updated 10/12/2011 AT 1:00 PM ET
•originally published 10/12/2011 AT 2:45 PM ET
Anyone who’s ever owned a dog knows that they make us laugh and make us cry. Now, in a new book titled I’m Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship, nearly two dozen writers share their own hilarious and heartwarming stories of life with man’s best friend.
With a foreword ‘written’ by Chelsea Handler’s dog, Chunk, and essays by Jane Green, Rita Mae Brown, W. Bruce Cameron and many more, the anthology covers the whole spectrum of emotions that come with dog ownership.
Wade Rouse, who edited the anthology, is donating 50 percent of the royalties to the Humane Society of the United States. Here, he shares an exclusive excerpt from his own essay, ‘Dum-Diddle-Dum-Dum,’ which details the special language he shared with his dog, Marge.
Marge eventually – as dogs do – leapfrogged us in years. She is now 13.
She has seen us through our early 30s into our mid-40s. She has developed gray hair alongside us. She gets stiff after exercising. And, for nearly a decade and a half, this 80-plus-pound mutt has laid – day in and day out – on my feet, as I wrote and tried to make sense of the world via words, my own language.
After four books, Marge is still the first person to hear what I write – yes, I read to her in falsetto – and she listens more intensely than any other reader or fan I’ve ever known.
Marge has helped shepherd me and Gary through a sea change of triumphs and traumas: a move to the woods of Michigan, a career as a full-time writer, along with the loss of my mother to cancer, and the loss of Gary’s grandmother. But I feel more capable of handling life now, thanks to her. Though I realize that life on this planet is but a blink of an eye, and that time is not the vast ocean I once believed it was – endless and infinite – but more like a creek, a quick swim from one shore to the other, Marge has taught me to appreciate the beauty of each day, to not think about time or the future, only to sigh, and kiss and play, and love and laugh without limit.
Still, whenever I begin to become a turtle again, Marge coaxes me to get up and walk with her and talk to her. She forces me to take pause and look up at the sky with her, to chase seagulls on the beach with her, to swim in icy Lake Michigan with her – our dueling, dog-paddling shadows on the sandy surface below giving me hope that everyone can find that special someone with whom to swim through life. She, like Gary, has retaught me that it is OK to love, no matter the risk.
Reprinted from I’M NOT THE BIGGEST BITCH IN THIS RELATIONSHIP: Hilarious, Heartwarming Tales About Man’s Best Friend from America’s Favorite Humorists, edited by Wade Rouse by arrangement with New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA), Inc. Copyright Wade Rouse, 2011
[RELATED_TEXT “Can’t get enough pet news? See more on PEOPLE Pets