Introducing The Writer’s Pet

 A new series about writers and their companion animals coming soon to Companion Animal Psychology.

My late dog Bodger introduces The Writer's Pet series
My late dog Bodger, who inspired my book, Wag. Photo: Bad Monkey.

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Charles Dickens had his pet raven, Grip; Ernest Hemingway had many polydactyl cats; Virginia Woolf had a cocker spaniel called Pinka; and Alice Walker keeps pet chickens. Authors love their pets, but how do they influence their writing? The Writer’s Pet explores the world of contemporary writers and their companion animals.

My own pets have been a tremendous influence on my writing. I started this blog, and ultimately wrote my book, Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy, because I was inspired by my own pets. I wanted to learn more about them, and to share information about animal behaviour and good animal welfare with cat and dog guardians. 

Even if writing means I am alone in my thoughts, I am not alone when I write. In Wag, I write of my dog Bodger watching me write whilst waiting for me to stop, because of what would happen next:

“Bodger has a good internal clock. He knows when it is time for his walk. He does not come to ask but keeps a close eye on me, often from the other room where he is also keeping a close eye on what is happening in the street. As soon as I get up, he jumps up and runs to get his squeaky lamb toy. While I am putting my boots on, he goes “Squeak! Squeak! Squeak!” with the toy. He runs with it still in his mouth to check if my husband is coming too. “Squeak! Squeak!” And sometimes, when I open the drawer to get his leash out, he drops the squeaky lamb in the drawer.”

He was thrilled when I got up from my computer, but he was always happy to be near me while I wrote (or any time). Now that Bodger has passed, one of the cats often keeps me company. Melina, my tortoiseshell, likes to lie on my desk, sprawled across my notebook (which is a trifle inconvenient of her). Often her tail is by my keyboard and twitches up and down on my left hand as I type. At other times she leaps via my desk to the top of the bookshelf and surveys me at work from up there. If I look up, I get a slow blink for moral support.

Sometimes Harley, my tabby cat, lies down so close to my chair that I am stuck at my desk until he moves. But in the evening, he has developed a habit of coming and pawing at my leg. He miaows too, and if I don’t move the frustration noises start, little huffs of feline hot air. He is saying, please vacate the chair so that I may catnap on it. And that is the end of my work day.

So it’s probably no surprise that I wonder how other writers are influenced by their pets, whether their animal companion hinders or helps the artistic process, and what it means for how they write about animals. 

I’m delighted to say I’ve been putting these questions to some very talented writers as part of a new series called The Writer’s Pet. I can’t wait to share the first post with you tomorrow in which an amazing writer answers these questions and shares pet photos. I absolutely love their latest book and I think you will too.

To mark the launch of the series, I will be giving away a copy of the book on Twitter. So if you don’t already, follow me on Twitter. And check back tomorrow for the exciting first post in The Writer’s Pet

To see all the featured authors, see The Writer's Pet. And if you’re a traditionally published author and want to know if your book is a good fit for this series, you can check out the guidelines for The Writer’s Pet

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