Writing from the dog's point of view was not that strange for me. Growing up, my family would often speak from the point of view of our dogs—"Benny, what do you think of dinner?" "Dinner?! I would love some dinner, thank you." This habit persists with my own pets, Kerry and Peter the dogs, and Oscar the cat.
Even though it felt natural to think from a dog's point of view, once I started outlining what would become Dogs of the Drowned City, I wanted to really get into the head of my main character, Shep the German shepherd.
This required more than the usual dinner conversation—it required research. I read books and watched documentaries about dogs—how they evolved from wolves (all dogs, even Teacup Yorkies), how their sense of smell may be millions of times more sensitive than our own, how they see things in a limited color spectrum, but faster than we humans do—and learned how the canine experience of the world is different from my own.
Armed with this knowledge, I tried to see (smell?) the world from a dog’s point of view. I imagined how my experience of a place would be different if my primary sense was smell, not sight. How would having four paws and no hands change how I solved physical challenges? I knew my own dogs understood certain words I said (Walk, Go), but how would Shep describe things in the human world he didn’t have human words for, like vacuum cleaner?
Coming up with a credible dog language was one of the most fun parts of the series for me. Why don’t you give it a try? Imagine your own dog (or your imaginary dog—doesn’t everyone have one of those?) snuffling up to the vacuum cleaner. What would he or she call it? Read The Storm to find out my answer!
–Dayna Lorentz, Scholastic Author