Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fido and Friend in Five: Susan Wilson and Bonnie!

Okay, it's no big secret I'm a sucker for dog stories. When I walk through a bookstore or library, and I see a book with a dog on the cover--well, it's in my hands faster than a New York minute! Add to that if the dog on the cover is a sheltie and I'm all over it. There's no way you're getting that book out of my hands! That's how I felt when I saw the cover of Susan Wilson's newest book (and I mean new), The Dog Who Danced. I was at the main library one day for a meeting, and one of my friends and fellow sheltie mom's waved an advance reading copy of Susan's book in my face and said, "Look what I have." I grabbed the book from her and said, "A sheltie!" My friend (who's name also happens to be Susan) took the book from me and said, "Nope. You can have it after I'm done reading it." If she hadn't been a sheltie lover I would have broken her knees. But it was worth the wait.

Susan is no stranger to writing so convincingly and beautifully about the magical bond between dogs and their people. Her highly acclaimed novel, One Good Dog, set her firmly in the pack of novelist who really know how to celebrate dogs. One Good Dog tells the story of Adam March--a man who lost everything he had--and a dog who's never had anything. Together they learn to love and trust. In her new book (due out in March of 2012), The Dog Who Danced, a down-on-her luck woman is parted from her most beloved sheltie. As they try to find their way to each other, they each touch many lives. Sound a little familiar? If you've read and enjoyed my book, A Dog's Way Home, you must look for Susan's book when it comes out in the spring!

Susan lives and writes in Martha's Vineyard with her dog Bonnie (who, alas, is not a sheltie but is adorable anyway). Let's find out all about Bonnie and her Girl in this week's Fido and Friend in Five:

1. How did you and Bonnie find each other?  Bonnie and I were matched in a kind of animal shelter speed dating. When i knew I wanted to get a dog, I also knew I wanted to get a puppy for the first time in many years. Our beloved collie, Callie, had been a former show dog, but proven to be a poor breeder, so she was sold to us as a mature dog. The only other puppy I'd ever had was Angus, and he was the dog all newlyweds should be warned not to get. When my husband's new job required us to move hastily and into a no pets apartment, Angus had to be re-homed, breaking my heart (although I have always hoped that his new family, complete with children, was a better fit than two working parents). But, to Bonnie. I was, as we have all done, perusing the web for puppies. The Sterling Animal Shelter in Sterling, Mass had been recommended to me, and I was on their website when I spotted a litter of Brittany crosses. Now, you have to understand, I live on an island, and spontaneity is not possible. However, I was on the first boat the next morning, ready to barrel my way north to Sterling to claim my Brittany!

Despite my 7:00 departure, I wasn't the first in line at the shelter, which didn't open for another 45 minutes. Like some kind of A&W Root Beer stand, the staff came out to our cars and handed us a number. One by one, the hopeful adopters were brought to the kennel and given the opportunity to mingle with the adoptees. Needless to say, the Brittany crosses were gone by the time I got in. If I had been able to jump in my car the afternoon before, I might have been one of the lucky ones who got a puppy. As it turned out, I really did become the lucky one. I got Bonnie.

She was described as a terrier cross. Four puppies crawled around the floor of that large cage. Two were smooth, one was wire-haired. And then there was Bonnie, white and tan with the cutest white eyelashes ever. It was those white eyelashes that grabbed my heart.

Fast forward eight years. The little puppy I imagined maturing into something like the size of a Cairn Terrier (about nine or ten pounds) looks more like a giant Jack Russell Terrier!

2. What makes Bonnie's tail wag?  Greeting the people she loves.

3. What's your all-time favorite dog book?  My all time favorite dog books have to be those of Albert Payson Terhune who wrote the Lad books and Gray Wolf. Hence the collies in my past. Terhune was one of the best in describing a dog's inner life, although, as I have come to realize, his viewpoint tended toward domination and obedience. His dogs loved their "master" and "mistress" slavishly. I have fallen into the camp that wants cooperation and inter-species respect.

4. If Bonnie could change just one thing about you, what would it be?  My insistence that she be bathed immediately after she rolls in something I think is nasty (dead crow anyone?).

5. In five words, tell us what Bonnie means to you:  Bonnie is the best thing I've ever done for myself (other than my kids and career). She is my true companion.

Truest of friends

             Thanks so much to Susan and Bonnie!

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