New dog on the block



We adopted a dog this week (I say “we”, but the driving force was me. My husband just went with the flow). He’s a big black lab mix who goes by the name Macintosh. Mac’s a rescue dog. He was sprung during a raid on a terrible kennel last month, along with 60 other emaciated, mangy dogs. The bust made the news here in LA. He was painfully thin, with patchy fur. This poor guy has traveled a rough road.

Despite all his troubles, Mac remains a loving and gentle soul. He has enormous, soulful brown eyes.  If you haven’t paid attention to him in a while, he’ll tap you with a paw, or rest his chin on your lap.

I’m not a natural “pack leader,” but I know it’s important to project calm, alpha dog qualities with a new dog. So before I picked up Mac from the rescue group I started watching Cesar Millan’s “The Dog Whisperer.” It’s magical what that guy does with dogs–more specifically, what he does with their owners. Dogs are amazingly consistent and logical in their behavior–it’s the humans who are neurotic. I picked up Mac yesterday and have been practicing some of Milan’s techniques; by golly, they’re working. For example, the foster mom who’d been caring for Macintosh said he had a tendency to pull on the leash, but I’ve been able to get him to walk like a perfect gentleman.

In a recent episode of “The Dog Whisperer”, Cesar visited the home of John Grogran, who wrote Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog, the mega-bestselling series about a family’s experiences with their lab. There was a funny moment when Cesar and Grogan were commenting on how much they loved each other’s books. On camera you see a moment of mutual admiration between two men who share a love of dogs. As writers of nonfiction, they seemed like soul mates.

That made me wonder who my writing soul mate would be. I’d like to think it would be Dean Koontz–his stories have always inspired me, plus he loves dogs (especially Golden Retrievers, I’ve heard).  I’ll be on a panel at Literary Orange this April, and he’ll be the keynote speaker. So I’m looking forward to meeting him then.

How about you? Who would your writing soul mate be, and have you ever met him or her? And what’s your fave canine?

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13 thoughts on “New dog on the block

  1. do know that lab’s tails should be registered as lethal weapons. when happy, they can literally knock things from tables!! or bowl small children off their feet. but their “window to the soul” eyes beg forgiveness. and, of course, a biscuit. enjoy…kathy d.

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  2. That is so true, Kathy! Mac is a mixed breed, and I was told that his tail is nonlab–it curls up at the end. We suspect that he’s part Rotti or Pitti. But he definitely has those soulful eyes, thank goodness!

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  3. Great name, too. I mean, Macs rescue PC users all the time…

    My writing “soul brother”? (I’ll leave off “mate” for the present, thank you…): John D. MacDonald. He was everything I admire in a pro: prolific, hard working, entertaining with a literary style that was elevated but unobtrusive, didn’t suffer fools, didn’t let the annoying distract him.

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  4. Congratulations on your new family member. I am a huge dog fan and my beloved collie Benjamin is still missed – though he hated me writing (he got no attention!). My writing soul mate – Dorothy L Sayers (but of course:)!).

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  5. John D. MacDonald is a great choice for a soul brother, Jim–the title of one of his stories, One Monday We Killed Them All, draws you in before the first sentence. Clare, I know how hard it is to deal with the loss of a special pet. Benjamin sounds like he was a great dog.

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  6. I wish you the best of luck. I had a Pit/ Lab mix and I loved him. He always did what I asked of him and wanted to please me.

    Always be very careful of him around children, especially other children. I speak from frightening and unpleasant experience.

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  7. Yikes, John! He came from a foster house with small children and the mom said he was great with them. I’m monitoring him closely with my 3 cats. So far so good–the Siamese came right up to Mac’s ear while he was curled up on the dog bed and Mac didn’t move, even though his eyes were open and he was aware of her. I just checked his papers and he’s actually a Rotti/lab mix, FWIW.

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  8. Just looking at the picture, I thought part Rotti, so I’m glad to find out I was right! Glad you seem to have found a great new pet. My mom has what they call a deer Chihuahua (they look like fawns) that is spoiled rotten, but lovable.

    Good luck with your books!

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  9. Wow, I miss having a dog. I used to have a terrific black lab we called Happy. She was the most wonderful country dog you could want. She literally saved my kids from a charging moose one time. We moved to the city and left her with some friends. Now my youngest is allergic to dogs, so there will be no replacement for Happy.

    My writing soul brothers would likely be the unlikely duo of Frederick Forsythe and Douglas Adams. Two writers whose work has formed my writing psyche.

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  10. Aw, so cute. We lost our dog Maggie- also a rescue-last March. A few weeks ago we picked up Sammy the wonder cat from the Spca-I’ve never been much of a cat person, but i have to say that this one has won me over.
    Congrats.
    My writing soulmate is definitely Karin Slaughter.

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  11. signlady, you were right. I had a moment’s pause when I realized I’d adopted a Rotti and not a lab. But he seems like a real sweetheart. He has all the characteristics I read Rottweilers normally have–slightly reserved with strangers, and eager to please. I’ve been studying all the techniques on the Dog Whisperer like it was homework, and so far, every one of them has worked. I may be overdoing the “go through the door first, before the dog” thing a bit far. The poor dog never gets to go through a door before me, even in the house!
    p.s. A deer Chihuahua? Must be fun to put antlers on him during Xmas.
    Basil, sorry about the allergy, although I’ve read there are a couple of hypoallergenic dogs.
    Michelle and Sheila, I sympathize over the loss of the Maggies. We get so attached to these little guys, don’t we?

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  12. Mac looks great, Kathryn. He looks like he’s got a lot of love in him.

    I’ve always loved dachshunds. I can’t explain it. But now, I’ve moved into a new house (2 years ago) and can’t bring myself to get one. I’ll only say the carpeting is new.

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