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Given the current coloring trend, Kelli Bannert has produced a color book that goes two better. The first? Her coloring book is all about dogs. The second? It is about service dogs. The coloring book is filled with 48 different real service dogs, including some retirees and future prospects, and 52 pages onto which you can practice staying inside the lines.
I reached out to the author to learn a little more about this coloring and the reason behind it.
Kelli Bannert: I am highly involved in several online service dog communities, and over the past few months, have been trying to draw more often. Originally I was thinking I wanted to do just digital paintings and drawings, but I was finding that I enjoyed the line art far more than I was the finished colored or shaded works. I shared a few line arts with some friends, and someone mentioned I should consider doing a coloring book. So, I made a couple of pages for a few friends, and then thought “hey, a service dog one would be cool and unique”, and then just decided to run with it! I held a couple of polls to see what kinds of things people might want, like if they wanted quotes, names, or just images, and then I held a casting call, asking for friends and acquaintances in the service dog community to send in their dogs and information. And then just spent the next month and a half working all day on it, getting advice and input, and now, here we are!
KB: Like I mentioned above, I’m highly involved in several of the online communities for handlers. I myself owner-trained my own service dog to assist with symptoms of my own psychiatric disabilities. So, the subject is near and dear to my heart. My own service dog is now living with a good friend of mine, still working, just for her instead of me, for the next year at least. She has been an amazing help to (my friend) through a house fire and subsequent night terrors that her kids have had. I am so honored that a dog I trained is making such a huge difference not only in the life of my best friend, but also in the lives of her children, and not just through emotional support, but by actually waking them up from their night terrors and helping them calm down from their panic attacks. My book is actually dedicated to her (Arya, my service dog), and Hogan, who was this same friend’s dog who she was training as her service dog before he, unfortunately, passed away a year ago.
I have also been in this community for the past two, nearly two and a half years, and have met so many amazing people, and made so many wonderful friends, that I couldn’t think of any better topic to focus on. Sort of a way of “giving back” to the community and dogs who already gave so much to me and those I love.
KB: Yes. I had several other ideas I was playing around with at the time I decided on this topic, and have several I’m currently working on, but this is the first one I actually finished and published.
LWD: What are you hoping people who receive your coloring book get out of it?
KB: Well, first and foremost, I hope people will enjoy it. Even if I didn’t have the educational elements in there, my primary purpose with anything I do is to put a smile on people’s faces. I want to make them happy and feel as though they have something that was worth either purchasing for themselves or as a gift.
After that, I hope that people can get a little bit of insight into the world of service dogs. There are many laws around the world that effect service dog handling, but the place that seems to have the most confusion (at least that I have seen) is the United States. I go into a bit of an explanation of the ADA and what defines a service dog in my author’s note and the stories of each dog help explain some of the many things that service dogs are able to do for their handlers. I hope that this book can help people see that a dog of any size or breed is capable of being a service dog, and that, in the US at least, the only defining factor is that the dog is trained to perform a specific task that directly mitigates the disability of their handler. I hope that people can see this and teach their kids how to respect service dogs and their handlers, because of the important jobs that they perform, and that people can become more open minded and understanding of this world that may seem like an elite and closed off portion of the dog community.
I mean, there’s a lot I hope for this book, including maybe earning a bit of money off of the sales in order to pay the bills. Haha. But the basic gist of it s I want people to pick it up, smile, enjoy reading the stories and coloring the dogs, and for people to learn a bit along the way.
KB: Less specific to the book, but just in general. Just to keep your minds open to learning. Don’t make assumptions, and be respectful of others. Kind of a strange thing to say, maybe, but it relates the whole service dog thing. At least, in my mind it does.
What a great way to honor these wonderful animals and, perhaps, introduce and education more adults, children, and coloring enthusiasts to these amazing animals.
Service Dogs Coloring Book is available on Amazon.