Our yellow lab, Hudson, slept behind the couch. Every morning our spaniel Kelly used to race downstairs and wake up Hudson. After Hudson died, Kelly raced down the stairs and then just stood there, looking behind the couch, a forlorn expression on her face. She doesn’t look for Hudson any more, but I know how she missed him and longed for him for many months.

Recently I was contacted by author Rebecca Stroud, who asked me if I’d be interested in taking a look at her ebook Zellwood: A Dog Story, a short tale of love and loss, grieving and pets, with a holiday twist. I read the book, and found the story poignant and beautifully-written. Although quite short in length, Zellwood is deep in emotion. You will find yourself wanting to jump in and help sweet canine Annie out of her grief. Maybe you will find instead that she helps you.

I spoke with Rebecca about her book. (And keep reading to the end, you can win a free copy of her ebook!)

1. Is Zellwood based on a personal experience?

RS: Actually, yes. I wrote Zellwood: A Dog Story in 1998, two years after we’d euthanized our Beau (the day before Christmas Eve). And, oh, how our Emma grieved. Although we had recently adopted a shelter-rescue puppy, Emma had been raised with Beau so she missed him terribly. I’d say it took about a year for her to regain her joie de vivre (btw: that’s Emma picture on the Zellwood cover). Sadly, she has since died, too…and our “puppy” is now approaching 16. Yikes.

2. The last scene of your story is a Christmas scene. How do you think pets contribute to our holidays?

RS: I think pets contribute immensely to our entire lives. But regarding the holidays, I believe they are especially important to those who would otherwise spend Christmas alone. There are so many elderly and/or single people with little or no family. So pets are a huge comfort by helping these folks get through the holidays without feeling totally disconnected.

 3: What tips do you have to help people grieving the loss of a pet?

RS: This is a tough one. Meaning, everyone handles grief in their own way, in their own time. There is no right or wrong about it. For instance: Some people bury their deceased pets in the yard; some have them cremated and keep them on the mantle; some leave them at the vets and go home alone. Then you have those who say they’ll never own another dog while others march themselves right down to the shelter and adopt almost immediately. It’s such an individual situation.

But one thing I will say, unequivocally: Please don’t beat yourselves up over the loss of your pet. It’s human nature that we invariably find something to feel guilty about…coulda, shoulda, woulda. That does no one any good. Simply put, don’t dwell on the negative but do remember the love you gave and the love you received in return. I know that’s easier said than done in some cases yet I believe it’s a must.

 4: What is your work experience with dogs? How has it helped prepare you to write this story?

RS: Although I worked for a vet and volunteered at a wildlife sanctuary, I think my time working for the SPCA was the most invaluable & challenging. Dealing on a daily basis with the abandoned is heartbreaking. Yet, for their sake, I had to emotionally “remove” myself so that I could give them the positive attention they deserved. Dogs, especially, are so intuitive that you could hardly cry your way through the day. Talk about depressing the poor things more than they already were! So I developed as much of an objective stance as possible. No easy task. However, after my “hands on experience” was over and I started writing…well, let’s just say there was no stopping my emotions then. And my work reflects that.

5. Where else can we read your writing?

RS: I have 5 books available on Amazon (two short story works; a suspense novella; a suspense novel; and a nonfiction collection of my newspaper columns). I also have a blog (The Animal Advocate, named after my column) but it has been woefully neglected since I’ve been writing e-books.

6. Where can we get a copy of Zellwood?

RS: You can get a copy of Zellwood: A Dog Story and all my other books by clicking on the links below:

  Amazon.com: A Three-Dog Night eBook: Rebecca Stroud: Kindle Store
  Amazon.com: Devil’s Moon eBook: Rebecca Stroud: Kindle Store
  Amazon.com: Do Unto Others eBook: Rebecca Stroud: Kindle Store
  Amazon.com: The Animal Advocate eBook: Rebecca Stroud: Kindle Store

In closing, I want to thank Peggy from the bottom of my dog-loving heart for the opportunity to reach out to others who feel as I do about what I consider to be the most fabulous creature on this earth.

Thank you Rebecca!

Now, do you want to win a copy of Zellwood: A Dog Story for Kindle? (If you don’t have Kindle, still enter! You can read the story right on your computer.)  Just leave a comment below with the name of a dog you miss, or a short tribute to a dog you’d like to remember this holiday season. One winner will be chosen at random. Contest ends Tuesday at midnight, and winner will be announced on Pet Roundup on Wednesday. Be sure to leave a way to contact you if you’re the winner!