Today I’d like to welcome Jan McCulloch to the blog. Jan is the author of A Little Dog’s Prayer, which I’ve recently read and enjoyed. Before we find out about the book, lets find out about Jan.
‘I live in the Angus Glen’s in Scotland. I have seven crazy dogs, Tania, a three legged rescue dog from Romania. Doris and Teenie are two Fox terriers. Skipper is a cross between a brillo pad and a toilet brush. Rabbi is a very old retriever who came to live with me when his elderly owner went into a care home. Suki is an adorable little princess who came to me when her owner died. And Skye (in the photo above with me,) of course is a wonderfully clever and hardworking sheepdog. I had her father Dougie who was simply amazing. He passed away a few years ago but I see him in Skye every day. I train collies to work sheep and have been a hill shepherd for many years.
I also support any charities that help dogs. CARIAD are dedicated to helping the dogs I wrote about so I wanted them to receive some recognition that may help their cause.’
Thank you for taking part today Jan. Now lets find out more about the book:
Bonnie finds herself at the mercy of cruel and abusive puppy farmers who use her and many other small dogs as breeding machines for profit. She tells the story of her plight from a filthy kennel where she is held prisoner. She misses her loving family and particularly nine year old Jade, who embarks on a perilous adventure to rescue her little dog.
Suitable for ages thirteen years and upwards, a graphic and very moving story.
*If you click on the book cover it’ll take you to the book’s Amazon page.
I gave the book this five star review on both Goodreads and Amazon:
Much of this story is told from Bonnie’s POV. Bonnie is a dog who was once loved and cared for but finds herself in a puppy farm. Not knowing why, she tells readers about her experiences and how her kennel mates are treated. These scenes are harrowing to read.
Other parts of the story focus on Jade, the young girl who used to own Bonnie. Her concern and affection for her dog are evident. The extent to which losing the dog affected her, shocked me. Both Bonnie and Jade’s plight could have been prevented or at least lessened if Jade’s Dad, and Dr Saunders had hearts. Both just thought of themselves and portrayed themselves as truly odious through their actions.
Through the pain and heartache ran some hope when Jade meets Liz. I found her part in the story interesting and very original. Although this is a dark read there are moments of happiness and joy that work well to give some relief. I think the author did a fantastic job of blending all the elements of the story together.
I hope this book brings the plight of dogs like Bonnie to people’s attention and that it gets more widely read.
Now we know about the story, lets find out about why the book was written and the cause it hopes to help. I’ve asked Jan some questions and here is what she has to say:
Q: Is main character, Bonnie, based on a real dog who has been rescued from a puppy farm?
A: Bonnie represents the many thousands of dogs who are imprisoned in puppy farms all over the country. She is the face of misery that looks out through the bars of a filthy kennel. Bonnie had at least known kindness and affection before finding herself in the hands of cruel puppy farmers. So many puppy farmed dogs are born into filth and have never experienced the grass beneath their feet or the warmth of the sun. Their lives are spent in what amounts to a prison cell. No freedom, no comfort and no mental stimulation.
Q: A Little Dog’s Prayer is partially written from Bonnie’s point of view. What made you write parts this way?
A: I have always had a strong empathy for animals, particularly dogs. I feel what they feel, so it was perfectly natural and actually very easy for me to write from her angle. Bonnie has been hanging around in my subconscious for quite some time, urging me to do something. My dilemma has been how to tell her story without it being simply a narrative of cruelty and neglect. Few people choose to read books about harsh reality.
I thought back to books I enjoyed as a child and the realisation hit me. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell not only told the story from the horses point of view, it raised awareness of the plight of all working horses in Victorian times. And The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams raised awareness of the plight of all laboratory animals by giving two escapee laboratory dogs a voice.
And so an idea was born. Bonnie tells the story of many thousands of dogs who are suffering every single day at the hands of man, in the name of greed and profit
Q: The horror experienced by Bonnie and all the other dogs in the story are very real. Could you explain what it is that C.A.R.I.A.D (Care And Respect Includes All Dogs) do to help such dogs?
A: By raising petitions and lobbying parliament, holding demonstrations and rallies, C.A.R.I.A.D are actively fighting against puppy farming. Although very few high street pet shops sell puppies these days, the third-party trade remains significant with dealers operating from a diverse array of premises including private homes and puppy superstores. Some commercial dog breeders are also selling bought in puppies alongside those they have bred on site. As many as 80,000 puppies may be sold by licensed third party sellers each year. With their amazing coalition partners, C.A.R.I.A.D have provided the Westminster Government with hard evidence, data and strategic solutions that would make a huge difference to the way the puppy trade currently operates.
Q: I really enjoyed the mixture of thriller/suspense with the supernatural. Have you had any supernatural experiences in real life?
A: Yes! I have had several other worldly experiences. One was when I was a child and a beloved family dog, Bobby, passed away. I am certain he came into my bedroom some weeks after he died. I heard the tinkle of his collar and heard him panting. I remember feeling wistful at the time, wishing I could have actually seen him, but afterwards it brought comfort to think he had made an effort to visit me.
On another occasion, I took a photo one night in my sisters lounge, and when we looked at the photo, there was a ghostly spectre peering through the window! Totally unexplained, I still have the photo somewhere.
Q: The book covers a range of other topics such as marriage breakdown, mental health and corrupt doctors. Would you consider writing any other books to expand on them?
A: My coverage of those topics was for the most part a way of expanding on why many dogs are handed in to rescue centres or sold online. But more than that, I wanted to highlight the fact that mental health is not who we are, but what we went through. Jade suffered mental health issues because she was a very sensitive child. Her twin, Ellie, went through the very same, yet she gained confidence and grew in popularity. Doctors and health care professionals are, in my opinion, sometimes guilty of being too dependent on the quick fix of prescribing medication. No one really listened or empathised with Jade until Liz came along.
Q: Finally, the book is quite harrowing in places. What would you say to someone who may be put off by this?
A: I fully understand that no one wants to read a narrative of cruelty and abuse . That is why I have, I hope, succeeded in bringing a harrowing and distinctly distressing topic into the spotlight by way of a fictional story. I want people to read about Bonnie, to pass on her story, to read it or gift it to every child they know. I want people to understand that puppy farming is real. I want people to remember what Bonnie and Jade went through.
In real life, dogs and children do not have a fairy Godmother, as in this story,in the shape of Liz the clairvoyant. Maybe each of us could be a fairy Godmother in the fight against puppy farming.
And if you would like to support C.A.R.I.A.D after learning what they do, then please use the above link to go to their website.
As always, thanks for your support.