The Dogs of Sherburne : A Great American Dog NOvel by author Tom Mody

Dogs of Sherburne novel coverBuy Dogs of Sherburne Book

Meet the Dogs of Sherburne
dog Dallasdog Sugardog Scooter
dog Laddiedog Scampdog Sam
dog Hobiedog Generaldog Brandi
dogs Tuffy & Mitsy

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Author Contact:
Tom Mody
Mody Company Creative
607-336-6233 ph | 607-336-6232 fx
56 West Main, Norwich NY 13815


Author Notes | Chapter Excerpts | Fact or Fiction | Paw Prints

Sugar from The Dogs of Sherburne

Name: Sugar

Breed: 100% MUTT

Primary Novel Master: Mark

In The Novel: Dallas would learn the ways of "dog lovin' chaos" from Sugar who was wiley as a part-time stray. Though they were mostly adversarial it was in the norm of doggie etiquette and both had mutual respect for the other. One trait Sugar did have over Dallas was that his juvenial behavior was seen as more fun loving to Dallas' menacing.

Scooter from The Dogs of Sherburne

Name: Scooter

Breed: Beagle

Primary Novel Master: Mark

In The Novel: Unlike Sugar, Scooter was 100% Master Mark's family dog but the two dogs had a brotherly bond though Scooter was the "little brother" in all respects. He was known as tripod because he lost a hind leg courtesy of a school bus. Despite his handicap he made his way to many adventures in the village and was lovable and innocent in all beagle ways.




Dogs of Sherburne Master Mark Mark Nigolian on Sugar and Scooter

Sherburne, New York. What a place for a dog to live and grow-up in the 70's and 80's. Sherburne was the home of Gaines Burgers. The town had the smell of freshly made dog food in the air each a day, stores that gladly gave out meat scraps, and a noon whistle that gave every dog something to howl about. And above all else there were other dogs every where to play, fight, and have sex with.

I grew up on South Street in Sherburne and as the name implies the street is at the southern boundary of village. The elementary schools, the playgrounds, a "crick", close proximity to Hunt's Mountain (really a hill) made a great place for boy and dog to grow up. Unfortunately, we were a cat family and we didn't have a dog in early boyhood. In fact few people in the south end of Sherburne did. One prominent dog in that side of town was Sam, a big black sheep kind of a dog. Sam was a roamer like most dogs were. He had a regal nature about him in that he seldom seemed to create trouble for himself by messing with people. He didn't chase cars or bite kids or that kind of stuff. But if there were a cat or squirrel to chase or a dog to fight Sam would rise to the occasion. Sam was one tough dog and dominated the dog world south of the traffic light.

When I was 5 or 6 we got some new neighbors, the Tomaselli's. They came from the north side of Sherburne and brought their dachshund type dog Gomer. Now Gomer will probably never be mentioned in conversations of Sherburne dog lore. He rarely ventured outside the neighborhood or made much of a fuss about things. He was friendly, but not overly friendly, but Gomer brought doggie wisdom to an area that had little. This wisdom would help mold the new legion of dogs that were to be coming to South Street.

the dogs scooter in Sherburne New York
Scooter at home yard

How we decided to break the cycle of being strictly into creating weird felines, I cannot recall, but we headed to the kennel just outside of town to pick out a beagle puppy one spring day in 1973. We actually picked out two pups, as a friend also on the south side of town wanted a beagle. We brought the two tiny beagles to our home. We kept them both overnight and chose one after a rigorous interview process. The other puppy went to the Baldwin's and became Barney Beagle also a player in the Sherburne dog world.

We called our black and brown spotted runt Scooter. It turned out to be a prognostication to his future as the three-legged beagle of Sherburne (AKA Tripod).


I called him Sugar, his previous owners named him Sam, and my neighbors who really took care of him called him Snickers and Whiskers. I was standing with my friend, throwing rocks into the Chenango River on a warm, mid summer day when a rustling from a riverside bush no more than 20 feet away produced this shaggy light brown mutt. There was nothing special about his looks except for whiskers hanging down from his chin making him look like an old man. He walked over to my friend and I and sat down next to us. He didn't play with us or run or jump or swim. He just sat.We petted his course coat a little, but quickly returned to our playing and there he just sat. He sat, that is until we began to leave. Then he rapidly sprang to feet. We said goodbye to him, but he looked at us communicating to us, "What do mean goodbye?" We climbed the bank and he was right behind. We walked down the railroad tracks to the bridge and he was right behind. I turned around and yelled to him to go home. We walked down the dirt road and although he stayed behind a little more than before, he was still following us. We decided to run to the main street. We quickly crossed and were at my house in no time leaving that dog on the dusty road. We went inside to get a drink and we went back outside. The dog was there.

Mark Nigolian and dog Sugar on safety Patrol in Sherburne New York
One of the story points of the book has Sugar going out on morning safety patrol with Master Mark in 1977 as illustrated by this photo

The dog Sugar invades the 1980  Sherburne Jr High baseball team photo
Sugar crashing the Jr. High baseball team photo in 1980. Master Mark is at the very top of the group and Master Tom is the big mop at front left

Tom's Notes:

I also conducted a few phone sessions with Mark and he offered up the demise of both dogs along with some small tidbits including the safety patrol belt, Sugar jumping through the Kief's window to get to their lass, being tied to the tree for punishment and Mark having to discipline him with a baseball bat, Scooter being neutered, and Sugar mounting the Pudney's pure bred beagle.