Disclaimer: This post is an obvious excuse for me to shamelessly show photos of my dog. Read and attempt to suppress smiles at your own risk.
You can say I’m a bit obsessed with my dog. Three-quarters of my iPhone photos are of Dixie. I spend much of my free time with her, whether we’re walking, running errands, playing tug-o-war, licking cookie dough spatulas, chasing tennis balls, squeaking squeaker toys, or running amok in Justin’s backyard. Most days, I don’t write until Dixie’s good and tired, and I’d honestly rather cuddle up with her on a Friday night over hitting the town. I mean, how could anyone resist this at the end of an insane work week?
I’m an animal person, but even more so I’m a dog person. I worked at a doggy daycare for three years while in college. It was heaven almost always (except when the dogs incessantly barked or zoomed like pinballs around the yard). Finals week had me down? No problem, I’d just go snuggle with my furry friends and forget all about that calculus final (math, ew).
Of course it wasn’t all puppy nuzzles all the time. Far from it. It was similar to working with kids (which I’ve also done), only you don’t speak the same language as these four-legged tikes. I spent hours every week watching dogs play and analyzing (and correcting) their behaviors, their quirks, their obsessive habits.
These memories make for wonderful picture book inspiration. And having a dog around 24/7—a weird one at that—means I’m never short on animal-related stories.
Case and point: Dixie has the habit of revving herself up on the grass after she does her business. She also prefers to keep her paws dry. If her potty area is so much as dampened by a light layer of morning dew, you can count on Dixie finding another, drier place to go. Her prissy tendencies inspired a story about an animal who’s particular about where she puts her paws.
I end up churning out a lot of animal characters in my picture book manuscripts. I credit Dixie for this. Just as some PB authors write stories based on their kids, I do the same based on mine. My fur child is one of my sources of inspiration with all of the
kooky things she does.
I know—I should be writing stories with children as main characters. But I do! I try to give equal weight to the different characters I create, whether child, animal, or inanimate object. But with this ball of energetic weirdness at my side all the time, it would be a waste not to write her characteristics into at least some of my stories.
Note to reader: This is most certainly not Dixie’s last appearance on the blog. Like the squeakies she weasels out of her toys, she will find her way here again.