Dogs at Charbonneau park inspire book about diversity
When Melanie Richardson Dundy and her dogs, Murphy and Charlie, approach Edith Green Memorial Park in Charbonneau, a swarm of dogs scampers toward them to say hello. Then, the dogs run and play before laying down on the grass together.
Touched by the friendship of the dogs and the dog owners at the park, the Charbonneau resident decided to write a children's book about it.
Her book, "The Park Puppies," is about dogs that look different and come from different backgrounds coming together and learning to res-
pect and appreciate one another. It's available on Amazon.com.
"It's situations children can relate to, but sometimes they're easier to understand when seen through the eyes of a cute little puppy," Dundy said.
Dundy has written and self-published many books over the years, including some to help her son — who has a deformed leg — become more confident and embrace his uniqueness.
Her books include "The Oregon Trail: Ollie's Great Adventure," about an ox pulling a wagon for pioneers embarking on the Oregon Trail, and "How Do I Know God Loves Me?" a spirituality book for children.
A couple years ago, she and her friend helped start the dog group that meets at Edith Green Memorial Park daily. Group members became fast friends, sometimes joining one another for happy hour.
"I think it's great," said dog park regular Tom Conway. "We're all over 50, more over 60, some over 70. It does us a world of good to go out and get fresh air and watch our pooches run around. It's humorous and a lot of fun."
Dundy added: "They're my people now. They're wonderful people. It's what Charbonneau is all about."
During these strolls through the park, Dundy noticed that dogs ranging from Australian shepherds to malteses play together despite their difference and wondered why people can't do the same. And with encouragement from fellow dog owners, she decided to write the book.
The dogs in the book are initially uncomfortable with one another but become friends as the book progresses.
"With the political environment the way it is, people aren't very nice to each other. It hit me that we can learn a lot from these dogs that are very diverse and get along fine," she said.
And the names and illustrations in the book mirror the dogs at the Charbonneau park.
"It's fantastic," Conway said of seeing his two dogs in the book. "It's just great."
Dundy hopes to show the book at local schools and is scheduled to visit a Canby school soon. For more information, visit her website at childrensbooksbymelanie.com.
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