Cardigan Welsh Corgi Club of America

Murder at the Dog Show

Cardigan Welsh Corgi Breed Column

Pupcicles, the sixth in the “Murder at the Dog Show” series of books, begins: “Tonight was the first chance we’d all been able to get together since we’d returned from the Canadian show circuit. It had been a success in titles and trophies … [but] partway through the week we realized that I was being stalked and it wasn’t until the end of the show circuit that we’d figured out why, and by whom.”

The protagonist, Jennifer Brooks, a manager of a mental-health program by day, manages to get involved in more intrigue in one dog show weekend than most of us would encounter in a lifetime. Embezzlement, coverups of all kinds, even murders are mixed with rosettes,  rophies, and new titles.

The author of the series is longtime Cardigan breeder Karen Harbert, of Aelwyd Cardigans (pronounced eye-lewd, meaning “Fireside” in Welsh), of Tucson, Arizona. Karen has recently completed her eleventh mystery in the series (at this time available through Amazon in  kindle format only, at

I asked Karen how this series came to be. “Charlie MacInnes (of Finnshavn Cardigans, in Ontario, Canada) and I had been long-distance
friends for many years,” she explains.  “In 1986 he judged sweepstakes at the American nationals. By then we had traded some generations of breeding stock, so he invited me to Canada to ‘look over my investment.’ We did a show circuit from Ontario to Prince Edward Island—the first of many we did together—and I kept a diary filled with our adventures and misadventures. Charlie finally challenged me to turn the stories into fiction.”

Karen continued, “Many of the characters are based on real people: professional handlers, groomers, photographers, other breeders. For the plot in Death March, we really did sit in the surgical suite of a veterinarian friend late one afternoon sipping lemonade to see if it would disguise the taste of phenobarbital. The villains are also loosely based on some real people—but if I told you who, I’d have to kill you. There have been changes of sex and appearance to protect the guilty. Monty, the canine star of the series, was modeled on my own Am/Can. Ch. Aelwyd Pirate Program, CD, or ‘Pond Scum’ to his friends. He shared many of the same honors with Monty, but Monty’s Best in Show, unfortunately, must be attributed to poetic license.”

Romance and dead bodies are some of the ingredients in Karen’s latest mystery, Just Desert. The stage is set on the first page: “I was home from my all-too short honeymoon, and another brush with death. Yeah, there’s a couple of items not often included in the same sentence … When the alarm went off … the first thing that crossed my mind was the phone call that awakened Alex and me in our marriage bed to report that the bodies had been found.”

Part of the royalties Karen receives from the sale of her books goes back to the Cardigan Welsh Corgi Club of America to support juniors and canine health. In her research for Brat Pack, she said, “I learned so much about what the kids have to achieve to be invited to the top shows that I wanted to help them as much as possible. I also learned from a former junior—who now judges juniors— that the kids knew more about what was going on [on the show site] than their parents.”

Karen has recently been honored by being appointed to the Board of Directors of the Dog Writers Association of America. Regardless of your breed, these stories are a part of our collective experience. I hope you’ll check them out and enjoy them as much as I have.

—Vivian Moran, CWCCA AKC Delegate
and interim column coordinator,

First published in the AKC Gazette Digital Edition, June 2016.

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