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Wednesday, March 7, 2007

And They Call it Puppy Love

My childhood dog was a mutt named Bagel. By today's standards, he might be considered a high-end mixed breed, but we referred to him as a cockashpoodle - part cocker spaniel, part sheltie, and part poodle. I loved that dog. I thought he was the cutest thing going and I was proud to have such an adorable dog in my family.
He didn't do any tricks or predict natural disasters, but he always woke me up for school with a wet kiss and would bark until I dragged myself out of bed. He also listened to my tales of woe with sympathetic eyes. One night when I was a teenager, my mom woke me up because Bagel was sick with kennel cough. This was in the days before emergency veterinarians, so we were on our own to save him. My mom turned on the hot water in the shower and we sat all night in the steamy bathroom with our beloved Bagel laying across out laps. The next day, Bagel was miraculously better and that night he slept next to me. I knew it was his way of saying thanks. We lost Bagel when I was twenty two years old. I felt like I had lost my best friend, because I had. Many years later I came across a photo of Bagel and I was shocked to see that he was a scruffy, chubby, somewhat homely dog, not at all the prized pup that I had remembered. That's the power of puppy love.

As an adult, I have a weakness for a sweet pup. This probably explains why I have more dogs than children! I can't imagine our family without our furry friends. True, I need new carpeting, and my floors have been known to don a paw print or two, but it is well worth the price! My two Field Spaniels, Chester and Oliver, are loving, adorable, and so naughty! I once came home to find Oliver with a cereal box stuck on his head! Chester will eat anything within reach, including a sandwich that you only left for ten seconds. The problem is that he is so cute - he gives a look of innocence with his big brown eyes and can actually convince us that he didn't do it! Chloe is our little Bichon Frise, who is the boss of everyone. She is cute and sweet and the feistiest one of the bunch! Our family wouldn't be the same without any of them.

How does this relate to writing for children? From My Friend Flicka to Because of Winn-Dixie, there is no denying the importance of animals in children's literature. As writers we must remember that pets play a significant role in the lives of children. Pets provide unconditional love, emotional bonding, and friendship without judgement. The next time your story needs a new dynamic - add a pet!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Barbara - I just loved your latest blog! It is so true what you say about pets. Our dog is a gorgeous mut (as my daughter says, mut stands for "mixed up terrier"), and we couldn't live without her, beard and all. Her name is Rosie and she has a rather "barky" personality but we put up with it because she loves us and is so loyal. She is very smart (she's read your book several times and especially loves Mandy and her tutu) and well behaved and would be perfect to play the part of a dog if you need one when Like A Maccabee comes to film (I know Ben's family doesn't have a dog, but she could be a neighbor's dog or even play Mandy's stuffed dog that she has sitting on her bed!). Thanks for your "Puppy Love" blog! - K

March 8, 2007 at 7:22 AM  
Blogger Terry Pierce said...

Hi Barbara,

After reading your last two posts, one thing is for sure. Children's writing is NOT a dog-eat-dog world. More like a puppy-pouncing-on-puppy world. And once in a while, don't you feel like you have a cereal box stuck on your head? I know I do!

March 8, 2007 at 12:59 PM  
Anonymous Greg T. said...

And don't forget the latest mutt to star in a famous children's book...HMS Beagle, from The Higher Power of Lucky.

March 8, 2007 at 5:35 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bietz said...

Thanks for all your responses!

March 10, 2007 at 11:48 AM  

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