Everyone knows the famous saying: Dogs are Man's Best Friend. Most people know that dogs are women's best friend as well. In fact most really devoted pet owners are women. Women are more likely to spend large amounts on their dog and according to this article 87% of female pet owners consider their pets family members and 59% would risk their lives for their pet.
Although dogs continue to have an ever exalted role in our society, moving from workers to family companions, women's devotion to their dogs is nothing new. The book Shaggy Muses is a story of how dogs inspired four of the greatest female writers in history: Virginia Wolf, Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Edith Wharton and Emily Bronte. Each women had a very different relationship with their dog and the premise of the book is that the relationships the women had with their dogs influenced their writing. My two favorite sections where the ones of Elizabeth Barret Browning and Emily Dickinson.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning the famed poet, apparently gained comfort and courage from her small spaniel Flush. The dog was endless delight to her and first guided her through the heart breaking loss of her older brother from drowning. Later, Flush helped give her the courage to pursue an unconventional romantic relationship with Robert Browning who was 6 years her junior.
Elizabeth was already considered an old maid when she met Browning at the age of 39. Robert and Elizabeth courtship often involved walks with Flush and they frequently mentioned him in their love letters . When the couple married in 1846 Flush came with them Italy. Elizabeth gave birth to a son Penn at the age of 43 and she wrote of how the aging Flush enjoyed spending time with the baby. When Flush passed away in his teens. Elizabeth was truly heart broken, but had the comfort of her husband and child to see her through the loss. A husband and child she may never have had if it weren't for the strength the little dog gave her to pursue her dreams. Elizabeth wrote this poem about Flush