Dog Tales. Ann Evans

Southern Leonberger Carting Group appeared
at the Dogs for the Disabled Open Day.
I've been writing with dogged determination this week as most of my writing activities have been dog-related. Not that I'm complaining. They say never work with children or animals, but I can't think of anything better.

I've been working on an article for Dogs Monthly magazine on Dogs for the Disabled's 25th anniversary, which culminated in going to their Open Day - which was fantastic and even lead to a couple of spin off articles.

I'm also preparing the start of a dog-themed short story competition, which is just for fun, and part of an event taking place locally. Plus I've been dog-sitting Lola - my daughter's gorgeous German Shepherd Collie Cross rescue dog.

With dogs on the brain, this blog just had to be about dogs too.

Lola adopted Debbie 12 years ago when Deb worked in the local RSPCA kennels. She was a very timid one year old, who would huddle close to Debbie when she took in her meals, shaking with fear at her new surroundings. Deb took her home for the weekend – and that was it, she didn't go back and now twelve year on and Lola is very much one of the family.

I've always loved writing about dogs. My first article for Dogs Monthly magazine featured one of my dogs, Pippa and since then there have been loads of articles on just about every canine topic imaginable 

A really rewarding series of features I used to write for many years was the Pet SOS feature in the Coventry Telegraph. Every week we would feature 4-6 dogs and cats (and sometimes rabbits, budgies etc) that were in local animal welfare sanctuaries looking for new homes, as well as a 'success' story of a rescued animal bringing joy to its new family. Naturally I featured Lola one week!

In fact our pet pooches have been really useful, especially for 'tried and tested' features. Over the years they've reviewed doggy toys, poo pods, clickers, training books - all sorts. Lola walked the 'catwalk' modelling outdoor gear on one occasion, and she was even picked out as a bit of a glam-dog when Dogs Monthly were featuring 'pin up pooches'.
Our Lola

Thinking about dogs and writing, brought to mind all the dogs that authors have created over the years. The first that comes to mind is Lassie. Lassie was created by English author Eric Knight in a short story that he later turned into a novel Lassie come Home which of course went on to become a film in 1943 starring Elizabeth Taylor, Roddy McDowell and rough collie, Pal playing the role of Lassie.

According to research, it's said that Knight based Lassie on his own dog, Toots. AndAlthough Lassie is supposed to be a female, the film makers always used males because they are generally bigger with possibly a thicker coat especially in summer. Although female collies have often been used for stunts.

Anyone of a certain age will recall the TV series of Lassie, and the heart rendering stories of courage and loyalty. Today even the emotive music can reduce grown men to tears (at least in my family it does!)

Another famous fictional dog loved by all is Toto from The Wizard of Oz. Written by New York born author L.Frank Baum. Dorothy Gale's little dog was played by a Cairne Terrier named Terry, who it's said was paid $125 per week – twice as much as the actors playing the Munchkins who were only on $50 a week.

Then dogs with a very different image – how about The Hound of the Baskervilles by Scottish author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, featuring the character Sherlock Holmes. This classic horror story was originally serialised in The Strand Magazine in August 1901 to April 1902 and features a huge demonic black dog that supposedly rips out the throat of its victims.

It came out as a Hammer Film in 1959 starring Peter Cushing as Sherlock Holmes and Christopher Lee as Sir Henry Baskerville. The hound was played by a dog names Colonel. The story goes that they couldn't get the dog to jump on Lee so they tried to 'prod' the dog into action. Lee gave up when suddenly Colonel lunged on him and bit his arm. Ouch!

How about you, have you been inspired by 'man's best friend' – fictional or otherwise?

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Latest releases:

(Under the pseudonym S.Carey) The Trunk, published by Penguin Australia.
Become a Writer - A Step by Step Guide.


CallyPhillips said…
Great to read about writing for dogs. My dogs are not keen on my writing activities at all at the moment. So much so that they've started a facebook group Animals Against the eBook Festival to express their disapproval. Which has opened up a lot of scope for animals to be AT the festival. Animals who have written or featured in ebooks are most welcome to contribute/attend. Oh yes, we're all barking here! Hope to see you there Ann. and will look forward to reading your articles in Dogs Monthly. We'll all read them out loud together.
glitter noir said…
Loved the post and still hope to have time and room someday--soon!--to bring a dog into my life. Am still getting over the loss of my cat earlier this year after a 15-year friendship. I only realized after she died how mistaken I was in thinking that she was all right being alone so often. She was not all right. I've love to have both a cat and a dog and have devoted myself to that goal.
Jan Ruth said…
Massive dog lover... lovely post.
Ann Evans said…
Hope the festival is going well Cally, I've been popping back and forth.
And Rob, it's just awful when you lose a pet. I'm sure your cat had a fantastic life with you.
Thank you both for your comments.
Dennis Hamley said…
Though I'm a cat man, I thought that was a great post, Ann. And Reb, losing a cat - or any animal - is a gut-wrenching thing. In 2006 I (illegally because animals were forbidden)) brought our last remaining cat, Emily, a lilac-point Siamese, to my new flat in Oxford for the last six months of her life. I had to have her put down in the end, three months short of her 20th birthday, and it was a dreadful day I shall not forget.
madwippitt said…
A dog blog! Perfect! And testing out products is huge fun - we also review books for Your Dog magazine ...
Can I nominate Narrowdog to Carcassonne, Narrowdog to Indian River and Narrowdog to Wigan Pier as great dog books - Jim the whippet steals every scene he appears in. Terry has written the best description I've ever read of a whippet - but go read it and discover it for yourself: they are terrific books.

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