“Every day is a fresh beginning. Every morn is the world made new.” – Susan Coolidge
That quote is on the January 2017 portion of my new calendar, a lovely creation by Blue Mountain Arts given as a gift by one of my friends. The calendar is titled “Follow My Lead – How dogs teach us to live a life of kindness, faithfulness, and unconditional love.” For the month of January, the heading says “Be Amazed.” Future months encourage taking time to be curious, to be in nature, and to relax – each one a bit of wisdom and an inspiration. My friend knows me well – nature and dogs inspire me. This calendar is now part of my home office, and each time I look at it, I will be inspired – by the headings, the various quotes, and the beautiful artistic drawings.
As I mentioned, dogs inspire me. Whether my own pets, the dogs of others, or the rescued ones I’ve assisted, they have been, and are, a focus of my writing. I enjoy cats, too, and recently I’ve created some cat stories, ones that have run in my local weekly paper as a reading for children. However, dogs seem to be more my forte’ so I continue my quest to create inspirational short stories and books with canines as the main character.
Her name was Jazmine. She was on a journey, and I was part of that adventure. When she arrived at my car in Casper, Jazmine had already traveled more than four hours from her foster home in southern Wyoming. I was taking her another two-plus hours north, and someone else was taking her an additional two hours into Montana. Her final destination? Calgary, Canada, where her adoptive family awaited her. That would take another full driving day.
As I gazed at the elegant, yet scarred face of this rescue dog, a gentle giant who had been abandoned in the wilds of Wyoming’s Red Desert by someone she once trusted, I marveled at the tenacity, not only of Jazmine, but of most rescue dogs. Going from one family to another, having to adjust not only to new humans, but to a different home, oftentimes with new rules and expectations, at times to once again be left behind at an animal shelter filled with strange voices, other sounds, and smells: all that takes courage and perseverance. Then waiting, whether in cages or in foster homes, for yet another family and try again to settle in and be accepted – that, too, takes bravery and tenacity. And, here was Jazmine, me the third person in a day she’d accompanied: her foster parent, transporter #1; me transporter #2, and her journey had barely begun. She had thousands of miles yet to travel, and would encounter yet another five transporters at least before finally meeting the family who had adopted her. How would she fare once she arrived ‘home?’ How would she be treated? And how confusing all this must, and would, be for a dog who sought only to give devotion and love.
|Jazmine and her adoptive family in Canada.|
So starts a short story I’m working on for an anthology about dogs; deadline is later this month, and I’m hopeful for its acceptance. But, Jazmine didn’t just inspire a 1,000-word story; she’s inspired a children’s book that I’m also currently working on. The story is told from her perspective, much like the award-winning children’s book A Dog’s Life: The Autobiography of a Stray by Ann M. Martin. I read a segment of my manuscript during a writer’s open mic night in my community; many people came up to me afterwards with encouraging sentiments. One woman even had tears in her eyes and told me about the rescue organization in another state that her daughter operates. My goal with this book is to teach as well as to inspire: to teach children about the plights of homeless animals and about the people who rescue and help them, and to inspire those children and their parents to help pet rescue organizations through volunteering, donating, and educating their friends. Jazmine’s story, her life, is one of courage, perseverance, love, and second chances (see above photo). Her life is an inspiration, and I look forward to sharing her story – whether as an article, a book, or both – this year.
A new year has dawned. May you find many wonderful treasures to inspire you in 2017, whether it’s pets, nature, your family, even strangers. Inspiration is all around us – we only have to be aware through our senses and our intuition and to open our hearts to the wonderful discoveries.
Gayle M. Irwin is the author of several inspirational pet books for children and adults. She is also a contributing writer for six Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and she has a story in Sundown Press' summer 2016 release Memories from Maple Street USA: Pawprints on My Heart. She helps several Rocky Mountain region pet rescue organization with events, by transporting rescued pets, and through donating a percentage of her book sales to these groups. Gayle enjoys sharing about the pet-human bond and believes people can learn a lot from animals. Learn more about Gayle and her work at www.gaylemirwin.com.