If Garth Stein can show the humanistic side of dogs in Art of Racing in the Rain, then Dean Koontz can illustrate that dogs have a great sense of humor – and a serious obsession with bacon.
Before reading Stein’s fiction piece, I read Dean Koontz’s memoir of his golden retriever, Trixie, in A Big Little Life. Reading chapter after chapter, Trixie became more and more charismatic. Soon I thought to myself: If only I could be an acquaintance of Dean Koontz just so I could play chase-the-tennis-ball with Trixie. Funny how dogs can bring people together!
One aspect of what made Trixie memorable before her passing was her shared delight and frustration with living a writer’s life. Loathing punctuation rules and desiring publication aspirations, surely humans can relate to Trixie’s story below:
Excerpt from Dean Koontz’s A Big Little Life:
By Trixie Koontz, Dog
Dad teaches me to type. Hold pencil in mouth and type. At first is fun. Then is not fun. He says to me, “Write, Trixie, write. Write essay for Web site.” Being good dog, I write. Not fun, but I write.
Expect treat for writing. Get no treat. Stop writing. Get treat. Carob biscuit. Good, good, good. Okay, so I write some more.
Dad promises Web site visitors my essay end of July. Must give up important ball chasing, important napping, important sniffing – all to write. Work hard. Writing hard. So many words. Stupid punctuation rules. Hate semicolons. Hate; hate; hate. Chew up many pencils in frustration.
Finish article. Give to Dad. Then I rip guts out of duck. Duck is not real. Is Booda duck, stuffed toy. I am gentle dog. Cannot hurt real duck or even cat. But am hell on stuffed toys. Work off tension. Rip, rip, rip. Feel pretty good. Cough up soggy wad of Booda-duck stuffing. Feel even better.
Dad gives editorial suggestions. Stupid suggestions.
Stupid, stupid, stupid! He is not editor, is writer. Like me, Trixie Koontz, who is dog. I pretend to listen.
Am actually thinking about bacon. Bacon is good. Bacon is very good. People call me “good dog, good, very good.” Bacon is very good. I am very good. But I am not bacon. Why not? Mysterious?
Then I think about cats. What is wrong with them? Who do they think they are? What do they want? Who invented them, anyway? Not God, surely. Maybe Satan? So serious writing about cats, I use too many italics. Then I hit hateful semicolon key; don’t know why; but I do it again; and whimper.
Dogs are not born to write essays. Maybe fiction. Maybe poetry. Not essays. Maybe advertising copy. Here is my advertising copy: BACON IS VERY GOOD. BACON. BUY LOTS OF BACON. GIVE TO ME. THANK YOU.
Dad gives me editorial notes for study. Eight pages. I pee on them. He gets message.
Dad says will give my essay to webmaster as is. Webmaster is nice person, nice. She will know good writing when she sees it.
Days pass. Weeks. Chase ball. Chase rabbits. Chase butterfly. Chase Frisbee. Begin to notice sameness in leisure-time activities. Pull tug-toy snake. Pull, pull, pull. Pull tug-toy bone. Pull, pull, pull tug-toy rope. Lick forepaw, Lick a more private place. Still do not taste like bacon. Get belly rub from Mom. Dad. Mom. Dad. Get belly rub from Linda. Get belly rub from Elaine. From housekeeper Elisa. Belly rub, belly rub. Read Bleak House by Mr. Charles Dickens, study brilliant characterizations, ponder tragedy of human condition. New tennis ball. Chase, chase, chase! Suddenly is September.
Webmaster asks where is Trixie essay? Where? Dad lost. Dad got busy working on new book, got busy, forgot fabulous Trixie essay, and lost it. My human ate my homework. Sort of.
All my hard work, my struggle, so many hateful semicolons. All for what? All for nothing. Essay lost. All for nothing. Feel like character in Bleak House.
Think about getting attorney. Get literary agent instead. Writing fiction. Novel. Maybe knock Dad off best-seller list. Teach him lesson. Writing novel called My Bacon by Trixie Koontz, Dog. Already have invitation from Larry King, David Letterman, be on shows, do publicity, sell book, get belly rub from Dave. Maybe get limo for media tour. Ride around in limo, chasing cats. Life is good when you’re a dog.
Koontz, Dean R. A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog. New York, Harper, 2009.