This post is mostly for the writers among us.
We love our pets. Dog, cat, bird, fish, we dote on them. We are far more likely to buy a book when we see a dog on the cover. Writers know animals appeal to many readers, with a special attraction for characters who rescue animals. Used as a character feature this can increase connection to the reader.
All well and good, and a tool for writers to employ. Until they forget the dog.
We meet the female or male (usually female) protagonist through their interactions with others and learn about their empathy and depth of character. Sometimes the information is shoved at us sometimes we encounter it gradually as we read. That’s a subject for another time. We learn about how much these animals mean to them. Special thoughts if the animals are old or disabled. The writer wants us to know these animals are VERY IMPORTANT.
Then the first meet and with some books instant attraction. The new mate will meet the animals so they can be impressed with how loving and caring this special person is. Then on with the story and we don’t hear much about the dogs until they’re needed again to emphasize how wonderful this person is.
In real life, it doesn’t work that way. Dogs need exercise, food, attention. They’re not meant to be locked in the house for hours nor is it safe for them to be unsupervised outside, fenced yard or not. Too much bad can happen. Cats, being more independent, don’t need us as much but woe to the owner who gets on the wrong side of their feline. Litter boxes need regular cleaning, yard poop patrol is necessary.
Those glamorous coats we see floating in the wind don’t come without hours of effort. If your character is busy busy busy please don’t gift them with an Old English Sheepdog, or an Afghan Hound, or some other abundantly haired dog or cat. Unless you want to make regular grooming a major factor in the character’s life. If you want to know more about caring for more exotic pets, most fanciers would be thrilled to help you, just give them a call.
Pets add depth to our characters and can enrich our stories. As long as they’re not just a line in a character chart. BICHOK, my friends.