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What My Dog Taught Me about Sharing

About a month ago, I acquired a miniature dachshund puppy and named her Charlotte. I had been wanting a dachshund for so long that I had even acquired a few books on dachshund ownership, despite obstacles like no-pet apartments and my hectic schedule. After making certain lifestyle changes that would finally allow me to get a dog, I still had my doubts: would I know how to care for her, would I have enough time, and would she like me?

The first day I brought Charlotte home was rather terrifying. But now, a month later, I can say with confidence that my little dachshund has been one of the greatest gifts I’ve given myself, not just because I love her but also because of the way she has opened my eyes to new possibilities. Above all, Charlotte has taught me how to attract like-minded people and how to share my interests in both an emotionally and intellectually satisfying way.

I’ve always heard that a man with a cute dog is a “chick magnet”, but I, of course, never experienced this phenomenon. Instead, I have learned that walking an adorable “hot dog” means that more strangers have approached me in one short month than they have approached me in the past year. I’m generally reserved and don’t like to make small talk, but many of these strangers are well-meaning and just want to inquire about my dog. Occasionally these questions segue into friendly conversation. I’ve come to appreciate these moments and have learned how to embrace them. I’ve even made some acquaintances: people who frequent the park near my apartment.

I started to wonder: how could I better expose my other interests and passions so that I can attract the right people and have meaningful conversations about those interests? For example, I have a completed manuscript of a short story collection that I’d love to show off and share with other people. But I can’t put a leash on it and take it for a walk. Anyway, why would anyone want to pet a stack of paper?

Aspiring fashion designers can wear their clothing on the street, aspiring bakers can bring their cupcakes to a party, and wanna-be artists can give paintings a gifts. But writers can’t really display their work in a way that draws attention to it. Traditionally, they need to be more active about pursuing attention: submitting their work to publications, querying agents, and soliciting feedback. Charlotte has inspired me to brainstorm ways that I can generate interest in my work without pushing it on people (at the same time pushing it to people in the industry).

After thinking about this, I realized that all my examples above have one thing in common: they don’t require reading, which can be too much of an investment for someone who has time to lose, but they all employ other senses like sight and taste, which don’t necessarily require much time. I believe that writers of the future will have to find ways to associate their writing with something visual (consider the rise of the book trailer). Of course, no stranger in the park would have taken the time to speak to me unless they were visually excited by the sight of my little dog. So why should someone read my work unless I could excited another sense first?

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