By Jessica Peralta
A hardboiled officer of the law, Fritz has one objective: catching bad guys. But after a run-in with a former military Rottweiler while on pursuit, Fritz’s entire life changes from tenacious police dog to suburbanite.
It’s a story straight out of a book – because it is.
Written by Garden Grove Police Dispatcher Bobby Lux, “Dog Duty,” tells the story of German shepherd police K9 Fritz (from the dog’s perspective) as part revenge tale and part comedy, along with some very real themes relating to personal identity.
“His entire identity was he was a police dog,” Lux says. “What happens when who defines [you] gets stripped away? Then what do you do?”
Lux, who received his master’s degree in professional writing from the University of Southern California and a bachelor’s degree in film from Cal State University, Long Beach, was inspired to write his novel by two of his family dogs growing up, Nipper and Ernie. Lux’s father, who is a retired sergeant from the Garden Grove PD, had at one time briefly considered becoming a K9 handler.
“He thought about how Ernie would react to bringing a new dog into our living condition and decided not to pursue it,” says Lux. “That aspect always stuck with me… that notion of how would Nipper and Ernie react if we brought in a new dog.”
Originally his idea for the book featured two suburban backyard dogs reacting to a police dog coming into their world. But then he decided the real character was the police dog.
“One of my favorite book genres is detective and mystery noir stories… I wrote it with that in mind… He kind of tells the tale like he’s Det. Marlowe going through his case,” says Lux. “Kind of like that hardboiled detective book, but told from a dog.”
While Lux says his nearly five years of experiences from being a dispatcher shows through a bit in the novel (particularly a couple of foot pursuits), most of the book had been written prior to him becoming a dispatcher – since then, he’s accumulated quite a lot more inspiration for future books.
“You get an inside look on how crime and the police work,” says Lux. “Whenever there’s a major incident or a major crime, I think in the back of my head, ‘OK, how can I adapt this for dogs?’”
Despite the inspiration from reality, the book isn’t a real-life type crime book. The criminal world Fritz enters into is more on the surreal side – full of scenarios like organized cat races (bets are placed with Milk-Bones) and even an underground speakeasy for dogs.
“There’s not a whole lot that’s realistic about that world,” says Lux. “I always feel like it takes me so long to explain it… All the characters are talking dogs… but it’s not a kids’ book. All the characters are adults… but they’re in this canine world.”
They deal with real problems like humans – but they’re dog problems.
“At the dog park, there’s drama, intrigue,” Lux says.
When Lux isn’t writing or working the graveyard shift in dispatch – “Being on the radio is the best seat in the city” – he’s at home with his girlfriend and two dogs, Laika, a high-jumping blue heeler, and Queen Elizabeth the First (or Queenie), a beagle/dachshund mix, “with the head and bark of a Rottweiler and the personality of one.”
“And they keep bugging me about being in the sequel,” he says.
This article was provided to the Tribune by Behind The Badge, a website focusing on news, personalities and practices in law enforcement. Go to www.behindthebadgeoc.com .
Categories: Garden Grove