Recently we invited Diane Rose-Solomon, author of JJ the American Street Dog to our yard for an interview. Here is a transcript of our discussion:
Bella, DiDi and Toby: Diane, we read your book. We gasped, cheered, took a treat break, cried, and then wagged our tails. What inspired you to write the book?
Diane: Wow- that’s cool that you had such a powerful experience reading JJ The American Street Dog. Years ago, I didn’t know about rescue and my husband and I were going to buy a dog from a breeder. Our dog JJ came to us pretty much exactly how JJ came to Maya’s family in the book- by accident. It was through that happy accident that I learned about rescue and the millions of homeless pets needing our help.
I thought that if other people who were thinking about buying a dog could learn about rescue too and that it’s not the breed, but the “dogness” of the dog that matters, that they might consider adoption too. (For the record there are breed rescues for just about every breed you might want!)
One day I just wrote out my story- there was nothing pre-meditated about it. It just flowed onto the paper. When I looked at it I thought “hmmm this might be a children’s book”. Wouldn’t it be great to teach kids about rescue now while they are still young? And thus began JJ’s book journey.
Toby: Before becoming a part of Bella and DiDi’s family, I was given up by the only family I knew. They lost our house and brought me to a shelter. I was a very good boy. Could I have done something different or better that could have stopped them from leaving me?
Diane: I’m sure you’ve always been a very good boy and the people who brought you to the shelter just didn’t have any other solutions that they could think of at the time. It’s a sad fact that there are a lot of people in that same position.
I’ve read lately about families who when they fell on hard times chose to live in their car and keep their dogs. People need to be really ready for the responsibility of pet parenting and have a “Plan B” in place in case there’s an emergency for example someone who can take care of their pet if need be.
Pets are our family and totally dependent on us. There’s an intervention program at the North Central Shelter in Los Angeles- a very high intake shelter. The first thing they do when a family is attempting to surrender their pet is to ask them “How can we help you keep your pet?” https://www.facebook.com/northcentralintervention
Often it is just a few hundred dollars for a vet bill, or because their human is having health issues and needs someone temporarily to care for their pet, or they can’t find an apartment that allows dogs. This program helps match the family with their needs and it has already saved thousands of pets a from being relinquished to the system and probable euthanization. It is a program that could be widespread with proper support.
Bella and DiDi: We have been lucky to be with our humans all of our lives. Besides the humans not playing enough fetch with us, we lead a good life. How can we make other humans aware that not every dog has a charmed life like we do?
Diane: It’s why we do what we do. Most people want to do the right thing but just need a little bit of guidance. There are so many wonderful pet parents and we need to set the example. By educating children and their families about basic humane treatment of animals we are paving the way for a better future for our pets.
Often, when pets aren’t being treated well, the humans in their home aren’t being treated well either. It’s about compassion, education and rehabilitation. There are now some anti-bullying programs and increasingly more humane education programs in schools. Let’s read books to kids and show them what it means to be a humane person.
Toby: I have become a family favorite. *Sighs from Bella and DiDi* Can you tell our readers about the benefits of welcoming a rescue dog into the family?
Diane: We could go on and on about this for days. First of all, I believe rescue dogs know they’ve been rescued and are supremely grateful.
Second, you are saving a life. When you adopt a pet from a shelter, or a rescue group, or even save an animal who is on the streets like JJ was, you are saving their life and making room in the shelter for another pet who needs saving too.
There are enough good homes for all the pets in the shelters if people choose to adopt their next pet rather than shop. Dogs don’t ask for anything complicated. Some decent food, fresh water, a warm cozy place to sleep, exercise and some loving attention.
It’s pretty basic, but what you get back is unconditional love. They are there to greet you when you get home, they snuggle with you and keep you company when you feel lonely, and they have an instinctive understanding of your feelings and comfort you when you are sad or not feeling well. So when you know you are ready for your next pet, be sure to adopt and save a life!
Bella, DiDi and Toby: Thank you Diane for joining us in the yard for an important discussion.
Diane: It was great to be here.
Going through a tough time? Not sure how to carry on after a loss? You have Paws By Your Side: http://www.pawsbyyourside.com