Draper has taught his adopted brother Zane a lot in the short year they’ve lived together.
Like a good big brother, Draper has shown Zane how to jump off the dock at the lake, swim and most importantly he’s taught him patience.
Draper is an eight-year-old golden retriever and Zane is a one-year-old rescue pup, and they both live with their owner Angela Murphy.
“Zane comes from a trauma background and he needs extra practice and repetition to learn new self-regulation skills and Draper helps him with that,” says Murphy.
It’s these two dogs who we meet as the characters in Murphy’s new children’s book, Speak Up, Wonder Pup. It’s the first in a series of books — geared towards kids aged four to eight — teaching self-regulation strategies for all children, especially those who have experienced complex trauma, like Zane.
Zane was born last winter underneath a van on Sts’ailes First Nation near Harrison Mills where Murphy works. She brought the puppies to the SPCA where they were put in foster homes. When Murphy went to check on the dogs at the SPCA two months later, she ended up adopting Zane.
Draper was “jealous but tolerant” when he met Zane says Murphy, “and eventually they grew to love each other.”
Murphy is an educator and school psychologist at Sts’ailes Community School, and also a complex trauma coach (Complex Trauma Resources, with psychologist Dr. Chuck Geddes). With this background and watching Draper as Zane’s teacher, she combined the two for her Wonder Pup series with the help of illustrator Davis Graham.
In the first book, Draper teaches Zane three simple steps to stand up for himself in a calm and caring way. First Zane is too shy in his delivery to the other dog who’s upset him, then too aggressive, and then he speaks up in the correct way.
She says the book gives children “the language to stand up for themselves in a positive way.”
Draper and Zane are lovingly illustrated by Graham throughout the book. It’s the first time he’s done cartoon drawings of dogs, and it’s his first time being published in a book.
Graham, who also goes by the nickname Pencil Fingerz, drew about 30 illustrations in eight weeks for Speak Up, Wonder Pup. He took videos of Draper and Zane and then screenshot different angles of the dogs to create the illustrations.
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Seven other dogs are illustrated by Graham in the book as well, all of which are pups belonging to family and friends of Murphy.
Though she does not have any children of her own, Murphy is with them every day at her place of work, plus she fostered three children over the holidays saying it was a “heart-opening experience.”
She is hoping to write a total of 10 Wonder Pup books, one for each month of the school year. Her next book, Breathe Up, Wonder Pup, teaches children how to breathe mindfully in a fun way.
Another one on the list will be Cuddle Up, Wonder Pup about different kinds of families, focusing on foster and adoptive families.
“This is near to my heart because through my complex trauma work, I work with many foster and adoptive families, many of the children at our school are in care, and Zane was fostered, then adopted. [It’s a] perfect story line,” she says.
There will be a book launch for Speak Up, Wonder Pup on Wednesday, June 26 from 7 to 10 p.m. at The Town Butcher (301-5580 Vedder Rd.) where books will be on sale for $15.
People can also buy a copy on Amazon.ca (ebook or paperback), or by contacting Murphy directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.