By GUY D’ASTOLFO
“Bernie the One-Eyed Puppy” was so well-received that the author of the children’s book has already published a sequel and is working on a third.
Sally Kurjan of Mineral Ridge recently published “Bernie and the Beast,” which continues the warm and lesson-giving tales of her rescue dog, Bernie.
Like the first book, it is again illustrated by Shannara Harvey of Hubbard.
While the first “Bernie” book – published in 2018 – imparted a message of inclusiveness, the second one teaches children that sometimes a scary noise is nothing to fear. It begins with little Bernie getting a new neighbor – a much bigger dog whose loud “woof” from the other side of the wooden fence that separates their yards is cause for trepidation.
In the end, Bernie meets and befriends his formerly intimidating neighbor.
Kurjan’s children’s book series is based entirely on Bernie, a friendly and outgoing Lhasa Apso that she adopted despite his physical ailments.
Bernie has only one eye, his front legs are crooked, and his heart beat occasionally misfires, which causes him to run out of breath when he plays. The dog was likely born in a puppy mill; his eye was likely damaged by a traumatic birth injury and his deformed legs the result of a breeding issue.
The two books have kept Kurjan – who is a first-time author – and her friends and family busy with appearances at stores and fundraisers and readings at schools.
She has read to children at Campbell Elementrary, New Brighton (Pa.) Elementary and to preschoolers at the Learning Tree in McDonald.
Kurjan has also given away many copies of her book to schools and libraries across the country – as far away as Barrow, Alaska.
“I have a beautiful librarian in New Orleans who is reading the book in schools there,” she said. “A friend of mine has read both books at Holy Family School in Poland, a cousin is reading in North Carolina, and my parents are buying books by the boxful and giving them away. My brother sponsored 154 books to be given to every kindergarten child at a school in Lafayette, Colo., and my nephew will read both books to the children and surprise them with their very own Bernie books to take home.”
Bernie himself will soon be getting in on the action.
The lovable pooch is currently attending behavior classes at PetSmart in Niles in order to learn better manners for when he starts attending events.
“He is learning new tricks and loves his trainer, Lori,” said Kurjan.
The Niles PetSmart will have a Bernie event at noon June 28, where the star dog will make his debut.
Other public events for Bernie include a Pasta for Pups spaghetti dinner (eat in or takeout), bake sale and basket raffle from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Argus Lodge 545, 5050 Shields Road, Canfield. The event is sponsored by Friends of Fido. To purchase a ticket in advance, call 330-318-0846
Kurjan and Harvey will be there to sign books and sell wristbands, and will donate a portion of their revenues to Friends of Fido, an organization that works with the Mahoning County dog pound.
Kurjan and Harvey will also attend three events sponsored by All Paws Matter:
June 15: Pet Carnival at Lisa’s General Store, 100 Hadley Road, Greenville Pa., 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
July 20: Pooch-a-Palooza, 74 Sunset Road, Hermitage, Pa.
Sept. 14: Pawz Extravaganza at Shenango Valley Mall, Hermitage, Pa., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Kurjan and Harvey’s third book, “Bee Is for Bernie,” will be published this summer. In this installment, Bernie receives a toy bee and learns that we don’t have to be frightened of bees and that they are important.
“It is definitely my favorite so far,” said Kurjan.
The first two Bernie books can be purchased at Barnes & Noble in Boardman, and online at the same bookseller, and also Amazon, Walmart and many other retail websites.