A Pickerington author's affection for dogs' unconditional love has yielded a new book she hopes will honor them while also launching a project to aid military veterans throughout Ohio.
For years, Susan Schubert said she has felt a special connection to dogs.
She's wondered at the loyalty and love dogs bestow on owners, and further believed the never-fleeting devotion and concern the animals provide cannot only brighten human's days, but lift them from life-altering depressions and other psychological struggles.
With that in mind, the 73-year-old author chose dogs to be the main characters in her sixth and newest book, There's a HUMAN in My Bed: True Tales Told by the Dogs.
As the title suggests, Schubert tells a series of short stories from the perspectives of dogs.
While some are based on her own real-life experiences, as well as other stories dog owners have related, others are entirely fictitious.
But regardless, they focus on dogs' seemingly genuine concern for their owners' well-beings, how they are forever faithful and stop at nothing to protect and please those with whom they share homes -- and beds.
"I always knew I was enchanted by dogs," Schubert said. "I seem to understand what they're about.
"They're another living being -- not a person, but a pet -- and a dog can make such a huge difference in a person's life."
Schubert's book is $15 and available through direct-mail orders to her at 7729 Eagle Creek Drive, Pickerington, Ohio, 43147.
It's also available at selected locations such as The Flag Lady's Flag Store, 4567 N. High St., Columbus.
Illustrated by Jan Solari, it spins tales of wagging tails and highly-stimulated hounds who shoot their "best longing, sweet" glances at would-be adoptive parents at the animal shelter, as well as those who steal kisses from owners just before bedtime and the embarrassing perils of close encounters with skunks and "leaky-dog syndrome."
"Despite the potential for being accused of anthropomorphizing dogs, it is apparent to those living in close quarters with their pets that dogs do care for people," Schubert wrote in the introduction to There's a HUMAN in My Bed.
"Dogs snuggle when we don't feel well; they look longingly out the window when we leave; they show compassion to patients.
"At least that's what I think."
Schubert said also observation how dogs help those who are suffering while visiting Hospice centers and Veterans Affairs hospitals.
In addition to providing inspiration for stories, the interactions between dogs and people who were hurting physically and psychologically compelled her to use the book to support Pets for Vets, a national nonprofit organization that rescues dogs from animal shelters, provides them with a therapy dog or animal companion training, and pairs them with U.S. military veterans.
Schubert is donating a portion of all sales from her book to Pets for Vets.
She's also working with Judith Levicoff, an animal assisted therapy consultant and coordinator and co-director of the Lancaster, Ohio-based animal therapy group, The Connection, to establish a Pets for Vets Ohio chapter.
"There's something that goes beyond words between a pet and a veteran," Schubert said.
"These veterans are able to relax around them ... and you see these dogs just love them.
"It was something of a practical nature we could do that would help veterans."
Levicoff said she is a fan of There's a HUMAN in My Bed and she's a long proponent of animal therapy for those who are sick.
Specifically, Levicoff said, she and Schubert hope to establish a Pets for Vets program that will assist veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
"Once adopted from the shelter, the dogs will become a part of well-established prison rehabilitation program that matches individual prisoners with a specific dog for an extensive one-on-one training period," Levicoff said.
"Upon graduation, the dogs will then be partnered with veterans who are experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to form the bond and joy that comes from sharing one's life with a canine companion."
Schubert and Levicoff said they've seen how the unbending love portrayed in Schubert's stories has significant, positive impacts on a variety of people, and especially military veterans.
"Therapy dogs/companion animals most often bring joy and a sense of well-being to whomever they interact with, either their own human partner or to those whom they visit," Levicoff said.
"Animals in general enable us to experience an unconditional love from a non-judgmental friend.
"They are totally committed to be there for the veterans, without passing judgment, asking only for love and devotion in return.
"Knowing that your best friend, your canine companion will be there for you both in public and private brings a sense of peace to someone who lives with PTSD on a daily basis."
Schubert said establishing an Ohio Pets for Vets chapter is as much or more work than writing a book, but she hopes that effort will bring joy to those who struggle to find it.
She has the same aspirations for her book, which she said could appeal to adults and children, alike.
"I wanted it to be a happy book," Schubert said. "I also expected that people who are reading it wanted to be uplifted."
Additional information about There's a HUMAN in My Bed can be obtained by contacting Schubert at SusanSays@aol.com.