School bus driver inspired to become writer by rescued sled dog
NORTH SAANICH – Rob never expected to be working at a school when he grew-up. "I really struggled in school," he says. Although he now excels as a school bus driver, Rob fell behind as a school student.
He says he couldn't focus as a child, especially in English, and dropped out in Grade 10.
"I always felt like I was running into a brick wall," he recalls. "I couldn't get any further." Rob eventually completed high school, but says his happiest memories are from after-school, playing with his dog. "That was my life and she was my best friend."
Now Rob on his break from work, walking his new dog, a pug named Otis. "Otis has big man syndrome because of her," he says with a laugh.
'Her' is Otis' big sister, Aussie. She was rescued after surviving that infamous Whistler sled dog cull back in 2010. "She heard the gun fires," he explains. "She saw her friends getting killed."
When Rob first saw Aussie at the SPCA, he felt an overwhelming compulsion to adopt her. "I couldn't explain the love I had for this dog," he remembers. "It was something I'd never felt before."
The feeling increased when he saw how the aging athlete befriended the pug puppy. The feeling inspired Rob to drive to a nearby restaurant one day and start writing. "I didn't know what I was doing," he says with a laugh.
It didn't work the first time, but he persevered. He focused on the characters of his pair of pups and on the fourth attempt, "I couldn't stop writing," he remembers with disbelief. "I wroth three stories."
Now those stories have been published as 'The Adventures of Aussie and Otis." Rob hopes they inspire people to consider adopting retired sled dogs. The trio of books are inspired by furry friendships, unconditional love, and overcoming adversity -- in more ways than one. "All the struggles I had [as a student], they disappeared," Rob says. "For me it was victory finally!"
Although Aussie died at 17, before the first book was published, Rob says he and Otis are grateful for the unexpected adventure she inspired. "I don't know where it will end, " he says with a smile. "But I see great things happening."