I recently had the opportunity to read a darling new children's book, Harlee Hugs by Randi Portnoy. It is beautifully illustrated and obviously written by someone who loved her pet very, very much. It would be a wonderful addition to the library of a child just beginnning to discover the joy of reading, or maybe even one who has just found a new furry best friend!
Harlee Hugs tells a story that rhymes,
About a black Labrador mix and all his good times!
Come read about Harlee from the time he was a pup;
Read what he learned to do as he grew up!
Every pet is unique, with its own personality.
Read about Harlee and all he meant to me!
What made you decide to write Harlee Hugs?
I had begun writing soon after Harlee passed, then I picked it up again when I was going through chemotherapy for ovarian cancer. I loved that dog, that member of my family so very much and I wanted to write about the things we did together.
Please tell us about the real-life Harlee.
Harlee was a black lab mix we (I was married at the time, Harlee lasted longer than my marriage, I always like to say) found the first time we visited North Shore Animal League on Long Island. He had huge paws and so we knew he would be big, and that is what we wanted. As a child I always wanted a black lab but could never have one in the apartment complex. And now here was Harlee, eight weeks old and licking my face, I could never have put him down. He was easy to train, very smart, and very big, but a lover not a fighter. He weighed around 100 pounds when he was full grown. Harlee had lots of surgeries during his 14 years, one was life threatening but he survived. I took him everywhere I went, love me love my dog I used to say. He liked other animals, dogs, cats, guinea pigs and of course 2 legged ones as well.
What are some things that everyone, kids included, can do that will benefit animals in need?
First, adopt from an animal shelter, there are so many dogs, cats, that need good loving homes. I did volunteer work at North Shore Animal League, they can always use help at any and all shelters. Donations of money, food, blankets to an animal shelter are items that are needed. Schools should teach Humane Education beginning in Pre-K, children need to learn how to be humane if parents are not teaching them, and yes educate the parents as well.
Do you currently have any special fur babies in your life?
Not at this moment, too much on my plate.
I understand you've done volunteer work at animal shelters and sanctuaries. Do you have any unforgettable moments that you would like to share?
I was in the puppy room at North Shore Animal League, very early in the morning, cleaning up puppy poop and one puppy got out of the cage, there I was chasing him around the room, the hardest thing to do was put him back in his cage. Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah had 22 of the pitbulls rescued from the home of Michael Vick. I was able to see one of them in his own run since he could not be around other dogs, yet, it was so sad to see him just back away from any human going towards the gate that surrounded him. I hope by now he has been rehabilitated.
What message do you hope readers walk away with after reading your wonderful story?
Having a pet is adding to the family, it is not just a pet. One has to devote time and love to training, one has to be patient and kind to all living creatures, not just dogs. Every animal is different and unique, just like people are different and unique.