Writing is lonely. The very act precludes taking anyone else on the solitary journey. You slip into other worlds unannounced and you must do it by yourself.

The one exception, if you’re lucky, is a writing dog. I guess you could have a writing cat, but I prefer a dog.

Willie, our white boxer, has been with me for 13 years, two novels and countless early morning writing sessions. He volunteered for the duty. I never encouraged him, but I am glad to have him.

He has always followed me upstairs no matter how early the session started. His standard operating procedure before he curls up at my feet is to rub against the company bed spread to leave a swath of his short white hair.

Willie turns 13 today and has been joining me later and later in the mornings. It’s harder for him to get his old joints working now and the stairs are becoming a burden. He always makes it, though, and I’m the better for it.

Willie’s hearing is not what it used to be. He once would jump up at my whistle, but now it takes a nudge to get his attention. He still gives the squirrels in the yard his evil eye and a shallow bark, but the days of the chase are behind him.

Willie is spending more and more time at the veterinarian. She takes care of his over-sensitive pancreas and keeps an eye on his blastomas, skin tumors that are mostly benign. When Willie was younger, she would remove them surgically, but now the cure is probably worse than the condition.

I’m steeling myself for the day, probably not too distant, that I will have to make my writing journeys alone.  Until then Willie, it’s all warm beds, leisurely walks and a clear path to your window where you never fail to welcome us home.

Betty whispers at least a dozen times every day as she passes his bed, “Willie, you’re the best.” I agree.

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