I recommend that all writers — all creative people, really — fine, everyone — at least, anyone who overuses hyphens and discursive sentences — have a dog. I have one; his name is Danny. You can find out more than you ever wanted to know about Danny at my other blog, The Active Dog Chronicles.
Here’s what’s important about Danny: after a year of training, classes, walking for miles, hiking, giving out treats, saying “No” in a loud voice, and snuggling at the end of the day, he has become my Guide Dog for the Mind. I clip his leash to his collar, and we head out for an hour or so of novel plotting, article idea generating, and satisfying sniffing. (Danny’s in charge of most of the sniffing.)
What makes a good Guide Dog for the Mind?
- A big enough dog to lead you around
- A dog that keeps to the trail or sidewalk without too many side trips
- A dog that loves walking or hiking and can keep up a steady pace while you think
- A dog that’s alert to the world around him. Giant ears optional, but adorable
What’s your end of the deal?
- Bring poop bags and water for the dog
- Tuck a pencil a paper or notecards into a pocket for jotting down your ideas
- Jot those things down while you reward the dog with a nice long sniffing session
- If the dog looks like he’s seen or heard something, come out of your reverie and find out what it is before you’re both eaten by a bear
- Have your dog’s favorite reward ready for a job well done. Danny will do anything for treats of any kind; some dogs have a toy or something they like. Maybe a trip to the pet store on the way home?
Danny is very athletic, so I’m happy to walk him 5-6 miles a day, and in the woods as often as we can manage it. It really did take him a lot of practice to walk this well, but the payoff is so worth it. I pitched the ideas I came up with during a hike a couple of weeks ago and got an assignment today, so he’s earning his keep.