This is my sheepdog Dusty playing with a bunch of her pals. Something we do everyday to get us both out of the house and socializing. Me with the neighbors. My dog with her buds.
I’m a big advocate of writers owning dogs. And in some ways, this post is an extension of this week’s ideas for those who are hard to buy for at Christmas. Because you can’t give the writer in your life a better gift than a dog.
And here’s why…
1. It’s well known that when a writer goes to work and gets on a roll, he enters what’s known as an “Alpha state”. Brain waves slow. Awareness expands. Creative energy flows. Fears vanish. You experience a liberating sense of peace and well-being.
Animals, particularly dogs, gravitate to those generating alpha waves, generating their own as well as they curl up nearby to enjoy the same sense of peace and well-being. Their alpha state in turn supports your own. Creative energy expands. You write more –- and sometimes better.
2. Writing can be a lonely profession, especially once you begin to make a living at it. With a dog snoring next to you, you feel less alone, again enhancing the writing experience, making it less a chore, less a thing to be avoided.
3. Much as we writers laud our ability to party, to knock back shots with the best of them and otherwise keep up with our fellow man, we don’t really. Some of us lock ourselves away for days to break the back of a story or overcome that brick wall we built in Act II.
A dog forces you to get out, three or four times a day at least. He could care less about justifying a character’s motivation. He’s more interested in sniffing out who’s been running through the park before he got there or making some squirrel realize he belongs back in the trees. His priorities are not yours and in making them yours for the brief time you’re out for a walk, you let your subconscious go to work on what’s holding you back.
It’s like sleeping on a problem without the need of a nap. You return to your work refreshed, oxygenated and with a few insights you didn’t have before your animal forced you away from the grindstone.
4. The opposite sex is attracted to anyone who exhibits care and concern for an animal. It’s related to that adage that you can judge a person best by how he treats those who can do nothing for him. Just as you think twice of going out with somebody who is nasty to waiters or a store clerk, you feel closer to somebody who’s kind to animals.
I could go on. But then you’d miss the thrill of discovery as a dog enters and then transforms your life for the better.
What’s more, you can find a dog in any price range and suited to whatever lifestyle or self-image you inhabit.
Often, they can be had almost for free and any dog owner will confirm that some of the best are “rescues”. Dogs who have been abandoned or have otherwise found themselves without a caring human in their lives. Their sheer exhilaration at finding a “forever home” translates into the most powerful of bonds.
Animal rescue organizations can be found in virtually every city or town. Or you can access an organization like “Hope for Paws”, a group who searches out the utterly lost and returns them to the love and companionship they miss more than food or shelter.
At this season of giving, give a thought to giving a home to a creature who will give you so much more in return. You will never regret the decision. It’ll make you a better person and a better writer as well.
Enjoy your Sunday…