Today we're talking with Jennifer Talbot Ross, author of The Story of Moses
FQ: You mention early in the book that it was important to introduce the reader first to the other dogs in your life before meeting Moses. What made you decide to include all your special friends rather than simply write a book about one dog?
I actually did not start out with the intention of writing a book at all. Initially, I was just journaling through Moses' illness. As his death became imminent, I kept journaling simply as a means of channeling the grief. Then, I began to experience a desire to find a way to let Moses' life and death make a difference to others, to allow him to live on in some way. As this desire came over me, I realized that I may never have even looked for Moses if there had not been Odin in my life and how all of the dogs in my adult life were truly related. I could not tell the story of one without the others. Even so, it was several months after the manuscript was finished that I made the decision to publish and put the story out in the world.
|Cleo and Odin|
Ah - that was a funny scene. Though we did spoil her with the large chews a few other times in the future, we gave them to her outside so there wouldn't be the problem of getting them through the doggie door. However, she would try to come back inside with the chew ... though not as humorous, as the drive to come inside was not as strong as that drive to initially run outdoors with the newly prized possession. She would just turn around and decide to stay outdoors to enjoy her prize.
Sometimes people get stuck on one breed, or they don't even realize the differences in the many breeds that are out there. I felt it important to present the reader with the factual breed information in addition to my opinions, feelings, descriptions of the breeds -- to reinforce, as well, that there are resources on which to base decisions concerning choices in pets and what those resources provide.
Yes, I'm afraid I'm very afflicted. I have to force myself to turn away. The people that work with the rescue groups and handle multiple fosters are truly angels. I wish I could do more. I am gravitated to every pet adoption event I see, knowing I cannot add another dog to our family at this point. I still want to see them, look in their eyes, speak sweetly to them, say a prayer, try to come up with someone I know that might want to adopt. And, of course, make a donation. I also watch every dog show I can on television and cheer on my favorites!
|Bess and Moses|
FQ: I was very touched by the story of how Samantha helped you through your panic attacks. Would you share with us a few other examples of how your dogs helped you through hard times?
Before I met my husband, George, Cleo was my constant companion. When I was sick, she would not leave my side. Even after George and I married, there was a rough patch in my life where I was not working and having a very difficult time with that - such that I did not want to get out of bed for a few days. Again, Cleo was there, my ever-present, non-judgmental friend. Each of my dogs has been a source of joy and inspiration. Every day that I would come home from work feeling like a Mac truck had been run over me and backed up and done it again, when I walked through the door and was met with smiling faces, wagging tails, and sloppy, dog kisses, I knew everything was alright. Still, to this day, being greeted so enthusiastically by my crew grounds me like nothing else I know.
|Pax Getting A Kiss|
Well, my parents had a kennel, raising show-quality German Shepherds. It is, of course, somewhat "elite" in the dog world to be involved in that realm. As a dog lover, and being exposed to what "showing" is about, I had always wished, fantasized about having a dog that I could groom and show and would be awarded these special titles. They are special. However, spending the money on a purebred with just the right qualities and going through all the competitions, etc., was something I'd never do. That "Pyr Picnic in the Park" gave me the opportunity to "live the dream." It was a very special day for me and for Moses. I was so proud of him -- not only how he "handled and moved" in the ring, but getting his therapy dog certification was the absolute pinnacle! What an honor. And, he certainly was the man-about-town for that day. He loved the attention so. And his ribbons are still proudly displayed in my home.
FQ: You talk about the importance of rescue groups in your book. What would you tell our readers today who are looking to add a dog to their lives?
|Bess and Samantha vs. a Giant Paper Roll|
FQ: Captain, the little neurotic terrier, vs. Moses, the laid-back, giant Pyrenees. How funny they must have looked together. Did they ever have any further run-ins after that first, loud roar from Moses?
|The Whole Gang Waiting for Their Walks|
FQ: As a horse owner, I know that white horses are more susceptible to certain cancers than their darker colored stablemates. Is it the same with white pyrenees?
I'm not sure about cancers. But, I do know that Pyrenees, because of the pigmentation, are very susceptible to sunburn. Many people, unadvisedly, will shave the Pyrenees down to the skin in summer, intending to help with the heat. However, because of their light, skin pigmentation, it only serves to expose them to extreme sun damage. It is better to allow the hair, especially on their top-side, to provide cover to their skin. Shaving the under-belly can help to make them cooler without exposing them directly to the sun's rays. The Great Pyrenees is susceptible to luxating patella issues with their knees and to hemangiosarcoma (like Moses) and bone cancers (like many large-breed dogs) but I'm not aware that any of those issues are directly related to their pigmentation.
|Moses, Pax, and Bess|
I would say first and foremost that you must be ready to enjoy dog hair as a condiment (and not be into black - or be ready to have your beloved black pants covered in long, white hair). You must not be the type of person that has to have everything in their house in order and perfectly clean. These are large dogs with lots of hair. Leaves and brush attach themselves to the dogs and get carried in. It's a fact of life. You need to be aware that these dogs are extremely intelligent and strong-willed. You do not force a Great Pyrenees into submission. It doesn't happen. However, they are extremely gentle, loving and devoted. If you earn their respect, you have a friend and protector for life.
We have our dogs in Texas - which can be brutally hot. They certainly love the air-conditioning, however their coats actually act as insulation to the heat. Though they are white, their coats shed dirt naturally, so there is not a lot of "cleaning" needed -- just let them dry off and the dirt falls off. Brushing, though, is important to avoid matting in the coat. We generally brush at least once/month when they are bathed.
|Pax and Samantha Getting Loved|
Most Great Pyrenees are great with other dogs, cats, and children (though there are exceptions). Also, as with any large dog, left unattended and untrained they can be very destructive. I found with several of my dogs that it was almost a competition, that I was going to outwit them each step of the way so that they couldn't destroy the yard, destroy the furniture, etc. If you truly are in tune with your dog and one step ahead and patient (like with a child), you can ensure that all will be well between you. Also, to contain a Pyrenees you need to have a tall, secure fence as these guys tend to roam if they find freedom. It's in their blood, being livestock guard dogs they wander the country-side watching over flocks. But, I can tell you there's nothing like a big, Pyr hug. There's nothing like those soulful eyes. There's nothing like a massive, strong companion who's got your back because he knows you've got his.
To learn more about The Story of Moses please visit our website and read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.