The 12 Steps (Of Making Amends to a Dog)


I wrote a flash fiction piece about getting sober with a dog, which is now up at SmokeLong. I’d be honored if you checked it out.

I don’t have a dog, now, but did for a few years of my drinking. This picture is of a dog we recently watched while his owners were away. I took him to the park every day and have no amends to make to him.


13 thoughts on “The 12 Steps (Of Making Amends to a Dog)

  1. Oh, my…this is…lovely, but that isn’t the correct word. Like the guest reader pointed out, this is a skillfully balanced piece. I laughed at several points and then wanted to burst into tears at “Ask your dog to forgive you. He looks at you blankly. He already has.” Good God. My own little dog, Charley (to whom I thankfully don’t need to make amends) is sleeping on the sofa across the room. He’s been great for my recovery. My cats? Not so much. They just blink and carry on in their catness.

    If you have more writing, or if you keep a separate writing blog, I’d love to read it. Well done, and thanks for sharing this piece.

    • Thanks, Robert! Laughter and tears are the best compliments. (Have you seen Inside Out? There’s a funny bit at the end (during the credits) about cat emotions. Who knows with cats…)

      I meant to tell you, too, that I still haven’t gotten around to writing the introverts piece, mainly because my summer teaching schedule has been insane. I’ll send it to you when I do.

      I don’t have a writing blog (other than this one) but do have a website that’s linked at the end of the piece. I don’t have a whole lot of fiction available online, and this piece was a bit of a departure for me (for a while I took writing fiction VERY SERIOUSLY with often less than stellar results) but hopefully that will change soon. I’m also planning to actually start using Twitter one of these days; do you have it?

  2. Loved it as I love all your postings. I take issue with the cat comments though. Louise – 15 years old and my girl – took a little while to jump back in my lap and demand to be petted while she eats (never with my husband). Everything is back to normal and I have no plans to return to rehab!

  3. So perhaps you were making Living Amends to your past dog through the pup you dog-sat?

    Loved loved loved your piece. I’m still fighting back the tears.

    Dogs hold no grudges, they forgive without strings.

    Step 11: conscious contact with God as we understand him. We see our dog in everyone and in ourselves; and what is dog spelled backward?

    12: a spiritual awakening. A favorite sunny spot, dreams, holding hands, heartbeats…falling in love all over again with a dog.

    Did I say I loved this? Words are so limiting.


    • Thank you so much for these kind words! And I love your interpretation of steps 11 and 12. Honestly, I felt I’d switched them in this piece–that my dog step 11 was really step 12 and vice versa, but I wanted to end on the line about the heartbeat. You’ve made me see how it works! ❤

  4. This got me a little choked up. I try my best to treat every dog I meet with love and bring joy to their life as a sort of amends to an old dog of mine. I had never thought of it as an amends though until reading this, and I absolutely love it. Animals have such a direct line to our hearts that they’re so often overlooked in the healing process and how to make things right. I could’ve been a better owner, and now I try to be a better person to every dog that I pass. Thank you infinitely..

    • Thank you so much! I also think dogs are a great example of how I want to be in the world–at least in their exuberance, affection, and presence in the moment. Sometimes when I’m stressed, I just visualize a golden retriever and feel better. 😉

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