Poor Speedy literally busted a gut last week. Our Basenji-mix puppy, which we found abandoned in our driveway last Christmas, has become a beloved addition to the family. She’s incredibly ADHD like the rest of us, and yet managed to sit at my feet for months while I was writing The Mark of Athena. In fact the book is dedicated to her, as she was sort of my muse and mascot while I worked.

Anyway, last week Speedy got a big red bulge in her tummy that turned out to be an abscess. She got through the surgery just fine, but now has Frankenstein sutures along her belly and has to wear this attractive plastic cone on her head for two weeks. On the vet’s receipt, it’s actually called an ‘Elizabethan collar.’ Zounds! Fortunately, Speedy is obsessive about her possessions, probably because she was abandoned by her last owners with nothing but her collar and leash. She gets very upset if we try to take her leash away or remove her collar. Now she’s equally attached to her cone. If we take it off, she lets us know that she wants it back.

The cats are not quite sure what to make of this. Speedy will now charge up to them for a kiss and an entire cat will disappear inside the cone. At other times, Speedy likes to play cup-in-a-ball with the end of her leash, tossing up the end so it lands in the cone. She has also discovered that the cone is a great smell-enhancer when she is in the backyard. She will ram her face into the grass and inhale deeply, which is why our yard is now covered with very small crop circles. We’re looking forward to removing the cone and getting her sutures out next week, but Speedy seems perfectly content.

And now back to writing. I feel a strange compulsion to write a Shakespearean drama with dogs.

Rick Riordan