Mouse is AWESOME! Most of the dogs I’ve had were awesome, but Mouse is especially awesome. I think even my husband would agree with that (it took a while to convince him we really NEEDED a second dog!). I know my kids would.
What’s so awesome about Mouse? He’s just a nice, easy-going dog. He’s up for anything…doesn’t ever get upset. But best of all, he LOVES everybody! This dog makes friends wherever he goes. When I was first looking for a dog, his shelter write-up caught my eye right away because it said: “Mowgli never met a human or animal he didn’t like.” (Yes, his original name was Mowgli…we changed it because it was too close to Molly.) I’ve never had so many people stop us on a walk so they could pet him.
Truth be told, I’ve also never had so many people cross the street when they see us coming. He is a BIG dog. And if you don’t like big dogs, well…I can see why you might want to cross the street. But trust me, he is the sweetest dog in the world. He is not going to take your leg off.
Why Mouse? Why did we name him Mouse? (Lots of people ask me that…) Actually, it wasn’t my idea. In fact, I resisted it at first. If you’ve read the Dresden Files, you know that Harry Dresden has a BIG, gray dog named Mouse. My husband and older son wanted to name our Mouse after Harry’s Mouse. I was pushing for Charlie…or Shadow…but no one else liked those names as much as I did. I have to admit, Charlie and Shadow are pretty commonplace names…and knew right from the start that this was going to be a special dog. A special dog deserves a special name…and eventually Mouse felt right to me, too.
Mouse is SMART! And he can do all kinds of tricks.
He brings in the newspaper every morning, he’ll give you a “high five,” he’ll give you “ten,” he can shake hands, wave good bye, fetch, bow, roll over, play dead, flip the light switch, and catch a ball or Frisbee in his mouth. He also likes to play soccer in the backyard (though sometimes he will just grab the soccer ball in his mouth and run away with it). And he knows the names of most of his toys (he has A LOT of toys…I think the next trick I need to work on is “put your toys away!).
Mouse is also a registered therapy dog. This is the main reason I got another dog when I did (well, that…and I wanted a regular walking partner…I like to walk a good four miles every morning and Molly hadn’t been able to walk that far in quite some time). I knew my older son was going to be moving clear across the country and I felt like I needed something new to throw myself into…I decided what I wanted to throw myself into was animal assisted therapy. That involved getting another dog (Molly was too old, too fearful…and not interested enough in people outside the family), training him, and finally testing (which we did last summer). Now we participate in R.E.A.D., which means we go into area libraries (we could go into schools, too!) and kids come and read with Mouse.
Mouse even has his own bookmark:
I’m hoping to start a writing with dogs program at one of the local elementary schools in the fall. And once my schedule lets up a little bit this spring (i.e. next month), I’m planning to 1) test out my writing with dogs idea in one of the local schools, so I’ll be ready in the fall and 2) start visiting with Mouse (probably at Ronald McDonald house). We’ve done some informal nursing home visits already.
What I’m doing with Mouse ties in very nicely with my writing right now. Buddy is a school therapy dog who solves mysteries…that’s the basic premise of my Buddy Files books. And look! Buddy has his own bookmark, too:
It’s funny…when I do school visits someone almost always asks me, “what’s your favorite book that you wrote?” And my answer is starting to feel a little bit canned, because I always say, “that’s like asking me to choose which of my children is my favorite…ALL of my books are special for one reason or another…” But do you know what? I’m having more fun writing the Buddy Files books than I’ve ever had writing anything else.
You’ll also notice that Mouse and Buddy bear a certain resemblance to one another:
That is not a coincidence. I had just gotten Mouse when I first proposed the Buddy Files. And when I wrote those first chapters, I thought of Buddy as a “black golden retriever,” just like my Mouse. But I never set out to write the Mouse Files…my main character was never going to be named Mouse. It was Buddy right from the start (because Buddy is another word for friend, which seemed perfect for a school therapy dog). So I gave Buddy a friend in the neighborhood…a big black dog named Mouse. And Buddy became a regular golden retriever.
When I’m writing the Buddy Files, I feel like I’m channeling my own dog. I feel like I’m inside his head. In fact, sometimes when I get up from writing, it feels funny to realize I stand on two legs rather than four.
Books (reading AND writing)…dogs…kids…that’s my life right now. It’s a good life…