In this special post and with the help of author Joseph Pittman, Shadow, the Greyador rescue dog, shares stories from his new book, THE SHADOW DIARIES
It’s mid-September and this pandemic is still not over, and it seems that it will be with us for a long while. So, in an attempt to brighten our spirits, let’s take a moment to look at the world through the eyes…of our pets. We might be able to see life through a kinder lens and, in the process, find a moment of peace, quiet, and even a bit of laughter.
So, with that in mind, here’s a special post that gives us the chance to look at the world through the eyes of Shadow, a rescue dog, who shares a year in his life in a series of enlightening, weekly posts, now captured in a new book. THE SHADOW DIARIES, by Shadow as told to Joseph Pittman, is an amazing, inspiring, funny, heartfelt read we all need these days. It makes us smile, shed a tear at times, and it gives us hope, while allowing us to see the world through a fascinating lens.
I hope that Shadow’s story, which comes to life through the exquisite writing of author Joseph Pittman, will brighten your day, as it did mine.
Alina: Thank you, Shadow, for taking the time to chat with me, and, most importantly, congratulations on your new book! You have many, many fans, myself included, and we’d like to learn more about your story. (btw, you look fantastic on the beautiful book cover designed by artist Steve Cummings !) So, let’s begin. I’ve heard that you are a Greyador. For those who’re not that familiar with dog breeds, what exactly is a Greyador?
Shadow: First of all, thanks Alina, for helping to share my story. You’re the best! A Greyador is mix of Labrador Retriever (in my case a Black Lab) and a Greyhound. I have dark fur, but I’m sleek. When I see cats or bunnies, I raise a paw like a Retriever would. But when I’m unleashed in a yard, I run like the wind. That’s the Greyhound. But both breeds are gentle and sweet, so I’m lucky on two fronts!
A: Let’s talk about your book. Why did you decide to write THE SHADOW DIARIES and to share your story with the world, in the first place?
S: Gosh, I didn’t even know the book was happening for a few weeks. See, one of my two Daddies, Joseph Pittman (I’ll call him DJ from now on, like I do in the book) is a writer. When I came to live with him and Daddy Steve (DS from now on), he had this idea. On my first weekend in my forever home, DJ was coming home from work on the train and he thought he’d introduce me to everyone. Except he wrote it in MY voice! He has crazy ideas. People seemed to like it, and so he did another one the next week. By week four, it had become THE SHADOW DIARIES, and DJ knew there was a book in it. I kind of did, too. I mean, I was the inspiration, and every week we would stare into each other’s eyes and wonder: what’s this week’s theme?
A: In your book you mention life experiences, offer lessons (and new words) learned from everyday happenings, stories, events, as well as your own thoughts as you reflect on life, in general. Thinking of your book, some stories make me smile, others make me ponder. I still smile when thinking of you discovering that “there’s a tree in [your] house” (around Christmas time). Like you, I believe that “words matter.” Also, I think that your final entry, in particular, is one of the most memorable, powerful posts. (and it looks like we’re both fans of RENT, the musical). So, now that you know some of my favorite stories you tell in the book, could you share some of your favorites?
S: Okay, I just cried. I’m so glad you loved my final entry with the RENT song. It was the perfect epilogue, a summation of the theme of my book. Love. But along the way, I had some silly moments: I had fun with my song parodies of My Favorite Things, The Brady Bunch Theme, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. They were a blast to write (sing?). I also appreciated the guest writers, like my cousin Gustavo, Broadway’s King Kong, as well as rainbow stories from beloved dogs Misty and Bongo. Those are special. I also love my Pride edition and the story of all my nicknames, because I get to celebrate my Grandma. My Shadow A-Z was silly. All are components of a year-long story.
A: Speaking of new words, you’ve learned quite a few along the way. I’m curious, what exactly does “snounce” or “snouncing” mean?
S: Ha! I get that question a lot. In an early diary, I wrote about how I pounce, how I trounce, how I bounce. But then afterwards I would snuggle. Um, that didn’t rhyme. A snounce is when I’m face to face with DJ or DS, usually on the sofa, where we stare into each other’s eyes and enjoy the silence of the night, forgetting the day’s struggles. It’s peaceful. It’s just us. It’s beyond a snuggle. Yeah, it’s a snounce.
A: What would you like readers to take away from your book?
S: Hope. Love. Commitment. Happiness. Laughter. A way to find your inner snounce. Life can be hard, and sometimes DS had difficult days. Sometimes DJ would be gone for, like, most of the day! It’s just knowing that at the end of the day, you’re all together, you’re warm, you’re fed, you’re in a place meant to be. I never set out to be inspiring. But you know what, the eyes see what they see, and they reveal the truth of our world.
A: Are you planning on any book events, maybe virtual ones for the time being?
S: Gosh! I was already featured on a Broadway webcast called STARS IN THE HOUSE, where DJ was interviewed by his friend Seth [Rudetsky] who runs the show. So I was on the Zoom call, and we showed my book. I’ve also been told our local Barnes and Noble is stocking the book, and when life returns to normal (hopefully soon!), they want to have all three of us in for a book signing. DJ is also doing some local events at the town library, and my Instagram account grows larger every day–@theshadowdiariesbook is where to find me. It can be exhausting promoting the book. But as you can see, I’m rarely at a loss for words! Oh, and the audio edition is coming out soon! It’s awesome.
A: Anything else you’d like to add?
S: Here’s the thing. Dogs. What they can add to your life is nothing you can measure. They make your heart swell, they comfort you when you’re down (we have a sixth sense about that), and they fill your home with love, laughter, and yeah, maybe a bit of barking. We’re still dogs after all! But in the end, as I write in the book, “as the sun goes down and the moon’s ghostly glow appears,” it’s all about love. Take your loved one into your arms. Stare into their eyes. Enjoy the snounce.