An artist’s solitude is a sacred space, one to be kept apart from the chaos of the world. This isolation allows for uninterrupted reflection and the nurturing of sparks of inspiration into fires of creation. But into the artist’s quiet there can creep self-doubt and the possibility of falling too far inward.
What an artist needs is a companion with emotional intelligence, innate curiosity, passion, energy and an enthusiasm for the world beyond, but also the capacity to sleep contentedly for many hours. What an artist needs, Helen Humphreys would say, is a dog.
And a Dog Called Fig is a memoir of the writing life told through the dogs Humphreys has lived with and loved over a lifetime, culminating with the recent arrival and settling in of Fig, a Vizsla puppy. Interspersed are stories of other writers and their irreplaceable companions: Virginia Woolf and Grizzle, Gertrude Stein and Basket, Thomas Hardy and Wessex—the dog who walked the dining table at dinner parties, taking whatever he liked—and others.
This is a book about companionship and loss and creativity that is filled with the beauty of a steadfast canine friend and the restorative powers of nature. Just as every work of art is different, every dog is different—with distinctive needs and lessons to offer. And if we let them guide us, they, like art, will show us many worlds we would otherwise miss.