The Dogs Who Were Left Behind: A Charming Tale

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

The tale of two dogs who were left behind, by one of our editors (and one of my favorite writers), Winfred Peppinck, is a charming tale, one that is intended for both kids and their parents. You know those kind of books, where you are actually laughing while you read, because it is so clever? THIS IS ONE! 

The Dogs Who Were Left Behind: A Charming Tale

I love this book, partly because of the illustrations by our friend Mark Hicks (read our interviews with him here and here). But also, I've never read a children's book that was so interesting, intruiging, and funny. The two rescue dogs (an important conversation started and teaching moment) are hilarious, the main human characters are recognizable. The story is one that will have your kids asking for just one more page tonight - in fact, I recommend starting early so you can finish it all in one lovely gulp. It's that good! Highly recommended.

We were lucky enough to catch up with Winfred, and ask him about the book, inspiration, rescue dogs, and more (his advice at the end of this interview is genius). Here's what he had to say...

Please tell us about your new book, The Dogs Who Were Left Behind... 
Two super smart and innovative rescue dogs have a tale to tell about their lives with the hoity-toity Veronica and her loyal, dogged, and oft badgered husband, Teddy. The beauty is that these special dogs can "talk to each other," and yes, I can interpret what is being said! And I share that with the readers, especially the boys and girls (age group between 6-10), the parents, and the grand-parents who read to youngsters at bed time. It is a little mystery, where the children know the answer and the police and adults do not! It is written to engage the children by questions, helping deliver an "air of complicity" in the story.

What inspired you to write this book?
The thought of growing old and being away from grandchildren. When my own sons were young, I used to tell them tales about a mythical bad boy with a heart of gold, called Ulan Tullan, and his girlfriend, Suzie Floosy, and their continual tales of adventure. Their eyes lit up at the tales of derring-do, and there were cries of anguish when the story ended for the night, in that "To Be Continued" way. I have tried to do the same with defined chapters in my book.

Rescue dogs are a big part of your life - how many have you had, and how have they inspired your writing and influenced your life and work? AND how true is the dog personalities? I was amazed!
Rescue dogs have been very much a part of our lives since Wendy and I got together in Barbados in 2001 (we both came from different marriages). Wendy wanted a pedigreed dog, but I persuaded her to find one at an Animal Shelter. We chose a dog that had been oft overlooked and brought him to our swank diplomatic residence, set on five hectares, with views over a golf course to the Caribbean sea. He was in "dog heaven" and became the subject of my first book, The Diplomatic Dog of Barbados (note: our review here!). He became just "DD." Later we took in another rescue dog, Lucy. When we left Barbados and moved to Bahrain, we took both dogs with us. When both eventually died in Bahrain, we brought their ashes to be scattered at a specially designated Dog Beach in Sydney's south (Australia), as we had always promised to take them with us. We subsequently rescued numerous abandoned puppies/dogs, and helped find them homes. Wendy was a volunteer at the Bahrain Animal Shelter (BSPCA) when a tiny, frightened black and white puppy was held over the fence. He became Harry Lime, after the Orson Welles character in the B&W masterpiece movie, The Third Man. In 2014, we flew him to Australia - he went from desert dog to urbane, urban fellow, much loved by Wendy and I, and grand-children.

The Dogs Who Were Left Behind: A Charming Tale
DD, Winfred, and Wendy

What do you hope kids take away from reading this?
Our rescue dogs have all made wonderfully loyal and devoted pets, adaptable to change, loving friends for life. You have given them another chance, away from a life of hardship and scavenging for food. Their loss moves you to tears. Every child should experience the love of a "second chance" dog. Also, I hope the book is reassuring that in the main, irrespective of the incident or accident, people generally "come back." Abandonment is often a real fear in children and dogs!

We love your illustrator, Mark Hicks. How did you collaborate to create such perfect companionable art and words?
Mark is a wizard, as the reader will see. I am forever indebted to him, for he wonderfully captured the character of my dogs and conveyed so graphically the hauteur of Lady Lucy and the rumbustious nature of Lashley. He is a skilled, multi-faceted artist, poignant and humorous with the pen, and his art-inspired Charity work is hugely commendable. (His website is in the book). When I asked Dr Jessie Voigts whom I should get to illustrate my book, she said instantly, "Mark Hicks." What wonderful advocacy!

What's up next for you?
A little "travel happenstance" article on a recent visit to Hong Kong for Wandering Educators and for a gaggle of friends, met on meanders around the world. Travel is indeed a passion, perhaps the only passion as you grow older! There is a wonderful world to explore, and I am fortunate to have seen parts of it at all, from Presidents and Kings to a raggedly dressed banana cutter in Salvador, Brazil. He stopped under his heavy load, put it down, cut me a generous hand of bananas, which I sought, and refused to take any cruzeiros for his effort, though he was infinitely poorer than me. "If a man cannot give a brother some of which he has plenty, what sort of a world do we live in?" One of travel's rich treasure chest of memories I have never forgotten. I have a couple of old novels in draft on life in Australia in the 1950s, and one on infidelity and obsession, called Sex and Lexie Sherringham, which I may work over.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Travel, observe, and write it down, the things as you see, and as you grow older, the way you feel. Love what you do and mourn loss unabashedly, whether of a human or a loved animal, like a loyal dog. And write, write, write, for even if no one reads your words in your lifetime, someone further down the track, whether family or beyond, may. You will have left a footprint on how things were, way back then ... in the olden days!


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