Monday, April 18, 2016

My Dog Boosts My Writing and So Much More

Have you ever fallen in love with a dog? If so, no more needs be said. I know Lily is my best “girlfriend,” my walking buddy, my bedtime snuggle bunny. With that special cock of her head and soulful stare, Lily understands my moods . . .our routines mesh into one.

Having a dog offers this writer a spark to her creative muse. It was because of Lily, I wrote this during my 2016 winter writing retreat in Tucson, Arizona.
As I began my solitary walk heading toward the Rillito riverbank, I saw a woman wearing white peasant blouse and peach pedal pushers. She waved at me.

“Do you want your cards read?” A card table beneath a mesquite tree and a deck of tarot cards beckoned.

“How much?”

“Ten dollars."

A bargain for a divination of sorts.

“I have to get my wallet out of the car. I’ll be right back.”

When I return to her little table, she gestures to a folding canvas chair. “Sit down. Relax.”

"What do you want to know?" she asks. "It helps when reading the cards. I take reading the cards very seriously.” She has huge, light blue eyes.

I think for a moment. “Will I write another book? ”

"Ah, so you’re a writer. I am too. I’ve been working on a screenplay for years,” she confides. “I started out in LA, somehow ended up in Tucson, just me and my cat. Who would have thought?” she smiles.
I nod. Kindred spirits. This feels good. I shuffle the cards as instructed, split the deck into thirds and place each pile back into one. I draw the cards, hand them to her and she turns them face up on the table.

She studies them. “Yes, you are meant to write another book.  It is a very important book. One that has a deeply spiritual connection.”

Her certainty from random cards sets me aback. Seriously?
I tell her that I have already written that book – A Portrait of Love and Honor, a love story based on my late husband’s memoir. Publishing his memoir twenty-one years after his death had been the spiritual book she meant, yes?

She shakes her head. “No. Another book. I sense grief about you. A concern."

It is true. I have been worried about Lily. I left her behind in Pennsylvania where that very weekend a blizzard raged.  
As the warm dry wind off the Santa Catalina mountains blows wisps of mesquite branches across the Trader Joe’s parking lot, I hear myself telling this woman how my winter writing retreat has turned into a nightmare of worry about my dog. My son has not been spending much time with her. Could he get to my house in the snowstorm and make sure Lily wasn't alone?

“Lily offers me great solace and companionship,” I say.

“Animals are often our spirit guides. Perhaps she was sent to you as a way to say, all will be well."

I nod. I know instinctually what she means. “Maybe I need to write about that."

                                                                         ****

Lily and I share our days.
When the boyfriend comes over and she gets a little jealous and feisty and wants to play tug-of-war with her ratty old rope – it’s as if to say, “Look at me, you two! Let’s have fun together!”

And when he leaves, I'm delighted with our snuggle bunny time . . . Lily on the bed, me kissing ears, velvety soft snout, creamy white yellow lab paws, She adores me fawning all over her, “See? There’s no way he can compare to me.”

When I start dinner, I look at her. “I’ve gotta take off this bra.” She smiles. Well of course isn’t that our routine every night?

I unhook the damn thing, throw it on a dining room chair. Ah sweet comfort, sweet home. Just Lily and me.

Some might say I’m crazy talking to a dog all day . . . but there’s a lot of us who do the same thing. Pure unadulterated, unconditional love offers a perfect little brew of creativity. My dog boosts my writing, my special "memoir moments" and more.

How about you? Has your dog or cat offered up some writing prompts, a jumpstart to your muse? Do you have a story to share how a pet has gotten you to write a story?
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