Genella Macintyre has done what many pet owners only dream of: written a book about her real-life bichon frise and Jack Russell terrier mix and all the adventures he gets up to.
Tucker Times: The Chase launches in Brandon, Man., at Coles on Feb. 7 at 1:30 p.m. and in Winnipeg at McNally Robinson at 2 p.m.
A colouring book version will be published in spring and a sequel soon after that, said Macintyre.
She recently sat down with Radio Noon's Marcy Markusa for a feature interview about how she turned her faithful friend into a series of illustrated children's books.
Marcy Markusa: All of us that have dogs, I have two little dogs myself, think that our dogs could be the subject of a book. What made you think Tucker really has it in him?
Genella Macintyre: For me it was just the amount of joy that he brings when I would take him for a walk. He elicited such a reaction from people: He loves children; he's so gentle. Little children would squeal with delight when they'd see him and he'd sort of lick their hand. Sometimes when I'd take him for a walk, there might be some people just sitting outside one of the apartment blocks, and he'd go over and talk to them and just sit beside them. He's such an intuitive dog.
It doesn't hurt that he's what I call a happy face dog.
Yes he is.
He's got those bright, happy eyes and his head is pretty much just a fluff ball.
Have you written children's books before?
No I don't and I don't have children. When the publishers interviewed me they asked, "What's your favourite children's author?" and I went "I don't know, I think there's a Dr. Seuss out there somewhere."
But there was this little rhyme that came to my head when I was singing songs to Tucker — I'm always singing him something new. I put it down on paper and it just described how I was directing him not to do something without telling him "No." He was chasing a squirrel and I said, "No Tucker, that's not what we do. They have to share the world with you," and then it kind of went from there.
This whole book rhymes. It's like one long piece of poetry.
Do you often talk to him in rhymes?
Yes I do. I sing him little songs.
Where did you come to meet the illustrator, Morgan Spicer, who worked with you?
It was a Facebook posting that came across to my niece and she forwarded it to me. She gives part of her proceeds to charities in New York and I emailed her and showed her some pictures of Tucker and she said, "Yeah, I'd love to do that." It just fell into place within three to four weeks. I had written the rhyme one week and six weeks later, I already had it signed with Brown Books.
I have another book called Managing Stress, which is really connected to him, because he also helps me manage depression and anxiety. He's my unofficial therapy dog.
What's Tucker like? He must do something bad.
Oh no. When he was young he ate a Blackberry and two nice pairs of shoes, but we just redirected him into chew toys, which he loves.
What lessons do you hope young readers and families will get from your book?
My intent was that they share a sweet time with their child. And that learning can be fun.
Do you feel like a children's book author yet?
I phoned a longtime friend of mine. I said, "Guess what? I'm a children's author," and she said "You've got to be kidding me." Because I have no children. My husband and I are avid animal lovers. Tucker's my canine kid.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.