I always swore I would never write about dogs.
Yet the more I write, the more dogs creep in. My mother’s novels also describe dogs. Their personalities and the relationships they have with humans pepper her stories. Yet she would swear blind she actively dislikes dogs. Yet they are inimical in her life. Just read her blog on a summer bank holiday, 7 dogs appear. http://wp.me/p5eZVL-10 My murder mystery set in the Yorkshire Dales has a dog dying as part of the corruption of one of my characters. My earlier murder during foot and mouth has a complete sub plot based around a terrier called Stan, a play in my own mind with the word Satan. And in my next novel, based on politics, I already have a sub plot building up around a spaniel. All this is subconscious. After all I am not doggy.
All that dreadful anthropomorphic sentimentality. I never saw myself, or my family as doggy people. They were never children in our lives, we didn’t go goo goo over them. We never discussed them at the table instead of having proper conversations. We thought those of our friends who let dogs upstairs let alone in the bedroom must be slightly insane, lacking in moral fibre. All those who worried whether their pooch liked the food, or was warm, or who missed their owners, must be women of an uncertain age, or families from urban areas who didn’t understand how man and dog worked and lived together in the countryside.
So writing a blog about how important dogs are in my life just seemed impossible. Yet here I am doing the impossible. I have to admit it, dogs are so part of my life. Before now I didnt consider them as separate or think of them at all. After all when did you last think of your knees, or your ears? Only through writing have I considered why they keep appearing. They are seamlessly part of my life.
So why now can I suddenly see dogs, as I might suddenly consider my feet, or my shoulders. Not only has each of my novels got a dog as part of the story line, but we sadly lost my beloved terrier Daisy before christmas. It has taken me until now to want to write about it. After a few months mourning I couldn’t cope with just the one spaniel left, and have a new person in my life. Welcome to Chester the whippet. And he is lovely, and an important part of family. As beautiful as Michael Angelo’s David, and probably as stupid. Getting to know a new dog is a pleasure, learning what they do, what tricks and habits is like putting on a pair of gloves. Dogs just fit in.
The boys walk the dogs, the girlfriends cutesy them. My elder sister brings her 2 dogs to stay for long weekend, so dogs galore take over our lives. They sit on sofas, check out the strengths of the no dogs upstairs rule, play, roll, chase and bark around our feet and our lives. I talk about their exercise routine, I know about their diets, I have a wide experience of their behaviour problems and how to avoid issues. We had 12 puppies last year, and have whelped many more over the years. At lunch, at supper and at breakfast dogs are embedded in our lives so that we don’t see them as separate. So I am not a doggy person. But I am a person who can’t imagine life without dogs.
Can I capture their importance to humanity in writing? I don’t know. I have converted one of my chapters in to a short story on a little terrier called Rocky, and his owner’s dependence on him for his normality. Once I have worked out how, go and read it. Less than 3000 words. I would love to hear what you think. I will let you know once it is up.