As a recent convert – I got to share the flat with my first four legged roomate (unless you count Turtle the turtle back in the day in it’s little aquarium on the window ledge) cca 3 years ago – I can’t imagine life without pets anymore.
But, what’s in it for you as a writer?
You’re alone way less than you’d otherwise be (almost never, verbal conversations notwithstanding). Even if you live with other people (which is my personal preference, as a hopeless extrovert), there’s no telling when they’ll be out at their day job or sleeping through the morning, if you’re an early bird like some of us (and our dogs).
You need to move your gaze away from the screen every once in a while to see if they’re destroying something new and to find out what the sudden silence means on the scale on 1 to buying a new cellphone. Many popular articles on ‘keeping your health at work’ (aimed at the office people) agree that you need to take your eyes off the screens every fifteen minutes or so – yeah, don’t let me start laughing – and pets help with this more than anything else I’ve ever tried.
You need to get up every once in a while from the keyboard – whether to let the cat out (if you’re heating just the main room in winter, say, like we are) or to pick the remains of your slipper from the dog’s jaw (he’s young and we buy the slippers in bulk). Taking all the blankets off is annoying, yeah, but I’ve had almost no back and shoulder pain this year, so, small victories, you know?
You get to cuddle. Not neccessarily on your own schedule (my first pet ever is our current cat, the Emperor of All), but still. It might soud sad, but sometimes I don’t even notice how much overtaxed my fingers are until our dog cuddles up to me and I start scratching it’s neck. Taking a break, when you have pets, is inevitable, and even though it sometimes messes with my concetration big time, I’m still grateful.
You have a free heating source, and we need to save money because quality novel covers are expensive (at least the kind I’m dreaming of, currently). Sure, sometimes you’ll have trouble reaching the keyboard – especially if you’re typing on your couch, as I have been for the past year, but the benefits are real.
You need to take at least a few hundred steps every day, multiple times a day, out there in the real world. As writers, I have a hunch we tend to sit down, motionless, even more than the next person. Having to let go of everything at a moment’s notice (khm barking as hell), slip into something warm and waterproof and teleport ourselves downstairs to take our furry roommate to their grass toilet can be quite helpful.
You get a more direct experience of the seasons changing around you (nothing says ‘direct’ as walking a dog through the fallen leaves and cold mud at 6:15 AM in winter) even when you’re a city dweller. I’d also had the chance to revisit my early school years, since I used to know our neighbour park like the back of my hand, and I’ll forgotten all about it when we’ve moved away when I was 15. Since I tend to write a lot about cold, rainy and misty days (werewolves!), and I’m quite fond of warmth all year long, our morning walks actually helped me write better. Or so I hope.
You get to use them for inspiration for blog posts. We all knew this one was coming, didn’t we?
Photo by Ole Husby.