Today is the birthday of Earnest, the yellow Labrador retriever in my new novel of the same name! Some of you may be thinking, Wait a minute. He’s fiction. It’s his publication day, not his birthday.
But I beg to differ. To me, Earnest is as real as any Lab I ever knew, and I couldn’t love him more if he were resting his chin on my foot this very minute. Today I want to celebrate his beautiful spirit and his entrance into the world.
I have created Earnest, nurtured him, and seen him through fictional scrapes and triumphs. I watched him mope and refuse to eat when his humans broke up and fought over custody of him. He didn’t like their split, but being an intelligent and resourceful dog, he began a campaign to chasten and reunite them. When they had a spat one afternoon, he gave them a withering look that said as clearly as anyone ever said anything, Your scrapping is intolerable. You are the ratfinks of the western world! At times Earnest showed better judgment than they did.
On this day I mentally hug him and tell him I love him with all my heart. I congratulate him on being born and on being one of the very best dogs that ever lived. And with joy, I unleash him and send him out into the world to romp on the grass, make new friends, and sniff messages left on the street by other dogs. I have confidence in him – he’s a strong and sterling animal. And he’s smart. He can make it on his own now.
All I ask is that he remember me and come back to visit once in a while. I’ll be waiting for him with a dog biscuit and one of the Granny Smith apples he loves, and I’ll be glad to throw a stick for him until my arm is sore. I will always want to see him and and hug him and know how he is doing.
Kristin and Maggie, who inspired Earnest: