Katherine Kane, is an urban dog owner with over thirty years experience working with dogs. Her first books focus on her love for pets, and take advantage of the experience she has had training and working with dogs.
Shelagh: Hi Katherine. Please tell everyone about yourself.
Katherine: I have lived and traveled extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe, and Africa. The learnings from these experiences have been amazing and too numerous to count. The people I’ve met have proved to me that, across the world, we are more alike than different. Over the years, in addition to traveling, I have gathered graduate degrees, worked in academia and the corporate world, had two of the most wonderful daughters a person could ever have, and enjoyed every single day. (Well, some days have been better than others.) Now, my daughters are grown, my corporate life is wrapped up, and I can do what I want to do. So I’m writing books and playing golf.
Shelagh: When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?
Katherine: I’ve always wanted to write non-fiction, but was busy being a working single mom. Now that my daughters are grown and I am semi-retired, I have the time. My first book, Training The City Dog, was inspired by bringing a puppy home to my downtown highrise. There is very little information out there that is helpful to all of the challenges of raising an urban dog. Some dog training books have titles that indicate they are applicable to dogs in cities, but early in the book you get to the housebreaking chapter. When they tell you to take the puppy to a quiet and tranquil spot in the back yard, their credibility slips a bit. The dog trainers in our area are from the country or the suburbs, so they don’t even pretend to have much of a clue about how to help with urban matters. Thus Training The City Dog was born.
Shelagh: When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?
Katherine: My goal was to help dog owners and their dogs be excellent city citizens. I talked with close to one hundred people – dog experts, city dog owners, and city dog dislikers – to find out how they deal with urban issues, and if they don’t have urban experience, how they would handle these issues if they did. I thought it was very important to consider the decisions property managers make to ban dogs from their buildings and the perspectives of people who wish dogs were banned from cities because their issues point to ways we can make our dogs more acceptable to everyone around. Although raising our dogs to be healthy, happy, and safe in urban environments that require special petiquette is a very serious matter, there is also a lot of humor underlying the experience. My book takes a lighthearted approach to these serious subjects. I want to deliver the message with good humor. There is a copy of my book in the salon I go to, and the woman who owns it says it is fun to hear people chuckle as they read through the book while sitting under the dryer or waiting for their appointment.
Shelagh: Briefly tell us about your latest book.
When you live in a city, there is the matter of housebreaking a puppy without having doors leading to anything resembling a yard that is quiet and tranquil. There is the matter of elevators, which don’t bother some dogs, but are a total mystery to others. Elevators can be very threatening to dogs that are shy or that tend to be protective of their space and their owners – all those people smashed into that tiny space is difficult for them. In high-rises, there is the matter of fire alarms, which mostly go off in the middle of the night in a storm, requiring getting your dog down the stairs with lots of people who are not interested in tripping over it or waiting for it. And high-rises have hallways and lobbies with many people coming and going – challenging for dogs that want to either protect their space or greet everyone they hear with angry or happy barking. Outside, there is a wide variety of people and dogs to socialize with – lots of them. Sometimes lots of them all at once. And not all encounters are pleasant – there is the neighborhood monster dog and there are the people who are dog curmudgeons. There are busses and trucks and trains and cars belching and honking day and night. There are horse-drawn carriages and horses carrying mounted police. There are pot-belly pigs and cats being walked on leashes. There are sidewalk cafes and markets and festivals and fireworks. There are ordinances about dogs, and no one wants to have to bail their furry friend out of dog jail. All of these present challenges for the urban dog owner. All of these topics, and more, are covered in Training The City Dog.
Shelagh: How do you develop characters and setting?
Katherine: Although this is a non-fiction, how-to book, it is full of four-legged characters! About the matter of housebreaking, there is Tiddly Winks, the tiny pup who can be litter box trained (much better than going out in a snowstorm at 3:00 a.m. to respond to calls of nature). And Homer, the puppy, who is totally distracted by the friendly man who owns the deli down the street, smells wonderful (at least to Homer), and wants to give him a hug and a treat – who wants to learn to potty in the proper spot when deli man here? And Moppet who learns how to ring the bell when she wants to go outside. There are lots of people – dog dislikers, dog lovers – without dogs, pickled people pouring out of the pubs at night, and people in uniform – who your dog should learn to bow to. There are dogs, cats, and other urban creatures – Monster Dog – just cross the street and don’t get near it. There is Bouncer the exuberant people lover. There are horses, chipmunks, squirrels, geese, monkeys, pot belly pigs, and cats. In the matter of critical commands, there is Doodles who has to learn Leave it!, Droopy who has to learn to Drop it!, Harvey who needs to learn to Heel! even if he doesn’t want to, and Dasher who is absolutely defiant about learning to Come! As for the matter of sidewalk cafes, Dino the Dinosaur Dog must never put his nose in someone’s nachos or sample anyone’s salad. Fluffy needs to know her manners when trotting through shops that let her in. Sweetie Pie must learn not to eat the sweet peas and petunias out of flower boxes. Dude has to learn how to wear snow boots, even if he rips them to shreds during the training process. Angel may not be so quiet when you are not at home and Yipper needs to stop yapping all the time – both need to read the chapter on Barking. Floppy may be terribly afraid of elevators, especially if she has to share it with Monster Dog. TatterTott the tiny pooch needs to be kept off the ground when she goes to festivals and markets and Sassy needs to turn into velcro-dog instead of flying around and jumping on produce tables at the market. The setting is the city – any city anywhere.
Shelagh: Are all your characters likeable?
Katherine: Of course I think all the canine characters are more than likeable. They are lovable and adorable. But some of the people characters are in need of help. As the saying goes, dogs don’t need nearly as much training as their owners do. Although I don’t give people names in Training The City Dog, there are definite character types. Monster Dog’s owner needs to get a grip – literally – on the leash and the dog. Cell phone Sally needs to stay off the phone and pay attention to all the people who are getting tangled up in the two retractable leashes she uses for her two rambunctious furry friends. Clueless Cathy needs to make sure that when the elevator door closes, both she and her dog are on the same side of the door. Old people trying to navigate through city parks can be stricken with terror at the friendly fuzzball that bounces around their ankles and crashes into their arthritic knees because fuzzball’s owner, Intense Ivan, is involved in an animated conversation instead of tending to Fuzzy. All of us city dog owners need to respect those poor people who don’t like dogs and who are afraid of dogs. Maybe if our dogs are good and polite and positively dripping with proper petiquette we can win them over. Maybe they won’t love our furry friends nearly as much as we do, but at least they won’t try to banish them to places beyond the city limits.
Shelagh: How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
Katherine: My environment and my upbringing are both the color of my writing. I am a city girl. I love cities. When I visit the country, I have to take a recording of inebriated homeless people yelling at each other with sirens and cars honking in the background so that I can go to sleep at night. I was raised with dogs. When my dad came back from WWII, instead of bringing lovely English china and silver home to his new wife, he brought back an Irish Setter named O’Toole. When my grandfather decided that O’Toole, who he re-named Red, was his dog, we acquired Hairless, the English Sheepdog. Hairless was my constant companion and protector as a toddler, including protecting me from my parents when they got a bit angry over something I did that, in their opinion, was naughty. My mother was a breeder of Dalmations for a while (way before they soared to “popular dog” status and became the “dog of the year”). Chloe delivered 28 puppies who grew up and out to loving owners over her career as a mom. We had Snoozer, the boxer, who loved to be put into the pram. He sat up tall and proud, wrapped in a baby blanket and with a bonnet tied on his head, while we paraded him up and down the neighborhood sidewalks. My children were raised by Ruffy the black lab, who happily lead a team of burglars around the house so they wouldn’t miss anything that might be valuable (as the burglars reported to the police when they were captured). My dad hunted with standard poodles, and Luna (aka LoonyTunes by her vet, groomer, dog walker, and dog day care handlers) is my second black standard (following the loss of my beloved black standard Misha).
Shelagh: Do you have a favorite review?.
Katherine: All of the reviews of Training The City Dog have been excellent, so I am not going to hurt anyone’s feelings by picking out a favorite.
Shelagh: What are your current projects?
Katherine: I have three current projects.
1. Getting Training The City Dog out on the Kindle and the iPad (by mid December, 2010) and getting it up on Amazon U.K. and Amazon Canada before the end of the year.
2. My next book is still title-less. (I have trouble assigning titles until my webmaster and my editor get frustrated and tell me “just land on something and lets go with it!”) It is an extensive and thoroughly-researched book about helping your dog live a happy, healthy, and safe life with you, whether you live in the city, in the country, or somewhere in between. It talks about the cost of dog ownership and selecting a dog. There is a how-to-pick-a… chapter about selecting a vet, a dog day care, a dog walker, a groomer, a pet sitter, a boarding kennel, and all the other caregivers we have for our dogs. There is a chapter on food and shelter, including a section on foods that may be dangerous for our dogs that is abridged at the back of Training The City Dog. There is a chapter on contributing to the community through fostering dogs or providing our dog as a therapy dog or a blood donor or a working dog. There is a chapter on fun things to do with your dog, like geocaching and agility and hunting and disc competition and tricks training (great for therapy dogs) and lots more activities. There is a chapter on health and safety. There is a chapter on traveling with your dog. And, of course, there is a chapter on dog and dog owner good manners. As with Training The City Dog, I am doing extensive research and talking with dog experts in every dog-related field. It is scheduled for publication in the spring of 2011.
3. My third book (also title-less at this point) is an anthology of dog stories by dog owners. I have the framework built and have some submissions. l may be posting a call for more submissions on multiple networking groups including LinkedIn, She Writes, Published Authors Network, Goodreads, and several dog-owner groups if I need more stories. In case any of your readers are interested in sending me a submission, have them contact me through the Contact Us form on our website, and I’ll send them the submission requirements. This book is scheduled for publication in the summer of 2011.
We are also publishing two other books by other authors, who are being shy about promotion at the moment, so I have to respect their wishes and keep silent about their books for a while longer.
Katherine: People can learn more about City Pet Book projects and events from our website: http://www.citypetbooks.com
We make sure the site is frequently updated with tips about dogs, topics for dog owners, and many resources that dog owners find interesting and valuable.
Shelagh: Thank you for joining us today, Katherine.
Katherine: Thanks so much for having me, Shelagh. And I hope all your readers give their dogs a huge hug, a good rubdown, and a yummy treat many times every day at a minimum! And I hope they tell their dogs, over and over, that they could not imagine life without them.