This is Lily, the newest addition to our extended family. She looks as sweet as a lily, but when I ask how she's behaving, my brother sighs and says, "Labs explore everything with their mouths...outlets, furniture." She's an English lab and as soon as she's old enough, we'll introduce her to my dog and my other brother's dog.

When I was a girl, I was passionate about cats and had several. The first was an almost feral alley cat named Jingles. Using the "what's your porn star name" formula of the first pet and first street you lived on, mine would be Jingles Francisco.

I was walking Lola and chatting with one of the neighbors, in the timeless tradition of local crazy ladies, and he asked what I did and I said, "Er, writer," and then I tried to get Lola not to yank on the leash, and I didn't mention that I'd written a novel about a dog trainer, because he would have laughed until he fell over.

The daft cliche goes, those who can't do, teach. There should be another: those who don't want to follow the rules, write.