This is Brontë.
We adopted Brontë about four months ago.
She's a beagle ... ish thing, mixed with ... other stuff.
You might be wondering what my dog has to do with writing. I've been wondering that myself, because it seems to me she has everything to do with writing. But I have a hard time explaining why, even to myself.
There's saying about how a house without books is like a body without a soul. This is, of course, 100% true. It seems to me the same could be said of dogs. A house without a dog is like a body without a soul. And a house without a dog is also like a house without a vacuum cleaner. That's just about as bad.
Both of those things (the bits about the soul and the vacuum cleaner) became clear to me when we lost Zora last March. This is Zora.
Zora was a fantastic little dog, a sweet shih-tzu-poodle-maltese-something who loved people, never barked, and ate about $500 worth of pacifiers in her lifetime. (Not even kidding about the pacifiers.) She was at least fifteen years old when she passed away, and possibly as old as sixteen. We adopted her just a few weeks after we got married, and she was with us through the addition of a cat and two children. She slept cuddled up against my back every night, and every morning as I wrote, she curled up on a pillow under my desk.
God, I miss the hell out of her.
For weeks afterwards, my oldest son would say, "I really want a dog," and I would answer, "I really want my dog." And then I'd cry.
I lasted about three months dogless. In the end, it wasn't the longing for a dog rather than my dog that convinced me it was time. It was the floor.
A week after Zora passed, I looked at the kitchen and dining floor and realized, wow, little Zora really earned her keep around our house. Now, there seemed to be Cheerios and Cheezits and random chunks of fruit and splatters of yogurt and little bits of shredded cheese everywhere. As the weeks went by, it got more and more disgusting. And with me working full-time and adding a book deal on top of that, I needed some help. Some people would have grabbed the broom. Me? I started looking on PetFinder (which, by the way, is an excellent way to procrastinate when you should be writing.)
In the end, when I had a week off from my day job, we went to the Great Plains SPCA where we met Brontë, and that was that.
In many ways, she's Zora's opposite. She loves to be outside. She loves other dogs. She has a giant, exuberant personality. She wants to destroy all the bunnies and squirrels. All of them!! And, as I learned yesterday evening, she is able to leap onto the dining room table.
Now Brontë is a part of my morning routine. I get up at the crack of ass, write for an hour or two, walk the dog, get ready for work, and zip off to my day job. I get home around 5:30, do the dinner thing, walk the dog, and do all the general mom stuff. Rinse, lather, repeat.
It's so easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of life, but those two points in the day when Brontë and I tool around the neighborhood are a peaceful reminder that the world is bigger than I am. And then, too, is the feeling of movement, of progress, of forward trajectory. When Brontë and I are walking, my mind takes its own stroll, sometimes picking its way through snarling plot threads, and sometimes just regaining a little hope when I'm drowning in writerly despair. It's hard to despair when the simple act of putting on a pair of tennis shoes fills another living creature with evident and absolute joy.
Every morning when Brontë and I step out the door together to face the day, I can't help but think of the first line of Emily Dickison's poem, "I started Early -- Took my Dog --." And my little soul walks beside me.