Canadian Olympian Margo Malowney has fostered dogs for many years. A fateful meeting with a special senior dog through Mattie’s Place Pet Rescue and Recovery Center ultimately led her to write her first book.
Good Girl Pearl is a children’s book about an older dog nobody wanted. It was written when the Beach Volleyball competitor for Team Canada at the 1996 Summer Games found herself initially feeling isolated during COVID.
“I wrote the story during the initial COVID lockdown,” explained Malowney in an interview with Daily Hive. “It provided the time to put this project together and in turn, it helped me stay positive.
“But a children’s book doesn’t come alive without illustrations and I am so grateful to have met Savannah Bell. She is obviously a wonderful artist, has supported rescues, and happens to be a good friend of my nieces.”
Good Girl Pearl tells the story of a sweet older dog who finds herself in a shelter, and a kind and wise little boy who adopts her. Ninety per cent of the book’s net after-tax proceeds will go to Mattie’s Place to provide medical care, foster and adoption support. The non-profit is primarily a medical rescue for dogs, with a focus on Canadian shelter dogs and occasional cats.
Margo fostered the real-life Pearl in the fall of 2019.
“I lost my dog about two-and-a-half years ago, and since then I have been fostering with Matties Place,” explained Malowney. “Pearl and her buddy, two sweet, scared senior dogs, had been surrendered to a shelter and then made their way into the care of Matties Place.”
Malowney fostered the two dogs while Matties Place provided them with vet care and searched for a forever home. She describes Pearl initially being petrified with fear.
“When I would bring Pearl out of the crate, she would lie flat on the ground, trembling and too afraid to move. My heart just went out to her,” said Malowney. “Any time Pearl would make any progress, like taking her first tentative step out of the crate, I would say ‘Good Girl Pearl’ as encouragement. By the time they left, I must have repeated that phrase hundreds of times. It became the theme of the story.”
Margo fostered Pearl until she found her forever home with a young boy and his family. Though Pearl was with her for only a short time, Margo is proud of how far the little dog had come.
“Pearl had not only gotten comfortable leaving her crate but she was jumping onto my lap or happily trotting around my house. They were both sweet, loving dogs, and now are living their best lives with their new family.”
Malowney’s goal is to raise awareness of pet adoptions and a growing number of older dogs without homes. She also wants to celebrate the hard work that Mattie’s Place does with many shelters across Canada, as well as their animal rights advocacy and immediate care of pets.
“Dogs like Pearl are an example. She is a very sweet and loving girl but those qualities weren’t evident while in the shelter. She would have had a hard time finding a new home. Through the rescue, Pearl was set up with a foster. This then created time for her to heal and time for the rescue to find that perfect new home. In addition, when a dog is taken in by a rescue, space opens up in the shelter to help another pet in need.”
Denise Angus, founder of Mattie’s Place, is grateful for Margo’s book and the message behind Good Girl Pearl. She hopes it encourages people to consider adopting senior pets who deserve loving homes.
“What Margo did, writing this book, was incredibly heartfelt for me,” said Angus. “I have such a passion for our Canadian shelter dogs, especially seniors. I hope it compels people to check out their local shelter when considering adoption and maybe give more consideration to the senior pets waiting for a home to call their own.
“Fostering saves lives. Without fosters, rescues can’t help empty our Canadian shelters. And our Canadian shelters need our help. Adopting a dog can be such an amazing experience and there’s something incredibly soul-filling about opening your heart and home to a dog in need.”
“Adopting a senior pet makes you a hero in my books. Senior pets have so much to give their adopters. They have a gratitude that can only be found in a senior pet. Though loving them is shorter-lived than having a puppy or kitten, the gift of your love that you’ve given a pet in its last few years of life will be an incredible experience you’ll never forget. Never underestimate the power of love between a senior pet and their human.”