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  • June 10th, 2009 | 10:36 PM
Of Dogs and Writing - Speaking Up

I think a lot about the life Cassie might have had before she to live with us. We'll never know the real story but I can piece together some of it from the adoption agency, some more from what the pound report said, and because I'm writer, I can imagine even more than that.

We were told that she had been found running as a stray, taken to the pound, and then adopted. She was back at the pound in a few days after being told that she made too much noise and didn't get along with the other little dogs in the house. I can buy that story because I see how she acts when she sees the little dogs on our walks. This 70 pound dog stops and backs up until she is standing behind me, putting me in-between her and the dogs that are barely the size of the stuffed gorilla she plays with at home. She will nose around me, wanting to sniff but afraid of what might happen if she does. She's been burned before.

The part of the story I know is that the people who adopted her from the pound had several small dogs. They adopted Cassie and named her Patton. Yes, for a female dog. Cassie barked a lot and didn't get along with the other dogs. She went back to the pound. End of story.

Or is it? The part of the story I made up goes like this: Woman had several small dogs that were spoiled rotten and had the run of the house. Man wanted a watch dog. A big dog. A man's dog. Goes to the pound and sees a German Shepherd and knows they are supposed to be fierce dogs. Doesn't bother to learn about the breed, about their intense love and devotion and NEED to be a part of the family. Takes the dog home and chains it in the backyard. Doesn't try to get to know it. Doesn't give it any love. Doesn't let it come in the house but lets the little dogs out all the time.

Close your eyes and I bet you can see what I see. Patton/Cassie on a chain, unable to get away from the little dogs who are yapping at her, biting her ankles, doing whatever they want to her. And she just has to take it because she can't run away and no one seems to care what is happening to her.

She could have turned mean. She could have chomped down on those little dogs or the people who were supposedly her caretakers. She didn't. All she did was speak up, she barked a lot, which was the only way she had to express her displeasure with her current situation. Thankfully she didn't have to stay there long. While she is better with little dogs now she is still nervous, tentative when it comes to saying hello, unsure if the new little dog will be a friend or not.

I've started three different dog stories today and now, here it is 10:30 pm and I haven't finished a single one of them. It's been one of those days that's rough around the edges where nothing seems to be going right and I am either opening my mouth and sticking my foot into it or running into brick walls that only seem to get thicker instead of crumbling at my feet. It's a frustrating kind of day where not much gets done and your self-worth goes down instead of up because you can't for the life of you figure out what it is you keep doing wrong. All you want is to connect and the only way you know how to do that is to speak up.

Writers write to connect with the world. Not everyone is going to agree with you. Not everyone is going to want to hear what you have to say. Not everyone who needs to hear you will hear you and a lot of people will hear you and forget you.

But still you try.

Because if you're lucky the right people, or just one right person, will hear you.

And your world, and theirs, will never be the same.

There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.


( 22 comments — Leave comment )
June 11th, 2009 10:58 am (UTC)
Yes Susan,
Exactly right if you can reach one person and help them as you know that you have then everything you say, everything you do is worth it.
I have gained a great deal of confidence from you and I continue to gain a great deal of confidence from you.

You can and you will know exactly the right things to write that I am sure will enlighten those that wish to read them.

And maybe I just might be able to do the same thing one day you just never know.

Thanks so much

- Anne McKenna
June 12th, 2009 04:42 am (UTC)
You do it, Anne. I know you can.
June 11th, 2009 11:32 am (UTC)
Great post, Susan. So well said. Am loving this series. Thanks so much.
June 12th, 2009 04:43 am (UTC)
Thanks, Jama. I'm glad to hear you're enjoying it as I'm putting so much of my heart into it.
June 11th, 2009 12:37 pm (UTC)
Hi Susan,

I am also haunted by the life one of my dogs had before we found each other. I'm grateful to you for writing about it (I've been trying to write about it, too, in a new children's book). Thanks for extrapolating that feeling to new meaning related to writing. It caught my heart and sent me barreling through the rest of your dogs and writing pieces. Wonderful!
June 12th, 2009 04:43 am (UTC)
Thank you for commenting. Dogs are amazing in their ability to pull us up to the very best we can be, aren't they?
June 11th, 2009 12:46 pm (UTC)
Give Cassie a kiss for me.
Cooper, the super pooper, is by my side 24/7... at least someone around here thinks I'm the top banana!

A few months ago, a very well-known toy industry person called me and YELLED at me for all the new things I'm doing. After many discussions with friends and my life coach (yes, I've been a practice client for the last 9 weeks), I know I'm doing the right thing, but, geesh, that took some wind out of my sails. The other day, I got a "what are you doing?" email from the negative person and had to respond. I think from my upbeat voice she could sense my positive energy and responded with positive comments. You go, girl!

OK, that's all I have to add...
Have a great day!
Anna Banana (the top banana!)
June 12th, 2009 04:45 am (UTC)
Hey Anna, I'm sorry you had some negative folks raining on your parade but good for you for turning it around and giving her some of your positive energy.

And yeah for Cooper who can always make you smile.
June 11th, 2009 01:13 pm (UTC)
I have a lot of days like that - "rough around the edges" - I love it. People think that because I work with animals, am more sensitized to them than to people, and I prefer to be pleasant, I must be an airhead. As my BIL would say, Kay Sarah. Don't let other people's negativity impact your heart.

Cassie reminds me of our cat. He was a stray who was dumped and came to our door severely injured. He became my best friend, but he suffered from many issues (fear of never enough food, abandonment, men with boots, etc.) that made it hard for him to trust. He never quite got over them, but he was so incredibly sweet.
June 12th, 2009 05:15 am (UTC)
Yeah but it's hard sometimes, isn't it?

I keep thinking about starting a super secret journal with just a few friends so I could vent the whole story of things going on sometimes but then it might me feel better and my friends feel icky so I never do. :)

My last stray never really came to trust us. Cassie has come a long long way in a short time. Just not so much with little dogs. ;)
June 12th, 2009 12:53 pm (UTC)
It IS hard. I actually had a friend tell me once that she didn't want to hear my troubles, that she envisioned my life as perfect and didn't want that vision messed with! Nowadays my poor long-suffering spouse and sometimes my critique group friends get dumped with my stuff.

I'm glad Cassie has come such a long way! Good on you guys :)
June 11th, 2009 04:39 pm (UTC)
Oh, Susan. I've had plenty of brick-wall days myself, and I'm so sorry for yours -- but also so moved by how you've shaped it into something very meaningful.

Love to you and Cassie,
June 12th, 2009 05:16 am (UTC)
Thank you, Amy. I'm making lots of lemonade lately.
June 11th, 2009 07:20 pm (UTC)
Cassie is a lucky dog to be with you now.

I hope today is smoother around the edges for you.
June 12th, 2009 05:18 am (UTC)
Thanks. I feel like I'm the lucky one.
Things will turn around or I'll grow a tougher skin.
June 11th, 2009 10:11 pm (UTC)
OMG! You always make me cry!!!
June 12th, 2009 05:19 am (UTC)
I'm almost sorry for that. :)
(Deleted comment)
June 12th, 2009 05:19 am (UTC)
Right back at ya! Just finished the book Write Naked. Thanks for the rec on it. I enjoyed it.
June 11th, 2009 11:58 pm (UTC)
Terrific post, Susan.
June 12th, 2009 05:20 am (UTC)
Thank you. It's soooo nice to see you around again Catherine. I hope you're doing well.
June 12th, 2009 12:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Susan. Sticking my head up after a revision...
June 12th, 2009 07:03 pm (UTC)
I can testify to a German Shepherd's need for family--a pack--as the owner of a half-GS. He gets along fine with our little dog (part-Corgi) so long as the little one doesn't get too close to the bigger one's food. :)

And both had lives that left something to be desired--the big one had an owner who wasn't uncaring but couldn't handle a big dog and made him sleep under an upturned canoe as a doghouse, and the little one bounced from house to house because she bit. I suspect the biting was more because of the owners than her, as we've never had any problems with her.
( 22 comments — Leave comment )

Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.

Susan Taylor Brown

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