I came across this article on eHow and thought it was worth posting. It’s a good question. I’m afraid I don’t have an answer. But it certainly makes for a great premise to a novel.
Dogs understand contentment. All they need is food, water, shelter, human kindness, and an occasional bone or toy to chew, to find happiness. Perhaps we should all aspire to be like dogs.
I saw a great photo affixed to my hairdresser’s license today. The picture showed an orange tabby kitten looking in a mirror that reflected back the face of a lion. The canine version of this photo would be a puppy staring at the image of wolf.
As much as my dog, Shadow, likes to portray a tough guy as he bellows out a bark that could curdle milk whenever the doorbell rings, in his heart he is still a sweet, tolerant pooch. I mean really what wild animal would tolerates a pack member six years his junior to lead him backward from room to room by pulling on his tail is if he were a rope in a tug-of-war contest? So while if Shadow were to have his say, he’d show himself reflected as a fierce wolf, but if I were to create the image, I’d put a mellow puppy in the mirror (sorry, Shadow).
What would your dog’s mirrored photo be like? Would your dog’s image of itself match the one you’d give him or her?
Here are a few of my favorite dog quotes:
“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” – Roger A. Caras – American wildlife photographer, writer, wildlife preservationist and television personality.
“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring—it was peace.” – Milan Kundera – author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
“Nobody can fully understand the meaning of love unless he’s owned a dog…” – Gene Hill – The Dog Man.
Please share your favorite dog quotes. I’d love to hear them!
I am one hundred percent convinced that writing has a different depth when the subject or event has really happened to the writer. I credit the acceptance of my short story, “Broken” into the West Winds Centennial anthology with this very attribute. Broken was inspired by an unexpected encounter with our old family van one morning while I was out walking my dogs. We had sold the vehicle to a man that lived in Fremont and I never expected to see it again, much less in my neighborhood. As noted in the story, the van was distinctive in color, although ours had been white with blue trim. I also had received an email where the sender asked me to describe them in a single word. Both of these aspects of the storyline are critical elements to the plot of Broken.
The integration of reality into my novels is even more pronounced. I modeled a dog, one of the characters in my young adult novel, Between Shadow’s Eyes, after our family pet, Shadow. Here are ten things about the real life Shadow that appear in the book:
1). His bark. It is the worst version of canine expression in the world. I am not exaggerating. When Shadow was my foster, I knew without a doubt that the one thing I would not miss about him when he was placed in his “forever home” was his bark. Imagine a cross between a beagle baying at the moon, fingernails screeching across a blackboard and the yowling of a treed cat. Yep, Shadow’s bark is that bad. This aspect of Shadow causes major problems for the protagonist (Sarah) in my novel when the neighbors start complaining.
2). Shadow LOVES to be petted in the space between his eyes. In my novel, when Sarah puts her fingers between Shadow’s eyes, something extraordinary happens.
3). My silly pooch loves to lay his head upon my chest. I swear he is listening to my heartbeat.
4). His breed. Near as I can tell, he is a cross between a border collie and a shar pei. The shar pei is a guess based on his tiny ears and the black splotches on his tongue.
5). Shadow loves to poke his nose between my arm and ribcage and crawl into my lap.
6). Shadow generally doesn’t get along with other dogs. Up until a few years ago, I would have never considered taking him to a dog park. He has mellowed with age, however, and has learned to grudgingly accept his brethren canines.
7). Shadow’s fur is as soft as a rabbit’s.
8). It is very difficult to get a good photograph of Shadow. Flash-photography is a guarantee of a red-eye picture.
9). Shadow is well-behaved. He has never chewed up anything or dug holes in the backyard.
10). His name. It didn’t seem right to change it when the character and my dog have so much in common.
Of course, there is a fair amount of fiction to my stories as well. Our neighbors never complained about Shadow’s barking. And, most importantly, nothing unusual happens when I put my fingers between the real Shadow’s eyes.
I love everything about dogs. Well, maybe not everything. There is that “what you can step in” aspect. But I do love the way dogs can coax you out of a bad mood, the way puppies smell, the unselfless ways of canines, and then there is the entertainment value. Whatever will they do next?
I also love to write about dogs – which is why one of the key characters in my young adult novel is based on my crazy pooch, Shadow. Shadow is a border collie mix with loads of personality and a gigantic heart. I got to thinking the other day that one of my favorite novels also had a border collie as a pivotal character (Nop’s Trials). That lead me to create a list of my favorite top ten dog books of all time (in no particular order):
1). Nop’s Trials by Donald McCaig
2). A Dog Year: Twelve Months, Four Dogs and Me by Jon Katz
3). Marley and Me by John Grogan
4). Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
5). The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
6). The Poky Little Puppy by Janet Sebring Lowrey (A Golden Book Classic)
7). Old Yeller by Robert Stevenson
8). Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
9). The Call of the Wild by Jack London
10). Cujo by Stephen King
Do you have any favorite animal stories? Cats? Horses? Maybe a tiger (as in Yann Martel’s The Life of Pi).