The Real Shandy
One of the main characters and the true impetus for this book was a small stray dog I actually came upon on my first trip to Ireland. (Of course the name of that dog is not Shandy, and I never knew her name.) And I did try to take some responsibility for the dog, since she was alone and either had run away or had been abandoned. I took her into the village of Galbally. Try as I might, no one would relieve of my sudden burden.
Finally, out of desperation more than anything else, I picked a random farmhouse, and the lady there was kind enough to take the dog from me. I went back into the village once there afterwards and subsequently drove by the house maybe fifteen minutes later. There standing at the end of the driveway was Shandy, looking at me as I drove by. It was the strangest thing, and it bothered me in real life just as it bothers the character Spencer in the book.
I never knew what became of her after that. On my second trip to Ireland, after I had decided to write the book, I went to the farmhouse again, hoping I could learn Shandy's true fate. The house was completely empty. I learned second hand a day or two later that a family had been living there (the same family I originally left the dog with, or at least I think so) but had packed up and left town.
I never expected to find Shandy again, and I didn't, but it still makes me both sad and curious, wondering what truly became of her. I guess I'll never know.