This is the Hairy Beast that lives with us. (Like the kids, I don’t want to compromise her privacy by revealing her true name.) She is totally devoted to me and the crumbs that I drop. She follows me around, hides under my feet–I am her mama, through no fault of my own.
Our first dog, Sandy, (God rest her omnivorous soul) was the kids’ dog. She played with them, towed them on their sleds, ran their obstacle courses, burrowed in their clean clothes, ate their vegetables under the table, hunted Easter eggs, slept with them…
I swear, this is going to come around to writing.
Bottled Lightning came home this weekend for the first time since Christmas. We were all very happy-pappy to see her. We hugged and kissed her on the front sidewalk. And Hairy Beast spied her through the glass of the storm door.
She tore out the front and ran down the steps making a sound I’d never heard before. Something like a whine and a yip and a shriek.
I swear to you, she sounded like she was greeting someone she thought had died.
She wiggled and jumped and went on and on and on. We were astonished, because while she had always been friendly to Bottled Lightning, she had never seemed—swoonish.
What I’d failed to consider was that even the minor players of our family story have an inner life. JUST LIKE IN OUR WRITING.
Hairy Beast’s inner life goes unnoticed most of the time, which is the way it should be. She’s a dog. But this one time, her emotions overwhelmed her. And made us feel our own joy even more.
Hairy Beast’s spontaneous outburst reminded me that minor characters aren’t just filler. While they might be there to support the plot or the main character, the writer must consider them individuals with their own thoughts, feelings and backgrounds.
Catler lives with us too.
She has taught me a very important lesson also:
Keep a look-out.