Provided by All Things Writing, LLC
“Do you know how to ride the school bus safely? These dogs do!”
That’s how the description of Spumoni and Friends: We Can Ride the Bus begins. The just-released children’s book from Fabulous Fluffs Publishing, with story by Lisa Marino and photos by Lynn Peters, was edited and designed by Bristow-based All Things Writing, LLC.
“It was such an honor to be asked to be part of this book featuring Lisa’s special dogs,” said CEO Katherine Gotthardt, who edited the content. “We’ve worked with Lisa for a couple of years now, and it’s so rewarding to see this particular project come to fruition. I’m excited for her.”
A series kickoff, Spumoni and Friends: We Can Ride the Bus, follows Spumoni and his therapy dog friends on their real-life adventure as they ride the school bus for the first time. Peters documented the special day with stage-by-stage photos of the beloved white Samoyed and his pals, who include Gelato, Zamboni and Biscotti (also white Samoyeds) and Golden Retrievers Tucker and Skipper. Coupled with a storyline that emphasizes safe bus behavior with some chiding of the pups when they misbehave, the photos both teach and charm.
“The story uses a modeling technique,” said Gotthardt, who also has a background in postsecondary education. “The children reading learn good behavior from the dogs. And they also learn from the dogs’ mistakes.”
Fabulous Fluffs Publishing was inspired by Gelato, whom Marino called “the ultimate therapy dog.”
Gelato, who passed away this fall, “knew instinctively how to behave around very small dogs, puppies and young children to make them comfortable and safe with his presence,” Marino said. “He created reading programs for three libraries in southeast Wisconsin.”
Chelsea Tompkins, graphic designer for All Things Writing, who also hails from Wisconsin, brought her passion for therapy animals and talent for layout to the project, which has a scrapbook feel. Tompkins said she had to keep in mind the audience, as well as accessibility for readers with visual impairments. Working with the ADA compliance recommendations took time and thought. “I was pleased with the outcome, though,” she said.
“It was such a great experience doing the design. Trained therapy dogs are just amazing. There aren’t enough of these animals to go around. I think it’s really important to advocate for these support programs.”
“The Fluffs” (Marino’s Samoyeds) are registered therapy dogs with Pet Partners. They are also comfort dogs with Hope Animal Assisted Crisis Response. “They love to meet people and visit older people, kids and everyone in between,” said Marino.
Each of the dogs has their own preferences, according to Marino. Zamboni likes to do agility, obedience and scent games. Spumoni loves to do tricks and perform for audiences and do scent games. Biscotti likes to pull scooters, do agility and tricks, and hike and explore outdoors.
“They all are thrilled when allowed to chase squirrels or bunnies,” said Marino. “They all tolerate posing for their mom taking mountains of photos of them, as long as cookies are provided.”
Marino is a former middle school English and Spanish teacher turned professional dog trainer. She has been involved in public schools and libraries with her therapy dogs for many years, creating reading experiences designed to be fun for children of all ages. She said Fabulous Fluffs Publishing is a way to blend these interests: therapy dogs, reading and positive reinforcement dog training.
Marino currently owns Head of the Class Dog Training in Winchester, Virginia, where she conducts live and virtual training sessions for dog lovers throughout the country. “I want to help dog owners understand and train their beloved four-legged family members,” she said. A graduate of the prestigious Karen Pryor Academy and a Pat Miller Certified Trainer, Marino is also a Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer and holds numerous additional certifications.
Also from the education world, Lynn Peters is a former elementary school special education teacher. The mother of three and grandmother of four enjoys volunteering in nursing homes by supporting pet therapy. She also helps with special education and reading programs with her two golden retriever therapy dogs.
Spumoni and Friends: We Can Ride the Bus is available through Amazon and its affiliated stores. The book will soon be available internationally as well.