Up to that point, I had not been a dog walker even though we’d had a dog, Meggie, a basenji, that lived to be sixteen. I would even venture to say that I was a sub-par dog owner. She got a decent amount of attention, decent food, reasonably regular vet visits, but that was about it. No exercise, no focus on her. Meg was just part of our house and part of our life. I learned a lot from her. So, after some time without her, I started looking into large breed dogs. I wanted a dog that could handle walking regularly. Meg had a lot of African attributes that we liked. Short hair, quiet, smart, loyal, so I started looking in that direction and I immediately found ridgebacks. Then by happenstance not long after, Rose and I were out at a park walking, and a guy with two big red ridgebacks came our way. We stopped and talked for a minute, then off they went. It’s still a vivid memory today almost fifteen years later. I knew right then that ridgebacks were for me and it wasn’t long before Brodi, our first ridgeback, came into our life. He was a great dog, and I probably have lot more to say than that, but we did walk every day, three times a day in the beginning and two most other days unless it was just too cold. After we lost Brodi, when he was almost thirteen, I calculated that we had walked all the across the United States and half way back again. It wasn’t a glamorous walk, nothing to brag about. That was never the point. We hardly ever left the neighborhood. But in that time, I got out from behind the desk, got some exercise, experienced some sunshine and rain, and worked out a whole lot of plot problems and gained more ideas than I could ever hope to finish.
Walking on a regular, disciplined basis has become an essential part of my writing and indexing practice. But so has my time with the dogs. After we lost Brodi, Sunny and I walked the same path, and that unbroken routine helped to ease the pain and allowed us both keep going. Our decision to bring Kassi into the house will help us all walk into the future, which by the way is the basis for Kassi’s name. Her African name is Kusasa. It means tomorrow, the future. Once the weather warms up, Kassi will join Sunny and I on our journey to anywhere…as I solve plot problems and continue to wonder and wander in and out of my imagination. Sometimes the the biggest, most important part of writing happens when you aren't working.
Brodi’s African name was Baruti, by the way. It means teacher.