By Rachel M. Anderson, Contributing Writer
(Burnsville, Minn.) - Animals are a lot smarter than many people think. A new study finds felines can distinguish their names, even if they don’t come when called; and of course we already know that dogs of all breeds can be trained to do some remarkable things, such as fetch specific items in a person’s house and even open and close doors on command.
Robin Kelleher of Burnsville, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis, says her Toy Australian Shepherd, Lina (long i), has always been a fast
learner. “She learns tricks quickly and is very agile,” says Kelleher, who adds that she often thinks her little dog knows more than she does about what is going on around her.
“Sometimes she’ll look at me as if to say, ‘Really, Momma? You want me to do that?’ or ‘Really? That’s a bad idea!’” exclaims Kelleher.
Lina has been a member of Kelleher’s family since 2015 when her “momma” picked her up from a breeder in Florida and whisked her off to Minnesota. “She is the sweetest dog ever, has the best demeanor, and is both a people and dog lover. I would describe her as a little doll, a little angel - and a little critic of me,” says Kelleher.
Not long after recognizing her pet’s intelligence and human-like demeanor, Kelleher started a blog in Lina’s voice titled, “Online With Lina – A Dog’s Life With A Difficult Momma.” As she shared posts with more and more people (linasdogblog.com has over 18,500 views and almost 7,000 individual visitors), Kelleher was encouraged to incorporate them into a book.
Lina Unleashed, Lina’s first book, won a Foreword INDIES 2017 Book of the Year Award, and because Lina has a lot more to “woof,” a second book will soon be available. Sit Stay Pray will pick up where Unleashed left off. The book is scheduled for release on October 1, 2019 by Minnesota publisher Beaver’s Pond Press.
Kelleher says the books are similar and build on each other. “Sit Stay Pray gives readers a bigger picture of Lina’s life with her difficult Momma, and hopefully a lot more chuckles. She still thinks that Momma is not trainable. It continues to be a pretty helter-skelter world for her and we’re still just trying to get by. I think that’s how she’d view it anyway.”
Among the more notable stories shared in the book are “Keeping the Homefires Burning (Not to be Confused with the House) Burning,” “Herding Sheep,” “The Fundraiser,” and “The DNA Test.” In the latter, Lina shares what happened when Momma decided to test her dog’s DNA. “Momma was excited and read the instructions over and over again. She also watched a couple
of online tutorials. She wanted to get this right. I, on the other paw, was skeptical and dreading what was to come,” writes Lina.
Early reviews for the book are in, and have been very favorable. Midwest Book Review said, “Readers seeking a dog story with a difference have plenty to appreciate in this tale. From the beginning, they will be tickled with Lina's narrative style, which blends wry observation of human fallacies with a wicked sense of humor... Delightfully whimsical observations of canine worries and concerns combined with the puzzling circumstances of Lina’s life with Momma create a wonderful laugh-aloud winner that dog enthusiasts will love.”
Jan Marin Tramontano, author of What Love Becomes and Standing on the Corner of Lost and Found had this to say: “For those of you waiting for more delicious ‘tails’ of Lina and Momma, you will not be disappointed. The misadventures in Sit Stay Pray continue to be pitch perfect in their humor and warmth. It is an extremely entertaining read.”
The book also received high praise from Sue Orsen, editor of Twin Cities newspaper, “The Victoria Gazette.” She said, “The humor is clever and contagious, especially as the self- deprecating Momma takes us romping through fences in the pasture of political correctness. Sit Stay Pray is an hilarious doggie-drama that teaches and triumphs!”
Of Lina’s first book, Kirkus Reviews said, “ A quick, delightful tale for canine lovers who can never get enough dog stories.”
“I hope humans everywhere will consider the book a day brightener,” says Kelleher. “So many people say Lina’s stories are just laugh-out-loud funny.”
Copies of Lina Unleashed and Sit Stay Pray are available for purchase online through Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com, and ItascaBooks.com. Proceeds from Sit Stay Pray will be donated to the Animal Humane Society and Helping Paws of Minnesota.
Lina, whose nom de pawlume is Little Big Ears, is a five-year-old Toy Australian Shepherd who hails from Florida. She is an acclaimed blogger and a keen observer of human behavior. She is the proud recipient of the 2015 Pawlitzer for her work on linasdogblog.com.
When Lina is not busy writing, she enjoys chasing her big orange ball,
chewing on a bully stick, performing tricks, and playing with her furry friends. She does not enjoy being in any lake, stream, ocean, or even the rain.
Lina and her human, Robin Kelleher, divide their time between Minnesota—the Land of 10,000 Lakes—and the Ten Thousand Islands of Florida.
About Robin Kelleher
Robin Kelleher has always been a dog lover. “I’ve had dogs all my life,” she says. Her latest best friend, a five-year-old Toy Australian Shepherd named Lina, is very opinionated. “And I often thinks she knows more than me,” adds Kelleher.
Robin Kelleher is a labor and employment law attorney in Minneapolis and is active in non-profit work and conservative causes. In her spare time she enjoys travel, golf, paddle boarding, her herb garden, reading and the arts. She and Lina live in Burnsville, Minnesota, and Marco Island, Florida.