SHAGGY MUSES by Maureen Adams

 Maureen Adams In Conversation with Patricia McConnell and Larry Meiller           Pictures  of the authors and their dogs accompany the audio track.

Virginia Woolf  trained each of  her dogs to put out her cigarettes with their paws; Emily Bronte’s dog Keeper was in Emily’s funeral procession; Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s dog Flush brought her out of a clinical depression.  Listen to author  Maureen Adams discuss her book Shaggy Muses: The Dogs Who Inspired Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Edith Wharton and Emily Bronte.

Author and Clinical Psycologist Maureen Adams says “It’s All Right to Be Madly In Love With Your Dog”

Maureen Adams – is a licensed clinical psycologist; before that she was an English  Professor  at the University of Missouri.  Maureen’s career change was due to a clinical depression she suffered when Maureen and her family moved from Kansas City to California.  Crediting her recovery to psychotherapy and her Golden Retriever  Cody’s unconditional love and loyalty; her interest in psychotherapy and the dog-human bond was bourne.   Maureen went back to school and became a clinical psycologist.

A few years  after her move from Kansas City to California, her dog Cody died.  Overwhelmed with grief over the death of her golden retriever Cody, she started investigating the human-dog bond in earnest but couldn’t find any comfort; she then turned to the poetry and literature of her childhood.

She  began with Emily Dickinson, whose poetry she had loved since she was a child.

One day, Maureen discovered a note Emily Dickinson had written to her literary mentor announcing the death of her dog: “Carlo died: Would you instruct me now?”  This isn’t a suprise since Emily Dickinson a reclusive  wouldn’t even  leave her house unless Carlo accompanied her.  This dependency on Carlo struck a chord in Maureen;  Maureen realized that the despair she felt over “Cody” Emily Dickinson also experienced over her dog  Carlo.   Both Maureen and Emily both  shared  an intense  bond with their dogs.  Was Emily Dickinson so overwhelmed with grief over Cody that  the loss of her loyal dog interferred with her ability to write?

When Maureen re-read  Emily Dickinson’s notes she noticed that  Emily Dickinson referred to Carlo as “my Mute Confederate” and “my Shaggy Ally.”  These casual terms of endearment struck an immediate chord in her.  They both loved their dogs in the same way.”

Maureen intrigued with this discovery started researching other writers who wrote about their relationships with their dogs;  Some were men– Lord Byron, Thomas Mann and John Stienbeck; but she started focusing on women authors whose experience mirrored her own; authors who relied on dogs since childhood and in times of transition. Gradually, a small group fell naturally into place around Emily Dickinson and Carlo: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Emily Brontë, Edith Wharton, and Virginia Woolf all had dogs that became their Shaggy Muses.”

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