Welcome to Callie’s Corner, a space for artists and our pets. Callie is the official mascot/supervisor here at Artist Cafe Utica and your hostess for Callie’s Corner, a continuing series about artists and our pets.
Callie’s Corner: Artists and their pets: Give your character a dog
Fiction writers often pore over each detail of our works. We write draft after draft until we get everything just right, and that often includes characters’ pets. And just as real people are suited for some dog breeds and not others, your characters may be best prepared to own some breeds and not others. Use the information below to choose the right dog for your character…or to choose one completely unsuited to your character and create conflict.
If your character is a hunter or other type of outdoorsman, consider giving them a German Shorthaired Pointer.
Typically referred to as a “German Shorthair,” this breed ranges from 21-25 inches tall and 55 to 70 pounds. They can be black, liver, liver and white, or a reddish shade known as “roan.” German Shorthairs are known to be smart, excellent hunters, and very affectionate with their families. They quickly learn to point, flush, and fetch birds for their hunters, and will often bring their loved ones random things as a sign of affection.
Characters who want…or need…a challenge may be best suited for a Dalmatian.
Anytime a new movie, tv series, or book series featuring a dog becomes popular, people rush to buy one for themselves or their children. This is especially common with Dalmatians, due to, of course, the Disney “101 Dalmatians” films. More often than not, this turns into a problem, as Dalmatians are notoriously difficult to train. Children too young to have developed patience, and teens and adults too busy to devote extra time to their dog are not able to cope. Artist Cafe Utica does not recommend buying or adopting a real dog, or any other animal, to teach a child or anyone else a desirable skill or trait the person lacks. We strongly suggest you avoid giving your child a Dalmatian, or any other living thing, to teach him or her responsibility or patience. This typically results in neglect to the animal, and no animal deserves neglect. But in a work of fiction, a proud, stubborn Dalmatian could absolutely come into the life of an impatient, irresponsible character and help them turn their life around.
Laid-back, friendly characters might pair well with Pugs.
According to the American Kennel Club website’s article “10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Pug,” Pugs were once a symbol of the Freemasons. In 1740, a group of Catholics founded “The Order of the Pug” after being forbidden to join the official Freemasons because of their religion. The Pug was reportedly chosen due to its loyalty and trustworthiness.
While the Order of the Pug lasted only eight years, people remain fans of this adorable dog centuries later. Known to be carefree and affectionate, Pugs are great for people…real or fictional..who want a loyal lap dog.
Creating a character who must stand out in every way? Write a Xoloizcuintili (pronounced show-low- eats-QUEENT-lee) into your story.
In addition to their striking breed name, the Xolo comes in three sizes, hairless and furred varieties, and a range of colors. All varieties are rare, and rather odd looking, with a rather narrow snout and brow that appears to furrow when they’re deep in thought. If you are going for a realistic plotline, your character’s Xolo should not be too easy to obtain. A search for puppies online produced half a dozen breeders, none with puppies available.
A character who needs the tiniest dog, or the dog with the longest lifespan needs a Chihuahua.
Chihuahuas can live to be twenty years old or more, giving them the longest lifespans of any breed. They are also the smallest dog, with a weight range of only 3-6 pounds. Chihuahuas come in a variety of colors, and can be short haired or long haired. Their distinguishing features include large, round eyes rimmed in black, and large ears.
These five dog breeds are just a few of the 197 dog breeds currently recognized by the American Kennel Club, beginning with the Pointer in 1878, and ending with the Biewer Terrier, a tiny 3-8 pound tri color lap dog with long hair, in 2021. To learn more about dog breeds to give your fictional characters, visit the American Kennel Club website, then do a search for breeders of the dogs you’ve narrowed your options down to in order to learn more. Make sure to use the website itself rather than contacting breeders when you have no intention of purchasing a puppy.
Should writing about a dog inspire a calling to bring a real one into your life, Callie’s Corner suggests visiting your local animal shelter first, and looking for a dog you can adopt. If that is not an option for you, look for a local breeder and visit the home to make sure the person is selling the puppies of their beloved pets, rather than running a puppy mill. Avoid purchasing a puppy from a puppy mill or other large scale breeder who does not care for their dogs, but only sees them as a product to sell.
Callie’s Corner is sponsored by Larry Szabo, who is requesting donations for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Donate at www.stjude.org