Sunday, October 11, 2009

Every Good Book Needs a Dog

After reading a writing prompt: IS THERE A CHARACTER WHO ACTS AS YOUR MUSE?on
It didn't take me long to realize who it was.


My first child. My furry, best friend. My muse.

It all started in spring of 1991 when I rescued a border collie puppy. I was a grown-up now, and Jessie was my first dog. We had two weeks at the beach, park, and nights curled up together. But Jessie was sick and I didn't know it. Early one morning, I found her twirling in circles, her mind unreachable with Parvo. Jessie never made it home. My world crashed, and I couldn't stop the tears.

Fast-forward a few months. A pregnant golden retriever had been rescued from the pound. And now, a litter of puppies needed homes. Nine black fur balls scurried around, quickly disappearing into a hole they'd dug. Mo was the first one to crawl out. She flopped into my lap, chewed on my fanny-pack, and won my heart. She chose me.

As a lanky teenage, she licked, jumped on people, and emptied and ate the trash. Worst of all, she ate expensive things that belonged to my roommates (remote controls, Birkenstocks bought in Sweden.) But I knew that I had something special. She became my first child. My best friend.

Whether hiking in the Sierras (where at 4 months, she retrieved my chapstick from the middle of a lake) or riding shotgun in my Toyota Tercel, Mo never left my side. She loved other animals even after getting chased by a ferret or kicked by a burro. She cruised down the hallway wearing a backpack where I taught 2nd grade. She bopped balloons on her nose until they popped, often gathering a crowd. Mo never missed the chance to climb an old oak tree.

Mo made it through three moves, a husband (she wore a white ribbon to my wedding!) and two kids. She hid her ball in car seats, cribs, and diaper bags. No matter what or who took my attention away, she waited, famous red ball in mouth, ready to play.

Mo has appeared in my children's stories, and inspired me to write my first picture book, DON'T LICK THE BABY. I longed to sell the book before she passed, but Mo became ill at age 14. The day before she died, DON’T LICK THE BABY won a picture book award at a conference in Los Angeles. My heart thumped as I received my certificate. The universe had spoken.

Mo helped me find the "write" path again.

Now, it’s an adventure with three neurotic, (yet loving,) rescued dogs. Leo “the wall walker” was unusual enough to make it on The Dog Whisperer TV show. But even the sum of the three don't quite add up to one of Mo. When I write, Mo is on my shoulder, barking to be let in. In some way or another, I open the door.

Mo taught me how to love and how to be loved. She's with me. When I walk a trail. As I splash in ocean waves. When I write.

Every good book needs a dog.

And for Mo, I am forever grateful.

No comments:

Post a Comment