Friday, April 4, 2014

#atozchallenge: D is for Dogs

What is Gracie thinking?
This is Gracie, Gus German's loyal companion (from Gay Degani's 2014 stories). She follows him on walks down to the creek, into the Trencher Mansion, and, most recently, helped to alert the neighborhood.

If she could talk, she'd be the Gracie Allen to Gus's George Burns. At the Mansion, for instance, an exchange like this would be perfectly plausible:

Gus: I presume the bedrooms are upstairs.
Gracie: Yes, except when you're upstairs. Then they're on the same floor.

~ * ~ 

There's the Blue Heeler, Peregrine, that belongs to Nadia's mom (from Mandy Nicol's stories). Loyal and affectionate Peregrine. Like Nadia says in the January story, Thorns:
I wonder what Mum will call her next dog. She'll have to work hard to beat Peregrine.  
Dead ringer for Persephone.
(Image borrowed from here.)
Mum comes close later in the year; she gets a Pomeranian from the pound and names her Persephone.

But an original name and species is the only thing she has in common with Peregrine. She might've come from the pound, but she's a spoiled brat with a fully developed sense of entitlement. (She reminds Nadia of her sister Celeste, but that's something to tackle on F--families--day.)

~ * ~

Stella, an Akita-Shepherd-Ridgeback mix (best guess, without precluding other ingredients), belongs to Rachel, a single woman living in San Francisco and the creation of Teresa Burns Gunther. Rachel's struggling this year: she's been turned down for a promotion because, according to her boss (and we all know how much they know) she lacks people skills, so she's made some powerful resolutions--with hilarious results. She's one of my favorite 2014 protagonists. San Francisco has something to do with that (me and SFO go way back), but Stella cinched it. Or, rather, Rachel's attitude about Stella:
She's the sweetest dog in the world, a little territorial, but as a single woman in San Francisco I like that she's watching my back. [...] I get that some people are afraid of dogs; they say they have good reasons, but in my opinion they're missing an important chromosome in their DNA. Stella's the only person I can count on.People Skills, by Teresa Burns Gunther, 2014 January Vol. 1
Yes, Rachel, yes!

There's trouble brewing, though, and I'm afraid that before the year is out Rachel might have to face some harsh realities about Stella. And her size. And her behavior.

Want to know more about Rachel, Stella, and their creator?

~ * ~ 

A white standard Poodle.
Like Dylan.
Meet Dylan.

Gary Percesepe has a beautifully poignant story this year (I suspect most of his writing is beautifully poignant), and once I read the January story, Breakable, I knew this story cycle would break my heart. I just didn't expect it to happen so soon.
My ex calls. It's about the dog of the family. Dylan is dying, she explains. There are decisions to make.

Dylan, A Love Story, by Gary Percesepe, 2014 February Vol. 2
It's a very recent ex, you see. Just in January our narrator moved out.
When I asked her to marry me, Savannah asked one thing: that I never abandon her. We lasted across four decades. Dylan is the last dog we had together.Dylan, A Love Story, by Gary Percesepe, 2014 February Vol. 2

More about Dylan and Gary's stories here.

~ * ~

His real name is Vasco.
He's an actual rescue--
found in the streets,
emaciated and sick,
and rescued by CARF
right here in Curaçao.
Then there's Al, named not for the Paul Simon song, as his owner's boss--and lover; it's a long story--seems to think, but for J. Alfred Prufrock. Let us go then, you and I / When the evening is spread out against the sky.

Luis Villalobos isn't a poet; he's a lawyer, a tax planning specialist. But he had a memorable English literature teacher in high school. Years later, having moved to Curaçao (and regretting it), and taken in a stray, a monster of a dog--unlike Stella, his parentage is harder to pinpoint, but there's Great Dane in there--the lines from T.S. Eliot resurfaced.
Creatively challenged as he is, he'd planned to call the dog Guy. Then, for reasons he doesn't think about much, a fragment of poetry started looping in his head as he drove to the vet that first time. Let us go then, you and I / When the evening is spread out against the sky.

The Chablis and Sushi Miracle, by Guilie Castillo-Oriard, 2014 February Vol. 2

There's also a insistent Chihuahua that saves a life at a liquor store:
I feel like punching him. I feel like strangling him with his turban and watching that pretty skin of his turn blue, then purple, but there's a woman in line behind me whose Chihuahua keeps trying to hump my leg.
Trail's End, by Len Kuntz, 2014 March Vol. 3
(More about Len's brilliant writing here. He also blogs here. Must-follow. Seriously. He's a fantastic writer.)

And speaking of purple...
Purple and floppy-eared beagles bounding through fields of pure plaid, with a pale clock bleeding from the sky, melting with the solid blocks of ice Ned thinks are clouds.
Dreaming, by Margaret Bingel, 2014 March Vol. 3
In Margaret's own words (from this interview): "My story is about a guy named Ned, which sounds pretty boring, until you actually meet him and you learn that he's all sorts of messed up."

And dreams of purple beagles. Of course.

Thanks for reading (an extra-long post--again. sorry), and I hope you've enjoyed meeting the cast. Tomorrow we're off to Endings--because every ending is a beginning. No, it's not just blatant optimism; lots of stories start with endings--and many end with beginnings.


  1. Replies
    1. Why am I not surprised? ;) Thanks for the visit!

  2. I miss my puppy. I had a toy rat terrier named Peyton. He moved in with my aunt's when I left for overseas 7 years ago, but now that I'm back, they won't let me have him back. He is the coolest dog.

    1. I'm so sorry to hear that, Sydney :( Still, it's probably for the best; after 7 years, as far as Peyton is concerned, your aunt's is his home, and moving back with you would be unsettling for him. Nice that he's with family, though--that probably means you get to see him often.

  3. Hi Guilie, good to see you again, this time in the A-Z April challenge!
    I can see that you are a big dog lover, and so am I :)

    Teaching English with Mr. Duncan
    A-Z of hotels

    1. Hey, Duncan! So cool that you're doing the challenge--I knew you were, I'd just forgotten :D Off to check your posts! (And thanks for the visit :) )

  4. Has to be Al, such a regal dog. :) Although all the others are gorgeous too. ;)

    1. Aw, thanks :) Vasco is a great dog; hope I'm doing him justice in my fictional portrait.

  5. Thanks for introducing us to these lovely dogs and interesting stories!
    Debbie @The Doglady's Den

    1. Thanks for being here to read, Debbie! And I'm glad you enjoyed these canine characters :)

  6. Ahh - The best friend- the dog:-) Al looks cool, and I love the Persephone - name - she is so cute:-) A good-read:-)

    1. Thanks, Eli! "Persephone" really is a cool name... But I like Peregrine better. The name, and the dog--though maybe that's why I like the name better? Hmmm...

      Thanks for the visit!

  7. I liked the Gracie-George analogy lol. I don't normally write about dogs but recently I did for some reason. Strange how that works

    1. Synchronicity, Susan :) Thanks for the visit!

  8. Those dogs are beautiful. I can't seem to write at all without my dog sitting next to me.

    Brandon Ax: Writer's Storm

    1. Brandon, you're a man after my own heart :) And yes, I agree: no elusive muse for me, either. Dog at my feet does the trick every time. Thanks for the visit!

  9. I agree with Rachel about the missing chromosome. I couldn't imagine life without my four legged friends. Great post.

    1. Four! Helen, you and I must be kindred spirits--I have seven :) Yep, that missing chromosome explains so much (hehe). Thanks for the visit!

  10. The dogs are adorable, and each has a unique personality that must make you laugh a lot. My son's puppy died and he needs another dog to play with, so we'll be looking around for one. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  11. What a great post about some cool stories with dogs in them. I love dogs. I think the comment about missing a chromosome was hilarious. Why else would someone not like dogs?

  12. Hello there. This was quite an entertaining post. Just stopping by to wish you all the best with the challenge!
    Entrepreneurial Goddess

  13. Aw they're all lovely! Just can't help but smile over them :)

    Happy A to Z-ing!
    herding cats & burning soup.


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