In the September issue of Chickadee, we published the story “Teacher’s Pet” by Jeff Szpriglas and illustrated by Sandra Dumais. Did you know that the author, Jeff, based the dog Ruff-Ruff on his own pet? We wanted to know more so we asked him some questions. Read on!
Jeff and Padmé (Photo by Jeff)
Chickadee: What is your dog’s name? What kind of dog is she?
Jeff: Her name is Padmé; she is a poodle, and she was definitely named after a Star Wars character.
Chickadee: Did Padmé go to doggie school too?
Jeff: We got her during the lockdown portion of the pandemic, so there were no in-person dog training schools available to us. We did learn from some online videos, and my wife Danielle (who also writes books with me) is a lifelong dog owner.
Chickadee: Does Padmé also love to chase squirrels and grab hats?
Jeff: Yes. And Yes! She also likes to grab mittens and shoes and then play the chasing game with us. It’s delightful.
Chickadee: How else are Padmé and Ruff-Ruff similar? How are they different?
Jeff: Fun fact: I actually DO call Padmé “Ruff Ruff” and will even talk to her and ask her questions and then I’ll answer in a “dog voice.” My family does a good job of putting up with me when I do this. But back to your question, Padmé and Ruff Ruff both aim to please their owners, and they’re very happy dogs. Padmé has not yet learned how to roll over, but she’s not old so I can still teach her new tricks. In theory.
Chickadee: What did you love most about writing this story?
Jeff: It was really a way for me to show how much I love my dog. I grew up really fearful of dogs, and I definitely DID NOT WANT a dog. The cats and I were just fine. But I really warmed up to Padmé, especially on our long walks together, and our attempts at running together, or when she turns into “Dog Pillow” (the cats don’t go for that sort of thing). I wanted the story to capture what I think goes through Padmé’s head on a given day, I think I achieved that.
Thanks for sharing more about Padmé with us, Jeff! We love the story. Listen to Jeff read the story here: owlkids.com/listen
Becky Jo (Five-year-old Australian Shepherd/Border Collie cross from Edmonton, Alberta)
Becky Jo went to get help after her owner, Tracy fell off her horse. The dog found her way back to the house and ran in circles in the driveway while barking. She was trying to let Tracy’s husband, Butch, know that something was wrong! Becky Jo led Butch right back to Tracy. Tracy is all better now, and says she owes it all to her furry friend. What a smart pup!
Tracy and Becky Jo
Leo (Seven-month-old Biewer Yorkshire Terrier from Ottawa, Ontario)
Leo’s owner Brittany was asleep one night when Leo started barking really loud. Brittany was very confused when she woke up because it wasn’t like Leo to behave like this. But Leo wasn’t barking for fun, Brittany’s apartment was on fire, and Leo was trying to warn her! As soon as Brittany saw the fire, she ran out of the apartment with Leo to safety. Go Leo!
Leo and Brittany Photo: DAVE CHAN
Skylar (Three-year-old Golden Retriever from Port Hope, ON)
Skylar and her owner Grace were walking in the woods one day, when all of a sudden, Skylar was curious about something ahead and started running towards it. Grace ended up falling on the ground and hurting herself as she chased her curious dog, and couldn’t get back up. She needed help! Grace and Skylar were all alone, and Grace was starting to worry as it became dark outside. A while later, Grace saw car headlights in the distance. Grace told Skylar to get the driver’s attention and lead him over, and that’s exactly what this smart pooch did! Thanks to Skylar, Grace was able to get the help she needed.
Skylar and Grace
Aren’t these stories great? It really makes me think about how smart our animal friends are, and how much they care.
Do you know any animal heroes? Tell us your story in the comments section below!
In the May issue of chickaDEE, we asked you to pick your favourite pet. As of today, 50% of chickaDEE readers say the best pet is… a dog!
Here’s what some readers had to say about dogs:
“Dogs are my favorite because you can play fetch with them. They can do neat tricks. My dog’s name is Lacie and she loves to cuddle up with her people. That’s why I’m voting for dogs.” – KaiLin
“I think that dogs make the best pets because they are full of love and are lots of fun. Dogs like to run. They are cute. You can play fetch with them. You also have to feed them every day. When you lay down dogs lick you on your face. Sometimes dogs scare people away. They can protect you. They lay in the bed with you. They like to play a lot!” – Mrs. Pepper
Thanks for voting, everyone. We think all pets are the best!