MsJenaia and Governor and First Lady 1000x1000

The Sounds of Kindness: Part II

The second half of the “Dog Adoption and Humane Awards” event began with an invitation to present First Lady Ann McCrory with the framed artwork I’d created for the occasion. To understand the significance of the invitation, you need a little history.

Ricky Bobby - Web Optimized-SignedAs you can see from the photo on the left, the illustration is of a tiny black and tan dachshund in a cart. The subject of the illustration is a real dog known as “Ricky Bobby” who was rescued by the HSUS from a Sampson County puppy mill in February of 2013. Due to the severe neglect he experienced in the puppy mill, his back legs are paralyzed. The cart he uses was built by Megan Bliss, the woman who adopted and now cares for him. You can see the touching story of his rescue and learn more about their lives together here: Ricky Bobby and Megan

When Megan and I became friends, and I learned about Ricky Bobby’s history, I decided to make him a main character in “Meet the Mutts,” the latest CritterKin book. Each of the CritterKin characters has a lesson to share, and Ricky Bobby’s was both simple and compelling: Animal cruelty is unacceptable.

At the same time I was writing the book and creating the art, Megan was connecting with animal advocates across the state. This included First Lady Pat McCrory who fell in love with Ricky Bobby. The dog event on November 16th seemed like the perfect time to give the First Lady a framed copy of Ricky Bobby’s illustration, but I didn’t expect to give it to her in-person. Happily, the Governor made that possible.

Motioning for my photographer and I to follow, he led us into the executive mansion and introduced the First Lady. When I explained that the illustration was of her buddy Ricky Bobby, her face lit up. “Thank you for this,” she said, giving me a quick hug, “I just love that little dog.”

“I think we should hang this in the library,” Governor McCrory said, holding the frame at arm’s length. “I know just the spot.” Quickly he led the way across the hall into the wood paneled room where a cheerful fire burned. “Doesn’t it look good here?” he said, holding the image against one of the white walls. We all agreed it did. “Okay, let’s do it!” he said.

The rest of the day was spent playing in the bright fall sun with the dogs, and talking to people who were there to meet them. To say it was a special day doesn’t do the event justice. There was a relaxed camaraderie about the way people were interacting as they snuggled tired puppies, filled out adoption forms and compared notes on vets. Thinking back, I’m reminded of a quote by writer Roger Caras who said, “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” For those few hours on the front lawn of the Governor’s mansion, watched over by the spirit of Ricky Bobby and surrounded by dogs and people who love them, life felt whole.