We’re huge fans of Monty Dogge - the Newfoundland with a range of children’s books
Earlier this year we spoke to Monty's owner Mark Sanders about how his giant dog had changed his life and inspired a range of children's books.
And we are so excited to tell you about his Christmas story.
It’s the fourth book following the adventures of Monty, eight, his sister Cookie, five, (also a Newfoundland) and Spaniels Molly, 12, Poppy, 10, and Bailey, eight.
Each of the stories are magical and carry a message for children reading to take away.
In I’m Not A Panda-Cow, puppy Monty accepts being bigger than most other dogs, learns to deal with people calling him silly names and finds his Newfoundland family.
Monty and the Slobbernoserus shares the story of what it’s like to welcome a sister - and a great big hairy slobbering one at that - into your life.
And Monty and the Poppit Dragon sees Monty and his furry friends help Dilys the Dragon learn to fly even though her wings are too small, showing how with determination and friends we can overcome the many hurdles life throws at us.
Monty and Friends Save Christmas is another heartwarming tale, and without spoiling the story, it does cover the Dogs of Rainbow Bridge.
We spoke to Mark, Monty’s long suffering dad and human slave, to find out more about his Christmas creation.
Mark and Monty love to make Christmas magical
Where did the idea for doing a Christmas book come from?
I wanted to do a Christmas story right from the beginning when I did the first story about Monty, but at that stage, I hadn’t written about Cookie.
I was conscious that she was going to be a big part of it, so we did two more books in between.
The idea for the story came from us doing a Christmas poem. We do this every year to raise money for charity, and the poem the book is based on is from four years ago.
I don’t want to give too much away but it begins with Cookie chasing the reindeers away and the story goes on from there.
And the dogs of Rainbow Bridge feature in the story?
Yes, I wanted to make it more interesting. Christmas is a special time and I feel the concept of the Rainbow Bridge and the dogs we lose going to a happy place is a magical concept too.
I set out to bring the two themes together but not in a sad way - I think it happens in a happy way. The dogs appear at a time in the story when they’re needed to help.
I think it’s been tackled in a way where it’s uplifting rather than sad and shows the dogs as special memories that live on forever.
The story is in the spirit of Christmas and to demonstrate how we keep all of our dogs life through our memories and stories. In times of crisis or if we’re having a down day the message is they are always there looking down on us.
Proud Monty shows off his latest creation!
It’s a lovely concept and when I read the book I bawled my eyes out, but happy tears. Is that normal?
Yes, it’s a difficult subject and when I was talking about doing the book, some people said to me, ‘Don’t do it!’
But I’m glad I did. It’s tackling a subject that difficult but in a positive way. It’s always a hard thing for parents to deal with when a dog dies.
It was something I try to get across when I go into schools with Monty and read the stories to the children.
Many of them haven’t been through loss but it’s there to support them in the future. It’s something we all have to get our heads around at some point.
I know from experience from when we first lost our family dog Roxy when my kids were growing up how difficult it is to have the conversation about loss and how to cope.
We’d never spoke to the kids about losing her and then it just happened and we had to deal with it so that’s why it felt important to me to cover it.
Were you nervous when the book came out?
Absolutely. I thought, ‘Oh my God what is going to happen now?’
One friend read it and sent me a message saying that she was in tears. I called her and asked if she was OK and I was so relieved when she said that she was smiling at the end.
Monty's housemate Pippa gives the book her seal of approval
And you’ve paid tribute to some of your own pets too?
Yes, Roxy our old Staffie who we had when the kids were growing up is in there.
So is our dog Cookie’s grandma Ruby who is a black Newfoundland and there’s another dog called Guinness, a black and white Newfoundland, who is one of our friends dogs.
It’s nice to have them in there and it feels like they live on forever not just in our memories but through the stories as well.
How has the book been received?
It’s been really good. I’ve been going to schools with Monty reading it to the children and speaking to them afterwards.
They’re very interested and keen to talk about the magical dogs of Rainbow Bridge which is lovely.
I hope that by creating a resource that covers such an emotive issue, it will help people talk about it with children and make life a little easier if they deal with the loss of a pet.
One of the many stunning illustrations
What’s the message behind the Christmas book?
We try to have a message in all of our stories and with this one I tried to cover loss in a positive way.
I hope it also shows that even when they’re not with us they are always in our hearts and memories, so in their own special way they live on forever.
Mark has kindly donated a gift pack of all four books worth £29.50 for one lucky reader
If you’d like to be in with a chance to win, go to the bottom of the page in the section marked REPLY and tell us your favourite thing about sharing Christmas with your pet.
Or if you don’t have a pet, simply tell us why you’d like to win. Good Luck!
TERMS AND CONDITIONS
- One winner will receive a gift pack of the four books in Monty’s collection.
- The competition is open to UK residents only.
- Entry is restricted to one entry per person; duplicate entries will be excluded from the competition.
- Entries close on Wednesday November 7th 2018.