Yesterday was Harry and Sophie, our bichons', fifth birthday. They are such a huge part in my life, that now seems like the ideal time to look back at when they first came to live with my husband and me. (Before anyone coming to this blog looking for writing tips turns away in disgust, there is a writing angle to my reminiscences.)
From the first moment that we brought Harry and Sophie home, I decided to keep a puppy diary of all their funny ways, their personalities, the mischief they get up to and what I've learned because of them. I knew I'd never be able to remember everything without the diary to jog my memory, and it's more than repaid the effort. I don't expect the diary itself to be of great interest to anyone except me, but writing it regularly is good discipline. 
On its pages I find not only events and anecdotes that might trigger ideas for other work, but a host of characters, both human and canine that I've met through the bichons. An elderly rough collie we know has a calm temperament and steady behaviour that instantly calms the younger dogs, who walk beside him instead of running off, and without him having to put them in their place. In a story, he could be a grandfather, a charismatic teacher or a wizard. I need never be stuck for characters again, and the best thing is, they'll never recognise themselves and take offence.
Maybe I'll never use the puppy diary for anything other than fun, who knows? What I do know is that I don't regret one single moment of living with Harry and Sophie.