Write About Fido & Fifi – It Sells! By Susan Sundwall

Okay, I don’t think anyone names their dog, cat, hamster or whatever Fido or Fifi anymore, but maybe that title caught your eye because you love writing about animals, as I do. We currently own a fifteen-year-old Springer Spaniel, and have owned several cats and other dogs. We also deal on a regular basis with local wildlife, which includes white tailed deer, possums, crows, foxes, rabbits, and the occasional black bear. And don’t even get me started on my new found love of hummingbirds. Many of my encounters with these animals serve as fodder for my eager pen.


I rescued a Maine Coon cat that was hanging around our bird feeder one drizzly afternoon as I baked cookies. I wove the incident into an essay titled Cookies, Cats and Crows, and sold it to a Colorado regional publication. When our first Springer Spaniel ran to the back door barking like crazy because my husband was stuck on the barn roof, my re-telling of it sold to Cup of Comfort for Dog Lovers II. You know where I’m going here. If there’s an animal in your life, there are ample essay topics to draw from and many editors waiting to read them.


In the Spring 2011 issue of JAKES, a kids publication put out by the National Wildlife Turkey Federation, there’s a lively and informative article about shrews. The little critters have always fascinated me, and I had great fun and learned tons about shrews when I wrote it. I was paid $300 and would have been paid for photos if I’d had any to submit. Unfortunately, shrews are very hard to spot…never mind line up for a picture. The editor did a fine job of filling that gap.

In a similar vein, last summer I submitted a story about an encounter with a trash raiding raccoon to Backwoods, You Had to Be There, and wound up as a finalist in their quarterly competition. I didn’t win the $250 prize, but I received a beautiful full size backpack for being one of five finalists.

Everything Else

One of my part time jobs is childcare for a little girl whose family keeps a huge coop of racing pigeons behind their house. They subscribe to Racing Pigeon Digest. My husband and I once employed a young man who kept lizards. He fed them live crickets which he always hoped the pet store would have in stock. Our neighbors across the road have chickens and an occasional runaway rooster. Another neighbor had goats for a while. The list of critters people keep for pets or raise for profit is mind boggling. But they all have publications to aid and abet them in their efforts. Even if you’re not a wildlife expert or a practicing veterinarian, with a bit of earnest research, curiosity and maybe a camera you can tap into this lucrative market. Here are a few to get you started.
American Farriers – Payment dependent on word count
Bird Talk – Pays $100 to $200 for short features and $300 to $400 for longer features
Dog and Kennel – Pays $.10 per word
National Parks Magazine – Pays $.70 – $1.00 per word
Cats and Kittens – Pays $.10 per word
Reptiles – Pays $350 – $500 for 2,000 – 2,500 word article and $350 for shorter articles
Deer and Deer Hunting – Pays $150 – $500 for features $25 – $250 for “Browse”
Backwoods – You Had to be There – $250 gift card for best story
JAKES – Pays $300 for features
Dogs in Canada – Payment varies
Clean Run – Pays $75- $300

Have a little fun expanding your writing horizons by including animals in the mix. Fido and Fifi would approve!

Susan is a freelance writer and children’s playwright living in upstate New York. Her children’s e-book, Bandy Bandana, about a little dog that loves bandanas is available here.