Pets and People

Every morning when I sit down to write my daily blog, my loyal, sweet little pug Ernie is cuddled up beside my leg and together we face the blank screen. But not this morning. He’s still in bed, and I’m going at it alone, and I must tell you, this situation is unsettling.

Ernie’s strange behavior started last night. On Monday evenings, I teach a night class, and Ernie and my husband have a bachelor night. I’m gone about three hours, and when I come home, I’m usually greeted by my faithful little pal with a welcome home bark  and a very wiggly butt. (For those of you who don’t know the breed, pugs have curly tails that rest on their backside–they can’t wag their tails).  Ernie is usually full of bubbly energy that just makes me very glad that I’m home.  But not last night. My little buddy didn’t greet me. He was in a funk, and the only thing I can think of for  his uncharacteristic behavior was he was angry with me for leaving him.

Ken said that the dog sat on his lap the entire time I was gone. He didn’t even check the window to look for me like he usual does when I’m gone. He even ignored me as we watched the television until bedtime. Ordinarily, the little tyke wants my full attention when I get home. But not last night. He slept on Ken’s side of the bed, and this morning he didn’t follow me into the kitchen for his usual trip outside and morning treat.

Why am I telling about this? I don’t have a clue except to say, Ernie’s behavior really bothers me. It’s not fun to be shunned by MY dog. But this wasn’t my first experience with pet indifference. A long time ago, I had another pug named Rocky. He was my first baby. It’s safe to say that he didn’t know he was a DOG either. Rocky went every where with me, and when I brought my daughter Amy home from the hospital, Rocky, like any other older sibling, had to take a back seat when the new baby came into the fold.  When I let  Rockie inspect Amy, he looked at me as if to say, “You’ve been gone for five days and this is what you brought me?” Rocky’s protest lasted a week!

When my pets don’t act like themselves, it’s as if some great upheaval has happened in the universe. It bothers and perplexes me because I don’t know how to fix it. (If you haven’t guessed, I’m a great fixer.)

So, what is in it for you as you read this tale? Can I tie this experience into a tip about writing? Sure.

Pets are great in fiction as well as in real life. In most of my books, I include pets because I think these little creatures bring out the best in humans. Our pets allow us to be gentle and vulnerable in a safe space. They keep our secrets. They mourn our losses. Their funny antics make us laugh. They are unselfish and comforting. They have an understanding of our emotions. Pets are gifts. You can use their unconditional love to soften even the most hard-boiled character.

I hope you all have had the joy of having a pet. For those of you who haven’t, I assure you, the love they give is worth all the mess and expense. Oh, and if you’ve got a great pet story, pass it along. I love to say, “Awwwwww. . . .”

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