Wooftastic Books Interviews Janetta Harvey

What inspired you to write your books

Susie-Belle started it all. When I adopted her and really understood how damaging it is for dogs to be kept as breeding dogs I knew that I had to write about it. I began blogging about the life we shared, the daily challenges which Susie-Belle faced just to be able to live comfortably around humans, and people seemed to want to read more. They, like me, were shocked at how far from normal a dog could be when they are saved from the breeding industry and adopted into homes.

It’s hard for us to understand that a dog would find it easier to lay on the floor than the soft bed on offer, but this is the reality. For Susie-Belle it took weeks and weeks for her to relax enough just to get into her bed, she’d only had the concrete floor of a breeding shed and was so unfamiliar with comfort and care that it frightened her. I found that by sharing our regular days and details of Susie-Belle’s challenges to adapt to life in a home, I could reach people and show them how wrong it is that dogs are kept in puppy farms, breeding kennels and sheds. 

Give us a a brief description of your books/novels.

Saving Susie-Belle is the first book that’s inspired by my dogs. It shares the first year of us living with Susie-Belle. Since then I’ve written two more for adults and two for younger readers. 

Saving One More is the one I call ’Twinkle’s book’. We adopted her 18 months after Susie-Belle. Tiwnkle had major psychological damage caused by eight years spent in a puppy farm. She never fully recovered her mental well being but during the six and a half years we shared she did learn how to enjoy her life. The book also looks beyond my own dogs at the wider picture, the global puppy business and the things we should all be aware of when we care about, and love dogs. It really is a major crisis what is happening in the puppy trade today.

The two books for younger readers are a collaboration with illustrator Annabel Knight. ‘Saving Maya’ is for readers aged 8 and over and is a fictional story closely based on my own dogs. It was a finalist in the People’s Book Prize in 2016 and since publication the reviews have been really encouraging. I am inspired daily by how I’m told the book is influencing the puppy buyers of the future. Just last week I received a wonderful short story written by a young reader whose teacher sent it to me saying her pupil had been inspired to write her own story about kitten farming. This is exactly the empathy and compassion I hope my writing might encourage.

 I founded a charity in 2019, Schnauzerfest and part of the ethos is to celebrate the simple pleasure of being out walking with our dogs. Something breeding dogs never get to enjoy. The picture book, Did Somebody Say Walk?, is a celebration of this. 

My most recent book, Why Love Is Not EnoughIs a guide for people looking to adopt, or who may have adopted dogs from traumatic backgrounds like my own dogs. Dogs who haven’t lived before with humans and have everything to learn, and the humans likewise.

All my books now support the charity Schnauzerfest. When bought from the Schnauzerfest online shop, all proceeds are donated to the charity. I also donate to Schnauzerfest all my royalties from sales made elsewhere. 

What was the biggest challenge you had writing your books?

How to stop procrastinating! It is common I know with writers, and for me it’s a big one. I can spend hours every day dithering and not really seeming to create many good words. Getting the first draft done is the hardest stage. But, then, suddenly, after months of not appearing to create much, it comes together. I often use my dogs as excuses not to sit and hammer out the words, taking them for a walk is more enjoyable than the hard work of book writing some days!

What’s next for you, writing-wise?

I am currently working on the most personal book I’ve written. A memoir of my journey through adoption of Susie-Belle which occurred at what was the most difficult period in my life for various reasons, to where I founded a charity in her memory. It has been a decade of huge change, bereavement and loss for me, but at the same time, many positives, not least the dogs who I have been lucky to share my life with. It is a little scary to write about what are quite personal issues, but it feels like the right time now. There’s been time for me to reflect and understand the path I am on

Tell us about your own dogs —their names, and something unique or amusing about them.

Currently we have four dogs: Renae was born in 2010, it’s hard to believe that she is now in her senior years. She was Susie-Belle’s companion and at just 9 months old when we adopted Susie-Belle Renae was a super little friend for her. She has since been the perfect sister to Twinkle who sadly died in 2019, and our current band, Cerise, Angel and Albert Claude.

All have come from the puppy farm industry, Cerise and Angel were breeding dogs, Albert Claude was a puppy who was bred in one of the UK’s largest puppy farms, sold to a dealer, sold in a petshop and given up to a rescue the next day, all before he was five months old. While sold as a miniature schnauzer he has the longest legs you’ve ever seen for a mini, and we know he is not a full miniature. We call him Laddy Long Legs! And with those long legs he leaps happily through his days, keeping his sisters playing with him, one by one!


Where can readers go to find out more information about you and your books?

My website, janettaharvey.com  and I am active on social media. Many of our daily dog walks appear on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.