In a wild departure from the norm, I'm not going to talk about writing at all. I'm going to yammer on about the dogs that make my life worthwhile. To thank you, dear reader, for this indulgence, I'm giving away copies of "Wilson the Dalmatian: Victorian Carriage Dog," my new ebook for kids in grades 3 - 5. Feel free to skip the part where I talk about my dogs and jump straight to the end where the "Free EBook" part is. I won't mind.
I'm only half joking when I say my dogs are my muses. Their quiet energy (they sleep most of the time while I'm writing) and their tangible warmth (at any given time, at least one of them is laying on my feet) stokes the creative coals. I create better, plot better, and write better when they are around.
And if, perchance, the Muse should prescribe a nap -- you know, for story purposes -- well, they're more than happy to crawl up on the couch with me for a little snooze.
|WunderGuy & I & our first 2 Dals.|
We had Dalmatians for years. Our first was a 4-year old one that needed re-homed NOW! Within a few months of getting him, we also had a Dal puppy whose first owners had quickly realized they were not equipped to raise anything that wasn't stuffed.
In addition to our Dals, we acquired a lovely, beautifully bred, show-quality Whippet whose owner died and whose inheriting people gave him to us when we attended the estate sale. Oh, he was lovely! His favorite place to sleep was on his back in the bathtub, with all four legs waving in the air.
|Our daughter at 11 months & Bogie at 13 years.|
Barney was a full-grown Akita when we got him. He'd lost his family to divorce. His original owner was a fireman who worked 36-hour shifts. He didn't think it was right to leave the dog alone for days, so he came to our place.
Barney was a gentle giant. He weighed well over 120 pounds in his prime. I had never owned a Northern breed before. I was used to dogs that would actually pay attention to me when I called their names. Not Barney. He was very much his own dog. For the first 3 weeks we had him, I thought he was deaf.
Somehow, we ended up on a Dalmatian rescue list and for years we'd get calls about every spotted dog within 50 miles that needed a home. Our final Dal was Digory, a special needs case. We had 3 dogs at the time, but got a phone call from our vet the day before Thanksgiving that went something like this:
Vet: I've got a stray Dalmatian pup here about 6 months old. Found in a ditch. The person who found him thought he was dead. He's not. Yet. Animal Aid [a local rescue agency] will pay for his vet care, but he needs a home with someone who knows these dogs. Will you take him if he lives?
Me: Uh... N--
Vet: He's a rack of bones. At least 70% underweight, with a bad case of heartworm and road rash. I don't think he's going to live. But if he does--?
And that's how we got Digory. He spent weeks in the vet's office before he could come home. He was a good boy, but had deep seated aggression issues toward other animals. He was fine with the dogs and cats we had when he came, but we were never able to successfully introduce other animals afterward.
Digory lived 12 years. By then, we had a child. I thought "Dalmatians have so much energy. I'm not sure I'm up to handling both a kid and another Dal..."
So, in our infinite wisdom, we acquired a stray part-Pit who showed up at a friend's house. Pits, we discovered, have all the energy of Dalmatians, just without the spots.
River the WunderPit is a lovely 50 lb., brown brindle bundle of energy who never met a plushy squeaky toy she didn't disembowel. She's obsessive to the point of self-destruction. She can play soccer with a horse toy - literally - for hours, and sometimes must have the ball taken away in order to rediscover her brain.
I contend that River was the inspiration for Toothless the Dragon in "How To Train Your Dragon." To press my case, I present Exhibit A:
|River & Toothless: Separated at Birth?|
|Kestrel: Always ready for something...|
No ode to the dog muses in my life would be complete without Barkley, our newest addition. We thought he would be a good replacement for Barney as an outdoor dog. Barkley had other ideas. He's like having a piece of self-mobile carpet in the house. And nothing, but nothing, warms you on a frosty winter day like a cup of hot coffee while snuggling a St. Bernard.
|Barkley's default position.|
So many of our dogs were purebred castoffs who, often because of their breeds' traits, didn't fit into their original owners' ideas of what a dog should be. I decided to write a series of books that explained why different breeds have the characteristics they do. The hero of each book would be a dog that was doing the Thing for which his or her breed was developed. Since I had the most first-hand experience with Dalmatians, and since I wanted to pay homage to the dogs who were my first muses, the first book in the series is about a Dalmatian.
"Wilson the Dalmatian: Victorian Carriage Dog" is a true-to-life story for young readers and dog lovers of all ages. For indulging my paean to the dogs in my life, I'd like to share the ebook with you -- for FREE!
1. Just go to "Wilson the Dalmatian" at Smashwords.com. (If you're not already on Smashwords, you have to create an account, but it's simple, fast, and free.)
2. Add the eBook to your cart.
3. On checkout, use coupon code AR59P. (It's good until November 1, 2011).
4. Read and enjoy!
If you like it, I'd be forever in your debt if you posted a review on Amazon.com, on Smashwords, or (my personal preference) on both sites. But you don't have to. Go ahead and share the free coupon code with anyone you choose. No trick! It's my treat.
-- Do you have an animal muse that makes your writing time even more enjoyable? If so, contribute your own Ode to them below!