Archive for May, 2014|Monthly archive page

The Canine Senses

In All About Me, Being Cute, Shelley Widhalm on May 25, 2014 at 11:30 am

I go about life with my nose forward.

I go about life with my nose forward.

I’m all about smell and taste, not about thinking and generating ideas, like my BFF Shelley blogged about this week (see wordpress.shelleywidhalm.com).

First, I’ll tell you about smells. Wherever I go, I like to collect them. I ponder them. I smell my way with my nose toward the ground, trying to figure out the news of my environment.

As a member of the canine species, I experience my world first through smells of different types and intensities, instead of relying on visual information like most humans. I track and explore these smells to obtain my information. And I separate them into distinct odors, not ever blending them.

If someone is cooking, I can smell the individual ingredients, such as the hamburger, canned vegetables, mashed potatoes and cheese of shepherd’s pie.

My other favorite sense is taste, though when I encounter food I eat it so quickly, thinking that if it goes away, I’ll get more.

I don’t do so well with sight, because, unlike humans who can distinguish the full color spectrum, I only see blues, yellows and grays; plus, I use vision as a secondary sense to confirm what I already know.

With sound, I am better than my human counterparts. I can hear higher-pitched sounds and am quicker at identifying a sound’s direction. I need this information to protect myself from predators, but in my comfy life, my only enemy is the cats who don’t want to be my friends. I love cats. I think dogs are okay.

But cats are the best. Or, they’re the cat’s meow, meaning that when I’m out exploring, using all my senses, I’m looking for a friend.

A dog’s take on writer’s block

In Being Cute, Dog Writing, Shelley and Zoey, Shelley Widhalm, Uncategorized on May 18, 2014 at 11:30 am

Zoey is experiencing writer's block, but not toy and treat block.

Zoey is experiencing writer’s block, but not toy and treat block.

I am experiencing doggie block, just as my BFF Shelley goes on and on about writer’s block. For that reason, I thought I would share her blog this week.

Here it is at shelleywidhalm.wordpress.com:

Mastering something like writing is like mastering the wheels of your life.

Once you know how to ride a bike, you don’t forget—and the same goes with writing. The old skills are stored away as you move on to the bigger wheels, except in those cases where you get stuck, or experience writer’s block or burnout.

For me, I started with a big-wheel bike—a four-wheeled, pedaled toy I rode in the driveway because the road I grew up on was on a hill.

By four or five, I upgraded to a tricycle and then to a bigger tricycle, which now hangs upside down in my younger brother’s garage, a sentimental reminder of our childhood. We both rode the red trike, and we both started with training wheels on our bicycles—a step up in our wheels with our father running behind us, yelling to keep straight, turn, pedal or brake.

At 17, I got “real wheels” with my first car (a bright orange Mustang), followed by a pickup truck and a trailer, but never equipment, semis or boats because of fear and a lack of desire and skill. I arrived at a stopping point in my growth, similar to how I got stuck by writer’s block or writer’s burnout in a creative shutdown.

These shutdowns caused guilt, fear and curiosity about why it was I couldn’t write. I stopped and reflected, questioned, got edgy and waited, eventually learning that I could take steps to get out.

Writer’s block—temporarily being unable to produce new work or come up with new ideas—can stem from a sudden lack of confidence, a fear of completion, the seeking of perfection or taking on a project that seems too daunting.

Alternatively, burnout is long-term exhaustion in writing, work or even a hobby involving disengagement, a lack of energy, diminished interest and a reduced sense of accomplishment. In a job situation, it can be caused by constant stress and feelings of helplessness, such as working for low pay without hope of a raise or promotion.

The key is to realize that writing is a process of discovery. It’s a growth of experience—taking on larger and larger wheels as you put in the hours—and it’s a relationship between you and your world, you and your characters, and you and your creations. A blockage or burnout, once over, can help you feel revived and re-energized to return to writing, having stepped back to think about why you couldn’t do what you loved and figured out a few methods and techniques to go forward.

Focus on the process, not on the final product through freewriting, journaling, brainstorming and engaging in nonjudgmental writing with the inner editor turned off until the editing stage. Focus not on writing to get published but for the internal rewards.

Just like riding each level of wheels, realize it was all about play until you got to the vehicles that require state-issued licenses, or the Big Wheels. Enjoy the little wheels as you experience them, instead of putting so much expectation on each word that you write, type and think out during the process.

At the end, you’ll have both the little and the Big Wheels, the process and the product.


In All About Me, Being Cute, Shelley Widhalm on May 11, 2014 at 11:30 am

Zoey is posing with her BFF Shelley.

Zoey is posing with her BFF Shelley.

My human writing partner, Shelley, is blogging about how to write an eye-catching press release, and I thought I’d help her out with one all about me.

She says, “A press release is a written statement announcing your news item that includes facts, any important statistics and at least one or two quotes from the key players in the story.”

The release starts with a headline, which is the title of the piece. It should be clear, concise and to the point and contain the most important information.

For my news item, my headline states: “Zoey the Cute Dachshund Wins the Best (and Cutest) Dog Award.”

The lead, or first sentence of the release, should briefly explain the 5 Ws and the H, or who, what, where, when, why and how.

Specifically, the 5 Ws and H ask:

• Who is the story about? (Answer: It’s about me, the cute dog.)
• What is the news topic? (I won the Best Dog Award from the Cute Dogs of America Association.)
• When will this happen? (I will be presented with the award during National Pet Week July 4-11 at the tail end of the week.)
• Where will it take place? (It will take place at the All Dogs Welcome dog park, 1234 Dog Lane.)
• Why is it newsworthy? (Duh. It’s about me, and anything about me is newsworthy.)
• How is this happening? (The CDAA is presenting my award and a few other—but lesser—awards to other dogs that aren’t as cute as me during the free range dinner event.)

Just so you get a complete picture, the body of the press release should be concise with short sentences and paragraphs, backing up what was said in the headline and lead. At the end of the release, include an About Us (or About Me) paragraph that gives a synopsis of what your business or organization does in one or two sentences.

Here is my About Me section: Zoey the Cute Dachshund, 5, is a talented, long-haired miniature dachshund who can stand on her hind legs (when she wants something), bark really loud and get lots of attention due to her cuteness factor.

(Note: See Shelley’s blog about writing press releases at shelleywidhalm.wordpress.com.)

Canine Writing Prompts

In All About Me, Being Cute, Shelley Widhalm on May 4, 2014 at 11:30 am

Zoey the Cute Dachshund chews on some good ideas for writing.

Zoey the Cute Dachshund chews on some good ideas for writing.

This week, Shelley (my BFF) is going on and on about writing prompts, but I think she should consider these photos as prompts toward happiness. The truth of the matter is that I am very, very cute and looking at me prompts feelings of glee.

If the pictures don’t work, here are some other writing prompts for writing about dogs:

• Describe your dog’s looks and compare them with his/her personality.
• Look up a fact about dog behavior and describe what your dog does that’s similar.
• Try to see the world from the eyes or the nose of a dog. What do you smell that you normally don’t notice?
• Pretend you’re a cat and don’t want to have anything to do with dogs. What will you do, especially if a dog is brought home to live with you? How will get along?
• Recall memories of your dog’s puppy years and tell those stories.
• Pretend your dog can talk back when you talk to him or her. What about when you say, “No, don’t do that,” or “Come here,” when there are more desirable things elsewhere.
• What does your dog do on a typical walk? What does he/she notice?
• Does your dog like rawhide or a particular treat? What does this say about him or her?
• Write about one of your dog’s favorite toys. What does it make you think about and what emotions does it evoke?
• Walk down the aisles of a dog store and see what happens.
• Explain what happens when you try to dress your dog.

These prompts are just a start. If you want to see what kind of prompts my BFF Shelley came up with, go to shelleywidhalm.wordpress.com.