This is a blog by Champ, the rescued dog that survived terrible abuse to become an icon of hope to many, and a symbol that there are better tomorrows after the storm. Champ owes his survival to SAFE Rescue, a California no-kill shelter that nursed him back to health. Champ is a 'pawthor' now, having written his own book Champ: My Story of Survival, with his biodographer, Fiona Ingram. Champ hopes to stop animal abuse and help people love animals everywhere.
I hope everyone got lots of love and special gifts on Valentine's Day. However, for anyone who did not, don't worry, I am sending you a beautiful red rose. Here's a photo of me on Valentine's Day, wishing even more love to everyone in the world! Remember, it doesn't have to be Valentine's Day for you to show love: spread lots of loving every day of the year and you'll see it all come back to you!
Today I am honoured to have acclaimed Pawthor
Byron Tinker visit my blog and answer a few questions about his life and
Byron's amazing adventure!
Hi Byron and welcome to my blog. I just loved
your book Tortoise Soup (my review here). It was such an incredible adventure that
I’m sure readers are as curious as I am about you and your amazing life. So here are a few questions so the world can learn more about you and your amazing feats of bravery and skill.
How did you come to live with Pawthor Nick
Holland and has he been very helpful in getting your book written and out there
Hi Champ! It's a big honour for me to speak to
such a famous dog! My human, the Pawthor Nick Holland, read your story to me
and it was very moving! He bought me from a tortoise breeder called Brian. Us
torties and turtles make great pets, but it's better to get us from specialist
tortoise & turtle breeders, because some people try to sell torties that
have been snatched from the wild! My mum and dad were from Russia! They were
being illegally smuggled into England. The airport people spotted them and
passed them onto Brian, who takes really good care of them.
What a lucky escape for your parents. So, what made you decide to write Tortoise Soup?
I love books, but there weren't enough about us
tortoises.People think we are slow, but
we can do lots and lots! I decided to write a book myself, though I had to get
my pet human to type it all up for me.
I am sure Nick was keen to help. I mean, what an experience for him as well. This is a secret question – is everything
that happened in the book true?
It all happened! Or was it a dream? After all,
having adventures in our mind is almost as much fun as having them in real
life. Don't tell anyone though, Champ, but it was all true!
That's amazing, although I suspected it was all true. Did you feel sick when you were flying with the
wild crane, trying to get back to Ruby? I ask this question because in my book,
when I had to fly with the pigeons, my stomach kept going round and round.
I did feel sick at first, and it was very cold
up there. But I was so excited that I soon forgot how sick I felt.
Byron enjoying his annual strawberry!
I noticed in your book you had a hard time
getting exactly the kind of food you like and are accustomed to eating. So,
what’s your very favourite food in the whole world?
Definitely strawberries! But too many would make
me feel sick, so I only get two a year. One at Christmas and one on my birthday
(July 20th!). It's a very special treat. I also love big yellow
Hmm, strawberries? They sound interesting. You were very brave during your adventure, even
when that Miss Scratbakk nearly got you with the big machine. Truthfully, were
you ever so scared you thought you couldn’t go on?
I was! I was so scaredcould have put my head in my shell and never
come out again. But sometimes you have to hide how scared you are. It doesn't
matter how little you are, if you have a big heart then you can achieve big
I totally agree with you. Do you believe in the Anjil for Aminals (that’s
who helped save me from abuse)?
I definitely believe in the Anjil for Aminals! I
think somebody up there in the sky is looking out for us all. That's why we
should all say a prayer for our anipals who need her help.
Has being a world-famous Pawthor changed you in
any way? Has it changed your life? Do you feel you still have all four paws on
I get fan emails from across the world, which I
love! But I try not to get too big headed, or I wouldn't fit in my shell any
more. I got my picture in the local paper as well, but it wasn't on the front
page where I should have been. Oops, my head is getting bigger again!
Byron charging around the garden!
Ha ha! Byron, you are so funny! What’s a typical day for you?
I wake up and exercise, up down, up down, twenty
times. And then my other eyelid. It's hard work keeping in top shell condition.
Then I have a bath in a plastic tub with warm water in it. When I come out my
human has put my food out. I gobble it up and then snooze under my sun lamp.
While I snooze, I'm thinking up ideas for new books. At midday, my human lets
me out of my home (my tortoise table) and I stomp around the house and watch
television. Then it's back to snoozing until supper time, lots of nice weeds
for me to eat, with a bit of lettuce. If it's summer time, I go outside and
charge around the garden – I like that! But I can't stand the cold, so I spend
my winters indoors. I love climbing over things, knocking things over and
digging in the soil. Maybe I should be a tortoise marine? Then when it gets
dark, I go to sleep. Another fun filled day will be waiting in the morning.
Two exciting stories in one book!
Life sounds great and your human certainly takes good care of you. Clearly, you have trained him very well. Now that you’re a Pawthor with two books
(A Christmas Shellebration and Tortoise Soup), what’s next on the writing agenda?
I think I should be the first tortoise in space.
I'm planning on stowing away on a rocket and blasting into space with my
special human friend Ruby! I want to find out if the moon is made of cheese or
lettuce? When I get back, I will write all about it.
Phew! You are one ambitious tortie, and why not! You show 'em up amongst the stars! If you had One Big Wish that was guaranteed to
come true, what would you wish for?
I would wish that all anipals would be happy and
healthy, and there would be no more cruelty out there. Because we all have a
lot of love to give, and we only want a little love in return.
What a lovely wish! I also wish for all anipals to have love and happiness, and a nice warm place to sleep, with lots of good food, too. What’s your message for other aspiring Pawthors
Don't let anyone stop you writing your story!
People might try to put you off, but they're just jealous because you can write
a book and they can't. Once you've done it, then you'll be a Pawthor for life,
and nobody can ever take that away from you. And maybe your book will make
people happy, and that's the bestest gift of all!
I agree, making people happy is a very good aim. Thanks so much for sharing details of your life
and career with us today. I am sure this will inspire many Pawthors to put paw
to paper and get their stories out to eager readers.
Thank you Champ! I loved talking to you, I hope
I wasn't too slow!
Not at all! I appreciate your taking time out of your busy Pawthor schedule to be with us. I’m reading Shellebration right now
and hope to post a review very soon.
For new readers, Byron lives in the United Kingdom which is a long
way from where I live in California. His guardian is Nick Holland, who is also
a Pawthor. I think he helps Byron with some big words and spelling in his books. You can
follow Byron on Twitter @ByronTinker. You can also buy his books on Amazon, and
don’t forget to leave a review.
This post is a bit late because,
boy, have I been busy! Since I joined Twitter, I have met a few Pawthors and
have been reading their books. I never knew so many Pawthors existed. I made a
new friend called Gizmo, and he very kindly sent me his book, Nobody’s Poodle.
What a story, and what an adventure. Gizmo was abandoned in Tenerife when he
was just a year old and spent some time in a refuge. Gizmo was found by Nikki
and Richard Attree (looking to fill the big sad gap left when their beloved Basil
went to the Rainbow Bridge) and his life went from rags to riches. Gizmo is
such a clever dog that it wasn’t long before the Attrees and Gizmo had penned
his experiences and produced a book.
The story starts with a great
adventure—Gizmo and his people (Sharon, Trev and young Tracey) move from England
to Tenerife, which is an island in the Atlantic. It sounded great: sun, sea,
sand, a new Woof lingo, new places to explore, and new faces to meet. But things
didn’t turn out so well when Gizmo’s family ran out of money. He was abandoned
when Trev didn’t come back for him on the day they left the apartment. Gizmo
had to fend for himself on the mean streets, and he soon learned that life in Tenerife
is very harsh for an abandoned pooch. He made friends with other dogs in
similar situations and wondered if he would ever find a Fur-ever Family again.
Then the most terrible thing happened. Gizmo was caught by horrible people that
make dogs fight each other. He was shoved into a dreadful dark place, given hardly
any food, and met other suffering dogs with sad tales to tell. His one consolation
was meeting a dog that had been on the same plane ride with him from England to
Tenerife: Rambo the Rottweiler who is all soft inside of a fierce outside.
Luckily, when they were taken to a dog fight, the police arrived, and in the
confusion of all those people being arrested, Rambo and Gizmo escaped. Somehow
they ended up at the same rescue shelter, where kind people looked after them.
Some of Gizmo’s street friends and acquaintances also ended up there, and soon
found loving homes. Gizmo waited … and waited … and then one day Nikki and
Richard walked into the shelter, and Gizmo’s life changed overnight!
What I Think: I cried a lot when I
read about Gizmo’s experiences and I think he was very brave to survive it all.
He was also very kind to other weaker dogs. It is so sad that many dogs are
abandoned in Tenerife because their owners can’t afford them any longer, or don’t
want them. The dog fighting was also very distressing. I can just imagine how
all those poor dogs felt, locked in cages, and thinking there was no way out for
them. What made me happy in this book was that Gizmo spoke about love and
communication between dogs and humans, and how much dogs understand humans,
even more than humans could ever know. Another very nice ending to Gizmo’s sad
tale is that Gizmo’s terrible experiences also ended up helping other pooches
in a strange way.His new Fur-ever
Family are dedicated to helping stray and abandoned dogs in Tenerife. Gizmo’s
writing expertise also attracted attention and before you could say, “give a
dog a bone,” Island Connections newspaper
signed him up to be their intrepid news hound, doggedly
sniffing out the breaking news and giving the pooch perspective in his regular column:
‘Life According to Gizmo (It’s a Dog’s Life).’ If you love dogs (and any
animals) you will really enjoy Nobody’s Poodle. Gizmo is hilarious and his
sayings made me laugh. He is also quite philosophical about life and has some
wise words for humans and canines. There are also very cute drawings by a
talented artist called Annie Chapman. Hop over to Amazon and get a copy. Just purchasing
the book will help other needy dogs because some of the profits from Nobody’s Poodle will be
donated to help the animal rescue shelters in Tenerife.
Pawthor Gizmo reading up on dog matters.
Nikki’s website Tenerife Dogs is
dedicated to finding homes for the island’s abandoned dogs, as well as being a mine
of information and an insight into the canine world. Gizmo is the Spokes-Mutt
for Tenerife Dogs, following in the paw steps of the
late, great Basil, who was the first ambassador for Tenerife Dogs. One of Gizmo’s first tasks was to be the poster
pooch for Accion-del-Sol’s educational program. This is the refuge that took
Gizmo in and cared for him. Gizmo’s role involves visiting local schools,
telling the children about the plight of stray mutts in Tenerife, and teaching
them how to look after their pets properly. You can read more about Nobody’s
Poodle here. Besides his many other accomplishments
Gizmo is an expert in woofing, sniffing, digging, chasing cats, siestas, and