Waggleview with Penny Guisinger, Memoirist and Freelance Writer

The Dog Owner: Penny Guisinger, Memoirist and Freelance Writer.

Penny Guisinger is the author of Postcards from Here. Her work has appeared in Fourth Genre, River Teeth, Guernica, the Brevity blog, Solstice Literary Magazine, and others. Pushcart nominated, a Maine Literary Award winner, and twice named a notable in Best American Essays, she is the director of Iota: Conference of Short Prose. Penny is a graduate of the Stonecoast MFA Program.

You can view her book on Amazon HERE.

Penny Guisinger and her dog

Penny Guisinger and her dog


Dog type and Name: Chloe (border collie mix) and Barley (Dutch Shepherd crossed with hyena, zebra, and tiger)

Q: Why did you choose these dogs?

We found Chloe through an online rescue service, and were attracted to her gentle nature and her foster person’s assurance that she would be great with kids. We were sold when we received a picture of her wearing a tiara. Who couldn’t relate to wanting a tiara?

Barley came to us through our local shelter when we were ready for a puppy. He was twelve weeks old, and we had no idea how enormous he would be as an adult. We love his pointy ears and crazy, striped coat.

Barley's baby picture

Barley’s baby picture


Q: Do you talk to your dogs? If so, what do you talk about?

I work at home, so the dogs are often my only co-workers. We talk about the usual stuff: office politics, who is at the birdfeeder that day, how soon I’m planning to go out for a meeting or something, and how many more hours it will be before the kids get home from school. I have to have special talks with Barley about not eating things that aren’t his. Lately, this includes the Christmas tree.

Staff meeting

Staff meeting

Q: If the could talk to you, what would the say?

Chloe might tell me to shut up, stop procrastinating, and get back to work. (She has sort of a Puritan ethic.) Barley would tell me the opposite: stop working and play!

Q: If your dogs had a job or career, what would they be doing?

Chloe would be a prim librarian. Barley would be a bartender.

Q: What lesson in life have your dogs taught you?

My dogs have taught me the importance of the nap. They’re incredibly skilled at this, and seem like better people because of it. If we all napped during the day, like dogs, I think we would all get along better.

Dogs on the deck

Dogs on the deck getting in their nap

Q: Where is your dog’s favorite place to go with you?

Barley loves to ride along when it’s time to pick up the kids from school. Chloe would prefer that we just stay home forever. 

Q: Who or what do your dogs find the most interesting?

Food. Any kind of food in any location at any time of day. There is seriously nothing more fascinating that food. Squirrels at the birdfeeder are a close second, according to Barley, but Chloe thinks there is NO close second to food.

Dogs at lunch

The dogs at lunch

Q: What is the most annoying thing other dog owners do?

I find it annoying when dog owners confuse their dogs with children. I sort of get it, but I have dogs AND kids, and I’m just here to testify that they are not the same thing.

Q: What does being a responsible dog owner mean to you?

Providing love, shelter, food, and a stable life. I believe dogs should be brought fully into the household and included in anything that makes sense. Barley often jumps into bed with us for early morning sleeping, and we love that. Lots of scratching and petting and general adoring energy – all appropriate!

Q: Do you ever dress up your dogs? If so, as what?

We got both dogs jackets or sweaters last fall, but for entirely practical reasons. It’s cold here! Barley’s jacket is blaze orange to protect him from hunters. (He is more likely to run away into the woods than Chloe, who never strays far.) Chloe lost her sweater immediately on a hike. It was grey and knitted with sparkles. We don’t know how she managed to ditch it, but are pretty sure she did it on purpose. That thing was too embarrassing.

Q: How have your dogs changed your life?

Having a dog deepens the human experience. Seeing our world through the eyes of this other creature is fascinating and often very funny. One of our favorite things is to narrate what we imagine Barley is thinking. (We have a special voice for this activity!) My partner and I love our dogs, and I love that my kids also love the dogs. I think there’s something very special about growing up with family dogs.

All the kids

All the kids

Q: Do your dogs have a philosophy of life?

Chloe’s philosophy would be something sweetly clichéd like, “Better safe than sorry” or “Look before you leap.” Barley’s philosophy is closer to, “What’s yours is mine. What’s mine is mine. It’s all mine.”

Q: I love my dogs because they are fun and full of love. They are also great for reducing stress. You can’t stay stressed if you’re stroking a dog’s soft head. You just can’t. They also complete our family. Four-legged energy is a mandatory component of mental health!

WAGGLEVIEW®: These interviews are focused on leaders in business, the arts, the community, or at home. My hope in doing this is to present remarkable and respected people in their community with their beloved pets. Who can resist reading about pets and what these people do? This is a platform for people to display their talents; their own business, a new book, a deeply loved passion for a charity or their own job. It also shows their love for their pet!

Thank you Penny for taking the time to participate in the Waggleview®.

Why do you love your dogs?

Please comment below.

I love my dog because__________ (fill in the blank)


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    Penny has such a great insight and outlook on life.

    February 8, 2017 at 2:01 pm
  • I love that Chloe and Barley are exact opposites. Also, that Chloe started out wearing a tiara, obviously, she must have knocked it off her head after that picture was taken.

    February 9, 2017 at 3:14 pm

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