With more than 100 books to her credit, four adopted dogs in her home and a canine-behaviorist mother, it was probably only a matter of time before Maren Bussey wrote a book about shelter dogs. Tackling the project like a journalist, the cub reporter followed dozens of dogs surrendered to Maricopa County Animal Care and Control (MCACC) in her hometown of Phoenix, Ariz., and then profiled 15 in Forgotten Friends—Stories from an Animal Shelter. Bussey’s tales of lucky—and a few not-so-lucky—pups, along with daunting shelter facts and advice on how to help, make a compelling case for adoption aimed at young folks by one of their own. (The book is published on demand through booksbymaren.com, ten percent of the $20 cover price goes to MCACC.)
TheBark.com: Why did you write Forgotten Friends?
Maren Bussey: A lot of books for kids talk about getting pets from pet stores or “buying” pets. I thought it was important to teach kids about adopting and showing them that shelters are full of good dogs.
Do you have a favorite dog among those profiled in your story?
I really like Toby and Rocket. They both have intriguing stories; Toby kept getting passed by, almost didn’t find a home and then found the perfect one. Rocket was also overlooked and then someone who worked at the shelter realized how great he was so adopted him herself!
Was it hard to write about the dogs who weren’t adopted? And why is it important to include them in your book?
It was sad when I heard that two of my dogs didn’t get adopted. But I thought it was important to have their stories in my book to show that there are a lot of great dogs who don’t get adopted; not everyone will find a home. This, again, shows how important it is to adopt.
Why do you think so many people still don’t choose to adopt from a shelter or rescue? And what would you tell them to change their minds?
I think a lot of people think shelters are full of dogs that are there because they are “bad” or have “issues.” Also, a lot of people think that purebred dogs are better than mutts. I would tell them that shelters have great dogs; many are there because something happened to their families and they couldn’t keep their dog anymore. One of the dogs in my book had to go to the shelter because her family’s house burned down and they couldn’t keep the dog. I would also tell them that mixed breeds are often healthier than purebreds and can be just as great, too!
You knew a lot about animal welfare issues before Forgotten Friends, did you learn anything new during the project?
I was surprised to learn how many dogs and cats actually do not get adopted. I thought more people adopted, than actually do.
I read that you’ve written more than 100 books, any other dog books among them? What else do you like to write about?
I wrote a book about one of my dogs and how we adopted him. I also like to write fantasy and science fiction.
What’s your next book?
My next book is also about one of my dogs and all the funny stuff he does. That is all I can tell you right now… but it will also benefit a rescue organization.
Do you have a favorite book or story about a dog or dogs written by someone else?
I liked Nobody’s Pets by Deborah White, a fiction book about dogs and cats living in shelters. Right now I’m reading Out of Harm’s Way by Terri Crisp. She has devoted her life to rescuing animals from disasters—she rescues everything from Great Danes to little frogs named Kermit!
Do you think you might be a writer or maybe a veterinarian when you grow up?
Actually, I think I want to be a detective but I’ll probably keep writing just for fun.