Today I am happy to have a very special guest here: Alarna Rose Gray. Alarna describes herself as an aunt, animal lover, and writer. To me she is also a new friend.
AND she has a brand new book!
Hello Pepi: A Toy Dog is for Real
There was a little puppy
With a coat of raven silk,
A lightning splash upon his chest
And paws of peppered milk…
Hello Pepi is the first book in a wonderful new series for children young and old. It is about the special friendship between a toy dog and his most important person. The verse is smart, sweet and wonderful to read aloud. The illustrations make me nostalgic for the picture books from my childhood. In short, the books made me smile.
Pepi is also based on a true story.
Here is that inspiration in Alarna’s words:
Hello Pepi is a collection of memories that form a fictional narrative of the life of one small dog.
But not just any dog.
Pepi was a dog that burst onto the scene of my life in a most unexpected way.
Pepi, Age 1
I had no intention of getting a dog. My flatmate at the time had suffered a terrible loss and wanted to get a puppy. Although between us we already had four cats!
We took a long drive across the city to the other side of town, and it was as we stood in the living room of a European lady that the magic happened.
He was a tiny black and white fella who made gentle cooing noises as I held him in my palm.
My flatmate had chosen his brother, the runt of the pack, and not wanting to separate the two, I made a snap decision to take the puppy home. Who can resist the cuteness of a little dog who quacks at the sight of you?
And this is where the reason for my writing the series came about.
It’s a common story. We fall in love with pets because we’ve bred them to be cute for us. But sometimes we don’t realise what that decision means.
At the age of eighteen / nineteen, having a dog, in particular, made me feel grown up and independent – that idea of being responsible for another living creature who you take out into the world with you.
Then the reality comes in. They need to be fed. Walked. Bathed. Cleaned up after. Trained. Not to mention all the very costly vet bills.
Little dogs, in particular, are quite high maintenance. They might be small, but they make up for it in energy, and (quite often) noise!
I’m a very quiet person, and can also be impatient. So the two together meant that I was in for some ride with Pepi!
Pepi, age 2
It really wasn’t until someone close to me pointed out how clever he was, that I truly began to appreciate his energy. And that’s the bittersweet tragedy of having pets. I don’t think we always appreciate how much they know, or what they give us… until it’s gone.
He suffered something similar to a stroke at fifteen. Even at that age, people in the street thought he was still a puppy, because he was so small, and full of energy. But he was never quite the same after that. He started slowing down. He got dementia. That’s when I decided to chronicle his life and spirit in verse.
He loved having the story read to him. He was a very musical dog, and the rhythm of the rhyme made him jump up in excitement. He knew it was about him, and he’d talk back as I read aloud.
And that’s it, really. I wanted to share the joy of the experiences I had with him, as well as the lessons that I learned. My puppy parenting was far from perfect. But he always knew he was loved, and never held that against me. Except when I forgot to give him treats. Then he held a grudge .
Little dogs are also much maligned. People think they are stupid, or blame them for provoking their bigger dogs into a fight. But there’s a lot more to them than that. It just requires us to see the world a little through their eyes…
Beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your story Alarna.
The first three ebooks are available on Amazon here. But in celebration of the launch of her new series and the wonderful spirit of Pepi and friendship, Alarna would like to gift the first book to YOU.
So if you’d like an ebook of Hello Pepi #1, simply leave your email in the comments before Monday, December 10th.
Have an amazing weekend!