Pet Advice – Straight from the Horse’s Mouth:
Cheddar, the Golden Retriever:
The Best Writing Companion Since Barley
by Bernard Levy
Although I have a large backlog of requests for pet advice, I found the following column on my desk about our editor’s golden retriever writing companion, Cheddar. It’s a very good example of how a pet not only can enhance the quality of your life, but can contribute to your goals. As I read the column, Cheddar’s contributions were simply a pet’s reactions during the day. But, more importantly, Cheddar was there and contributed in his own way to help our editor, the writer, work through a journalist’s difficulty.
There are lessons in everything; goodness knows, I’ve learned as much from my pets as hopefully they learned from me. However, it seems to me that Mr. Levy understands the value and meaning of true friendship.
When a writing buddy, a real contributor to content and creativity, dies in your arms of cancer, part of you dies with him. Barley was my 24/7 writing assistant, a prod when things got rough and a joy when elation was the theme of the day. Cheddar has taken his place, and he’s finally gotten with the program.
Under the desk and at my feet, he’s there with suggestions and answers at the appropriate times. Take today, for instance.
I became paralyzed with the overwhelming number of subjects that needed to be covered. Paralysis for me is not writer’s block; it’s establishing a writing priority for the important issues.
And, so I asked Cheddar, “There’s much more to be said on the midterm election results, but hasn’t enough been said for now?” He opened and rolled his eyes – ‘nuff said.
“Okay Cheddar, ol’ boy, what about covering Iraq? Should we take a stab at what we believe our continuing involvement in Iraq should be or wait a while? What does it sound like to you?”
This, Cheddar implied, was worth considering. He stretched, stood and requested some serious rubbing.
“Right on. We’ve got one winner. What about the economy, the new records being set every day by the Dow Jones Industrial Average? Does the real economy – the one that you and I work and live in – match what’s happening on Wall Street? Is this a subject I should get into?”
Cheddar’s response was immediate. With tail wagging and motioning for a cookie, he knew a unique column idea when he heard one. His approval merited the cookie and backyard access, for reasons known but unspoken.
Cheddar has more than a peccable knowledge of the world and the earthshaking, serious events taking place. His writing suggestions considered and weighed, both of us knew my day’s work was clear; paralysis was broken, and the words were flowing.
What, you say that Cheddar was just fulfilling his needs and contributed nothing?
Oh, ye nonbeliever. Cheddar’s contributions made more sense than those political, shoot-from-the-hip maxims and party line dribble flowing from our so-called legislative representatives and others in “high government.” Cheddar doesn’t deal in half-truths, political innuendo and chicanery.
Oh, but you say that he deals in self-serving actions. Yes, I’ll give you that one. But who is he hurting or deceiving? Not the American public, not the community and surely not our neighborhood. His communications are direct and honest.
Wouldn’t it be delightful if our politicians could learn something from Cheddar? If they communicated honestly with the American public and worked to serve the needs of the citizens and not their own special interests, I would gladly give them cookies – good ones, too – and immediate access to our large backyard. God knows, they’re probably full right up to here and need to relieve themselves.
Hope springs eternal but, in our feckless political environment, it’s apparent that reality is maneuvering for one’s own benefits and agenda. If Cheddar does that, his actions are clear and nonhurtful. His love is unconditional and true, not tied to lobbyist perks and campaign contributor pressures.
Years ago, as a young man growing up in Trenton, New Jersey, I recall a pig farmer in, I believe, Secaucus, New Jersey, who ran for president. His name was Harry Krajewski. His running mate was always his favorite pig (I forget his name). Harry’s presidential campaign drew many guffaws and numerous passing remarks at Carmine’s Barbershop on Warren Street. But, you know, Harry and Pig may have been on to something. Unfortunately, I don’t have any numbers on how effective they were in capturing the farm vote. If Harry was elected, his administration would have given the term “pork barrel” real substance.
I don’t intend to run for office with Cheddar, but we do make a heckava team, doncha think?