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Victoria Schade Talks Dogs, Nantucket, and New Novel

Author Victoria Schade
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If you’re dreaming of a quaint New England beach escape, but the high prices of lodging and gas have you trapped at home, Victoria Schade’s latest dog-themed love story is the ideal way to spend a staycation. 

In “Dog Friendly,” veterinarian Morgan Pearce finds herself with an opportunity to travel to Nantucket to care for her client’s senior dog at a time when she needs it most. Struggling with compassion fatigue, Morgan relishes the chance to get away and decompress. While removed from the grind of her daily life, Morgan settles into vacation mode and meets a handsome entrepreneur and surfer—Nathan Keating—who turns her life upside down. 

The budding romance arc, mixed with memorable and compelling canine characters, makes this an enjoyable and entertaining summertime read for dog lovers everywhere. We had a chance to chat with Victoria about the inspiration behind her newest novel.  

Dog Friendly book cover

Great Pet Living: In your own words, tell us what “Dog Friendly” is about.

Victoria Schade: Dog Friendly is a love letter to Nantucket, as well as a gentle education about what veterinarian life is really like. (Hint: it’s not just playing with kittens and puppies all day!) My main character Dr. Morgan Pearce is facing an emotional crisis and escapes to Nantucket for the summer, where a charming surfer named Nathan makes waves in her love life, and an irresistible foster dog named Hudson becomes the safety net she didn’t know she needed.

Great Pet Living: Where did the inspiration for this book come from? Why did you decide to set it on Nantucket?

Victoria Schade: My extended family has been visiting Nantucket for over twenty years, but of course our visits came to a stop once the pandemic hit. I’ve worked on all of my novels while on vacation in Nantucket and I figured since I couldn’t be IRL there I could at least transport myself there by writing about the island. I relived so many memories as I worked on Dog Friendly, from the joy of an outdoor shower (seriously amazing) to the challenges of navigating the cobblestone streets.

Great Pet Living: Several of your other books are about dog trainers, but this one features a veterinarian. Why the shift?

Victoria Schade: My main characters have actually ranged from a professional dog trainer in “Life on the Leash,” to a hobby trainer trying to find her footing on a film set in “Lost, Found, & Forever,” to a first-time pet parent who’s learning how to love her new puppy in “Who Rescued Who” (the truth is she’s scared of dogs!). I opted for a veterinarian in “Dog Friendly” because I thought it would be compelling to tell a veterinarian’s story in a realistic way … the good, the bad, and the messy. 

Great Pet Living: The main character, Morgan Pearce, suffers from burnout in this book. Did you talk to a lot of veterinarians who are experiencing similar struggles while researching? Why did you want to call attention to this issue?

Victoria Schade: Dr. Morgan Pearce is already a few steps beyond burnout and into full-throttle compassion fatigue as “Dog Friendly” begins. While the two mental health challenges are related, a quick way to differentiate them is to understand that burnout is caused by where one works and compassion fatigue is caused by the work one does. The trauma and feelings of hopelessness and helplessness hit harder with compassion fatigue and requires more effort to combat.

I did a ton of research for the book because I wanted to paint an accurate picture of the profession. I started off with every writer’s favorite tool: stalking! I found websites by and for vets to get a better understand of the challenges they face, and at times it felt like I was reading insider stories that weren’t meant for me. That part of my research was incredibly enlightening. Then I spoke to a few veterinarians, a veterinary social worker and a therapist to help fill in the details of everything from their day-to-day life to the strategies used to help veterinarians suffering from compassion fatigue.

Great Pet Living: All of your books have pretty compelling leading men. Tell us a bit about Nathan Keating.

Victoria Schade: He can be summed up in one word: sunshine. He brings some much-needed brightness to Morgan’s life during a time when everything seems pretty dark. He’s got a typical surfer mentality – “all I need is a dose of vitamin sea” – mixed with an entrepreneur’s drive, which I think makes for a well-rounded leading man. Oh, and he’s drop-dead gorgeous … like, put him on a Calvin Klein underwear billboard hot.

Great Pet Living: Of course, the people are great, but we want to know a little bit more about the dog main characters. What can readers expect in this novel?

Victoria Schade: My canine characters provide more than just comic relief, they’re a major part of the plot! We’ve got Miniature Schnauzer Bernadette, a special needs senior who knows she runs the household, Hudson, a mixed breed, leash reactive foster dog who’s a sweetie in the sheets and a nightmare in the streets, and Archer, a teenage Pit Bull who thinks he’s everybody’s BFF. As a dog trainer I want to make sure that each dog’s individual personality is there on the page, and that readers can recognize some of their own dogs’ behaviors in them. Important dog-related reader note: every character gets a happily ever after, including the dogs! (Rest assured, no animals are harmed in my books.)

Great Pet Living: This is your fourth dog-focused romance novel. Do you foresee more books like this in your future? 

Victoria Schade: I’m working on number five right now! The next one is a yet unnamed holiday story spanning from Halloween through New Year’s Eve. My human main characters despise one another but their dogs, a Boston Terrier puppy and a Boxer, might have a few things to teach them about being neighborly!   

“Dog Friendly” by Victoria Schade is available in stores and online starting June 28, 2022