I’ve decided to enhance the presence of pets, particularly dogs, in the setting of my book Destiny’s Hand.
Her short name was Ipo, “Sweetheart” in Hawaiian.
Her full name meant “brave little sweetheart”; I don’t remember the Hawaiian.
She wasn’t a pet. She was family.
I held her when we killed her thirteen and a half years later. She was still warm when the veterinarian picked her up. He was crying. We all were.
The hole in the front yard was extra deep. I remember the dirt hitting her body and it becoming in that moment real that she was gone. That meat, blood, and fur, was just a memory of Ipo.
For years after I would wake up and be confused whether she was alive or dead. That dog was linked to almost every memory of my childhood. She still is.
Pets are crutches.
I live in a city that loves dogs too much. I hate shit. I love parks. I hate the owners making me scan before every step on the grass and having to corral my son away from doggy drop zones.
An emotional part of me sees pets as weakness. A dog is the best friend you don’t have. A cat is the boyfriend you’re stable enough for. I recognize that this is rude, hypocritical, and unfair, yet the feelings persist. I wonder if it’s more than annoyance at poop under foot and dead birds; maybe I still hurt from the loss of the dog of my childhood.
A dog or a drug.
Within the setting of Destiny’s Hand, Ship Of Destiny is dominated by Pravidian philosophy which has truth as its highest value. A related aspect is a disdain for mind altering drugs, especially for therapy. This mainly stems from a rejection of the healthcare system back on Earth that manages the masses with a slew of mellowing prescriptions.
My book takes place between 2700 and 2798. A distant future with a great number of technological marvels, though not as many as easily could have been had. I decided that a stagnation had dominated for many centuries which limited advancement, and further that the Pravidians were a kind of Luddite.
They aren’t completely against technology and advancement. They actually favor technical progress over stagnation so long as it enhances rather than replaces the human experience. A lack of humanity is equated to a lack of truth.
Dogs and cats were deemed vital to the psychological well being of Ship Of Destiny, and a valid alternative to drug prescriptions. While a modified version of a cat was useful for mild issues, it was the essentially unmodified dog that could handle everything. They are the wonder drug, a therapy partnership with a virtually perfect record of success on the ship in dealing with personality and social disorders.
Sympapets, sorrodogs and cuddle cats
I have perhaps too much jargon specific to Destiny’s Hand. With this in mind, I’ve sorrowfully added more.
“Sympapet” is simply a combination of sympathy and pet; as “sorrodog” is a combination of sorrow and dog. “Cuddle cat” is a declawed, defanged, genetically altered so no longer a predator, hypoallergenic, fluffy cat that still tends to do its own thing.
Right now I have limited it to ten sorrodogs and five cuddle cats available for counseling support. Along with a few herd dogs, mousers, and a bird catcher, the total population is tiny compared to the near thousand people, especially juxtaposed with the US now.
A book convinced me to add dogs… and cats.
I recognize a hypocritical aversion to pets, even dogs, given how close I’ve been to family pets.
I’m thankful towards this book for helping me get past that for a moment and recognize how intertwined they are to the human experience. I’m writing a story about humans leaving Earth behind in a large part to maintain their perceived humanity. Possibility Dogs reminds me how delicate our mental health is, and how perfect a dog can be at being a partner in surviving and maybe even healing.
An excerpt from The Possibility Dogs that moved me:
That her dog responded to the woman’s heartbreak doesn’t surprise Nancy, but how did Lexie know? “Is this scent or sight or something else?” Nancy asks me. “How does a dog recognize grief in a stranger half a dog park away?”
Adding cat and dog characters.
I’ve added a retired bird catcher cat to an antagonist’s background. She’s a kind of a female Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
I’ve avoided giving a main character a pet, though one of their mentors got a dog.
I’m taking it slow. Cats are seen; dogs are heard. They are part of the background, and I hope the book’s setting is richer for it.
I’m still a Scrooge
My wife suggested some places to have breakfast this morning. Looking up one of them I found a Yelp review “everyone brings their dogs because they even have a menu for them” and find myself uninterested in the highly rated restaurant.
He’s not a dog, but when I throw a ball he does fetch.
I’m going to the beach with him this weekend. Ipo liked the sand. Yuri does too.