Book by local author recounts stories of beloved boxer

Published 9:19 am Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Contributed Photo "Gracie's love ministered to people," said author Susan Howell of Gracie's outgoing nature.

Contributed Photo
“Gracie’s love ministered to people,” said author Susan Howell of Gracie’s outgoing nature.

Local author Susan M. Howell will sign copies of her new book, “Fur With and Attitude,” the heartwarming and comical story of her beloved boxer puppy, Elizabeth Grace, 11a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday at Jacklyn’s Hallmark, 772 W. Elk Ave.
The book is a collection of short stories, laughs and lessons highlighting Gracie’s stubborness and remakable sensitivity to human emotion.
Gracie received the nicknames “Sunshine Girl” and “The Day-Maker” around Elizabethton, where she and Howell frequently walked. They paraded through the stores that allowed pets, greeting new acquaintances and old friends.
“She seemed to be able to sense when someone really needed her and would be drawn to them and would give them the best of her boxer love,” Howell said.
According to Howell, it was no rare occasion that Gracie would stop next to someone, exercising her strong-willed nature, just to give him or her attention. She said that many times they would comment, “You don’t know how much I needed that; my dog just passed away recently,” or similar instances in which Gracie was present at a the proverbial perfect moment.
The book begins before Howell had Gracie, at the close of the Howell’s former boxer Heidi’s life. Howell said she and her husband were meant to have her, and she is confident of it because one day, she went to look at a friend’s litter, intent on not getting a dog, and the next day, their dog passed away. So she called the man with the boxers the next day and told him that one of the boxers was meant to be theirs. After playing with them for a few weeks to determine which one it was, she learned it was Gracie.
When Gracie was just a puppy, she decided to write the book, beginning with note-taking on her behavior, nicknames, quirks and habits.
Boxers are known for being a high-energy breed, so Gracie needed ample exercise. In the chapter “Monkeybusters,” Howell explains the levels on which they measured that need: “The Monkeys,” followed by “The Double Monkeys”and the most extreme level: “The Grazillas,” in which they could expect “foot tackling, body blocking or boxer bolts, also know to us as ‘runnig trapezoids.’ ” Howell continued explaining that at this level. Gracie took on a new character, “Stripezilla,” also called “the striped creature.”
The title of the book derives from Howell’s interpretation of Gracie’s unique fur swirl. Behind and below her “intelligence bump” on her head, the fur swirled down her neck, standing up like a crew cut and making a white tipped flare to the right. They called it “fur with an attitude”
“The fur was a perfect expression of her high-spirited, spunky personality,” wrote Howell. “It served as a constant reminder of her comical personality and kept me from taking her too seriously.”
The book was first published two months ago by jan-Carol Publishing in Elizabethton and is available at Jacklyn’s Hallmark, at the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce or on Amazon for $14.95.
At the book signing, she will have copies for sale for $16.25, including tax, and discounts will be available for those who wish to purchase multiple copies.

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