Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Melanie Sue Bowles & the Proud Spirit dogs

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Melanie Sue Bowles and four of our dogs, Penny (in the background), Tucker, Gunny and Chloe. Our canine family actually consists of a "baker's dozen" so there's nine more who aren't in this picture. And they're all in the house, all part of the family and all over the furniture.

Aside from being a doggie mom, I'm also a published author, and I'm very passionate about animal welfare. My writing reflects that passion. And together, my husband and I are the founders of Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary. This is one of the most successful, longest existing facilities for horses in the United States; we're currently caring for nearly 60 horses, donkeys and mules. And that aforementioned baker's dozen of dogs.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Oh, boy... I hope this doesn't get me banned, but I don't drink coffee. I'm more of a tea kind of gal. And every day is an occasion; my pups and I always start off every single morning together. I brew my big cup of super-strong tea and then we all go outside for a stroll around the yard. They do their thing, which includes the obligatory potty, while I sip my tea, but there's also lots of high-jinks and shenanigans. So my day usually starts off with quite a bit of laughter.

What's brewing?

Celestial Seasonings green tea, double strength. And, as odd as this may seem, I like to add a splash of pomegranate juice. It's a tart, refreshing pick-me-up.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Not usually first thing in the morning... we're trying to concentrate on taking care of business, if ya know what I mean.

How were you and your dogs united?

Whenever you open your heart and your home to animals in need, it sort of becomes like a "field of dreams"... build it and they will come. All of our dogs were either strays who showed up at our gate or homeless and living in a shelter. So in addition to rescuing horses, my husband Jim and I have also rescued dozens of dogs. We adopt out as many as we can to approved homes, but these are the ones who ended up becoming part of our family.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Our dogs names are Gunny, Bessie, Tucker, Penny, Lucy, Kirby, Cricket, Daisy, Trixie, Trudi, Chloe, Winston, and Louie. Who knows how or why they ended up with the names they did! But aliases and nicknames? They each have about ten apiece. And what's so funny is, they all seem to know their nicknames. There's a terrific story about this very subject in my book, The Dogs of Proud Spirit.

Please tell us about your "Proud Spirit" books and sanctuary.

I have three nonfiction books out: The Horses of Proud Spirit... Hoof Prints: Stories from Proud Spirit and The Dogs of Proud Spirit. All three tell the inspirational, heartwarming and (sometimes) comical stories of the horses and dogs who have found their way to the peace and safety of our sanctuary. The best part? Proceeds from book sales help us continue our rescue work. So when you buy a book you're doing double duty, so to speak. You get some unforgettable stories to read, and you're directly helping the sanctuary. YAY!

You've rescued pigs as well as dogs: do they get along?

We got our pigs, Sally and Harley as babies, many years ago. They lived long, happy lives with us, but sadly both have since passed on of natural causes. Their story is in Hoof Prints... a very funny story, I might add... and they were wonderful additions to our family. And yes, all of our dogs got along great with them.

What is each dog's best quality?

Gunny is loyal to the extreme. Bessie is a most-excellent sleeper. Tucker has "cute" down to an art. Penny's just say that Penny is busy. Lucy is ultra-confident, thank you very much. Kirby plays well with others. Cricket likes alone time. Daisy loves to snuggle. Trixie is trouble, but in a good way. Trudi is the peace-keeper. Chloe is simply sweet. Winston makes us laugh. And Louie is "The Man"... aka HRH King Louie.

If your dogs could change one thing about you, what would it be?

My bank account...

What's each dog's proudest moment so far? The most embarrassing?

You'll have to read the books!

Visit Melanie Sue Bowles's website and the Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary website.

--Marshal Zeringue