Did you know that the great American author Edith Wharton adored dogs, and
typically had several at a time? She was unapologetically sentimental when it
came to the subject. “My little dog – a heartbeat at my feet,” she once wrote.
At her estate in Lenox, Mass., one can even visit the pet cemetery, complete with headstones, where she buried her much-loved canine
I am grateful to Edith Wharton. Not only did she leave behind an
astonishing literary legacy but her unabashed love of canines allows me to claim
that it is normal – in fact, literary tradition! – for a woman writer to be a
little loopy about dogs.
There is something about having a little canine
critter in my home that makes my life better. Yes, dogs are a distraction but
nothing compared to, say, husbands. Human companions are notoriously annoying
when one is trying to write but a dog tends to improve writing karma, not
detract from it. The reason is simple: A dog, unlike a person, does not
Another advantage is that dogs, unlike many humans, are excellent
listeners and sounding-boards. When I read a passage aloud to my Boston Terrier,
Miss Dot, she wakes up and listens intently.
Most people assume that the
first person to read my work when I’ve been writing something new is either my
husband, my agent, or my editor. In reality, a pint-sized Boston Terrier with an
outsized personality is the first to hear portions of my latest creation. And,
so far, I’m pleased to say that she is giving my sequel a thumbs-up.