Pets and Personality

Do any of the characters in your novel have pets? When I read about pet ownership, the choice of animal and where they live may say a lot. The use of animals in a story can lend some wonderful texture to your character. It uses some common assumptions about various animals. A few examples:

A large dog on a farm means a carefree, rambunctious animal roaming about the place, showing up on the back stoop for table scraps every night. This owner may also enjoy hunting.

A large dog in town means a fenced in yard and an owner dedicated to walking the dog once or twice a day. Perhaps the owner is under doctor’s orders to walk, and the dog forces her to do so. Or the owner may just enjoy the excuse to spend time outdoors with his companion.

A small yippy dog in an apartment trained to run and bark at the sound of the doorbell is probably owned by a loving woman who doesn’t mind devoting considerable time, effort, and expense to the dog’s upkeep. This pet probably eats the most expensive dog food available. And she may wear ribbons.

A cat owner may be looking for a good mouser. Or she may enjoy stroking a lap pet with luxurious hair. The type of cat can say a lot about the owner’s dedication to time and maintenance of this pet. The owner seeking a purebred Persian is likely to be different from someone like my mother, who doesn’t mind adopting the occasional neighborhood stray.

Aquariums can say a lot about a person. A small aquarium stocked with low-maintenance goldfish to entertain children is a different proposition from a large brine tank filled with many sensitive tropical fish.

And did you know that hedgehogs are popular pets in South Korea? (Read this article about this cultural phenomena.)

Your turn:

What pets have you given your characters? What did the pet say about the character?

Obviously I left off many pets such as reptiles, hamsters, and ferrets. What are your thoughts on giving characters less traditional pets?

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