The Most Adorable Dogs Ever

By Karen Jurgens

Growing up, I developed allergies to everything clothed in fur and feathers. That basically meant no horseback riding and no indoor pets. But there was one bright spot. The doctor said I might tolerate a French poodle.

The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens francois

My family’s first poodle was a silver toy named François. He was a grumpy little guy who endured my affection but preferred to lie in my dad’s arms while he sat at the kitchen table and read the newspaper. After my mother chose to have his glands surgically removed, the poor little thing caught a staph infection and eventually had to be put down.

My dad took his death very hard. So hard, in fact, that we promptly found a new puppy.  Our second was a black toy we purchased from a show breeder in Lexington, Kentucky. With his jet-black coat and long legs (the reason why he couldn’t be a show dog), we named him Bojangles—Bobo for short.

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Having Bobo pacified my dad, but this sweet boy was utterly devoted to my mother and she to him. He traveled everywhere with my parents, by plane or car. He later developed a quirky security attachment to one of my mother’s purses, so she let him sleep next to it. When they stayed in a hotel, Bo knew that his mommy would be back because he had her purse.

But that wasn’t the cutest part. He also had a baby blanket he carried everywhere he went. When it was time for bed, he would snatch it and prance upstairs to my parents’ bedroom where he usually slept. After a few rounds of chasing his favorite squeaky toy, “Mousie,” he would be ready to cuddle on his blanket and go to sleep.

The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens

At the age of twelve, little Bo lost his hearing and his eyesight. Understandably, he developed severe anxiety. To help relieve it, the vet scheduled him for cataract surgery. That morning, the anesthetic affected his heart and halted the operation, and he died the next day, on Thanksgiving Day.

Many sad years passed without a poodle in our family. But when my daughters were very young, the right time came to add a new pet.

The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens betty-with-cait-at-bedtime

Babette was a large white toy, and like the others before her, quite beautiful. Although not nervous or high-strung, Babette developed a territorial nature that had to be controlled. She was born with the propensity to snap before she thought, so we all had to handle her carefully to avoid being bitten. I was her “handler,” understanding her body language the best. Whenever I bathed and groomed her, I always knew she had had enough when she gave that warning growl. We always listened and left her alone—except once. When she snapped at my nose as I kissed her head, that was the last time I ever lavished her with casual affection.

The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens betty-on-couch

But she certainly possessed her adorable moments. One Christmas Eve she stayed up all night guarding the presents around the tree as if they all belonged to her. So, on every Christmas and birthday, she also had to have her own presents. We would loosely wrap up chew bones and squeaky toys, and while my daughters opened their presents, Babs would open hers, chewing and tearing off paper until she reached her gifts. Afterward, she would guard them for days, and we knew better than to bother her.

The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens

My daughters both took piano lessons, and Babette absolutely loved to listen to them play–so much so, that she would sit on the cushion with Cait while she practiced.

The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens

When she was younger, she tolerated being put into doll cradles and strollers. She also loved to watch the girls swim but refused to ever get in the pool herself.

The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens

At the age of almost fifteen, her health began to go downhill. Like Bo, she developed heart trouble, but in her case, she died peacefully at home on her favorite ottoman. My mother had recently had her groomed, so she was absolutely beautiful in death. We still have a tuft of her fur that her groomer had packaged inside a glass Christmas ornament years earlier. Every December, we still lovingly hang it on our tree.

The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens The Most Adorable Dogs Ever by Karen Jurgens

We haven’t adopted another poodle since our sweet Babette, and it has been an empty eight years. However, we do plan to look for a new puppy this summer. Again, it’s time!

Writing Prompt: The most adorable thing about my dog/cat is …

This will be my last regular post for Writing Prompts. I regret having to say adieu, but I will still be around as a guest blogger from time to time. Many thanks, Jennifer and Betty, for an enjoyable and adventuresome two years. I have been truly blessed to be part of the Writing Prompts Crew.

 

Fiction and Fur Babies

By Gail Johnson

And God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the ground after its kind: and God saw that it was good Genesis 1:25 ASV.

How’s your WIP coming along? Making progress? Or stuck on how to make it better?

How about adding a fur baby?

I know dogs and cats are not unusual or exotic like a monkey or a boa constrictor. Eww! But when you take the perfect breed and add a quirky personality you can create a unique story. Especially if you allow the reader to hear the pet’s thoughts!

Some of the most memorable movies starred a cat or a dog. Remember these?

Cat Movies
The Aristocats
Garfield
Oliver and Company
Homeward Bound I and II

Dog Movies
Lady and the Tramp
101 Dalmatians
Turner and Hooch
Marley and Me

The most recent one made is A Dog’s Purpose starring Dennis Quaid.

As you can see it would be just an ordinary movie without the dog. The dog is the reason you want to watch the film!

Do Your Homework
If this pooch and kitty idea sounds like something you’re interested in, the first thing to figure out is what kind of dog or cat your main character would have. Then ask yourself the following questions:

dog-450543_1280What type of a person is my main character? Athletic or sedentary? City boy or country girl? Park runner or trail hiker? Apartment or house dweller? Truck or car? Once you’ve answered all your questions, then the next thing you’ll want to do is find the breed that will best fit the lifestyle of your main character.

This step also begins with questions. Does the animal help with work, either on the job or on the farm? Heelers are ideal for sheep and cattle. German Shepherds are used in military and police work. Labrador Retrievers are workers and companions, whereas a Shih Tzu is just for companionship. They make perfect fur babies. I should know. I own one.

You may want to go deeper and ask about the sensitivity of your character’s nose. Individual dogs smell worse than others. My sniffer is extremely sensitive. Is your character a clean freak or a slob? Clean freak, here. Some cats and dogs shed worse than others. A Shih Tzu doesn’t shed like an average dog but rather like a human. Their hair must be cut.

cat-1551783_1280For cats, you ask the same questions. Work or play? Some American Shorthair cats make great mousers on the farm whereas the Persian Cat, like the Shih Tzu, make great fur babies. Some cats are elegant while others are fat and lazy. Think Garfield.

As you can see, whether you mean to imply it or not, the animals tell a lot about their owners. And it’s a great way to add another layer to your story.

Researching the Breed
According to reference.com, there are 340 recognized dog breeds of which only 167 are acknowledged in the United States. Additionally, there are 55 cat breeds allowed in competition, with the officially accepted number varying between associations. That’s a lot of cats and dogs! So where do we begin?

dog-220393_1280Why not start with cattime.com/cat-breeds and dogtime.com/dog-breeds/profiles? Both sites share pictures and information about each animal. Another idea would be to visit the local kennel or ask a veterinarian.

God created an array of animals to add an interesting layer to our world. Adding an animal to your WIP can and will add layers to your story and to your character. So which one do you have in mind? Cat or Dog?

Writing Prompt:

She had only been gone for twenty minutes. How on earth could one Labrador puppy do so much damage? Nancy checked her watch. Thirty minutes before her guest would arrive. Where could she get a new…

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