Our Latest News
Why Dogs’ first school visit for 2019
Earlier this year Greg had the pleasure of visiting year one and two students at Albuera Street Primary School in Hobart. The students and staff really engaged with Greg’s presentation on ‘the power of the imagination’ and enjoyed listening to stories of Greg’s childhood growing up on Flinders Island.
The students had their own fascinating theories on puppy behaviour, which they were very keen to share with Greg. The school will now use the books, along with the Why Dogs Education Resource Kit in their inquiry-based studies. A local film crew captured Greg’s visit and we are excited to be sharing some of this footage in the coming weeks.
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That’s right, folks… Why Dogs is off to New York, New York!
Greg and Jacinta will be traveling to the USA in May to attend and exhibit the Why Dogs series at the BookExpo America. The three-day expo will be held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center from 29-31 May and is the largest book show in the United States, attracting top buyers globally.
They look forward to meeting new people and sharing the series with a new audience.
Stay tuned for photos!
Facebook Competition Winners
In August, Why Dogs ran a competition on our Facebook page, where entrants were asked to share a photo or video of their dog displaying their kooky and quirky personality. We were overwhelmed with over 200 entries from all over Australia—all of which were equally wonderful. The winner was determined by how many ‘likes’ or reactions received. We were thrilled to reward our winner, Tracy Seychell and her magnificent pooch, Ivy, with the prize of all five hardcover books and a bonus audio CD of the books.
We were blown away by Tracy’s reaction to the win, as well as her decision to generously donate the gifts to children with disabilities or illness. The Why Dogs CD, featuring audio recordings of all 5 books (available on our website) has been gifted by Tracy and Ivy to the vision impaired/blind students at Narbethong State Special School.
Author Greg Ray thoughtfully concluded there should be more than one winner, and declared Katie Gillespie and her dog, Ollie, the winners of the ‘Author’s Choice’ award, gifting them the same prize. Katie was thrilled to receive her prize and has already put the books to use, reading them to her daughter, Zoe.
Katie posted: “Today we received an incredible surprise in the mail! The beautifully written and illustrated Why Dogs books and CD! Thank you so much for selecting Ollie (and Zoe) to win this amazing prize. The books are beautiful, as was the kind and individual little authors notes included with each book! Thank you for the opportunity to win these prizes and I would highly recommend this series to every child that loves dogs!”
Don’t you just love a happy ending?
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Big book donation to drought-stricken families
The children of drought-stricken farmers in New South Wales are about to receive a special gift – a free copy of one of our Why Dogs books, which author Greg Ray is hopeful will help lift their spirits.
Greg was recently contacted by Rev Lorna Magen, a co-founder of Sydneycare, a not-for-profit, volunteer-based community services organisation, who wanted to buy some of Greg’s books to gift to both children and their families in drought affected areas of the state.
Greg met the order at a discounted rate as well as donating an additional 100 books, each signed with a personalised note from Greg about the importance of farmers and their farm dogs to the community.
Greg, who grew-up in rural Tasmania, including his first six years on Flinders Island, says he understands how challenging country life can be when times get tough.
“Hopefully the books will give some kids and their families a good laugh and help lift their spirits,” Greg said.
“I don’t think many city people fully understand the stress on farmers and their families. It’s not only tough financially, but they have to witness the suffering of their animals and that can be really hard. My heart goes out to them.
“But just like their farm dogs, farmers and their families are always on the job. We should be forever grateful to them.”
Why Dogs strikes distribution deal
Why Dogs has reached an agreement with Beaglier Books to distribute the Why Dogs series to gift shops and book retailers across Australia and New Zealand, excluding Tasmania and those retailers who already stock our books through an existing arrangement.
Why Dog’s Managing Director, Jacinta says the agreement with Beaglier Books stemmed from a recommendation made to Beaglier by the owner of Fancy on Ferguson, a beautiful gift and fashion shop in Williamstown, Melbourne.
The owner of Fancy on Ferguson discovered the Why Dogs books at Salamanca Market while on a visit to Hobart and fell in love with them. She subsequently suggested to Beaglier Books, who supply her store, that they should try to secure the distribution rights.
Jacinta says that when she and husband Greg, the author of the Why Dogs books, met Beaglier’s Managing Director, Claudine Zuker, it was almost immediately clear an arrangement would be reached. “We simply think alike,” she explains.
Greg, who normally takes a sceptical view of the publishing and distribution industry, says the key to the distribution arrangement with Beaglier was their wish to establish a mutually rewarding business partnership. “That was precisely the approach we wanted to hear,” he says.
Why Dogs – a big hit at national gift fair
A first-time presence at the Reid Gift Fair in Melbourne in August has resulted in the Why Dogs series now being stocked in more than 30 gift shops and books stores stretching from Newman in Western Australia to Mackay in Queensland and from Darwin in the Northern Territory to Williamstown in Victoria. And, of course, in all the major population centres of Tasmania.
That success was achieved despite being accommodated at the Showgrounds instead of the Melbourne Exhibition Centre in the heart of Melbourne – one of the challenges of being a first-time exhibitor at Australia’s biggest gift fair.
Despite this handicap, the books proved a huge hit with shop owners from across the country. It resulted in immediate sales of nearly 600 books. And since then, there have already been follow-up orders from shops who have already sold their initial order.
It was partly that level of demand which helped prompt the distribution agreement reached with Beaglier Books.
“They will provide us with the network we need to ensure our books are available through as many retail outlets as possible,” Jacinta says.
The Why Dogs books celebrate their 1st Birthday
We turned one-year of age on 9 September.
That was the date last year that our books went on sale for the first time at the renowned Salamanca Market in Hobart.
“We were a little apprehensive on that first Saturday,” admits Managing Director, Jacinta Ray.
“While we were outwardly confident, in truth we were a little unsure just how our books would be accepted. Fortunately, that sense of apprehension didn’t last long. The immediate popularity of the series swept us off our feet. It hasn’t stopped since.”
On the first day, only three books were available Why Dogs Chase Cats, Why Dogs Circle to Lie Down and Why Dogs Don’t Bark at Santa. In the time since, two more books have been added to the series – Why Dogs Bury Bone and Why Dogs Sniff Bums.
Jacinta says the biggest challenge over the past year has been to take one step at a time and to know our limitations. We were determined on not getting ahead of ourselves.
“That has meant rejecting, for example, an offer from a British publisher who wanted the European rights to Why Dogs Don’t Bark at Santa.
“Greg has always been determined not to ‘rise to the first bait’, as he puts it. His philosophy has been to crawl, walk, run for mistake-free success. That’s our approach to marketing the books.
“In the next decade, we want the Why Dogs series to be a leading international series of children’s books,” Jacinta says.
Our very latest book Why Dogs Sniff Bums has arrived and is for sale through our website, our Salamanca Market stall and through listed stockists.
Have you ever wondered why
When dogs meet they’re never shy
In sniffing each other end on end
Without ever seeming to offend?
Dogs alone share this habit.
It’s not for cats, mice or rabbits.
They prefer to muzzle and cuddle.
So why dogs do it is a puzzle.
But there is a reason for dogs to scrum
And excitedly sniff each other’s bum.
The story begins with a doggy dance
And ends in the strangest of circumstance.
It is a very funny as well as a very old story. As best we can determine, it appears to have originated in the United Kingdom many years ago. Since then it has travelled the world. The story was told to Greg by his mother when he was just a boy. However, his version, written in rhyming verse, is unique.
While he doesn’t like to admit it, this is Greg’s favourite in the series, and not just because the story is hilarious and Jenny Miller’s illustrations fantastic, but because it reminds him of his late mother, who he describes as a wonderful person, teacher and storyteller.
We would love to tell you more about the book, but we don’t want to spoil the surprise of reading it. However, as the excerpt above reveals, it’s all about a chance event at a doggy dance.
Since the book arrived, we have been busily posting out copies to all those who had placed advance orders, and the feedback so far has been terrific.
On request, Greg has been visiting Tasmanian schools to talk to his young readers about the Why Dogs series, as well as the stories he plans to write in the future. His visits have ranged from primary schools with nearly 200 students to an isolated country school with only 16 primary school students.
Greg admits to being surprised at the extensive use of his books in schools to stimulate the imagination of students. He has seen how students have used watercolour painting to replicate Jenny Miller’s beautiful illustrations, while others have used origami to produce miniature dogs.
Many of the children Greg talks to are particularly interested to know how he began his career as an author. Greg says it comes from a long-held love of writing, having once worked as a journalist and TV reporter for the ABC. He then set up his own public relations business. So, writing has always been at the centre of his professional career. He began writing children’s books some years ago but could not find the right person to do the illustrations.
When he finally advertised for an illustrator, Greg received dozens of submissions. However, only one of them captured his imagination. It was from Jenny Miller who, fortunately for Greg, is a fellow Tasmanian. They have been partnering successfully ever since – producing the beautifully illustrated stories that make-up the Why Dogs series.
Greg and Jenny are currently working on even further additions to the Why Dog series. The next book will be Why Dogs are Man’s Best Friend, but it won’t be ready for release for some time yet.
There has been an amazing response from primary school teachers to the Why Dogs series, which has prompted us to engage the services of an experienced, professional educationer to develop a rich resource to assist teachers to use the series in their classrooms.
The Why Dogs Educational Resource Kit includes discussion questions, comprehension activities and even a playscript, all aligned with possible key learning areas, themes and ideas and content descriptions drawn from the Australian National Curriculum. Additionally, the kit equips teachers with printable classroom displays, borders and biographies of both the author and illustrator.
In a pilot study, we have invited selected teachers in Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales to trial the resource kit and provide us with comment and feedback. When the study is completed in mid-July, we will provide you with the detailed results. However, preliminary reaction has been terrific.
You can learn more about our education program on our Schools page.