“How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways…”

Every year at this time when transferring birthdays I want to remember onto the new wall calendar, I include those of the dearly departed. It’s my way of celebrating that person on his or her special day, be it a relative, friend, or dog. For in some families, dogs are people too. In our case: Spooner (5/14), Callie (8/9), Sunny (3/13), and Coco (9/11).

From the very first writer’s conference I attended, I was struck by how extraordinarily well writers age. They just keep doing it. I’m thinking now, there was probably a dog behind each one. Every writer on earth should have a dog, and every dog, a writer; it’s a match made in, let’s say, heaven. To the extent that “writing is the art of applying the seat of one’s trousers to the seat of one’s chair,” as Kingsley Amis suggested, I don’t know how I’d do it without a dog willing to log hours upon hours under the writing table, where I keep the dog bed. Toys are scattered around the room, the house, or out on the terrace in the summertime—but it goes without saying that throughout the day, the dog is usually by my side, or breathing her doggy breath at my feet. And nonjudgemental, did I mention that? That could be what helps drive the critic from the room when I am writing.

Coco is my current companion. We’ve had three Golden Retrievers and this crazy little mix, and one by one they all became writing dogs. With Callie I started a memoir, and with her daughter, Sunny, I completed it. As Sunny began to age we went looking for the next adoption. Coco is half American Eskimo and half poodle. We knew nothing about the American Eskimo breed and only looked like we were looking it up in reference books, for having seen her and held her, we were already sold. With Coco’s help we weathered the death of Sunny, and I went for my MFA in Creative Writing at Goddard and wrote my first novel, Black Angels. Lately we are at work on the sequel. Being a small dog, she may outlive and outperform them all and see this one too through completion.

What makes us so compatible, writers and dogs? High on that list has to be a fondness for walks and naps. Throughout the year writers look for every opportunity to walk the dog. And come spring, could those be human scratches at the door too? As for my napping, like writing, the dog is nonjudgmental. My husband would come home and have a fit, but my dog will unquestionably sleep alongside me on the sofa anytime I want a nap, morning, noon, or night.

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6 Comments

Filed under napping, walking, writing

6 responses to ““How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways…”

  1. Beth Yourgrau

    Readers and dogs are also wonderfully compatible. My dog, Zoe is snoozing by my feet while reading and replying to your blog. Like your beloved Coco, she’s crazy about going on walks but is most content when I stay in one place. I think many people would be happier, healthier and more creative if they took their dog to work, like you do.

  2. Tracy Ahrens

    Your blog made me smile. Since our dear little Scout has joined our family some five years ago, we have all changed for the better. It amazes all of us how something only fifteen pounds with just a stub of a tail could transform all our lives. She has been with us through family separation and divorce, through a move from the home we loved, through my loneliness and my children’s separate periods of anxiety as they work their way through the teen years. Scout has been there for all of it, and somehow senses that it is her job to keep us from falling apart or at least build us back up again when we do. None of us actually gave her that job, but we marvel at how she takes it on with all that her tiny little paws and lovely brown eyes can muster. There is so much love and wisdom in the way she looks right into our hearts with her sweet eyes or how she cocks her head when she is trying, and trying, to understand.On a daily basis, she really only understands love,, and that is actually all we need to understand also, when it comes right down to it. That, and how important it is to drink plenty of water, curl up for a quiet nap, play with a ball now and again, and take some good walks out in the fresh air each day.

  3. Donte Felder

    I never really thought about the combination but it makes perfect sense. This is a great read to start a beautiful day.

  4. Teri

    Kim, I loved this post… I just did my 2012 events calendar as well. Not surprisingly, I have my human passings, mom, sister, dad. And birthdays of the deceased stay on year after year as well. To take a moment at least on theses special days to acknowlege them in my heart. Dog birthdays are there as well!
    I am right now in my reading chair with callie girl tucked in between me and the chair. Snug and content-together.

  5. Enjoyed reading through this, very good stuff, thankyou . “All of our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them.” by Walt Disney.

  6. I have been surfing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all website owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the net will be much more useful than ever before.

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