PAYNE & MISERY
BY CATHERINE LEGGITT
Question: What are the main animals of Payne & Misery?
Answer: An incredible dog, two black-and-white cats, and a Morgan stallion named Ranger
In a way, the Christine Sterling Mysteries represent my tribute to Molly. Such an amazing border collie required commemoration. Molly had the sweetest, most compliant disposition of any dog we’ve ever owned. Big brown eyes in her expressive face communicated her feelings. Her intelligence often seemed off the charts. When Bob took her to learn how to herd sheep, she immediately did everything exactly the way the instructor guided her. At the end of the first session, Molly was fully ready to herd sheep. It would take more lessons for Bob to learn to signal her.
Molly’s vocabulary was enormous. If I wanted the two cats to come in at night, I’d say, “Get the cats.” Molly would meander out, nose to the ground, circling around trees and boulders. When she returned, the cats would be with her. She always came when called, sitting in anticipation at our feet to wait for the next instruction. I could take Molly to town without a leash. She’d trot along beside me on the sidewalk. When we got to the stop sign or stoplight, I’d say, “Wait.” She’d sit and wait until I started to go again. She never ran off unless I let her.
The two cats, Hopalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers, poked their tiny heads through a cage door outside the local Kmart store when I first laid eyes on them. We had recently lost our cat and when I saw these two brothers, I fell instantly in love. I knew they belonged to us. That day, I brought Hoppy home. The next morning, we got a call from the owners. Roy had cried all night for his brother. Didn’t I want to adopt him as well? How could I not?
Roy and Hoppy slept in a tangled heap piled on top of each other. They were great playmates. Molly tolerated them well from the beginning. They ate their meals from dishes on the washer where Molly wouldn’t be tempted to munch along with them. Roy quickly became my cat, always choosing to sit on my lap when we watched television. Hoppy was Bob’s cat. They decided and we were happy with their choice.
The impressive Morgan stallion, Ranger, was Bob’s cowboy mounted shooting horse. Midnight black, Ranger had a long tail and shiny coat. Ranger was a perfect choice for mounted shooting. Even of disposition, not easily ruffled, and a fast runner. At least fast enough to amass a set of winning buckles with Bob guiding him around the pattern of orange highway cones with balloons on them which comprised the course for each set.
The animals in the Christine Sterling Mysteries were real. I cast them in the stories to add their own characters to each mystery. Molly would have made an excellent sleuthing partner, possessing an excellent nose for sniffing out truth, so to speak.