The Dog I've Always Wanted

Canine Behavior, Training and Photography

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Why Keep a Dog?

November 10th, 2009 · · Why Keep a Dog?

I like Jon Katz’s references to the notion of a “writing dog”. No, it’s not about dogs writing. Rather it is the term Katz uses to describe a dog who is able to,and even enjoys, lying quietly in the room while one writes. This is an invaluable trait in a dog. It is a very subtle form of co1128-17mpanionship. The dog is there in the room, mostly silent. At times one may notice the dog; he may sigh in his sleep, change positions, fart or snore. His sounds are only reassuring reminders that he is still there; they are not intrusions into one’s work. I think that this is the essence of companionship.

These days I have the remarkable good fortune to enjoy the company of two pretty reliable writing dogs and one understudy. The latter is a puppy who is still likely to be too full of beans to be capable of being still enough for this job. And it is a job. The quiet presence of a dog creates a sense of security which nurtures the creative process and enables concentration. Someone, who happened to glance into my room while I was at the computer with the three dogs in repose in their usual places, said “Wow! It’s like a womb.”

When I was in university there was, of course, a tremendous amount of writing to be produced. I spent many hours, hours? more like months, holed up in my small downtown apartment. As I grappled with the metaphysical poets, D.H.Lawrence, and various other writers, constructing paragraphs on my manual typewriter (!), Jessica, a Lab crossed with a German Shepherd, was my constant companion. Her need for exercise was beneficial to me as it gave me no choice about long walks and trips to meet doggy friends. And her capacity for sleep after ward made her a wonderful writing dog.

I have had some experience with writing dogs and, for that matter, piano dogs. My Jessie was the consummate piano dog; she loved Bach. She would follow me into the living room and if I sat down at the p1129-25iano she would collapse onto the floor with a great sigh and remain there as long as I was playing. Of course she was totally nonjudgmental, and never critical, which was entirely a good thing as I play the piano strictly for my own pleasure. I think that Bach was healing for her and when she was ill near the end of her life I realized that I was playing the piano for her because it seemed to take her to such a peaceful place.

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Anne // Nov 13, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    I really enjoyed that piece. Great writing.
    It’s so true.

  • 2 gpz // Jan 4, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Maybe you can add a sound clip to this article?

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