by C. Hope Clark
I don’t have to see the dog to recognize a dachshund bark. The breed is dear to me, their mannerisms, spunk and loyalty the perfect match to my life and personality. I’ve written four books under the watchful eyes of these little dogs, and I’m not sure I can write without them, even as underfoot as they tend to be.
My study was designed with my stories and my doxies in mind, a writer’s haven also equipped so that the pups want to escape as much as I do. As a full-time writer, I’m in this room eight to ten hours each and every day, but that means so are they – they being Roo and Winnie these days, and Dixie before them. Anyone who’s followed my website FundsforWriters.com and accompanying newsletter knows my dogs.
Frankly, these are the creatures that keep me healthy, sane, and emotionally well. They are my shadows, but they also keep me in check in the following ways:
- They make me walk away from the computer. My mind would disappear for ten hours straight if I didn’t have to take the dogs outside. Suddenly I realize how stiff my joints have become with my mind so buried in story. Not that I’m old, but remaining rigid in a chair, in the same position for hours at a time, can’t help but inhibit flexibility. So we have a route we walk that takes us to the lake, and they never fail to remind me when that time is nigh. Or they accompany me to the garden, Winnie relishing the opportunity to dig a deep, deep hole in the soft, turned soil.
- They make me focus on nature. I built a wonderful window seat in my study, with soft steps leading up to it that cost more than I care to admit. Doxies have those infamous long spines, so those special stairs enable them to walk up to their seat and look out the window without stress on their backs. A growl or whine from their perch tells me that geese, squirrel, ducks, turtles or deer parade across my back yard, and of course the pups are calling me to come see what they’re watching. It’s a relaxing moment and a breather my brain and body need. Yes, they often take that opportunity to yank me outside again, too.
- They make me laugh. Winnie and Roo are fast friends; they wrestle, exchange toys, and talk to each other incessantly, with naps offering the only solace. I quit counting the times I grabbed a camera to take pictures or hunted my smartphone for a brief video of their shenanigans, or simply sat back and chuckled at their race around the sofa or a chase for the same pink tennis ball. Of course I enter into conversation with them, and all too often, get down in the floor and play. At this very moment, they are tussling with one of their beds, pulling out stuffing and entangling each other in their lap blanket.
These sound like trivial moments, and to a non-pet owner I might be wasting precious minutes that could be better spent writing stories. But my quality of life is immeasurably rich with these two ladies and their constant interruption. It’s as if they know what’s most important for me at any given moment. Sure, they take long naps and allow me time to write. They’ll even visit with my husband in the living room when I’m intense into edits. But they beat the heck out of a clock when it comes to moderating my day, dividing it into increments that improve both the quality of my writing and the substance of my life.
I have no idea how I’d write without them. They make my days and nights whole, sweet, and enjoyable . . . and they love me to pieces. How hollow would my writing be without all that?
C. Hope Clark is author of The Carolina Slade Mystery Series and the Edisto Island Mystery Series. When she’s not finagling fiction or receiving long-tongue doxie kisses, she’s also editing the award-winning FundsforWriters.com – a website and newsletter for writers. Her latest release is Murder on Edisto, scheduled for September 2014 from Bell Bridge Books. www.chopeclark.com