Katherine Schwarzenegger has experienced firsthand what those in the rescue industry call a “foster fail.” That is, one who decides to foster a rescue dog but instead decides to adopt him.
In Schwarzenegger’s case, the dog’s name is Maverick, who has not only become a lifelong member of her family, but is also the inspiration for her first children’s book, “Maverick and Me.”
Schwarzenegger, the older daughter of actor and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and journalist Maria Shriver, got her start rescuing dogs by chance. She and her sister happened upon a pet store looking for people willing to foster dogs. They ended up taking home about eight puppies, she said, and converted their mom’s garage into a kennel. She didn’t know then that her experience, and later, her bond with Maverick, would lead to her writing a book.
“I saw the way that kids reacted to seeing my dog and they were so fascinated they could get a dog with a story,” said Schwarzenegger, who lives in Los Angeles.
“Maverick and Me” follows the story of a dog who is rescued (like the real-life Maverick) from the freeway through his journey to finding his forever home.
Schwarzenegger, who is also an ASPCA ambassador, said she wrote the book to show children — and their parents — that there’s more than one journey to getting a pet.
“Adopting a puppy or dog is an incredible opportunity that kids don’t know much about,” she said. “This book celebrates adoption and introduces the concept to kids so that when they get their first dog, they choose to adopt and not shop.”
She said she also wants to help dispel some misconceptions people may have about rescue animals.
“You can’t get a little puppy. You can’t get a fluffy dog. You can only get dogs with behavioral problems,” she said, ticking off some of those misconceptions. In fact, rescue groups often have a variety of pets, including puppies and both purebred and mixed breeds.
Some groups focus on rescuing specific breeds — like miniature pinschers, pit bulls or greyhounds – while still others may take in animals of a specific size, age or health condition. The Atlanta metro area alone has hundreds of pet rescue organizations looking to find forever homes for dogs and cats, and even horses, pigs and some exotic animals.
For those who are unsure about whether a pet is right for their home, Schwarzenegger said local rescue groups offer a variety of options, including donating food or items, volunteering to walk dogs and holding food drives. Animal lovers can also opt to foster a pet, which can also help determine what kind of pet would best suit their home and lifestyle.
Schwarzenegger said she hopes the book will encourage families to find and bond with their own “Maverick.”
“For kids, their first pet is such a big deal. It’s something you remember your entire life.”