It took me and Buford a little while to fall in love with each other. No doubt – the dog was adorable from the get go. But he was also (and remains) the most stubborn animal I had ever encountered. No joke. Two years ago I wrote an essay about how we had decided to give up Buford. Not because we didn’t love him. It was because we simply couldn’t afford to continue replacing broken doors, torn screens and shattered windows. The dog would just not be contained.
We did, in fact, give Buford up. A family member graciously agreed to take him on. And we moved on.
Or so we thought.
Last year, after buying our dream home in the country, we realized that Buford would likely be happier here than he had been in our home in the burbs. That family member who had taken Buford was, surprise, surprise!, happy to hand him back over to us. And I can’t explain what has happened in that intervening time – but Buford has become one of the great loves of my life. It’s true that he’s settled down (quite a bit) as he’s aged. But he’s still just as stubborn as a mule. He still insists that he be allowed to go where he wants, when he wants. And he still pretty much rules the roost. And maybe the fact that I spend more time at home now that I’m not teaching has something to do with it. Whatever it is, I’ve fallen in love with him in a way that I did not think possible two years ago.
And that’s had me thinking about writers and their dogs. In a profession that requires an enormous amount of time spent in isolation, a dog just makes us feel connected to something, to someone. A dog keeps us from disappearing too completely into our own heads and forces us to join the world again. Buford may be, in the end, the only salvation I have from myself.
Check out photographer Jill Krementz’s collection of photos of authors with their dogs.