At age 8, I fished golf balls from the ponds at Yale Golf Course, cleaned them,and sold them.
Then I learned the French restaurant nearby often ran out of frogs legs. I caught bullfrogs and sold those too, negotiating price with the chef. I even dyed flowers and pinned them on beautiful women at the Yale Football games. Who could refuse a kid pinning a blue flower on the wife or girlfriend? Two dollars please!
Without imagination, how could you invent? Without imagination how could you create? Without imagination, how could you dream? Imagine, imagine and imagine.
Four years ago, the idea for The Dog Healers lodged in my brain. In my wife’s home city of Buenos Aires, I was enthralled by handlers walking huge packs of dogs — especially one named Carlos, who made sick dogs well and turned brutes into fur babies.
He used a Tibetan technique called Kum Nye to put the dogs into a trance-like state. The dogs anticipated each move, partners in the healing process.
Dog lovers know all about Dog Magic, the love that heals. But the depth of the human dog connection in Kum Nye mesmerized me.
I had to write this book. I wanted readers to see and smell the story through the eyes and noses of my two and four legged characters, and share my love for Argentina’s throbbing rhythms and exotic mix of cultures.
Tucked in my office cave, I banged the book out, a glass of wine at my side, forgetting to go to bed until my wife Norma reminded me. Writer’s block was theoretical. When the book was ‘done’ I found plenty not to like and hacked away. I also asked for outside feedback. I didn’t know how many writers read their work aloud to peers as they go along or stick to strict schedules.
To me, it was FUN! I got to sit back to watch, while my characters did their thing.
Carlos, my original protagonist, was eclipsed by Isabella, a powerful young woman and a force in the dog and the horse worlds.
Her capacity to love dogs is unconditional, matching the love dogs feel for humans. The healing flows both ways. I could have called the book ‘The Human Healers.’
Isabella takes joy in making ailing dogs well, turning injured horses into champions and transforming vicious dogs into the loving creatures nature intended.
It doesn’t take long before con-men, crooked politicians and saboteurs see Isabella’s talents as a means to riches, but she dismisses them as if they were nothing. The rage she incites could cost her life. Isabella pushes the limits of love, loyalty and courage, then flies right past them, turning my story into something approaching a thriller.
This made for a better book that’s harder to market. Is the genre? Suspense? Young Adult? Isabella’s a great role model. But I’m in my home territory: the book is my startup and my brand.
There’s so much to learn. We built up a following through The Dog Healers on Facebook, a dog lovers community for sharing stories, photos and videos that just surpassed 25,000 likes. If we convert some into readers, terrific. Meanwhile, they’re enjoying our content. Not long ago, I created a weekly ‘Dog Healers’ cartoon with artist Ivan Camilli.
And I love Facebook comments. This one from Alexandra Thurman makes me feel as warm and fuzzy as my dogs Paco and Chickie: “I just finished reading the book and I cannot tell you how much it moved me and inspired me more to pursue my passion of animal rehabilitation therapy as a vet.”
If my book improved someone’s life! For me, that’s a four star review no critic can match.
Before The Dog Healers™, I didn’t think of myself as a writer. A storyteller, yes. My poor mother! How she worried! Imagine a young kid and his dog vanishing into the forest and coming home late, a muddy mess.
I made up horrific stories to cover myself. She never believed me, but she was happy to see me safe.
With mom, I had to think fast, a helpful skill for a young entrepreneur .