April 14, 2012

What I Learn From My Dogs

Breaking the Rules of Writing

I learn a lot from my animals, and they learn from me. My animals are trained well. They listen. They sit up straight and pay attention to every word I speak.

And then they do whatever the hell they want.

Last week, despite my strong advice not to, my wife bought the dogs new stuffed animals. I warned her that they would ruin them, as they did every other stuffed animal we have spent a fortune on. But my wife doesn’t listen to me either, so she made the purchase. We were going out to a play—a rare occurrence—and she said she wanted the dogs to have something to keep them busy.

The picture below is from the next morning. I was too tired, not to mention ticked off, to clean it up when we got home. The dogs didn’t seem to mind; they were still partying when I got up for coffee.

night of destruction, with Mollie, Brie, Sandy and Biscotti


Mollie, the evil one you see front and center, was the culprit that started it all. I’m sure. I can tell by the defiant look, and I can almost hear her say, “How dare you leave us alone.”

But she’s not the only one to blame: 

  • Notice Biscotti and Cornbread behind her, still busy rending to shreds what’s left of a poor stuffed duck. And yes, that is a bed with a food bowl on it, in the middle of the room. I don’t even want to know what they were doing with it.
  • And for those of you with keen eyes, yes, that is stuffing protruding from both corners of the sofa.
  • Also, if you happened to notice the lazy Great Danes lying on the couch, looking harmless—don’t think they were innocent. Please focus your eyes on the back wall, about center. See the drywall chewed all the way to the studs? Yes, that is far too high for the other dogs to manage. It is, however, a conveniently comfortable height for the Danes. And they happen to love chewing wood.

So, we won’t be going to any more plays for a while. I’ll need that money to buy new stuffed animals now that these are gone. I threatened to punish the dogs for their actions, but they didn’t seem to believe me. I don’t know if dogs can laugh, but I think Mollie did.

Bottom line: 

Instead of being upset, perhaps I should have thanked Mollie. She taught me a lesson that night. I have learned to take her attitude and adapt it to my writing. Writing has a lot of “rules.” Some are good. Some aren’t. Early on I tried following all rules—until Mollie taught me better. Now I write what I think sounds good, or works best. If it breaks the rules…I think of Mollie and say “the hell with it.”



For some really good rules on writing you should check out www.grammarist.com or



What do you think—should writers break the rules?

3 Responses to “What I Learn From My Dogs”

  1. Great pic! Those dogs got a lot done there. 😉

  2. Your furry family sounds much like mine – they do whatever the hell they want!

    And I wouldn’t change them for the world. They are positively delicious in every possible way 🙂

  3. Wendy, you had me laughing. You’re right. What fun is a dog that listens to you?

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