Why I Still Write About Dogs

Bookshelf in Pam's house.

I used to hoard books. Now I keep only those I read again and rely on the library for the other 150 or so books I read a year. It’s easier on the floor joists.

Am I insane? Because I connect every thing in the world to dogs?

Play the soundtrack to this post and then you tell me.

Rules of the Game

I’m going to pick items off my bookshelves at random and see how long it takes me to make a dog connection.

Does everything remind me of my dog?

The Game is Afoot A Paw

shelf 1: DVDs

O Brother, Where Art Thou? – starred George Clooney who adopted a rescued Cocker Spaniel named Einstein

shelf 2: Borrowed from the Library

ElectraLuxx – movie about a porn star who becomes pregnant and takes a job teaching “sexology” at a community college. C’mon, how long does it take to get to doggy style?

shelf 3: Sailing

Boating Skills and Seamanship – every boat needs a watch schedule. Did you know the 4-6 p.m. watch is called the Dog Watch? Two watches are less than the usual four hours so sailors had a different watch schedule each day.

A small stack of dog books

shelf 4: Dogs

Too easy. Next.

shelf 5: Journaling & Memoirs

Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea – Despite the conviction and execution of Bruno Richard Hauptmann for kidnapping and killing Lindbergh’s son, conspiracy theorists still speculate that he was innocent or worked with someone else. Why? Because the family terrier, Wahgoosh, didn’t bark when the intruder stole the baby from his crib.

shelf 6: How To

Field Guide to the Night Sky  – Siriusly?

shelf 7: Gardening, Cooking, Computers

Home Landscaping – We have two dogwood trees in our backyard. Although some believe the name is a corruption of dagwod because the hard wood was used to make daggers, others say the bark was a treatment for mange.

shelf 8: CDs

k.d. lang, hymns of the 49th parallel – Two of the album’s best songs were written by Jane Sibbery. Who also wrote Everything Reminds Me of My Dog, this posts’s soundtrack.

shelf 9: more CDs

Paul Simon, The Rhythm of the Saints – Simon recorded this album and toured with the South African a cappella singing group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Late last year, South African president, Jacob Zuma said that dog ownership was part of “white culture.” He also objected to care being given to animals he felt should only go to humans. He was flooded with emails and letters from black South Africans who loved their dogs.

shelf 10: Architecture

Simplified Engineering for Architects and Builders – Ugh. Ok, let me think. Architects continually revisit the dog house (although for most of us, the human house is the dog house). You’ll find one of the latest projects at Architecture for Dogs, where you can download plans to build your own avant-garde dog house. Check it out. The site is awesome.

shelf 11: Fiction

Roald Dahl’s Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life – Although not in this collection, Dahl wrote a story for Harper’s magazine about a British pilot who bailed out into the English channel during World War II. He awakes in a British hospital but things just don’t add up. When he sees a sign outside, “Garde au Chien” (beware of the dog) and realizes he’s in occupied France.

shelf 12: Religion

C. S. Lewis’s The Problem of Pain – Lewis wrote an entire chapter on pain in animals and was opposed to using animals in experiments. But was he a dog lover? He had eight over the course of his life.

shelf 13: Spanish

Español a lo vivo – Well, I know the Spanish word for dog is perro. Mike’s the Spanish speaker in the house.

self 14: Comics and Humor

Jay Sanky’s Zen and the Art of Stand-Up Comedy – A classic comedy trope is the Shaggy Dog story, full of irrelevant details, rambling on forever, and ending with a groan-worthy punch line.

shelf 15: Homeownership

Realizing the American Dream – Did you know that some homeowner’s insurance companies discriminate against as many as 22 dog breeds?

A picture of my dog Shadow guards my bookshelf.Why, Pam, why?

Why go through such a crazy and pointless exercise?

Lately I’ve read a few blogging friends say they’re tired of writing about dogs. They don’t have anything left to say on the subject or they’re interested in writing about other things.

I have no problem with that. I’m happy to see my friends discovering new sides of themselves and expanding their writing in new areas.

But I started asking, “If I keep thinking of new dog topics to write about, does that make me shallow? Does it mean I’m not as well-rounded as I think I am?”

Here’s what I worked out: my biggest interest is human nature.

I majored in history because it’s the study of human nature over time. I’m fascinated with psychology, nature, languages, art, music, sociology, politics, film, oh yes, and dogs, because they reflect human beings and how we interact with our world.

Human nature is a big subject.

Some scientists argue that it was the domestication of dogs that helped the hominids who are our ancestors beat out the Neanderthals for survival. So maybe I’m not small-minded. Perhaps, I just like looking at the world through a furry lens.

And as long as dogs provide a fun window for viewing my world, I’ll keep writing about them.

What do you think? Are dogs worthy of these many bytes? What keeps you reading and writing about dogs?

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  1. Great topic. My heart beats dog. My life’s career goal and mission along with passion is to educate, inspire, inform, enlighten, engage, and help people with their dogs. Since I never wanted to be a vet, I followed my passion and desire into writing. The day I feel I have said to much or perhaps ran out of ideas to write about is the day I no longer feel a connection to dogs. And that, will never happen. Writing for and about dogs is as much a part of me as my skin, the air in my lungs, and the fibers of my being. My heart beats dog.

  2. Pam, I think furry lenses are the best kind! More realistic than the rose colored kind, less defined than bifocals, and over all just a lot softer!

  3. Well that was much more interesting than the Kevin Bacon game!

    I can relate everything back to dogs as well, or at least steer a conversation back to them invariably. It’s one reason we’re all “here” dog blogging!

  4. Wonderful, profound post. You are definitely a well-rounded person like me :). This is how I know. This week, I was a discussion leader with about 4-5 high school classes (they kept coming and going during lunch; I had to follow my co-leader to know when to totally begin again or continue), but what we talked about was our current United We Read community book – A Dog’s Purpose! I had read it before but now I re-read it in light of trying to engage high schoolers who weren’t too fond of reading. I took the “purpose” of the reincarnated dog (who, as you know, remembers each of his/her previous lives and uses that knowledge) to draw a parallel in the lives of the students. All will be going through phases and transitions. It was my hope they would learn and carry on the good from each phase to enhance their entire life experience, as Bailey did in the book. Oh, and adopt dogs when they want one :).

  5. Good luck to them in their new writing ventures, but saying that they don’t have any more to say on the subject of dogs seems pretty shallow to me. Dogs have been instrumental in the development of Western Civilization and yet people continue to misunderstand them and to kill them in shelters. To explore the dog is to explore the roots of the civilized human.

  6. The tagline of my blog is “A View of Life Through the Fence of the Local Dog Park.” My initial focus was how people relate when their only commonality was use of the local dog park– and owning a dog, obviously. It branched out a bit into issues related to dog ownership: behaviour and health issues, logistical issues like finding the right dog sitter. Sadly, though, the blog is running out of steam because my life has become such a stressful mess, I haven’t even been to my beloved park in months. I am struggling to keep it a coma-like state through a minimum of one post per month… but even that’s getting hard. :(

    You, however, have balance in your life, a supportive spouse, and you do what writers are supposed to do– write about what you’re passionate about. An interest in dogs isn’t shallow; it’s an expansion of human kindness towards other living creatures. Do we call movie reviewers shallow because their life revolves around the silver screen? I’ll take an obsession with dogs over an obsession with film stars any day.

    And series like “The Puppiness Projrect” brings “dog stuff” back to “people stuff” in a very real way. Anyone who’s met you knows you care just as much about your own species as about the four-legged kind. You are, in the words of Harper Lee, a “respecter of persons,” and there’s nothing shallow about that.

  7. Pam I am rushing to get stuff done for the charity circus and having a not great time of it. So excuse me if I just skip to saying…
    Happy Valentines Day.
    We hope you have a wonderful day.
    Best wishes Molly

  8. Love the soundtrack…i’ll be humming it all day…some folks have kids and write about them…some folks have hobbies and write about them…I have a dog…he’s my ‘kid’ and my ‘hobby’ so it’s simple, I write about him…

  9. I think you should write about what you love and if that subject is or includes dogs, then so be it. When someone writes about something they love, the writing becomes so much more than words on a screen.

    Keep the posts coming, I say!
    *Cairn cuddles*

  10. Well, I’m one of those who no longer write exclusively about dogs, but I am very impressed by your ability to connect everything on your shelves to dogs. If I had a skill like that, Cushion would be expecting me to make a few million from it.

    On a completely unrelated subject. I see your wall is painted in beach house colours. To get you in the mood no doubt? A message to Mike…. Yo pienso que su esposa es demasiado inteligente o tiene demasiado tiempo! Siriusly! BWAH haha!

    • Being able to connect any one idea with another is one of my few talents in this world. It’s great when you’re playing trivia or talking to strangers at a cocktail party. But I have yet to figure out how to make money at it.

      BTW, not quite beach colors. You can’t tell in the picture, but the switch plate beside the bookcase is wrapped in a detail from Van Gogh’s Starry Nights. Above my computer screen, I have a framed poster of his Iris’s. The colors throughout my house can all be found in Van Gogh’s art. (Probably pretty bad karma to fill a house with references to a painter who killed himself, huh?)

      The one exception is the color we painted the bedroom and bathroom on Mike’s request. They’re more likely to be found in the work of Cezanne.

  11. So funny! Obviously you have very wide interests–else how would you find so many subjects to connect to dogs? Better than my present obsession–FOOD.

    • Well, it is February. I can’t help but think that even if you have mild weather, evolution is forcing you to protect your fat reserves in the winter (says the girl who just had a piece of Valentine’s chocolate for breakfast). :)

  12. Glad to hear you will never run out of dog things to write about!

    If I were to stop writing my blog it would be because life got in my way. It can be hard to keep up with work life, blog life and life away from both of these things. But life away from both generally has something to do with pets in some way- dog sports, helping a rescue, etc. My whole life has revolved around pets in some way and I don’t expect that to stop.

  13. Mike Webster says:

    From the Husband:
    Am I insane? Because I connect every thing in the world to junkfoodjunkfoodTVjunkfoodTVsleep junkfoodTVjunkfoodTVsleepTVsleepjunkfoodTV?
    (Probably. And I don’t know why she puts up with me.)
    Happy Valentine’s Day, sweetheart!

  14. Well, I only just found your blog, so I am perfectly happy that you continue to write about dogs! :) Love the soundtrack….

  15. It’s your life, it’s your blog, do what makes you happy. I love reading your posts and learning more and more about dogs.

    Happy Valenpaws Day

  16. Well done making all those connections!
    I hope I always see the world through a furry lens too. You have to write what’s in your heart. If your blogger friends aren’t feelin’ the dog thing anymore, they need to write what they want to, and more power to them. If you don’t write what’s in your heart, it will be stale and uninteresting. You can’t force it.
    Clearly, you not only have a furry lens, you have a furry heart to. My heart also beats furry. I think it always will – but we’ll see… It’s all part of the journey.

  17. I know that I’m always interested in what you have to say, and I don’t see myself getting tired of writing about dogs. Quite simply, I enjoy it, and I’ve gotten used to looking at the world with a dog’s eye view. I recently was looking back at some of my older posts, and I have definitely grown and evolved since I started. Hopefully, I’ve grown in the right direction. It’s hard to tell, but I think there are a lot of different measures of measuring success.

  18. I was practically raised by dogs and they are more family than my own. I think, breathe, and sweat dog, like a second fur. It comes naturally to talk about them and like you everything links back to them. And it’s the only time I am truly comfortable talking to anyone is when it’s about dogs.

  19. I read about, and blog about, dogs because they’re just so interesting! Not to mention everyone’s different “take” on situations are interesting too!

    As a trainee dog training instructor, getting as many different view points on canine behaviour as possible is important, because it helps me to empathise with owners that will – in the future – come to me for help, advice, and training. If I understand only my own view point, I won’t be able to help many people, but if I understand several different view points, I’m more likely to know where a specific family’s coming from, or quickly be able to pick it up, and most importantly – help them.

  20. Don’t stop what you are doing!

  21. I tend to relate everything to dogs as well. I haven’t gotten tired of it yet. My own, helping others, it’s just part of who I am. Nothing wrong with that!

  22. What better topic to write about than dogs? I can’t imagine ever running out of things to write about on that subject. I loved this post. I suspect I could conduct a similar exercise.

  23. It seems so crazy how when you become passionate about something, you start seeing it everywhere. It’s hard to believe now there was ever a time in my life when I went whole days without thinking about dogs, not even once. For the past few years, I don’t think I’ve even gone an hour. So to me, everything is dog-related. I’ve wondered if I have become too stuck in this writing genre myself but when I consider my options, I realize the only writing I’ve consistently enjoyed is that which relates to my dog. So there you have it.

    I love your bookshelves, by the way. Only you could put C.S. Lewis and ElectraLuxx in the same space! That takes skill.

  24. This is great…it’s like that “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game. LOL!

    I totally get this. The dogs are intertwined with my life, which shows up in a lot of my book and movie choices, my own writing, and just about every conversation I have….

    Actually, it’s an odd day when they don’t come up in conversations, and they are ALWAYS on my mind. :-)

  25. What a fun idea! I enjoyed seeing how the dog connection would come into play. :)

    Personally, I love that you look at the world through a furry lens, and I can’t wait to see what you come up with next.