Friday, June 16, 2006

The Dogs Beside Me

My dogs, like my writing, are constantly with me, even when I am sleeping. When I can’t get my head around words, when I have to enter my thoughts through the back door, it’s like getting in bed with our dogs. I play a game of “Twister” with them every single night. If the dogs get in bed before I do, I don’t move them, I scooch and slide in around the dogs. Sometimes this is what I have to do to recover my words.
When I come into the office in the morning, my dog-children, Emma, Molly and Dakota (I call them the Terrible Trio) come with me. They usually lie under my desk and behind me. Molly and Dakota have beds right at my feet and Emma, being too big for a bed in my 10 x 10 office space, sleeps behind me and in front of the aquarium, which can be a bit disconcerting when she hears the mail man and bolts from the room, sometimes bumping into the fish tank enough to make the water tide.
Writing can be like that too. The sentences or phrases seem to be lying there, sleeping, waiting for me to tell them to get up and come outside. Sometimes, if I get too excited, the words come out in a rush, threatening to overflow and ruin everything I’ve accomplished thus far.
When Hershey was alive, her bed lay right beside me to my left. When she was younger, I placed her there so she wouldn’t constantly want on my lap (have you ever tried typing while holding a wiener dog?) It was the perfect place for her to keep an eye on me. When she got older, her geriatric induced sleeps kept her snoozing most of the day. But it was where I could keep an eye on her. When she passed last summer, I didn’t bother moving either Molly or Dakota to her spot. I removed Hershey’s bed and left the space empty.
If I’m having a bad day with my writing, I get anxious and restless. I can’t produce, but I can’t shut my mind off either. The Terrible Trio seems to sense this. Molly will jump up between my legs a half dozen times, nipping at my knee, trying to get my attention. Dakota takes the side approach, her Beagle-weenie legs long enough to scratch my arm. Emma usually sits behind me and in her quietest voice possible and reminds me she is there with a little “woof.”
On such days, I get up and go outside with them, soaking in the warm (or hot) sun and maybe even playing a game of fetch with them. When I can’t find a word to save my soul, they will retrieve a stick or ball, usually allowing all of us enough of a distraction to return to our normal routines. They lie down, waiting for the next game or treat and I get back to finding my words.
My dogs are my business partners, better than any assistant. They celebrate with me when I have a good day (we all treat ourselves to something) and they are there for me when I can’t write a sentence. They are eager when I need to get out of the office and they provide support when I don’t think I can take another rejection.
But let’s just keep this among ourselves. The IRS might start making me count them as employees.