Sunday, March 31, 2013

What I Learned About Writing From My Dog

Anyone who has followed my blog for awhile knows I'm big on analogies, and can usually find a way to equate the writing process to taking a hike, pruning your plants, putting together a jigsaw puzzle, and the like. What I didn't expect was for my dog to teach me about writing.

 I rescued my dog, Mary, two years ago. She had been a breed dog in a puppy mill for five years, and was past her prime. For five long years, she had been in a cage and was picked up only to be inseminated, or to have her babies taken from her.

I studied her behavior as she got used to the idea that she was safe and loved, I couldn’t help but compare her journey to mine as a writer. It’s a bit of a stretch, but let me try to explain.

I have a big back yard, but when Mary first arrived, she would explore it only in three-foot circles. She roamed the entire yard, three feet at a time. As beginning writers, we tend to go in circles, too, as we labor to learn our craft. As Mary became more confident, the circles got bigger. Just like a writer with a few contests under her belt. More confidence translates to trying new things, new genres, and new ideas. Our confidence grows each time a great review of our book gets posted on Amazon or Goodreads.

The big break with Mary came when she was introduced to my sister’s dog. Harry taught her typical dog behavior—how to run up and down stairs, how to roll in the grass, how to play with toys. Things Mary was not exposed to in her puppy-mill environment. As authors, our big break comes when we meet and learn from other authors who have been successful.

Today, Mary would rather hang with Harry than with me. She still gets a bit nervous when I want to pick her up, but she goes to her safe place—her bed—and she’s okay with it. She gets to hear all my stories before anyone else does. The day I saw her running around the house with a red pen in her mouth was the day I knew she was the right match for me, since she embodies Gertrude Stein. I’m a better person, and a better writer, for having Mary in my life.


  1. I like analogies too (I once compared writing to painting a wall *snort*). Mary is such an adorable poochie!! It always sickens me when I hear of animal cruelty, but it was lovely to see a happy ending for one of the many dogs that have been mistreated!

  2. Mary! What a sweetheart.

    My kitty Carly has a cameo in both of my books.

    Since she was a kitten she has a fascination with pens. She hoards them! Last year, I found her secret stash of five pens in my bedroom closet!

  3. What a wonderful story, Becky. I'm so glad you and Mary found each other. MM

  4. Great story! I rescue dogs and two years ago I took in a puppy mill dog named Gracie. She stayed. For two months I didn't know she could bark. She was quiet and shy and afraid to walk on the grass. Now she's playful and loving. I read her my stories, too.

  5. As I read your blog, my three dogs chomped on their rawhides by my feet. All three came from people who didn't want them anymore. Whenever I receive a rejection letter, I think that it's okay because some day someone will want my story and give it a home.

  6. Great post, Becky. You are so right about our circles becoming bigger as we grow in knowledge and experience. Mary knows where she came from and no doubt appreciates living in her safe, new world. You did a good thing, for both of you, the day you rescued her and brought her home.

    My two office assistants, two big Labs, don't offer much "assistance," but they definitely keep me entertained and ALWAYS let me know when it's lunch time...theirs not mine.