The Story of Penelope, A Puppy Mill Dog - When Dogs Bite
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Printed: 50 pages, 8.5" x 11", perfect binding, black and white interior ink
If you love animals, and have children, this illustrated book is a must for your family. "The Story of Penelope" is a true story. This delightful and educational story, about a boy and his dog, will entertain and educate readers of all ages. The book gently introduces the abuses of the Puppy Mill Industry, how it affects the American family, and describes the plight of the Dog Rescuer in a way that children can understand. If you are a parent, an educator, a breeder, an animal rescuer, a shelter operator, an animal transport volunteer, in the veterinary field, or you just love dogs, you'll love this book. The Story of Penelope doesn't stop here. As Arthur gets older, he will take you on a journey where he will share his quest to address the issues of animal over-population, and then solve them. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to www.BCRSQ.com .
Jim Willis' Book Review
Dec 18, 2007
As a writer, as the writer of "How Could You?" and "The Animals' Savior" and the book Pieces of My Heart, I hear from a lot of would-be animal-people authors who ask me to write a review, or want a critique, or want to know the "secret" of publishing. I take that so seriously that I even included a chapter in my book "On Writing." I believe everyone in this world has a story to tell, but as a reader, don't we all expect that that story be told well? As all writers know, there is no "secret," and it is all about honing your skills and craft, believing in yourself and your message, and expressing yourself well, with heart and sincerity. Frankly, a lot of what we "published" authors have to read is not very good, but I also believe that we have an obligation to be teachers and to encourage everyone in the discipline, and I suspect most of us consider that responsibility seriously and akin to passing on the torch. (With the constant reminder to "don't give up your day-job.")
What a pleasant surprise Gisele Veilleux and her new work is, and without being self-indulgent, I have to tell you why based on personal experience, starting at the end, rather than the beginning. After I wrote "How Could You?" inspired by a real senior dog I rescued on her "last day" at one of America's kill shelters, among the many people I heard from were euthanasia technicians who thanked me for understanding the job they do. I never saw that coming, that was not my intent in writing the piece, but how important a job they do (a job most of us could never do!) in the absence of compassion in the world's wealthiest country that still considers murder as a solution to its unwanted animal problem.
Years before that, at my home in another country, I adopted an abandoned dog without the benefit of any knowledge of her history and on her first day there, she threatened the lives of all of my other animals. She was the largest female Saint Bernard I've ever known and that's a breed known for its gentleness. I had part of my property fenced for her, re-arranged my schedule, she slept in my home office at nights, and with some detective work, I found that she had been struck by a vehicle and suffered brain damage. I am an animal behaviorist and would never give up on a dog, but even during playtime with her, I observed her going out of control, non-responsive, not behaving like a dog, and felt that I was possibly in danger and my totally no-kill philosophy was challenged and I suffered greatly because I realized that I might, after decades, finally have to make the responsible decision about an animal, not pass her on and jeopardize someone else. Sadly, thankfully, the decision was taken out of my hands when she suffered a stomach torsion and died under anesthesia on the operating table. I'd only had her a few months and I bawled like a baby when she died. I know from decades of experience, hundreds of dogs, and studies that biting is normal communication for dogs - albeit not "acceptable" behavior to humans. (Like their predecessors, wolves, most bites are not intended to kill or maim, because decimating your pack members is not in the best interests of the pack.) The same humans who urinate anytime they like, but will leave an under-exercised, under-socialized dog home alone for 10-14 hours per day, sometimes in a crate, without the companionship of their own species. I don't have a lot of faith in the "general public," Insurance Companies, the Law, and The Courts in interpreting dog behavior.
Among the things that I never even thought of, or had time to write - what happens when a well-informed, compassionate person, dog-knowledgeable, with children, chooses to rescue a dog and then finds out the dog bites? When the whole family, including the children love the dog? What if the family chose a breed that doesn't fit their lifestyle? Well, the easy answer is have the dog killed quietly by any vet willing to do the dirty work and violate the oath they've taken, or further burden this country's put-upon, hopelessly behind the curve "animal welfare" system and convince the kids that the dog went to "a farm in the country."
But, no, Ms. Veilleux exhausted the resources available in order to ensure Penelope's welfare. She talked to her children along the way, explained the issues. She has written a simple, heartfelt description of the experience that is not only appropriate for children of an age when they can understand, it is telling and meaningful, and will find a resonance among any of us who once had to, or might have to face the reality and find a responsible solution for an animal who doesn't fit into our family.
There is nobody informed and involved in animal welfare/rights in this country that doesn't understand the reality. It would take no-kill animal shelters across this country to warehouse all the unwanted animals and that would still deny them the kind of individual attention they deserve, and even by current statistics 25% of animals delivered to shelters are purebred. We wish the public knew that there is a "breed rescue" for every breed in this country (and they aren't miracle workers either).
It would take a public to understand that EVERY animal sold by a petshop is the product of a puppy/kitten/or other "mill," because no responsible breeder would consider a petshop the proper venue to responsibly place an animal. It would take a public to recognize that those cute, under-socialized animals are timebombs of genetic, medical and behavioral problems.
Ms. Veilleux alludes to many of those issues in her poignant text and most importantly, at the end she includes a list of resources to learn more and investigate the options to "giving up" on an animal. She has made an important contribution to the education effort. Anyone of my generation or older hopes that the youth of this world can accomplish for animals what we couldn't and it is because of skilled, caring authors like Gisele Veilleux that our youth will be touched, inspired and educated to do so.
I can only apologize to the author for the length of my review; as an author who has sometimes been reviewed inefficiently (rarely badly), reviews that exclaim "great!", "must read!" without trying to understand the author and her message just don't do it for us authors. I read her work, I appreciated the resources she provided at the end, I look forward to more great writings from her, and while the rest of us go about our attention to animals, I'm relieved that there's a Gisele Veilleux out there helping the rest of us educate the masses.