My September release, Winning Ruby Heart, is one I'm really excited about. As an author, I'm probably supposed to love all my books equally, but I don't. I have favorites and Winning Ruby Heart is going to be one of them.
Five years before the book starts, middle-distance runner Ruby Heart was caught blood doping at the Olympics. She's the heroine of the book and it's needless to say that she needs to learn about making better decisions and taking responsibility for her actions. When I was brainstorming this novel with my friend Mary Margret Daughtridge, she suggested that Ruby volunteer at a local animal shelter. There are few better places to learn about how carelessness has rippling consequences than at an animal shelter. So, Ruby takes shelter dogs for runs. The dogs get to burn off some steam and Ruby learns lessons in adulthood that no one thought to teach her when she was a child.
Which is why I was tickled when I read an article about my local Animal Protection Society offering a day fostering program for their dogs. The idea behind day fostering at the APS is the same as I talk about in Winning Ruby Heart; kenneling is damaging to a dog's sociability, making them nervous and stifling an active dog's energy--all of which can make a perfectly adoptable dog seem less desirable. By taking a dog to your house for the day, or out for a run, or on a long hike, a dog comes back better adjusted and calmer for the next person who walks through the shelter doors, looking for a forever pet. For the volunteer, it's a good opportunity to help out when you can't commit to long-term fostering.
Winning Ruby Heart was already past the editing stage when I read the article about day fostering. It felt a bit like a part of my book was coming to life--and that was fun.
Instead of giving a book away, I'm going to try something different. I'll donate $5 to my local APS per unique user comment left on this post, up to $100. People have until September 17th to comment. On September 18th, I'll tally up my comments and write my check.
Need an idea about what to say?
If you had a dog for a day foster, where would you take it? Me, I'd take the dog for a long hike by the Eno River. Lots of chances to stretch legs (both mine and the dog's) and things to sniff (dog only).