Random top tens: Inspirational cats and dogs

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1 JOE and Josephine French poodles that belonged to shlock novelist Jacqueline Susann, the woman who gave the world Valley of the Dolls. One dog inspired the short story Along Came Joe, while the bitch provided Susann with the idea for Every Night Josephine!, which went on to be a bestseller.

2 Bimbo, Fritzi, Nuggi and Mys Marina Alberghini was so inspired by Swiss artist Paul Klee's love of the above-mentioned cats that she wrote a book, Il Gatto Cosmico di Paul Klee, in 1993, in which these kitties featured.

3 Bettina, Chundo, Fay Wray et al The world's most famous weimaraners have been endlessly immortalised by their owner, photographer William Wegman.

4 Taki Raymond Chandler used to call this black, female Persian cat (above) his secretary, and he always read her the first drafts of his crime novels.

5 Catarina Another black, feline muse, she belonged to Edgar Allen Poe, who took her everywhere and allowed her to perch on his shoulder as he wrote – notably, The Black Cat, which was all about her.

6 Foss Beloved of nonsense poet Edward Lear, this pet not only featured in many a drawing collected in The Heraldic Blazon of Foss the Cat, it inspired him to pen The Owl & the Pussycat. Lear only outlived Foss by two short months.

7 Tulip Skittish and untameable, this Alsatian was the light of novelist JR Ackerley's life – his devotion was almost pathological – and inspired him to pen the memoir My Dog Tulip.

8 Boatswain Lord Byron was so overcome with grief when his dog perished that he wrote Epitaph to a Dog: "Near this spot are deposited the remains of one who possessed beauty without vanity, strength without ferocity, and all the virtues of man without his vices."

9 Flush Elizabeth Barrett's cocker spaniel and, allegedly, the bane of husband Robert Browning's existence, provided Virginia Woolf with all the inspiration she needed to commit the dog's biography to print.

10 Sparky Multi-media artist Nelson Santos lives and makes art with this adorable black and white mutt (above). Via The Sparky Project (www.sparkyandnelson.com), launched in 2004, more than 100 artists have created portraits of or tributes to this photogenic dog.