Monday, August 5, 2013

What My Dogs Have Taught Me About Writing

by Sheila Webster Boneham

For the past couple of decades, I've spent a lot of time, energy, sweat, tears, and love on my writing and on my dogs. In that time, I've written twenty plus books, had articles and short stories published in national magazines, anthologies, and journals, and in itty bitty newsletters.

In that time I've also not only lived with and loved a lot of dogs (and cats, but they'll have their day later), but also competed with my dogs in several sports, founded two rescue programs, fostered and rehomed many Labrador Retrievers, Australian Shepherds, and other dogs, volunteered as a trainer and evaluator for three shelters, volunteered with my registered therapy dogs, and bred highly competitive Australian Shepherds. 

Sunny (left) and Lily, aka
UCDX Diamonds Perennial Waterlily
Right now, my husband and I share our home with Lily, a 7-year-old Lab, and Sunny, a Golden Retriever we adopted last November when she was 11.5.  

As you might imagine, my Animals in Focus mysteries have paw prints all over them. Dogs, cats, and other animals are realistic, vital characters and are essential to the plots of the books. What most people don't imagine is how many of the lessons my dogs have taught me over the years apply to writing as well. So I thought I would share a few of them.

Sage, aka Perennial Meadowsage,
retrieving at 7 weeks old. 
Work is play, play is work. The expression "work like a dog," means to labor without joy, but the truth is that dogs who have fun work harder and better. Even when there's heavy lifting involved. 

Jay (UCD Perennial See You At
the Top, AKC CD, RN, CGC,
ASCA CD, Delta) & Lily
You don't always have to do what you're told, but....

Summer (Master Agility Champion
Perennial Hot Sultry Summer)

...sometimes you have to jump through hoops to get the reward.

Kitty Boneham, dog expert.

Ideas can come from unexpected sources, so don't discount anyone. 

Me and Katy during a canine safety
session at an elementary school.

It's important to make time for your friends. Writing is a solitary pursuit, but without love, friendship, and social interaction, we have nothing to write about. 

And now, according to my technical advisors, it's time for a game of tennis ball!

Sheila Webster Boneham is the author of 17 nonfiction books about dogs and cats as well as the Animals in Focus mystery series. Drop Dead on Recall came out in 2012, and The Money Bird will be out next month. Autographed copies of Sheila's books are available on her website at


Pat Marinelli said...

Your technical advisors are great. It seems they teach you well. Who won the tennis ball game?

Sheila Boneham said...

Ha ha, Pat! I think Lily won, but I'm not entirely sure about the rules. :-) Thanks for dropping by.

Kathleen Ernst said...

Great post! What fun. I could come up with something similar for my feline companion.

Sheila Boneham said...

Yep, Kathleen! Actually, the puddly tats get prime billing in my third Animals in Focus (Fall 2014), and of course Leo the tabby is a major player in the first two books. >^..^<

Sheila Boneham said...

Ha - autocorrect is at it again - that's puddy tats!