Canine castoff leads to children’s story

A dog that nobody wanted was the inspiration Terri Whiting needed personally and artistically

Originally from upstate New York, 57-year-old Terri Whit­ing made a decision more than 35 years ago that changed the course of her life. At about 20 years old, and with a tod­dler in tow, Whiting left New York and established a new life in San Diego.

Little did she know, the decision would eventually lead her down the path to becoming a published author and the owner of small white dog that would inspire her first children’s book.

As a 42-year-old single mom of two boys at the time, Whit­ing decided to start the process of going back to school and getting her degree. After attending community college, Whiting applied to Stanford University, and to her surprise was accepted.

“I was kind of in denial that that I was going to get into Stanford, even though I was accepted,” Whiting said. “Some­one had called me and told me I got the position. I thought it was someone kidding around with me, I didn’t believe it was the actual office.”

It was at Stanford University, while completing prereq­uisite classes for the physician assistant program, that Whiting fell in love with English class.

“I really fell in love with writing and the creative writing, and short stories,” Whiting said. “I really wanted to at some point in my life write a short story, and I guess I just kind of got wrapped up in the medical field, in emergency room, just day to day life, and I never got to write my book.”

Eventually Whiting’s children grew up and she became a grandmother, which she said presented the perfect op­portunity to write a children’s book.

Around 2005, Whiting’s son had a friend who was a breeder of miniature schnauzers and had a white schnau­zer, which is not recognized by the American Kennel Club, she said. No one wanted the dog be­cause of its color and large ears, so Whiting bought her for $20, and eventually the dog named Angel Marie became a part of the Whiting family.

“She was my little buddy, she went everywhere with me. She traveled on airplanes, she even went to Stanford with me,” Whiting said. “She was in my wedding.”

Whiting’s first children’s book is inspired by Angel Ma­rie and tells the story of a little white dog with huge ears that no one wants, so the dog does dif­ferent things to try and disguise its ears. Eventually, the dog in the book is adopted into a lov­ing family, just like in real life, Whiting said.

The book is meant to teach children to have self-confidence, even if they are different than other kids, Whiting said.

“I hope that the children that read it fall in love with her and realize that she has big ears, and that she is different, and even though children have their differences, whether it be hair color, skin color, big feet, little feet, big ears, that they accept themselves that the way they are, that everybody is different,” Whiting said.

Whiting’s oldest son, 37-year-old Josh, said that he was sur­prised at his mother’s knack for writing books, despite not hav­ing previous experience.

“I think it’s great,” Josh said. “She’s always been kind of tal­ented like that, she’s very cre­ative.”

Despite the obstacles, Josh also said his mother has kept at working on her books.

“She’s the kind of person when she wants to do something she just does it and nothing else really matters,” Josh said. “She goes 100 percent with whatever she does.”

Whiting is self-publishing her first book, but is working with an illustrator and editor Bobbie Hinman, who has re­ceived more than 25 awards for her children’s books, she said.

While self-publishing has been difficult, Whiting also said it has been a rewarding experi­ence. Her first book also taught her to go outside of her family and find other people to give feedback on the book, Whiting said.

Around 10 “little editors” from four to seven years old gave feedback on the book, and are featured in a dedication at the beginning of the book, Whiting said.

The book will be out on Nov. 11 on Amazon, and Whiting said she hopes to do meet the author book signings and sell the book at local shops eventually

Canine castoff leads to children’s story

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