Dream of writing a children’s book becomes a reality

When I started writing this pet column two years ago, I was fulfilling a longtime dream for myself.

However, I did not comprehend the number of people that the stories and information I shared would touch in such a positive way. I think I enjoy receiving cards, letters, notes and emails from readers as much as I do writing each column.

I thought my heart was full of all things pet until last year when I received an offer from the Mirror to do another extraordinary thing — write a children’s book! I jumped at the chance. What a dream come true!

Right away, my husband and I knew the story had to be about Oakley, our golden retriever who escaped for nearly a full day once upon a time while we were vacationing in Cape May, N.J., giving me heart failure (I had taken him off his leash to go to the bathroom and he got away from me) but giving us a story to tell friends for years after.

If you don’t remember Oakley (who crossed the Rainbow Bridge in 2016), our shy boy never grew accustomed to humans after being raised in a kennel, the book provides a chance to re-learn all about this special soul. His story certainly has been good for a laugh (and occasionally a heavy sigh) and now I have a chance to share it again.

We are getting ready to send the book to the printers as I write this column with an on-sale date of May 1 as our target. Should I reveal the title of the book now or wait until next week? Oh, decisions, decisions!

Because the story is about our rescue boy, Oakley, $1 from the sale of each book will go to one of several rescue organizations that can be found in the back of the book. These rescue organizations are among some of my favorite and while we had so many to pick from, we chose these four to represent our love for what rescues do for the sweet souls they save.

If we sell the book in an area outside of Blair County, we’ll pick a rescue organization that best represents that area to make a donation based on the proceeds of the sales of those books.

Starting May 1, the book — OK, OK, it’s titled “Oakley’s Great Cape Escape,” you got it out of me — can be purchased at the Altoona Mirror offices, 301 Cayuga Ave., between

8 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays or online at www


Presales will start online earlier if you wish to reserve your copy before they go on sale.

At the end of the book, the fictional Oakley learns a very valuable lesson, just as I did writing it. I didn’t have to stray too far from my own heart to find the greatest love of all … for me, that is, my passion for animals. For Oakley… Well, you’ll just have to read the book.

Look for more information in next week’s column about how “Oakley’s Great Cape Escape” came together as a children’s book.

Amy is the author “Have Dog Will Blog,” editor of the Central PA Pets magazine and director of the Central PA Pet Expo. She can be contacted at ahanna@altoonamirror.com or by mail: Paws and Reflect, c/o Amy J. Hanna-Eckenrode, Altoona Mirror, 301 Cayuga Ave., Altoona, PA 16602.