Write Like a Dog Owner

Woogie (The Beast)

I’ve never been a dog lover.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like dogs. I’m just not a dog person. Neither am I a cat person. Or, come to think of it, a people person… Okay, so I’m not painting a pretty picture of myself – moving on!

Growing up, my family had pets. We had guinea pigs, newts, lizards, birds, goldfish, beta fish, a half-second bit with a tarantula – you name it. During all that time, I successfully managed to like all of them while also maintaining my cool-kid aloofness (or so I imagined). But when I think of the standard house pets and the ones who usually tend to receive the most affection from their owners, my mind tends to gravitate towards the feline and canine persuasion. (My apologies to those who have deeper affection towards the atypical pet.) Regardless of my lack of a soulful bond with our dogs, I still worried when they got lost, cried when they died and think of them with great affection now that I’m older and all that remains are the happy memories.

Looking towards the future, I had every intention of one day getting a dog but that day would come much later, you know, after I was married and someone else could “bond” with the dog so to speak. In the meantime, I was prepared to live my life single and in the wind. It was a good plan. A great plan.

But then I fell in love with a mutt.

He wasn’t even a cute mutt. He’s a beast really. It’s ironic that the first time I ever saw him, I wanted to get rid of him as soon as possible. My mom picked the beast up about one week into my summer vacation, right before my senior year of college. I was less than excited, as I had just made a big decision to not work over the summer and focus on getting a headstart on my senior thesis. (What a pipe dream that was!) And I just knew an attention-needy puppy would get in the way of things.

Little did I know just how much “in the way” this dog would get.

Somewhere between me begging my mom to just “find a home for him already” and me starting my senior year, I found myself truly and completely transfixed on the ugly mug of one Yorkie mix. (I don’t even like little dogs!) To say the rest of my family was blown away would be an understatement. They couldn’t believe that I actually liked something with four paws – you know, beyond the normal pat on the head when they greet you at the door. So my mom, in all her wisdom, agreed to keep him for the entirety of my senior year of college. Something she often reminds me was a living hell.

So there I was, straight from walking across the stage to accept my college diploma, when my mom hands me the leash with a joyful look of freedom resonating about her. And so my new life began. Not only did my illusions of sleeping for twelve hours straight on the weekends get blown out of the water, but so did my reality of jet-setting across the country (not that I could afford it but still…). Every decision I made had to revolve around how Woogie would handle my absence, a new environment, long work hours and etc.

But somehow, the burden that I associated with other dogs wasn’t the typical burden I associated with him. I wanted him. I cared for him. So I didn’t have the annoying feelings of resentment when I’d have to take him out for a late night walk or get up early. In fact, in many ways, I give Woogie credit for nudging me in the right direction of a fit and healthy lifestyle. It was because of him that I woke up early – even on my days off – to go for a morning walk.

Which brings me to the point of this blog post…

In a lot of ways, being a writer is like being a good dog owner. Just like a dog owner has to recognize that one dog that comes along that he or she truly bonds with – so too, does a writer. Oftentimes it is so easy to just pick out any story and keep writing, but the goal is to find that one story that you know that you were meant to tell. Likewise, you have to be willing to put in the time and energy, everyday, to nurture and provide your story with the best foundation and future.

I personally hate getting up early on my days off, but I love the feeling of my dog jumping on my bed to greet me with complete adoration and affection. Before it was a hassle to walk him everyday – but now it’s routine. And I keep telling myself: If I commit to being a writer like I commit to being a dog owner, then eventually I’ll have a completed story and fulfill my dream of being an author.

And then Woogie would really have something to bark about.

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