Last week, I learned Chicken Soup for the Soul accepted my short-story submission “Jazmine’s Journey” for the organization’s upcoming book The Dog Really Did That? The release is set for August.
This is the seventh Chicken Soup book which features one of my stories. I’m very excited to be part of this “family” of inspirational books! The story relates the tale of Jazmine, a young Akbash mix who was abandoned with her 12 puppies, all taken in by a Colorado rescue organization, nursed to health, and adopted. I had the privilege of transporting Jazmine through central Wyoming as she journeyed to her adoptive family in Calgary, Canada. This book is specifically about rescue and shelter dogs and the organizations that care for them. My story is unique as it’s from my point of view as a transporter for rescue organizations; Wyoming doesn’t have many people who respond to the call of taking a dog into rescue or to its new, forever home. It’s a volunteer job that I cherish and do as often as possible when the call comes from a group in need of a transporter in my state.
Jazmine inspired me from the moment we met, and I knew her story needed to be told. In addition to the short story in Chicken Soup, I’m also working on a children’s book about Jazmine, as told from her point of view. My goal is to educate children and their families about rescue organizations, what they do, and the volunteers that are needed. I’ll end the book with short paragraph stories of other dogs I’ve transported, such as Theo, a Boston Terrier adopted by a Montana couple, a beagle named Boone whose family worked in Yellowstone Park, and Smallz, a Great Dane who also went to live with a Canadian couple.
Inspiration for writers can, and often is, close by. For me, the dogs I transport for rescues inspire my muse. The idea for latest children’s book I created comes from my own dog; A Kind Dog Named Mary instructs children about kindness, to both people and animals, through my pet’s true-to-life story. The second installment in what may be three or four books about Mary will relate Mary’s visit to a nearby ranch and all the animals she meets, helping children understand the workings of a ranch, the livestock which reside there, and the many wild creatures that inhabit the property, showcasing the vast variety of animals which can live on a ranch.
My short story for Sundown’s Pawprints on My Heart, published last year, came from living with two wonderful dogs, Sage and Cody, one blind, the other sighted but older when adopted. I learned many lessons from these two wonderful canines, and I enjoyed putting the words together to relate those lessons, hopefully to inspire others.
Does the inspiration for your writing come from things, people, animals, experiences, that are close at hand? Perhaps we’d all do well, when we get “stuck” in our writing, to simply look around us or even embark on a short walk or drive, opening the crevices of our minds and hearts to what’s nearby. Inspiration for writing, whether a poem, a short story, or a scene in a book, could be just beyond our laptops.
Gayle M. Irwin is the author of several inspirational pet books for children and adults. She is also a contributing writer for (going on!) seven Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and contributed a short story to Sundown Press' 2016 release Memories from Maple Street U.S.A.: Pawprints on My Heart. She also freelances for magazines and newspapers and volunteers for regional pet rescues. Learn more at www.gaylemirwin.com.