“Sean admired loyalty, and after some dark family revelations from the year before had prompted him to leave his mountain home of Winston, he was ready for some of it in his life.”
Rocco, Sean’s elderly miniature dachshund from From a Dead Sleep (book #1 in the Sean Coleman Thriller series), ended up being a surprise favorite of readers. The crotchety, blind canine was described by author John A. Daly as Sean’s kindred spirit, both “standoffish, territorial, and set in their ways.”
Since then, Sean has been without a canine companion — or at least he had been. In Safeguard, we’re introduced to a new sidekick, a four-legged friend who lives with Sean in the middle of nowhere along Colorado’s Eastern Plains. His name…is Avalanche.
As Sean approached, a white pit bull with a pink snout and red collar trotted up to him from the gate. Its tail wagged and its tongue dangled from its mouth. Sean had inherited the dog from the previous caretaker—an old man who’d been killed in the adjoining campground back in late August when a freak EF3 tornado passed through.
He was the only fatality that day, despite a lot of building damage and some overturned train cars in Windsor, a small town a ways to the northwest. First responders found the dog sitting next to its owner’s body. They’d identified him as “Avalanche” by a silver tag on his collar.
Sean admired loyalty, and after some dark family revelations from the year before had prompted him to leave his mountain home of Winston, he was ready for some of it in his life. Having heard the story of Avalanche from the county supervisor who’d hired him, Sean agreed to keep the dog rather than let it be taken to the pound. Considering the breed’s rap for being unpredictable and aggressive, the dog may have been euthanized.
As it turned out, Avalanche wasn’t the least bit contentious—an animal so friendly around people that he only barked when he wanted attention. He wasn’t a great watchdog but tossing him a tennis ball or a Frisbee from time to time helped drive away some boredom. Avalanche was low maintenance, and Sean liked that.
Avalanche plays a fairly significant role in Safeguard, tying some unlikely characters together, and dispelling a few myths about pit bulls along the way.
“Does your dog bite, mister?”
Sean lowered his head to the boy. “Only if you touch things you’re not supposed to.” His face was deadpan.
A couple of the other scouts laughed. The adults didn’t.
“Seriously though,” said the obese man. He wore a long Colorado Rockies baseball shirt and a dark goatee. “Is the dog safe? He looks like a pit.”
“That would be because he is a pit.”
The man’s face stiffened.
“The kids will be fine,” Sean added. “As long as they keep their hands off the equipment.”
The truth was that Avalanche couldn’t have cared less what anyone touched, but Sean had used the warning on a number of occasions to keep order and save himself some stress throughout the tour.
Sean opened the gate. Its hinges creaked as he stepped backward and pulled it open wider. He guided the group in with his hand.
And if everyone does as they’re told on the tour, you’ll all get a souvenir at the end.”
Several of the boys cheered. A couple dropped down to their knees in front of Avalanche, who proceeded to lick one of their faces. It prompted some laughs.
“Real killer,” said the large man in the Rockies shirt. A smirk had loosened up his face.
John didn’t randomly choose the dog breeds he’s written about. When working on From a Dead Sleep, the Daly family owned an elderly, blind miniature dachshund. They’ve since rescued two incredibly sweet (and hilarious) pit bull mixes named Piper and Squiggy. Readers can check out their antics on John’s Instagram page.
The Dalys are proponents of (and have volunteered for) canine rescues, and recommend these two organizations in Northern Colorado, where they got their pit bulls:
Safeguard is available through these and all other major book retailers: