Katie Baron lives in rural New Jersey with her husband Joe and their two golden retrievers, Archer the Therapy Dog and Geordi the therapy-dog-in-training. Katie has three grown children and two grandchildren.
Katie and Archer are a therapy dog team with Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs; they visit two schools and a nursing home each week. They also participate in the Read to a Dog program at the local library, visit two other nursing homes, and occasionally visit local hospitals. Katie has been an active volunteer her entire adult life. She was a Literacy Volunteers of America volunteer, teaching adults to read. She has also been a Girl Scout leader (for 22 years!), a Cub Scout leader, a Red Cross volunteer First Aid/CPR instructor and Babysitting instructor, a member of her town’s Environmental Commission, a board member of Operation Quiet Comfort—a non-profit that sent care packages to military hospitals in combat zones—and is currently the president of the local community garden. Katie has worked for a financial services company for over 30 years and is a member of the Veterans support group at work as well as PRIDE.
Katie’s first foray into the literary world was as an editor. For 15 years (before Facebook) she was the editor of an online Girl Scout/Girl Guide newsletter that had readers in 35 countries.
You can buy Archer the Therapy Dog here.
Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?
When Archer and I started making therapy dog visits, I posted about our adventures on Instagram and shared training tips for therapy dogs. One day when we were at the library, I mentioned to one of our regular readers, Emily Beach, that I was thinking of turning the Instagram posts into a book. The next time we saw Emily, she had drawn a picture of what she imagined the cover of Archer’s book would look like. I was so impressed that I immediately asked 10-year-old Emily to be the illustrator of my book! Once Emily was on board, the book took off from there because I couldn’t let her down.
What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?
In high school, I worked in my favorite place, the local library. In college, I worked at a small software company and tutored other students in everything from Creative Writing to Calculus to Physics. After college, I started working at a financial services company and have been there ever since.
Something my readers wouldn’t know is that I love history and genealogy. I’ve traced my family back 11 generations. My paternal grandmother was from Ireland. A group of young people from her small town in Ireland booked passage to the US on the Titanic, including my grandmother and her sister. But my great aunt got sick and my grandmother stayed behind with her. Every person from that small town who was on the Titanic died.
Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?
The “Archer the Therapy Dog” part of the book title was easy—it’s the same as Archer’s Instagram account. When I started writing the book, I found that the information I wanted to share was not always age-appropriate for small children. That’s when I came up with the idea of having “kid” pages and “adult” pages. It took a few iterations to come up with “a read-together book” as the subtitle.
How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?
The first time I saw the book cover was amazing! Emily had designed four different covers and our publisher gave us input on the final cover design. The first time I held a physical copy of my book was a hardcopy draft of the book. It was so surreal to see my words in actual print in an actual book!
What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?
I want kids and their parents to learn about therapy dogs. The amazing work they do and the impact they have on the lives of the people they visit. Having worked with veterans with PTSD, it’s very important to me that people know the difference between therapy dogs, emotional support dogs, and service dogs. One of my pet peeves is when entitled people think that putting a fake service dog vest on their little precious means that they can go into stores and restaurants like real service dogs.
What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?
I love when adults say they learn something from my book that they never knew before and when kids say they want to teach their dog to be a therapy dog like Archer.
What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?
Between working full-time and making three therapy dog visits each week, there’s not a lot of time for much else. I’ve been thinking about another book about Archer, but haven’t actually started it yet. My main focus recently has been promoting and marketing Archer the Therapy Dog, crocheting a baby blanket for my new granddaughter, and training Geordi.
Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.