Puppy Love

My daily writing companion is Abby. A beautiful black lab and also my kindest critic. At almost-nine, she’s slowing down. And I am coming to terms with the fact that she won’t be around forever to be my biggest fan. Still, she is the one I spend all day long with, and she is the quintessential dog.

When Abby was a puppy, she was diagnosed with hip dysplasia—one of the worst cases the vet had ever seen. If you’re a dog lover and you don’t know about this terrible condition, then count yourself lucky. Canine hip dysplasia is an abnormal formation of the hip socket, that affects (mostly large) dogs, causing friction in the joint, and usually leads to osteoarthritis. Like Abby has.

I’m not going to lie, it’s been hard to watch. Before she went on heavy duty NSAIDs (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs), some days she would stay in her favorite chair all day, not moving any more than she had to. She would go out for the obligatory walks, but not with her usual zest for life.

Love of life is what makes Abby the amazing dog she is. We always say she’s the most outgoing one in the family. Everyone knows her on the dog trail in the morning, and when we walk around town, she’ll sit and wait for someone we don’t even know to catch up with us, just so she can say hello. At corners, she looks in each car, hoping to make a new friend. She’s a people person.

Before Abby, we had other dogs, and I had dogs in my childhood. But I think of Abby as my true love dog. Still, I have to admit, Abby does have a few bad traits. Like drooling. Serious Pavlov material. And sniffing. A walk around the block can take forever. It takes her five minutes to sniff up one side of a blade of grass and down the other. She knows every scent in the neighborhood cold. My husband jokes that her nose tells her the stories of the neighborhood. If only her nose could talk.

On the whole, dogs don’t get much better. She’ll plop her head in my lap to get my attention, she’s the only dog I’ve ever seen who can wag her tail in a circle, and she never barks, growls, or rips anything up. When people come to visit, she’s always happy to see them and is sure they are here just to see her. On top of all this, she loves to listen: about heartache as much as good news, and everything and anything I’ve ever written. Especially if she gets a dog biscuit at the end.

When she was younger, Abby came with me every time I went out of the house, right by my side. She loves riding in the car. But now it’s harder for her to jump into the back of the car, and about six months ago, on top of the osteoarthritis she was diagnosed with a form of canine rheumatoid arthritis. Very rare in dogs, pretty mild in Abby’s case.

But she’s really slowed down. She’s just as happy now on her dog bed by my desk or in her chair by the door. Always nearby to happily greet visitors with a wag of her tail. And always close by to her daily companion and biggest fan—I’m right by her side.



Do you have an animal that inspires your writing? Or is your daily companion?


  1. My bichon frise, Yuki, is my writing companion. We’ve finally come to terms with our seating arrangements. I bought a desk chair big enough that she could lay beside me instead of directly on my lap. I can type, she can sleep. It seems to be working. 🙂

  2. I wonder if I could find a chair big enough for me and Abby!? Seriously, what would we do without them?

  3. Coming East says:

    Wonderful description of your Abby. I love your writing and am going to add you to my blogroll. I’m so glad I found you!

  4. Thanks so much for reading! And for the addition to your blogroll — honored and glad you found me, too. Likewise!