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February 14, 2024


Behind the Scenes of With My Dog, a Celebration of Friendship

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To love a dog is to know the comforts of companionship and the joys of doing life with a friend by your side. Our kids’ kit With My Dog invites little ones to explore what it means to be a good friend. Featuring a cuddly dog plush and companion storybook, the interactive kit offers children fun ways to learn about empathy and kindness, all with their doggie friend (minus the shedding hair and pooper scoopers of pet ownership!).

We asked author Miriam Hathaway and illustrator Tisha Lee to share about their process in creating With My Dog’s sweet storybook. Here is what they had to say:

What inspired you to write about friendship?

Miriam: Being alone is a universal fear for children. And what’s the antidote for that? Friendship! I wanted to create a companion so that a child could gain courage and confidence in facing their fears. That’s one of the best things about friendship––a trusted friend gives you a safe place to grow and try new things!

What made you choose a dog as the character to help convey this message?

Miriam: One of the reasons I was inspired by a dog as a friend was after learning about therapy dogs that are used to help children with things like learning to read. These dogs relieve anxiety for the child and offer a nonjudgmental, non-interrupting audience to practice skills with. These are benefits that we all get from friendship too: we get to discover things on our own terms, our self-esteem grows, and our communication and social skills blossom. In this way, when you have a friend, you’re never actually alone. With My Dog encourages your child to feel seen, heard, and supported as they grow and take on new skills.

What do you hope kids will experience as they read the book and interact with the plush?

Miriam: I sincerely hope kids enjoy reading the book while snuggling their plush friend! Tisha Lee did a phenomenal job bringing this sweet story to life. Her illustrations are filled with such heart that it’s just a joy to read. I also hope, in the process of reading, kids discover new ways to be a good friend.

Is there a spread that stands out to you?

Miriam: I really like the spread that reads, “With my dog, my words are important. My dog listens to me, and I listen too. (Even if it’s in dog language!)” On the left page, the child is talking to the dog with his hand on it, the dog meeting the boy’s eyes, listening intently. On the right side, the dog is holding a bowl in its mouth, wagging its tail, clearly communicating what it wants!

Listening is a huge part of being a friend. It’s about balancing each other’s needs and recognizing the other one’s cues. Listening can be hard, and it’s a skill that we could all practice more. I like that Tisha was able to show that taking turns listening, really listening, is important––even with a dog friend.

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Tisha, your illustrations highlight the vibrancy of friendship. What do you hope people will experience as they read through the book?

Tisha: I’d like people to be reminded of the simple joys of hanging out with their dogs and the benefits of children having the freedom to roam. The imagery is slightly based off my own experiences in childhood, living in a rural town. I’d get to wander a mile or two from home as long as I had our dog with me. Sometimes running into the unknown was a bit scary but it was also pretty magical looking back at all the things we did together—finding hidden paths, wading through creek beds, seemingly getting lost, and running back home after hearing a whistle, which meant it was time for dinner.

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What mediums did you use to create the illustrations?

Tisha: I used gouache for the whole book. I painted most of the elements separate from each other so I could color “outside the lines” and get some interesting textures. I then scanned the pieces into Photoshop and digitally put everything together to create each scene in the book.

Do you each have a favorite moment in the creative process?

Tisha: It was really a joy to create the dog character in the book. In fact, this was probably the most fun I’ve had on a book to date! The variations in dogs’ physical characteristics are so fun to observe and paint that I’m sure I’d be happy only painting dogs for the rest of my life!

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Miriam: I just happened to have a puppy at home when I started writing With My Dog, so I had real life examples of dog companionship! The best part was when I told our dog trainer about the book, and I asked her if she had any advice to give kids in befriending a dog. She said, “Use kind hands and voices.” And this made it in the book! (Thank you, Sydney!)


Help a child in your life explore the wonders of having and being a good friend with this engaging gift set. Discover With My Dog today.

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