Dog Days of Writing

posted on August 7, 2014 by Catherine Mann

I never thought I’d be the whacky dog lady. The eccentric writer, sure. But the dog lady? Nah. Not me. I’m a clean freak. My pantry’s packed with rows of Clorox wipes and I’m the first the hit the sale bins of anti-bacterial hand Bath and Body Works. I kid you not, this one time I needed to be fingerprinted for approval as a babysitter for DCS, and the fingerprint expert accused me of bleaching off my prints!

Soooo, how does someone like me become the dog lady?

Well, writing is such a solitary profession, I worry about having a life outside my house. (Other than going to Walmart to buy more Clorox wipes.) A valued mentor of mine once reminded me of the importance of “living your life as you seek to write about the lives of others.” With 4-6 books out a year, that’s easier said than done. Little did I know the answer would be found in my youngest son’s service project.

We began fostering motherless puppies for the Humane Society around Christmas 2008, puppies dumped at the shelter too young to be adopted and in need of extra attention. I expected it to be a frustrating, messy project, but resigned myself to helping my kids learn from the experience – and then move on! We already had two dogs and a cat of our own, after all. (Many more now!)

Five weeks later, I realized those four little Rottweiler/Retriever puppies gave far more to me than I did to them. Suddenly, I was out in the world again for their vet visits at the shelter. My family and I spent more time in the yard together – and got to know our neighbors better. In fact, my chronic back troubles eased considerably thanks to the extra walks with my hubby and puppies. My stress level lowered. I slept better.

And miracle of miracles, I still got my books written.

Having found a surprise calling, we fostered 21 puppies overall in 2009, all of which were adopted into forever families. We’ve continued to foster – but stopped counting how many once we topped a hundred. As I write this now, two border terrier/dachshund pups are scampering around my feet with our dogs. Sure, I still freak out every now and again, chasing after puppies with Clorox wipes in my fingerprintless hands. But I’m a much happier and more productive person overall for finding the value in stepping away from the computer and taking in the world around me.

My question for you …. What hobby brings you joy?

(Blog updated from a 2009 version – Copyright Catherine Mann)

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