Dogs as Characters
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.