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Monday, May 27, 2013


Dori Hillestad Butler is an Edgar-award winning author of mysteries for children. Her Buddy Files series introduces Buddy, a crime solving therapy dog. She’s also been hard at work on a new series called Haunted Library which launches in 2014 and features a ghost boy named Kaz and a “solid” girl named Claire who work together to solve ghostly mysteries. Learn more about Dori and her books at her website. – AP  

Never has my personal life and my work life come together so seamlessly than while I was writing the Buddy Files books. I’d always wanted my own series. And I was lucky—a publisher I’d been working with for quite a few years had invited me to submit a series proposal. But I was having a hard time coming up with anything. That was about the time my dad’s health took a turn for the worst, and I had just learned that my oldest son would be moving from Iowa City, IA to Seattle, WA the following summer. I always knew my kids would grow up and move out one day, but I thought they’d move across town, not across the country! That was an adjustment. For me.

I knew I should be celebrating my son’s entry into adulthood, not mourning it. I realized I needed a new project to throw myself into. Not a writing project. Something else. I’d been hearing a lot about therapy dogs. I knew there was a therapy dog group in my community, and I was especially interested in the program where kids read to therapy dogs. A dog is a non-judgmental listener. He doesn’t care whether a child is reading at grade level or not. He’ll never laugh at a child who stumbles over a word. He just lies there and enjoys the story. And the child learns to associate reading with something positive.

What I missed most about my kids being little was reading to them. So I decided this was the perfect new project to throw myself into. I loved dogs; I loved kids; I loved books. I had a dog already, but I knew my dog wouldn’t make a very good therapy dog. So I went to the P-O-U-N-D (by the way, you should never say that word out loud in front of a dog) and adopted this guy:

And I started training him to be a therapy dog. It was while I was training him that I got the idea to write the Buddy Files. A therapy dog comes into contact with a lot of different people…and all those people could have problems, or maybe mysteries, to solve.  I loved writing from a dog’s point of view.

Like my real-life dog Mouse, my fictional character Buddy is a good and loyal dog. He loves everyone and everything.

But he tends to get a little distracted…especially when there’s food around.

“Pizza? I LOVE pizza. It’s my favorite food!”

“French fries? I LOVE French fries. They’re my favorite food!”

“Hamburgers? I LOVE hamburgers. They’re my favorite food!”

I get a lot of letters and e-mails from kids who want to know what is Buddy’s real favorite food. So here’s a recipe for Buddy’s FAVORITE dog treats:

Buddy’s FAVORITE Dog Treats

1 cup uncooked oatmeal
1 T. chicken bouillon granules
1 T. honey
1/3 cup soft butter
1 1/2 cup hot water
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup powdered milk
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes (found in health food section)
3 cups flour

1. Preheat oven to 325°F and grease baking sheets.

2. In a large bowl, stir together oatmeal, bouillon, honey, and butter. Pour hot water over mixture, then allow to stand for about five minutes.

3. Add beaten egg, powdered milk and cornmeal. Stir well.

4. Add yeast and flour, a little at a time while mixing. Continue to stir thoroughly. Add more flour if necessary to make the dough very stiff.

5. Divide dough into three balls. Roll each ball out to a ¼ inch thickness. Cut dough into small squares (or use a dog bone cookie cutter) and place on baking sheet.

6. Bake at 325°F. If your dog likes softer treats, take them out of the oven after about 20 minutes and let them cool on wire racks or paper towels. If your dog likes crunchy treats, bake them for 30 minutes, then turn off oven and crack oven door, but leave biscuits in to cool and dry out.

Oh! And my real-life dog Mouse LOVES Buddy’s Favorite Dog Treats, too!

The Buddy Files


Kath said...

Dori, what a wonderful post! Our daughter did that grow up and move away thing too. And we're trying to decide to adopt our first dog. Thank you for the treat recipe.

Rayne said...

A lovely post. I love dog stories. I feel for this writer; at 128 my son left home, went to another country. He was my youngest, so when he left, my heart went with him. But our children belong to life; we have then on loan for a period of time, then we have to return them to life. Sometimes letting go can be the hardest thing to do.

Dori Butler said...

Do it, Kath! Adopt that dog!

You're absolutely right, Rayne! I think you and I should both congratulate ourselves for raising children who have the confidence and skills to go so far!

Marilyn Levinson said...

As a children's book author as well as a mystery writer, I especially enjoyed reading how your series came about. BTW, I call my red cat Sammy "Mouse" occasionally. It's one of his pet names. A funny coincidence:)

Angela Adams said...

I love the idea of the dog in your book. And, thanks for the dog treat recipe!