A Woodstock native who works with a record-breaking dog in Frisbee competitions has launched a children’s book on his canine partner and is now sharing its message of healthy virtues.
Rob McLeod throws Frisbees to Davy the Whippet and the team has set several Guinness World Records in the last few years, including Longest Flying Disc Throw Caught by a Dog. McLeod does presentations as schools on resilience, kindness and bulling, and two years ago decided to look into having a book on Davy after receiving advice from a friend who is a Frisbee Hall of Famer.
McLeod said the friend had sent him a message on Facebook that a children’s book would make for a good combination with his messages at schools. Inspired by his friend’s suggestion, McLeod went to another friend – author Olyn Ozbick – to ask if she would be interested in writing the book, or even know someone who would be.
After she agreed to write the book, he went to illustrator friend Shannon Darch, and another friend, Lais Rumel, who is a grade one teacher to ask for their help with the illustrations and messages respectively.
In order to pay for the illustration work, McLeod said they came up with the idea of using Kickstarter and were able to raise enough funds to pay for Darch’s work. Thanks to the success on Kickstarter, the team was able to finish the book and find a publisher.
McLeod said he is now doing book readings with Davy, in addition to his usual Frisbee presentations at schools. He is currently home in New Brunswick and has readings and school visits arranged in the coming weeks.
“Just working, getting the word out there, meeting kids, talking to parents and teachers and bringing in their feedback always trying to refine our message to make it better, make it work, and have it make an impact,” said McLeod of his goal.
Asked about the process of creating the book, McLeod said he didn’t write it, but did help with the message and came up with the overall story idea, which has Davy meeting three different dogs.
“The biggest thing I learned is it’s not about the product or the idea, it is all about the team,” said McLeod. “From where we started to where we ended up I wouldn’t say we went in a totally different direction but we definitely changed the story a lot. It was going to be a lot more detailed. There were going to be more messages, and it was going to be longer. We have really refined it and made it a lot more simple.”
Now that the book is finished and off to a good start with positive reaction from readers, McLeod said they have ideas for more books about Davy. He said the idea is that each book is based on a different virtue, with the first book focusing on kindness. This idea for a theme comes from schools in Canada that are called virtue schools.
McLeod explained that every month a virtue school will focus on a different virtue, with approximately 60 in total.
“We have the potential to create at least 60 books with a different virtue at the core of each book,” said McLeod.
He said the book’s early success was a surprise, as they held a book launch a couple of weeks ago and ended up selling out of all copies of the books.
McLeod said kids love seeing Davy at book readings, and having the dog there helps them to connect with the story.
“It’s something that is special for the kids,” said McLeod. “If you look at a book like Clifford the Big Red Dog – very popular book – there is no real dog obviously. With Davy he is the real dog, so kids can connect with him on that level.
The upcoming tour has McLeod and Davy Whippet at the Andrew and Laura McCain Library on Thursday, Feb 25 @ 7pm, The L.P. Fisher Library on March 16 with a 2pm reading for preschool kids and 4pm reading for elementary kids and the general public. For more information on the book or to purchase a copy visit http://www.thedavyrule.com.
Following the home tour, the duo will be driving around the U.S. taking part in competitions in Las Vegas, Texas and Virginia in late March and early April, and stopping at colleges for frisbee workshops.