Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fido and Friend in Five: Monica Carnesi and Constance!

Two years ago, Monica Carnesi was driving to work, listening to her favorite NPR station, when she heard a story that would change her life. The reporter told the story of a little dog, lost and stranded far out to sea on an ice flow. No one knew how the dog had gotten on this chunk of ice on the Vistula River in Poland and drifted out to the Baltic Sea. No one knew how to save the little dog from a terrible fate, they just knew they must. This past January, author and illustrator, Carnesi published an absolutely beautiful and endearing picture book account of the dog's plight and rescue in her debut book, Little Dog Lost: The True Story of a Brave Dog Named Baltic (Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin). Horn Book gave the book a starred review describing the watercolor artwork as "simple yet dramatic." I would add heartwarming and haunting.

Like yours truly, Monica is a librarian! She works at the Philadelphia Free Library. Like me, she also hopes to one day quit her "day job" and just focus on her art and her writing. We both love "Bark" magazine and beagles. My first dog ever in my life was a beagle named Puck. So it only seemed right that Monica and her beloved rescue beagle, Constance, would be in the Fido and Friend in Five spotlight!

"Please take me home"
1. How did you and Constance find each other? My husband, Mark, gets the credit for finding our beagle girl. We had just moved to a dog-friendly building and were ready to adopt a dog. At some point, our nephew, Alex, suggested we get a beagle. We thought that was a great idea, so Mark immediately started looking into rescue organizations. He found BREW Beagles, a terrific rescue organization run by very dedicated volunteers. We know very little about Connie's past--when we adopted her in September of 2003, they estimated her age at 6 to 8 years old, so she's probably 15 now. We aren't even sure who gave her the name Constance. She was found by BREW volunteers at a shelter in Virginia, underweight and scared. BREW removed her from the shelter and placed her in a great foster home (God bless fosters), where she lived for about two months. We drove down from Philadelphia to meet her and fell in love right away. She's been a constant source of happiness ever since!

Doing what a beagle does best
2. What makes Connie's tail wag?  Going for a "pack walk"! In case you're wondering, that's when Mark, Connie and I go for a walk together. Connie loves going for walks with me, she loves going for walks with Mark. But going for a walk with both of us together (the whole "pack") is without a doubt her all-time favorite thing to do. Her tail wags, she practically bounces all the way to the elevator, and gives us the sweetest smile.

"Just in case..."
3. What's your all-time favorite dog story?  Since I write and illustrate picture books, I'm going to name my favorite picture book about dogs. Not an easy task since I love so many, but Fred Stays with Me, written by Nancy Coffelt and illustrated by Tricia Tusa is simply wonderful! Nancy's lovely story about a girl, her divorced parents, and her dog Fred, is beautifully illustrated by Tricia, and captures perfectly not only the bond between a child and her dog, but also the amazing gifts dogs give us: companionship, support, constancy, and love.

4. If Constance could change just one thing about you, what would it be?  Something I myself would love to change: my allergy to cats. Connie would love to have a cat friend. As I said, we know very little about her past, but we're convinced she grew up with a cat. Constance LOVES cats. She is rarely playful with other dogs and can be a bit aloof when meeting them on the street or in the park. But her whole demeanor changes when she sees a cat: she gets into her play position and starts wagging her tail. Our local pet supply store fosters cats for adoption. Once they had an adorable little white kitten named Sugar. Connie and Sugar would actually play "hide-and-seek" all over the store. I kid you not!

5. In five words, tell us what Connie means to you:  Constance fills me with hope.

Thanks so much, Connie and Monica! Hugs to you both! Be sure to check out Monica's website and blog to find out more about her and her art.