Semicolons and Bacon Don’t Mix

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:

My Summer

By Trixie Koontz, Dog

Dad teaches me to type. Hold pencil in mouth and type. At first is fun. Then is not fun. He saysTrixie 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.

 

Work Cited

Koontz, Dean R. A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog. New York, Harper, 2009.

A Dog’s Tale

I have the most endearing, most lovable, and most loyal daughter. I love her with all my being. She completes me as I am sure I complete her.

Myla is:

Always by my side.

Generous giver of kisses.

Easy to entertain.

My pawfect best friend.

Six years ago, Myla came into my life when I least expected it, but most definitely needed a gift like her. At the time, I was gaining teaching experience while living in South Korea. I had just moved to a new city, Yongin, after having lived in the country for nearly two years. I needed a fresh start as just a few months prior, I had lost my mother. As a way of dealing with my grief, I used my work as a distraction. I also started graduate school via online. Still, with all of what I was filling my life with, I hated coming to an empty apartment. Exploring Yongin, I quickly gleaned there was an abundance of veterinarian clinics and individuals carrying four-legged animals in their arms, in tote bags, or walking small dogs in the park. That is it! I need a dog. Having a dog will help me get out of bed, give me motivation, and have something to look forward to. Upon inception, I got permission from my employer, researched requirements to taking a dog into the United States, and most importantly searched for a dog to have as a companion.

LookingHelpless

Myla, aka, Fozzy Bear as she appeared on the animal rescue website.

Fozzy Bear, as she was formerly known, was the first and only dog I looked at on the animal rescue website. I knew right away that she would be mine. I contacted the person placing the ad, and within in a week, the nine-week-old puppy made the bus ride trip from the middle of South Korea to Yongin.

Since that eventful day on December 9th, 2011, Myla and I have been inseparable. Our bond is so strong that even when I am away from her for just a few hours, I get anxious to get home to be with her.

It goes without saying that once Myla jumped into my life, soon everything I did evolved around anything “dog.” I would watch dog movies, watch YouTube clips of dogs doing funny antics for a good laugh, participate in online chat forums asking questions about training dogs. Everything in my life was Myla and dog centered. It was calming, and I soon learned having Myla gave me a different purpose. I became fascinated with how much a dog can influence humans.

Now, I am back in the States, finished my first masters, and now nearing the end of my second master’s. In one of my writing courses, the instructor informed the class that we could not write from a dog’s perspective. I never questioned it, but now I don’t think writing from a perspective of a dog is such a bad idea.

Art of racing in the rainThe reason for that is because I just finished reading Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain. The story of Denny, his wife Eve, their daughter Zoe, and Eve’s parents, known as the “evil twins” is told through the perspective of Enzo, a mix breed dog which Denny plucked from a litter from a farm near Seattle, Washington. What struck me about this fictional story is the idea that a dog can understand more about humans that we can perceive it can comprehend. Enzo was able to understand, have empathy for Denny and his struggles to keep his family together, but, because he cannot communicate with the words and mannerisms that humans do, he can only hint at his level of understanding with a look, a twist of the head, or a bark or two.

In the middle of this, I turned to Myla and I asked her, “If you could talk, what would you say to me?” I sing to Myla and talk to Myla at any given opportunity during our daily routines. Myla has licked my tears away when I have been sad. I would like to think that I can be a comfort to her as she has been a great source of comfort for me so far. If talking to me in some way would bring us closer, I would be game for it.

Some might say that it is not possible for a dog to have such capabilities to take on human characteristics. But for the sake of fiction, and just for a moment, it does not hurt to throw all expectations out. Being open to such possibilities in which dogs can be more than just a pet, will allow any human paw parent to appreciate the time shared with an animal. Human and animal can find their own way to communicate. I believe Myla rescued me, and I rescued her. And for that, I know we are grateful for each other.

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