Dogs are an author’s best friend.
It’s International Dog Day on 26 August, so we put the call out to our authors to tell us about their precious pups. Whether they're distractions, guard dogs, muses or motivators, these canine companions have played a part in the creation of many tales.
Candice Fox (author of Gathering Dark)
Our Cavoodle Eggnog is not a very helpful writing buddy, mainly because she is constantly on alert for murderers at the house. She seems to be convinced that at any moment we'll be besieged by killers and that she – foot-and-a-half tall, covered in lamb curls and with big oil drop eyes – will be tasked with fending them off single-handedly. Akin to a loaf of Spam that fell into a pile of chicken feathers, her visage evokes comedic absurdity and general uselessness, but in spirit she is the scourge of bandits and defender of men.
Image via @candicefoxauthor.
Paul Bangay (author of Stonefields by the Seasons)
My latest book titled Stonefields by the Seasons revolves around life in my garden at Stonefields in the central highlands of Victoria. Part of my daily routine is the walk from the house through the garden to my studio located in the gatehouse which marks the entrance to the garden. Ruby, our seven-year-old golden cocker spaniel, accompanies me on this walk every day. She leads the way often in search of a rabbit late to go bed after a night of grazing on our lawn. I catch her up closer to the studio where she bounds in through the door and onto her luxuriously upholstered seat where she sits all day sleeping and keeping me company. Life at Stonefields would be lonely without her, especially my long days writing and designing in my studio.
Image via @paulbangay.
Tabitha Bird (author of A Lifetime of Impossible Days)
Let me introduce you to the most fierce writing buddy ever. This is my Lion.
She came into my life in my early thirties. I had started counselling as a way to process childhood trauma and was encouraged to write as a way to heal. My husband, a wonderful man, knew that I also needed a writing buddy. He gifted me with a lion. Yes, a lion.
The local pet store was selling a litter of three puppies. Two males and one female.
‘You won’t want the female,’ the owner said over the phone.
‘Why?’ I asked, but they wouldn’t answer.
At the pet store, I held the pup up to my face. ‘What’s wrong with her?’
‘She was born without a tail and the vet won’t give her a clean bill of health,’ the owner said.
The pup and I looked at each other. In her eyes I could see that we both understood that we were broken, both without things but also both survivors. We needed each other.
I bought her on the spot.
I named her Lion because I could see she was. And I was right. Valiantly, that little dog sat beside me every night as I wrote my first draft of what would later become A Lifetime of Impossible Days. She knew all about courage, protecting me from anything that moved. She knows that when we fight for someone it is not about size of body, but size of heart that matters most. That there is healing power in simply staying and staying and staying. And never leaving my side.
She still has no answers and she asks no questions. I don't have to tell her how I am feeling but she’ll listen for as long as I need.
Ever since she was a tiny handful, we have written together. She was there for all the midnight hours of many novel drafts. And she celebrated with me when we became published authors. Yes, she considers herself a writer. We even took our author photo together. If I am at my computer, I know she will be with me.
Today, she is twelve-years-old and is every bit as courageous.
My friends, let me introduce you.
This is my Lion.
Photo supplied by Tabitha Bird.
Meg Bignell (author of The Sparkle Pages)
I never want another dog after Blue. Just the words ‘after Blue’ are enough to hurt my heart. He was brought into the family for our animal-mad daughter and after a very brief period of feigned indifference, I fell deeply, stupidly in love with him. Being half pug, he has a permanently worried expression on his face that has me speaking in idiotic baby voices and giving him far more love than I can afford. He is very quiet, but speaks loudly with his eye-pools about whether he might have some chicken please and what to do about a bee. He adores me more than I deserve, will chase thunder across paddocks to protect me and scuttle in mad circles of joy when I come home. When I kiss my husband, Blue leaves the room. He is a muse of sorts, as he does appear in my writing, but mostly he is a warm, funny, generous, occasionally snorty presence. In the words of Edith Wharton, he is a heartbeat at my feet. Because of Blue, no dog will ever die in my novels, that’s a solid promise.
Photo supplied by Meg Bignell.
Kate Forsyth (author of The Blue Rose)
My puppy Lola is an enormous Rhodesian Ridgeback who thinks she's a lap dog. She wakes me every morning by licking my face, then curls up in the armchair in my bedroom while I drink tea and scribble in my diary. As soon as I hop out of the shower, she helps lick me dry so that we'll get out for our walk faster. Walking somewhere beautiful every morning is a crucial part of my creative process. I think over what I plan to write that day and begin to imagine myself into the scene. I rarely walk with anyone but Lola, because she does not distract me with idle chit-chat, but is as busy exploring her world as I am inventing mine. Besides, she is so full of joy she brightens my whole morning. When we get home, I make a cup of tea and she laps up a bowl of water, and then we settle down together in my study. I work at my desk and she sleeps in my winged armchair (which is meant to be for me to read in!). She has to curl up small to fit, but she'd rather be uncomfortable near me than comfortable anywhere else. At night, when I sit by the fire with a book and a glass of wine, she lies as close as she can to me, with her head in my lap. Is it any wonder there are so many loving, companionable dogs in my books?
Photo supplied by Kate Forsyth.
Sasha Wasley (author of Love Song)
My dog is a 7-year-old black and silver spoodle named Louis (French pronunciation!).
He’s a fantastic writing partner, a diligent couch sharer and leg warmer during the winter months. He helps me with my thinking pauses by snoring peacefully or looking soulfully into my eyes. He also loves to accompany me on my writing breaks, no matter if it’s a walk around the garden or a blank stare into the pantry.
Occasionally Louis decides on my behalf that I need a break. 'No matter how well your writing is going, it’s always important to stretch your legs,' he tells me (telepathically), and brings a toy for me to throw. He also likes to pretend there’s someone at the front door from time to time, just to ensure I don’t get a flat spot on my backside from sitting in the writing chair too long.
Louis’ favourite hobbies are shredding papers, long walks at the park, and chasing birds that dare land on the ground in our backyard. He has a part-time modelling career demonstrating the most handsome wearing of doggie bandanas for my daughter’s canine accessory business, Handmade for Good.
Photo supplied by Sasha Wasley.
Laura Greaves (author of Extraordinary Old Dogs)
Tex, 12, Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever
Delilah, 9, Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever
Coco, 4-ish, kelpie mix probably?
I’ve been a Crazy Dog Lady™ for as long as I can remember and have rarely been without at least one four-legged friend by my side. My current pack includes Tex, who is nearly 13 and has a list of medical ailments as long as my arm, but still loves his daily walks and napping in the sunshine; Delilah, who is super sweet but also a certified garbage guts who has had to have rotten apple cores surgically extracted from her oesophagus on two separate occasions; and Coco, a rambunctious stray whose addition to the family was entirely unplanned and completely serendipitous. My affinity for dogs in general has inspired my six non-fiction books, but my love of these three crazy canines in particular has enriched my life in ways I never even imagined. They are my furry muses: always at my feet when I’m writing, and their daily walks are often the only things that can drag me away from my desk when I’m on deadline. I absolutely adore them and I know with certainty that I will never, ever be without a dog in my life.
Photo supplied by Laura Greaves.
Lisa Jewell (author of Invisible Girl)
My dog was so unhelpful to my writing process that I used to farm her out to day-care every day and not get her back until I'd finished for the day. It was nothing personal. She’s the best dog in the world. But she likes action and activity, she likes things to happen and when I’m writing, not a lot happens. She used to sit and stare at me, expectantly, making me feel guilty. Other people with dogs would say, ‘but my dog just sits under the table when I’m working.’ I would say, ‘mine doesn’t. She stares.’ And then lockdown happened and the day-care centre closed for a few months and I had to keep my girl at home. There was a lot of staring at first, but eventually she did get used to the idea that nothing exciting was going to happen and then the day-care centre reopened but now she only goes once or twice a week and the rest of the time she sits under the table and she only ever stares at me if she needs to go to the toilet.
Photo supplied by Lisa Jewell.