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Guest post by Savy Leiser, Author of The Forever Home Friends
Combining the Two Greatest Things in the World: Books and Dogs!
Even though dogs (sadly) can’t read, books and dogs have always gone together for me. Dogs are what first ignited my passion for writing. Back when I was a little kid, all of my inspiration as a writer came from stories about my chihuahua.
When I was a teenager first putting my writing out into the world, one of my first published pieces was about a golden retriever– and another one was about the same chihuahua. As an adult, I’m not at all surprised that my writing career has intersected with my life as a dog mom.
How The Furever Home Friends Was Born
Coming from a rescue-dog family, I realized that every dog has a story. In the midst of working as a music journalist and writing young-adult novels, I always had this idea in the back of my head that I needed to do something involving rescue dogs.
One day, it all came together for me: I would create a series of children’s books, each based on a real rescue dog’s story, and donate part of the profits to animal shelters. After a billion picture book drafts and a successful $7,000 Kickstarter campaign, The Furever Home Friends was born.
My goal with this book series is not just to tell dogs’ stories, but also to teach kids about social issues. Often, the issues affecting rescue dogs parallel those affecting people, and exploring those issues through a dog’s eyes can help introduce kids to them in a gentle way.
For example, we see many examples of pit bulls struggling to get adopted due to breed-specific legislation resulting from the assumption that their breed is mean or aggressive. One of our books, Smile, Chewie!, deals with this issue.
The end of the book presents a set of discussion questions, one of which discusses how this is a form of prejudice; then, it asks kids and their parents to discuss how prejudice and stereotypes can affect people as well.
Smile, Chewie! also covers the topic of body image; because Chewie was abused as a puppy, he has scars on his face. Over the course of the book, Chewie is too shy to smile for the camera, but learns to gain self-confidence when he realizes that posing for pictures could help him show the world that pit bulls are sweet, not scary!
The Furever Home Friends has existed for a year now, and we are in the process of expanding. In addition to adding new stories to our series, we are introducing a line of stuffed animals based on the dogs in the books.
We want kids to be able to hold the stuffed animal while reading the dog’s story. We want them to feel like that dog is theirs; like they’ve truly made a new friend furever. All stuffed dogs come with a personalized adoption certificate.
Get Your Own Chewie!
Our first stuffed dog, Chewie, is currently available for preorder on our website, fureverhomefriends.com. What’s really special about Chewie is that his stuffed animal perpetuates the message of body positivity as well.
He has three scars stitched into his face, mirroring the scars his character has in the book (well, and the scars he has in real life). Too often, a character with scars is mean or tough, like Scar from The Lion King.
I wanted to create a toy that shows scars not as something negative, but just as another part of who we are. We all look different, and our differences should be celebrated.
Chewie’s stuffed animal will release officially on August 11. Everyone who preorders one from the website will receive their stuffed animal then.
On that same day, we are releasing a new book in the series: Just Me, Wrigley, a story about a goofy, quirky, mixed-breed dog trying to fit in, understand who she is, and find her furever home.
We will be holding a launch party on August 11 for both of these new products at Replica Chicago in Portage Park. Everyone is welcome to attend!
I have been so happy to see the growth of The Furever Home Friends over the past year. We have been donating 10% of all our profits to no-kill animal shelters, with our current beneficiary as ALIVE Rescue (where Chewie is from).
Though it has been a ton of work to start my own business, it has been absolutely worth it to combine my passions for writing and helping dogs. In that sense, I’m already living the dream!
Savy Leiser, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Furever Home Friends, email@example.com
Facebook: @savyleiserwriter, @fureverhomefriends
Instagram: @savyleiser, @fureverhomefriends, @thischarmingchewie (yes, Chewie has his own account!)