Who is in the photo at right?
Though we both have large mustaches, but mine is completely gray. That’s me, Reavis Z. Wortham, and Willie.
Does Willie come to work with you every day?
The commute to my home office is only six seconds, so that puts him right beside me almost all the time. Each morning we follow the same routine. For the first hour, I work on my laptop in bed, while he continues to snooze on the chair in our room. We have breakfast next, and he flops down beside the table until I’m finished, to get his portion of whatever I have left.
From there it’s time to work. I put him in the rocking chair beside my desk. He’s afraid to jump into it, because it rocks of course. Once he’s there, Willie dozes and looks out the window until lunch. After we eat, it’s back to my office. He sleeps until around three or four, when the days’ writing is done.
Medium roast, but the brand varies almost every day. We have a Keurig, and pods are mixed in a large fish bowl in the cabinet. It’s reach in and brew.
Any treats for you or Willie on this interview break?
He’s a simple little guy, with simple tastes. He enjoys a good Milk Bone biscuit, and I like a fruit snack.
How were you and Willie united?
A friend found him lost in their neighborhood during a severe thunderstorm. She took him in, and posted his photo for weeks throughout the area. No one answered, and a month later, my wife talked me into going by to see him. I had no intention of adopting the little Shitzu, but he had other ideas. In a raucous house full of dogs, children, and adults, he jumped on the couch, gently tapped me on the leg with his paw, and then crawled into the lap of the only person who didn’t want a dog at the time…me.
Willie had been abused by his owners. He had internal injuries, a damaged eye, is missing a front tooth, and hid at any loud noise or sudden movement. They must have used a broom or other similar object on him. For months, every time he saw something that reminded him of his former owners, he hid under the kitchen table. With the help of our vet, we tended the little fellow until he was healthy and put a little weight onto his skinny frame. He’s chipped now, and he’ll never have to worry about anything like that again.
How did Willie get his name? Any aliases?
Since he’s rescued, Willie is an alias. We named him after one of my oldest and best friends, because for some reason, we always name our animals after a group of guys I’ve known for over thirty years called The Hunting Club. I admit it’s odd and sometimes confusing in conversation when they’re around. For example, last month I wrote a newspaper column about the confusion between Willie the dog and his namesake, Wrong Willie Williams, because Willie kept getting under my feet as Wrong Willie and I were loading gear for a fishing trip, and I told Willie he couldn’t go out the front door and Willie asked me why, because the truck was parked out there and it was time to leave, but I explained that I didn’t want Willie to run out into the yard because there was another dog out there, but Willie said he wasn’t afraid of strange dogs and I told him no, Wrong Willie, that I was talking to the dog under our feet. See?
Does Willie have a favorite toy, ball, or stick?
He has a stuffed monkey that he ignores during the day. But when he gets excited, and that’s usually when my wife comes home from work, he attacks the monkey, shakes it, growls, and chews at it until he can’t stand it anymore, and then he rushes to the newcomer and flops onto his back for a belly rub. Aggressive-passive?
Who is Willie's best pal?
Me. I think he’s a little curmudgeon, and prefers to be an Observer of Life most of the time. He apparently never learned to play with other dogs, and simply watches them. My youngest daughter just graduated from college and is living with us until her new job as a kindergarten teacher begins in August. She adopted a six-month-old rescue dog named Maggie, who is a red, medium size mix. Willie prefers to only co-exist. He does not wish to be bothered by puppy antics.
Does Willie have a favorite place to go for outings?
Define outing. When I let him out the front door, his favorite place to go is (1) a clump of grass beside the flower bed, where he marks his territory, and (2) the brick mailbox, where he reads the local “dog newspaper.” He loves to ride in my Dodge Dually pickup and can tell when we’re taking the fifth-wheel trailer out for a weekend camping trip. He’s ready long before we are.
What is Willie's best quality?
He is the coolest, most laid-back little dog I’ve ever seen. We’re buddies. Oh, and he seldom barks, too. Perfect.
If Willie could change one thing about you, what would it be?
That I would feed him from the table.
If Willie could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?
For the address of those people who abused him.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Willie could speak, who should voice him?
Sam Elliot, or Bobcat Goldthwait.
Visit Reavis Z. Wortham's website and blog, and learn more about his new Red River mystery, The Right Side of Wrong.