The Comfort Only a Good Pooch Can Provide

Moby kept me company on the sofa when he knew I was feeling poorly. (Since this photo ain’t no selfie, it must have been taken by Aubyn Gwinn, or our always-inebriated (now departed) upstate neighbor Dale, who had a habit of just showing up and walking right into our house in Cornwallville, N.Y.

I mentioned last time that I have dedicated my upcoming book to Moby, our sweet, rust-coated vizsla, who left us two summers ago. His passing ranks as one of the very hardest things I’ve had to endure. At the time of his death, I wrote a note that we shared with our friends, essentially saying that our wonderful pooch had “taught us how to be better humans.”

Dedicating my book to Moby is the least I can do. It was Moby who sat by my side for days on end, on each of several staycations over the two-plus years I spent writing in our house in the mountains in Cornwallville. When I had no one around to hear how the writing sounded by reading my work aloud (this is a very helpful practice when writing), Moby was there to be the sole member of my audience. As I read back to him what I’d just written, he often looked at me as if to say, “Can you please shut up and take me out to play?” Other times (in fact, most of the time) he seemed to be listening to each word and enjoying it – or was simply gracious enough not to fall asleep in mid-sentence – so I was encouraged to continue the work.

In my dedication, I might have called out any one of the many strong influences in my writing life. For example, any one (or all) of my writing teachers: In grammar school, Beverly Wyble; in junior high, Carole Fuselier; in high school, Emily Alfred and Ivy Lee. In college, Harvey Woll, Ken Chapman, Dickie Bier, Bob Sheldon, Jules d’Hemecourt, and Jim Featherston. Or even Ernest Gaines, the famed writer who accepted my “audition” for an exclusive seminar at the University of Louisiana (it was a short story that was the basis of a chapter in “Stone Motel”). And they are all beyond worthy.

But when I came to think about the dedication, it was Moby who first leapt to my mind simply because he was right there by my side on those long, hard days when the book finally began to take shape. So I gratefully salute my sweet, sweet Moby. I love you Big Big, old boy!


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