Friday, April 30, 2010

It's Not Just the Life in Your dogs, It's the Dogs in Your Life that Count by Joanna Campbell Slan

Joanna Campbell Slan is the author of the Agatha-nominated Paper, Scissors, Death, featuring single mom and scrapbooker-turned-sleuth, Kiki Lowenstein. The second book in the series—Cut, Crop & Die—was released June 2009. Photo, Snap, Shot is now available for pre-ordering at  You can read an excerpt from Photo, Snap, Shot at

It’s Not Just the Life in Your Dogs, It’s the Dogs in Your Life that Count By Joanna Campbell Slan    

Recently, Entrepreneur Magazine announced its list of ten hot trends for the coming decade. Trend number ten-and-a-half on the list was pet-ownership.

 Boy, I saw that one coming.

 Here’s the scoop: Love me, love my dogs. It’s just that simple.

 We’re a package deal.

 Yes, I have a thing for cats, too. If my husband and I weren’t so allergic to them, we’d have several kitties. (Although I’d probably stop before I collected seven, like my friend Shari has.)

  Seriously, if a creature has fur and legs, I’m all for it. And it doesn’t have to have the requisite FOUR limbs either. My Bichon-poodle mix rescue pup Rafferty only has three legs. When SPCA found him, Raffie was holding his right rear leg pitifully and not putting weight on it. The vet at the animal shelter thought the leg was broken. It wasn’t. Raffie had been left outside in the elements so long that the fur wrapped around the limb, cutting off the blood supply. Although the vet tried to save Raffie’s leg, it eventually had to be amputated.

 But you’d never know Raffie was one leg short. Trust me. People watch him run around, jump up, and never realize Raffie’s missing ANYTHING, unless they stop and do a paw count. As my son says, “Rafferty falls down, he gets back up. He doesn’t waste time feeling bad. He just enjoys life. Raffie could teach anyone a lesson in not feeling sorry for yourself.”

 I can’t imagine a home without pets. Actually, I don’t think a domicile qualifies for “HOME” status unless it’s co-inhabited by fur children. My husband works long hours. My son is off at college. My life would be awfully lonely without my pets.

  My dogs are my friends; the constants in my life. When we moved to the metro Washington DC area from St. Louis four months ago, I knew I had at least two pals I could rely on: Rafferty and Vicky, my BDF (Best Dogs Forever). They sat in the passenger seat for the 882-mile drive. They were model citizens at the hotels where we stopped along the way.
  Okay, mostly model citizens. There was that one incident when the maid ignored the “Do Not Disturb” sign, and Rafferty felt compelled to play guard dog. He has a powerful “woof” but he’s really just a lover-boy. I guess when you’ve been abused, you want to protect a family that treats you like top-dog. He sure does.

 Vicky and Raffie rode beside me into my new life, and even as I cried a little to say goodbye to our home of 17 years, I knew that as long as I had my dogs, I’d be fine.

  And I am.

 Thanks in part to my dogs. They keep me sane.

 Being an author means spending days and hours alone in front of a computer.  Being a writer means you spend a lot of time with imaginary playmates. My dogs rescue me from myself by forcing me to return to the real world. Rafferty gets hungry around five o’clock. He’ll start nudging me, bumping my elbow, which makes typing really tough. Vicky, my little girl Bichon, takes up the challenge and starts licking me, which makes concentrating difficult. So by about five-thirty, I’m ready to take a break, even if I do come back and work more later. Writing is a very addictive process. If my dogs didn’t interrupt me, I might never, ever move from this spot.

 Shoot, let’s be honest. If they didn’t force me to get up and go out, I might never have a REAL life at all.

 Furthermore, I get my best ideas while we go on walkies. Long, long walkies. In hot weather and cold, in rain and in snow, on sidewalks and down paths. They sniff; I think. They explore; I plot. They piddle; I shout, “Eureka!”

 So, the next time you see my byline on a book, go ahead and smile. Sure, it’s my name on the cover. But you know I had two furry co-authors. Just don’t tell my publisher, okay? 

Photos courtesy of the Connection Newspapers. Taken by Donna Manz.


Mason Canyon said...

Wonderful post. We can't help but love our pets (actually they are just four-legged members of the family). With us, it also includes the cats. But I can't image life without any of them.

Thoughts in Progress

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Mason, as I was mopping up a mess this morning, I was thinking the same thing.

A little trouble, for sure, but so much joy.

Neil Plakcy said...

Great post, Joanna. My golden retriever is just the same-- I'd stay at the computer all the time, or with my nose in a book, if he didn't come along for play, walks or dinner.

You reminded me, too, of an essay in the anthology I edited, Paws and Reflect, by a guy whose three-legged dog inspired him to battle his own life-threatening illness.

Dogs rule!

Patty said...

Love your books and now I know why! Dog lovers (well, pet owners) are the best people and it shows in your writing. Have Photo Snap Shot sitting beside me, will be read in the next week or so, depending on how fast I can get through the two books ahead of it (due times at local library setting order of reading).

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Joanna - Thanks for stopping by. This was terrific! And Harley says "Aarf !"

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Whew, just back from Malice and look at all the posts I missed!

Neil, glad to know you have a canine co-author, too.

Patty, I think you'll breeze through Photo, Snap, Shot. Please let me know what you think!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Kaye, thanks for letting me stop by. Okay, Raffety says, "Thanks," too. He and Vicky are whining about dinner!