There’s a lot wrong with our world right now but there may be hope. When I hear about kids spending too much time with their electronic devices and not enough with other kids, I don’t get discouraged. When I attend a party and try to approach a stranger, and that stranger turns away from me, I don’t mind. The reason for my optimism? Dogs!
In the U.S. dogs live in half of all homes. I have a black Labradoodle named Morgan who is my best buddy; we play together at the dog park and snuggle together at night. In all of my middle grade novels the main character has a dog who is their best pal. Why? Dogs are going to save the world.
At the dog park, as soon as Morgan and I are through the fence, he rushes to befriend the first dog he sees. That dog’s handler and I both study how they play and soon are chatting with each other. “It looks like they are well matched, I say. “How much does your dog weigh?” he asks. “Fifty seven pounds.” “Mine weighs fifty.” “They ARE a good match.” If the dogs run into problems, we work together to find a solution. Sometimes, we find we have more in common than just our dogs and our conversation goes in other directions. This instant connection happens outside the dog park as well. Morgan and I went to a thrift shop together. It benefits the local Humane Society so dogs are welcomed. A woman came running over to pet Morgan, and she and I talked about therapy dogs. After twenty minutes I realized I had made a new friend. The connective power of dogs sometimes astounds me, and the more we take them with us outside our homes, the more our lives will be enriched by the new connections we make.
My reason for including dog pals in my books is sneaky. I want you to like the main characters; and you will if you see them being kind to their pets. I added a dog to the story in Island when I learned the Kuna Indians keep dogs as pets. Including a dog in the stories also ups the opportunity for adventure. What happens when you bring your dog to school dressed as Toto from the Wizard of Oz? How will a dog react when he hears a hurricane outside? What would it be like to be in a parade of forty dogs, all wearing bright colored leashes? The possibilities go on and on and a dog always mixes things up.
So dogs increase the amount of fun and adventure in our lives, AND dogs will save the world by increasing the connections between people. Hooray for our furry friends who make our world a better place.