23 June 2011

Interview with Bobbie Pyron author of A Dog's Way Home (Giveaway)

As promised, Bobbie Pyron has graciously answered some of the questions I had after reading 'A Dog's Way Home' (review is here). She is an amazing author and I really appreciate her taking the time to share with us!

You ran the risk of your book being overlooked as a retelling of ‘Homeward Bound’ or ‘Lassie Come Home’. Why did you decide to take the risk?

I have always said that A DOG’S WAY HOME is not only my personal love letter to dogs—specifically Shelties—but also to those great “classic” dog stories like LASSIE COME-HOME and INCREDIBLE JOURNEY that meant so much to me as a child. Those books, along with many others, were ones I read over and over as a child. I still read them! I didn’t really worry about my book being overshadowed by the two classics you mention because the style in which I tell my story is very different from those two. The duel narrations of Tam, the dog, and his girl, Abby, really set the book apart. Also, the very distinct culture of the place and people of the Appalachian Mountains sets the book apart.  I think every generation needs a “classic” dog story, and I hope mine will fill that need.

Abby’s parents are, time and time again, frustrated by her stubbornness. Do you have any personal experience with this trait?

Ha ha ha! Are you asking if I’m that stubborn?! I’m sure my husband would say that’s true, especially if I were in Abby’s situation with one of my beloved dogs. I would move heaven and earth to find them. But I think most any dog person who has that special bond with their dog would be the same way. It’s an almost mystical, spiritual bond that people have a hard time understanding unless they experience it. Abby’s parents, while very fond of Tam, didn’t have that bond with him like Abby.

‘A Dog’s Way Home’ is, ultimately, a love story. Do you have a canine love story of your own?

Oh my, I’ve had many. I am over-the-moon in love with the dogs in my life now—Boo, Teddy, and Sherlock. Boo, who is a coyote mix, is probably one of the most fascinating dogs I’ve ever been privileged to share my life with; Teddy is a rescued Sheltie that loves me possibly more than any living, breathing being ever has; Sherlock is also a rescued Sheltie and has taught me so much about resilience. And then there’s my Sheltie mix I had for sixteen years, Toola. James Herriot once wrote that every dog lover has a once-in-a-lifetime dog. Toola was mine. When I was a little kid, we had a Beagle named Puck. He was our nanny. Whenever my sister and I wanted to walk over to a friend’s house or go to the drugstore for a Coke, my mom or dad would say, “Take Puck with you and mind him.”
In the book, Abby’s ‘north star’ is Tam, Dad’s is music, Mom’s is Abby, as is Tam’s. How do you define North Star in this context and what is your North Star?

I think of someone’s North Star as their passion, or their bliss, that they follow. It’s that thing (or person) that makes you want to get out of bed, even on your darkest days. It gives your life direction and meaning. Certainly writing is a star in my life, a passion and bliss. But my North Star would have to be that unique relationship with my dogs (thank the stars my husband’s not overly sensitive!).

What was behind your decision to make Tam a Sheltie instead of a better known or hardier breed?

Funny you ask. When I was sending the manuscript around to editors and agents (and amassing many rejections), one agent said that she thought I was quite a talented writer and she loved the story, but couldn’t I make Tam a Golden Retriever? If I’d make that change, she might consider taking me into her fold. Ha! No offence to any readers with Goldens, but I really can’t picture them having the single-mindedness to go through what Tam did, just to be with one specific person. Shelties are known for their loyalty and the terrifically strong bond they form with their person. I always tell people, you haven’t been loved until you’ve been loved by a Sheltie.

Will there be more books of Tam and Abby’s adventures?

I’m so gratified by the number of readers who’ve asked me if there will be a sequel—that say they really want a sequel! Alas, right now there are none planned, but you never know!

I know you are involved with animal rescues. Can you tell us something about that?

Both of my Shelties came from Sheltie Rescue of Utah. I’ve volunteered with them in various capacities for the last eight years, including convincing several of my friends to adopt Shelties! I also volunteer with an organization called Friends of Animals Utah. I do everything from walking and socializing dogs to cleaning litter boxes to organizing fundraisers. Recently, I put together an event called “Authors Unleashed.” I got together with four other authors who are inspired by, and write about, dogs for a panel discussion and book signing. It was a huge success and a heck of a lot of fun!

Do you have a new novel in the works for us to look forward to?

Yes! My next book comes out Fall of 2012. The working title is MERCY’S BONE, but that title may change. It’s kind of a dog story too, and takes place in Russia in the mid 1990’s after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Where can readers find out more about you and what you are up to, professionally?

They can visit me at my website www.bobbiepyron.com. There, they can find out the latest news, read excerpts from my books (I also have a teen novel called THE RING) and see photos of my dogs. On my blog, they can read interviews I do with other authors and their dogs. I’ve been lucky enough to have authors like Patricia Maclachlan, Kathi Appelt, Gary Schmidt, Katherine Erskine, and many others (and their dogs) on there. I hope folks will stop by!

Great answers, Bobbie! Thanks so much for letting us into the 'backstage' of your book.

OK - on to the giveaway part. Bobbie Pyron has made available a signed copy of 'A Dog's Way Home' for one lucky winner. Giveaway is open to Canada and the US only (sorry to my international friends), just comment on this interview telling us about your favorite canine friend - real or imaginary. Don't forget to leave your e-mail address as well. Winner will be chosen on July 1. (Canada Day)


  1. I'm glad you got to do an interview with her. The book sounds great and I actually want to get to it soon. I could get to it sooner if I won it. ;) JK. When I was growing up we had a Springer Spaniel names Freckles. She was the weirdest dog. They are supposed to be hunting dogs but she was taken out too young and was terrified of guns and flashlights. So her owner gave her to us after she followed one of my brothers home from his paper route. She hated when we fought with each other and would bark at us even if we pretended to fight. She would scratch at the door to be let in and out and we still have the scratches on the door. I'd have to say my favorite thing about her, though, besides having her deem to sleep with me, was when we'd go outside and get her riled up and she would run in giant circles at a frantic pace. It was hilarious. The funniest thing was to us she was just our funny family dog but after she passed we were cleaning out a cupboard and stumbled upon her papers. This silly dog of ours had papers and papers of genealogic background. OK, I'll be done now. It was fun reminiscing.

  2. Is this where we leave our emails for the give away? Donna



  3. I live with my boyfriend and he has 2 Shih-Poos. Buddy and Paddycake (named so because he likes to play paddy cake). We take them on hikes through trails around the neighborhood and they just love it. As soon as they see the leashes come out they go absolutely nuts jumping up and down. It's so hard to get the leashes on them because they wont stop moving! Never in my life have a seen a dog get so excited. I love those dogs!


  4. My favourite canine was a friend's dog named "Bear". She was my canine soulmate, and we loved each other dearly. She would imitate me and do everything that I did! It was so sweet.

    I'm following you on GFC (Darlene), and my email address is darlenesbooknook at gmail dot com.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  5. Hee hee, I forgot to give you my email address after such a lengthy comment.

  6. Nice post Dana , thanks for sharing and inviting for the giveaway. Here's my email ID: parwaizriaz@gmail.com

  7. My favorite canine friend is my awesome beagle, Princess. She was actually my Senior Project in high school! I raised her from a puppy and trained her to hunt rabbits while writing in a journal about it and taking lots of pictures. She's 12 years old now, and she is still the coolest pup in the world! :)


  8. Hi Dana, Great interview with Bobbie. Close friends of mine have two shelties - they are wonderful dogs. This book sounds like a great read!

  9. Hi Dana. I really enjoyed reading the interview with Bobbie. While reading the interview I kept thinking about my wonderful dog who passed a couple months ago. About 5 years ago the dog that I had ran away, I lived out in the country in farm land and had outside dogs. None of my dogs ever ran away, and it was very sad. But one winter day near Christmas I was coming home and there was a puppy laying infront of my door to the house. I immediately brought her in and looked for tags. No tags. I imagined someone dropped him off or he got lost. Well, you know we kept her. My nephew came over the next day, 3 years old, and talking full-fast sentences. The puppy had a mind of her own and was quite spunky. I was going to call her that, but my nephew thought "soupie" would be better. He meant to say Snoopy, but soupie came out instead and it stuck. "Soupie" fit her, for she was just as different as her name. Her tail was in a shape of a question mark, and she was very curious. She always waited by the door when you came home, she always watched you as you left on the driveway--it was as if she wanted you to be sure you made it safely out of the door way. She was watch dog, my best friend, and my familiar. We would take walks around the pond, and she loved chasing our ducks into the pond. Never would catch one (thank goodness), but she sure made me them waddle fast. She loved chewing on old shoes--boy did she love shoes. She loved sleeping under our porch, and watching me garden. She died a couple of months ago, my nephew 8 now, and it was unexpected. She followed my mother across the street to a valley, where my mom was getting ready to mow...as soupie was walking back to the house (which is not far), she got hit by a car.

    It's very hard to think about her. When I come to see my mom and dad I still expect her at the door waiting for me. I miss her licks, I miss her question mark tail, and I miss how silly and loving she was. She accepted everyone--just accept them and walk with them--and they will be your best friends forever. Summer is not the same without her.

  10. My greatest dog was a Dalmatian. Jolly (he always looked like he was happy) came to me when I was about eight as a discard because he was blind and his people didn't like having a blind dog.

    He became my closest friend and his blindness only made him more special. He'd follow me everywhere and all my friends made sure Jolly navigated unfamiliar territory, so he didn't hurt himself. One thing for sure, nobody messed with me when Jolly was around. He might not be able to see, but if he sensed someone was going to hurt me, he had them cornered--gently but firmly.

    I've had other dogs since Jolly, but I've never had one as loving, yet protective. He was a beautiful and good friend.

  11. We have a very handsome,smart gentle,loving and friendly Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, his favorite past time is playing frisbee's. He is a wonderful furry friend, if we could teach him to not run when a gate is open or the front door we will have it made.

    I would love to read 'A Dog's Way Home'.

    Thanks for the giveaway!


  12. I have had quite a few canine loves in my life. I currently have two wonderful sibling German Shepherds whom I adore. But as much as I adore them, my favorite canine was the dog the 2 new puppies replaced. He was the one who made me realize I was a dog lover after all. He was a Neapolitan Mastiff named Duncan and he was my boyfriend's dog. When I first met him (the dog) he scared me because he was so big and barked so much. But I soon realized he was just super protective and once me and my kitties and my son moved in with them he became the biggest, drooliest, suckiest dog I ever met. One of my cats was the same steel blue gray color as him and we always thought they believed they were related because they would crawl up onto the love-seat together and groom each other...this giant dog and this tiny little kitten. We had him for a great 8 years before his spine gave out on him (as it does in large dogs) and we had to make a tough decision. He was the best dog I have ever had and I miss him every day.

  13. I dropped by because of a post on Bookblogs! Glad I did. I have friends that treat their dogs better than some of their family members so this interview gives me an insight to dog lovers. I would love to read the book and have a new appreciation of dogs and their owners!

    Thanks for the opportunity to participate in the book giveaway.

  14. OOO ooo ooo!!!!! ME!!!! ellenharger@mac.com.

    I had that special one of a kind dog growing up - a super lovable and sweet mutt. She and I were together the first 14 years of my life. When we were moving to Germany (I was 7) my parents were deciding whether to bring the dog or leave her with my Mamaw. I informed my mother that if Mittens didn't go, I wasn't going. This from a child who was practically her fifth appendage.

    A year or so later, Mittens developed bad gum disease. The German vet had difficulty communicating and so when he opened the door, we were surprised to see 16 teeth laying on the table next to the dog. I prayed like the dickens for her to wake up. When she did, happy as ever and on soft food for life, I prayed for the next year that she would live until I was old enough to handle it. I was a practical 9 year old. I wanted to be 18 but I prayed for 14 since Mittens was two years older than me.

    The summer of my 14th year, Mittens who had survived gum disease, trans-Atlantic flying, two new dogs when she was 12, a stroke, and driving for three days from Montana to Nebraska, was deemed too old to make it from Nebraska to Missouri--an eight hour drive. I was so angry but she was terribly arthritic (stairs were too much). Suddenly I remembered my prayer and accepted it when my parents put her to sleep.

    I have two wonderful dogs now and my boyfriend's dog has obviously adopted me as top human. They are my moons in constant orbit. I am a dog magnet and I know every canine in the neighborhood.

    Sorry for the long share. ;)

  15. I'm actually more of a cat person but we always had at least one cat & one dog growing up. One of the dogs we had was a sheltie and I totally get what you're talking about when you say they form a strong bond. Cocoa was an amazingly smart dog & he loved us all but he was definitely mom's dog. When we'd go hiking us kids would want to take him and run ahead but he never wanted mom to be out of sight. He'd stop, plant himself and wait. No amount of coaxing or pulling could get him to move until she caught up. Eventually we'd give up, bring him back to her and take the other dog with us. I miss all the pets we had but Cocoa is the dog I miss the most.

    Even if I don't win I might have to pick this up for mom. I think she'd really enjoy it.

    teawench at gmail dot com

  16. The dog love of my life was a sheltie that we adopted from the Humane Society. I could never figure out why they gave him up...actually supposedly just pushed him out of a truck to be taken in by someone else. He was the smartest dog I have ever had and I still miss him 11 years later. It is nice to have a book about a sheltie instead of a collie. I hope I win it so I can read it. If not I will try to remember the title and author so I can look for it. Teawench above is my daughter and Cocoa is the dog.

    I took him to obedience training at age 8 and the people there could not understand that we had him for so long. They thought that he had obedience training with the previous owner and that was why he caught on so easily. If he remember training for the 8 years that we had he I figure he was still really smart. I had to stop taking him when I developed ankle problems and by the time they were solved he had arthritis.

    Still love him...still miss him.

    bunbun303 at gmail dot com


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