I’ve always loved the way autumn ushers itself into the northeastern United States: Leaves turn orange and amber and yellow; the sky, devoid of clouds, shines the brightest lightest blue; and summer’s heat and humidity retreat, leaving the air brisk and invigorating. This is also the time of year that the Jewish people celebrate the High Holy Days – Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. These are days of reflection, when we contemplate the year behind us and welcome the new one stretching before us.
Four years ago, Rosh Hashanah fell on a gorgeous fall day. My family had yet to go to synagogue, had yet to read the passage about this being the time of year when God makes his plans for how each of us will experience the year ahead. But apparently God had already made his plans for our dog, Gryffin, because that Rosh Hashanah morning, in the car with my husband and our eldest daughter, en route to the Sourland Mountains for an hour-long hike, a tumor that we hadn’t known was tucked behind Gryffin’s ribcage ruptured. Several hours later, our boy was dead, and we were sitting in a pew in our synagogue wrestling with our grief and our shock.
I didn’t know then that I would look back at that day as the start of a new journey – a journey that would begin with my family adopting Galen, a rescue dog from a North Carolina animal shelter, and that would culminate with the publication of my first book.
That book, Dogland: A Journey to the Heart of America’s Dog Problem will be released by Ashland Creek Press next autumn. (Despite living in the digital age, book publishing moves at a pace seemingly closer to that of the Gutenberg press than that of the Internet.)
Dogland is Galen’s story, and it is the story of the South, where, more than in any other region of the country, healthy, adoptable dogs in overcrowded animal shelters are euthanized to make room for the next ones that will inevitably come through their doors. And it is the story of humble visionaries who believe there is a home for every shelter dog, that spay/neuter rates can rise in the even the poorest communities, and that the South’s children – the next generation of dog owners – can transform a culture. What’s more, they believe that their ideas and their passion can transcend the South to the many communities throughout the United States where euthanasia is used to remedy the problems of shelter overpopulation.
In the coming months I will be moving this blog to a new website built to herald the release of Dogland. I hope you will come with me, that you will continue to support this blog, and that you will consider purchasing (and reading) Dogland. All the proceeds from the book will be funneled back to the people and programs working to end shelter euthanasia, which remains the leading cause of canine death in the United States.
I know I will enjoy reading your book as much as I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. And it’s so great to know that the money earned will help shelter dogs from the south.
Just to congratulate you on this great and well-deserved news! I am so grateful that you were willing to take on this subject with its complexity and tangled history on behalf of those wonderful creatures, both comical and wise, we have been lent for awhile to love and to be loved by, and that make our worlds, our children’s worlds, larger and more kind. Looking forward to your book and thanking you for the work and the heart you have put into it–Jane
Thank so much. Jane. I hope the book lives up to your expectations! First my nerves were stressed over whether I’d find a publisher; now they are stressed over whether people will embrace the end result. Ugh!
Beautiful! Kevin’s call was such a shock because he seemed so healthy. But u have the most interesting stories about Galen, so maybe things happen for a reason.
Yes, they say things happen for a reason — whoever “they” are!
Congratulations on your upcoming book, Jacki! I didn’t know much about the abundance of dogs in the south who need homes until Wendy adopted Sadie. I think that it’s really great that you are doing something positive to raise both awareness and funds. I have also really enjoyed reading your blog 🙂
Thank you, Allison!
I was talking about Gryffin today. I was relating how he watched over Lindsey when she was a newborn. He protected both girls. We will never forget Gryffin. BUT, now we will follow Galen wherever she may lead.
Looking forward to reading your book.
Thrilled for you.
Yes, Gryffin was our security guard. Galen, alas, is more loving than protective. I like to think she’d rise to the challenge. Kevin isn’t so sure. 🙂
I remember this day well. I was on the phone with you in my kitchen and you were crying about Gryffin and ella asked me what was wrong and I told her and her first response (out of her 6 or 7 year old mouth) was ” so now I can sleep over at dhanis??” My how far we have come. 😍
Sent from my iPhone
Ohmigosh! I forgot about Ella’s response. My how far SHE’s come!