My office assistant is asleep, as usual. She can’t type, won’t make coffee, and my fax machine baffles her. But when I need to talk through a plot problem or a new story idea, my loyal dog Jewel is the right girl for the job.
I decided to take my furry employee on a field trip today. I planned to spend time researching literary agents on the internet and I thought we could both use some time out of the office. Normally dogs and coffee shops don’t mix, but the enclosed patio here at The Backstory Cafe recently opened up to the canine crowd in an effort to bring in some new business. They are trying an “off leash” policy with an intriguing doggie dine-in concept. I’m happy for the Arizona sunshine today and find a spot near the small hydrant-shaped fountain so Jewel can get a drink easily.
Ordering coffee is time consuming. Jewel thinks anyone within licking distance is here to rub her spotted tummy. Thankfully our waitress tolerates needy Springer spaniels well and is willing to accommodate my companion before reading us the patio specials. I’m sticking with a nonfat latte today and order a nice plate of dog cookies for Jewel.
When I’m at my laptop, Jewel usually sleeps on my feet, keeping me warm and making sure I stay focused on my work. She’s good at keeping me on track. But today my little helper is overwhelmed by the new smells here, the assortment of dogs, and the prospect of someone new to share a bone with. I, too, am overwhelmed by what I find on my screen. Hundreds of agents represent the kind of book that I just finished. How will I find the right agent for me? Someone who will champion this project and the ones to follow?
As I continue my search through cyber-space for a career companion, my dog walks over to join the furry group gathered near the potted plants. I’m tapping keys, she’s sniffing tails, but we’re doing the same thing—checking for the good ones. I wonder if either of us will make a connection today.
Jewel studies the smiling brown boxer, the giant black poodle, and the shaking Chihuahua. They all look like potential dog buddies, but Jewel approaches them cautiously. She smells their tails again. I stare at my growing list of agents and sigh. It’s going to take weeks to research all of these names.
Jewel returns to the table and sits beside my chair. I give her a cookie and a kiss on her furry head. I start to tell her about my list, but she’s distracted. The happy boxer takes a drink from the fountain and his lapping noise grabs my dog’s complete attention. Jewel cocks her head, listens closely, then walks over to join him. He scoots over to make room. They drink together.
When Jewel returns to me again, the boxer comes, too. I set the plate of dog cookies down for Jewel and her new buddy. What was it about this dog that made Jewel decide to be his patio friend? Did he show good fountain manners or was it his congenial doggie scent? How will I decide the best match for me?
I don’t know, I’ll have to go on instinct, like my dog.