Archive for the ‘Writing about Animals’ Category

Aussie Makes Me Cry: Saying Goodbye & Writing with Heart

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Sad Aussie

Today we visited our local animal shelter to donate clean rugs and towels.   My husband and I could feel the sadness as we walked inside.  People held or stood near their beloved dogs.  All were cloaked in an aura of grief.

What were their stories?  The dogs weren’t puppies.  These owners weren’t dropping off a holiday pup just because they didn’t want to go through the bother of house training.  As we walked passed the cages, dogs made eye contact with me, their tails wagging, as if crying out, “Hey, look at me! See how cute I am! Take me home!”

“I’m so sorry,” I whispered.  “We can’t.”  Zoie, our nearly eighteen-year-old Yorkie, wouldn’t put up with it.  And we’re having our hands full giving her what she needs as she copes with her dementia, loss of hearing, sight, and other health issues. We must wait.

These dogs can’t.

On the way out of the yips, barks, and crying, I see an Australian shepherd sitting next to two men.   I knew the answer to my question before I asked it.  “Are you adopting?”

They shook their heads no.  I bent down and scratched the dog, who repaid me with kisses.

“My sister is on dialysis, and can no longer keep him.  There’s been a lot of sobbing and goodbyes.  It’s breaking our hearts,” said the man holding the leash, slumped toward the dog.  His anguish spilled out.

“I’m so sorry,” I said.

Before I could say another word, an official came over.  “It’s time.”  He grabbed the leash, and the shepherd knew.  He pulled back, alarmed with fear.

With tears in my eyes, I beat a hasty retreat.

Writing Prompts

  1. Saying goodbye to animals, people and even places may be emotional and heartbreaking.  Do any of the characters in your writing say goodbye?  In your own life?  Write a story with a character or yourself in this situation.
  2. I know it won’t be long now before I must say goodbye to Zoie.  Although I’m trying to brace myself, I know I’ll be bereft when it happens.  I’ve lost friends, relatives, and my parents. Each experience filled me with grief, but later, with time, became moments of memories.  Write a scene showing those moments of joy and memories.
  3. How does the loss affect you today?  Create a poem, song, story, or another genre of art which expresses you.
  4. Living through tough times may be helped by keeping a journal.  Write about what you and your loved ones are going through helps you survive, appreciate the special moments of joy, and be creative.


Pets and Poetry

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Calling all kids in third through eighth grades! 

The American Pet Products Association’s non-profit campaign, Pets Add Life (PAL) will accept submissions for the 7th Annual Pets Add Life Children’s Poetry Contest beginning September 1, 2014 through January 31, 2015Students in grades 3rd through 8th grades are encouraged to write poems about the joys and benefits of owning pets of all types for a chance at top prizes. 

One student from each grade level nationwide will win a $250 gift certificate for pet products, and a byline in a nationally circulated publication or online outlet.  Additionally, the six winning students’ classrooms will each win a $1000 scholarship to spend on pet-related education or to support a classroom pet.

Participants can submit poems via PAL’s Facebook page at, online at or mail final poems and submission forms to:

Pets Add Life

661 Sierra Rose Dr.

Reno, NV  89511

Deadline:  January 31, 2015 at 5 p.m. E.S.T.

Teachers within the contest grade levels may submit poems in one entry on behalf of their classroom. 

 Cat Sleeps on Dog




Vacations: How They Inspire Writing & Art

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Where can we find the tastiest shrimp in the United States?  Why, in Louisiana!  The seafood melted in our mouths, sauces made us swoon, and restaurant menus enticed us to loosen our belts.  On a recent trip, my husband and I along with our friends, Paula and Jerry, traveled to New Orleans and Lafayette, LA, Vicksburg, MS, and Little Rock, AR. 

The live Cajun bands in Louisiana, set our bodies to boogey-ing! 

Mississippi’s National History Site of Vicksburg and the gunboat U.S.S. Cairo, sunk in 1862 and raised in 1964, brings the Civil War battles here to life.    

Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site Visitors’ Center created an emotionally packed step-back-in-time experience.  In the fall of 1957, nine courageous African-American students attempted to de-segregate the all-white high school.  What followed is highlighted at this center, with videos of interviews and conversations with all nine students and several white students who interacted with them.   President Clinton’s Library took most of a day, and if we had time we could have stayed longer.  Not a dull moment in either place. 

The people we met were among the friendliest, ever.  But many had no desire to ever step foot out of their favorite place:  wherever they lived.  Returning home, I discovered lots of people from various parts of our country have no urge to visit the south. 

Yes, we may love where we live best of all.  But turn down a trip to somewhere we’ve never been before? 

Do we have preconceived thoughts and images?  Discover by travel, real life experiences which can never be taught, shown, or explained.

And now, with my love of animals of any kind, I’ll share a photo of this fine fellow, who greeted us on a swamp tour.

My Louisiana Buddy

Keep your eyes peeled on all of your journeys.  Take a dip now and then, into unfamiliar territories.   You’ll broaden your life, your writing, and your art. 

Writing Prompts:

1.  With any trip, whether near or far, carry a notebook or device in which to jot down the details, sensory images, and thoughts.  Let your mind wander to soak up the surroundings.  This will spark so many ideas, you’ll need a lifetime to carry out your creative projects.  Don’t you feel terrific when you have too many ideas?

2.  Write down anecdotes.  Who did you encounter?  What happened?  Who said what?   You can develop this into a personal experience essay, part of a memoir, or even fodder for novel scenes. 

3.  Interested in writing for a magazine on your trips?  Propose an article before you arrive!  The editor’s specific needs will help you jot down your notes.  And the money from the assignment may pay your way.

4.  Your photos will help you bring back the moment to you.  Take more than you’ll need.  Not only do they serve as inspiration, but you may sell them with your article, too. 

5.  Finally, enjoy your trip.  Sometimes you have to set down your pen and notebook or device and LIVE! 


Enhance Your Writing with Humor: Dogs and Cats, Oh My!

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014 

According to the Humane Society of the United States, pet ownership has grown dramatically since the 1970s.  Three times as many homes have pets today than forty years ago.  With the proliferation of pets in our lives, owners spend big bucks taking care of them.  Americans spent more than $50 billion on them in 2012, claim the American Pet Products Association. 

Which is why books, stories and articles about dogs and cats sell well. 

Author Bennett Cerf once said, “If writers want the sure road to success, for heaven’s sake, write something that will make people laugh.”

Combine sought-after humor with pets  and imagine the popularity! Humor’s basic premisses are contrast and surprise.  Placing two unlike things together create a funny juxtaposition. Employing the idea of opposites — two unlike characters interacting, laughs abound. 

Writing Prompts:

1.  Watch the video and let it inspire you to write about these animals together.  Write a scene from the dog’s point of view and then the cat’s.  Next, get into the owner’s head.   

2.  Write an announcer’s narration for this video.

3.  Choose another method of creativity to communicate the result of your #1 writing prompt. 

4.  If you’re a pet owner, pick up your camera and discover humorous moments with your animals.  Allow them to excite  you to for creating other works of art.

Mailman and Cats, Oh My!

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014


Watch the humorous video below.  After you stop laughing, write this scene from the point of view of the mailman.  Then write it from the point of view of the cat.   It may be more difficult that it looks.   Sometimes describing actions while communicating humor isn’t easy. 



Dogs In Mourning: Writing About Animals We Love

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

My friend S and her husband X were owned by two adorable Westies, Dolly and Duncan, buddies and comrades in squeaky toys, chew bones, running races in the park and protecting their home. Romping after squirrels, cuddling on the couch and greeting guests with snuggles and kisses, the two were inseparable.

A month ago, twelve-year-old Duncan fell ill with pancreatitis and never recovered. Losing him was a terrible blow to S and X, but even worse on poor Dolly. Instead of her usual zip and zing, Dolly mopes around the house, ignoring outside critters, her sad eyes staring out the window, far into the distance. Is she remembering happier times with her friend, Dunc? How long is mourning for pups? Should they take her to a doggy shrink?

The other day they did take her next door for some r & r to play with her two vivacious pooch friends. The morning after, S answered the phone. The dog’s owner called to describe one of her dogs’ behaviors once Dolly left.

His eyes and tail drooped; he hunched over, refusing his treats. Instead he crawled straight into his dog bed. Placing his head on his paws, an aura of sadness encircled him. No amount of love or comfort helped.

We shouldn’t assume our superiority over all species.

Writing Prompts:
1. Have you ever seen an animal express emotion? How? Communicate with another animal? How have you connected with another species? Write a personal narrative about your experiences.
2. Write a poem or short story with an animal as a major focus.
3. Create a piece of art or shoot photos with animal communication as a theme.