Who is in the photo at right?
On the left, Donna M Maguire, author of the Silly Willy Winston Children’s Book Series. I began writing children’s books without ever thinking of publishing them! After more than 35 years in the marketing profession, I left my consulting business and moved to Nevada to help care for my grandbabies. The change was driven by the loss of my nephew, whom I had raised as a son after providing hospice for his mother. Little did I realize that caring for my grandbabies would provide such an effective form of therapy and delight. Reading early and often to children not only makes for good times, it promotes bonding and nurtures the joy of reading, so I read to them often. Something amazing happened; my creativity and imagination were re-ignited. It seemed only natural to funnel this new-found energy into a long-term desire to write children’s books.
On the right, Winston, AKA Silly Willy Winston. My Basset Hound Winston, Silly Willy Winston as I call him, was the perfect muse and unlikely hero for my books. He has the biggest ears ever, a stout frame, huge paws and a super large snout. He trips over his ears and paws which often makes him a bit of a clown. People laugh but he embraces their laughter as an invitation to make friends. If you ask me, he is the perfect role model for self-acceptance and empowerment. Winston’s traits – the way he uses them to his advantage – also make him an ideal character to help children recognize, understand and protect themselves and others against bullying.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
Winston and I attended a Halloween event in 2015. Winston loves meeting new people, especially children. He loves to share his exploits with them and to let them know we are all unique. Winston believes the traits, interests and preferences that make us different are what also give us our super powers. Through love, friendship and acceptance these super powers can help us have amazing adventures.
My favorite drink is a sugar-free French vanilla iced coffee. Winston likes his water on the rocks. He likes to play with the ice and the sound it makes when he chews on it.
Any treats for you or Winston on this occasion?
Basset Hounds have a tendency to overeat and to put on a few extra pounds. This can cause him back problems so we keep treats to a minimum and natural, something like carrots. However, his favorite treat has no calories…he loves making new friends with other animals and children. He especially like when then play with his ears. He really enjoys when people tie them in a bow.
How were you and Winston united?
My daughter felt I needed a pick me up after my nephew passed away. She invited me to see a puppy she found…it wasn’t Winston. When I saw Winston I fell in love but thought I was not emotionally prepared to care for a puppy. I went back two weeks later and Winston was still available. He took the long trip from Pennsylvania to Nevada with me. He sat in the front seat with his snout over my arm the entire trip.
How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?
Winston already had his name and one of my favorite historical figures is Winston Churchill so I kept it. When I grew up and I did something funny my mother would say, you’re such a silly willy. That went so nicely with Winston that when I wrote the books I started calling him Silly Willy Winston. Believe me, he is silly.
How did the inspiration strike to model your fictional dog on the real Winston?
Bullying is a growing issue so Winston was the perfect muse because of his imperfections. Basset Hound ears are large when they are born and they kind of grow into them. I noticed him tripping over them is one of the things that endeared him to people of every age. His reaction to the laughter was to run over and make friends. Research shows that reacting to bullying with calm and confidence is the best defense. All of this led to the fact that he could be a perfect conversation started regarding bullying between parents and their children.
Cat, postman, squirrel...?
Winston is an equal-opportunity lover.
Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?
Winston will wrestle with toys a bit, chase a ball once or twice but his favorite is taking walks.
Who is Winston's best pet-pal?
Winston just met a rambunctious beagle named Molly. They walk together, play together and we even went camping at Lake Meade Nevada together. If I visit without Winston, Molly goes crazy and if Dan visits without Molly, Winston goes haywire. I am thinking of including Molly in the next set of books. That could be a little while as the focus is on promoting and marketing the existing five books.
What is Winston's best quality?
Love and friendship. He even wants to play with other dogs that would rather fight.
Where is Winston's favorite outdoor destination?
I’d have to say Lake Meade was a big hit.
If Winston could change one thing about you, what would it be?
I don’t know. I take him for walks every day, he goes where I go and sleeps with me. I think he wishes he could come with me when I care for the grandbabies but my niece is allergic to dogs.
If Winston could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?
What does he like best about his secret identities?
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Winston could speak, who should voice him?
This is a very important question. Winston would want a voice that is warm, friendly and engaging. Most important he would want the voice to support the main messages of the books, which include: (1) Solving natural mysteries is fun and (2) Solving natural mysteries does not require a high IQ, rather a natural curiosity and love of learning. With this in mind, Winston feels that Owen Wilson would be a great talent for the voice over.
What advice would Winston give if asked?
Every person you meet is a potential friend, you just don’t know why yet.
Visit the Silly Willy Winston website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.