The Campeche Hell Dogs

Lizzie and Darcy Tillery

 

Harold and Charlie, two black Labradors, are central characters in the novel I’m writing about Galveston. They’re not only my protagonist’s staunch protectors but her Achilles’ heel. Following her high-profile divorce, she adopts the two underweight, scruffy pups from the city animal shelter, and the three of them move from Dallas to the small Texas coastal town of Galveston. No sooner does she buy the historic Stewart’s Mansion to renovate, than her real troubles begin.

 

The two loyal canines spend their days exploring the mansion property, hanging out with the construction crew, caretaker, architect and contractor, and keeping a watch on their human mom, which proves a challenge. The brave and lovable duo is quick to answer the call of their protective nature and find themselves at the center of a brutal murder. They also seem to possess a curious relationship with the mansion’s three over-sized pirate murals. Soon she suspects there are unseen forces at work–but are they friend or foe?

The Stewart’s Mansion in Galveston is a real place. It’s the original home of the Stewart Title Company family and has a long, storied history. The mansion sits on the original Texas settlement site of pirate Jean Lafitte, and one of the many tales involves his Campeche Hell Dogs. It’s said that the pirate took a pregnant wolf-mix dog to a voodoo queen and told her that he wanted 12 pure black puppies that would grow into fierce dogs to protect his buried treasure. The witch performed her magic and, as the eye of a hurricane passed over (of course), the last puppy was born. The voodoo queen died transferring all her powers to the litter.

 

There are those who believe the mythical dogs still roam the property, guarding the handsome rogue pirate’s treasure. Stories are told of smelling a strong wet dog scent and hearing growling. It’s said that if someone sees the dogs, death, serious injury or illness soon follow. However, they’ve never been known to hurt women or children, and have even been rumored to herd lost young children home. It’s such an incredible tale that I had to include it in the novel. Naturally, the sight of Harold and Charlie roaming the property certainly gives some characters pause.

 

We lost our own sweet black Labrador, Homer, while I was researching this novel. He was the inspiration for my heroine’s dogs. He had all Harold’s fierce protectiveness and Charlie’s sensitivity. We added two black Labrador rescues to our family from Dallas Animal Services, cherished littermates, Lizzie and Darcy.

 

I believe everyone needs their own Campeche Hell Dogs to set right what’s wrong in the world.