Friday, March 4, 2011

Poodles and Prose

Chevy and my Granddaughter, Trinity, a few years ago.
What do John Steinbeck, Walt Disney, Clare Booth Luce and Karla Akins have in common? 

As you can probably guess from the title, they're all writers--and they own(ed) poodles.

I find this extremely encouraging. I always look for an excuse to identify with someone successful.  Such comparisons give me hope. 

"Steinbeck had a poodle, and I have a poodle, so that must mean I'll be a best-seller like Steinbeck, right?"

Okay, fine. That's a fallacy. But I still like the idea of owning a sort-of-poodle-really-half-a-golden-retriever-dog.

His name is Chevy and he's taught me a lot about courage.

When I found him on the Internet, the owners wanted no more of him. I had been looking for a "Golden Doodle" to rescue because I believe in rescuing dogs rather than buying them from breeding programs. 

Golden Doodles are half golden retrievers mixed with standard poodles. I first "met" one on a vacation trip several years ago and fell in love with their gentle personalities, intelligence and zest for life. Everything is joy, hot dog treats and felicity to Doodles who leap like gazelles (or young bulls if the china tea cups are nearby) at the mere thought of a ball or the long-awaited return of their master from the mailbox.

Doodles don't look like poodles if you don't trim their coats in the prissy-poodle style. I keep mine fluffy. He’s the sweetest dog I've ever owned (I've owned a lot of dogs--I have three now). When he wants to say hello he gallops up to me and lays his giant head upside down in my lap. The magnitude of this endearing gesture is nearly more than my heart can stand. It's a huge responsibility to be loved this completely by a helpless creature, don't you think?

But, in spite of all my love and pampering, he remains thoroughly dedicated to the emotion of fear. If there's a grocery sack out of place, or a coat, his deep, colossal bark fills the rafters. When we travel anywhere with him he trembles like a young bride on her wedding day. He's utterly terrified of life because he didn't get to experience living in all its fullness as a pup. Because he was rambunctious (as puppies should be) his owners kept him caged for the first eleven months of his life. Imagine solitary confinement as a puppy. The isolation must have been harrowing.

We've carefully introduced Chevy to the outside world, but it remains a true challenge. His anxiety level is especially high when he steps outside of his comfort zone. It's been nearly three years and he's still extraordinarily afraid. But as his masters, we know he needs these experiences to help him heal and grow and be the wonderful dog God created Him to be.

He's taught me a lot about courage and trusting my Master. I feel exactly like him some days when I'm staring at my computer screen, reading blogs about the things I need to do to be successful. It's scary to enter contests, go to conferences, and talk to people I don't know. I like being in my "cage" i.e. writing cave. I'd rather snuggle in and hide here wearing my pajamas and avoiding the makeup mirror. But my Master is asking me to take a few risks, and learn more about what's out there in the big wide writing world. Instead of being married to fear, I need to be committed to Him, and the plans He has for me.

Chevy and I will learn together.

Puppy steps for him.

Baby steps for me.

 “Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip” Psalm 18:36, KJV.


  1. Wow, Karla! Your post is soooo encouraging. Why am I surprised?? You always have such an amazing way of making others feel supported and blessed. I'm sure your wonderful Chevy feels that way too.

    Blessings and Love to you and Chevy as you both move forward.

  2. I suspect Chevy has a lot of human soul mates out here in this scary world! Count me in! *whine*

  3. Michelle WeidenbennerMarch 7, 2011 at 8:19 AM

    Karla, I also have a scared Doodle Dog, Jetta. She's the best dog I've ever had too, but has many fears--one is of the water. Can you imagine a Golden Retriever/Poodle afraid of the water?

    Thanks for showing me the parallel between living in my own writing cave (which I love to do, too) and fearing those unknown people and events. I must, like Jetta, trust my Master and take risks.I will think of this post the next time I'm face-to-face with an agent/publisher at a conference pitching my novels.

    Great post, Michelle