipster who bit me once, or the deer and skunks who come out at night to eat the garden, or the young humans who drive fast down our street who smell excited. I like to walk slowly so all the people who look out their windows to watch for me will come out and say “Hi.” A lot of them smell like they don’t move very much and they also smell lonely and a little afraid.

 L: Humans are very smart, but I don’t think they can identify people by their scents like we can. It sounds like you’re very talented at that. Tell me a little bit more about your family.

 S: I have four people: two big, two little. And they each have their own smell. The littlest one, the girl, smells the best. The boy smells like the ocean. The Mom person smells like dinner. The Dad person smells like some other place I’ve never been but it’s not too far away. I like it best when everyone is here and all together they smell like home.

 L: My person says that Maggie True is an empty nester because her children have grown up and moved away. I guess that means you’re an empty nester, too.

 S: I don’t know what an empty nester is except when we go to the dog park, I see baby birds sometimes that fell out of their nests and my people yell at me if I try to sniff the baby birds. Just like the baby birds, two of the people in my family fell out of the nest.

 A few years ago the second littlest person, who they call Hank, left to go far away, and now the littlest person, they call her Jessie, isn’t here anymore. She and I used to sleep together when we were puppies. I miss her a lot especially at the end of the day when she used to run in the door and give me a hug (and sometimes her leftover bag of chips or half a cookie). Now she lives so far away I can’t even smell her anymore unless we get in the car and drive a really long way, farther than the farthest dog park.

 For a while after she left, the big people cried a lot and hugged me, but then my Mom person was gone more and more and now sometimes when she goes away, I go into the little person’s room and sleep on her bed. I can still smell her there and I don’t feel so lonely. But even when my Mom and Dad people come home, it’s lonely sometimes because they’re a lot more quiet than the boy and the girl.

 Now I don’t get as many walks, and my people get annoyed with me sometimes because I walk so slowly around the neighborhood, and they “have things to do.” And I don’t get as many treats.

 L: Wow. That’s a lot of change for one dog to handle. And from what my person says about your story, other things are changing in your town, too.

 S: I hear sounds outside at night that none of the humans can hear. I tell them I need to pee so I can go out and see what they are. But by the time I get out there, all I see is a car driving away. And lately there have been a lot of very different and new human smells around the town.

 There’s some weird new person everywhere I go. He has a very strong musky smell and he smells dangerous and I can smell his scent at a lot of houses, wafting from doorway to window. Sometimes my Mom person comes home and she smells kind of new and different, like she’s been to places he’s been. And she also smells more nervous than usual.

 L: My person said that Maggie is searching for purpose. I think that’s one of those crazy human things. What more purpose do you need than to love your family and be happy? But your person gets in a little bit of trouble when she tries to help out a friend, doesn’t she?

 S: That’s what that dangerous person smell is all about! Some kind of mystery my Mom person is nosing around about, that’s what my Dad person says. When my person comes home and smells like that guy, I know she’s going places she shouldn’t go without me! Sometimes she comes home and lies on the couch and I can smell blood! Someone hurt her and if I’d been there I could have bitten that S.O.B. (sorry Mom), but she always leaves me home because she’s worried I’ll get hurt because I’m too old or something.

 L: You’re her protector, but when she leaves you at home, she gets herself into dangerous situations. What would you say to Maggie if you could speak human?

 S: I know, right?! I wish my person would listen to me more. I’m worried SHE will get hurt because she doesn’t have big teeth like I do. One day she and my Dad person were arguing about a guy with a gun, someone who hurt her. And a strange girl person stayed with us who smelled like the dangerous, scary man, but that person was a good person except she was afraid of me.

 I’m really good at nosing around! I need to tell her that I can help, that I’ll be able to keep her safe. Then I’d be able to spend more time with her, too. She should know what a good assistant I’d be because I can smell a French fry at the bottom of a three foot snow drift. So surely I can smell the bad guys from the good ones.

 L: Wow, Smythe. You are a brave dog and a smart one, too. Maggie is so lucky to have you. Just think of how quickly she could solve a case with your canine sense at her disposal. You’d be an excellent assistant detective.

Friends, if you enjoyed chatting with Smythe and if you’d like to know more about the adventures of Smythe and Maggie True, you can read Desired to Death for yourself. The Kindle version is on sale at for $.99 through May 11th. For information about this new mystery series, visit The Empty Nest Can Be Murder web page. Or you can visit Julia Munroe Martin’s web page and blog.

 Just like Smythe, Julia's dog Abby is never far from her side. She was the inspiration for Smythe.

Just like Smythe, Julia’s dog Abby is never far from her side. She was the inspiration for Smythe.

A note from Shary…

Julia Munroe Martin has generously offered to give a copy of the book to one commenter. We’ll put all of the names in a hat this weekend and draw a winner. Good luck!


Filed under Authors, Books, characters, Dogs, Lola, novels, Story, Writing

43 responses to “An Interview with Smythe True, Canine Hero

  1. Smythe, Abby, Maggie, and I all thank you for this lovely, unique interview, Shary! So much fun!! Thank you again.

  2. Sandy Seeley Walling

    Lola has written an excellent interview with Smythe. I’m sure my Abby would say something about her mom-person reading about Maggie trying to help her friend, even if the friend isn’t that much of a friend anymore. Kadoos to Smythe for always being there for the family! By the way, it’s a great read!

  3. This was sooo cute! I’m a doggy person and love my furry friend. I already have a copy (yes ma’am!) so you don’t have to include me in the drawing. 🙂

  4. Thanks for the fun interview Lola! I enjoyed reading about dog names. Our first dog was named Liberty because we freed her from the animal shelter :>)

  5. Ooh, Lola, I love a good mystery and I love dogs. This one sounds very interesting indeed. Thanks for doing the interview.

    Of course, one of my favorite mysteries featuring a dog, is The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett. Who can forget Asta!

    • I loved doing this interview with Shary and Lola! I hope you enjoy my book, Monica. p.s. Asta is one of my all time favorite mystery dogs, too… The Thin Man is fabulous.

      • Lola

        My person says she loves Dashiell Hammett. If there’s a dog in the story, it must be great. I’m going to ask her to read to me about Asta.

  6. Lola, I enjoyed your post. However when I tried to read it to Regal, she snored. Deby

    • I’m pretty sure I heard a snore from my own dog, Abby, Deby, she says it’s because she’s getting older, but maybe she’s just a teeny bit jealous of Smythe being interviewed? 😉 Glad you enjoyed! Hope you’ll love the book, too!

      • Lola

        Deby! Hi! XO
        I’d expect nothing less from Regal. She is very good at relaxing. She is a brave dog, too, though and she’s an excellent duck guardian.

  7. I LOVED this, Shary and Julia – and Lola and Smythe (that picture of Abby is tooo cute). I know this was tongue-in-cheek, but you two did a GREAT job of showing the emotions of dogs. Seriously… the whole smell and hearing (and sleeping on Jessie’s bed) part. I got a little lumpy-throated. What a clever, creative post, ladies.

    And I loved Smythe in Desired to Death. Loved!

    • So glad you enjoyed it, Melissa. Lola is a very doggy dog it’s pretty easy to read her reactions and guess what she’s thinking and feeling. It’s fun (and often instructive) to look at the world through her eyes.

    • Aww, thanks, Melissa. I have to admit that I got a little lumpy throated when I wrote the part about sleeping on Jessie’s bed… Thank you for your kind words, Melissa, and so happy you enjoyed it. It was way fun to write with Shary!

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  9. Dear Lola
    The woman was very happy to see another post because she misses you when you don’t post.
    I have been sharpening up my bug mouser skills because of the warm weather. The replanted Iris are adjusting nicely and the girl was able to share some of the flowers with her teachers… there was some excitement yesterday because one of the white bulbs bloomed. The nasty tests are finally over and so the woman was able to snuggle and read with me last night. She is looking forward to reading the story about Smythe this afternoon while the girl is at a party. I plan to watch the creatures outside the window and practice laying as flat as possible in the middle of the floor.

    • Lola

      Hi Lacy,

      Sounds like spring has arrived at your place. Here, too. Lots of bugs and rodents to chase. Keep practicing your invisibility and stalking skills and you’ll be a full fledged mouser in no time.

      Glad to hear the woman finally has time to read again. She’ll love meeting Maggie and Smythe!


      • Lola
        The woman has finished the book. She made that funny rumble that people use for being happy while she was reading. She also shared about the book on her computer. She said she liked the book and hopes for more to come.

  10. I love that Smythe is Maggie True’s sidekick and trusty advisor on her adventures. Who better than a lab to uncover important clues?

    Reggie gives this post two paws up! 🙂

  11. Elizabeth

    More please. I love this format. Would love a dog talking to her shrink, too.

  12. We held the name drawing and the winner is… Sandy Seeley Walling. Congratulations on winning a copy of Desired to Death!

  13. Lola, I finally got to go to West Fork. You can see some of my person’s pictures (and read about my adventures) here:

    • Lola

      Woo hoo! It’s the best, isn’t it! Your person’s pictures are so beautiful and I can tell you had a great time. You don’t even have to be a water dog to have fun splashing around there. Great trick with the leash at the end of your hike. 🙂

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  16. Shary (er, I mean Lola) this was a “grinner” from start to finish! Truthfully, it was the first canine interview I’ve ever read and you proved that it really isn’t such a “dog eat dog” world out there after all! Very insightful, perceptive questions and answers. Loved it!

  17. Lola, Roxy and I read your interview and we loved it! Such wonderful questions and answers. We love a good mystery. Stories of intrigue always captivate our attention and we love guessing “who dunnit.” hee hee! We are so happy to see you posting again! 🙂

    • Lola

      Hi Bella! Great to see you and Roxy. If you like mysteries, you’ll like Smythe’s story. It’s very clever.

  18. I’ll honestly never see a dog the same way ever again. If this is what’s going on in their minds, they’re much more perceptive than I’ve given them credit for. I have a feeling, though, cats are every bit the way we see them portrayed online 😉

    • Dogs are experts at watching people, so they see more than we realize. How they interpret what they see is anybody’s guess! But Lola is pretty expressive so it’s not hard to imagine the gist of her thoughts.

    • Glad Smythe (and Lola) helped you see dogs as more perceptive, Eli 🙂 Your comment gave me an idea for a future book…. a cat that gets involved with Smythe and Maggie and helps solve a crime! Might make an interesting dynamic!

  19. Shary, Roxy and I want to wish you and Lola a very Happy New Year! We miss your posts! Hugs! 🙂