I’ve had several pets throughout my life. I grew up in the sticks, and my parents were the kind that fully believed in ‘outside dogs’ before we got Spud, who ended up being my dog. Though Spud is long gone, he holds a special place in my heart and shows up in my writing every so often. One day I might share his stories, but let’s focus on animals in writing and how pets inspire us!
5. Experience the Outdoors
Now that I’m an adult in a very ‘indoors’ profession, I find it hard to make time to enjoy the outdoors. Even though it’s just small walks, small sessions of fetch in the neighborhood soccer field, or tiny potty breaks, my dog still forces me to go outside.
While I had been working up an awesome monitor tan through grad school, I appreciate the vitamin D I now get. Nature refreshes me, as it does many people, and a breath outside helps cleanse the soul.
Even indoor pets can inspire you to think about outside. A fish tank is like a tiny ‘outside’ that you can place on a table, and indoor cats sometimes draw your attention to what’s going on outside your window.
4. Welcome Distraction
My dog sits at my feet in my office. Sometimes, when I’m crunching data and working on reports or scientific papers, he’ll bite my toes and be excruciatingly annoying.
Other times, the data will be sad and playing with him is all I can think of to do.
With writing, there needs to be breaks as well. Taking time to enjoy the company of another – even a dog, cat, or other pet – can rejuvenate you when you’re alone for too long. As much as I see people lament that they didn’t write enough in a day, week, month, or what have you, it’s moments like these that make that loss of work worth it.
3. The Sad Times Inspire Us, Too
A community matriarch – Mama Grace – died while I was away at college, but no one thought it relevant to tell me or invite me to the funeral. I’ve been to one funeral – for an in-law, Great-Uncle Russel – and I still have all 4 of my grandparents, both parents, and all 8 aunts-and-uncles and their spouses alive. I’ve had 1 great-Aunt die (in a strange, almost comical way) who I didn’t hear about until it was too late. I chat a lot with Tom Darby of Eagle Canyon, and while he’s experienced the loss of a lot of people (especially recently), I haven’t. I obviously cannot relate to these feelings terribly well and have to sympathize through another route.
To this day, the loss of Spud remains the greatest grief I’ve experienced. My parents had gotten other dogs, little collies that weren’t useless, and I’ll never be sure why they decided to go look at Pomeranian puppies (though, once seen, Spud wasn’t going to be left behind). Because I was left at home to tend the garden and fish for trout that summer we first got Spud, the dog ended up being mine.
There’s a reason everyone cries at the end of Ol’ Yeller. The loss of a pet is tragic and painful, and the memories of those times can carry us through hard parts in a story. Spud’s death carried a lot of sadness and anger with it, and writing through those emotions has felt powerful. I feel the pain of loss through this dog. Other young writers may have similar issues with inexperience of death, and animals may be their only real memories of the pain.
I don’t want to seem uncaring to those who have lost close friends and family by comparing it to the loss of a dog. Your pain is something I simply can’t understand or appreciate fully, and hopefully won’t for a long time.
2. Funny Antics
So, in case you couldn’t tell, I’m a Pom person. The Pomeranian at the polling station to the left is my one and only fuzzy boy. He’s pretty good, walks alright on a leash – but he hates large bags of any sort and LOVES stuffed sheep. I don’t understand it, but I find it to be part of his spunkiness.
Cat gifs and dog pictures are all over the interwebs. We love the silliness of our pets, and it’s also fun to write about. Why, I haven’t had so much fun writing a blog post of this type ever before! I’ve followed Milly Schmidt, the crazy cats-and-writing blogger, for a little over a month now, and I still think she’s got one of the cutest themes around. She exemplifies what it means to honor an animal’s funny ways.
The antics of our pets can also make us think about how our characters have fun, what kinds of quirks they may have, and how even animals have personalities. Spud and the current fluffball, Hector, aren’t the same despite their similar lineages as purebreds.
1. Loyal Comforters
There are tons of people out there who love their dogs (and cats!), turning to them in times of sadness or crisis for abounding joy. Hector has certainly improved my grumpiness since I’ve had him. Even animals that aren’t dogs, though, can show you love and loyalty. I tend to think this is best seen in mammals and (sometimes) birds, but I bet you owners of exotic lizards and fish and spiders may think otherwise.
As you sit writing, animal on your lap and (inevitably) your keyboard, remember that they’re not just there to annoy you. They’re just there to make sure you don’t feel the pain of writing right now. They’re there because they know you need it.