If you’ve written a book, you know what it’s like to hold the final version in your hand for the first time.
Love Has No Age Limit, the book I co-authored with Karen London about adopting an adolescent or adult dog, was delivered yesterday morning at 8 AM. I pulled up just after Denise had spent heaven knows how long carrying boxes from the truck into the office. (The delivery man’s comment, while first refusing to unload the boxes, was “Do you know how many books there are in that truck?!” That’s a line that will live forever in our office as “comments never to forget.” As will Denise’s answer: “Yes, I do. I ordered them.”) But thanks to Denise’s herculean efforts, there are now thousands of copies of our new book sitting in our office. (But a lot less than yesterday, we’ve sold hundreds and hundreds already!)
But right after it came, I entered my office to find a closed box of the books sitting on my desk. I took a breath and parted the cardboard panels. It’s scary to look at the book for the first time. Is it okay? Color right? Some horrific mistake that somehow passed through all the proofings? But, ah, when you pick it up and it’s okay and it’s good and you like it and all that work sits lightly in your hand? Priceless!
Here’s what I’m especially happy about:
*** Karen and I combined our combined years of experience working with clients who adopted dogs as adolescents or adults, with that of your wisdom, dear readers, and that of colleagues who have spent years helping to place dogs into their forever homes. We have high hopes that the book will not only encourage adoptions, but also increase the number of successful ones. (One research project found that almost a third of all adopted dogs were returned in the area studied.) It’s very clear that there are patterns to the adoption of older dogs, including in some of the problems that arise, and we’ve learned that a little bit of advice can go a long way toward helping families adapt to a new dog with a minimum of problems. Often the problem relates to expectations, and once expectations are aligned, things go much better than before.
*** We asked you and Facebook readers to send in a photo of a dog you rescued or adopted for the cover, and received over 800 of them. 800! Seriously! We loved every single one. It wasn’t easy, but we finally chose a dog named Theo to grace the cover, and a more compelling dog couldn’t be found. Theo was picked up by animal control on a New Jersey freeway, languished in a shelter for months, and is now a licensed therapy dog and beloved friend of Kimberly Wang in New York City.
*** So many fantastic photos, along with heart-swelling stories, came in that we decided to select more of them to introduce each new chapter. You can read about them and see some of their photos on our website.We’ll get more of them up as soon as we can.
*** We set a goal early on of creating a book that was thorough enough to be helpful but concise enough to be accessible. As importantly, we committed to creating a book that would be affordable for shelters and rescue groups so that they could hand it out with every dog they place. I’m thrilled with how it’s worked out: The printer, Suttle-Straus, graphic artist and typesetters, Jam Graphics, all agreed to take a substantial amount of their fee off of the price. We are truly grateful to them and thank them for their generosity. If you feel like it, send them an email and thank them too, we think they stepped up to the plate above and beyond. Because all the actors have been so generous, Love Has No Age Limit, if purchased in quantity, sells for a seriously ridiculous price. It’s barely covering our expenses, but it feels really really good nonetheless. We know how strapped shelters and rescue groups can be, and it feels wonderful to do our part to help dogs, as well as the people who want to adopt them.
*** We have a section on the website to help groups brainstorm ways to buy the book in bulk (when it is the least expensive, $2.95/copy) I’d love to hear your ideas about it. I think the best idea is for groups to ask donors to purchase books and donate them to the shelter. We know from research that people are more likely to contribute money for something specific rather than just cash toward a general fund.
I noticed that the Editor of Bark Magazine encouraged everyone to foster a dog this summer in their latest issue–a great idea that I’m all in favor of. Yeah for Claudia! However, it’s not something that each of us can do, no matter how much we’d like to. In April I had a foster dog scheduled to come to the farm in a few days (excitement reigned!), but then Willie’s injury was diagnosed at the Vet School, and we had to back out because I knew having a dog to play with in the house would make his recovery even more difficult. (The little girl found a good foster home soon after.) I’ll start again once Willie is recovered, but it’s not in the cards for us this summer. But it feels good to have spent over 8 months working on this book… we all can only do what we can do.
What can you do? Foster? If you can’t, there’s always a way you can help those millions of dogs out there who need homes. Be a volunteer dog walker? Contribute money for the general fund? Sponsor a dog? Buy the group or shelter some copies of Love Has No Age Limit? That feels self-serving to write, but the truth is, we did write the book to help, we do have a dream that every dog who leaves a shelter or rescue will leave with this book and that it will help at least a good number of them have an easy transition from “new dog” to “best dog ever.”
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: Great news! Willie and I just got back from physical therapy and it looks like Willie is doing really, really well. Yes, it’ll still be three more months before he can be off leash again, but his range of motion is good, he is striding well, the swelling is gone and he’s doing well with all his PT exercises. Yeah Willie boy. We are even relieved of the 10 minutes of heat before each session, which will make doing the new, more active exercises easier to do. He also loves doing the active exercises the best, rather than the passive range of motion ones we’ve worked on so hard for the last month (are we surprised?). Here’s some photos of him and Courtney Arnold, Willie’s physical therapist extraordinaire.
Here are some photos: Don’t you love how engaged she is with Willie? (He adores her, how could he not?)