I was going to write about ellipses today, but I decided to tell you Gabby the Dog’s story instead even though it’s not the most practical writing tip for Writing Wednesday.
Imagine spending the first year of your life chained to a tree in Alabama, pretty much never getting any food, standing there, crouching there, hiding there in winter, in rain, in heat, in storms. Imagine people throwing things at you. Imagine hoping that you’d be fed.
That was Gabby’s life.
She grew broken, malnourished. Her hips didn’t work. Her knees needed help. She had no muscles to brace her tendons and ligaments and joints.
When she was rescued, the Great Pyrenees Rescue Organization that Carrie volunteers for, took her in and wondered if she’d last very long.
I was looking for aN Old dog to love
“I was looking for an old dog that nobody wants,” I said when I told the rescue organization I wanted a dog. “So, it has a nice place to die and it can feel safe and loved.”
“We have a two-year-old dog,” they said.
“That’s not old.”
“She has a lot of issues,” they said.
I’m used to issues. “Send her over.”
They did. I picked up Gabby in Cambridge, Massachusetts, right by Harvard. Gabby was terrified. The handlers passed her off. She shook with fear. She stared at the cars and trucks and students and cowered, a tiny, 55-lb skeleton of a dog.
“She is afraid of the color white,” they said. “She flinches if you raise your hand up, but even if you’re just wearing a white shirt or a white hat? She flinches. She is a dog with problems. She’s not very loving.”
I took Gabby for a walk around Harvard before the handlers left. Gabby flinched. She almost constantly flinched.
When Gabby and I got in the car for the four-and-a-half-hour ride back to Maine, Gabby put her head in my lap. She didn’t flinch. She gently licked my hand. She stayed that way the entire ride.
And since then all Gabby has been is the one thing everyone said she wasn’t – loving. Very loving.
She decided to be the dog she wanted to be, a dog who loves, a dog who plays and bounds around like a bunny. A dog who protects her family. A dog who loves.
This is totally another reason why dogs are smarter than people.
Writers, we can do this, too. We can become the people we want to be, work at our craft, be persistent and make stories. People will doubt you can do this. You will doubt yourself. But the secret is to not flinch. The secret is to love what you do. The secret is to become what you love.
It’s easy to give up, to choose doubt. But love? Unflinching love? That’s a choice we have to make again and again. Don’t give up.
You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?
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One night a long while ago, due to a top secret mission (that involved NOTHING illegal or alcohol, I swear) I came home at 4:30 a.m. When I stepped out of the MINI, I was sort of weirded out.
There was a noise in the woods.
Hm, I thought, pixies?
No, I thought. Pixies are just in my NEED books. They aren’t actually in the woods.
This thought did not help since the things in my books tend to happen to me in real life after I write them. So being a calm and normal writer, I freaked out and ran inside. Tala, the Super Dog (who is no longer with us) was waiting at the door.
She leapt on me, kissed me, and then Tala the Super Dog reminded me that she is Tala the Super Pee Dog. She made her needs very clear by running around in circles by the door and giving me puppy dog sad eyes.
Tala: Seriously? It’s a long night when you can’t use a toilet.
So, I snapped on the leash and brought her outside. She immediately went into SOMETHING IS WRONG mode and started smelling in circles and growling and sniffing, hauling me up the driveway with her leash fully extended and totally ignoring all my please to sit, stay, slow down, and just-stop-for-the-love-of-God-just stop.
She was a Pyr. They don’t listen when they think they know better than you do. This is so true that there are memes and gifs about it.
So, I held on and prayed.
And that is when there was a noise in the big long grass by the side of the driveway.
And that is when I stopped walking.
And that is when I started murmuring, Please don’t let evil pixies be real.
And that is when Tala freaked out completely.
It was not ‘freaking out,’ human. It was DOGGY DEFENSE MODE! Geesh.
She lunged and growled and then got very still. I wrapped the leash around my wrists and held on with both hands. All of Tala’s doggy hairs stood up straight. So, um, did mine.
And that is when the bear came out of the underbrush.
And that is when the bear got all bristly.
And that is when Tala got macho and all, YOU ARE SO NOT COMING ANY CLOSER BEAR.
And that is when the bear got all, OH YEAH . YOU THINK YOU CAN TAKE ME?
And that is when I thought, ALL THE OTHER BLACK BEARS I’VE EVER MET WERE SHY.
And that is when I thought, OH MAN!!! OH MAN!!! IT’S GOING TO KILL MY SUPER DOG.
And that is when I got super human strength and somehow yanked Tala back and ran in reverse into the garage, dragging her the whole way.
Tala: Let me just say, I let it her drag me back. Carrie is a pacifist. She couldn’t have handled the gore. Plus, I didn’t want to humiliate that bear. Bears have such egos.
Anyway, I have seen a lot of bears in the woods and I have never been scared of them, not ever, but that morning? Totally different story.
And it kind of reminds me of my life right now. All these normal things like writing and revising and blogging and living, walking dogs, hugging friends, things I love, have all become a tiny bit scary. And even when other people try to protect me, it’s really up to me to hang on and do the right thing and haul butt into the garage and regroup.
Is your life ever like that?
If it is, I’m sending you a Tala. If it is, I want you to have hope. If it is, I want you to know that you are important and beautiful and you matter.
But even though they are a tiny bit scary, I still love these things, even people. Yes, even the scary people. I hope you can find love and hope, too.
Here’s the only thing I know: It’s worth it to go up the driveway and face the bears.
NEED is on sale for Kindle sales on Amazon for a mere $1,99 this month. Snatch it up! :
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A new episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the quirky podcast with writing tips, life tips and a random thought comes out tomorrow! Check it out, like and subscribe!