NEW YORK – Jeffrey Deaver stroked the silky ears of his pet briard Chance, smooched his sleepy pooch and gently cuddled him.

Could this really be “The Bone Collector” author, the best-selling writer known for gruesome murders, dismembered bodies and brutal torture scenes?

“I’m not as creepy as the things I write about,” he said.

Good thing, too, because there were plenty of bones scattered backstage at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show Tuesday.

Bill Cosby, Mary Tyler Moore and many other celebrities have shown up at Westminster in the past. Martha Stewart was at Madison Square Garden on Monday, and Cosby co-owned a Dandie Dinmont terrier trying for best in show Tuesday night.

Fox News Channel’s Greta Van Susteren stopped by for a first-time visit. She owns two German shepherds, including one that “would win fastest to chew up the mail.”

“What I want to know is what do those Afghan hounds use on the hair? They’re better groomed than I am,” she said.

The 56-year-old Deaver is a veteran of dog show world. It was his fourth visit to Westminster as an owner, and the trip from Chapel Hill, N.C., was worth it – Chance won best of breed in the afternoon and advanced in the herding group.

Two years ago, another briard co-owned by Deaver won the breed. Both were handled by Adriano Rocha, whose girlfriend, Lisa Sarvas, is their veterinarian.

“I didn’t know he wrote those books when I first met him,” Rocha said. “He’s a sweet guy.”

Other dog folks have discovered the same thing, eventually.

“People have tended to be a bit standoffish at first,” Deaver said. “They’re a little troubled by the books.”

Over time, Deaver has owned an “eclectic” variety of dogs, among them Dachshunds, basset hounds, retrievers, poodles, collies and terriers. He’s also had cats and a salamander.

“But dogs I had the most affection for,” he said. “I liked the connection they have with humans.”

Deaver has written more than 20 novels, with “The Cold Moon” and “The Twelfth Card” and central hero Lincoln Rhyme achieving international acclaim.

“The Bone Collector” got turned into a movie starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie.

His “The Sleeping Doll” will be released in June and he’s currently working on “The Black and White Rainbow” – in fact, he planned to take a two-hour break before Tuesday night’s judging to write more.

Various dogs sometimes show up in his books.

Deaver auctions off characters for his novels, and the proceeds go to the American Kennel Club’s Canine Health Foundation.

In one of them, the top bidder asked that her prize Havanese make an appearance as a police dog. Only one problem: that breed is about the size of a football. Still, Jackson the Havanese showed up.

But Deaver was adamant that a dog show will never serve as a setting for one of his horrifying tales.

“My stories require violence and they require loss,” he said. “Children and animals is a place I will never go.”

“It’s like with horse races or Barbaro. It’s too sad,” he added. “It’s a moral issue with me.”

Besides, he would prefer to coo-coo with his dogs. Deaver and partner Madelyn Warcholik just welcomed a litter of eight briards.

Deaver keeps a pair of briards at home. There’s no doubt who’s in charge when everyone is there.

“I’m the sheep. They herd me,” he said. “They watch TV with me.”

Deaver said Fox’s “24” was their favorite show. That was until the recent episodes turned violent.

“It disturbed them,” he said.


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