Book review and interview: Not Your Mother’s Book on Dogs

Maggie May was rescued with her littermates, and wound her way into an author's heart via Facebook.

Maggie May was rescued with her littermates, and wound her way into an author’s heart via Facebook.

Not Your Mother’s Book on Dogs contains many stories about dogs written by their dog enthusiast guardians. It is a nice collection of short stories from the dog lovers that surround us in our lives, and represents of the variety of views, opinions, and experiences that exist amongst us. You might nod your head in agreement while reading some of the stories, while cringing at one or two of the others! I have to admit, I’m not sure why one story made the cut as the author didn’t appear to even like dogs, notably having what might be considered an irrational fear and prejudice of pit bulls (or never mentioned why she felt that way) and a son who probably needed to take his puppy to a training class or two! But that’s life, and the community that surrounds us, and this book represents our dog-related similarities and differences quite well. I also appreciated how well-edited the stories are. All the stories I read in this collection were well written, and easy to digest.

One of the stories that resonated with me in particular is a wonderful tale from Bobby Barbara Smith called “A Facebook Affair”. I tend to spend a lot of cycles sharing dogs who need rescue, or ones currently in rescue, on the social network. I also admin a bunch of Facebook pages to network dogs and advocacy news, and regularly chat with other dog enthusiasts. So to read about someone else doing the same thing, and a connection she made with a dog there, put a big smile on my face immediately. What followed was a lovely tale about a tiny “Dorkie” (dachshund-yorkie) puppy, Maggie May, who was the smallest in a litter of puppies originally left out in the trash and pulled to safety by Janice Wolf of Rocky Ridge Refuge. Maggie May’s littermates were all adopted, while the author watched Maggie May wait for her forever home.

Spoiler Alert: Maggie May did find her forever home with the author! And I had the opportunity to ask Bobby Barbara Smith a few questions about her experience adopting this beautiful little dog, and using social media for canine networking.

Why did you decide to start following rescues on Facebook?

When my husband and I bought a log cabin, on a country road outside of Harrison Arkansas, it didn’t take long for me to see the plight of stray and dumped dogs. We were only there on weekends and Holidays, but time and time again half-starved and neglected dogs would make their way up our driveway in search of food. I would feed them, clean them up, vet them, and find them homes. When we moved to Bull Shoals, I heard about the wonderful work Janice Wolf did at her Rocky Ridge Refuge. She is a one woman wonder who rescues all sorts of abused and handicapped critters. Her wall was one of the first rescues I sought out, after joining Facebook. Randy Grim from St. Louis Strays in St. Louis, Mo. was another. Janice and Randy have dedicated their lives to saving dogs, and I trust them.

Do you have any recommendations or pointers for others about using Facebook for dog advocacy?

I have found one needs to be careful whether sharing information, or donating for a particular dog. Sadly, some rescues that are not in it for the needs of the dogs; they are in it for the money. I tell my friends to observe a rescue from a distance, for a period of time. Do your research, ask questions. If they are not willing to share their vets’ name, and are constantly pleading for donations, beware.

When did you start writing about dogs?

Maggie May is famous, part of a collection of dog stories in "Not Your Mother's Book... on Dogs".

Maggie May is famous, part of a collection of dog stories in “Not Your Mother’s Book… on Dogs”.

I first wrote about rescues, after we retired full-time to the cabin in 1995. I wrote about our beautiful Border collie, O.D. (outside dog). I found her in my flower bed one morning, near death. She had been abused, dumped, and shot at by farmers as she approached their house looking for food. I made a solemn promise to her that day, promising she would never feel pain from hunger or human hand again. I kept that promise. She lived out her sixteen years of life, at our cabin.

And how is Maggie May doing?

As for my sweet Maggie May, and Grumpy old InD (inside dog) they have settled in to a routine that works for them, so it works for me also. I always try to introduce a new dog, even visiting dogs, outside the house if possible, and on leash. Once they’ve became acquainted I allow the resident dog to lead the way into the house. I’ll never forget the look on InD’s face when Maggie followed him into the house. He turned around with a look that said, “Wait a minute, you’re supposed to go back to where ever you came from!”

Maggie May in her forever home.

Maggie May in her forever home.


What do you feel are some of the most important things to remember when introducing a newly adopted dogs to your household?

I think it’s important to not make too big of a fuss over the new dog, and to continue the same routine for the resident dog. I watched closely the first week or so, as Maggie and InD interacted, to make sure there was no aggression. I also feed them separately; mostly to assure Maggie May doesn’t turn into a fat girl. Janice warned me about that. I started leaving them alone, in the house for short periods of time, while I was in the yard. I would pop in and out to make sure all was well, until I finally was comfortable leaving them alone, together. InD, still wishes Maggie May would go away, in fact he starts complaining in the morning when he sees me headed for her crate. But she holds her own with the old boy. She’ll make a running leap across the room and pounce on him. He roars and snorts until she drops into her submissive posture. She waits until he turns his back and walks away…then pounces again.

Where to go from here

I’d like to thank Bobby Barbara Smith for taking the time to answer these questions, and share her terrific story and experiences with dogs and rescue. It is wonderful to hear about Facebook making connections between a dog in need, and a loving forever home. Like she mentions, do your research before you donate time or resources to an organization (big or small!) It helps to ask around, evaluate, or consult resources such as GuideStar, GiveWell, or CharityNavigator to find out how your money is utilized.

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Jen deHaan

Jen deHaan is an animal advocate, volunteer, and dog person living in Bay Area, California. She likes to support local and national efforts for animal welfare and advocacy. Jen enjoys learning about dog training and behavior, and has taken several courses and seminars since 2010. It all started with a great dog called Mikey (aka "dude"), loved and lost but remembered forever.

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2 Responses

  1. The Desert Rocks says:

    Wonderful article and review. I love Not Your Mother’s Book on Dogs! Barbara is a testament to an overflowing heart!

  2. Amazing article; thank you. I will have to look for this book on my Kindle. It sounds like a must read.

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