As you can see, Bliss was a real dog. In fact, she was a Red Setter who lived on a farm in Badgingarra (yes that’s a real place - google it - middle of nowhere, Western Australia).
Her owner, Mrs Jones, had offered to teach me how to ride a horse when I was about 11 years old. Her daughter and I became great friends and I spent most of my weekends riding with her at the farm. Bliss was a very beloved part of the family, but she was different to the working dogs - Chip and Boot. Boot was an awarding winning sheepdog - he was fast and smart and obedient and also a really sweet dog. Chip was his son (chip off the ole’ block; or Boot as it turns out). I actually feel a bit guilty that I’ve used his name to create a not-so-nice character. That’s a little unfair; maybe I should write a disclaimer for the imprint pages? What do you think?
Bliss would often come riding with us and I still remember those big red ears and long tongue flopping along next to us as we cantered down a fire-break. She could easily leap over most things that found themselves in her way (whereas Chip & Boot often bounced across the top). She was obviously too heavy to help out with the sheep so she didn’t (at least, not that I remember).
I wanted to write a children’s book about different personalities; about recognising the value in a quiet, shy, curious kid. I see it with my own children where the athletic, outgoing and bold is more valued than the shy. Maybe it’s because we notice them more. Maybe it’s because they somehow demand more attention of us. But, I have an introvert and her quiet, subtle way of adding value to her networks is overlooked more often than I like to admit. I wanted to write about her experiences and highlight those positive attributes in a playground context. I wanted the athletic, outgoing and bold to take a moment to recognise the quiet, shy and curious. Working out how was difficult - until I remembered Bliss.