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 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.