We feel our readers have a familiar understanding of how our relationship has formed with the 2014 Children’s Book Contest Karen Roberts. What they may not have been able to perceive is how the writing aspect came into play and how she was able to take a true story and mold it into a writing career. So we sat down with the animal rights activist to get some more clarity for our fans and for ourselves.
eBooks2go: You are the founder of The Little Blue Dog, an organization that started as a way to give back and provide support to the rescue community, while also contributing as a form of humane education for the younger generations. Was the book, The Little Blue Dog, your first experience writing for a mainstream audience?
Karen Roberts: Yes, The Little Blue Dog was my first foray into the world of writing for a mainstream audience. I always tell people it sort of happened on a whim. But it was a very inspired event.
eBooks2go: Some of life’s most notable experiences occur when we act on our impulses, no doubting that. What in particular drove you to consider embracing a new canine companion?
Roberts: I was grieving the loss of my parents, who both passed away from cancer in one year. I was very close with them, and I didn’t realize how much of my life was intertwined with theirs until they were gone. I have been an animal lover, and obsessed with dogs in particular, since I can remember. To help get over the loss I had experienced, I decided to adopt a dog.
eBooks2go: Our condolences. The loss of that magnitude is incomprehensible. The fact that you had to endure two such losses in that short span time must have been difficult. Your dog Louie, whom The Little Blue Dog series is based upon, had to withstand his own turmoil. Care to share?
Roberts: Through Louie’s shelter paperwork I learned that he was surrendered by his owners, to a kill shelter in California. From there he was lucky enough to be transported to Massachusetts through a program called Project Flying Chihuahuas. So aside from being abandoned by his family to a scary place, he had to go through shelter intake 3 times, fly on a transcontinental flight with 24 other dogs, and he was essentially homeless for just under 4 weeks. Yet despite this, he was happy, well behaved, loving, and incredibly grateful to have a home.
eBooks2go: How did you come up with the idea to write a book about this true life event?
Roberts: I was, and still am, blown away at his ability to bond to me so instantly, and his gentle nature, resilience and forgiveness. I was so inspired by him that I thought his story would make a great kids book…and well, the rest is history.
eBooks2go: Did you have any goals for this collection (The Little Blue Dog) when you wrote it — to get published, or just to finish, etc.?
Roberts: Initially the only goal for The Little Blue Dog was to raise some money for the Northeast Animal Shelter, where I adopted Louie. I didn’t have a vision past that at first. But the experience took on a life of it’s own. I was so scared when the book finally released for purchase – I felt so vulnerable, putting myself out there thinking “who is going to even care about this?” But the fear evolved into a passion and drive to continue. And now I cannot envision doing anything else with my time. I live, breathe and focus all I have on this mission and it feels like an absolute calling. I found my life’s purpose and I can honestly say, the books, the classroom visits, volunteering for the animals, all of it feeds my soul.
eBooks2go: You spend a lot of free-time in classrooms, and at after school programs & special events. Your humane education program teaches children a variety of animal kindness and advocacy topics. Why the focus on kids?
Roberts: Quite simply, the kids are the future. I truly believe humane education belongs in the classroom. As much as they need to learn grammar, spelling, math, science, history, I think teaching them to be compassionate, caring individuals is crucial to a peaceful and productive society. Its not just about learning why adopting a pet is important. It’s about character, and being independent, critical thinkers that have empathy towards animals and their fellow humans.
eBooks2go: What is the most worthwhile aspect of writing for kids rather than for adults?
Roberts: Children can be so open hearted, much more so than adults. My mission is to inspire leadership and advocacy in the younger generations. I hope to help them appreciate nature, and respect animals. Being with the kids is my favorite part of this endeavor. I have had some of the most meaningful and interesting discussions about advocacy with children as young as 8. They are curious and thoughtful and I believe we should nurture and foster those traits.
eBooks2go: What kind of lasting impact do you hope The Little Blue Dog and your personal efforts can provide to the younger generations you emphasize educating?
Roberts: It will ripple into the world in a positive way, and that is something we need more of. There are some staggering statistics that relate animal abuse to violent crime offenders. Simply put, people who love and care about animals are typically more loving and caring to humans. A compassionate society is a more peaceful society.
eBooks2go: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Roberts: The most surprising aspect of this journey is the amazing world of compassionate people that has opened up to me. There is a monumental effort going on in the world today comprised of people working tirelessly and selflessly each day to help animals. I cannot possibly express emphatically enough how important our choices are. The products we choose to buy, the food we choose to eat, the pets we choose to add to our family, the vacations we choose to take, all impact animals. It is impossible to be a human on this planet and not exploit animals. But we can, with our choices, limit our conduct to reduce that exploitation.
eBooks2go: What are some of the concepts you advocate to your readers to limit the exploitation of our animal brethren?
Roberts: We can buy products that were NOT tested on animals. We can switch to a plant based diet. We can adopt from our local shelter or rescue group when adding a pet to our family. We can avoid vacationing at places that exploit animals. Don’t patronize tourist attractions that keep animals in captivity. I believe animals will be the next marginalized/exploited group in our society to see a big change. The future of our environment depends on it.
Stay tuned for the conclusion of our discussion with humane educator and author Karen Roberts. For more information on The Little Blue Dog, Karen’s crew of canines, or her efforts please visit www.thelittlebluedog.com. The book is available for purchase digitally on iTunes, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, GooglePlay, Kobo, OverDrive, and eBooks2go.com. Remember, 100% of all profits from the book and products will be donated to The Little Blue Dog’s animal rescue and shelter partners. Grab a copy today and help grant other pets like Louie the opportunity to exit a shelter and enter a home.