I didn’t know I needed a writing dog. I didn’t ask for one, but I got a good one.

IMG_1551Willie is our white boxer whom I rescued a few weeks after he was born on Jan. 25, 2006. He came from an “accidental” litter of eight. I got him to keep me company as we were transitioning from Evansville, Ind., to East Tennessee. That was about the time I started working in earnest on Paperboy.

For the next five years when I would slog upstairs to my writing room in the pre-dawn hours, Willie would crawl out of his warm bed and accompany me, resting at my feet while I escaped into my novel. I never asked him to join me. He always came on his own.

Anytime I video chat with classrooms or bookclubs, Willie usually comes moseying by and I introduce him to readers to squeals of delight. He can be a ham.

Willie and I took a little break for a while, but then we started on the sequel to Paperboy a couple of years ago. Willie was with me all the way for that one also. We will be making an official announcement about it soon.

Willie joins me now every morning that I write. It’s getting a little harder for him to climb the stairs, but the same is true for me.

Veterinarians say that about 50 percent of white boxers are deaf. Not Willie. When I shut down the computer, he pricks his ears and is ready to go downstairs and eat his breakfast.

I never know what to say when I’m asked about advice for writers. I guess my best advice would be to get a writing dog. Just like Willie.

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