Dogs as Characters

Wilderness-PB (3)With the paperback version of Wilderness coming to bookstores next month, and, hopefully, new readers coming to the book, I’d like to take a moment to talk about a concern with the story that I’ve heard more than once now.  And that is, the fate of the dog.

This is prompted by some very nice comments by a Goodreads reader who set the book aside after the prologue because they already knew what happens with the dog.  I can certainly understand and empathize with these sorts of worries because all too often, in any form of entertainment, pets are handled in ways cheap and sensationalistic.

At readings for Wilderness, I often tell folks I wanted, among other things, to write the very best dog story I could and, to that end, I tried to treat Buster not just as a dog but as another character all his own—perhaps the most important character besides Abel Truman—because it is the character of the dog that makes Abel’s redemptive path possible.

I have always had dogs.  Have always fiercely loved them and felt honored to be able to share my life with them.  As my father is fond of saying: they give so much and ask so little in return.  And while their day-to-day existence teaches us how to be better people, the relative brevity of their lives reminds us to treasure them.  It is with this spirit that I wrote Wilderness and with that in mind that I would hope the reader approaches it.


2 thoughts on “Dogs as Characters

  1. Originally I wanted to title my memoir, “Eulogy for Isis.” Then I wanted to make that the subtitle of my prologue. I ended up changing both, but I still thought it was important to mention in the prologue that she died. I want to protect my readers from the shock I felt at her sudden death. I don’t think it ruins the ending, because I expect dogs to die at the end of most dog stories. Their lives, sadly, are too short.

  2. I know exactly what it was in the prologue because I too almost stopped reading at that point because I knew right away what it meant. I soldiered on though, and lived in fear of getting to that part of the book, but I’d had a slightly different version of the events in my head. Heartbreaking as it was, I’m glad it happened the way it did and now how I’d thought it would be.


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