Three years ago, Cara Thurlbourn and her husband adopted big ears lurcher Molly from a rehoming centre in Ireland. Since then, Cara was overwhelmed by the love Molly brought in their lives, so she thought to try and raise awareness about rescue dogs.
She decided to write a children’s book that would tell the story of lonely dog who goes on hunt for a family that would love her as she is, and to donate part of the profits from the book to dog charities.
Bat Dog’s Forever Home
“Bat Dog’s Forever Home is a story about a homeless dog who sets off to find herself a family” explained Cara. “I wanted to make sure it was child-friendly and light-hearted, while raising awareness of the dogs out there who don’t have families. So, along the way Bat Dog meets some cows and some spiders, and then a lovely lady comes to her rescue and takes her to a rehoming centre. I don’t want to spoil the ending but I think it’s obvious from the title that she finds her forever family and they adore her!”
“There’s also a nice message about the fact it’s okay to be different; Bat Dog is worried no one will want her because she has funny big ears and unconventional fur, but those are the exact reasons her family fall in love with her” added Cara.
The protagonist of the book, Bat Dog, was inspired by Molly, to whom Bat Dog very much resembles (the first draft was even entitled ‘ode to Molly’!). “We don’t know much about Molly’s past but from the second she walked in the door she was firmly part of the family! We loved her instantly and I can’t believe it’s only three years she’s been with us. I can’t imagine life without her”, said Cara.
Making Bat Dog happen
Being used to play around with stories and having a publishing background, writing the book was the easy part, for Cara. Immediately she got a great feedback from a couple of friends and family members she showed it to (everyone got quite emotional about it, she revealed). However the story sat there for a while, because she lacked the drawing skills for making the illustrations. But then a particular encounter pushed her to make it happen.
“One day, my husband and I were out with Molly and we bumped into a family who had a puppy and a little boy” said Cara. “The little boy asked if we got Molly when she was a puppy and I replied, – No, she’s a rescue dog.- He looked at me for a moment and then said, – Wow, who did she rescue?!-“.
“In a way, it was funny because I often say she rescued us by loving us so much. But it also occurred to me that a lot of people don’t consider rescue dogs as an option. Perhaps because they have young children, or cats, or they just want the experience of having a puppy. So, I thought perhaps Bat Dog could help raise awareness of the fact that – actually – adopting a rescue is one of the most amazing, rewarding experiences you can have as a dog-owner.”
In order to cover the production costs, which included top-quality illustrations and full-colour priting, Cara started a crowdfunding campaign, which closed in November 2016 having reached its target. Cara explained “The campaign was pretty down-to-the-wire, but towards the end it really gathered momentum and we managed to raise just over £6,000 with 250 backers to hit our target. People really seemed to love the story and were so supportive and encouraging”.
The book was finally published and released in January 2017. “A lot of the feedback from the crowdfunding backers, now they’ve received their copies, has been enthusiastic – for dog-lovers, it captures something about the love that we feel for our dogs” said Cara.
Bat Dog’s goals
Helping Dog Charities
10% of the profits from Bat Dog are being donated to charity. Every year, until the book will be in printing, a different charity will be chosen. For 2017, donations will go to the National Animal Welfare Trust. So, one of Cara’s goals is selling lots of copies and raise them some valuable funds!
Raising rescue dogs awareness
“But, more than that, I just hope to spread the message that rescue dogs are amazing!” added Cara. “Hearing people say that their children love the story, or that they have a ‘Bat Dog’ of their own and found it very moving, is just incredible.”
“Last week I also visited a local nursery school with Molly, which was so amazing. We read the children the story and then they all stroked Molly and asked lots of questions about her, so I’d really like to do more of that and help children understand what we mean by the term ‘rescue dog’.”
Get your copy!
You can get your copy of Bat Dog’s Forever Home, beautifully illustrated by Jessica Knight, from Bewick Press’ eshop. Delivery is free and if you use the code LonDog15 you can get 15% off the price.
The book is also available on Amazon.co.uk, however, Cara said that because they take enormous discounts, buying directly from Bewick Press allows more money to go to charity.
Order your copy and help other Bat Dogs find their forever home!
Credits: the pictures featured in this blog post are courtesy of Cara Thurlbourn.