Tie It On the Dog First

Tie It On the Dog First

I grew up with Boston Terriers. It was a generational thing on my dad’s side of the fam, with at least grands and great-grands owning one—or several—throughout their lives. There was one in the house to greet my newborn self (Daisy), and there’s still one kicking around with the Aunt (Dawn). That’s a lot of Bostons.

Anyone who knows the breed knows they’re as full of personality as they are of gas. Really bad gas. But the loyalty is worth the occasional rancid air. I’ve not had a Boston during my adulthood since I’d be more likely to rescue some mutt from the pound than to purchase a purebred (overbred) anything from a breeder.

Oh… Wait a minute. There’s another reason, too, right?

I’ve turned into the crazy cat lady. So there’s that.

But back to Little Beth. There was Daisy, Boomer, Blossoms, and Bandit.

Blossoms was my absolute favorite, a tiny little female who followed me around as though we were sisters from separate litters. And, as an only child, Little Beth was more than happy to have such a friend.  

One of our favorite things to do was to play dress up. My Aunt had given me a tall doll, complete with gorgeous ball gowns of lace and sparkly fabric. They poofed out like the square-dancing dress she’d given me. I’d wear my dress and Blossoms would wear the doll’s clothes. Off we’d go on one of my many imaginary adventures, probably accompanied by Kent Clark, Mr. Rogers, and an Ewok. (Cut me some slack—I was, after all, a neighborless, only child back in the era before the internet. I often mashed up the genres).

Little Miss Muse wants everyone to know it had actually been her idea to let Ewoks and Mr. Rogers co-exist. Little Beth wasn’t aware of the Muse yet. And here I tell Little Miss to be careful lest we fall into copyright infringement issues with Lucas Films. Or Disney. Or D.C.

Good grief. Muses are so much work.  

These dress-up adventures lasted until Blossoms outgrew the doll’s clothes.

Then Bandit came. A wall-eyed, goofball boy pup my dad added to our family.

So, I put the dresses on him. Happy with my accomplishment, I coaxed the dog out of my bedroom, him tripping over the lace hems and wobbling the whole way to the living room.

There was just one problem with this… Blossoms was in the living room.

When that girl saw the newcomer in her outfit, she went berserk. She bit him on the head, running rageful zoomies all over the house. On her final return trip to the living room, she full-on plowed into Bandit. He never saw it coming, given his wall-eyed status.

I peeled the dress off Bandit and promised my Blossoms girl no boy would ever wear her dresses again—even if she was too fat to wear them herself.

To make her feel better, I started tying on some of my hair ribbons around her neck (those fat, thick yarn ones that itched when they brushed your face). She pranced around the house, Queen of Fashion once again. Bandit didn’t get to wear anything but his God-given tuxedo (and was too dumb to know he was missing out on anything, so it all worked out).

Sometimes, I’d even tie the ribbon on Blossoms’ neck before tying it in my hair. It was easier to get the bow right. I’ve heard of guys allowing their doggos to help them get the knots just right in their suit ties, too.

I imagine a feline’s neck would suffice, but the tie would end up in shreds before becoming an accessory to anyone’s outfit. Depends on the look you’re after, I suppose.

I’ve been hard at work on my novel-in-progress, a good-guy versus the system type of tale—with dogs, even (none of them wear clothes, though).

It’s been fun. Until it’s not.

I dress up a character, from actual wardrobe to the intricacies of quirks and strengths and send them out into the scene.

But there’s a problem. There’s always another character in the scene pitching a fit that they want a character trait like that. Or a cool quirk.

Where’s their genre-appropriate wardrobe of flaws and strengths? To tell them they’re too fat for the wardrobe or that they’re a secondary character (or heaven forbid an extra) is to be met with war.

The secondary runs around in the script in a raging case of the zoomies, completely uncooperative and edging on violence.

I look to Little Miss Muse for advice.

“Not my department.” She picks at her peeling purple toenail polish.

“What do you mean, it’s not your department? You’re the one taking credit for the ideas.”

“Yes, the big, fun ideas are mine. You’re the one responsible for dressing it up.” She flips her tutu and pops a grape-flavored bubble in my face for effect. You’d think with as many stilettos as she has, she’d love dressing up the characters.

So, I’ve taken a quick step back from the manuscript. I’ve written some character sketches—behind-the-scenes stuff to flesh out attitudes, quirks, and, yes, what kind of shoes someone needs. Because despite what Little Miss Muse believes, emergency room doctors and dog groomers are unlikely to grab their highest of high heels and head off to work.

Basically, I’m tying stuff on the dog first. Straighten out the knots. Right the bows. Then, I’ll carefully pull out what works and stick it in the novel, all nice and straight and everyone dressed for the scene.

No purple tutus or rage zoomies required.

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