Update on Cooper, the Hambidge dog

Had I waited a bit longer to name Cooper, I might have called him Shadow.

This dog has been glued to my hip since the first day I fed him outside my studio at The Hambidge Center. Now that he’s living with me in upstate New York, he’s on my heels whenever I get up from the chair in my home office. And I mean every time I get up. Literally.


Cooper running in his new backyard.

You all offered so much positive feedback when I wrote about how I had adopted Cooper, a stray dog, during my writer’s residency in Georgia, that I figured I should give you an update. My big red dog is adjusting fine. He responds now to his new name. And he gets cuter by the day.

He has his issues, of course, like most rescued dogs. His new vet says he won’t let me out of his sight because he’s coping with a lot of changes, and I’m the only thing he can count on. And who knows what he went through before I adopted him.

The vet in Georgia had estimated Cooper’s age at seven to nine years, but our Albany vet put him between ten and eleven. He has a couple of health problems related to age, including arthritis in his back legs and a tumor on his testicle. Cooper was never fixed as a young pup, so you can guess what fun lies in store for him during the next few months! The vet wants to wait until he’s adjusted to his new environment to go ahead with the procedure, but says it should take care of the tumor.

Here’s my guess on Cooper’s past: He was an outdoor dog, maybe a farm dog, not often on a leash. He certainly didn’t spend much time inside a house. His favorite toy is a stick — nothin’ fancy. He’s afraid of our stairs, and refuses to climb them, which means I’ve been sleeping downstairs with him in our guest bedroom. He rarely barks, but when he does, it’s usually at men, so I’m thinking he had a mean man in his life somewhere along the line. (His bark is so coarse he sounds like a seal.) He also barks at trucks, so maybe he was dumped out of one? He’s housebroken (thank goodness), has a fabulous personality, and — this is unusual for a golden —  doesn’t shed.

As my dad said recently, isn’t it amazing that a dog who probably was treated poorly — he was dumped, after all — could still be so sweet?

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Peggy Frezon offers advice on choosing a literary agent

One of the perks of joining a writing critique group is meeting and learning from other interesting writers. Today our guest is my critique partner, Peggy Frezon, a writer who specializes in pets.

Peggy Frezon

Peggy Frezon

Like me, Peggy is a first-time author. But she’s several steps ahead of me in the process; she has already completed her manuscript and signed with a literary agent, who is about to submit to publishers. Her book is about dieting with her dog.

Peggy has a rather unusual story about how she ended up with her agent, which is why I’ve asked her to join us today. When it comes time for me to seek out my own agent, I’ll keep in mind what I’ve learned — what you’re about to learn — from Peggy.

Welcome, Peggy! How’d you get your first offer from a literary agent?

I had an article in a magazine I write for regularly. The end of the article included my bio, which mentioned that I was working on a book. An agent noticed, and contacted me, asking if I’d send the proposal. At that time, I wasn’t finished writing the manuscript, and hadn’t planned on contacting agents yet. This was my first contact with an agent of any sort, and I was beyond excited!

What happened next?

A little later, another agent contacted me. Agent #2 was referred to me by an editor of a magazine. I know, I was shocked! Two agents contacting me, and I hadn’t even finished writing the book. Although it was exciting, that wasn’t the way I expected it to happen. It just goes to show that there is no typical way to get an agent. I really hadn’t even begun thinking about agents, since I was still working on the writing part. So my first advice is, it’s never too early to start thinking about agents.

I finished writing the book in about three months, and sent it off to both agents. There was some communication, but no contract offer. So after both agents had the manuscript for about a month, maybe more, I figured neither one was interested. I sent a query to a third agent.

Wouldn’t you know, about two hours after I sent that query, I got an offer from Agent #1? I was flattered, but also confused. Shouldn’t I fully consider the other agents too? So I wrote to Agent #2 and said I had an offer. This agent called me back and made me an offer right then and there on the phone. Then I wrote to Agent #3, who had my query, and explained the whole situation. She asked for my proposal and sample chapters and was kind enough to read them immediately. She also made me an offer.

Okay, so how did you choose one?

Although I had previously only dreamed of having an agent, now that I had offers I was confused. And honestly, freaking out. I had three great offers but which one was right for me — a large agency? A smaller boutique agency? And how would I know?  Eventually, I went with Agent #2, from a large agency. I chose this agent partly because I was impressed by the many bestselling books the agency represented. The agent was enthusiastic about my work. And, the agent came referred by someone I trusted. I was excited, but it also felt awful turning down the other agents.

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