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Why Writers Need Dogs

It's come to my attention recently that the Internet is swimming with posts and papers and treatises about why writers are cat people. For example, this essay postulates the following:
"Writers are one of the best breeds of humans to get, because writers already have civilized, catlike habits. Most writers don't like being disturbed, either. They have an uncanny, almost feline, focus on their work that's very much like a hunter's patient stalk. They sit still for long periods of time, and have warm, comfortable laps. Quiet, undemanding intimacy is possible with a writer that a cat might not find with the more frantic types of humans."
That's all well and good, although if I may say so, the idea of the quiet, introverted, hermit-like writer is maybe just a tad outdated.

Maybe more than just a tad.

But that doesn't explain the plethora of blogs and websites claiming with an air of conclusiveness that writers are cat people, period. And while I'm not here to challenge cats and/or their owners to a Feline-Canine Showdown of Epic Proportions, I think this needs to be said:

Writers are dog people too. Or at least, they should be. And here's why:

  • Using myself and the many writers I know as an example, I can say that we are not all moody and withdrawn. However, it is true that writing is a solitary job. The loneliness that comes with being trapped with the characters in one's mind for hours on end can be greatly balanced by the eternally happy disposition of a dog.
  • When one does have a small mental breakdown of the "I am a talentless hack" persuasion, nothing is better than a wet, sloppy doggie kiss to make one feel human again.
  • On that note, dogs have also been known to inspire highly awkward and well-written first kiss scenes in which one or more of the young lovers has about as much control over their tongue as said dog.
  • Dogs can fetch more than frisbees. One can also train them to go get slippers, notebooks, and those ever elusive perfect turns-of-phrases.
  • Hour upon hour of staring at a screen is not healthy for one's eyes or sanity. Dogs offer plenty of reminders that it may be time for a break, with a gentle nudge, a whimper, or perhaps a puddle on the floor.
  • Dogs need exercise and ensure one spends at least part of the day out in the fresh air with the non-paper people.
  • Dogs protect the peace and quiet of one's writing sanctuary by barking frantically at any intruder who dares to interrupt.
  • Even after one has wallpapered the entire second floor with rejection letters and set fire to one's manuscript in a neighbor's trash can, a dog will greet one with a wagging tail and, if one is lucky, a leg hump. That, my friends, is unconditional love.
I know you've got more, my fellow dog-loving writers! What has your dog (or any pet!) done to support your writing career?
Michelle Schusterman

Michelle writes books for kids, screenplays for a tv/film production company, and music for anyone who'd buy a "groove matters" bumper sticker. She lives in New York City with her husband (and band mate) and their chocolate lab (who is more of a vocalist). She is the author of middle grade series I Heart Band - 2014, and The Kat Sinclair Files - 2015 (both from Grosset).

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  1. Haha, great post! I have two dogs, one is eleven weeks, but I am totally a cat person.

  2. I miss my dog. :( My cats are the opposite of helpful, although they do keep the feet warm on occasion.

  3. yay dog people!

    In fact, I just posted a bunch of photos of dogs from my travels:

    love them doggies

  4. ...and as for what my dog, Sky, has done to help my writing: he keeps me sane. Knowing he's here in the house when I'm writing is a joy. When I'm stressed, I can press my face in his dandelion fur and feel instantly calmed. When something great happens, he celebrates with me, and I like to pretend he knows why.

  5. I am definitely a cat person, but I do not have the stereotypical personality that people seem to automatically assign to writers. My kitties (I have 5, 4 of whom are named after Harry Potter characters) are all indoor cats. Right now I have one kitty stretched out sleeping about a foot from me on a pile of papers on my desk. Another likes to lay on the back of my desk chair (and claw it). Another tries to sit in my lap while I type, which doesn't work too well considering she likes to kick the keyboard back into the tray with her legs (!!). All of them, at some point during the day, interupt my work with meows for treats, play, or petting. They keep me company in what would sometimes be a very lonely day.

  6. I am definitely a dog person--I've always been afraid of cats (please don't make me relive why). Sadly, I actually had to get rid of my dog BECAUSE of my writing. He was a puppy, and I wasn't giving him enough attention with trying to balance two jobs, school, and writing my first novel. :( My cousin and I like to visit pet stores, though, to play with the puppies to cheer us up.

    BTW, ladies--I've nominated this blog for a Sunshine Award! If you want to accept, please check out my blog. :)

  7. I love 'em both. Dogs when you wanna stretch your legs and laugh, cats when you wanna have meaningful staring contests followed by an "annoying you" session. :D

  8. I totes agree! Writers need dogs! I wrote a post about this very thing last year:

    Go dogs!

  9. My cat once spilled a mug of tea onto a laptop, thus destroying it. My dog likes to bark at me or simply paw at my leg when he feels like I am paying more attention to my computer than him. I think they are both jealous of my writing, but they also keep me (mostly) sane.

  10. Another vote for dogs. Cats give me the willies.

  11. I totally agree! I also wrote a post about this last year, complete with pictures of my dogs snuggled up next to me as I write (something they do every night).

  12. I miss my dog, Peyton, so much. I moved at the beginning of the month, so I could go to college, and I wish I'd brought her with me :(
    I used to be writing on my PC, and Peyton would come along, scratch my legs so I'd pick her up, and placed her on my lap (she's a small dog). At first, she wanted me to caress her, and wouldn't let me write, but then she realised I was busy, so she just stayed there. She's the cutest thing!

  13. Woohoo doggies!! I love when the evening winds down and the girls are down and I'm curling up on the couch with my laptop to work and Max joins me, resting his head so close to my leg. I give him a rub behind the ears and it's a good night. It's a little show of love.

  14. I love hearing about all of your pets!!! Great posts, Cassandra and Heather!

  15. *loves post*

    I'm such a dog person, hehe. I have two dogs and there lovely. And now that I think about it, they do help me with my writing. I haven't written any novel without the main character having a dog as a pet. And when I go walk my dogs I get good ideas as well :)

  16. Definitely a dog person writer. I have 5 rescue dogs of all ages - one is a puppy and the oldest is at least 10. They sit at my feet while I am writing and bring me toys to throw when I need a break. Plus a dog can never tell you that your writing needs work - they just give you kisses!

  17. My CAT, Sweetpea, tends to sit in my lap while I'm typing stuff up. I've never really been a dog person, but thanks for the other perspective.

  18. Me <--Not a cat person. Team dogs all the way.

  19. Looks like people are as staunch in their support of Team Dog or Team Cat as they are Team Edward or Team Jacob. :D

  20. YES! I'm so not a cat person. I don't have a dog currently, but I can't wait to get one when I move to a new house.

  21. My family has 6 dogs. SHHHH don't tell. Mom is embarrassed to admit the number. I live in a mini-apartment on the back on my parents house with my large speckled mutt.

    When I'm at my desk my dog sometimes comes and puts her head in my lap and tries to snuggle. It's adorable from a 70 pound dog. She's the most loving and affection dog, plus she's big and I can rough house with her. She's great for exercise because she's high energy.

    I'd say the most important thing my dog has done for me is teach me unconditional love. Not just from her, but for her. She eats my shoes and I yell. But I love her just the same. She eats my relatively new boyfriends belt (true story), he yells. I love her just the same. Pets can teach you to care about something outside of yourself. A good pet owner recognizes that it's a lot more like having a child than having a toy. Only you can lock a dog in the bathroom when she's really bad (only briefly).

    My dog teaches me how to be a better person. That effects everything I do. (On a more writerly note she also inspired me to give a character a puppy once and it was a very nice scene).

  22. Hi Michelle,

    I just read your blog and laughed. Thanks! I am singer, composer, and voice teacher living in Hamburg, Germany. My kids are in LA and I suffer bouts of terrible homesickness. I had the brilliant thought that I should become a dog owner offer myself a little comfort and humor, interesting non-human, non-verbal companionship, but my ascetic side says, "Work! Start composing again! Put together your web page! Do an album! Self-publish your poetry!" Can I be attend to my creativity and still be a good dog mom? Teri DeSario


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Item Reviewed: Why Writers Need Dogs Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Michelle Schusterman