THE PASSION STROLL...
a blog by author Ashavan Doyon
I posted something on the Facebook feed a little while after it happened, but, perhaps unsurprisingly, I wasn't able to make that effort transfer here. As some of you may already know, my husband and I have had the company these many years of two pugs. Piggy passed some years ago, just shy of the venerable age of fourteen. It was a long life for a pug, and yet Piggy was my writing mascot, and there was a degree to which I never quite recovered.
It should come as no shock then, that the loss of our grand old dame of a pug, the Lady Dulcinea, who passed in May at the extreme old age of seventeen and a half, has thrown me for a bit of a loop. With everything else going on in the world, it was already hard for me to write... this was too much to bear.
Walking around the house without our beloved fur children proved too much for my husband and I. We engaged in the search, and finding a responsible rescue, put in a request for adoption.
I'm not sure a puppy is exactly more work than our dear departed Dulcy, who at the end of her life needed assistance with pretty much everything. But a puppy requires a very different sort of attention, and we've been running ourselves ragged with house training and attempts to save kitchen cushions.
This is all for the good. Our new pup is a wonderful cuddler who, even now, is nestled against me as I type. This bodes well for a faithful writing companion for me. I know when the work is done to get him trained and able to wander the house, it will be well worth it. But right now, endless puppy walks, play, saving household furnishings, and trying to figure out what the cause of the latest cacophony of barking might be have been as effective at destroying a daily word count effort as the other contributing factors.
I hope to be back writing soon. I have the Christmas story to finish up, and I want that edited and released this year.
Perhaps prophetically, Dulcy was already memorialized in that, as the lovable elderly pug Lilah.
My pup is Dulcy. She's cute and lovable and she snuggles close at night making sure I know that I'm part of her pack—her family. I don't need the reminder, but I love it. My parents were workaholics, so growing up I had my brother and my puppy. The pup I had then was named Mitzi. She was tiny dog, a mix of dachshund and something else. She was the runt of her litter and I remember her being so tiny she fit in the palm of my mom's hand. She had an impossible spirit and was fearless. When she was a year old she was run over by a car. Impossibly the local vet hospital put Mitzi back together. Forever after we had shocked vets as they took x-rays of the real life bionic dog—held together by bits of wire, screws, and metal plates. Among her worst injuries were three broken legs, a separated pelvis, and severe road burn across her back that left her with scarred patching where the hair never grew back.
We had Mitzi for twelve years before cancer took her from us. She was my little sister, my companion, and more often than not my confessor who listened to my rage and hurt as I struggled with being a rape survivor in a world that didn't recognize that such thing was possible for a young man. With listening to my angst when I came out. With loving me—just that.
We got Dulcy from a breeder when she was only 11 weeks old. An AKC pug, her breeder clearly allowed the kids to name the puppies that he kept, and they all had names like Charmander Bulbusaur. We named her the Lady Dulcinea. For over fourteen years, she has done what pugs do: sniff, snuffle, lick things, bark at things, and, of course, piddle at the most inopportune times—that last has gotten particularly pronounced in the last year. Worried that she might not survive being boarded at her advanced age, we cancelled vacation plans this year. Instead we've kept Dulcy company, stayed at home.
I spend a lot of time worrying about my puppy girl. So today is mostly about her. Love you Dulcy.
Anyone have any great dog stories? Let me know in the comments, and don't forget to subscribe to the newsletter!
True believers (no, really, I'm not Stan Lee), I'm making a brief post tonight about posting. Why? Because posting hasn't been consistent, and it needs to be. So here's the deal:
The goal is for there to be two posts that are part of the The One That Feels serialization every month. These are intended to be posted on MONDAYS - once in about the middle of the month and once at the end.
There will often (but not always) be a post on off weeks. I am really trying hard to make those posts happen on Mondays also, but this week—because of this post—it will happen on Tuesday instead.
There will be occasional posts relating to current events (sometimes about how they relate to my stories, and sometimes just because I'm a person and current events are important) outside of this Monday-as-posting-day framework.
So that's the schedule. How does that look? well, for starters it means that this month fudges that schedule good. For serial posts the schedule looks like this:
That should put us back on schedule for The One That Feels, and come September we should be back to the schedule as planned. I am working hard at balancing content between platforms, and the introduction of Dreamspinner's update feature is both a blessing and a curse. My latest post "Sticks and Stones" was made entirely on their platform. I was feeling really good about that until I remembered it created a gap for readers here.
So I will be making a concerted effort to be posting regularly, with a particular focus to making sure my serial posts are on time and that posts elsewhere are not resulting in this space for readers being abandoned.
Today is All American Pet Photo Day. Who decreed this, and why, I'm not sure, but it coincided with the day Facebook decided in its wisdom to show an old post from when I first moved into the new house (that's a year ago) of Piggy, one of the first times she actually got comfortable in my new office. It made me think a lot about her. She was determined to always be in the same room as me, but didn't like to be held, so pictures of us holding her are pretty rare. Most are like this one, and she has that terrified "I'm being held" look that means that probably two seconds after this was taken she was trying to wriggle out of my grasp. One never really got to hold Piggy for more than about 10 or 15 seconds. Still, because of that look, which was so very like her, it is a poignant reminder for me of what I lost when she passed in November.
Do you have pets? Tell me how you feel about pets in your gay romances in the comments!
In November I lost the younger of my pugs, Miss Piggy. We got Piggy from a shelter when she was three years old. We were feeling guilty that our other pug, Dulcy (who was also three at the time), was feeling lonely in the world, and we wanted a friend for her, since we both work during the day.
We applied through several rescue organizations, but we could tell from the applications and the questions that we got that we weren't being seriously considered. Among the demands of some of the rescue organizations was that someone be home 24 hours a day, that we have a fenced in yard (we have eagles where we live, so a fenced in yard would have been a deceptively safe thing, especially on a remote side street like the one we lived on). It was so frustrating knowing we could have given a puppy a good home and being so blithely passed over. It went on like this for months.
Then Piggy showed up on a rescue site. We took one look and knew we had to see her. The rescue organization wanted to see her interact with Dulcy, so we packed ourselves up and went down to see her. She was such skin and bones at the time, every rib showing. And her tail! Unlike Dulcy, who has a proper pug curl, Piggy's wagged. Actually her whole butt wagged. After meeting us and speaking with our vet, we were a go to adopt her. It was so exciting. Dulcy, ever the princess, was not amused.
While I don't doubt that Piggy loved us both, it's hard to deny that she was particularly attached to me. She got desperately unhappy and upset unless we were together in the same room. She didn't want to snuggle or cuddle as Dulcy does, but she insisted on being on a cozy blanket or pillow nearby. Piggy's breathing was loud even for a pug, as she had a deviated septum. So I grew eventually very used to the cozy and very loud snoring of my Piggy keeping me company.
I've struggled for some months writing without that sound. I miss my Piggy girl. So today I'm remembering her.
The picture is the very last picture we have of her, taken at the hospital before she passed.
As promised, the February issue of ARDOR includes musings on Valentine's Day. My own this year was spent finally getting the curtains in the new house hung. I did little else, as it was seriously cold here in New England -- record breaking in fact. I spent most of it worried for my puppy, who is not really a puppy anymore, but quite elderly and suffering from the cold.
The excerpt in this issue is from Gerry's Lion and speaks toward the title. Gerry's Lion is organized as glimpses of life for the characters centered around major holidays, and appropriately this one is pulled from Valentine's Day. The parts of this story are more sections than chapters, and I love the Valentine's Day section in particular. I get a lot of flak for Gerry taking a long time to let go of his partner and be open to a relationship with Leo, and I confess, I don't see it. Gerry lost his husband and lover of over ten years. In what universe should that make finding love after his partner passes easy? It would be hard. It should be hard. I don't regret showing that difficulty for an instant -- in the end, I believe working through that loss with a partner is essential, hopeful, and powerfully important. Too often gay men are told that our love isn't real. Gerry's grief is a testament to how real it can be.
Ok, rant over, on to other exciting topics.
The new issue of ARDOR also contains a short, this one based on The Colors of Romance. I knew I wanted to do a Valentine's Day short from a Valentine's Day story, but I struggled a lot with a topic. Finally I settled on "The Shades of Romance" -- a story about TruClrs4vr, our mystery suitor. In the published story, TruClrs4vr comes across as, I hope, suave, romantic. He's a heroic figure, determined to woo Theo from despair and loneliness. But The Colors of Romance is a short story, and it suffers from the usual difficulties of characterization caused by brevity. The focus is so powerfully on Theo that TruClrs4vr can sometimes feel a little like one note. So with "The Shades of Romance," I tried to bring that focus onto our mystery suitor, make him live a little more. I hope I succeeded.
I definitely hope you'll check out the February issue of ARDOR (it's free), and tell me your thoughts.
You can always find the current issue of ARDOR at my website.
Gerry's Lion is available in paperback and ebook from Dreamspinner Press.
The Colors of Romance is available in ebook format from Dreamspinner Press.
Writer of the mysterious, fantastic, and the romantic. Sometimes sappy. Often angsty. Always searching for the sexy. Stories about men who love men.