The dilemma of the lucky dog, Cooper

I’m an accidental dog owner. Cooper found me six months ago in the woods of my writer’s residency in Georgia, when he was a starving, matted stray. I didn’t adopt him because I wanted a dog. I adopted him because he needed a home, and I knew what would happen to him if I didn’t. The other artists called him Lucky.

Cooper's first winter

Now, six months later, I love him. Well, really I loved him as soon as we started driving home to New York from Georgia, when he stuck his head out the back window of the car and let the cold wind hit his face for so long that his eyes watered. Cooper’s a sweet dog.

But I’m preparing to move to D.C. And I can’t decide whether to bring him with me.

Do I want to bring him? Yes. But this problem is more complicated than what I want. Having Cooper in a city, while I’m working a full-time job and living (hopefully) by myself, would seriously cramp my lifestyle and my bank account. It might cramp Cooper’s, too. (His lifestyle, not his bank account — I haven’t become that kind of dog owner.)

My parents have offered to keep Cooper here in upstate New York. (I’ve been living with them for the last year while writing my book.) Their offer is mostly to help me, and I’d feel somewhat guilty leaving my responsibility with them, but that’s another story. Here, Cooper would have a big yard to play in, a house that he’s grown accustomed to and my parents, who love him almost as much as I do. This was my original plan when I brought Cooper home; I was hoping he’d become my parents’ dog, since their golden had died a few years earlier.

Coop in his favorite spot.

But Cooper hasn’t grown attached to my parents. He’s attached to me. He’s been at my hip since the day I first fed him at the artists’ residency. Apparently this is normal for rescued dogs, especially ones as old as Cooper; the vet guessed he’s at least 10. I’ve tried repeatedly to get him to bond with my parents. When I’m out, they try to lure him into the family room to watch television with them. But he just sleeps in my room, waiting for me to come home.

This dog has already been ditched (at least) once. I don’t want him to feel ditched again! Even if I leave him in my parents’ loving home. I keep imagining him waiting in my room for me after I’ve moved. Waiting… and waiting… and waiting…

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Best Posts of 2009 (or what I learned this year)

Since launching this blog in April, I’ve learned a lot.

I’ve come so far, in fact, that it’s almost embarrassing to read some of my initial posts, when I was confused about newbie details like when to query literary agents (when my memoir is done) and what’s an appropriate word count for my book (90,000 max).

But that’s why I created this blog, to document my learning process so you don’t make the same mistakes I have. When I write my next book, I’ll have this blog to remind me what works and what doesn’t.

To celebrate the end of this year, I’ve created a Best Posts of 2009 list. It includes some of my favorites, as well as posts that were popular with readers:

  • A kick in the butt. Advice from an author who said I should spend less time learning about publishing and more time writing.

Now I’d love to hear from you: What did you learn in 2009?