1) Is JJ The American Street Dog your first children's book?JJ The American Street Dog is my first children’s book.
2) You are a Certified Humane Education Specialist, what does that mean?
Years ago I read about a woman doing animal rescue work, who was a Certified Humane Education Specialist so I looked it up. Believe it or not, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has a University! People can get a Bachelors degree, or even a Masters, plus they have this Certificate program as well, which was more up my alley. Many of the participants in the program are teachers and use the humane education parts to add Humane Education to their curriculum. Many of the other Certified Humane Education Specialists that are not already teachers go into classrooms and build a seminar or program around school standards. It made me think about animal issues that I hadn’t thought of before- particularly the way a child might think about them. After receiving my CHES I started doing a few local seminars teaching kids about basic animal care, dog bite prevention and humane animal treatment. Then I got busy writing and publishing the book and I use the education when I go into classrooms to read the book to students.
3) The story of JJ is one you speak of from the heart because you rescued the real JJ 17 years ago. Tell me a little about JJ.
The real JJ was such a sweet dog. I’ll never forget my husband bringing him home for the first time. Not too different from the book except he was on my husband's lap. I fell in love instantly. He was a gentle soul and very sweet with our cats and then we had kids and he was sweet with them too. He was a funny mix of a bunch of dogs and looked most like a cross between a Sheltie, a Shepherd and a Lab. But that’s just a guess. As I said in the back of the book- it didn’t matter what kind of dog he was- he was just a love. He gave lots of love and I believe he knew he was rescued and was so grateful.
4) What do you want your readers to learn from this book?
I would like for people to learn that there are millions of amazing animals in need of good homes. If you choose a rescued pet from a shelter or rescue organization you are literally saving a life. Conversely, when people buy pets from a breeder, or worse, from a pet store, there’s a pet whose time is up at a shelter which didn’t get a second chance. Many people have a certain breed in mind, which is fine if they go to their local breed rescue- and there are even many pure bred dogs at the local shelter. We have the power to make a difference in the lives of voiceless animals. Children are the voice of the next generation, which is why I wanted them to become aware of this important issue.
5) Congratulations on receiving a Mom's Choice Honoring Excellence Award! What's next for JJ? Is this the beginning of a series about JJ or dogs?
Thanks for the nice words about the Mom’s Choice Award! JJ The American Street Dog is the first in the JJ series. The next four books all address different animal issues including Basic Training, Bringing a baby home to a house where there is already a dog, Service and Therapy Animals and Misunderstood Breeds. JJ, Maya and her family are the stars in all of the books!