Walking my dog the other day, another trail user--a stranger to me--bent over to pet the animal and greeted him by name. "George is the Mayor of the walking trail," he declared, and I had to laugh. I knew George had friends and fans, but Mayor? Well, maybe. I always say, if my kids enjoyed even half the popularity my dog does, they'd have been voted Homecoming Royalty several times by now--and they aren't even in high school yet.
It's true that George is an uncommonly great dog. Being my dog, it's natural I should think so. But I've been aware since he was a puppy that there is something special about him, something attractive, magnetic, charismatic. People are drawn to him. The cat adores him. Other dogs like him too. And while dog lovers love dogs, I have to say, when I take George out, he gets more reaction than any other animal I've ever had.
It's not his bloodline. He's a mutt, I tell people when they try to classify his breed. Just a good ol' American mutt, and I don't bother with the PC-seeming "rescue dog" appendage people love to tag their pets with (it seems to me a self-serving piece of information, like they are somehow heroic for having a pet. And don't get me started on the folks who explain they "adopted" their dog; I want to slap both my hands on my cheeks and express my surprise that they didn't birth the canine). In fact, he's just a barely-even-here mutt; friends found his mother abandoned in a bag on the side of the road. Figuring they could handle another dog on their country spread, they took her to the vet for shots and learned she was knocked up. George was the last of the seven puppies to go. Which is lucky for us, because he is an excellent dog, a wonderful dog. An unexpected dog. Who knew he would be so smart, so gentle, so appealing?
With dogs, with kids, with manuscripts, you don't necessarily know what you are going to get. You can visit breeders, you can spin sperm, you can fiddle with words and organize chapters for years--and you still might get a vicious dog, a girl when you planned for a boy, 200 pages destined to be tucked under the bed to sleep in obscurity.
But magic happens. You can go out to a parking lot to meet a puppy, and when that nine-week old dog sits down and wags his tail and you are lost, you might find you have stumbled upon the perfect dog. You can plan for a new career, find out you are pregnant, and realize that being a parent is the life you were meant for. You can write a story, offer it up to the world, and discover that your characters resonate with millions of people and your public life is forever part of your identity.
You just don't know. So what can you do? Your best, of course. Choose the dog who feels like he belongs to your family. Have your children, and raise them the best you know. Take a deep breath, write the story you really, really want to, and fling it out there and see what happens. You might just have a George.