Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Place of Pets

It's no secret that I adore my dog. I've mentioned my sweet, gentle Golden Retriever Teddy many, many times, but what I haven't told is the story of how Teddy came to be part of my family--and that story is quite tragic. Teddy's existence in my family isn't tragic  . . . but what happened before he got here is.

Rewind to the summer of 2009. My husband, kids, and I planned an exciting and huge vacation to Washington, D.C. with an ocean stop-over in Virginia Beach. Over two weeks we'd be gone. We hired a house sitter who doubled as our dog sitter--a kind, respectful, trustworthy teenage boy. At the time, our family dog was Tucker. A two-and-a-half-year-old mixed breed who was large, high-spirited, energetic, and, well, hard for others to love. But I loved him completely. This is Tucker.

One day into our road trip to D.C., our dog sitter called and said Tucker nipped him when he'd attempted to take one of his art pencils out of Tucker's mouth. Indeed, Tucker was known for taking "things," running through the house with them, and playing keep away. (Remember I told you Tucker was hard for others to love?) Over the next few days, Tucker nipped our dog sitter several more times and bit my father-in-law seriously when he came over to assist our dog sitter.

With our permission, my father-in-law took Tucker to the vet and had him put to sleep. The call that Tucker was gone came while my family and I were eating lunch in the lower level of the Supreme Court. I knew it had to be done. A dog who bites is dangerous. I knew that. But my dog-loving heart was broken. And I knew how empty the house would feel once we returned home.

Only I didn't know how empty my heart would feel once we returned home and there was no dog waiting for me.

A month passed with my family being dog-less. To me, it felt like a lifetime. My husband and I had a dog in the house long before we had kids in the house--Tucker was not our first dog. My kind-hearted husband, who wasn't sure he wanted another dog after what happened with Tucker, consented to my pleas of, "Please? Please can we have another dog?" So we had a friend, knowledgeable in the personalities of puppies, choose a Golden Retriever from a litter for us.

Yes, someone ELSE chose our puppy for us.

And here's the sweetness that healed my broken dog-loving heart.

Three years later, my dear and loving Teddy looks like this.

So I know the power of pets and the purpose of pets and the unconditional love of pets and the joy and heartbreak of pets.

And when I write, I include pets in my stories. And when I read a story with a pet in it, I usually love the story all the more. Pets teach us and love us in different ways than people. I think they do that same thing in books.

What about you? Do you include pets in your writing? If you don't write, does a pet add something extra to a story you read?


  1. So sad about Tucker but glad you got Teddy. I've never had a dog but we're planning to get one in about a month or two after we have our backyard fenced in. So your story is timely. I've not been that excited about getting a dog. It sounds like more work for me. But you are getting me excited to take the plunge.

  2. So sorry for Tucker, we had a very sick cat we had to put down. Even though you know it's for the best it's still hard. We recently adopted two kittens.

    I do have animals in my story. They're on a farm so there is the horse and cow, etc, but there is a house cat that plays an important role.

  3. Sorry to hear about tucker, it's such a tough decision sometimes as they ARE part of your family, but others people safety is also important! My dog I love and write about him a lot when I write blog posts - I always manage to refer back to him!

    Oh by the way Teddy is adorable!

  4. Aww about Tucker. So happy you have Teddy now to fill the void. I wrote about a cat in my first novel who was integral to the plot. Haven't written any pets in my new manuscripts.

  5. That is so sad that he had to be put down. I feel so bad for animals--they don't know how serious it is when they bite and it's an instinctual thing that can't be fixed immediately.

    I'm glad that you have Teddy. What a sweet dog!

  6. Aw, thanks for sharing that touching story. I've never had a pet and feel like I've missed out. Your dog, Teddy, is so cute! New follower here :) Great blog!

  7. I don't have any pets in my current YA, but my critique partner has a crazy cat lady in her Contemporary Romance and it's a hoot:) Cute dogs!! We have a basset hound and my girls insisted I include her in the author bio I just had to write for my publisher. "Mom, she's part of the family!" :):)

  8. What a bittersweet story! How you must miss tucker. I can't imagine having to put down a beloved pet. We had to give our little toy poodle away when we moved to England as we couldn't afford sending her over. It was heartbreaking, but at least we knew she was going to a good home.

    Your Teddy is just precious, though. They sure do make our lives seem all the sweeter. I miss having a dog.

  9. Oh my goodness what a sad story! Wow.
    I love Teddy too, just from your pictures.
    My stories usually have cats in them. I love cats but I'm not the kind of cat-lover who doesn't like dogs. I love animals in general.

  10. Yes! I do - I can't help it! I have such a soft spot for my own boxer that I find myself including dogs often in my writing.

    Teddy is a beautiful dog!

  11. Teddy is adorable. We don't have any pets. We used to have a cat, but my husband doesn't want another one (the last one was hit by a car). At one point my daughter asked if we could get a different father. One who liked cats. In the end she decided she didn't want to get rid of her dad, though she still wants a cat.

  12. I love pets, but I haven't included many in my writing . . . I'll have to think about changing that in the near future.

  13. What a bittersweet story. Love the puppy picture of Teddy.

    I didn't grow up with pets, but I do put them in my writing because it would just be too weird to write story after story with no pets in them. Kids have and love animals.

  14. Poor Tucker. Lovely Teddy.

    And yes, animals are in all of my manuscripts. The most current has a tank of guppies and a crippled Chihuahua named Giant.

  15. It is amazing how a pet can enrich your life, so you're absolutely right - a pet can enhance your story too. Thanks for this!

  16. Oh, you're making me tear up. So many fond memories of my own golden retriever, gone many years now... we've had to put one dog down for biting, too, so gut-wrenching. We have a black-lab rottie mix right now, such a giant slobbering sweetheart, if only he didn't dig so much!!!

    That's it, I'm adding a pet to the book I'm working on. Right now.

  17. I think it's important to consider putting pets in your stories if you write for children - so many kids either have a pet that is their best buddy or want one!

    At the moment, we have a family dog and my 12-year-old has two hermit crabs, a Betta fish, and some pillbugs.


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