The things we can learn from our dogs....

Littlehampton author Debbie Willies – known to lots of former schoolchildren in the area as Debbie Stathinaki – is in print with a book celebrating and exploring the relationships between the three dogs she never intended to have.

Debbie Willies
Debbie Willies

“The purpose of Meet The Family is to entertain, inform and expand vocabulary,” she says. The sub-text is one of hope and overcoming adversity, of embracing and celebrating difference.

The book serves as an introduction to the three dogs, their personalities and the way they react to each other. Each dog tells the reader about less easy times in their lives. Each dog tells the tale in their own unique way.

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“Marley, Woody and Loki have come together from very different backgrounds and have forged unbreakable sibling love. They have learned trust, tolerance and understanding and from this have flourished in their abilities to exhibit kindness, generosity and patience towards each other and the people they encounter.

“The book also confirms that many different cultures, traditions and differences can unite as family. On reflection, it is about acceptance of quirks, mannerisms and behaviours that make all of us, canine and human, truly special,” says Debbie, whose past schools have included Felpham Community College and Westergate Community School.

The book is available from Amazon and from bookshops.

As she says, she acquired the dogs purely by accident: “I raised my three boys as a single parent and during that time I would not allow any dogs into the house. I didn’t want any mess. I didn’t want any germs… and then my children grew up and flew…”

And then dogs, by chance, started to enter her life.

“My past writing experience is limited to poetry and creative writing for pleasure and assignments. I have never had anything published until now.

“I was born in Littlehampton, settled back here to raise three children and still live here with my husband and three dogs.

“I trained as a nurse in London and then travelled round Europe hitch-hiking, taking seasonal jobs, and finally settled and worked as a district nurse in Crete for several years.

“On return to the UK I worked as a Greek linguist at Cega, based at Goodwood Airfield. I then studied for a BA in English and media, after which I trained as an English teacher for secondary and adults. Years passed marking GCSE and A levels and raising three sons as a single parent. Later and latterly I have worked in a specific provision school, specialising in autism spectrum, attachment and complex social and emotional differences as the school’s SENCo (special educational needs coordinator) and this role took precedence over personal writing… but, for several years I have had a plan to attempt to write children’s books, making my three dogs the subject matter.

“As I have virtually retired myself, except for consultancy, I have had the time to focus on my personal plan!”

She is intending Meet The Family to be the first in a series, having now established her dogs’ characters in print.