“It’s in our nature to love dogs.” And they love us back.
That’s the main message that children’s author Eric Kahn Gale wants to share with the world — and he does it in spades with his latest book, “The Wizard’s Dog.” It’s about a dog who was saved by Merlin, the wizard. Gale has the circumstances of the dog’s saving reflect how his own dog (who his wife adopted before they met) was saved from certain death.
Gale described to Shelter Me how his dog Bowser was found.
“He had a tough life – he was found in a barn by agents
of the bank that had foreclosed on it. He was tied up in the barn with nothing but an empty bowl. For a long time, he had issues with water. He would drink and drink and drink. You could tell he was abused. He used to be afraid of men. (My wife) worked with him, gave him lots of emotional support, and now he’s happy. I became very bonded to him.”
Gale jokes that 50% of the conversations between him and his wife are about Bowser. “We would laugh that when we opened the door to the hall (outside our condo), it must have been like magic for Bowser. All of a sudden, there were people out there and noises. He would listen to the noises. For a dog, opening a door is like magic, because most of them can’t open doors.”
Gale loves talking about dogs. He describes his upbringing in the suburbs of Detroit. His mother loves dogs and volunteered at the local humane society — the Detroit Humane Society. He and his sister wanted to help, but they were too young.
“So when we were old enough, maybe 11, we took the classes and got to start helping. We cleaned cages because we were too young to walk dogs.”
That was when Gale first started seeing abandoned dogs and learning about their sad stories. “There were dogs mistreated by society. They weren’t spayed or neutered, puppies left to die in the streets, abandoned dogs and senior dogs left at the shelter because they were too old.”
Gale still remembers one dog in particular — a mastiff named Brutus. He had lived on a chain for his whole life, neglected and unloved. Finally, the shelter took him, and it was there that young Gale met him. “He became “my” dog. I’d play with him and socialize him. Finally, I got to see that he was adopted.”
Gale’s first book, The Bully Book, is about bullying. He explained that it’s loosely based on his 5th grade experience when he was bullied.
“We didn’t talk much about bullying then. I didn’t really talk to my parents about it. My dog was there for me. He listened to me.”
He animatedly talked about how our relationship with dogs goes far back. He said, “It’s an insane journey that changed what humans are. They were the first other species that we lived with and domesticated — before even corn and wheat. It’s in our nature to love dogs. It’s a subject that really needs explaining and is rich. The role that dogs have in our lives – it’s epic.
“I hope to connect with readers who feel that way and with readers who don’t have dogs. The loyalty, love and connection to humans. It’s very human to love dogs.”
In the author’s note of his last book, “The Wizard’s Dog,” a homage of sorts to his dog Bowser, Gale writes:
“Dogs are the best.
They just are. Dogs, in my opinion, are the greatest things humans have besides each other. Did you know that some researchers think that dogs are responsible for modern human civilization? It’s true. Scientists have found evidence of humans domesticating wolves and (through natural selection) turning them into dogs as far back as 50,000 years ago.”
Gale goes on to explain that the wolves helped humans hunt successfully, which eventually led to humans being able to stay in one place, which in turn led to agriculture.
“Humans became one of the most successful species on the planet, and dogs, as their best friends, shared in that success and now live almost everywhere that humans do.
My dog, Bowser, is one of my closest friends. He was my inspiration for Nosewise and dutifully sat next to me everyday of my writing, providing comfort and support.
Gale’s hope for his readers is that each one has a dog of his or her own. And if not, he has some fabulous advice:
I hope that you, dear reader, have a dog like that in your life. If you don’t, there are plenty of wonderful animals in shelters right now, literally this very second, waiting for their chance to have a happy home.”