Please introduce yourself and your books!
I’m Amber Higgins, the author of three books that tell dog owners how to use the family dog to find missing loved ones and help during disasters. I’ve also self-published a short story called, “A Squirrel Planted an Acorn”.
I always was a writer and dog lover. My work was first published offline in the 1990’s in magazines and newspapers, including a weekly herbal health column that ran two years. I set writing aside for about fifteen years to volunteer with my bloodhounds and German shepherds I raised, trained and placed nationwide for search and rescue work. I’ve worked with pets since 1976 as a professional master groomer, dog trainer and pet business owner until recently semi-retiring to spend more time writing.
What is the story behind your book(s)?
When the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, we were awakened at 3 am by tsunami sirens and evacuation phone calls on the Oregon coast where I was living writing other books. As I was watching the event unfold on television because we lived on a hill and were safe, I looked at my bloodhound Daisy who sat next to me and the idea for the Family Disaster Dog books dawned on me.
All of a sudden I thought of the many ways our dogs can help us! Family dogs can learn how to help their owners like search dogs do! Our own dogs can find us! They do this everyday when they want to play or go outside, our dogs are always wishing to follow us so why not ask them to find people they love who may be lost or trapped after an earthquake or tsunami ? Dogs can carry evacuation bags for young children, seniors and disabled family members who cannot carry the weight themselves!
That night, I began writing the “Family Disaster Dogs” book and lessons tailored to fit any dog’s household and family. Every dog can do something ! One simple skill may save a life. I knew that writing a book and publishing takes time so I started a blog to reach dog owners as I wrote the book. Right away, people online loved the idea!
Today, there are over two hundred Family Disaster Dogs articles online and the site has daily visitors from all over the world. The original Family Disaster Dogs book was published in 2015 by a publisher who went out of business 2016. I added 50 more pages of lessons and self-published the second edition in 2017 along with a small but helpful book called Evacuate with Your Dog’s Help-Survival Bag List.
My children’s book with illustrations by UK dog cartoonist, Scotty King, was recently released by Waldorf Publishing (2019).
What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?
I was surprised that dogs and owners as far away as Scotland and Australia were learning from what I posted on the blog! This encouraged me to keep the lesson ideas flowing, they were learning valuable skills with their dogs and what to do in emergencies to help themselves and communities. The best thing was that people wanted to know more. The worst experience was my first publisher going out of business a year after publishing the book.
What are your plans for future books?
I have two more children’s books in this genre planned and three other children books in draft I wrote years ago, along with a novel almost completed.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
I once lived on a mountain top 4 miles to the nearest electric pole and wrote by the flame of an oil lantern. I wrote my young daughter children books for Christmas on an old royal typewriter under the glow of the oil lamp. One day I will self-publish those books I have carried around in draft for thirty years.
Amazon author page is https://www.amazon.com/Amber-Higgins/
Twitter is @URdogCanRescueU
Facebook author page is https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmberHiggins/
Facebook Family Disaster Dogs page is https://www.facebook.com/familydisasterdogs/