Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Q&A with Stacey Colino




Stacey Colino is the author, with Jen Golbeck, of the new book The Purest Bond: Understanding the Human-Canine Connection. Colino's other books include Count Down. She lives in the Washington, D.C., area.


Q: How did you and Jen Golbeck end up working on The Purest Bond?


A: Jen and I were introduced by our literary agents and we hit it off immediately.


This was in September of 2020 and my beloved dog Inky, an Akita mix, had recently died and my family had just adopted Sadie, a chocolate Lab/shepherd mix. Jen had lost two of her dogs in the previous six months and we were able to really empathize with each other on a level that many other people couldn't.


In addition to our mutual love of dogs, we discovered we had other common interests such as psychology, Pilates, and good food, among others.


Q: How important are dogs in your own life?


A: I have always loved dogs. I grew up with two different dogs and have had three rescue dogs in my adult life.


Before Sadie, there were Inky and Wolfy, an Australian shepherd mix, both of whom lived to almost age 14. They were my constant companions as I worked in my home office and took breaks to play with them or walk them.


As an adult, I have called my dogs my “canine angels” because they’re so devoted to me, they keep such a watchful eye on me, and never fail to cheer me up when I’m feeling down or stressed out.

Q: How did you research the book, and did you learn anything that especially surprised you?


A: Jen and I each did research to find scientific studies to support or refute some of the themes in specific chapters and discovered a whole bunch of eye-opening aspects of this amazing bond.


For one thing, dogs can facilitate better communication and connection within families.


For another, they can help kids learn: Studies have found that when young kids who are learning to read or do math problems practice with a dog by their side, they perform better because the pup’s presence essentially provides non-judgmental social support.


I was also fascinated to learn the extent to which dogs can detect physical changes and even signs of disease such as cancer and heart disease in their humans, thanks largely to their incredible sense of smell. 


Q: The Kirkus Review of the book called it a “charming, lucid exploration of how dogs can heal our bodies, minds, and hearts.” What do you think of that description?


A: I think that’s a fair description. In addition, I think the research and anecdotes that are featured in the book illustrate how our beloved pups can bring out the best in us and inspire us to become better humans.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: Jen and I are starting to work on another book, tentatively titled Better Natures: The Emotional Lives of Dogs. It’s going to take a deep dive into the emotions dogs do and don’t experience, with a particular focus on aspects of positive psychology.


Interestingly, dogs embody many of the psychological traits that humans aspire to: the ability to operate with a sense of fairness and empathy, to be forgiving and resilient after enduring hardships, to be present-minded. There’s a lot we can learn from them. 


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Granted, I have a vested interest in saying this but others who had read the book have said this, too: The Purest Bond will make a wonderful gift for all the dog-lovers in your life or for anyone who has recently lost a treasured canine companion.


The book is basically a celebration of the wonderful relationship between people and their pups, something that often doesn’t get enough attention.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Stacey Colino.

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