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STLCC Graduate Writes Children’s Book to Help Others in Need

September 30, 2014

Salamone Book Cover  
STLCC graduate Christine Salamone has written
the children’s book, “It’s Not So RUFF Being a
Working Dog!”, and is donating profits to

St. Louis Community College graduate Christine Salamone has written a book about her German Shepherd working dog companion Petey, and profits from the book will go to help others in need.

Salamone has Fibromyalgia, which causes her extreme fatigue, pain, and weakness, and as a result, she receives help from a working dog. Her book, “It’s Not So RUFF Being a Working Dog!”, is an educational children’s storybook about Petey’s love of helping others.

“I wanted to convey and educate readers that service dogs are not unhappy dogs because they don’t live traditional dog lives,” she said. “Service dogs actually have more fulfilling lives because they get to go places and see things most dogs do not. These dogs are chosen because they love to work and are ready to help the moment they are needed.”

The inspiration for the book came from a project Salamone completed for a digital photography class she took at the Meramec campus.

“I had participated in the St. Louis Storytelling Festival two years in a row prior to taking the class. I had written two short stories to tell young children and young adults who had severe brain injuries,” she said. “A required final project for the digital photography class was to take ten theme pictures. I knew I wanted to tell more stories but didn’t have a story to tell and I didn’t want to retell someone else’s story. Since I had several dog costumes I had made for a family dog that I used to take to St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Ranken Jordan 15 years earlier, I started taking Petey’s pictures in different ones, and had a theme, too.”

As the photos were printed, Salamone felt that she could do something with the photos, but was not sure what that would be.

“I just thought the others would get a kick out of a dog looking silly,” she said. “On the last day of the class when I had to pin all of my matted 10 pictures to the wall in the critiquing area, I saw the reality of my project. I had to decide which order to hang them and when I saw how Petey's story looked up on the wall when telling my classmates about my project, I couldn't hold back the tears. At that moment, I felt moved by Petey and was very grateful for all he had done for me.”

A Friend in Need

The book came to fruition after seeing a post on Facebook from her friend Shae, whom she met when Shae played basketball at STLCC. Shae posted that her young daughter Braelynn was diagnosed with an inoperable cancerous brain stem tumor. Salamone knew that her friend needed support now more than ever.

“I sat down on June 24 and looked at my past notes I had jotted down about Petey.  I already had the visual part of the book with Petey's helping pictures, which I created a couple years ago. All I needed were the words,” she said. “Something strange came over me that day and the next thing I realized Petey’s story came alive and was complete. My main motivation was Braelynn. I wanted to do something to help.”

The first printing of the book arrived Sept. 17.  Salamone, who is donating all profits of the book, had hoped to donate $250 with the help of sales of the book.  In a pleasant surprise, once the advance orders have been delivered, she will have surpassed that goal by raising more than $450 for charity.

“I just want to make a difference. I have surpassed my wishes and raised more than I thought I ever would,” she said. “I want to continue raising money for Shae and Braelynn, but I also want to be sure to help other agencies, too.”

Helping Others

Salamone has partnered with a local organization, Youth in Action, which she says helps numerous agencies in the St. Louis area.

“I plan on helping them year round,” said Salamone.  She is also trying to partner with local schools, agencies and businesses to increase awareness of the book and to keep the memory of Petey alive.  Her job as a tutor at Meramec also helps her do that.

“Even though I lost Petey a year and a half ago, I still think pushing myself to get out of the house is worth the pain it takes me to physically drive and come to the campus each day,” she said. “It beats staying at home and suffering alone. I would much rather have my mind taken off (the pain) and be with amazing people each day.”

Salamone says her life has been enriched by the experience of tutoring, and that her work makes a noticeable difference in her happiness.

“Many people close to me say they see me as being the happiest when I am helping others,” she said. “Now Petey is still helping me, but now his spirit is helping me to make a small difference in children and their families’ lives.”

For more information on “It’s Not So RUFF Being a Working Dog!” email itsnotsoruff@aol.com.