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Ozzy’s Tale

posted April 15th, 2016 by
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Ozzy’s Tale

By Holly Brady Clay

How One Dog’s Story Became A Book And Is Still Teaching Lessons Along The Way

It has been said, “Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.” I believe this is true more than ever. Let me introduce Ozzy to you (also known as Scooburt), my lovable 8-year-old mutt I adopted when he was 18 months old. The decision to adopt Ozzy was the absolute best “worst” decision I ever made. 

Ozzy was very “special” from the beginning. It was not until I stood at the desk of the shelter to adopt Ozzy that I heard his very fascinating backstory.  Ozzy had previously been adopted—twice—before being returned to the shelter both times by his previous owners. It seems his former owners, who shamed Ozzy by changing his name to Winston, owned a delicate set of china dolls.  Maybe he was speaking out in angst against his newfound dog name, but, whatever his motive, he did not waste any time shredding the dolls to pieces, leaving his new owners a little more than frustrated. While for some this should have been a warning sign, I ignored all indications that he might be trouble. If I had only known what I was getting myself into! 

The day I drove Ozzy home from the shelter I experienced what I refer to as the “bad side of Ozzy.” While in line at Petsmart—my cart full of overpriced toys and dog food, all of which I really couldn’t afford—Ozzy chewed through his leash and broke free. If that wasn’t warning enough, the next indication he was special was the countless undergarments Ozzy stealthily stole and tore up, which belonged to my wonderful and ever-so patient roommate. Another indication he was “special” was the fact that he ran away from me every single chance he could as I embarrassingly chased him for miles down the road.

Call it blind love, but from the day I brought him home it truly was love at first sight. I always compare it to what my mother would tell me as a child: “It doesn’t matter how many mistakes you make, I could never stop loving you.” Well, I didn’t have a biological human child that I carried in my womb for 9 months and then miraculously gave birth to, but I finally got what she meant after all those years. No matter what he did, I still loved him. He followed me everywhere. I couldn’t be out of his sight. 

I never even knew I needed a companion in the bathroom with me! Because of this “needy” bond, we had some issues when I would leave the house. It was nothing major; a few loaves of bread would go missing, and a package of potato chips here and there disappeared mysteriously. There was also the time he stole an entire birthday cake.  Oh, and the entire plate of hamburgers that vanished. There was the dozen or so bagels incident, a tub of cream cheese, a whole pineapple, (yes, whole with the prickly covering) bananas, avocados, and potatoes… Suffice it to say, Ozzy had some learning to do. 

Through the years and with much patience, Ozzy has matured into a very well-behaved dog. We moved to Colorado together as I finished up my undergraduate degree in film, video and media. I have always been drawn to a creative lifestyle and often find myself documenting stories, whether through writing, photography or film. So one cold, wintery day in the small, mountain valley where I resided, I grabbed a pen and paper and started writing. I looked at Ozzy, and endless stories popped into my head. How could they not? I wish I could say all this just happened overnight, and then “poof!” I had a book. Quite honestly, it took me several years to find the motivation to complete my story, but once I did, the book title seemed obvious: “Scooburt Steals a Meatball.” 

What better story to write about than a dog that steals food! I submitted it to Tate Publishing out of Mustang, Okla., and together we collaborated to bring Ozzy’s story to life. This could not have been done without the help from one truly amazing friend, Zay Shaeffer. Zay, an Oklahoma native, is responsible for all of the artwork in the book, and he is truly a present day Dr. Seuss. He invokes passion and humor into every single one of his art pieces, and because of this, I knew he had to do the artwork for the book. 

The premise behind the book is about Scooburt stealing a meatball from a Great Meatball Clerk, but then understanding what he did was wrong. The lesson goes much deeper than that, delving into what it means to have a conscience and how we determine right from wrong. It is a humorous tale of a tail but with a great message for kids. The book was finalized and released in the summer of 2012. Since then, we have had many great opportunities to share Ozzy’s story, as well as the importance of adopting shelter pets. Ozzy and I have traveled throughout Oklahoma, visiting numerous elementary schools. Our main goal behind visiting schools is not only the one-on-one interaction that students are given with having a dog visit their school, but also to teach them kindness to animals.

It is also important to help them understand if they have a dream, nothing can stop them from pursuing it. I explain that I wanted to write children’s books from an early age and made it happen with perseverance. When you are 8 years old and a dog visits your school, it is safe to assume the dog must be famous. We hear kids screaming from the hall-ways about the famous Scooburt! Kids line up for hugs, and Ozzy adores them. Sometimes a good hug from a dog is all you need to turn your day around. 

As far as continuing the Scooburt series, I do have plans    for more books in the near future. You can stay up-to-date on “The Adventures of Scooburt Humperdink” by visiting    our Facebook page at facebook.com/scooburthumperdink or visiting our website (hollybrady.tatepublishing.com). For signed copies, send us a Facebook message.

Seven years later, Ozzy and I have been through some rough patches, but I wouldn’t trade him (or the experiences together) for the world. Just like so many things in life, with patience and willpower we can make anything happen. I believe the same was true for my book, as well as Ozzy. He needed someone to believe in him, and I knew I could be that person. Adopting a dog isn’t easy, but it is so rewarding. Everyone can do his or her part.

As for Ozzy, he thinks I changed his world forever, but he has no idea how much he has changed mine.