The story of Bentley, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and beloved pet therapy dog, is sure to warm the hearts of animal lovers everywhere.
Written by local animal author, Loren Spiotta-DiMare and collaborated with Bentley’s owner and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breeder, Diane Zdrodowski, the children’s picture book “Because of Bentley” explores the special life of a small dog who made a big difference.
Spiotta-DiMare grew up in Short Hills and was surrounded by animals such as a dog, a few rabbits, some parakeets and goldfish. Spiotta-DiMare even recalls ponies near her local school stating, “I often ran through the woods to visit them.”
Beginning to take riding lessons at age seven and then owning her first dog at age 10 it is no wonder that Spiotta-DiMare began publishing her works about animals even as young as 19. “Bentley” author recalls her favorite authors as a child were dog and horse stories written by authors such as Marguerite Henry, author of classics such as “Misty of Chincoteague” and Walter Farley, famous for his “Black Stallion” series.
Now living in Tewksbury, Spiotta-DiMare draws her inspiration from her own menagerie at home, including her loving quarter horse, Elwood, who appeared on the cover of her book “Therapy Horses.” With all the animals that surround her it is no surprise Spiotta-DiMare has stated in a press release that “there’s no lack of inspiration around here.”
“Bentley” is the story of Zdrodowski’s journey with her Blenheim (chestnut red and white) spaniel when she first brought him home knowing “from the beginning there was something special about Bentley,” as stated in the opening of the book.
The story of how Bentley was trained hands on with Zdrodowski and eventually taken to pass a test for therapy work unfolds, colorfully illustrated by Jude Delaney. Zdrodowski is stated in the book as saying, “Bentley seemed to want to be a therapy dog – not all dogs do.”
Indeed Bentley touched the hearts of many as his legacy is told of helping children from a sick girl inspired to draw again to a young boy speaking his first words in months to Bentley, all because of the awesome love Bentley showed them all.
The inspiration for Bentley’s story arose when Spiotta-DiMare was doing research for a reference book on Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. In her research, Spiotta-DiMare met Bentley’s owner, Zdrodowski, who was an established Cavalier breeder by that time. Spiotta-DiMare recalls that when her research was complete for the reference book she and Zdrodowski “wanted to work together again and decided to write a children’s book about her first Cavalier, Bentley.”
Bentley, the dog who inspired this true story, lived a long and full doggy life but has since passed on. During his life-time however, Bentley was recognized with many awards including Cavalier Therapy Companion Award, Therapy Dog of the Year Award from the NJ Veterinary Medical Association as well as awards in agility and obedience.
Zdrodowski continues to own, breed and train Cavaliers but is stated in the biography in “Bentley” as saying “owning and breeding champion dogs is great, but nothing is more inspiring and magical than seeing a smile on a sick child’s face” and all because of a dog like Bentley coming to visit.
“Pet therapy is becoming quite common and Bentley obviously enjoyed his job,” says Spiotta-DiMare. “He brightened the lives of many people throughout his career and I enjoyed telling his story.”
“Bentley” is Spiotta-DiMare’s seventeenth book, having written a number of other adult and children’s books all on her favorite subject: animals. “Bentley” was published by J. Pace Publications and is available to be ordered through the author’s website at www.LorensReadingRoom.com for $18.