JJ The American Street Dog
By Diane Rose- Solomon
I didn’t set out to be an author, much less a children’s book author. It just happened. I’ve had this story in me for years that needed to be told and it came out one day…on paper. When I looked up from the stream of consciousness that made the words into sentences, I realized that I had written a story and thus began the journey of JJ The American Street Dog and How He Came to Live in Our House.
It made sense for the story to be targeted toward kids since they are the next generation of adopters. If they learn about pet homelessness, rescue, and adoption now, and learn not to buy a pet from a pet store or even from a breeder, by the time they are adopting their first pet perhaps this whole mess will be behind us. Words like pet homelessness, overpopulation, rescue, adoption, and euthanasia could be terms from the past.
JJ The American Street Dog and How He Came to Live in Our House is a fictionalized version of my real story. 18 years ago, we were going to purchase a dog from a breeder. Just before we started researching breeders, a friend found a homeless puppy on a soccer field that he couldn’t keep. We took one look at the puppy and fell in love. It was finding JJ that opened my heart to homeless animals and I have made it my life’s work to create awareness about the plight of those who have no voice of their own.
As a mom, I’ve learned that kids have a very powerful voice in the family. When my kids come home and declare, “We have to take shorter showers, and turn off the lights. We learned about global warming in school today and we need to do our part,” we take note because there’s often merit to what they’ve learned. Likewise, when a child hears JJ The American Street Dog in school, they come home and tell their parents: “Today we learned about animal rescue, Mom. We have to make sure we adopt our next pet.” It could be the family discussion that makes a difference in the life of an animal.
Plus, since the book was created for children ages five to nine, often an adult will be reading the book with them, so while a child is learning, simultaneously so is an adult.
One of the big themes in JJ The American Street Dog is “responsibility,” including what to do when you find a stray dog, how to care for a new pet, and making sure you are ready for the responsibility of being a pet parent. It opens the conversation so that people can be prepared when they do make the decision to adopt. Most importantly, it highlights the importance of choosing a pet in need of a home, whether they come from the shelter, a rescue organization, or even one found on the street!
In schools today there are anti-bullying campaigns, environmental education, and increasingly, humane education. JJ The American Street Dog is a wonderful tool for educators to use in their humane lesson plans.
When I read JJ The American Street Dog to school aged children, they enjoy the story and the beautiful illustrations, but it is the discussion afterwards that is so enchanting. Children love to talk about their pets, and while many pets have been rescued, many have not. For most, it is their first time hearing the words “rescue” or “homeless.” My intent is to empower these children and their families to make the decision to save a life when they adopt their next pet.
Diane Rose- Solomon, a Certified Humane Education Specialist, rescued the real JJ 17 years ago. She is the author of the “JJ The American Street Dog” series. Ms. Rose- Solomon lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two children and two rescued dogs, Gonzo and Ninja.
Email Diane at: email@example.com