*What is the book about?
Bite This Book is a book to be read to dogs (and children). This 2,700 word (illustrated) book offers vignettes that are captivating to dogs (chasing squirrels, eating meat, giving and receiving love). It utilizes words that dogs generally understand. (According to most animal communicators, dogs understand over 60% of common human language.) Moreover, Bite This Book has an inner sweetness that communicates via the language of the heart. Its warmth, fun and caring are meant to reach and uplift the very hearts of dogs and children alike.
*What gave you the idea to write stories specifically for dogs?
I saw how much value Juve got from reading to him, so I thought why not write something specifically for dogs, something they would like and understand. But when I sat down with Juve by my side, his thoughts and images kept coming into my head. So, Bite this Book became a book about his thoughts and feelings. Through the years, I have gotten the sense that Juve has a mission. My job as his caretaker, friend and partner is to try to understand and support this mission.
*How do you know these are really Juve’s thoughts?
My wife looked at all the vignettes as I was writing them. She is very intuitive and authentic. Many times, she would say “no” to a word, phrase or concept and I would have to dig deeper. Also, several animal communicators said I had gotten it right.
*What else have you written?
Stories for science fiction and horror movies, such as the upcoming The Night Visitor, The Girl and She Rises.
*What effects does reading to a dog have on dogs?
It is great for their self-esteem. When you trust that the dogs will understand the story, they feel the trust. It opens the door for better communication.
*Why should we all be reading to our dogs?
I would look at it as a graceful opportunity. It is a terrific way to share. They sense the intimacy. It can show a dog in a new way that we are all connected. As for humans, it can help us to relax.
*Are there any particular benefits for children?
In the States, there are, literally hundreds of reading programs where children read to dogs with such names as Reading Fur Fun and Barks and Books. The intention of these programs is to improve the literacy skills of children.
There was a study done in Salt Lake City to examine the benefits of providing a dog assisted reading program. The study consisted of ten children, ranging in age from five to nine years old, who were all reading below their grade level. Each student read once a week for 20 minutes with a dog. At the end of the 13-month study, each child’s reading score increased by at least two levels.
Children can get so much from reading to a dog: an appreciation of reading, an encouragement to read out loud, a listener who does not judge them, a connection with an animal, a new way of seeing, physical affection and unconditional love.
*Have you ever organized such an event for children?
Yes and it was interesting to watch how distinctively different the children were in their reactions. Some children were earnest in their approach, some laughed the entire time. Some were strong readers, some less assured. Some kids were highly comfortable, some may have never touched a dog in their life. The great thing about such an event is that it meets the child wherever they are in their development and life.
I saw lots of huge smiles that day. It was as if the communion between the kids and the dog allowed the children to relax more deeply and they found a solid, happy place within.
*In what ways does writing for a canine audience differ from writing for a human audience?
You have to keep the words and concepts simple. Writing for humans is often mentally based. The best way to write to a dog is to write to their spirit and to their heart. They react to the intention of the words.
*What makes a good doggie story?
They say that the best food is the food that is cooked with love. The best dog writing is writing written with love.
*What are the key elements to include in doggie stories?
Things that make dogs happy and things that make them know they are loved. Also, keep in mind that the dogs are not just responding to the words, but the feeling behind the words.
*When was it released?
*What is the cost of the book?
*Who was it published by?
Mirror Publishing, Milwaukee, WI
*Who was it written by?
*Who was it illustrated by?
Cover by Lisa Siegel & Illustrations by Pritali Joharapurkar
*Where can someone get a copy of this book?
*Has the book been reviewed?
Yes, here are a couple of short reviews:
This is what they call a “deceptively simple” book: Small words, simple thoughts, big feelings. What’s happening inside the short, often rhyming lines of Bite This Book, short poems/songs narrated by Mr. Ruhmann’s dogs, is actually difficult to achieve, and it occurs very much on a spiritual level. Ever wonder what your dog is thinking or feeling? How he sees you, or what moves her? What her level of awareness is, or makes his mind focus? Mr. Ruhmann is one of those rare people capable not just of communing with his dogs but sharing the space their spirits occupy. It turns out to be a world that’s centered around you, but also one that’s far broader and deeper-a great reminder that, while they are our pets, it’s always their show:
Take me to the spooky place
That is very, very dark.
Take me to the spooky place
The real scary park.
I’ll be scared of nothing
No critters, hills or trees.
I will find the way home,
Just you wait and see.
Take me to the spooky place,
So scarey and so grave.
Take me to the spooky place,
I’ll show you I am brave.
It’s not often to come across something cutting edge, but here it is. A friend asked me to take a look at “Bite This Book” as they wanted to possibly introduce it to their 1st and 2nd graders this next semester. I breezed through it and realized at the end that I really needed to re-read it, so… I went next door to borrow a neighbor’s dog. We all sat together and I began to read this book out loud for all of us. My neighbor was charmed by it’s sweetness and simplicity and also became more aware of how a dog may see our world. But what surprised me was how the dog sat there ‘listening’, word for word. This may seem odd, but after I read the book my neighbor and I began to talk about what it might be like for our dogs to live in our worlds and… it seemed that her dog was following our conversation trying to help us understand from their perspective. Needless to say I went back to my friend and suggested that when she introduces this book to her 1st and 2nd graders that, if the school would allow it, maybe they could have a dog in the room with the kids. Building empathy bridges people, why not build greater empathy and appreciation between species? Lynn Weatherford – Bedri
*How many pages is the book?
*What age group is the book targeted to?
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