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“Hoops” and I had a special history. She was curled up at my feet when I first learned about National Dog Week while mindlessly surfing the internet. I recall excitedly informing her that she, and her four-legged friends, were entitled to an entire week of celebration each September.
But the human was more enthusiastic about this news. Hooper got up, yawned, and went to find a spot on the sofa as if to say, “I thought every week was dog week!” But I wasn’t discouraged. I told her that I was going to write a book about National Dog Week someday and we would travel the country together telling the world about it!
So I got to work. I learned how to create a non-fiction proposal, wrote one, and then set out to find a literary agent and a publisher. How hard could it be? America is a dog-obsessed nation, wouldn’t everyone want to know about this venerable event just for dogs?
But I quickly came to realize that the work of an unknown author with no contacts in the world of publishing or the dog world, was not the pick the slush pile, that heap of manuscripts and proposals that accumulate on the desks of agents and editors.
It may sound cliché, but if you truly believe in a course of action, and apply yourself with the help of supportive people, your work will become known, slowly, but surely. The keys is to have faith and patience. I eventually found a literary agent willing to take on my project and two years later, signed a book contract.
As I write and remember our Hooper today, I recall how she sat with me day after long dog day, patiently waiting for our debut! With her passing, it was difficult to continue writing about dogs. I took a break and worked on another book, and lo and behold, I found a publisher for that project, too.
But without a dog, our house was way too quiet. I thought fostering dogs would help fill our home with the spirit of dog, and do some good, too. Soon, a little black and white dog named Teddy came our way. It was evident in a week’s time, he was here to stay.
I returned to my work on the Dog Week book, with Teddy at my feet now, but unlike Hooper, who had known love and care from the first moment of birth, Teddy came from a situation of neglect and had faced some tough times. He seemed to understand that some dogs never even have their day, let alone their week.
Over the past four years, in my writing of Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher, I have come to form relationships with many in the dog and publishing industry who have been generous with their knowledge and experience. They understand that National Dog Week was established in 1928 not to bring more dogs into the world, but to make humans more responsible for the ones that are already here.
As an elderly woman at Assisted Living said to me recently, “You know a house just isn’t a home without a dog.” If you are up to the responsibility, I highly recommend having one.
Romp in Peace “Hoop Girl”.