Jerry and I are both mystery authors and dog lovers. We both like big breeds, too. He has German Shorthaired Pointers, the same as Robert B. Parker’s Spenser character, whose Pearl the Wonder Dog is featured in many of the series’ novels. And I have a German Shepherd named Rudi who owns our family much the same way that Lassie owned Timmy.
Over the years Rudi has been a quirky but always available mystery writer’s companion and has taught me the top reasons why every mystery writer needs a dog:
1. A dog will listen as you talk through your plot outline
Family members will roll their eyes and give other indications of waiting for you to get to the point as you ramble through yet another approach to the story. Your dog will never look impatient. A dog yawn doesn’t count.
2. Your dog has helpful and distracting toys
Stuck for a bit of dialogue or how to get the hero to figure out whodunit? Grab a squeaky toy. Roll it around, play hide and seek, etc. Five minutes of playtime will recharge your writing batteries.
3. Your dog makes you walk
Sitting in front of a computer for long hours, possibly with salty snacks, is a prescription for weight gain and muscle loss. A dog will force you to get up and go for a walk, even if it is just for 10 minutes. And who knows, you might find inspiration along the way.
4. You meet interesting people with a dog
You meet people when you are with a dog that you might not otherwise encounter, such as those at the vet’s office or at a dog park. And every mystery writer knows that new faces often become new characters.
5. You can cuddle with your dog when your story gets scary
Bad guys really bad? Hero in trouble with no way out? It is no secret that mystery writers can even scare themselves as they write. So when your computer is smoking and your pulse is pounding, stop and hug your dog.
Carmen Amato is the author of political thriller The Hidden Light of Mexico City and the Emilia Cruz mystery series set in Acapulco. She currently divides her time between the United States and Central America. Visit her website at carmenamato.net and follow her @CarmenConnects.
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