I recently read an article about the poet whose guide dog helped him discover a new world. It moved me deeply – so deeply, in fact, that I wrote about it in one of my author newsletters. You can join in on the fun by subscribing here. And it got me thinking … about my own life and pets, and about how they sometimes influence the things I write and think about.
And then I started thinking about other authors and their connections to pets. Turns out, several famous authors have had pets that they loved deeply, and that influenced their works to a greater or lesser extent. Here’s a short list of a few of them, and some quotes about pets from the authors themselves.
Doyle’s love of dogs was famous. He even once came to the legal defense of his old collie dog when a neighbor farmer accused it of killing and bothering his sheep. The story is quite amusing, as Doyle makes his case using the same deductive reasoning for which his detective Sherlock Holmes was famous.
And, of course, Doyle’s love of dogs most probably inspired his story, “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” It’s one of my favorites, but that’s not the only story in which Doyle wrote about dogs. Consider Holmes’s musings about dogs and their owners in “The Creeping Man”:
A dog reflects the family life. Whoever saw a frisky dog in a gloomy family, or a sad dog in a happy one? Snarling people have snarling dogs; dangerous people have dangerous ones.
Doyle wasn’t the only mystery writer who loved dogs. Dame Agatha Christie was also fond of dogs from the time she was a very little girl. One of my very favorite novels of hers is Dumb Witness, which features a dog as practically the star of the show. And I really love the TV adaptation of this novel starring David Suchet. He does an amazing job portraying Poirot’s affection for “Monsieur Bob.”
Christie also wrote an awesome short story called “Next to a Dog,” in which a destitute young widow must make a difficult choice to keep the dog she loves. And in The Moving Finger, the main character Jerry remarks:
Dogs are wise. They crawl away into a quiet corner and lick their wounds and do not rejoin the world until they are whole once more.
I have to believe Christie thought dogs wiser than most humans, and she might not have been wrong.
And, of course, no discussion of dogs and the authors who love them would be complete without mentioning “the king of the dog novel,” Jack London, author of such classics as White Fang and The Call of the Wild, among numerous other dog stories. I had to read both of those books in school. Did you?
Here’s a dog quote from London that really makes you think (or, at least, it makes me think) about how we treat other people (and animals) … and how we may not be doing as well as we think we are:
A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.
Now that we’ve discussed some famous authors who loved dogs, let’s turn to those who preferred cats. I have three cats of my own, and, while I certainly do love dogs, I think of myself as being more of a cat person. So, these are my people. 🙂
Speaking of books we read when we were children, I read quite a few Beverly Cleary books when I was growing up. I bet you did too.
Cleary loves cats. The star of one of her books, Socks is, after all, a cat – a cat whose life gets turned upside-down after the birth of a baby, but everything turns out okay, of course. Change isn’t always bad.
As far as a Beverly Cleary cat quote, this hits the nail on the head, if you ask me:
A cat’s heart is where his dish is.
I couldn’t exclude Ernest Hemingway and his many, many cats from this list. They have their own museum, for goodness’ sake! What? You think the Hemingway Home is a museum in honor of Hemingway and his writing? Right. The cats are certain it’s all about them.
And I think Hemingway would’ve known that. As much as Agatha Christie valued dogs above humans (or at least thought more highly of them), the same could be said about Hemingway and his cats. Consider this quote:
A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.
I’ve always appreciated that absolute emotional honesty. I wish more people would be like cats, in that respect.
Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
One of the most influential American writers of all time needs no introduction. You know his books and his stories. I’m sure you’ve read at least one.
But did you know that he loved cats – a lot? Look at this picture of Mark Twain and his kitten. It’s pretty freakin’ adorable!
And what about his kitty quote? I love it!
When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction.
Me too, Mark Twain. Me too.
What about you? Do you have a pet? Cat, dog, or something else? Do they help you write and/or inspire your writing? Let’s talk about it in the comments.