Writing with help – the furry kind.

07 Sep

We’re out-numbered in our house. And out-legged too. We have 3 dogs, 2 cats and 2 salamanders. There are 4 of us who walk on two legs. Yes, we are one of “those” households.

I’m still not quite certain how it happened either. We planned for our two daughters. The rest . . . really weak moments of absolute insanity is my best guess.

But we love them all. From our sweet and very large Newfoundland to our pain in the patooty, 4 pound Chihuahua, Big Al. They’ve made us better people and taught our daughters responsibility.

They’re also my faithful writing companions. The best kind – the ones that don’t say a word.

Our Newfoundland likes to pretend he is a rug on the floor, he stretches out, drools and gives me an encouraging tail thump when I ask him questions like “So what do you think about the name Lucy?”

Our 140 LB Newfoundland - he makes a 5 ft plus rug.

Our orange tabby – the heavy one that claims he is starved all the time – apparently wants to write his own novel. I failed to close my WIP one day when I went to pick up my daughters from school. I came home to discover him sprawled out on my keyboard. After removing him from his position, I discovered that he had saved MY WIP under a new name “CCCCCCCCCCCCCCC.” For cat I assumed. I’m not kidding. I’ve never left my WIP open since.

Both the orange tabby and our calico also enjoy “helping” me write. I’m quite sure that those of you who have cats understand this all too well. For those of you that don’t – this involves jumping onto my desk, walking all over my keyboard, rubbing against my face as I try to type and purring like a super-charged John Deer tractor.

Luckily my husband is a contractor and I applied to him for help with this. He built a very nice platform that sits on the top of my chair and hangs over the back at a ninety degree angle. I covered it with batting and material to make it comfy for them. The best thing about it – it really works.

Sometimes the cat and Chihuahua will even share it.

Photo rights reserved by Big Al and Paint.

Our Chihuahua even uses it. Big Al is my most faithful companion. He curls up and takes his naps there, rests his chin on my shoulder to check on my progress, gives me gentle licks of encouragement and informs me that I do occasionally need to get up from my chair and he needs to go outside. Or receive a treat.

Big Al

Do you have a furry helper? How do they help with your writing? What are your animal stories?


Posted by on September 7, 2011 in Idaho


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20 responses to “Writing with help – the furry kind.

  1. johannaharness

    September 7, 2011 at 5:34 AM

    Love your animals, Meredith! We have a cat, a goldfish, and sheep. 🙂

    • Meredith Conner

      September 7, 2011 at 6:46 AM

      we tried goldfish at one point Johanna – not much luck with the fishies.

  2. Carley Ash

    September 7, 2011 at 6:26 AM

    Aaaaw. This made me want another pet. Charlie Foster (a cat with his own last name) died a little over a year ago, and I’ve been resisting the urge to get another one since.

  3. Meredith Conner

    September 7, 2011 at 6:51 AM

    We originally had a black lab and a husky malamute. They were both in our wedding. It took us a couple years after they both passed to even think about getting a new dog and then . . . I’m still slightly bewildered.

  4. L Blankenship

    September 7, 2011 at 7:07 AM

    Yes, my cat Mal wants to both help write and pick the music… he lies on the empty corner of my desk and flops his head on the keyboard’s number pad. Then he wiggles and manages to hit the buttons on my CD jukebox to change whatever’s playing.

    He’s got a thing about hands, you see, that’s what he’s after. If I’m willing to let him lie on one of my hands, he’ll behave. I’m getting better at one-handed typing…

    • Meredith Conner

      September 7, 2011 at 10:50 AM

      Our Chihuahua has a thing about noses. He is constantly licking mine. I try to be patient, but having a small dog climb my chest to lick my nose does have problems all on its own. Good luck with the one handed typing 🙂

  5. Janis McCurry

    September 7, 2011 at 7:12 AM

    I have two cats that are respectful of my workspace. The respect ends there, however. Anything else I’m doing is fair game. Sleeping, reading, eating. It’s all about them. Pets are proven to reduce blood pressure and improve depression, so they do have their uses. Fun article, Mer. Thanks.

    • Meredith Conner

      September 7, 2011 at 10:53 AM

      I’ve heard that about reducing blood pressure and improving depression – I think I’m healthier. Perhaps a little mentally challenged for taking them all on, but I do get lots of walks 🙂

  6. Liz Fredericks

    September 7, 2011 at 7:29 AM

    I love the pictures of your furry helpers. They’d inspire me too! My cat is as much a watchdog at our house as the blue heeler and aussie. She found a rattle snack . . .er . . . snake in the garage last year. Bless her heart, she did wait until I put it out of my misery before eating it.

    • Meredith Conner

      September 7, 2011 at 10:55 AM

      We have lots of mice and vole bits and pieces in the yard around our house. I think the dogs are actually better at catching them then the cats. So far – fingers crossed – no skunks. Or rattle snakes.

  7. Jennifer W

    September 7, 2011 at 9:08 AM

    Hi Mer, we have a black lab, two cats and a hamster (used to have 2 of these). Our dog chases and barks at the vacuum cleaner. Makes it difficult to clean! I love newfies!

    • Meredith Conner

      September 7, 2011 at 10:57 AM

      Our Chihuahua goes into attack mode when I clean too! Our Newfoundland is a big sweetheart of a lug. He just wants to lie around and hang out with us. That and drink out of the sprinkler system when it comes on. He sticks his entire big head about two inches from the sprinkler head and slurps up the water. Newfoundland nirvana.

  8. Clarissa Southwick

    September 7, 2011 at 9:13 AM

    Meredith, I am laughing because we don’t have any pets that aren’t in tanks and it shows in my writing. I keep putting dogs in my stories and forgetting about them halfway through the story. And everyone asks, “What happened to the dog?????” It’s on my revisions list. . .

    • Meredith Conner

      September 7, 2011 at 11:00 AM

      I usually have dogs in my stories too. I just read a book by a NY Times best-selling author, I guess she doesn’t have dogs either and wanted to put them in her book, so she borrowed a friend’s dog for a few days to get to know their behavior. I’d be happy to let you borrow ours 🙂

  9. Peggy Staggs

    September 7, 2011 at 10:38 AM

    I hear you about being out numbered. Two dog (one 95 and one 70 pounder) and two cats. The dogs worship my husband, and wait for him all day in his den. Good thing because they’d take up all the floor space in my office. The cats are…well cats. Walter likes to lay on my desk—preferably on anything I’m trying to read. If I’m not reading he sits-up as tall as he can in front of the computer screen. When I try to look around him he moves so his face is in mine. Real helpful. When he gets bored, he knocks things on the floor just to see them fall. Gracie (my good cat) sleeps in the chair beside my desk. They’re a lot of company.

  10. Meredith Conner

    September 7, 2011 at 11:03 AM

    Cats are funny aren’t they? Mine used to sit either on my lap or on my keyboard until my husband built the “pet lounge” on the back of my chair. Now they seem to be content when I move them there – I think it’s because my curly hair then becomes their play toy 🙂

  11. john ross barnes

    September 7, 2011 at 2:03 PM

    Now you’ve got me wanting pets again. Been a while since Smokey the Himalayan cat passed away.

    This was fun, and a good reminder that there are great pet/friends out there, waiting for writerly homes.

  12. Mary Vine

    September 7, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    Fun blog, Meredith! I had a German Sheperd that laid by the desk while I worked for many years before she passed on. Good memory.

  13. Lynn Mapp

    September 7, 2011 at 9:47 PM

    Russell’s cat (the one we inherited after Russell’s death), Othello, liked to hop in front of the computer screen and walk across the keyboard. He was helping me put off writing.

  14. Marsha R. West

    September 12, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    I’m very late to this. Our younger daughter presented us with our third grandchild and second granduaghter, and they were in the hosptial all week. Thankfully, both are fine.

    This is about pets, specifically you have puppies., so I have to comment. (I know they may not still be pupies. Ours aren’t, but I still call them that.)

    Love the chair platform. That’s ingenious. I could use it for my long-haired red chihuahua, who
    likes to sit in my lap. He’s a tad in the way, but usually gets distracted and takes off after a bit. Simon is very cat-like in his physical behavior, sort of draping his little body in interesting spaces.

    But the A-Dog is our family is Scout. She can tell time and from about 5:15 until 6 when I get up to fix her supper, she whines at me. I’ll tell her to go away for 15 minutes, and she does. She keeps us on schedule, for sure. And though she’s 12 now, still can jump up and get food out of the hand of someone eating a muffin. ( or anything. She’s not very discriminating where food is concerned.)

    So I have a question. Don’t you think most people are either cat people or dog people? I find it interesting you seem to embody both. (We just won’t talk about the salamanders.) 🙂 Marsha


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