Last summer, I spent a week on a writing retreat in the heart of Manhattan. Along with two of my closest friends, we spent the time living it up in the lap of luxury while writing and brainstorming new book ideas. We were fortunate enough to be staying in a beautiful penthouse apartment in Soho (courtesy of a friend who was traveling for work) with sweeping views of lower Manhattan. It was the first time I’d ever stayed in a penthouse and if there’s one thing I can tell you, it’s that I had a hard time going back to my humdrum life at the end of the week. It was intoxicating. Like like flying first class or shopping for shoes at Chanel. Once you get a taste of first class, you never want to go back to coach! And, once you slip your feet into a pair of Louboutin’s, you can never imagine wearing anything else, or so I’ve been told, anyway. I guess the same can be said of my six days last summer living the high life in a penthouse with a hot tub. With a hot tub! I felt just like a movie star (minus the paparazzi following me around and the extra zeros in my bank account). Of course, I wouldn’t want you to get the wrong idea. We were working hard, busy writing and knocking out our next novel (in between soaking up the sun while relaxing in the hot tub).
But more importantly, we were also charged with watching the penthouse owner’s dog, Roxy. Mind you, I’ve never taken care of a dog before (proud owner of one cat and a parakeet) so there was quite a bit of on-the-job training (with detailed instructions from Roxy’s mommy). I can tell you that at the time, I had no idea how much work went into caring for a dog. Who knew? Between the feedings, scheduled walks, and grooming appointments, to the neighborhood play date, it was like having a toddler except with more fur and fewer temper tantrums.
Yet with all the work that went into dog sitting Roxy, there was an upside I hadn’t counted on. Because it turned out to be much more fun than I thought it would be. No one warned me that I’d fall in love with her big brown eyes and soft velvety tongue! Three days into my dog sitting, I was surprised by how I grew to love my furry charge, Roxy. And, what I learned, was that a dog loves unconditionally. It’s the kind of love I’ve spent years writing about in my books. The kind of love most people spend a lifetime looking for. We crave it, don’t we and when we find it, we celebrate it. I mean, don’t we all just want someone to love us unconditionally? To love us not just during the best of times, but during the worst of times, too. And, that’s exactly what Roxy did. She didn’t mind if I was in a bad mood or if I hadn’t brushed my teeth yet. She couldn’t care less if I binged on chips and salsa all day and didn’t go to the gym to work it off. She didn’t judge me when I had too much to drink and spent the entire next morning in bed, nursing a hangover. She loved me despite all of those things.
So, during that week I spent with Roxy, I decided to write a book with my friend Gina McBride, about our experience dog sitting. Many of the scenes in The Dog Walker really happened (the trellis, Roxy’s nervous breakdown, and the chocolate scare. I’m still recovering from that one). And like most romantic comedies, there’s a leading man and a misunderstanding that gets in the way of true love. But more importantly, this book is really about my love affair with Roxy. A love affair that has me considering becoming a dog owner. Perhaps it’s time to start looking into doggy adoptions?