I’ll bet you didn’t know that along with Scrivner and critique partners, a dog is a very important part of your equipment as a writer. Unless you’re Hemingway, in which case, you have cats. Elizabeth Barret had a dog. Byron had a dog to whom he built a monument. Dorothy Parker had a series of dogs. Here, go look for yourself.
Finally, I am a real writer. I adopted a dog from the local county shelters, and have given over much of my life to taking care of her. She, for her part, is steadfast in her duties to take care of my husband and me. Our feet will never be cold, our faces will never go unwashed, and our leftovers will never make it to the refrigerator.
The very best part of all is that Tilda, the terrier, is too dainty to simply go outside to do her business. And she would never sink so low as to make a mess indoors. She insists on going for a w-a-l-k before she can find relief. I so wish I had her powers of bladder control.
In the two weeks since Tilda came to live with us, I have lost 2 pounds. This was over Thanksgiving. And there was pie. So I am all amazement. Walking twice a day for about 30 minutes and being careful of my diet on every day that isn’t Thanksgiving is my weight loss secret.
But for a writer, long stretches of walking without having to think too much open the gates for imagination and inspiration. I am racing to finish my second book in a series, as I said last time, and I have to get back to the Winter story for The Bowman’s Inn. The time for working out these plots is a bonus, and not to be wasted.
It seems to me that the value of a pet for a writer is the ability they have to make us let go of the world and all our cares. With a push of a nose or a bump of the head, they tell us to spend some quality time relaxing, so that the writer can release stress and enter the world of story and plot and ideas. Once there, we find so much of use that we don’t often want to come back.
There the pet provides another valuable service. Needing food, or a walk, or just plain pettings, they anchor us in the world without dragging us down. (This post first appeared in November of 2015. Since then, Tilda has grown into a neurotic, happy, and plumper member of the family.)