How Canine Inspiration Turned into Writing Passion

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This was an entry for  Writing Contest: You Are A Writer, which was held by Positive Writer


I blissfully lose myself in the natural world. Give me mountains to gape at or shorelines to follow and I’m in my glory. What makes it all more pleasurable is including my best buddy, Tessi. Her company is unconditional and, as a bonus, she helps me feel protected. Tessi is my dog.

When I adopted her, I couldn’t have imagined my interest in including her in my travels would inspire me to become a writer.

Tessi is the first dog I’ve ever been responsible for, so I started reading any canine-themed magazines I came across. I wanted to learn everything I could about living with a dog. One American magazine’s monthly column dedicated to dog-friendly travel destinations impressed me. I reside in Canada, however, and wished for a Canadian equivalent.

Over the months, I surprisingly found myself pondering on supplying the information with my own articles. I say ‘surprisingly’ because I had never considered myself, in my 40-plus years, a writer, other than a phase in my pre-teens, when I scribbled short science fiction stories on pieces of foolscap paper. (Back then, Ray Bradbury books filled my reading time and Star Trek reruns dominated my TV time.) I knew I’d need to be a proper writer if I planned to pursue my idea.

My job happened to be winding down; the business was closing. I needed to find employment, but prospects were grim. I convinced myself to officially learn the art of writing. I hadn’t taken any kind of academic training in over 25 years.

As I enrolled in a freelance writing course, I fought nagging thoughts of challenging lessons and took the scary step of handing over my saved money, which I should have kept for possible tough times.

Since I believed in my cause, determination prevailed as I delved into the exercises and assignments. Multiple-choice tests accompanied most of the lessons. I found the questions surprisingly difficult, but managed them.

I slaved away on the article assignments to perfection—well, to the best of my ability. When I wrote the first one, I would have considered a passing grade to be a miracle. At achieving an almost perfect score, I felt amazed to think I may actually pull this writing venture off. Ironically, it wasn’t even about Tessi or travel; I wrote about owning a pet snake based on a friend’s boa constrictor. As I continued getting high marks, which eventually led to receiving a diploma with honours, I realized the writing gig was for me.

During the past years, we have discovered many dog-friendly places and issues to watch out for. Riding the subway in Toronto and the gondola in Banff with Tessi were both thrilling. Needing to watch out for black bears in northern Ontario and rattlesnakes in Alberta’s badlands left me unnerved. While on New Brunswick’s shoreline, I was perplexed as to why Tessi wouldn’t drink the water, until I remembered its salty content. (She often quenches her thirst from the fresh water lake near our home.)

I revel in writing about it all.

I am blessed for the inspiration to want to share what I learn with others. Canada is a vast country offering an amazing diversity in its landscape. When I’m exploring it, I also feel blessed to include my four-legged companion. I’m still amazed at how adding a dog to my life has changed it in such a significant way.

 (c) Cheryl Smyth, 2013


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