This article appears in the August issue of 400 Life.
All around the world are animals in need of a home. According to dosomething.org, there are approximately 7.6 million animals that enter animal shelters each year. Some are found in terrible conditions and have trouble getting adopted based on their personalities.
Marie and John Kirkpatrick have opened their home to pets for years. The couple has adopted all of their dogs. They believe that rescuing dogs is the best way to give them a home.
“We get our dogs from different places,” Marie said. “Frankie was from German Shepherd Rescue. Lola and Marley are from Georgia Poodle Rescue. Puppy is from a puppy mill out of Dawson County. When we got her, she was full of worms and smelled. I must have bathed her a million times and she still stunk. [She didn’t have a] tail. They apparently docked her tail and the vet said she had not seen anything like that. Who knows what they did to her.”
One of their dogs inspired Marie Kirkpatrick to write a children’s book. Frankie, a Belgian Malinois, was adopted by the family years ago after struggling to find a forever home.
His breed of dog is very playful, energetic and loud, which caused some families to return him to the shelter, according to Marie. His first owner had prized sheep, which Franklin would nip at. Frankie’s second owner was a man who wanted a dog to run with. Because Frankie’s breed is protective, he barked at another runner, scaring him. Frankie was returned again to wait for someone who would keep him for good.
“When we adopted Franklin, the story was that nobody wanted him,” Marie said. “We go up to PetSmart ... They had these German Shephard puppies and they had [Frankie]. We [thought he was really cute]. So we brought him home.”
The family fell in love with him instantly and made a permanent home for Frankie.
“Everything that nobody loved about him, we loved,” revealed Marie.
Later, Marie got the idea from her children to write a children’s book about Frankie’s journey and the importance of adopting pets in need. With dedication, she was able to self-publish her first book in 2015, “Frankie Finds His Family,” with the help of illustrator Patrick Carlson.
While she has never met Carlson, it seems like he knows exactly how she wants the book to be illustrated.
“I have this scenario in my brain,” Marie said. “We do everything over email. I’ll send him a clip on the computer of what I want [something] to look like. I don’t know what it is, but we just click. He goes from the pictures that I send him and the details that I send him, and he reads my brain, and he just does it.”
Years later, she has published three books featuring Frankie and his other animal friends. These have been a hit among the children. Marie does interactive readings for children around Forsyth County, where children can be part of the story through props and playing catch with him.
“My goal is that the ‘Frankie the Dog’ book series will help to educate our children in a positive, fun manner as they read about Frankie’s many adventures,” Marie said in her author description. “I really want everyone to think ‘Pet Adoption First.’”
On her website, frankiebooks.com, children can sign up for the Frankie book club. There, they will receive in the mail updates about Frankie, a signed photo of the dog, and special activities to do. Children can also send in their drawings and pictures of their pets.
Her books are available to purchase through Barnes and Noble and her website, frankiebooks.com. Each book comes with coloring pages.
Frankie and his owners do more than interactive readings for the community. They recently participated in Forsyth County’s Stuff the Bus event, which collected more than 60,000 items needed for the upcoming school year.
For those looking to adopt, Marie suggests recognizing your current lifestyle and what kind of dog would best suit that. Asking the volunteers at the animal shelters about an animal’s behaviors is a good way of knowing whether that pet is right for you.
Kids can come to the city of Cumming’s Food Truck Fridays event Aug. 2 and color pages from “Frankie the Dog” to be displayed and judged at the Sawnee Association of the Arts gallery.
-Article by Alyssa Freyman for the Forsyth County News