When 10-year-old Maren Bussey realized that all the children’s books she’s ever read about families adopting dogs always had happy endings, the Horizon Community Learning Center fourth-grader from Ahwatukee Foothills decided to write her own book based on the “reality” as it pertains to dogs and how – or even if – they get adopted.
Maren’s mother, Stefanie Strackbein, a canine behaviorist and co-founder/director of The Canine Connection in Ahwatukee Foothills, was happy when her daughter asked to start accompanying her to Maricopa County Animal Care and Control to learn more about her canine rescue work.
In the recently released 38-page book Forgotten Friends – Stories from an Animal Shelter, Maren spent nearly a year following 50 dogs at the shelter and features 15 of them in her book.
“I’m extremely proud of Maren because she was incredibly brave to go to the shelter with me and get the list and find out that some of the dogs she had been following were euthanized,” Strackbein said. “Kids need to know that they can make a difference.”
By the time she was 5, Maren had already written more than 100 books but this is the first time she has published one, mainly because she feels so strongly about the topic.
“I wrote this book because I wanted to make sure that kids my age know the importance of adopting a dog, not just buying one (from the store),” Maren said, adding that Forgotten Friends “is dedicated to all homeless animals.” She uses two pages to highlight each of the 15 shelter dogs she followed while writing the book – one with a picture and the other telling their story.
“My book is basically about shelter dogs and how people turn them in and what happens to them,” Maren continued. “I wanted to let kids know about the shelter and what’s going on in the lives of these animals and the people who adopt them.”
She explains how some dogs never get adopted, some go to local rescues like The Canine Connection, and some find good homes.
“I learned that there are a lot of dogs that never find homes,” Maren said, and she doesn’t shy away from including some of those sad, but realistic, stories in her book.
There are two pages dedicated to the dogs that did get adopted while Maren was following them.
She said she chose to follow shelter animals at Maricopa County Animal Care and Control because she believes they get the most dogs.
Maren is selling her self-published book for $20, and donating 10 percent of the proceeds from each sale to help Maricopa County Animal Care and Control. In addition, she includes facts and tips on how people can help animal shelters, pet over-population, and other topics most adults don’t even understand.
“This book really speaks to kids about the importance of adopting,” Strackbein said. “Everyone has negative impressions of pound dogs, and kids don’t know that they can make a difference. Maren is showing them how they can.”
If you are interested in rescuing a shelter dog while finding the one that is a perfect behavioral match for you, contact Strackbein at (480) 242-0001 or visit www.azcanineconnection.com.
Maren’s book, Forgotten Friends – Stories from an Animal Shelter, is available at www.booksbymaren.com.