Big Floppy

About ten years ago, I wrote a children’s book based on my dog Pretzel. It’s called Big Floppy. I’ve never thought it was good enough to publish, so it has been sitting in a drawer ever since. Special thanks to my super-talented friend Rosie Falconi for bringing the story to life by creating the incredible artwork for the first few pages.

I’ve decided to share Big Floppy with my subscribers for input. Please post constructive or positive feedback in the comments section if you see fit. If I decide to move forward, I’d like to donate copies of the book to schools to teach children lessons about kindness. I could also make it an e-book to keep it planet-friendly. And, of course, I would donate all proceeds to charity or sell it for cost. What do you think?

“Good morning, students. I’m excited to read you a beautiful and inspiring story today. It’s filled with lessons I hope you’ll always remember,” said the teacher to her class of playful dogs.

“Can we go outside?” one of the dogs asked, wagging his tail.

“After the story,” the teacher explained with a smile.

“This is the story of a dog named Pretzel, but all the dogs call him Big Floppy because he has the biggest ears any of them have ever seen!

Pretzel lived in a shelter. Nobody wanted to adopt him because he was so funny looking. Finally, a loving family rescued Pretzel and his parents after they lived in a cage for years.”

“When he arrived home, even though he was friendly, many dogs in the neighborhood made fun of him when they would see him on walks.

‘Hey, Big Floppy, you look like an airplane with those ears!’ said one dog. ‘Are you looking for an airport where you can land?” another dog asked as Pretzel tried to hide his ears.”

“‘Why can’t I be normal like everyone else?’ Pretzel asked his Dad.

‘Pretzel, your ears look like mine. You should be proud of the way you look,’ his father explained. ‘Your teacher tells us you have the best hearing of all the dogs in your class.'” 

“‘Yes, son, it’s what’s on the inside that matters,’ his mother explained. ‘You’re a very good and caring puppy. We love you and we don’t want you to change. You’re perfect in our eyes.’ (Image: Pretzel’s mother talking to him.)

The next day, Pretzel was walking home alone from school when he heard a noise.”

“Pretzel decided to investigate. When he rounded the corner, he found a group of scary men forcing dogs to fight. He saw many of his classmates from school crying and getting hurt.” (Image: Pretzel hiding behind a bush with his ears poking out watching people make dogs fight.)

“Pretzel ran to the nearest police station to ask for help.” (Image: Pretzel running to the police station; ears blown back in the wind. Police station up ahead.)

“The police arrested the men, rescued the dogs, and escorted them to a nearby hospital to get better.” (Image: Police taking away dog fighters in handcuffs.)

“‘You saved my life,’ one of the dogs barked as he licked his wounds and whimpered. Thanks to Pretzel, every dog survived and returned home to their families.”

“All of the dogs who had teased Pretzel now thanked him. ‘You’re our hero, Pretzel,’ one dog said. ‘Nobody will ever make fun of you again,’ another said. ‘Your ears saved us!'” (Image: Dogs licking Pretzel as they celebrate him.)

“‘What did you call me?’ Pretzel asked.” (Image: Pretzel looking at the dogs with his ears up in disbelief.)

“‘Pretzel,’ a dog replied. ‘That’s your name, right?’ another dog asked. ‘Yes, that’s my name,’ Pretzel replied with pride.” (Image: Dogs talking to Pretzel. Pretzel smiling with his ears way up.)

“What lessons did you learn from this story?” the teacher asked.

“We need to respect and embrace our differences,” a Jack Russell Terrier replied.

“Yes, you’re such a smart dog!” the teacher said. “Some dogs weigh more than others. Some dogs are slower than others. Some dogs bark differently than others, some have longer tails than others, and yes, some even have bigger ears than others. That’s what makes life fun and exciting! We’re all different, but we all like to be treated nicely, and we all have much to offer the world. Did you learn anything else?”

(Image: Teacher in classroom reading the end of the book to the dogs. Dogs looking at each other with their tongues hanging out. One dog licking Pretzel’s ear. Other dogs ready to play.)

The Real Pretzel “Big Floppy” (2000-2014)

The last question is a prompt for readers. I’d like to include a sample lesson plan at the end that includes the following themes from the book: the importance of animal rescue and reporting animal abuse, kindness, valuing diversity, reasons not to tease and bully, self-confidence, good parenting, and unconditional love.

34 thoughts on “Big Floppy

  1. I LOVE IT!!! I think your teachers a valuable lesson about bullying And individual differences. Just because you’re different doesn’t mean that you’re any less special than anyone else thank you for sharing that story and the real Pretzel was adorable

  2. Andrew,I think kids will love your book.  I think the intro where the “dog family” is rescued from the shelter is a little rough.  There is no mention of the family who adopted them later in the book, and why is Pretzel going to school.  Maybe a slight look into his home life, why is he going to school, etc.I love your ideas and with additional art work will be wonderfulDeb Malas

    1. Thank you, Deb. Excellent feedback. I can add info on the family. (I was trying to keep it short since it’s a young children’s book.)

      Regarding school, all the dogs go to school the same way all children go to school. They’re getting a dog education (e.g., about not to sniff the wrong stuff in the grass, to play nice, etc.). Do you think I need to explain it?

      I appreciate your help!

    2. I was confused about adopting the one dog in the pic and the parents. It would clear is up if Pretzel’s mother and father were inset in the first illustration. Other than that, I liked it!

  3. I am a former teacher. This is a great story that raises the topics of shelter dogs, mixed breed dogs, man’s inhumanity, fighting dogs, bullying, family relationships, telling a parent when you are hurt acceptance of others, the good samaritan, what we learn by reading. Get it published. Get Stephen Colbert to promote it, too.
    I love it. Five ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

    1. Thank you so much, Susan. Very kind of you! I appreciate your feedback.

      A side note that may resonate with you as a former teacher: When I was a child, kids made fun of my ears and nose. My father told me my ears and nose looked like the ears and nose of my relatives and that I should be proud of them. That’s all I needed to hear. It was one of my inspirations for writing the book–to share that message with children. I adopted Pretzel because he had big ears.

      Here’s the story if you’re interested:

      1. This is a great article and when schools reopen, you should publish it again. I was the School
        counsellor and know of too many similar stories. Bullies grow up to believe in their power and carry that into the workplace (several politicians!), and their relationships with their wives, children, pets and wildlife. They buy guns…I don’t need to go on, as you know. The victims are lucky if they learn to transition to being Survivors. Your story opens doors for great discussions.

      2. LOVE THE ART WORK … the story has great bones …I’m going to bravely throw in a curve ball … what you just wrote above is how I see the story and was thinking this as I was reading comments and feeling reluctant to respond … then read your personal story…use your human experience; a child with big ears adopting a big eared pup or dog …child notices other dogs don’t care about his dogs ears, but other children tease him…asks parents why this is…his dog’s better hearing alerts him to a perpetuated in his near-by neighborhood they both go or cell call the police…they get commended (not so much heroes) boy feels different about his own ears…other kids hear about them and it makes them back off and think differently about difference and that animals don’t do this to each other…(don’t shoot the messenger…just my thoughts)

  4. Andrew… Thought the book would be perfect for teaching preschoolers valuable concepts. Keeping it a short story helps with short attention spans. Feeling comfortable going to the authorities for help was also an important lesson. Have you thought about making it a series?

    1. Incredibly kind of you, Michael. I haven’t thought about a series, but if I”ll definitely give it consideration if I move forward. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  5. I love your story of Big Floppy. This is an important message for all of us any you’ve made it accessible to children. I would like to see it available to children in Kindle or online somehow. As a great Grandma, I’d love to share with my little darlings.

  6. Hi Andrew, I work with environmental education and your story will be definitely well received by kids. The artwork is beautiful and if I can make a suggestion, or will be to elaborate on the family’s choice to adopt a dog. We still see a lot of people buying puppies and having the wrong perception about breeders. The values you outline in the story can also match with the decision to adopt (and save two lives, the one adopted and there spare space to save another one) plus the sad reality of females used to breed puppies. Not sure if this addition would make these story too long, or how you are planning to structure your book, but since you asked for feedback, here is mine 🙂
    All the best,

    1. Hi, Cinthia,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts. I appreciate your help!

      I can definitely weave in the family’s motivation to adopt. I’ll try to balance length and reading level with the addition (the intended audience is elementary school students).

      Thanks again!

  7. Andrew your story is exceptionally poignant, and well written. The illustrations by Rosie are so beautifully done. Neither writing a book nor creating the illustrations are an easy task that will ever please everyone.
    A very famous and successful man who taught classes told all his students to NOT let anyone know what they were doing, until they were done, as there would be critics who want you to do it their way.
    The very best way, Andrew is to do it completely your way and keep your own imagination of all that Pretzel taught you and all that you want your story to capture the hearts, compassion and minds of those reading and seeing it. Your story is coming from your imagination and to start to change it to please others, is not going to be the story that you intended it to be.
    To me, your writing is already right on target with everything that needs to be read and heard.
    I’ve been reading your letters for years. You loved Pretzel so very much and when Pretzel got so sick and we all thought Pretzel was leaving, it was very heart wrenching.
    Your original story from ten years ago based on Pretzel is just as important today. Keep to your own vision and story. Feel it and believe that it’s the way to bring your story to life.

    1. Hi, Sandie,

      Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. Yes, Rosie is so talented! I’m so grateful for bringing the story to life. She spent so much time on the illustrations.

      Indeed, I’ve read that advice. It’s sage guidance. I appreciate the reminder. I’ll make sure I keep the integrity of the story intact.

      Thank you for your support throughout the years, Sandie, and for this kind and thoughtful note.

  8. I love the story and the whole idea of the book. And what a darling dog! The illustrations are perfect for this kind of book.
    As far as specific comments that could enhance the story, I would have three examples of other dogs making fun of him. I feel having only one doesn’t stress enough how hurt he is. I would also expand on the part where he “hears” the fighting and commotion since this too is another focal point of the story, the reason other dogs are now treating him with respect.
    Good luck and I think it is worthy of your time and perseverance to publish.
    Thanks for sending this out. I love reading children’s books. I was a reading tutor for 30 years and never tire of reading kid’s books.

  9. On Sun, Apr 12, 2020 at 9:59 AM Kirschner’s Korner wrote:

    > Andrew Kirschner posted: “About ten years ago, I wrote a children’s book > based on my dog Pretzel. It’s called Big Floppy. I’ve never thought it was > good enough to publish, so it has been sitting in a drawer ever since. > Special thanks to my super-talented friend Rosie Falconi for b” >

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