Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

Local author presents book and message of kindness at Inkberry


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Murphy the three-legged dog served as inspiration for Niwot-based author Michelle Pendergrass' new book "Some dogs are different," which seeks to demystify physical challenges and celebrate differences.

Confused faces and the question "What's wrong with your dog?" follow Michelle Pendergrass and her three-legged pooch Murphy seemingly wherever they go.

In 2014, after breaking his leg another time, Pendergrass and her family decided to alleviate his pain and amputate Murphy's leg. "He won't be the same," veterinarians told them, and the vet was right--Murphy was faster than ever and found a new passion for life. Even so, fielding the constant questions about Murphy and his missing limb was tiring.

"It's sad, but even adults, we need to learn that everybody's got a difference," said Pendergrass. She explained that she and her family have learned so much from their beloved pup--that being different doesn't mean the end of the world. She argues that many times, differences are superficial, and instead wants to advocate for inclusion.

The idea for spreading this message in book form came to her during her son's soccer game. She brought Murphy along with her and was asked about his leg. This time, it clicked, so, combining her life-long love of dogs and her appreciation for writing, she decided to write a book about Murphy and other special dogs she knew.

"I goofed around trying to draw the pictures and used this website called storyjumper, which is for kids to write books," Pendergrass explained. With the help of her kids' preschool teacher, a graphic designer, and a local publisher, about a year after that inspirational game, Pendergrass had her book and was ready to share it with the community.

She's very grateful for the positive reception she's had for Some Dogs are Different, "I've been in tears many mornings reading messages from people [who like the book]." In fact, it was community members' love of the book that lead to Pendergrass presenting at Inkberry Books on Sunday.

Pendergrass does all the shipping for her story, and one day while in the Niwot Post Office, she met Gene Hayworth who enthusiastically invited her to do a reading.

Karen Copperberg

Pendergrass said, "We thought it'd be cool to show children that nothing's wrong with being different...My kids have learned so much from Murphy, we all have. And I hope other kids can now as well."

"It [the reading] was great, it was full, and Murphy came with--that's my favorite part of reading, to have kids see Murphy." The event was attended by about 50 local residents who were attentive to her story; afterward, they were able to receive a signed copy of the book with a paw print stamp of the three-legged cover dog Murphy, and added, "Lets celebrate our differences because we all belong."

In the future, Pendergrass hopes to write more books that explore other life topics, while still using dogs as the way to discuss them. As she puts it, Some Dogs are Different and books like it are great tools for harder conversations, especially with kids, and using dogs to demonstrate it makes it easier to confront.

"If we can teach kids [about differences] at a younger age, future generations will be a little more accepting," said Pendergrass. "Thank you [to the community] for being so accepting of the book."

You can keep up to date with Pendergrass, Murphy and his friends at somedogsaredifferent.com or follow them on Instagram at @some_dogs_are_different.


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