This morning I finally gave up trying to write first thing in the morning. Instead of going directly to my writing table as I normally do, I put on my coat, hat, boots, and mittens to take Jack for a walk. For the past month Jack has been pestering me earlier and earlier each morning for his morning walk, so I thought I’d not even try to write and just get the walk out of the way. When I put on the leash, however, Jack wouldn’t go – so I took off all of my winter clothes, made coffee, and sat down to write. Immediately Jack started barking to go for a walk. I relented, put all of my winter outdoor clothes back on, and this time he couldn’t get out of the door quickly enough. Apparently I’d missed an important step in the process where Jack barks at me for five minutes before I relent and we go outside. 

Walking Jack first thing in the morning means I have to cross Losey Boulevard during La Crosse’s 30-minute rush hour. Losey is the busiest street in town certain times of day. There is, however, a traffic light four blocks up from where I normally cross, so I walk up to the light when traffic is heavy. On my return trip home today, I crossed at the light and then realized (with my bulky mittens) that I had dropped my poop bag. I looked back and saw the bag sitting on the curb right at the spot I’d been standing while I waited for the light to change. For a brief moment, I was tempted to just leave it, even though it was only fifty feet away. To retrieve that poop, I would have to wait for the traffic light to change back to green, recross Losey to pick up the bag, then turn around and wait for the light to change again. The traffic light at Main and Losey between 7am and 8:30 stays green in the north/south direction for a long time, so it took eight minutes out of my life to retrieve a bag of dog poop. Of course, Jack didn’t know what was going on. 

It is hard for me to figure how much Jack affects my writing. Without a doubt his walk messes up my morning routine, but it also tires him out enough that he falls asleep next to me afterwards. His (quiet) presence alongside my writing table probably keeps me writing a little bit longer than I would on my own. Jack’s total impact on my writing might be a wash. My current writing project has taken four years, but I can’t blame it the dog. 

Steven Simpson