Friday Fun – Writers and Animals

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: Let’s talk about writers and animals. Do you think there’s one particular animal who is best-suited to life with a writer? Do you think any particular animal makes a better writing companion/coach/muse? Do you have any favorite literary animals – either characters or real-life writers’ companions?

JME5670V2smCROP Jamie Wallace: This is a tough one because I love all animals. Many of the books I fell in love with as a child featured heroines who had a special connection with animals: Julie of the Wolves, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books (Oh, how I wished I could have my own fire lizard!), and a book I’ve never been able to rediscover that featured a forest-dwelling girl named Kira who could talk to animals. I love the idea of having a “familiar” – a magical animal companion most closely associated with witches. I also loved Philip Pullman’s concept of animal daemons from the His Dark Materials trilogy.

In real life, I have had the pleasure of sharing my home with both dogs and cats as well as a beta fish named Benny. At present, my writing companions are feline – Cinder and Bella, daughter and mother respectively. You can see them in the header of my business website, and also here and there in my Instagram feed. While I love the way dogs get me away from my desk for healthy walk breaks (something I get to enjoy even though I don’t have a dog since I do some dog walking), I have always felt like there’s a particular connection between cats and literature. On the other hand, my dog Spencer used to love it when I read aloud to him; and the essay collection, E.B. White On Dogs, is one of my favorite books. I guess there’s no one species of animal that’s particularly adept at helping a writer write. I think it just depends on the particular animal’s disposition. Luckily for me, all of my four-legged friends seem to have developed a knack for inspiring and encouraging me at my work.

wendy-shotWendy E.N. Thomas:

As for me give me a dog or a chicken as a writer’s companion.

For years I have had trusty dogs who have accompanied me to work (in my home office.) Over time there have been at most three companions and now with the recent addition of my mother’s dog I currently have two who sit and wait for me to write, never passing judgement when I daydream. I have found dogs to be loyal, patient, and most excellent listeners.


At one point however, when we had a chicken living in our house for 6 months (long story) she would nest on the corner of my desk while I wrote.  She’d jump into a nest I had set up for her when I sat at my desk and stayed there keeping an ever watchful eye as I worked. Alas despite my efforts I could never get her housebroken and blobs of chicken poo would be indiscreetly strewn around our house. She was a lovely bird and I was nothing but sad the day we turned her out to the coop due to the very difficult ultimatum finally given to me by my husband that I make a choice between my beautiful chicken and he.


Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson: For me, it’s cats. Right now, just one cat. But what’s better than having a furry companion sleeping next to me (after we wrestle about who gets control of the keyboard, that is!)

Elmo with his summer hair cutMost of the time, Elmo leaves me alone when I’m typing. When I pull out a notebook and pen and pillow to use as a lap desk, however, he suddenly has an urge to be on my lap. Being to the side is not an option – especially when there’s a pillow involved!

Dogs may be better at reminding a writer to stand up and move, however, a cat with a food schedule can be just as good. Elmo likes treats for lunch and dinner, and lets me know when it’s time for those special treats. And he won’t drink water from a bowl. So when he’s in the mood to drink water from the bathroom faucet, you can bet that I’m not able to ignore him for long!

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: Cats seem to me to be ideal writing companions. Right now my cat, George, is sleeping on the coffee table next to my feet as I type. He settled there after he got enough scratches behind the ears. I have two cats, Fred and George, fredandgeorgesmalland they appear on either side of me whenever I sit down on the couch with my laptop or my journal. I enjoy the silent, comforting companionship of my cats, along with their lack of judgement. All they ask is that I pet them  few times before they settle down near me.  I think a dog would be a great companion as well, with the additional benefit of walk breaks. My cats are very dog-like in their friendliness, but they have yet to join me on a brisk walk!



15 thoughts on “Friday Fun – Writers and Animals

  1. Cats are great animals writing companions. Nothing like a little snugglebutt on your lap while you write. Though I agree with Jamie Wallace, a His Dark Materials style familiar would be awesome

  2. I’ve always been a cat person. Not comfortable around dogs (I had a bad experience) but I’ve always had cats in my life for as long as I can remember. Although when she wants to lay on my arm, that does hinder the process a bit.

  3. Thank you, Jamie W. for that E.B. White title. I’ll look for it as a dog lover — My “All Things of Dogs” blog began last month. And my Second Primary blog, here, at WordPress is “Horses and Animals Are Talkin”. As a youngster, I cleared the school library of Walter Farley books — “The Black Stallion” series and “The Island Stallion” books. At an early age I read, Albert Payson Terhune’s “Lad: A Dog”, about show collies and their adventures. Of course, “Black Beauty” was high on my list. My shelves are crammed with all these gems of animal-dom.

    My first attempts in elementary school to write stories involved dogs, or horses.

    As an adult I bought and devoured every single Dick Francis thriller, each of which featured some part of the horse racing world.

    Since I never had a horse, however, and always have had a dog, dogs are on top of my writer’s companion heap. My fur-buddy is a 22-pound Terrier mix named Cee-Cee, and she is a great consultant as I type away. Need a break? No problem. Walk the fur-buddy!

    Great post to read and share experiences and thoughts on our animal friends.

  4. Love animals in general but I’m a dog person overall. My novel, Bitten By A Dog On Tuesday, (currently redrafting) is about an animal carer at a rescue centre who turns vigilante and begins to hunt down people who have been cruel to animals. My little Jack Russell Terrier was beside me for most of it’s writing.

  5. I’m currently owned by a wonderful 95 lb Black Lab, Cody. He’s an excellent writing companion. When I’m writing he’s usually lying beside my chair snoring. We walk twice a day which gives me some excellent “thinking” time. Yep, I gotta go with man’s best friend.

    I did have a cat some years ago, Wuki, and oh how I loved that animal. He was perfect. I miss him.

  6. I have my Oni my dear cat. If I am entranced in my writing, she will let me know when she wants lap time with her nips on my legs. Does anyone remember that saying my dog ate my homework”, it applies to cats as well as she put a hole in my notebook that had all of my notes for the script I am working on. Get up early with writing thoughts for blogs and make coffee and sit down and get comfy in my chair and concentrate on those thoughts to put into story, grab for my coffee only to have whiskers and fur and a furry head in my cup of coffee (I have contacted the host of “My Cat From Hell”) for answers. I will say Oni does inspire me because her behavior is so unusual for a cat and She is in one of my medieval stories.

  7. I think a writer needs both a cat and a dog. A cat to curl up with while working and a dog to encourage us to get away from the writing desk and actually go outside.

    I’ve always said that when I eventually make writing my full-time job I will have to get a dog. Otherwise, I would stay in all day every day and work. But being a cat lover I would need a cat (or maybe several) to curl up and purr, there’s something infinitely comforting about a cats purr.

  8. I cannot imagine not having an animal to write with or be inspired by. My first children’s series (yet to be published) was based on my loving golden retriever for whom I spent countless walks with and talked to as if she were one of my children. After her passing, and having moved to Hawaii, I have adopted the set of mongoose in my backyard and three starving cats that have all inspired my second children’s series. Writing with an animal nearby is always inspiring…

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