Shadow: A Powerful Story From a Shelter Dog’s Perspective

There are many wonderful books out there speaking to all variety of things “dog, whether a plethora of training books, dog as road trip companion novels, photography books to grace the coffee table, and so forth.  But once in a while, a story comes out that gives one pause to consider a subject in a way even the most devout canine advocate may come away touched to the core.

Shadow, written by Aris Austin, tells the tale from the dog’s viewpoint in a way that is engaging, thoughtful, offers humor, and brings to life how an animal in a shelter may view their world. Of additional note, the hero of the story is a senior dog who has been returned to the same shelter from which his owner rescued him some eleven years earlier.

We had the opportunity to chat with Aris about Shadow and learn more about the why’s behind this powerful story. As well, the beautiful animals featured throughout this story are from Love and Second Chances and links with information about each dog is under their photo.  To learn more about Love and Second Chances, please visit their website and Facebook page.

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Meet Dodo! Dodo was surrendered when his owners could no longer care of him after he has gone blind. Poor Dodo was doing his best to get use to his new life and all the adjustments he will have to go through. Dodo is a sweet boy who is good with dogs and people. He loves to lay down with his legs stretched out or get his belly rubbed. Due to Dodos blindness sometimes it will take him a few days to get use to a new area so we are looking for a home that understands that and will have the patience to bypass those days with him. Dodo would do best in a home that will not leave him alone for extended period of time. We are hoping for a breed savvy home or someone who is well familiar with the breed as well. Dodo is patiently waiting!  Find out more about Dodo here.

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casper
Meet Casper! Casper was rescued from the shelter when his time ran out. Thankfully a foster stepped up and took him in just in time. Casper is a precious 6 year old male white pittie. He is so playful and hops around like a little galloping pony! Also, this precious boy SMILES and he loves to play with tennis balls. Casper sits quietly in his kennel as everybody just passes him by. Casper is a sweet fella who is waiting for his loving forever home! We are looking for a home that will continue to work with Casper and show him the TLC he deserves. This adorable boy will make someone a wonderful companion! Learn more about Casper here.

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Life with Dogs:     What inspired you to write the story? Was it a particular incident or experience? Something else?

Aris Austin:             The idea for the story actually originally came from a viral photo on Facebook. This senior dog had just been abandoned at a shelter, and she was just standing there, staring at the last place she’d seen her family. You could see the tension in her posture and her face, and it was just so heartbreaking. A few weeks later, I was daydreaming (in the middle of class–oops!) and the beginnings of an idea for a story came to me. I had a limited outline scribbled into my notebook by the end of class that day, and I built the story from that outline.

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sam
Meet Sam! Sam was found abandoned on the busy streets and was very emaciated. Sam had scars on his neck from abuse and a harness on that indicated he once had a home. Sam was shivering, but staying on the same spot day and night, waiting for his owner. Thankfully a rescuer was able to spot and rescued him. He was taken to the vet for a full check up and has since received a clean bill of health. Sam is a very affectionate and sweet dog. He loves people including kids. He gets along well with dogs and cats. Sam was abandoned once but he is now patiently waiting for his forever home!  Find out more about Sam here.

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LWD:     As Shadow is the center of the story, how did you imagine his voice? What he felt and said?

 

AA:         I always sort of imagined Shadow’s voice as distinctly dog-like, but filled with all the wisdom and intelligence he’s gathered in his life. He always has this innocent and naive aspect to his personality, but it’s tempered with a lifetime of accumulated knowledge.

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wesley
Meet Wesley! Wesley is a very handsome and sweet boy who was rescued from the shelter before his time ran out. Wesley is a very obedient boy who loves to run and play. Wesley would be best in a home with no other dogs or with one other large dog (no cats or small dogs). Wesley does good on the leash and loves to play fetch. Wesley would be a great running or hiking buddy since he is all about adventures! We are looking for a home that understands the breed and will continue to show Wesley what it means to be in a loving home. Wesley is patiently waiting! Click here for more information about Wesley.

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goofy
Meet Goofy! Goofy was rescued when he was found huddled in a field as a stray. When Goofy was first rescued he was in horrible condition due to long term neglect and was suffering from skin infections and was severely emaciated. Thankfully a rescued was able to get this sweet boy off the streets and to the vet for a full check up. Goofy is a big boy with a very loving temperament. We are looking for a home that understands the responsibilities of owning and raising a large breed dog. Goofy deserves a home that will show him what it means to be in a family and will continue to give him all the love he deserves. Goofy is patiently waiting for a home to call his own! Learn more about Goofy here.

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LWD:     Because the relationships between the characters are central to Shadow, how did you choose the characters you wanted to develop? Did you find the relationships naturally developing as you wrote? Did you model any of the characters, including Shadow, off people and animals you know or had seen and imagined their own stories?

AA:         The relationship between Shadow and Annie is actually one of my favorite aspects of the book. During the writing process, it grew into so much more than I had originally outlined. I originally had a pretty vague idea of a shelter worker growing really close to Shadow, but I didn’t plan on all the times Annie really poured her heart out to Shadow. It turned into something where she needed him as much as he needed her, and it was so much fun to write.

Shadow definitely took on a life of his own, but parts of his behavior were pretty heavily based off of my partner’s dog, Kira. She had this wonderful smile, and walks were one of her favorite things in the world. Plus, if your face was anywhere close to being within her reach, you could guarantee she was going to lick it.

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nicole
Meet Nicole! Nicole was rescued from the high-kill shelter in May, 2016. She was taken to the vet for a full check up and has since received a clean bill of health. Nicole is a very sweet and playful girl. She is very loyal and affectionate; she love to be with people, and she would enjoy both indoor and outdoors’ activities with her future family. Nicole is quite athletic and would require high fencing and a active family. We are looking for a home that will continue to show Nicole what it means to be in a family. Nicole is patiently waiting for her forever home! Information about Nicole can be found here.

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LWD:     Did you experience any particularly poignant moment(s) during your writing that elevated the entire experience for you, as a author?

AA:         My favorite part about writing is when the story decides to take things in its own direction, and that happened quite a bit with Shadow. Working from such a general outline gave me a lot of wiggle room for the story, and there were quite a few days where a chapter ended up differently than I intended. That kind of experience was so special to me while writing, because I got to see the plot unfold as I went–just like a reader would.

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miss-america
Meet Miss America! Miss America has been waiting for her forever home for quiet some time now. Miss America was rescued from the shelter before her time ran out. She was overbred and was covered in her own feces and urine. Her eyes were completely infected where she had to have several surgeries on them but is now healthy. Regardless of her hardships she still had so much spirit and love to give. Miss America is dog selective and should be the only dog in the home or with a submissive larger male dog (no cats or small dogs). Other then that she is the sweetest, most loving girl. We are looking for a home that understands the breed and will continue to show Miss America what it means to be in a loving home! Miss America is patiently waiting! See more about Miss America by clicking here.

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LWD:     What was the feeling when you finished the the novel? Did it have an impact on you, personally?

 

AA:         I absolutely cried while writing Shadow. I actually think I cried on the rough draft and the first two times I went through to edit, even though I knew what was going to happen. I think I had a little bit of a soft spot for senior dogs before, but writing this book made that spot bigger than I ever thought possible. Imagining how Shadow really felt at different points in the story forced me to come to terms with how awful some of the things we do to dogs are–even though they’re supposed to be our best friends.

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blue
Meet Blue! Blue was rescued from the shelter before his time ran out. This handsome boy was a volunteer favorite so when he made it on the euthanasia list everyone did their best to get him his second chance. Thankfully a foster home stepped up for Blue and he was able to make a jailbreak! Blue is a gorgeous dog that loves everyone he meets. Blue is a big boy, but he is gentle and calm except when he gets excited playing with other dogs. Blue loves other dogs, loves treats, going on walks and hikes. He is very great motivated and is already learning the basic commands. We are looking for a home that understands the responsibilities of owning this breed. Blue is a great breed ambassador and we would love to find a home that will continue to show him what it means to be in a family! Blue is patiently waiting! Click here to learn more about Blue.

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LWD:     When people read the book, what are the expectations you have of what they will take away?

 

AA:         My biggest hope for this novel is that readers will want to make things change! I hope they’ll choose to help senior dogs, either by adopting them from shelters or by talking with their friends and family to change the conversation about dogs. My big dream is that Shadow will become popular enough to cause a cultural shift, with the help of readers who choose to challenge the idea that a younger dog is somehow more valuable, and that animals are simply objects we can dispose of when we’re tired of them.

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nana
Meet Nana! Nana was brought to our rescue after being at the SPCA for 500 days, its time for this sweet girl to find a forever home. Nana was brought to the shelter on August 26, 2014. She was a nursing mom of 4 tiny puppies Ned, Natalie, Nick, Noelle. She was a great mama and very protective of her babies. Gentle Nana is looking for a quiet peaceful place with a doggy sibling to call her own. She may be a bit timid at first but really opens up once she opens up and feels safe. Nana enjoys going on walks and playing with other dogs her size and doing rub downs in her friends long hair. Nana would benefit from reward based raining and some more confidence building. This sweet girl is patiently waiting for a home to call her own! See more about Nana here.

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cody
Meet Cody! Cody was rescued from the shelter when his time ran out. Cody is a active boy who loves to be around people and other dogs. Cody would do great in a active family where he can explore and enjoy the outdoors. We are looking for a home that understands the breed and will continue to socialize and give Cody the love and attention he needs. Cody is patiently waiting! Click to earn more about Cody.

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LWD:     Whom do you think will most appreciate this book?

 

AA:         I’m hoping that dog lovers–and animal lovers of all types–will really get something out of this book. I want this story to touch anyone who has ever loved an animal.

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jessie
Meet Jessie! Jessie was rescued from a breeding farm during a bust and was lucky enough to be one of the few to make it out. Jessie is a very sweet girl who spent most of her life in a cage but regardless she is as sweet as can be. We are looking for a home that understands the breed and will continue to show Jessie what it means to be in a home. Jessie is patiently waiting for her forever home! Learn more about Jessie here.
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LWD:     Is there anything unexpected that came out of your writing either on a personal level or for others who may have contributed? You also have a mission tied to this story. Can you share a bit about what that is and how you came to choose to donating a portion of the proceeds?

 

AA:         Like I mentioned earlier, a lot of unexpected things came out of this book. I expected it to be shorter than it ended up being, but I found myself more and more dedicated to the story as time went on. It grew my love for senior dogs in ways I never expected, which is how I ended up deciding to donate a portion of the book’s proceeds to Love and Second Chances. I want the story to change the way society thinks about dogs, but I also realized that I could use sales to generate money for an organization dedicated to directly changing the lives of dogs. It’s a smaller-scale way to cause change, but helping even a few dogs is meaningful to the dogs it helps.

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tina
Meet Tina! Tina was hit by a car on a rainy day and was left to die on the road. The car never stopped and continue to drive on leaving Tina paralyzed and badly injured. Thankfully someone spotted her and was able to get her to the vet where they confirmed Tina could no longer walk. Due to Tina’s sweet personality the rescuer decided to give Tina a chance and was able to get Tina into foster care. Tina is a sweet girl who can be a little shy at first but opens up quickly. We are looking for a home that understands the responsibilities of owning and taking care of a paralyzed dog. Tina is patiently waiting for a home to call her own! Find out about Tina by clicking here.

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LWD:     Perhaps the most important question…do you have a dog?

 

AA:         I have actually never lived with a dog! My mom was allergic growing up, and since leaving home, I haven’t lived anywhere that allows dogs. I’ve been close to different dogs throughout my life though, such as my childhood friends’ dogs. I’ve also spent lots of time with my partner’s dogs, Kira and Kashi. Kashi is actually on the cover of the book, with some photoshopping to make her look older. She always looks sad when she’s sleepy, so I took a picture of her one day while she was getting ready for a nap. I love animals of every species, so I certainly plan to adopt a wonderful senior dog as soon as I live somewhere that allows them!

Shadow is available at Amazon.com.

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Aris Austin is an author and activist dedicated to helping animals and fighting injustice in all of its forms. Combining a love for animals with a love of awesome stories, Aris aims to inspire people to make the world a better place for animals. Previously, their work has been featured on One Green Planet and Vegan Feminist Network, and has received awards from Colorado State University. When they aren’t writing or organizing events with other activists, Aris enjoys eating vegan ice cream with their partner, Erica, and their cat, Pine.

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