Pickles the Dog: Adopted in North Dakota tells the story of none other than Pickles, a mutt with pointed ears and a perpetual smile, who is taken in by a girl from an animal shelter.
Although her face doesn’t betray the slightest bit of guile, Pickles proves to be quite the rapscallion at her new home on the farm. She upsets the pigs by launching herself into their sty. She nearly lets loose the bull after tugging open the gate. The milk is spilled. The hens are pestered.
But the girl believes in Pickles. With the aid of a squeaky toy (shaped like Pickles’ namesake, no less) she teaches her new friend not to be so bothersome a presence on the farm – and a willing Pickles quickly learns the trick. In the end the two sit on a hay bale as the prairie sky glows pink at sunset. “You are a good girl,” she tells Pickles. “You just needed a little time to learn how to be safe on our farm.”
“I love you, Pickles.”
This sweet childrens’ pastoral was written by Katherine Pendergast (pen name Kat Socks) and illustrated by Ben Brick. Its spirit was contributed by the real-life Pickles, a Collie-Schipperke mix.
“Pickles was living in an animal shelter in Minot during the 2011 Souris River flood,” said Kat. “She had already been adopted and returned several times before my parents-in-law finally took Pickles to her forever home.
“We couldn’t imagine why. She’s such a sweet dog! So I pictured all the mischief Pickles could have gotten into that would have landed her back at the shelter. I had already started a baby clothing boutique at the time, from which I would donate a small portion of my profits to local animal shelters. The idea of writing a kid’s book about Pickles’ speculative adventures came quite naturally to me.
“I had no background in writing or publishing. I just wanted to tell Pickles’ story and raise awareness for all the good animal shelters do for the community. I was very fortunate to meet with Ben, whose art style I felt was a perfect match for Pickles’ story. I’ve also become one of the luckier self-publishers. Since Pickles the Dog: Adopted in North Dakota came out in 2018, I’ve been invited to give readings and book signings across the country.”
Pickles’ story would not end with her adoption. Kat has since written Pickles the Dog: A Christmas Tradition, in which Pickles learns all about the German custom of hanging a pickle-shaped ornament on the tree that has been preserved in certain pockets of the Midwest, as well as Pickles the Dog Goes to School, in which the titular pup learns about the special bond shared by dogs and children. (A master’s degree in chemical engineering might have been a bit too ambitious for Pickles.)
“I’m not sure what Pickles’ next adventure will be just yet,” said Kat. “I’m currently undertaking my next writing project with my five-year-old son Carter. He absolutely loves dinosaurs and wants to be a paleontologist when he grows up. One day he asked me if he could write a book with me. I said of course, so we are now working on I’m a Spinosaurus: Bigger Than T. Rex. It’s going to incorporate all of his ideas, poetry and favorite facts about dinos, with just a little added grammar by me.”
Kat has also written Babies of the Badlands, a kid’s primer on all the cute things that live under the shadows of the hoodoos, and with Lacie Brueckner coauthored In Loving Memory, the story of a young girl coping with the loss of her grandmother. All of Kat’s books are available on her website, as well as from Amazon and fine book stores everywhere by special order.
The real Pickles has grown a little gray around the muzzle in recent years, but she still makes occasional appearances at schools and book signings throughout the Midwest. Kat’s certified therapy dog, an absolute castle of a Great Dane named Carmela, commands kids’ attention wherever she is led.
If you would like to have Kat to your school, place of worship, library, or any other place where children can enjoy Pickles the Dog’s adventures, then you need only reach out to Kat through katssocks.com.
By David Scheller