New children’s book teaches young people how to interact with dogs

Cath Pickles with Worzel. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

Cath Pickles with Worzel. Picture: NICK BUTCHER - Credit: Nick Butcher

Many parents know the challenges of trying to get dogs to live together with their children only too well.

Book launch for Worzel says Hello! Will you be my friend? Picture: Courtesy of Cath Pickles

Book launch for Worzel says Hello! Will you be my friend? Picture: Courtesy of Cath Pickles - Credit: Archant

But now, a new children's book written by one of the region's favourite pets may have the answer.

Southwold lurcher Worzel's new book aims to get a younger generation hooked on his own unique take on life, which has already delighted adult readers up and down the country. But Worzel Says Hello, Will You Be My Friend? also contains detailed illustrations which owner and author Cath Pickles said is 'about teaching children how to greet and interact with dogs'.

The drawings, by illustrator and designer Chantal Bourgonje, have been checked by several animal behavioural experts to ensure young people will be able to relate them to real life.

Geelong Obedience Dog Club called the book 'a dictionary of dog speak'.

Illustration from Worzel Says Hello, Will You Be My Friend? Picture: CHANTAL BOURGONJE/HUBBLE AND HA

Illustration from Worzel Says Hello, Will You Be My Friend? Picture: CHANTAL BOURGONJE/HUBBLE AND HATTIE - Credit: Archant


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Illustration from Worzel Says Hello, Will You Be My Friend? Picture: CHANTAL BOURGONJE/HUBBLE AND HA

Illustration from Worzel Says Hello, Will You Be My Friend? Picture: CHANTAL BOURGONJE/HUBBLE AND HATTIE - Credit: Archant

Mrs Pickles said: 'We spent hours and days to make sure the drawings were really accurate.'

But she believes the effort is worth it in order to promote an important educational message of the book, which is being launched at Southwold Library on Monday, October 23 at 1pm.

'Far too many people don't have a clue about what a dog looks like when they're happy, sad or anxious,' she explained.

Illustration from Worzel Says Hello, Will You Be My Friend? Picture: CHANTAL BOURGONJE/HUBBLE AND HA

Illustration from Worzel Says Hello, Will You Be My Friend? Picture: CHANTAL BOURGONJE/HUBBLE AND HATTIE - Credit: Archant

'We've managed to get information in there on what children really need to know about how to greet dogs safely. We wanted to make sure it was accurate so it really did work.

'What I'd really like to do is get it into the schools, because some of the messages in the book are really important. It's so vital for children to learn these skills.

'Many parents keep their children away from dogs, which is all very well when they're little and they're supervised – but that's not always the case.

'If they start to learn these skills now it can be there for every day of your child's life – so if they do find themselves in a situation with a dog, they have got half a chance of being able to negotiate that interaction safely.'

Illustration from Worzel Says Hello, Will You Be My Friend? Picture: CHANTAL BOURGONJE/HUBBLE AND HA

Illustration from Worzel Says Hello, Will You Be My Friend? Picture: CHANTAL BOURGONJE/HUBBLE AND HATTIE - Credit: Archant

Worzel Says Hello, Will You Be My Friend?, published by Hubble and Hattie, is available from bookshops and online. The third Worzel diaries, Three Very Quite Actual Cheers for Worzel Wooface!, have also been published.

Southwold lurcher Worzel running along the beach. Picture: CATH PICKLES

Southwold lurcher Worzel running along the beach. Picture: CATH PICKLES - Credit: Archant

About Worzel

Worzel was rescued by re-homing charity Hounds First Sighthound Rescue when he was 10 weeks old after being beaten and abused.

He was adopted by the charity's founder but, as a result the abuse he had suffered beforehand, was incredibly anxious and struggled being around children.

Worzel the lurcher on Southwold beach. Picture: Cath Pickles.

Worzel the lurcher on Southwold beach. Picture: Cath Pickles. - Credit: Archant

He was re-homed again by the Pickles family and started 'writing' a regular blog in his own paw as a way of keeping his previous owners up-to-date on how he was getting on.

However his musings and very unique vocabulary soon captured the public's imagination and his tales later landed a book deal with publisher Hubble and Hattie.

Mrs Pickles said of the new children's book, which is written in verse: 'I always wanted to write a book that was going to be suitable for children.

'However, Worzel's language was never going to work for children.

'It took me a long time to work out how to write something for children which kept it recognisable as Worzel.

'Worzel started writing poems and that gave me a solution.'

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