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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Your Novel's Plot - Review

After a number of weeks pass by, it is good to review your novel's plot. How is it holding your interest? Will the plot hold a reader's interest? As you type your draft copy, do you, yourself, find that you can hardly wait for the next chapter, page, paragraph or line? I have been typing several posts here recently as part of a rough draft to my long awaited novel. The plot is centered around my dog Red.

I find myself reviewing my notes and my posts to find a continuity and flow, or, the lack of. I know if the plot holds my attention, and I already know the story, then the plot just might hold the attention of readers. It has been a chance for a fresh look by revisiting Red's past. My memory is kicking into high gear. In addition, other memories are coming into focus of other pets that journeyed with us for a time.

Red has enriched my life as countless other pets have enriched the lives of those who knew them. No wonder there is no shortage of pet owners in the United States, and throughout the world. There are costs to being a pet owner as previously mentioned. However, in comparison to the unconditional love and loyalty of Red, few things in my life have compared.

Yes, I am simply Mama to those I have housed and cared for and loved. The return on my investment has been exponentially great! Both on my initial and subsequent investments, I have reaped many rewards. Red, my courageous half-grown stray, has taught me the most of any of my many pets. He has given just as much as he has taught. Even this morning, he waited for me to let him go outside. Well-behaved as ever, he did his business and came right back to me. His soulful eyes, wagging tail and whining greeting such as to say, "Mama, where have you been. I have been waiting for you. I have missed you. I love you."

Thus, I am stopping my posts for a couple of months in order to review my notes and due to the opening of a new shop in the works for me at Etsy.com. Notes, and I might add references, that are essential to maintaining my novel's plot. The story may need tweaking in order to be more marketable. This expression I am fond of and learned it from the 1998 film, You've Got MailTom Hanks, the male lead in the film, uses this word in one scene where he is emailing to Meg Ryan, the female lead in the film.  So, our notes may need tweaking... 

However, despite any tweaking, the essence of my story remains the same. The dog is the same. I am the same. No, I am not the same either. This particular dog has and is changing my life each and every day. More in my next post...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Passing Another Test

The big moment had finally arrived for Red to meet his new brothers. Tyson who I refer to as Ty was a beautiful dog. To quote the famous New Jersey author, and a personal favorite of mine, Albert Payson Terhune, Tyson was "A Thoroughbred in Body and Soul." This in like manner to the famous heroic collie, Ch. Lad of Sunnybank.

Ty was just beautiful inside and outside. He had light russet markings against his thick, black Rottweiler coat. He was 24" at the shoulder, thus he was not a giant among his breed. However, he did weigh a formidable 141 pounds at that moment. He was my pound rescue in 2000. He was confiscated along with several other dogs from a "drug house" in town. He was said to cost $1000. My cost was $5. He was already neutered and up-to-date on his shots.

It had taken some time for Ty to trust me and when he did, my spirits soared. I was coached by other dog owners to make sure he recognized me as the alpha person in the house. One day he had thrown off his large and loose choke collar. He never left the property, rather he patroled along the hedges up to the garage. Then, he came over to me when I called him. The former owners must have invested in some obedience training for him. He was one of the most behaved dogs I ever had the privilege to own.

Now, I needed to know after nearly two years, that Ty would accept Red without incident. So, I brought the big red dog into my living room. I then brought Ty around to the same room. Red was probably not feeling too well yet with his double surgery the day before. I never knew Ty to back down from anyone and he went right up to the new dog. He sniffed him carefully. Then, unexpectedly, Red began to whine. I have often thought that Red's mother was the Rottweiler in his parentage. Perhaps, when he saw Ty, he reverted to his puppyhood. Anyway, Ty was accepting of the nearly grown puppy.

The bond forged that day was unbreakable. Ty took on a parent role and would often wash Red's face and ears for him. Red would sit or lie there by the larger dog and bask in the attention. To this day, Red will sit by anyone who will give him an ear rub. In fact, it happened with a stranger just the other day when I had my car serviced. I also was given the insight to Red that he was still an acquiescing puppy inside that large body.

Red passed the Tyson test that afternoon. This was to my great relief. I really wanted to keep that red dog. Next, I decided to bring in my shepherds. This would prove to be the first of many incidents between Red and them due to the highly jealous nature of both my shepherds. They were jealous of each other. Luc had even taken on Tyson when I first brought that big dog home. The exchange quickly decided who was my alpha dog. Hands down, Tyson had taken Luc by the back and lifted him off the ground. Luc had rushed at the unsuspecting Tyson and did not realize how strong Tyson would prove to be. Ty turned and grabbed up Luc and literally flung him aside.

Luc was my baby. I called him Puppy. He was almost always by my side. However, I did not want him to be an only dog. Luc would have preferred being an only dog. I prevailed, but through the years I incurred costs for that decision. I had rushed over to Luc, who was already up on his feet and literally slithered off. I did not see blood on him when I checked him over. Luc never openly challenged Tyson again. He did seize opportunities to steal his bones and toys when Ty wasn't looking.

Ty loved toys. He would leap into the air to catch base balls and frisbees. He rarely missed. I learned later that Rottweilers should not leap and jump as it is hard on their large frames. However, Ty loved to play! He would seek out people to bring a ball or toy over to and look so intently at his intended playmate that out of guilt we would all oblige him. His other past time, most likely due to his former owners, was to guard dog food bags as I would bring them in. I often found Ty in my kitchen, lying next to the bag, not opening it, rather waiting for me to do the honors. Oh yes, and by his side would be at least one toy. Sometimes, I would see three toys by him with two tucked under his front legs.

Red had this playful innocence to a point. However, catch was not a favorite past time for Red. If we threw him a Milkbone, then he did his best to catch it. So, now it was time for Red to meet his other brothers. More in my next post...

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Double Surgery

It was a very long week for Red and for me. Each day I half-expected to stop by the pound to see Red and find that his owner had claimed him. However, that was never the case. At the week's end, Red was going to be mine.

Linda Etienne, the animal control officer, offered to drop him at my veterinary hospital for the agreed upon neutering and vaccinations that Red was to receive upon adoption. That seemed a small price ($50) to pay to adopt him. The alternative was unthinkable. Unthinkable to me who was growing more fond of Red with each passing day.

I obtained my receipt for my 4th dog adopted from a shelter. At least, I was being consistent. I firmly believed and believe in spaying and neutering dogs (and cats.) There are far too many animals who, like Red, may not be wanted after they lose their cute puppy and kitten faces and bodies. I have been proud to speak about and to defend the position of neutering Red. Too many animals, unadopted and/or abandoned and/or abused have been put to sleep. Too many animals have starved to death or have thirsted to death due to no one caring for them. Too many animals have been victimized with no one to come to their rescue or to speak for them. At least now, a big mixed breed stray such as Red would be adopted. He would have a home and have someone to care for him. Plus, he would have three no-nonsense brothers. This seemed to fit Red's personality to a tee.

Linda took Red for his veterinary requirements. I was to pick him up the next afternoon. I called the veterinarian in the morning. Red was fine. However, the dog had dew claws on his hind legs. I had not noticed them. The vet was told by Linda to remove them. Apparently, this surgery is done by responsible breeders when dogs are very young. Red, of course, still had his dew claws. These appendages are likened to extra thumbs. The danger is that these dew claws can catch on things, tear, and cause an animal to bleed to death. The cost was an additional $80. Now, my big red dog had cost $130.

I went that afternoon to pick him up. He was alert. He had big ace bandages around his hind legs where the dew claws had been removed. Red seemed to be in good spirits. Now, this was the first time to put him in my van and be with him alone. He settled down in the back seat.
That was the first of I do not know how many rides we would take together through the Eastern states and through the years. We had a ten minute ride now to get to our house. After passing his tests of surgery and riding with me in the van, he still had to face the test of meeting his new brothers, especially 141 lb. Tyson.

When we arrived in the driveway, I made the decision to leave Red in the van until I put the two shepherds out in the back yard. I greeted my faithful trio inside and called to them to go outside. I then brought my German Rottweiler Tyson (Ty) back inside with me. This meeting would decide Red's undecided future with me. I was praying and hoping that my Tyson would accept the younger dog. I was banking on Tyson recognizing Red as one of his own breed. More in my next post...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Very Undecided Future

I kept my word to that big red dog who at that moment indeed had a very undecided future. I had been guessing as to his breeding for the past 3 weeks. At first, I thought he resembled that brave police dog Hooch. Hooch, the dogue de bordeaux, from the comedy film Turner and Hooch starring Tom Hanks, Mare Winningham and Craig T. Nelson. Then, I thought perhaps he was a Chesapeake Bay Retriever due to his coat. I did however, see a large Rottweiler head, despite the color being all wrong.

The animal control officer, Linda Etienne, informed me that Red was a chow rottweiler cross. That immediately made sense and I now finally saw the black patches on Red's tongue. Chow Chows and Shar-pei are the only dog breeds with black tongues. On source indicates that about 30 dog breeds can have spotted tongues. Actually, this dog really did resemble a large reddish bear.

So, with Red's undecided future swaying towards the dark side, I attempted to intervene in the outcome. I asked first how she caught him as he always walked away from me. She said he had also been going to another woman's house and eating there. The ac officer was able to use the pole and hook and catch him. Red evidently was quite frightened by his capture. He was still shaking in his kennel and I now asked Linda if I could see him. She cautioned me, but gave me the green light.

I believe that the dog with a keen sense of smell, after all, he located my food dish the first night, knew me as the person behind the dish. He was quiet. He did not growl. He sniffed my hand through the wire mesh. I asked, "What would happen to him now?" She said, " He'll probably be put down as he is part chow and no one will want him." I desperately asked her if I could have him? She said, "You already have Tyson." Now, Tyson was my German Rottweiler who I had adopted from the pound 2 years before. I said, "Yes, maybe I could bring Ty here to meet Red and see how it goes?" Linda then said, "It would be better for them to meet at my home with Ty on familiar ground." I said okay. She told me the dog would be posted in the local newspaper for one week to locate the owner. Then, the dog became the town's to either be put down or adopted out. She agreed to let me have him if the owner did not claim him.

I went to see Red every day to let him get to know me a little better. It was a long week waiting on the answer. I came to see that Red was truly a magnificent dog. He would sit outside most all the time. He went inside to eat and then he was back outside. He never growled or nor did he show aggressive behavior towards me. My hope was that he and Tyson would accept one another. I also had two shepherd huskies and they were of the jealous sort. Tyson was my alpha dog and assisted me with keeping a peaceful home. I also learned that Red was under a year and had beautiful white teeth. I often wonder why the owner did not claim him. Some thought when Red got too large, he was simply let go to fend for himself - in the city. More in my next post...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Your Novel's Plot

What will contribute greatly to whether or not your novel will be book store and online store friendly will be your novel's plot. The title and cover will initially reel in or cast off an onlooker's glance. I have spent many, many hours at both libraries and book stores. I have literally walked up and down aisles to see what bountiful fare is on the loaded shelves. If I can see a cover sideways, it may indeed catch my eye. I may indeed follow up with picking the book up and perusing the front and back covers along with a jacket or two. If the plot of the novel is interesting and causes me to want to read more, that is the book I will purchase and take home.

For my novel, I am really writing a non-fiction work about my wonderful dog Red. He has taught me many things as we have journeyed together these past 8 and 1/2 years together. We have both shown our respective ages. Nonetheless, we have had our share of tears and despair, and then, we have had our share of happiness and joy. His confidence seems to know no boundaries and he has been a great source of encouragement to me on many occasions!

Red showed me hope when I first met him on that snowy January afternoon crossing into my yard from my next door neighbor's yard. He didn't own a dog and I thought the dog belonged to someone in the neighborhood as he was quite large. He moved slowly and he wore a purple collar with no tag.

The dog moved on and I thought no more of him until I saw him in the yard behind mine later in the day. He was laying in the sun near a fire bush. I knew that neighbor didn't own a dog either. I walked back to my fence and leaned over to call to the big, red dog. He responded by quietly getting to his feet and walking in the opposite direction. I felt he was a recently lost pet. I already owned 3 large dogs and decided to share some of their food with him. I placed a dish out front along with a water dish.

The next morning the food was gone and the water dish had crumbs in it. This continued for a week. In the meantime, I called the police, the shelters and the newspaper to see if the dog had been reported missing. Nothing. Then, one Saturday morning I saw Red and tried to coax him to me with the food dish. He again quietly walked off a step or two ahead of me and went through yet another neighbor's yard. Then, one night while looking out my front window, Red came around the laurel bushes and headed for the dishes. This was about 11:30 pm.

One morning, after about 3 weeks, the food was still in the dish. My heart sank. What happened to the dog? I got in my car and drove around the streets for 2 hours. No sign of the dog. Then, I drove in to work, which, incidently was adjacent to the town pound. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a big, red dog in one of the kennels. I turned around and drove up there. There he was. With a large sign on the kennel that said, "Nasty." I couldn't believe it. The big dog was shaking. No telling how he was caught or how he had been treated. I was emotionally invested in him now and his future. I immediately spoke to him and said, "Don't worry Red about anything." I went to my job and on my lunch hour, I returned to the pound. More in my next post...

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Wilkesboro, NC, United States
My interest with writing began by composing poems about nature in my childhood. I also co-wrote a play in my 4th grade class when I lived in New Rochelle, NY. It generated enough positive feedback that my class put on the play in the school auditorium. I was fortunate to have a lead part. After my high school graduation, I entered the working world. For over 30 years I have been steadily gaining writing, editing and digital publishing skills. I began by composing letters and emails to company clients. I contributed to articles written for The Commuters Register based in Windsor, CT. Since 2009, I have added social media, digital publishing and blogging here in Wilkesboro, NC. Since 2010, I write ad copy for the listing descriptions for each of my 3 Internet shops open at Etsy.com. In 2012, I entered a poem about my dog Red in the World Poetry Contest. The poem was chosen for publication. I have written articles for the Winston-Salem Frugal Living Examiner and Hub Pages. In 2012, I acquired The Wilkes Gazette digital newspaper that was renamed the Wilkes County Gazette in 2014. I write under both my own name and my pen name, Jeanne Armonk.

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