Riding Bitch

The daily musings of a writer.

Writers and Dogs


Ruby snow cone nose

My dog, Ruby

I think every writer should have a dog (if possible).

Dogs are the ultimate companions for people who like to be alone. They’re quiet enough to let you work, but active enough to unglue you from the chair every now and then. They’re more demanding than cats, but less demanding than children or other adults. You can concentrate with a dog in the room. You can read with a dog outside (I do this every day). They open your eyes to things, and take you outside of your head. They keep you grounded.

Dogs also give us the opportunity to love and nurture another being. Initially, I was worried that owning a dog might be too distracting, but I actually enjoy the responsibility. Sometimes it’s frustrating, like the other day when I had to stop a really great writing flow to take her to a vet appointment. But ultimately, it’s always rewarding (I was glad I took her to the vet).

Their loyalty is good for the soul, perhaps even the ego, which we all know is fragile with writers. Dogs never get mad at you, or criticize you, or even question you. All they want is to please you, to be near you, to love and be loved by you. People have told me that when I leave a room, Ruby will stare at the door until I return. That loyalty is another reason why she’s allowed to be off-leash so much. She might run off to chase something, yes. But she would never just run away.

Ruby and farm2

Ruby brings so much into my life, it’s hard to put it into words. She has helped (and continues to help) me heal from loss. She makes me laugh. She reminds me to play and be curious, to stretch and get plenty of rest. She provides me with companionship and affection. She protects me better than any alarm system. She also provides structure to my day, which is broken up into three-hour stretches of work followed by a 30-minute break outside (longer when it’s warm out). She sleeps while I’m working, but when I’ve worked for longer than usual, or past a certain hour, she will come over and put a paw on my leg, like “okay, it’s time to stop now.” Sometimes I feel like I belong to her, not the other way around.

The other day I told a friend that “if I were to die before my dog, she would be my main concern.” I try not to think about it very often, or of the more likely scenario that she will go before me. But every now and then I remember that Ruby and I only have a relatively short time together (hopefully, the long end of short). My next thought is always the same, “That’s why I’m giving her the very best life I possibly can.” Whenever that day comes, I will mourn her terribly, but I will also know that she lived a great life, full of fun and love, and we gave each other all that one could possibly give to another.

Here are some photos of other writers and their dogs (many of which I got from here):

Amy Hempel

Donna Tartt and Pongo (photo by Jill Krementz)

Dorothy Parker and Misty (photo by Roy Schatt)

E.L. Doctorow and Becky

Edith Wharton and her pups

John Steinbeck and Charley

Kurt Vonnegut and Pumpkin

Maurice Sendak and Herman (photo by Tim Knox)

Maurice Sendak and Herman (photo by Tim Knox)

Stephen King

Virginia Woolf and Pinka (photo by Gisele Freund)

William Faulkner and pups (photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson)

For those of you who own cats, you’re also in good company.

Tennessee Williams and Sabbath

William S. Burroughs and Ginger

William S. Burroughs and Ginger

More pictures of writers and dogs: https://www.tumblr.com/search/writers%20and%20dogs

A fun post about pets who were loved by famous authors: http://www.brainpickings.org/2013/04/29/literary-pets/

A site that shows writers at work – some with their pets: http://writersatwork.pfauth.com/

Happy creating!

Author: nivaladiva

Freelance writer and independent filmmaker.

14 thoughts on “Writers and Dogs

  1. My family and I have always had cats. My boyfriend’s family has always had dogs and I have grown to love them all. My boyfriend’s mom passed away earlier this week; I’m grateful his dad has their dog, Tigerlily, to take care of. Or, maybe Tigerlily will be taking care of him. Regardless, glad they have each other.

    Fun to see all these writers I love with their pets! Maybe that’s what my writing is missing…..a dog!

    • Sorry to hear about your boyfriend’s mother passing. I lost my mom at 22, and it’s so very hard (at any age). I do think that having an animal around helps. You can’t totally fall to pieces because you still have to take care if it. Also, it’s affection and companionship can be comforting. I agree with you that it’s a good thing his dad has Tigerlily (what a great name!). Best wishes to him and your boyfriend as they mourn her.

      Also, I’m glad you like the pictures. I think they’re fun too! 🙂

  2. Great post! Love all the photos of other writers and their dogs / cats and also your description of life with Ruby 🙂

  3. Reggie is the light of my life. He’s brought so much joy and taught me how to be a more compassionate person. He enabled me to look at the world around me with fresh eyes, always reminding me to live in the moment. It’s wonderful that you have Ruby, and that she has you.

  4. I’ve had dogs since I was a five. They’ve all taught me plenty about love, grief, and patience. Hope I won’t ever have to live without one. Such a good friend in a solitary writing life. By the way, Willow thinks everything I write deserves a treat and she never tells me to “grow up” or “get tough” in response to rejections. Since her surgery two months ago, my exercise has suffered. Cold weather didn’t help. But we’re back to leash walks and I’ll get back in shape while her knee gets stronger.

    • I also hope to never live without a dog. Glad to hear Willow is on the mend. You’ve taken such good care of her! Sounds like she’ll be in better shape in time for the warmer weather.

  5. I have my little mutt, Draco. Most authors I know have dogs, or love them and are allergic to them.

    Another good example is Margaret Weiss. She writes a few books a year, runs her own publishing company, and trains her three Shelties for competition flyball.

  6. Yes! Agree with everything you say. I have a dog (she has her own blog but she’s a lazy sod and hasn’t posted in years). She’s a 4-year-old Golden Retriever named Bronte (after Charlotte NOT Emily) and my novel features a dog!

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