Five of Our Favorite Dog-Owning Literary Greats

Posted by Danielle Mohlman

Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein with their poodle

Just when you thought the holidays couldn’t get any weirder, along comes Take Your Dog to Work Day.

This holiday was first celebrated in 1999 to promote pet adoption from local shelters and humane societies. Employers are encouraged to open their offices to four-legged friends on this one special day.

But these authors? They celebrated Take Your Dog to Work Day every day.

Ann Patchett makes her home in her hometown of Nashville with her husband and their dog, Rose. A self-proclaimed late-in-life dog owner, Patchett equates her relationship with the mutt to falling in love.

“I could hardly sleep at night for watching her sleep. She was small and white; maybe a cross between a Jack Russell and a Chihuahua, without the deep neuroses of either breed. If shedding was an Olympic sport, she would have brought home the gold. I was besotted.”

Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas shared “a large and unwieldy poodle” that taught Stein some surprising lessons about writing.

“Sentences and paragraphs. Sentences are not emotional but paragraphs are. I can say that as often as I like and it always remains as it is, something that is. I said I found this out first in listening to Basket my dog drinking. And anybody listening to any dog’s drinking will see what I mean.”

Think about that the next time you refill your pooch’s water dish.

Amy Tan has two Yorkshire Terriers — Bubba and Lilli — that travel everywhere with her. It isn’t unusual to see these pups roaming the table at a book signing or in Tan’s arms at a press event.

In addition to being an award-winning novelist, Tan is also an advocate for Yorkie Rescue and heavily involved with the Canine Health Foundation.

It’s hard to believe that someone who has the capacity to write, “First I’ll kill the dog with kindness, and if that doesn’t work, I’ll just kill him.” could ever be a dog-lover. But Edward Albee says that his life feels incomplete if he’s not sharing it with a furry friend or two. A lifelong lover of Irish Wolfhounds, Albee has been known to own upwards of three at a time.

“The greatest problem with Irish Wolfhounds, though, is that they don’t live very long: their great hearts give out.  A good deal of this is genetic, of course, but I think it is in part that they worry so for us, care so much.”

As a testament to his devotion, Eugene O’Neill immortalized his pup in The Last Will and Testament of an Extremely Distinguished Dog. The human O’Neill couldn’t even name a pet without coating the moniker with pomp and circumstance — the pooch’s name was Silverdene Emblem O’Neill. “Blemie” has a grave marked on the grounds of the Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site. His tombstone reads “Sleep in peace faithful friend.”