Richard Wolkomir & Joyce Rogers Wolkomir

Writers of Fiction & Fact

WHAT THE WALRUS SAID
--Our Authors' Blog--

WHAT DOES A DOG MEAN?

March 13, 2019

Tags: Animals, Stray Thoughts, Stories, Dogs




A friend asked me—why, in most of your husband’s novels, is one character a Pembroke Welsh corgi?

And the answer is: “It’s personal.”

Sometimes that dog character is Henry. Sometimes he’s Tobi. But his real name—he was a real dog—was Nosmo.

“Nosmo King,” in full, chosen by his previous family because they quit smoking and named him for a “No Smoking” sign. Not a name we liked.

Then we realized Nosmo could be a Hobbit name, like Frodo or Bilbo. So he became Nosmo the Hobbit.

He was preternaturally bright.

For instance, he came to us because he got left alone in his house, a half mile up our country road. Hour after hour, he lived alone in that house. Girls off at college. Parents working from early morning to late in the evening. Just cats there, and Nosmo didn’t like cats. He wanted to be part of a human family, so he went scouting.

One summer afternoon, a corgi appeared on our deck, handsome as a movie star. I ran out, thrilled. Nosmo looked equally thrilled.

We invited him into the house, and he did this: at each room he stopped, then turned to look at us, to make sure it was okay for him to go into that room.

Apparently he’d read Emily Post.

Dogs become entwined in your life, in complicated ways. Simply put, though, they love you. Totally. No matter what. And, unless your heart’s made of granite, you love them. Totally. No matter what.

Also, they invite you to live.

One example: we live in the New England mountains, with forests all around, and a meadow. I’d gotten so involved with business, so much to do, that it had been years since I’d walked in our meadow. Nosmo very much wanted walk in the meadow. He insisted. So I walked with him.

And I found daisies and black-eyed Susans and blossoming apple trees, even jet contrails overhead I’d never noticed.

Night frightened me, but Nosmo insisted we take night walks in the meadow, and I discovered barred-owl hoots and the rustling of deer in the meadow grasses.

One horrible day I discovered I had a disease. My chances of living were four-percent. Treatment was long, and debilitating. Nosmo helped keep the terror away, because in every possible way without words he said, “I love it that you’re here.” I imagined a pack of tiny Nosmos running through my bloodstream, barking, chasing away those bad cells.

And they went away.

To tell fully why Nosmo mattered so much to us, and why his avatars make their way into my husband’s novels would require a book all its own, which I expect to write.

My husband and I are best friends. And Nosmo was one of us.

--Joyce

BOOKS & STORIES

Check out our published books
Stories published in literary journals
A "Pleistocene western," published in Reflections Edge magazine
A nonfiction book of stories about disappearing animals, published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
An award-winning chronicle of life and caring in a small hospital, published in Smithsonian Magazine
Just when a terrifying illness strikes, a self-confident corgi appears on our deck, seeking a new home, and he becomes our guide.