Story Builds on Story

Photo by Echo Grid on Unsplash

I went to an event at a bookstore last night and ran into the warm, friendly woman who told me and another writer deep, dark secrets the last time we met.

She recognized me, but couldn’t place me as the person who’d received her secret. It was a very unusual secret, so there was no reason to bring it up. We chatted about book clubs, books we’ve read recently, and Dorothea Benton Frank.

Then, I don’t know how, we got on the topic of dogs. I honestly have no idea how it came up, but it did. This happens to me often. It hasn’t always been this way, but it is now and I am stunned by the stories that I am hearing.

I told her a friend’s story about her rescue dog from a desperate and terrible place. This was a beloved family pet, walked and tended, befriended and adored by everyone. That dog never completely got past its past, never stopped hiding bits of food in the planters throughout the house, creating small stashes so it would never starve again.

Oh, I have a dog story like that, offered my kind listener. And then she told her story.

Outside a hotel, a friendly dog greeted a couple on vacation. It tried to jump into their car when they headed out for the day. Rebuffed, it sat in the parking lot, wagging its tail, tongue hanging out as if it would wait for them to come back.

Makes for a nice little fantasy, right? Only the dog was waiting there when the couple returned.

The dog greeted them the next morning. They brought it food when hotel staff said they knew nothing about the dog.

Breakfast done, the dog happily bounded into the car when they invited it inside. The couple and the dog spent a fun day together, touring and exploring, hiking and enjoying the day.

From that day on, the dog lived with the couple in their casita. When it was time for them to return to England, they had to leave the dog behind due to government regulations. However, they found a way using interpreters and agents to move the dog from one country to the next. Months later, after spending much time and money on their new family member, the couple welcomed the emaciated, delighted dog into their home — where they live together to this very day.

The dog chose them, she said, nodding wisely.

My mouth hung open. I repeated it back to her: The dog chose them.

I needed a dog story, precisely a rescue one like that. I offered her a story and she gave me just what I needed to springboard off into the story I’m writing.

One dog story yielded another dog story.
Story made sure I had what I needed to tell a good story.

Dogs are like that, powerful and wise and loving. I’m beginning to think that Story is like that as well. In one hour, I had a dog story and hard-won wisdom from an exceptional, generous writer that I put into immediate action. When I got home, I read a review copy of Louise Miller’s The Late Bloomers’ Club that sent me in new, productive, rich directions.

Dogs and story — what a powerful duo!