One of the family

Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.

Don’t forget to click the purple button to see what everyone else has to say on this week’s subject. It’s at the end of my post.

What is your favorite animal and why? Have you ever included it in one of your stories?

I had always thought of myself as a cat person. As a child, I grew up with cats in the house and admired them for their independence, feistiness, and all-round attitude to life.

Many years later, our first pet as a family was a rescue cat.

Then, when we moved to a village with beautiful walks, we got a dog. A rescue Labrador that would walk the country lanes with us all day. She was a gentle soul, patient with my children and a good friend.

We still had cats, they accepted the presence of the dog and it became apparent that they were in charge, the dog did what the cats wanted, probably because it wanted a quiet life. But they rubbed along pretty well.

That dog was joined by another, an assistance dog puppy that we took on for the first year of its life. The idea was to socialise it and prepare it for full training. He was a real character, vastly intelligent and hard but rewarding work.

Merlin, as a puppy.

His departure was hard to cope with, but it comforted us to know that it would be doing a good thing.

Trained and working.

Into the dog-shaped hole in our lives, we added a new Labrador puppy, and then, about a year later, another rescue Labrador joined the party.

Both of these dogs and the one remaining cat accompanied us to Devon, sadly none are now with us and the house feels emptier without them.

I’ve never included any of them in my writing. My wife wrote several articles about the work we did with the assistance dog, she actually became a published author back in 2002, way before I did.

That’s not to say that animals don’t feature in my work, from the days of Ribbonworld, with its farm under a dome on an inhospitable planet, to The Orbital Livestock Company, a short story about a farm on a space station, I’ve included them as part of the world-building.

I love the idea of taking such a basic concept as the production of food and adapting it to life away from Earth, after all, you won’t be able to pop to the shops if you’re orbiting Saturn, or light years away on another planet, all that you need to survive must be taken with you.

In contrast, for my Steampunk adventures, I use archaic names for the animal species, to reinforce the alternative world aspect, so Sheep become Ovines, Cows are Bovine etc.

If you’re interested you can read The Orbital Livestock Company by clicking the title.

Until next time.

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8 Responses

  1. Stevie Turner

    Not being a pet owner, I have been spared the grief when a much loved pet dies. However, I have friends who were distraught for weeks as though they had lost a family member.

    • Richard Dee

      Handing over the guide dog puppy after a year was just as bad as any pet bereavement. 🙁

      • P.J. MacLayne

        I had a professor who trained service dogs for a number of years. One finally ‘flunked’ advanced training, and she took it back as a pet and stopped training additional dogs.

  2. Daryl Devore

    Before I retired I had thought about raising puppies for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. I decided against it as I knew I would be devastated having to give the puppy up – even though it was going to a great place.

    • Richard Dee

      It was fun to do it, and we learned a lot which helped us with our own dogs, but the parting was awful.

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