Tally the Writing Dog

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By Kathy Dunnehoff

I have a writing friend who calls his muse Becky. Sure, it made us all smile when he said it, but whatever works for a writer is nothing but good!

I thought what worked for me was silence. It was in very short supply when I began writing novels. My daughters were young and fun and noisy. I would set a timer when I needed to go into my home office, and when it was about to go off, I would hear them breathing at the door. Needless to say, I did my most productive writing away from the house. On Saturday mornings, for years, my husband Thom would shoo me out the door to a nearby café, and I would get several productive hours in.

When our girls were older, there was less need for leaving the house to write and wonderful silence during the day to get my work done. So, when the idea of getting a puppy was raised, I was reluctant, to say the least. Sure, I wanted one, but I was afraid the “company” during the day would slow me down.

What I found when that little Yorkie came into my life, was a muse, a writing companion. Tally would sit at my feet when I wrote, and her warmth and quiet sleep made me feel like I had just the right kind of company for the lone work of writing.

Five years later, we’ve gotten into the habit of writing first thing in the morning in bed. As soon as Thom leaves for work, I fire up the laptop, and Tally moves from my lap to curl up beside the computer screen.

My muse isn’t named Becky, but I have been thinking about getting another puppy…


More on Reseach

By Marie F Martin

Last month I blogged about how research is a must tool in a writer’s bag.  For my new story, I discover I need a couple of my plus-seventy ladies to go to a shooting range.  The plot has one of the widows keeping her husband’s gun collection, hidden in a garment bag.

bag2 (2)

The plot thickens and my ladies must defend themselves so they unload the bag.  One of the gals needs to learn how to shoot .  Rifle locked and loaded they drive to a shooting range.rifle

That is the short explanation to set up my trip with faithful canine friend, Katy Lou.  The rifle range is north of town, out in the boonies.  Katy and I drive into the bowl of our valley on a country road named Farm to Market.  Ahead are alpine mountains cut with ski runs.  To the west are the lower mountains covered with the Flathead National Forest and to the east are the snowy peaks of Glacier Park touching the clear sky in a reverent way.  We can’t see to the south, but on such a bright sunny day the waters of Flathead Lake must be crystal blue.

I turned right onto Church Drive and follow it to Prairie View Road and turn north on the dirt road, working up into a forested foot hill.  My dog and I keep an eye out for signs directing the way to what I consider a newfangled shooting range.  The narrow road widens at the top of a hill.  A sign reads Clay target and 4-H shooting range.  I turn onto the muddy roadway leading down to the building and park in a wide spot where the gravel looks thicker.  I set and ponder the plot of my story.  I do not need to investigate the range closer.  I have now unlocked a new twist to my plot.  Research is the key.

Family Pets

Marie F Martin

Marie F Martin

Dogs, a cat, a cow, a salamander and a bat.



Katy Lou, my buddy.

Katy Lou, my buddy.



My family is animal nuts. Always, everyone has had an ongoing affair with an animal. I have four children, all with two or three dogs and ten grandchildren, all with two or three dogs. Lots of dogs when we get together.

My daughter and her husband bought a place they figured would be big enough to have a milk cow. Deanna fell madly in love with her milker. That is, until cold winter hit and milking had to be done in the dark freezing mornings before work, and until she had so much milk they bought pigs to feed the milk to. This lasted a couple of years, then the cow was sold to a lady with seven children and the pigs became bacon.

The cat I loved was named Sam. Black and shiny as midnight. He would lay on the back of my hubby Lazy Boy and swat the newspaper page every time my Hubby turned the page. Loved that cat.

The salamander I remember was one my little kids carted home from the pond a couple blocks away. We made a home for it in a big old fish bowl. Grass, weeds and small twigs made good hidey places for the slimy tiny thing. One day it disappeared from the bowl. Don’t know how it got out, but I picked up wet towels and soiled kid clothes very carefully for a few days.

When my youngest son moved into his first apartment out in the country, he worked night shift at a local sawmill. The first night he came home in the dark, fumbled around to unlock the door and a bat swooshed inside with him. Yikes! He spent his sleep time trying to catch a bat. I thought this was an excellent way to start life on your own.

Then there was the phone call from a lonesome granddaughter away at college and needing a pet. She got a white rat to come home to. Friends started giving her their rats they no longer wanted, which prompted  a call to ask if she was becoming the Weird Rodent Lady.  The list could go on forever, but you get the drift.




By Kathy Dunnehoff

I didn’t know I needed a dog, until I had one.

Last November, mostly at the urging of my daughters, I brought home a 6-week-old Yorkie. I vetoed a couple of names for the one I’d only had a chance to use on a character, Tally. It doesn’t mean much to anyone outside my family, but for us it’s a wonderful lake we love.

Tally, the dog not the lake, looked at me once and I became irrationally enamored…

Tally - ride home

(I know, right?!)





I thought the thrill of having her greet me at the door after a long absence (taking out the garbage or checking the mailbox, for example) would lessen over time. But it hasn’t…

Tally sitting over my arm
I’m sure a therapist could shed some light on the situation (and speaking of shedding, Yorkies don’t 🙂 Although the Montana Women Writers author Ann Minnett is a retired therapist, I believe, and her last post was about falling for her puppy!

At least I’m not alone in my nuttiness for a dog. My entire family is under this one’s spell, and when they’ve headed out to their days, it’s just Tally keeping me company in my office and I’m reminded…

Tally on lap on back

I didn’t know I needed a dog, until I had one. 

Happy Reading!


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