“Give them love. Keep them safe” is how Pam Hoffman signs every copy of Sadie Dog, a glossy picture book she wrote about her special needs dog. This heartwarming biography, with lavish illustrations, was written in honor of Hoffman’s loving cocker spaniel.
“Once there was a cute little cocker spaniel named Sadie who was born on April Fools’ Day….” So begins the story of a lady and her beloved dog. As a teacher of writing clubs, I can tell you that describing one’s pet and more especially special moments with them can be a tough task. Hoffman perfectly helps readers visualize Sadie, both with a broad and fine brush. Sadie has big brown eyes and long curly ears. She also has freckles on her nose and chocolate chip paws. Aren’t those delightful details?
As for the special moments, Hoffman shares their morning routine, how Sadie would ask for food and for walks, their playtime, and also how Sadie reacted to each changing season. My favorite stories are about how Sadie tried to help Hoffman by shredding tissues, cleaning dishes, and even taking care of dropped food. My students hearing these anecdotal tales and are inspired to share their own. Of course, a story isn’t complete without a problem, and Sadie’s dilemmas sadly were allergies and a bad back.
Herein, lies the lesson that Hoffman learned. Like us, our pets may sustain injuries or age in a way that effects their abilities. Does this make them less able to provide companionship and love? The resounding answer is NO. Sadie’s Dog shows how Hoffman worked through the challenges faced by having a dog with special needs. In a time when shelters are overflowing with unwanted animals, Hoffman wanted to young people to know that “that pets are not disposable like old TVs, computers or cell phones. They are forever.”
Before I conclude my review, I want to mention the format. Each 8×11 page contains a large picture of Sadie and/or her owners, along with a brief story in bold text. Most paragraphs range from three to five sentences. A few have only one sentence and left me desiring more details. Some illustrations, of varying quality, include added details such as ladybugs and butterflies. In addition, because Sadie and Hoffman had a “heart connection,” every picture has a hidden heart.
For me, purchasing a copy of Sadie Dog not only allowed provided me with a model of how my students could write their own pet tales, but also allowed me to give to a worthy cause. Sadie Dog was self-published, with all proceeds going towards the Sadie Dog Fund. The local charity helps families who can’t afford life-saving medical treatments for their dogs. “Everything is expensive, but pets are like family. It is so rewarding for me to help dog’s through Sadie’s legacy,” said Hoffman.