When I think back to my childhood, I realize that after my stuffed Snoopy, my first real friend was our family dog. I think because of my young age and personality, I was willing and able to develop meaningful friendships with all of our family dogs over the years. Each of them had an important and positive influence over my development growing up in a remote area of a California county. They were my study buddies, cheerleaders, confidants, motivators, and moral compass. I know that is a lot but believe me, never underestimate the power of the human-dog bond.
The support, generosity, and kindness of strangers
This leads me to a wonder pair of books that I was given the chance to read before their official release August 29th, starting with Gobi: A Little Dog With a Big Heart. It's a picture book that offers a humane education for little ones, taking them on an adventure across the desert! They are introduced to a little stray dog whose positive influence has a remarkable impact on an ultra-marathon runner. Based on a true story, this picture book is a wonderful introduction to the idea of compassion for animals, courage and love for a little stray dog with a big heart.
Both books are about teamwork and power of a dog's positive influence, but the young reader edition adds a lot more to the 'man meets dog' story...
In Finding Gobi: The True Story of One Little Dog’s Big Journey, this inspiring true tale takes you deeper into the meaning of courage, hope, compassion, and perseverance. I especially appreciated reading about the compassionate response the author and Gobi received from strangers, as well as the Chinese people they encountered who had very different views about dogs! I love this quote from the author:
“Before we met, Gobi was on her own for an unknown period of time. We have no idea what she saw, experienced, felt, or even ate while she was in the desert,” he continues. “I think it’s an especially important thing for kids to remember, that we never know each other’s stories. We never know what our friend or our classmate, or even sometimes our family members are going through, which makes it even more important to always be kind to the people who come into our lives.”
Kindness - Hope - Teamwork
There are many wonderful lessons kids and parents can take away from these books, including the simple message that rescue and shelters dogs might surprise you with their ability to be your best friend and loyal companion.
These books and this little stray dog's journey will make a great addition to any family of dog lovers, or to an elementary school library. I finished both feeling my faith in people renewed, and reminded that little dogs give fearlessly too.
About the Author:
Dion Leonard is a 41-year-old Australian who lives in Edinburgh, Scotland with his wife Lucja. Dion has not only completed but competed in some of the world’s toughest ultra marathons across the planet’s most inhospitable landscapes. This includes running across the brutal Moroccan Sahara desert twice in the 250km Marathon Des Sables and also twice across South Africa's Kalahari Desert, also 250km. Dion's latest 250km race across the Gobi Desert in China turned out to be a completely different race, where he fell in love with a stray dog (later named Gobi) that followed him during the week and who would change both of their lives forever. Learn more at www.findinggobi.com.
Pre-order Gobi: A Little Dog With a Big Heart (picture book) and Finding Gobi: The True Story of One Little Dog’s Big Journey (Young Reader’s Edition) from Thomas Nelson today. Both titles will be available for purchase wherever books are sold on August 29, 2017.