The real Shimmer.

February

The real Shimmer.
Hi everyone
If you’ve been following my blogs, then you will know that my new book A Home for Shimmer came out on January 29th, so I thought I’d write a little about what inspired it.
Well, not surprisingly it was a real white golden retriever called Shimmer.
It all started when a fellow writer and friend, Karen McCombie, told me about one of my readers up called Amy in Scotland who loved and had read all by books. I sent her an email and she replied then we got to know each other better on Facebook. I also got to know her parents, David and Isabel, and David told me about Amy’s situation and why her bond with her dog is so important to their family.
When Amy was eight years old, she had life saving surgery after a tumour was found. She was very poorly after the operation and whilst in hospital, one of the nurses told her and her mum about her dogs which were golden retrievers and what lovely pets they were. The seed was sown!
When Amy got home, life was bleak for a while because she was still very poorly, had to be off school and her parents felt like she needed some cheering up. They made some calls and found that there was a white golden retriever puppy that they could maybe have. The puppy was meant to go to someone else but at the last minute, he decided it was too soon after the death of his last dog to have another. David and Isabel picked the puppy up two days later and she was christened Shimmer. David told me that Shimmer brought fun and laughter back into the house and has done ever since. She also helped Amy with her recovery and made her want to go outside again as well as learn to walk again.
Shimmer has her own Facebook page and it is written as though Shimmer is posting on there herself with regular updates about ‘her girl.’ It’s a great page full of photos of Amy and Shimmer, quotes and funny occurrences from every day life and lots of photos of Shimmer at different times of year – like in a Christmas hat or in the snow or playing in the sea in August. (You can see Shimmer in the photos attached)
I began to check in regularly and they also checked in to my page and we became Facebook friends and now have regular Skype visits. Amy and her family like books and animals so we were bound to become friends!
Amy is thirteen now and strikes me as an amazing girl. She’s an avid reader, loves books and gets through them so fast! Her health problems will be with her all her life and because of hospital stays, appointments and checkups, she has had to miss out on some of the companionship of friends at school so Shimmer has been such a great friend for her. This year, Shimmer got a younger sister, called Saffy, so the fun and games continue. I can see from Facebook that Saffy is such a character (bit of madam I think!) and apparently very affectionate and devoted to Amy.
When I had the idea to write a book about a girl whose family think about starting an animal rescue centre, I wanted one of the star characters to be a dog – and I thought, I have to call her Shimmer and make her a golden retriever. The family kindly sent me lots of anecdotes about Shimmer – what she got up to, her favourite foods, her naughty traits and really helped create the Shimmer for my book.
So now the real Shimmer is a star and you can see her and ‘her girl’ on my Facebook page on the cover photo.
I think the real Amy’s story illustrates how a dog can bring such comfort and happiness to a house and although in my book, the main character’s (also called Amy) story is different, her life does change for the better after a golden retriever puppy comes into her life. Yes, dogs are a responsibility and a commitment but they can bring such companionship and joy to their owners. I don’t have a dog but do have three cats and so can appreciate how a pet can enhance life. I love getting home to see their furry faces in the hall. They’re all such funny and different characters and our house would seem empty without them.
I often get asked where I get the ideas for my books so now you know the real story behind an inspiration for A Home for Shimmer.
Bye for now
Cathy