Dogs and Writing

There are more than a few books about dogs out there in the marketplace. I’ve read very few. At the time that Marley and Me came out, I was in the process of losing my own yellow lab, and had no interest in living another person’s loss.

As a writer, I’m thankful to have a dog as they allow me the needed time to contemplate on long walks along the lake here in Seattle, or in the woods on nice weekends. Both of my dogs have curled up at my feet when I write, which I think has more to do with the radiator right next to me than wanting to be next to me. I hope it’s both.

Dogs are extremely valuable creatures to writers. I’m sure cats are too, but dogs will actually listen to you when you read a sentence out loud, or walk away when the cadence goes awry. Or be there when emotion simply overcomes you when you write a passage and you need them to be there. Cats, in most cases, could care less.

My two favorite books about dogs are Mark Doty’s “Dog Years” and Rick Bass’ “Colter.” Mr. Doty and Mr. Bass write with such lyrical prose that they elevate the reading experience to art, making the experience they had with their own dogs, and their compulsion to write about it, extraordinary for the reader.

My yellow lab, Tucker, withstood many lonely afternoons of me writing, but was rewarded handsomely with terrific walks at the beach. When he passed it was a terrible loss. The three years between dogs was extremely difficult.

Buster, my lab/golden mix is enjoying our lake walks. Lucky for him, he hasn’t endured the intensity of writing new words, just the work of rewriting. I find that getting new words to paper is far more difficult. Luckily, I’ve had my two pals to join me when the mind is allowed to relax and create, and I would not have traded Tucker, and now Buster, for anything in the world.

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