HomeBooks by AgeAges 4-8Linda Greiner Discusses Sashi and the Puppy Mill Girl
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Linda Greiner Discusses Sashi and the Puppy Mill Girl

Interview sponsored by Linda Greiner
The Children’s Book Review | December 1, 2016

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The Children’s Book Review: Sashi and the Puppy Mill Girl is the third book in the Sashi series. As each of the books are based on your personal experience of adopting Sashi and fostering Shetland Sheepdogs, was there a particular moment that inspired you to begin writing the Sashi stories?

Linda Greiner: I have a web site for the foster dogs and have always posted their information, with updates as they are adopted. But I started to think about writing a BOOK after foster number fifteen or sixteen (we had thirteen during that first year). Many shelties lose their homes due to misunderstandings on the part of the original owner. People purchase a cute puppy without knowing anything about the breed’s characteristics and what to expect when the dog is an adult. Shelties are not “mini Lassies”. They are a high energy herding dog with a specific herding style (barking, spinning, even nipping at the heels to get sheep – or children – to go in the direction they want). By writing for children, my hope is to reach parents as well, building everyone’s knowledge and understanding for current and future pets.

In this latest installment to the series, readers are introduced to a new Sheltie dog character, Cinnamon, as she progresses from a puppy mill to foster care to finding a forever home. Your writing style is very reassuring for young readers with an emphasis on kindness and how to build a relationship based on trust with pets. Can you tell us why you chose to focus on a story about puppy mills and neglect for this tale?

I think this is a story that has to be told and in a way that will educate parents as they are reading to their children. I was careful to tell the truth in a way that wouldn’t unduly frighten – but open dialogue as the parent and child are reading together. Morgan’s illustrations have a wonderful Disney quality to them and, just as there are darker images in Disney movies, the book shows both sides. What was dark is overcome by light, love and kindness.

cinnamon

 

What do you hope readers will take away from reading Sashi and the Puppy Mill Girl?

I hope that parents will consider all that goes into buying and owning a pet. There is a level of commitment to be made ~ a minimum of 12 years. Time is needed to properly train, socialize and play with a dog. People see cute puppies in pet stores and don’t know or stop to question the conditions the puppies’ parents must endure to produce those adorable balls of fluff.   The material in the back of the book provides additional information. As long as there are people going to pet stores that sell puppies, there will be puppy mills supplying ‘merchandise’ to be sold in that venue. Adopting or going to a reputable breeder is the preferred way to add that four-legged member to your family. If parents come away from the stories with new appreciation and understanding, and impart that to their children, I have done my job as a writer.

Was there any research involved in creating Sashi and the Puppy Mill Girl and the notes for adult readers that are provided at the end of the story?

Since adopting Sashi, I’ve purchased dozens of books on training, canine behavior, addressing issues such as shyness and fear aggression. I’ve worked with four or five trainers over the years, as well as the very knowledgeable breeders/board members of our rescue (Shetland Sheepdog Placement Services of New Jersey).

Who do you envision reading this book? Which age group do you think it is the best fit for?  

I think the subject matter for this book lends itself to the 5-8 age group, with a parent to explain some of the more difficult areas. I know of people with very precocious 4 year olds who absolutely love the books and ask that they be read over and over. My goal is for parents to learn about the subject through reading to their children and for the children to develop a better understanding from a young age.

How does it feel to be a Mom’s Choice Award Gold Award Recipient for your writing?

I am thrilled that all three Sashi books have won the Mom’s Choice Gold Award. Sashi is my “heart dog” and to have her stories receive recognition is more than I hoped for. I feel very fortunate to have this affirmation of my work. Over the past two years we have also received the Moonbeam Award, Purple Dragonfly Award, finalist in the USA Best Book Awards, and all three books are “Story Monster Approved.” All three books have been endorsed by the American Shetland Sheepdog Association’s head of National Rescue, Dorothy Christensen.

What was your journey to becoming a published author with the publisher Brown Books Kids?

greiner-sashi_the_scared_little_sheltie_cover-rgbSashi’s stories were in my mind and heart for almost 10 years. I needed an illustrator to take the next step. I met Morgan Spicer, a very talented artist, on Facebook. After commissioning her to do a portrait of my “furkids”, I asked if she would be interested in working with me on a series of books about my adopted/foster shelties – with proceeds from the book sales going back to the rescue. Being an animal advocate herself, Morgan was very excited about the opportunity. That’s when I put pen to paper. Once the manuscript was polished, we worked on a story board for the first book, Sashi the Scared Little Sheltie.   During that time I was also doing web searches and purchasing books on self-publishing. Many people use Print On Demand (POD) services. I wanted a hard cover book with quality weight paper so illustrations would jump off the pages. There were a number of companies to choose from, but many had only been in business for a few years and I didn’t feel comfortable with that. After receiving samples of their work and discovering that the end product was not up to my standards, I knew I had to look elsewhere. I found Brown Books Publishing Group on a website called Writers Market and interviewed the head of their Brown Books Kids division, Sherry Kovine Levine. I was very impressed with the company, which has been in business for over 20 years. Sherry and I hit it off immediately and I felt that Brown Books Kids could make my dream of publishing Sashi’s stories come true.

What does a typical writing day look like for you?

I work about 50 hours a week at a regular job. My writing is usually done late at night or between 3 and 5 a.m. before getting ready for work. I refer to my website (www.njsheltiemom.com) for the material to be transformed from “please adopt this foster” information to a story meant for children.

As someone who has been fostering dogs for 13 years, can you share a few tips on becoming a foster parent for dogs?

Practice patience above all else. Trust is built slowly over a period of time. Think of it as a bank account that increases with good management, but can be drained very quickly if not handled properly.   For example, when dealing with a shy dog or a new puppy mill rescue, never rush to pet the dog before he/she is ready. If you have visitors, instruct them to go sit on the couch and ignore the dog.   Gently toss treats in dog’s direction, slowly decreasing the distance from you. Practice “calming signals”. Based on research by Turid Rugaas, a canine behaviorist from Norway, dogs are highly attuned to body language and do certain behaviors to lessen their own stress or divert stress in another animal.

It takes very little time for a foster to become part of the family. Each foster has a story; each has personality quirks that makes him/her unique. Some of them enjoy playing with the resident shelties; others are starved for affection from humans and become what we refer to as Velcro dogs. They quickly pick up on the rhythm of the household and before you know it, it’s as though they’ve always been a member of your pack.

Before we end, is there anything else that you would like to tell us about yourself or Sashi and the Puppy Mill Girl?

Children are never too young to start learning about the proper care of an animal. For example it is important to teach them how to properly approach a dog and ask if the dog can be petted (with parental supervision of course). Just as children are individuals, teaching them that pets are unique beings with distinct personalities can help develop acceptance of differences in others.

Dogs teach us about unconditional love, acceptance, and being non-judgmental. Dogs do not care how you look, how much you earn or own, what your title is at work. They sense your mood immediately and want to make things better if you’ve had a hard day. Their eyes shine with love. Love them back, show them kindness and they will give you more than you can imagine. It’s been said many times and in many variations “My goal in life is to be as good a person as my dog already thinks I am.” {author unknown}

sashi-and-the-puppy-mill-girlSashi And The Puppy Mill Girl

Written by Linda Greiner

Illustrated by Morgan Spicer

Publisher’s Synopsis: Anna and her mother love fostering Shelties through Shetland Sheepdog Rescue. By taking care of rescued dogs, they help the dogs become ready to find a forever home. They’ve already adopted two Shelties of their own, Sashi and Buddy, and their newest foster is a shy girl named Cinnamon who’s been rescued from a puppy mill. Neglected and frightened, Cinnamon has a tough time settling into her new home at first but with help from Sashi and Buddy, Cinnamon realizes she doesn’t have to be afraid. Now loved and cared for, Cinnamon learns to be happy and playful again and soon finds her forever home. Based on the true story of Cinnamon, this Mom’s Choice Award Gold Award Recipient addresses the reality of puppy mills while keeping the story light, warm, and accessible to young readers. Sashi and the Puppy Mill Girl is the third in the award-winning Sashi series of children’s books.

Ages 5-8| Publisher: Brown Books Publishing Group | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1612549309

Awards: 

Mom’s Choice Gold Award, September 2016

USA Best Book AwardsFinalist, November 2016

Available Here: 

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You May Also Like:

Sashi Adopts a Brother, by Linda Greiner

About The Author

Linda Greiner with Sashi and Buddy

Linda Greiner with Sashi and Buddy

Linda Greiner fell in love with Shelties when doing research on what type of dog to get for her sixteenth birthday. Many years later, instead of purchasing another puppy, she decided to contact the Shetland Sheepdog Placement Services of New Jersey and adopted Sashi in 2001. Hoping to find a suitable brother or sister for “the princess”, Linda started fostering for SSPSNJ in 2003. Each dog has a tale to tell. A portion of sales proceeds from Sashi, the Scared Little Sheltie, Sashi Adopts a Brother, and Sashi and the Puppy Mill Girl are being donated to Sheltie Rescue.

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The Author Showcase is a place for authors and illustrators to gain visibility for their works. This interview with the author of “Sashi and the Puppy Mill Girl” was sponsored by Linda Greiner. Discover more great writing and illustrating artists in our Showcase. You can also learn more about marketing books and finding an Author Showcase book marketing plan that is right for you here …

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Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review. She is a reader, reviewer, mother and children’s book lover. She also has a decade’s worth of experience working with children in the great outdoors. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s specialist bookseller, the goal is to share her passion for children’s literature to grow readers. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, she now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.

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