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On a Book Bender

An Ode to My Reading Companion

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If you have been with me from the beginning of my blog, you’ll know that I wrote a post about my dog, Curly, when he died. It was a way for me to grieve, but it also helped me to connect with others who love their pets as much as I did (and still do, because I consider my dog nieces and goddog my pets). I want to give the boyfriend’s dog, Neilly, the same kind of tribute. She may not have been my dog, but she was still an important part of my life.

Amanda and Neilly

One thing that Neilly gave me that I’d never had before was her companionship while I was reading. Whenever I would read at the boyfriend’s, she’d jump up next to me, lie down, and snuggle in. And there is nothing–NOTHING–quite like having your pet next to you. (Especially during the middle of the winter–they make great little heaters.) I’m going to miss my reading companion–for her company, for her ability to be a doorbell, for her love and affection.

Hug your reading companion close. Give them a little extra attention for Neilly. Then go read a good book with them.

And to celebrate how amazing reading companions are, I would love for you to share with me pictures of your reading companion. Your reading companion can be ANYTHING–a dog, a cat, some other kind of pet, a stuffed animal, whatever it is you love to read with. Visit my Facebook page to post a picture, or tweet me a picture using the hashtag #ReadingCompanion. (Or share in the comments below.)


About the author: Amanda, noun: 1. Creator of On a Book Bender and Bout of Books. 2. Editor at The Path of Least Revision. 3. Lover of language and books. 4. Drinker of wine, coffee, and vodka. 5. Idea wrangler and wielder of words.

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  • Joli @ Actin' Up with Books January 18, 2013, 12:17 am

    My little pup is sitting right beside me as I read/write this. Thank you for sharing. And it is true there is nothing as comforting as snuggling close with your pet. They’re always loving.

  • Felicia January 18, 2013, 7:42 am

    Nelly looks so much like a smaller version of Tonks that my heart broke for y’all when you lost her. Reading companions are the best :) I am lucky to have 3 in the house even though only one is technically mine. They all seem to hear a siren call that calls them to my bed when I am settling down to read. They make the best (most of the time) co-readers ever. Except for when they decide that the book is in the way for snuggles LOL :)

    • Amanda @ On a Book Bender January 18, 2013, 8:55 am

      I pretty much claim all dogs as mine, even though they’re technically not. They provide so much love and comfort, and I’m drawn to that (and they know it).

  • Paul R. Hewlett January 18, 2013, 7:43 am

    Neilly looks almost exactly like my JoJo. I adopted him from the shelter a little over 2 years ago as a “senior” dog. He has been so wonderful. I feel the loss and pain of losing a pet. Honestly, it takes a piece of my heart each time and I know that piece won’t come back. You move past, but never really get over it. There are always those moments and then I stop & think how unfair it is that we only get the honor of loving our pets for such a short time, but it is a time I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. Thanks for sharing :)

    Paul R. Hewlett

    • Amanda @ On a Book Bender January 18, 2013, 8:58 am

      I had to rescue your comment from the spam filters, but I got it, Paul!

      I lost Curly, my dog, in June of 2011. After having him for 14 years and basically growing up with him, it was so incredibly tough to let him go. But, I’m also thankful for everything he gave me. When he died, I found this quote, and it’s always stuck with me.

      “A very wise dog woman once told me that dogs find owners, not the other way around. They pick you and they choose to stay with you. In that way, they are also giving you the end of their life. The deeper the bond, the harder it is to say good-bye. I know I’d rather have any amount of time with a dog I love and suffer the mourning than not have the time at all.” — Julie Klam

      • Paul R. Hewlett January 19, 2013, 12:29 pm

        What a great quote! It’s kinda funny, my wife and always joke about the same thing, using the line from Harry Potter, “the wand chooses the wizard” only in this case, “the dog chooses the owner.” I agree with you, as difficult as it is to lose someone you love so much, I wouldn’t trade that time for anything in the world. My favorite line is, “I wish I was half the man my dog thinks I am.”

        Thanks for such a great post:)

        Paul R. Hewlett

  • Vicky Hooper January 18, 2013, 8:53 am

    So sorry about Neilly! What a gorgeous dog, and such a sweet friend! My husband and I would like to get a pet one day, and I hope it will cuddle me while I read just like Neilly did for you. Thank you for sharing this lovely tribute post.

    • Amanda @ On a Book Bender January 18, 2013, 9:02 am

      Thanks, Vicky. Animals can be fantastic cuddlers. I’ve had a pet for most of my life (whether mine or someone else’s), and I have to say that nothing quite beats having one. :)

  • Chris Nelson January 18, 2013, 9:15 am

    What a wonderful tribute to Neilly! Thank you so much. I’m sitting at work with tears in my eyes. Neilly had so many people to love her, and she loved us all back, with love to spare. She gave us someone to hug, someone to comfort us when we were sad, someone to entertain us with all of her wonderful tricks, someone to comfort us when we were ill. I will miss her forever and a day.

    Chris Nelson
    The Boyfriend’s mom

    • Amanda @ On a Book Bender January 18, 2013, 9:55 am

      I’m so glad I was able to be part of Neilly’s life, Chris. She was a wonderful dog. <3

  • Jenny January 18, 2013, 9:34 am

    AMANDA!!! Neilly was adorable! And such a great reading companion. Griffin is my reading buddy, he’s a snuggler where Gatsby is not (he prefers his space), so whenever I’m on the couch or bed he’s right there with me. Or on me. Whichever:) I love this post Amanda, and now I’m off to give my boys huge hugs that I know will have them thinking “get off me mom”, but they’ll just have to deal.

    • Amanda @ On a Book Bender January 18, 2013, 10:01 am

      Ha. I love the big dog, “I don’t know how big I am and think I belong on laps” syndrome. Give your dogs an extra hug (or two) from me. :)

  • Isalys January 18, 2013, 10:41 am

    What a great post :) Such a beautiful tribute to Neilly and all our furry kiddos! They truly are the best companions!

    My munchkin Toby is getting older and I refuse to think there will ever come a day when he’ll have to leave me. Denial, thy name is Isa!

    I love that quote you shared from Julie Klam. It’s so true and I know that Toby picked me (that’s actually a cute story!) One of my favorite quotes is: “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” -Josh Billings

    Thank you for sharing this with us <3

    • Amanda @ On a Book Bender January 18, 2013, 10:48 am

      The boyfriend was in denial about Neilly’s age, too. It’s tough, especially when you don’t really see many signs. Curly was noticeably getting older, so we knew. Each day was a gift.

      Love that quote about dogs, and it’s so true. I think that’s one of the reasons why dogs are so easy to love. And why having one is so rewarding.

      • Isalys January 18, 2013, 10:56 am

        That’s the thing about love (including doggy love)…we love them so much and they love us back which is so very rewarding but so painful when we lose them! Better to have loved and lost, eh?

        Neilly was beautiful! You had posted some amazing photos that are totally frame worthy :)

        • Amanda @ On a Book Bender January 18, 2013, 11:09 am

          It is painful. But in some ways, the pain is just a reflection of how much we loved them and how awesome they were. :)

  • Ashley Montgomery January 18, 2013, 12:25 pm

    So sorry to hear about Neilly. Such a beautiful dog. It’s amazing how close we can grow to a pet. They’re just like family. My dog is my reading companion and I wouldn’t trade her for the world.

  • Mary @ BookSwarm January 18, 2013, 1:00 pm

    Aw! That’s so fabulous and so sad! I have two fabulous mutts but the one who likes a good snuggle is little Fiona (quite the winter heater). She’ll curl up next to me while I read and butt her head against my hand to get me to pet her. *snuggles to you from Fiona*

    • Amanda @ On a Book Bender January 18, 2013, 2:50 pm

      I had a dog once who was a self-petter. If your hand was out, she’d walk underneath it. :)

  • Natalie @ Mindful Musings January 18, 2013, 8:28 pm

    Dogs are the greatest! I miss mine so much because he lives with my parents and two younger brothers. I pull such long hours on campus between school and teaching that I didn’t feel it was fair to him to keep him with me when he would have to sit at home alone all day without anyone to let him out. Anyways, it’s always great when I come home because he’s SO excited to see me, and we spend hours curled up in bed and on the couch reading together! I even take him for walks while I listen to audiobooks! I’ll tweet you a picture of him later! :)

    • Amanda @ On a Book Bender January 18, 2013, 10:14 pm

      They really, really are the greatest. When I was in grad school (and undergrad, for that matter) and lived at school (or in that area), I couldn’t NOT go home to visit my dog every weekend. Dogs make coming home even more amazing than it already is.

      I loved the picture of Benji, by the way! :D

  • Leanne Yang @ Escaping With Books January 19, 2013, 1:45 am

    I’ve never had a pet because my mom isn’t much of a pet lover. Both your dog and your boyfriend’s dog are so adorable and it’ so sad to hear that they’ve died. Thanks for the post. :)

    • Amanda @ On a Book Bender January 20, 2013, 9:20 am

      Pets have a way of becoming part of your family. It’s tough to lose them, but they are worth it. :)

  • Smash Attack January 19, 2013, 4:53 pm

    Ohhh. This post is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing. I think Neilly and Curly are up on Rainbow Bridge romping in the fields together!

    This post made me think of Snowbear, who I miss daily. He was my best friend from age 10 to 25. It also makes me think about my cats, who are getting up there in age. I think they have many years ahead of them, but I want to spend every day with them like it is the most important.

    • Amanda @ On a Book Bender January 20, 2013, 9:23 am

      Yes! I think because Curly was so old for his breed, we knew every day we had with him was a gift. With Neilly, she died before her time, and I think there are a lot of regrets there. It’s easy to put off spending time with your pets because you can “do it later.” Do it now.

  • Jennifer Lane January 19, 2013, 5:03 pm

    What a great post. My fat cat Izzie is a great reading companion (when she’s not meowing for me to feed her). :-)

    • Amanda @ On a Book Bender January 20, 2013, 9:25 am

      Thanks, Jennifer. :) Does Izzie campaign for food? The boyfriend has a friend whose cat will campaign for his food about an hour before his dinner time. It’s quite amusing.

      • Jennifer Lane January 20, 2013, 9:33 am

        Izzie is pretty good about letting me sleep (she knows how to stay alive) but she’s definitely vocal when it’s time to eat! Your boyfriend’s friend’s cat DOES sound amusing.

        • Amanda @ On a Book Bender January 20, 2013, 9:43 am

          I always wanted to have a cat, but my mom is allergic. Now that I technically could get one, my boyfriend is allergic. I will have to live vicariously through everyone else’s cats, I suppose. :)

          • Jennifer Lane January 20, 2013, 10:22 am

            Oh, that sucks you have allergic people around you. I would love to have a dog but I’m not up to the responsibility, and cats are relatively easy. Except for the fact that Izzie prefers pooping on the carpet instead of her FIVE litter boxes, grr. Does that make you feel better about not having a cat? ;-)

            • Amanda @ On a Book Bender January 20, 2013, 10:26 am

              lol. A little bit, yes! I totally understand the responsibility aspect. Dogs are a lot of work.

  • Kristilyn (Reading In Winter) January 19, 2013, 8:45 pm

    Amanda, what a beautiful post! *hugs*

    I have a few reading companions — one who even stepped in the middle of my The People of Paper book with muddy paws. I like to think he was just personalizing it a bit. :)

    I love all of my animals and it’s such a comfort having them around.

    Thank you for sharing!

    • Amanda @ On a Book Bender January 20, 2013, 9:33 am

      I love having animals around. I’ve always had a pet around, and this year and half stretch after losing Curly is probably the longest I’ve been without my *own* pet. (Neilly became my pet, and now with Neilly gone, it’s my dog nieces, and any other pet I can claim for my own.) They truly are the best stress reliever and company out there.

  • Jess @ Gone with the Words January 19, 2013, 9:21 pm


    I’m so sorry for both of your loss. I’d never had a pet until we got Kai last year, and I GET IT NOW. And just thinking of losing him breaks my heart. THIS POST breaks my heart..your post about Curly brought tears to my eyes. Lots and lots of hugs for you.

    • Amanda @ On a Book Bender January 20, 2013, 9:41 am

      Pets have a way of worming their way into your heart, don’t they? But losing them is, sadly, a part of having them. (I’ve lost three of my own and now Neilly.)

      *hugs you like whoa*

  • Logan January 20, 2013, 7:01 pm

    Aw, Neilly! It’s heartbreaking losing a pet, so my condolences to you and the BF. Sad news. :(

    I’ve got my little beastie next to me as I type this, snoring away. There is nothing better in the world than pet snuggles. I’ll see if I can get a good pic to tweet you!

  • Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal January 20, 2013, 11:31 pm

    *huggles you*

  • Tara SG January 21, 2013, 3:57 pm

    In honor of Neilly, I’m going to dedicate some cuddle time with Mags for reading tonight. (Although I may need to use my ear plugs… Her snoring is outrageous!)

    PS I still think of Curly when it snows :)

    • Amanda @ On a Book Bender January 21, 2013, 8:12 pm

      I believe it! If it’s anything like Lucy’s snoring…yeah.

      I love my Curly in the snow pictures. <3

  • Nikki Steele January 21, 2013, 9:04 pm

    Awww what a sweet looking girl! That last comment about hugging and reading with them really hit the spot, and earned Mr. Moose at my feet an extra tug at the ears.

    On one of their more active days, I got this quick shot of my reading companions, page turners, page rippers, and wet noses thrusters :D http://bookpairing.com/friday-wrap-up-reading-companions/

    • Amanda @ On a Book Bender January 21, 2013, 9:14 pm

      She was sweet. And I could actually (kind of) get her to sit for pictures for me. My dog, on the other hand, hated the camera. The few pictures I have of him are treasured.

      Thanks for sharing your reading companions! :)

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