Hope you had a great weekend.
In one of my latest posts I was praising the book of John Donald Middleton, called Jem: Lessons in Living, and I was lucky enough to be in contact with John himself, who was very kind and answered few questions I have prepared for him. We spoke about his book, pugs and future.
Ready? Here we go.
John, what do you think was the main trigger for you to sit down and write your story?
After Jem’s death I was an emotional wreck. I missed him terribly and there was a huge void in my life. Worse, I carried so much guilt that I was responsible for his death. I hoped that by writing a memoir of him it would help me deal with all that chaos. I wanted to tell a story that would honor his memory while helping me to work through the turmoil in my life over the loss of such a special friend. And it is doing that, but it’s taking time.
Why do you think it was just Jem, who changed a lot in your life? You had many pets before, but it doesn’t seem to me that they had such an impact as Jem.
Jem came along at just the right time in my life. I was at the worst point in my alcoholic existence and he was there for me. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to put into words just how important Jem was. Pets love us unconditionally—I guess Jem was the first pet I’d ever been around who made me understand the importance of unconditional love. He was at his happiest when we were together, and so was I. I suppose that’s what started me thinking about my relationships with all the humans in my life.
Your book is also dedicated to relationships within your family. How do they perceive that you wrote about them and their lives?
Honestly, this is the toughest of all your questions. My wife and kids were supportive about the book, and lavish with their praise over the final product, but I never actually asked them, “How do you feel about me telling things about your life—and our lives together?” Human relationships are still very much a work-in-progress for me, but there’s no question that my family means the world to me.
I’m sure there are fans of pugs out there who are thinking about getting their first/another one. What would you tell them?
Adopt! Adopt! Adopt!
There are rescue groups all over the United States and the world that are dedicated to helping deserving animals find loving homes. And not just pugs, or even dogs, but all varieties and species. There is one thing I know for certain, because I’ve seen it time and time again in my volunteer work: there is no creature on God’s earth more grateful than a rescued pet who’s found a forever home.
In the end of the book there is a note about portion of the prize of each book being donated to DFW Pug Rescue Club of Texas, Inc. Can you tell us more about the reasons why you decided for this organization?
The event that finally caused me to turn the corner in recovering from Jem’s death was adopting my first pug, Farah. And that happened because two of the DFW Pug Rescue volunteers—Leslie and Lyle Matthews, whom I mention in the book—reached out to me. They were Farah’s foster “parents”, and Leslie was a technician at my vet’s office. She was there the day I brought Jem in after his accident. Somehow they knew that I needed another pug in my life to turn things around, and they were correct. I’m forever grateful to them, and it was their act of kindness that eventually led me to adopt three more pugs and then become a volunteer myself. I’ve become great friends with everyone I’ve met at DFW Pug Rescue. They work tirelessly in finding homes for pugs.
And finally: Don’t you plan another book for pet lovers? I bet you must witness a whole lot of stories going on while volunteering.
Yes, I plan more books! My next project is a series for young readers titled “Too Many Pugs”, which will be based on the four darling girls I adopted—Farah, Mitzee, Nessie, and Dahlia. Each has her own personality and backstory, so I’m hoping it will be fun both to write and read.
You’re so right about volunteering. One of my activities is visiting the homes of people all over north central Texas who want to foster and adopt pugs. And not only do I meet them, but I get to meet their pets, too. I’d say that well over half the families I visit already have at least one pet, and want to share their love with another. I’ve met dogs and cats of all varieties. When I knock on a door and immediately hear barking on the other side, I know that I’m about to visit with a family who loves pets. It makes good sense to include those experiences in my pug stories.
Thank you for your time, John.