Adopting a dog was all the inspiration that Kelly Conaboy needed. The Jessup native who now lives in Brooklyn recently wrote “The Particulars of Peter,” a book that People called “a hilarious addition to the dogoir canon.” It’s the full-time writer’s first book, though she’s had pieces published in the New York Times, the Atlantic and the New Yorker.
Here’s what she had to say about the book, which is available on Amazon in Kindle or hardcover formats:
Q: When did you first meet Peter?
A: I met Peter after I decided I wanted to foster a dog. He was the first foster the rescue assigned to me. At the time I thought fostering was a better option for me than adopting, because I wasn’t sure that I could handle the commitment of taking care of a dog for the rest of its life. This, obviously, changed when I met Peter, and it changed pretty much immediately. He felt like my soulmate, and I knew I couldn’t give him up. Everything about him is special, but one of my favorite things is his gentle temperament. A cousin of mine once described him as “so kind,” which I think is accurate. He is an extraordinarily kind and gentle little man.
Q: Why’d you decide to write a book?
A: I’ve been a writer for about a decade, and writing a book always seemed like a dream and a goal, but until Peter I never had an idea that I thought could sustain one. I like to write about things I find curious and interesting and fun, but those areas were always fairly scattered. It was sort of like having the vague desire for a tattoo, but no ideas for an image you’d want on your body permanently. But when I adopted Peter I was flooded with Peter-related story ideas — questions I had about him, areas of dog ownership I wanted to explore. I had so many that a book seemed like a natural home for them.
Q: What was the hardest part of writing this book? What was the easiest?
A: The hardest part was getting over my fear of writing a book in general. It seemed really daunting. As a journalist I’ve written hundreds of articles, but to put something in a book felt grander and more difficult. It took me a while to get over that. The easiest was just writing about Peter. I could write 1,500 words just about his little ears, 5,000 about his tiny whiskers. Having the space to indulge in a bit of that excess was freeing and simple. He is very inspiring.
Q: What did rescuing a dog teach you about yourself?
A: I guess it’s like what people say when they have children — I didn’t really understand my own capacity for love before I adopted him. I’ll often just stare at him and think ... how do you exist? It also taught me that humans can get used to anything, even picking up poop in a bag and throwing it away several times a day.
I think rescuing a dog rather than buying is extremely important. There are so many wonderful dogs sitting in shelters, all of whom deserve to be loved and taken care of, and all of whom have a great capacity for love that deserves to be honored. And it’s uncomfortable to think about, but in areas that allow kill shelters, these dogs will be killed if they don’t find a home.
Peter came from a kill shelter in Georgia, and he would have been euthanized if he hadn’t been saved by the Brooklyn shelter I adopted him from. It’s horrible to think about. Beyond that, the dog breeding industry is rife with abuse. I hesitate to get on a pedestal but here I am on one: Please adopt, don’t shop!
Q: What’s next for you?
A: At the moment I’m just hanging out with Peter on the couch, and later we’ll go for a walk. That’s about as much as I have planned right now.