Say Hello to Walker
Walker had been dumped. A sweet and loyal hunting dog, he’d no longer been important to the family he loved. He had lost his will to live while waiting through the winter for them to come for him. His outlook wasn’t good. My volunteer job was to interest Walker in getting off the cot, exercising, playing, eating. The staff and all the volunteers together couldn’t make that happen. But in June, when the migration of tourists and summer people came up the mountain, life changed for Walker.
Who remembers the old TV Family Affair with Buffy and Jody? The seven- year-old twins who first saw Walker at a stop and adopt, looked, talked and behaved like Buffy and Jody. They visited the shelter every day. They spent the summer trying to find a home for Walker. They made posters with their crayons and left them on cars at Ingles. They spoke to strangers. “Would you like a nice dog? We can show you one.” The interesting thing about the twins was how unspoiled, how unentitled they were, and how much they loved the hound dog.
At summer’s end Walker was still in the shelter. But, he was eating, gained weight, went outside on his own to watch and wait for his daily visitors who played with him, taught him tricks, and gave him reason to thrive. At vacation’s end, the twins were concerned about Walker who would likely return to the abyss of depression. It was the parents who informed the twins that they’d located a home for Walker. It was Park Avenue, New York City. Walker was a Treeing Walker Coon Hound. A chauffeured limousine drove up the curvy drive to the shelter to take Walker home. What happened next is between the covers of this little chapter book; a story kids will want to hear over again.
The history of this book is typical of the publishing industry. The first publisher to receive it suggested it would have more “value” if the kids were black and poor rather than white and filthy rich. (Talk about stereotypes in children’s literature!) The second publisher said it wasn’t believable as a true story because that’s not how rich children behave. (What’s wrong with giving them a new model?) The third one said it was “dated.” (More kids today understand the importance of rescue.) Eventually Progressive Rising Phoenix Press got it and declared it “Delightful! Needs to be a Chapter Book.”
I hope readers of all ages will enjoy this little true story over and over. I hope the lack of stereotyping is noticeable, because it’s true life. I hope children of all races and status will emulate the behavior of the twins. Kindness and caring are never out of date or out of place. Today’s kids are growing up with recycling, and the need to stop being a throw-away society. This includes dogs, cats, and people.
Walker will make his debut in Sylva, NC, at Bark in the Park on Sunday. The books are available in soft cover and in library bound wherever you buy books. Walker shares his profits with his friends in rescue.