Robin Finn is one of our beloved UCLA Instructors, a fabulous writer, teacher and coach who has done tremendous things for women writers. Robin is also and all around dog-lover. This December we caught up with Robin and asked her to dish on her relationship with her rescue pup Shiloh, the lovable, furry maniac who kidnapped her heart and now lives inside her house.
WP: Please tell me your pet’s name, age, and breed.
Robin: Shiloh is a two-and-a half-year-old Huskey/German Shepherd mix. He is 90 pounds of love.
WP: How did you and your pet(s) meet?
Robin: I follow the wonderful Big Love Animal Rescue on Instagram. One day, I saw a video they posted in which Lisa (the owner) rescued Shiloh and his brother from the San Bernardino mountains. Apparently, the boys had been abandoned and were wandering around aimlessly when hikers found them. The hikers reached out to a shelter who contacted Big Love and Lisa went to get them. In the video, you see her “capture” Shiloh and, as she leans over, he licks her face. I knew I had to meet this sweet boy.
WP: How did you know you were meant to be together?
Robin: My kids joke that I told them that we would see how it goes. Then Shiloh walked into our front yard, and I said to the rescue, “You guys can leave—we’re keeping him.” I think there is a kind of magical chemistry that happens between a person and a dog. We had a beloved elderly dog, Brodie, who was fourteen at the time. We didn’t want to get another dog if it would upset him. But Shiloh walked in the front gate and licked Brodie’s face (Shiloh is a face licker) and Brodie loved him.
After that Uncle Brodie and his nephew Shiloh were best friends. They had this amazing year together where Shiloh was Brodie’s eldercare assistant. Brodie showed Shiloh the ropes of being our family dog and Shiloh let Brodie sit on him so Brodie did not have to lower his arthritic legs all the way to the ground. When Brodie crossed the rainbow bridge, Shiloh mourned with us and lifted our spirits. I feel like Shiloh was sent to our family. He is a ray of light.
WP: How long have you been together?
Robin: We have been together almost two years.
WP: Tell me about your pet(s), any characteristics, notable personality traits?
Robin: Shiloh is obsessed with cheese. Do not attempt to eat cheddar, Swiss, or Jarlsberg in front of him, and for the love of god, do not unwrap a cheese stick because he will stare you down until you give him a bite.
Shiloh’s favorite toy is a stuffed red lobster. When I throw it to him, he will chase after it, but he never brings it back. He hoards his lobster in a little spot by the fireplace. I have tried to explain to him – on numerous occasions – the concept of fetch, but he does not care. Once he grabs his lobster, he sits in his corner chewing it blissfully. I have to wrestle it away from him every time I want to play with him and, every time, he grabs it and won’t bring it back.
Shiloh likes to sleep, nap, and rest upside down, on his back, with his paws in the air. I like to say, ‘it never gets old,’ because no matter how many times I see him next to the kitchen on his back with his paws in the air, or next to the front door on his back with his paws in the air, or laying on my bed on his back with his paws in the air, I just laugh. Who sleeps like that? How is this comfortable? Are you not biologically wired to worry about predators? The answer is no. Shiloh sleeps all over the house on his back with his paws in the air.
WP: How has your pet influenced you creatively?
Robin: My dog has influenced me creatively by making me remember to appreciate napping and meals, two activities crucial to maintaining my creative fuel.
WP: Has your pet influenced your teaching?
Robin: So much of my teaching is about not judging our writing or ourselves as writers. Shiloh embodies this philosophy because he does not judge himself as a dog. He does not worry about whether he is a good enough dog or a worthy enough dog or whether he is too old or too late or too anything to be a dog. He does not compare himself to other dogs. He does not wonder if he is a real dog. He accepts that he was born a dog and he is a dog. He finds joy in being a dog without being attached to any particular outcome or achievement. He understands that, at its core, being a dog is its own reward. You can like him or not like him but, either way, he is fully aware of his worth as a dog. He does not need other people to validate his dogginess. He only needs other people to give him cheese.
WP: Any life lessons he’s taught you?
Robin: Shiloh’s life goals include eating, sleeping, cuddling, snacking, playing with toys, meeting new people, staring out the window, napping upside down, and loudly saying ‘hey’ to neighbors as they walk by the front yard. Dogs are spiritual gurus – definitely worth emulating.
WP: Does your pet like to contribute a helping hand while you are writing? Please elaborate.
Robin: No. In fact, if my dog had his way, I would not be writing. I would be using both hands for ear rubs, tummy scratches, treat giving, ball throwing, and other feeding and pet-attentional needs.
WP: If you wouldn’t mind, could you please write a short ode (any sort of creative writing of your choice) to your pet ?
Mom loves to play with my red lobster chew toy even though it is mine. She sometimes eats cheese and does not give me any even though I sit so nicely in front of her like a good boy. She likes to cuddle with me while I look out the window, surveying the property for squirrels or other enemies. My fur is soft and when she stops petting me, I nudge her gently only fifty or sixty times until she starts petting me again. I like when she takes me on walks so I can go the bathroom – often twice – on the neighbor’s lawn. It is no big deal and I love funky smells and I am sure she does, too. Every time she walks in the door, I rush toward her to make sure she has had a good day. I am the best thing that ever happened to these people. Woof.
Thanks Robin & Shiloh for making us laugh.
Look out for Robin on the schedule in the months ahead. You can also pe-order her book coming out in May 2024, Heart. Soul. Pen.: Find Your Voice on the Page and in Your Life.
Read more about her here.