Odie's Best Friend is the follow-up book to last year's Odie the Stray Kitten, and it went live on May 1.
Let me give you a little back story on this book. I wrote Odie the Stray Kitten exactly as I remember it happening that cold winter day. I wanted to write Bandit's story and share it as well. The only problem was that I didn't know all of Bandit's story. Bandit came with the farm when we purchased it two years ago. He was listed in our purchase agreement simply as "cat." We were getting him with the house per my request and the acceptance of that request from the owners. The owners were moving into an apartment and didn't want to take an outdoor cat with them. The wife was a very sweet lady who cried at the closing when she thought about leaving Bandit behind. She asked that I take good care of him and I promised that I would.
It took Bandit several months to warm up to us. I would see him hanging around the porch, but he always hid whenever my husband or I tried to get too close. He was aware that we were the ones filling up his food bowl each day, but he did not acknowledge it. Until we tried to move said food bowl, and he had a fit. Then he began acknowledging our existence, but we weren't allowed near him. Finally, as described in the book, I spent one afternoon on the porch with him. I was able to pet him and I fed him from the palm of my hand. Now he and Odie wait for me each morning to walk to the barn and feed them breakfast, and he waits each evening on the porch, just hoping I'll come out and rub his belly. He even lets our 6-month-old baby pet him. It's less like a pet and more like a slight smack between the eyes. But he allows it and has never once tried to bite or scratch. He is always talking to us, waiting for a treat or ready to roll over for a good belly rub.
His demeanor and personality have always made me think that at some point, he was somebody else's pet. Possibly a docile indoor house cat. But I really have no idea where he came from. Sometimes I would make up stories in my mind about how he got to this farm. But I never wrote anything down. Then one day last year, a friend of mine on Facebook shared this horrific picture (posted below) with a short article describing how and why most animals in shelters are killed. It is a graphic image, and it stuck with me. So much that I wanted to write a book about this issue to help educate children on the problems we cause in the lives of animals. Of course, the book has been edited for children and there are only a few paragraphs describing Bandit's tame journey through a shelter. There is no discussion of animals being euthanized. And it has a happy ending. I feel that it is a good way for parents to talk to their children about shelters, the reasons they exist, and what they do. It is not my job as an author to talk about this with your children, it is my job to provide a springboard for questions and discussions.
I began writing a story in response to this graphic image and shelter article. It took me writing and editing everyday for a week to spin it down from a charged and emotional response piece into something suitable for educating children. From there it took another six months to perfect the manuscript.
The first half of Odie's Best Friend is a work of fiction, simply because I am completely unaware of how Bandit got here. And the second half of the book, after he meets the older woman on the farm, is true. But I am passionate about keeping animals out of shelters, supporting Trap Neuter Return (TNR) programs and supporting no kill shelters (Humane Society for Hamilton County) and rescue groups such as Alley Cat Allies and the ASPCA.
The Wild Bookstore in historic downtown Noblesville. If you are in the area, you are welcome to attend. It will be a kid-oriented party with food, activities, a raffle and a reading. Both books will also be available at discounted prices. If for nothing else, use this story to educate yourself and others on the problems we are causing for animals.