When my son was diagnosed with ADD in second grade, my husband and I were advised to read up on the condition to better understand it and how to help him deal with the condition. ADD is a hereditary condition and one of the books listed the signs and symptoms of ADD. Assuming the person reading the book either had ADD or was the parent of someone with ADD, the authors pointed out that having a certain number of those symptoms probably meant you too had ADD.
Turns out I had ADD, and so did my husband. In truth, I think most people have some form of the disorder. As a classic case, I used exercise to counteract the effects of my ADD. For years, I couldn’t focus my mind unless I’d gotten the willies out by taking long walks, runs, and spending hours at the gym. Not only did I settle my mind, but I ended up helping my body as well, a win-win.
In fact, I continue to use exercise to balance my lack of focus, and now I do so consciously. I’ve purchased a shelf that straps onto my treadmill and exercise bike so I can exercise and work on my laptop at the same time. I find this really gets my creative juices flowing. Walking my two dogs around the neighborhood helps whenever I need a break and also generates many story ideas and helps navigate through plot holes. Even something as simple as vacuuming or changing sheets on the bed frees the mind and helps with focus.
Do you suffer from ADD, either diagnosed or suspected? How do you cope?
In my current novel-in-progress, which is women’s fiction, my main character has a dog named Phillip. He’s a grumpy beagle who, despite being “just” a furry sidekick, steals every scene he’s in. Whether it’s his sheer disdain for everything going on around him (truth is, his discord is all a ruse), or the way he lovingly gets under the MC’s skin, this guy has what it takes to be one of my favorite dogs.
And of course now I’m thinking about my other favorite dogs, so let me introduce you.
Let’s do the fictional pooch first: Enzo, from Garth Stein’s novel, The Art of Racing in the Rain, my favorite (I said favorite!) book. (You can read the review I wrote here.) He is a loyal, intelligent dog who stole my heart in paragraph one.
Best for last: My niece, Chloe! She’s an English bulldog with the best temperament and sweetest face you’ve ever seen. See? –>
My house is quiet. Too quiet. Yeah, I know, the kids are back in school, I should be embracing the calm after the summer storm. But I’m not talking about the peaceful bliss the return of the school bus brings. I’m talking about a hollow, empty feeling that’s brought on by loss.
My faithful writing companion—my dog, Jetta—is gone.
Not that she made all that much noise during the day. Outside of the scratch of her nails on the hardwood floors, the harrumph of her laying her big body down somewhere, or the whimper or bark uttered during a bad dream, Jetta was the strong, silent type, letting her eyes and her tail do the talking. But I always knew she was there.
She’d follow me from room to room, listening to my mumblings and musing, panting at my jokes. Somehow, she could sense when I was struggling and frustrated, offering her head for a pat and a nudge when I most needed it. Best of all, she was a fabulous alarm clock, reminding me with a head butt to the thigh when it was time to meet the bus or have dinner. Seriously, she must have had a switch inside alerting her to dinner time because, like an alcoholic barfly, she NEVER missed five o’clock.
Now, it’s just me rattling around the house all day.
My heart still breaks each morning when I get up and don’t trip over her lying in wait in front of my bedroom door—and she’s been gone nearly two months. When I sit down to write, I nearly suffocate under the heavy silence of my own company. And, don’t tell my family this, but I’m not really great company. I’ve tried turning on music or the television, but both are too distracting.
I’m not putting this out there as an excuse for not meeting deadlines, because I will meet them. I’m just surprised at how deep the ache is still. When my daughter arrives home from school each day, we’re both a little flummoxed. Her homecoming was always greeted with a big, furry hug–mostly because Jetta knew she was an hour away from dinner! And now, without the fanfare, it’s anticlimactic. Just crazy Mom waiting beside the door.
I don’t regret the decision we made regarding Jetta. It was time. The cancer had spread so that she was gargling her food and walking into walls. The hard part was, she was still wagging her tail whenever anyone came near, happy to nuzzle her head under any hand willing to pet her. That’s the way I wanted to remember her. But now I’m left with silence.
Everyone says we should get another dog—if not a puppy, maybe a rescue. But I don’t want another dog. I want Jetta. And she’s not coming back. Yes, I know, she was only a dog. It would be a lot harder to lose a child, a spouse or a parent. But with the loss of a loved one, you expect a depth of pain. I didn’t expect to feel the same staggering emotions about losing my pet.
For now, I’ll just have to content to myself with a photo or two. And, maybe a few tumbleweeds of dog fur hiding behind the sofa amongst the pine needles of Christmas trees past. If that doesn’t work, maybe I’ll get a fish.
Life with dogs can be very challenging and very rewarding. As many of you know, we have two rescue mutts, Hershey and Snickers. They have been with us for five years and our lives are much better because we found each other.
We recently went on vacation without them for ten days. It was a very quiet and lonely ten days, even though our whole family was together. Every night, my husband and I would get into bed and wish our dogs were with us. What can I say…we love our dogs!
I was walking the dogs the other day and ran into a neighbor who has a new black lab puppy. He was telling me about the chewing their dog had done and I started to think about the way our dogs have made our home theirs in the last five years. The more I thought, the longer the list got.
The most obvious marking is from Hershey where she lays on our dining room chairs tucked beneath our table. It’s her cave and she can be found there during most daylight hours. See how she’s marked up the table with her claws? Thankfully, I discovered a fix (3/4 cup canola oil and ¼ cup vinegar) and I can hide the scratch marks as soon I can get her out.
The most recent and maddening is the back door screen. We recently (as in within the last week) had the screen replaced where they’d torn it to bits during another one of our out of town trips. During the ripped period, Snickers figured out to open the door by poking her paws inside the screen and pulling on the wood. When the new screen went up, she decided to take matters into her own paws and clawed another hole.
This, my friends, is the price we pay for having dogs. Dog lovers will understand. Non-dog lovers won’t believe we let our furry friends destroy our homes. To us, a house is not a home without a few dog marks. Let me know about your worst offenders when you get a chance.
I have to ‘fess up. I love dogs and like cats, and am basically an animal lover in general. Rarely will I pass up a chance to pet something furry, and baby-anythings just do me in completely.
My old lady dog, Ruby…proof of my love…
I’ll refrain from posting a picture of what has become the bain of my existence lately. 🙂
Something…some sweet little something…is leaving presents on my front porch. Every day. Every single solitary day, I get a new smelly pile, not in the yard–not on the sidewalk–RIGHT smack in front of my front door.
People not thinking to look down as they leave by way of the front door, step right in it. Even better, they step in it as they are walking IN, unaware of what just transpired. I’m thinking, why on earth do these people smell so bad?
My happiness runneth over.
And the thing is, I can’t figure it out! I never hear it outside my door, I’m never there to catch it. Old Lady Dog, Ruby, doesn’t hear or smell much anymore, so unless it’s the mailman invading the house by sliding paper things through the slot in the wall, thereby sending her into a viscious frenzy, she isn’t aware of it.
My neighborhood does lend itself to strays, but this is a repeat offender. This is no passing happenstance of a free-faring Fido. My porch has a kind of railing around it, you have to walk around to enter it, and it dead ends there. You have to then turn around to walk out. Something is making the conscious choice to make the effort.
Why? Because the large lush green front yard it has to stroll through to get to the hot hard concrete porch isn’t tweaking its little urges?
It’s taunting me. I’ll keep you updated. 🙂