Max has been a part of our family for close to fourteen years now. He was a gift for my son on his fifth birthday, but I’ll let you in on a little secret.
That was just a ruse.
He’s mine. The moment he bounced out of his travel crate and into my arms, he’s had me wrapped around his dewclaw. (My son received a bunch of Pokemon stuff that year too, so we’re even.) During the day when I write, Max is my constant companion. Warming my feet, reminding me to get fresh air and exercise or letting me know, with a gentle nudge, when it’s time for lunch or a break. He’s also a fabulous listener. I’ve talked through many a plot twist with him as he sat patiently; wise brown eyes reminding me to kill my darlings. When I took the picture above, that was exactly how I found him. Why he likes to have his paws on things, I don’t know, but I love his face – it’s like we’ve got some serious editing to do and you think it’s time for a snack? Just this morning as I poured myself a cup of coffee, he paced around my feet, anxious to get to work. Work for me being this writing thing, work for him sitting with me, curled up in a blanket and dozing to the sound of my tapping keyboard.
Sometimes I wonder who has the better end of this deal.
I’m not alone. Many writers through the years have had beloved animal companions. Charles Dickens had a pet raven named Grip. Elizabeth Barrett Browning had a Cocker spaniel named Flush. And Ernest Hemingway had so many cats there are still ancestors of them roaming around the grounds of his historic home in Key West, FL.
For me, Max is a reminder that even though this writing life can be a solitary one, I’m not alone. And any time it all becomes a tiny bit frustrating or I get stuck – a brisk walk, nap time, or allowing myself time to play – is all it takes to make it better.