Writings From Covered Bridge

The Canine Effect: Dogs and Writing

Throughout the ages, writers have talked about their muses. I have always pictured a muse as some sylph-like entity, ephemeral and full of light that embodies the ideals that the writer is trying to represent or attain. Muses inspire, guide, soothe.jack-at-christmas

But me? I have never been blessed with such a spirit. But I have had a dog.

Jack came into our lives ten Christmases ago, and left us this year to walk the rainbow bridge, as a friend put it. I have rummaged in my brain to find a fitting homage for this pup that was friend, child, caregiver, and mentor. No bigger than a tennis shoe when he arrived, he grew into a leggy, very red, extremely handsome, ninety- pound golden retriever. His eyes were wise and knowing. His spirit was pure gold itself – full of fun, curiosity, and compassion. Unconditional love and a faithfulness that knew no bounds – he bestowed these gifts upon us daily. Jack shared his thoughts through a hundred expressions as his thinking muscles, apparently situated in his eyebrows, operated in overdrive. He had a bigger vocabulary than most kindergarteners.

In all truthfulness, he fulfilled the role of muse better than most. As I sat in my writing chair pecking away at my laptop, he waited attendance beside me. But, he also hiked my husband and me down many woodland trails and forced us to stop what we were doing for a bit of play. He rested his chin on my leg when I felt ill or sad, or sometimes, just because. He relished table scraps and loved playing dog jokes.

His warm, silky presence provided solace and comfort in good times and bad. He reminded us hourly to take nothing for granted, to notice everything, to use our five senses, and to take a fresh approach, even with things we’ve done a hundred times before. He made us laugh and sometimes sigh, and most importantly, he reminded us to live in the present.

I don’t think that Jack could have given me better instruction on how to approach my writing, and I will keep him and his lessons close to heart. And here’s hoping that your dog, if you have one, will help you with your writing, too.