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Marketing for animal rescue advocates: SEO, Social Media, Fundraising  & Blogging Tips To Save Lives. Marie Macaspac is the ARM's founder. She is also the Marketing Director for Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco, CA. ARM is a  resource to help other rescues learn the value of marketing to increase adoptions, donations and visibility. Together, we'll save more animals!

"Causes Around The World": Author Susan Boase & Her Book, Lucky Boy

LuckyBoyCover.jpg

I will never forget the first time I read Susan Boase's book, Lucky Boy, after it was recommended to me by a fellow animal rescue friend. I loved the message, and I wanted to tell all my friends about her beautiful book. ARM wrote a story about Lucky Boy, and we consider it the perfect tool to inspire kids and young adults to grow up to become animal rescue advocates.

Enjoy our interview with Susan Boase. If you find a copy of Lucky Boy, write us and let us know, and join me in asking Susan to consider republishing her wonderful book!!

 an illustration from  Lucky Boy . Boase is the book's author and illustrator.

an illustration from Lucky Boy. Boase is the book's author and illustrator.

 

 

 

Susan: Marie, thank you for approaching me to do this interview. It was a delightful surprise and an honor to receive the invitation. 

It is so interesting that when I wrote Lucky Boy I had no thought of publication nor a concept that anyone would be interested in reading this story. Since I don't have children, Lucky Boy is like a child I sent out into the world with hopes and dreams attached, not knowing what was to come. The fact that this book has been useful to the animal rescue community is a lovely outcome I had not imagined. Even though Lucky Boy is now out of print, it makes me happy and proud that it continues to serve as a teaching tool for the humane treatment of animals.

ARM: Tell me about the moment when you got the idea to write this book. What type of audience were you hoping to appeal to? 

 Susan: Writing Lucky Boy was a very organic process for me. My mother had died in 1997 and my father was a lonely widower who would never have burdened my sisters or me with his loneliness. He was just "Dad", that stoic, happy fellow we could always count on and who never asked for anything for himself. During this time I regularly passed a lonely dog in my neighborhood. Somehow, these two sad stories called out for a happy ending, and Lucky Boy was born. To answer your question about audience, I had no idea who that audience might be, but was thrilled to find that it included people like you!

 A young Susan and her childhood dog, Dugan.

A young Susan and her childhood dog, Dugan.

 

ARM: Lucky Boy is inspired by a real dog.  Can you tell us about him or her?

Susan: Yes, the inspiration for Lucky Boy came from the "backyard dog" (a dirty lonely Dalmatian) I would see every day as I drove to work. You know how you tune in the radio (for me that is usually NPR) and you realize the story you are listening to involves: a. animals, and b. pain, and your first response is to switch stations because you don't want the sadness you are sure to feel upon hearing the story imprinted on your heart the whole, long day? Well, that's the way I felt every day when it came to this particular dog - not wanting to look, but always looking nonetheless, hoping to see a happy resolution to his story.

ARM: Here in CA, I would say awareness to animal rescue causes is widespread and is growing every year. Your book was published in 2002. Do you see the same growth in awareness in your neck of the woods? Has this been a factor in your book gaining new audiences in recent years?

Susan: You know, I’m sure that we are seeing the same growth in awareness you speak of in Oregon. I recently received the 2013 Annual Report from our Oregon Humane Society (OHS) and was pleased to note that 2013 was the “fourth year in a row that OHS has exceeded 11,000 adoptions”, which is the “largest number of adoptions from any single shelter in Washington, Oregon or California”. This number includes 4,837 animals coming from other shelters through OHS’s Second Chance Program. “When other shelters get overwhelmed by too many pets and too few adopters”, OHS sends a “special vehicle designed for long-distance animal transport to far-flung shelters” to bring Second Chance pets back to Oregon for adoption. 

ARM: Can you share with us one of your favorite Lucky Boy fan letters?

Dear Susan,
Lucky Boy! What a treasure! Just love the story and your enchanting illustrations. Thank you so much writing and illustrating this captivating book that surely will touch the hearts of everyone who discovers it.
It's going to be a big part of a new adventure ahead for me - as the new volunteer humane education coordinator at (my local) Humane Society, an outstanding no-kill facility. 
Lucky Boy will be a big part in our upcoming school & scout visits, children's book club, and more. It will also be the first book my rescued terrier will be reviewing in her new column. She's our new spokes-pooch. I recently adopted her. She spent the first three years of her life in a puppy mill. What a delight it is now having her at my side helping with humane education. 
When the book arrived in the mail the other day, I sat in the car reading it over and over.  It's such a lovely, lovely story. Your message about the busy family really touched my heart - such a big thing in today's world - being busy, busy, busy. 
You took the message and turned it into a positive. Simply wonderful.
Just wanted to thank you.  
Thanks again for Lucky Boy. It's a keeper!

ARM: I have an animal rescue friend who regularly reads your book to kids at local Humane Education classes. Have you done this yourself, read your book to a group of kids?

Susan: When Lucky Boy was first published I gave many readings at bookstores and volunteered to read it to a large group of teens interested in writing and illustrating. They were attending a summer camp sponsored by our Oregon Humane Society.

ARM: Were you involved with any animal rescue causes or organizations before writing the book? After it was published, did it encourage you to join or participate in any animal causes or organizations?

Susan: I have been involved with the Oregon Humane Society as a donor and have volunteered off and on over the years. I came to know Carol Shively (now retired) who headed up their educational outreach efforts for years. She was the first person in the animal rescue community to inform me that Lucky Boy was having an impact in this way and drew me in as a volunteer.

ARM: Tell us about the artwork in your book. How did you decide the style and what Boy would look like?

Susan: I had studied illustration at a small commercial art college in Michigan after high school and had always thought I'd love to illustrate a children's book. MANY years later I picked up a book called Writing with Pictures: How to Write and Illustrate Children's Books by Uri Shulevitz. It is a great primer on the subject of children's book illustration and I thought I'd write a story so I would have something to illustrate. My hope was that I could use my "dummy" picture book to show a publisher I could illustrate. The first editor who took a look (Ann Rider at Houghton Mifflin) offered me a publishing contract… what a surprise! The artwork itself started out as pencil drawings and the publisher, citing Make Way for Ducklings as a lovely example of a monochromatic picture book, decided to go with the pencil drawings in sepia. I was happy to comply! My little smooth coat fox terrier, Frida was my muse and model for Lucky Boy.

 Susan and Frida.

Susan and Frida.

 

ARM: Tell us about your own canine family members.

Susan: I've always loved dogs, though my sisters and I only had one dog growing up. My mom and dad gave in to our constant begging and around my 10th birthday, brought home a wire-haired fox terrier puppy my dad named Dugan, after Jumping Joe Dugan a Major League Baseball shortstop and third baseman (1917 - 1931). 

Since my experience as a child had been with this crazy-fun fox terrier, my husband Greg Miller and I decided on fox terriers when it came time to add some wild energy to our household. Wyatt Earp, a wire fox terrier and Frida Kahlo, a smooth fox terrier added joy to our household for 14 years.

After these two beloved family members passed away 4 months apart in 2010, it took us a couple of years to be ready, but around Easter of 2012 I started “just looking” (and you know how that goes!). We knew we wanted another terrier, but settled on rescuing a terrier mix. The first little boy I saw on the OHS website, one of the aforementioned “Second Chance” dogs from California, stole my heart. We showed up before the shelter opened and were first in line to meet “Kowalski”. He appeared to be a terrier-Chihuahua mix (what with those big brown eyes, wacky ears and the ballerina turn out on his front paws) and I was smitten, but it took a little bit of a sales job by this little guy to convince Greg. Kowalski approached my husband and stood on his hind legs, put his feet on Greg’s knees and gave him the sweetest kiss.

We did change Kowalski’s name to Paco, as befits a little king from California. He is such a great little guy… full of fun and eager to please (though watch out cats and squirrels!). A great walker, Paco gets us out every day in the neighborhood, as did Lucky Boy for Mr. Miller!

If it were up to me, I’d have a herd of terrier-mixes, but must be satisfied to act as “matchmaker”. You’ll find me frequenting rescue sites online and passing along links to friends who are “just looking”.

 Susan today with her dog Paco and husband Greg.

Susan today with her dog Paco and husband Greg.

ARM: Would you ever think about bringing the book back into print?

Susan: Thanks for asking, Marie. I would love to get Lucky Boy back into print one day, and who knows... with the advent of self-publishing it is a real possibility, I’m sure. 

ARM: What kind of stories or illustrations do you create today?

Susan: I’ve illustrated a few chapter books by other authors, published by Henry Holt and continue to write and illustrate with hopes of another picture book or chapter book of my own in the future. Writing and illustrating is a wonderful life and once it hooks you, there’s no escaping the pull. I'm a member of and regularly attend SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) conferences to hobnob and network with other children's book snobs (kidding!). You can see more of my illustration work by visiting my website www.susanboase.com.

 

 

THANK YOU SUSAN!

ARM is grateful to you. We are fans for life!

Have you read Lucky Boy? Let us know what you think, and if you agree that we need more copies of Lucky Boy!

Ocean Blue Presents "Causes Around the World": Susie's Senior Dogs

Our mascot Ocean Blue searches for causes around the world that she thinks are worth barking about!

FEATURED CAUSE: SUSIE'S SENIOR DOGS IN NEW YORK, USA

 Here's Susie! The inspiration that started it all!

Here's Susie! The inspiration that started it all!

Ocean and I are fortunate to be connected to Erin O' Sullivan, founder of Susie's Senior Dogs, after she helped Muttville Senior Dog Rescue by sharing a post about a dog named Chelo that went viral. Thanks to a little senior dog captured by the camera lens of Erin's boyfriend, Humans of New York founder and author, Brandon Stanton, Erin and Brandon's lives were enlightened to the cause of senior dog rescue. Statistics show that 5 in 10 dogs in shelters are euthanized simply because no one adopted them. Of the "hard to adopt" cases, the largest percentage (24%) are senior pets. This cause is near and dear to ARM's heart too. (Ocean Blue is a Muttville senior dog rescue!)

Tell us about how you became aware of the cause you've chosen to rally for, homeless senior dogs.

 Erin and Susie

Erin and Susie

Susie is a 14 year old Chihuahua mix whom my boyfriend, Brandon, adopted almost three years ago. She is 100% of the inspiration! As all loving pet owners would say about their own animals, we think Susie is the best dog in the whole world. She and Brandon have a particularly strong bond, it sounds cliche, but it's beautiful. There's been nothing lost in adopting a senior, as compared to adopting a puppy. Love is love. Sure, we'll have less time with her, but I'd rather have less time with Susie than no time with Susie.

Susie is unique, for us. And I know there are other senior dogs out there (especially the ones sitting in shelter cells!) that would give anything to give their unique love to a human that will love them back.

Tell us more about you:

I grew up in Connecticut with a childhood dog.  My parents adopted Pepper, a mixed breed rescue dog, when I was about six months old. I always thought every family had a dog, just like another sibling. My brother and I certainly considered Pepper our third sibling, we "tortured" with endless playtime, I'm guessing! She was such a good dog, she was very calm and always loving. When I was in high school, my mom was alone with Pepper when she had to be put to sleep. She was almost 16 years old and had gotten very sick. I always feel guilty for not being there.

I currently live in New York City.


When did you decide to make a difference for animals?

In the past couple of years, Susie has grown her own following on Facebook, just for fun. A dog company reached out to Susie a few months back to raise money together for a dog charity of our choice. A senior charity first came to mind to help, since Susie is a senior herself. A quick Google search did not bring up many reliable senior specific rescue organizations, at least not in the New York area. In hindsight, that's what planted the seed, but Susie's Senior Dogs was never officially planned. The starting of it has all flowed so easily, like the floodgates were opened and this was just supposed to happen.


Tell us about your decision to tackle this cause. What convinced you to do so, and what did it take to actually create your movement?

One day, I posted a photo on Susie's page with the caption "Discussing our retirement. We're thinking of starting a senior dog and human match making service." Again, this was on a whim. I put up Susie's posts in the moment and whatever comes to mind within a few minutes. Right after I posted that, I had the thought to make a page about this "retirement plan" and call it Susie's Senior Dogs. I would research senior dogs around the country and post their information. Right from the beginning I knew I wanted it to be more than just putting up a photo with contact information - I wanted it to be more quality, lengthy postings to bring the animals to life, not just their photo with a few stats.

 One lucky day, Susie caught the eye of Humans of New York photographer Brandon Stanton, and the rest is history!

One lucky day, Susie caught the eye of Humans of New York photographer Brandon Stanton, and the rest is history!

A few days later, Brandon shared SSD on his blog, Humans of New York. Within 24 hours the page had almost 100,000 likes coming from his post. Brandon has grown an incredibly loyal following the past three years and SSD would not have had such instant success without his help.

 

How have you made a difference in your community, in the lives of both humans and the animals?

My heart is for the seniors sitting on concrete floors behind bars. That's a dog in true need. A dog's lifeblood is companionship. A senior in that situation has either come from a hard life and now has a depressing life, or they have had a good life and have suddenly found themselves alone on a cold floor, and they have no idea why. Even the best of the best shelters that are filled with loving staff and volunteers cannot compare to a good home with a companion for them. Now imagine a shelter that is anything less than that. That depresses me. So to pull an animal from this situation and give them companionship changes everything for them, and that's the basic and most obvious difference made.

But I believe that dogs (or cats), young or old, end up doing more for us humans than we can ever do for them. I believe as humans we all need to be needed, to varying degrees. A dog need for companionship with us is very desirable, it makes us feel good! And then on top of that they love us! Nothing I can put in writing will bring to life the companionship and love between a human and their dog.


What are the best marketing strategies you employ today?

 "If I post one dog a day and one dog a day finds its forever soulmate, that makes me happy!" - Erin

"If I post one dog a day and one dog a day finds its forever soulmate, that makes me happy!" - Erin

The only guideline I have for myself for SSD is to gather as much information as possible about the dog to write a quality story. I'm all for quality over quantity. One could easily post 10 dogs a day, throw up a photo with their age, breed, and location. But you would lose the feeling of getting connected to the dog. If I post one dog a day and one dog a day finds its forever soulmate, that makes me happy!


What are your greatest achievements thus far for your cause?

Hands down the numerous adoptions. That is the sole reason for SSD to exist and successful adoptions will stay the greatest achievement. Second to that, is the increased awareness on senior dog adoptions, even for those who are not in the position to adopt. They may tell their friend who is to adopt a senior!


What would you like to accomplish in 2014?

I want to uncover the seniors who might never have a chance, I love the "underdogs" as my boyfriend says. He's right, I've come to learn about myself that I gravitate towards the unpopular things or lesser known routes. I want to help the "unpopular" dogs!


What does it mean to you to be an animal rescue advocate?

There are 320 million people in the U.S. There about 8 million cats and dogs in shelters. 8 million is only 2.5% of 320 million, so it would only take 2.5% of our population realizing they are in the position to adopt to solve the problem. So simple. :P

 Happily ever after: Brandon, Erin, and Susie

Happily ever after: Brandon, Erin, and Susie

Ocean Blue wants to know, "Are you a volunteer or foster for a senior rescue in your part of the world?" Send us a note with a photo. We're thinking of starting a directory of senior rescue groups on the ARM website. If we get enough responses, we'll add it Animal Rescue Marketing. Thanks to Susie for inspiring us, too!