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Friendship lessons learned from both family pets and nobody's pets

Updated on July 27, 2016
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Cindy Hewitt is a retired teacher with a passion for children's literature. Read-aloud stories add quality to a child's life experiences.

Friendship with animals told in creative read aloud story

Elena N. Marcus's creative and engaging book "Devon: The Wild Adventures of Devon and Friends" teaches a life lesson in friendship and the value of both family pets and nobody's pets. The story also presents the concepts that problems and conflicts can be solved in a peaceful manner and that violence is not the answer to conflict. Parents will find this to be a timely story to read to children in relation to events that are happening now on a regular basis.

Devon visits the zoo with his pup Picco and the adventure begins. Panda accompanies them to the zoo, and both Picco and Panda soon find themselves in terrible trouble. Pico finds himself trapped in the lion's cage and Panda also finds himself locked in the zoo because of his appearance. He is put on display at the zoo and Devon must find a way to rescue both his dog and his bear. He enlists the help of a stray dog to help save his beloved Picco. Other strays join in to help with the rescue and Pico is saved from being eaten by the lion. The lessons that friends come from unexpected sources and appear in a time of need are learned.

"Devon: The Wild Adventures of Devon and Friends" is told in delightful rhyming text. Children will be intrigued by the vocabulary with a wealth of new words to be learned. Colorful and imaginative illustrations by Marcus fill each page with engaging details about the characters and their adventure at the zoo. The audiobook version contains beautiful music and fun songs that all readers will enjoy.

This story has a unique appeal in that there is the underlying theme of animal rescue. The stray dogs that help in saving Picco are eventually taken to a shelter and receive training and socialization for later adoption. The label of "mean dogs" is often applied to strays that find themselves in shelters and this story has a theme to present the concept that this label does not apply to all strays.

"Devon: The Adventures of Devon and Friends" is recommended for ages 4-11. It has received the Children's Bookwatch reviewer's choice listing in the Midwest Book Review. It has also been highly recommended for use in schools. Shelters and rescues would also find this delightful story to be of interest in helping to educate communities about stray dogs that can be saved and adopted.

Delightful story highlights rescue of stray dogs

Nobody's pets come to the rescue of a family pet
Nobody's pets come to the rescue of a family pet | Source
Nobody's pets are everybody's pets
Nobody's pets are everybody's pets | Source

Engaging and fun book with underlying theme of dog rescue

Stray dogs are not "mean dogs"

Shelters around the country are full with stray dogs. These dogs have been abandoned to the street for a multitude of reasons. Strays are often labeled as "mean dogs" and animal rescues along with animal control officers have found that this is not always the case. The ASPCA reports that it is impossible to determine how many dogs are living on the streets in our country. Statistics from the ASPCA show that approximately 649,000 animals that find themselves in shelters as strays are eventually returned to their owners. Others are reported to be adoptable. Statistics from the ASPCA also show that twice as any animals find themselves in shelters as strays compared to the number that are surrendered to a shelter by their owners. Many strays are also lost pets that have not been cared for with safe fences or inside a home and do not have proper identification with microchips or tag ID's.

The most common Concerns that communities have about stray dogs are safety concerns for children and other pets, rabies, or that the stray is actually a lost pet. Many strays were actually once owned by someone and have already been spayed or neutered. Contacting an animal control officer is the recommended method of rescuing a stray. Officers around the country are now being trained in safe capture of strays and these animals are taken to a shelter or rescue for return to owner or adoption.

The eyes of a stray tell everything

Strays make up a large proportion of shelter dogs
Strays make up a large proportion of shelter dogs
The eyes of this stray said everything.  Trainer at MCAS for this shepard.  This dog was adopted into a loving home almost two years ago.
The eyes of this stray said everything. Trainer at MCAS for this shepard. This dog was adopted into a loving home almost two years ago. | Source

Strays receive training and socialization to prepare for adoption

The featured book "Devon: The Wild Adventures of Devon and Friends" highlights the idea that strays can be taken to shelters and trained in socialization skills. Strays in the story are taken to a shelter after helping with Picco's rescue from the lion's cage at the zoo. The audiobook version has delightful dialogue when the strays complain that they do not like the collars or leashes. They also learn the "no bite" or "no growl" concept while being trained by a trainer in the story. They are given snacks as rewards when a skill is mastered. The strays in the story mirror the fact that shelters are using volunteer trainers to socialize these dogs to prepare them for adoption. "The test for socialization is passed" by the strays in the book.

The Manatee County Animal Services shelter in Palmetto, Florida is just one example of shelters around the country now that are training strays for adoption. Strays can be adopted successfully and become a new family member and new best friend.

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Personal experience with the featured stray dog

I began real involvement with the Manatee County Animal Services shelter when I along with other volunteers helped network the shepard that was a stray found on the streets by animal control. I saw something in his eyes that showed a plea for a forever home. This stray was saved at the 11th hour and has a loving home.


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      Javad Fardaei 18 months ago

      I enjoyed the article very much, because you mentioned such touching subject that US are struggling this problem. By the way, I read Elena Marcus book for my grand children; it is finest book on shelf. I recommended for everyone from any age to read this phenomenon book.

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      Sanjeev Kulshreshtha 18 months ago

      The article touches very good point that strays must not be labeled as mean dogs, and stray are adaptable and trainable to live with families. There will not be any strays if we as human being will respect animal rights and value their lives by not killing them or caging them for our entertainment or consumption. Valuing animals form their eyes and mind shall help reduce stray problem. We gave them label 'stray' and 'mean dog', only because we do not acknowledge animal rights, otherwise there will not be any strays.

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      Elena N. Marcus 18 months ago

      Hello Cindy,

      I am very happy to see that my children's book, which has a scene where the mean strays are being trained, without pain, may suggest to people that all dogs can become good with training.

      Elena N. Marcus