The said Labrador Retriever.
Labrador Lessons

Labrador Lessons II: Bark at Suspicion

We’ve owned our Labrador Retriever rescue mix for about a year now. We will celebrate her adoption day soon. During our time together she continually developed her resume and list of self-appointed duties. These duties culminated into a steadfast guarding of her people who feed her and take her on patrol marches around the parameters of her territory. Our Lab is a gentle soul, but grows protective and suspicious of the outside world. It is a scary time, after all. She reads newspapers; she knows.

From the perspective of our dog, I believe she barks at nonsense. Nonsense, to her, is anything, anyone or anybody who dares to infringe, sneeze, stare or look sideways at our property.  Did the neighbor across the street just pull out his car to go on his tenth errand of the day? We’re alert; he’s decidedly weird and could be dangerous. That neighbor changing his light bulb out of his light pole, balancing precariously on a folding chair? We bark vigorously. A human being, on six legs (four from the chair), changing something out of a tall, smell-less tower? Within 10 seconds he could be leaping over the street and into our yard with a machete. Bark, bark and I’ll bark some more, you feign!  And heaven forbid the mailman who actually comes up to the door. I pity USPS. Our dog firmly believes the world is coming to an end and all that stands between her people and the apocalypse is a 55lb Lab. She goes to war, hackles raised like a Savannah zebra.

Upon peace from each of these instances, she wags her tail, whines and states her case via dog-talking and then plays with her toys. All is well now, humans. You may thank me later. Crack on!

Our Lab is incredibly smart. She reiterates to me every day to smell out anything that is suspicious–which is everything. I use this in my writing. I’m continuing to fine tune my latest novel and smell out areas of improvement. Like my Labrador, I’m across the street from my main character’s house, watching her movements, her actions, wondering why something isn’t making sense. I start to bark–or groan inwardly–something isn’t quite right. Humans don’t act that way–I’ve observed them. This, my friend, is bad writing–an impostor! Bark, bark, bark! And we’ll pee on their property to make the point clear.

Smell out your writing. If something is clunky or odd, chances are it needs to be tweaked. Writing mimics reality, sometimes mocks it, I think. If need be, assign a buddy to help you continue your rounds. Four legs and a tail, bring some snacks, and they’ll help you smell out the intruders. Guaranteed.

Happy writing.

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