By Rachel M. Anderson, Freelance Writer
(Wayzata, Minn.) - Snort, also known as Sensei, was Suzann Wancket-Yue's beloved pet Boxer. Her family's dog passed away of old age in 2005, but not before teaching Wancket-Yue some of life's most valuable lessons...lessons she wanted to share with others.
Her pastor, Dan Johnson of Plymouth Covenant Church posed a life-changing question during one of his sermons which was, "What will you leave on this Earth once you're gone?" This question inspired the eight-time world karate champion to write a children's book about Snort. "It became important that I write a book about Snort. This book will honor her memory and hopefully always be a help to pet lovers. I believe it can help other families deal with their losses," Wancket-Yue explained.
Shortly after making the decision to share Snort's story, Wancket-Yue sat down and started to write. Once she had the manuscript for a children's book in her hands she presented it to Beaver's Pond Press of Edina, Minn. Their acquisitions editor accepted it for publication and the process of getting it into print began.
Originally intended to be a sweet story about a family's love for their pet, Snort's Special Gift quickly turned into a story that could help others. Snort's Special Gift was published in the fall of 2011.
In the book, Wancket-Yue shares how her daughter, Savy, dealt with her loss of her family's beloved pet not by mourning Snort, but by celebrating her life. Especially touching is the part of the story where a teacher asks kids in Savy's class to write about someone special in their life, and Savy decides to write about Snort.
"Most of you probably wrote about people, but I wrote about my dog, Snort. I gave her this special name because she snored all night and kept me awake. Snort needed to go to heaven because she was very sick... Snort was special to me because she taught me important things."
When it comes to coping with their loss, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents keep in mind that grief is not a quick process and they will need to help their child cope. Parents should learn to anticipate grieving triggers and let the child know they are welcome to talk about their loss.
Other ways to help children work through their grief, create a memorial for the pet or person they lost, and encourage the child to write their thoughts down in a journal. Snort's Special Gift supports both of these grieving tools to help families with the loss of their pet. At the end of the book the author added a page families create themselves to remember their pet. There's a place to add a photograph of their pet and children can share special memories.
Snort's Special Gift is different from other books on loss in that it is a picture book with a story told in short, simple sentences that young children can understand. Wancket-Yue also carefully explains euthanasia in a sensitive and gentle way in her book. The illustrator, Lin Wang of Fremont, Calif., paid special attention to detail in all of her illustrations. Wancket-Yue says she chose Wang as her illustrator because of her great talent, and because she is originally from China. Both of Wancket-Yue's children were adopted from China.
"The book is wonderful. It made me cry which is a good thing. Kids need to grieve the loss of a pet and they need to have an outlet for expressing their feelings. This book will be a great resource to help kids cope with their loss. I plan on recommending this to my clients," says Dr. Carissa Williamson, the Yues' veterinarian.
Sherry Fonseth-Lais, a doctor of veterinary medicine and an assistant clinic professor in general practice at the University of Minnesota says, "Almost all of us, at some point in our lives, can relate to the heartbreaking loss of a beloved pet. Suzann Yue and Lin Wang, both figuratively and literally, paint a rich story of Snort, the charming and beautiful boxer dog. The artists offer a very gentle, gracious and effective way of tackling an emotional subject. The focus is on all of the wonderful treasures and lessons that Snort brought to the family, and the story becomes a celebration of life! This book will help a lot of people - children and adults - cherish and commemorate the pets in their relationships."
"I love this story! It's a refreshing take on the complexities of losing our family pets - both for children and grown-ups... I appreciate Suzann's insights and ideas for generating comfort and moving forward - a healthy perspective that helps us all to work through the sadness to bring forth the joy. Good wisdom to share and pass along," says Sue Forneris, Abby's human pet.
"The story is both emotional and educational. It deals well with a subject that all animal lovers can relate to. This story is one for anyone who ever loved a dog," says Steve Garren of Golden Valley, Minn.
"The story is really sweet. The kindness in dealing with the loss of the dog is heartfelt and told with tenderness," adds Doug Hutchings, President of the Foundation for Mercy and Unity Hospitals in the Twin Cities.
Snort's Special Gift retails for $17.95 and is available for purchase through the author's website, SuzannYue.com, direct from the publisher, www.BeaversPondBooks.com, through BarnesandNoble.com and at select bookstores everywhere.