Monday, June 11, 2007

Skinny Brown Dog

What does a French poodle have in common with a skinny brown dog? Quite a lot, I discovered. In my editor's letter concerning my picture book, Skinny Brown Dog, she mentioned that the dog seemed vague and didn't have much personality. After I reread the manuscript, I agreed. Then I turned to a family member for inspiration. Bronte, our poodle, has plenty of personality.

Bronte begins her day by scouting out and greeting everyone in the family. She's eager to please, especially if she's rewarded with a treat. On demand, she sits, twirls and walks across the floor on her hind legs. Though she's never rescued me after a fall, she provides comfort when I'm feeling down. Settling on my lap, she gazes up at me with her chocolate chip eyes as if to say, "It's going to be okay." She even meets people at the door with a hug. Yes, that's right--a paw-touching-wrap-around-the-knee hug.

After pondering all Bronte's attributes, I returned to my manuscript and helped Brownie come to life. When I finished the revision Brownie didn't look like a poodle, but he sure reminded me of one dear to my heart.

For years, we didn't have a pet. Like Benny, the baker in my story, we resisted. We claimed we were too busy and traveled too often. We'd have to be crazy to get a dog, we thought. I'm so thankful for that moment of insanity seven years ago when I drove to the Dairy Queen in a nearby town to meet a lady with "one puppy left." It hasn't always been easy to be pet owners. There were those frustrating early days of housebreaking and she still knocks over garbage cans in search of chocolate wrappers, but Bronte made me realize any life that includes a dog is a pretty darn good one .