The Gift of Sharing Kindness: An Interview with The Doggy Diva
Susan Marie is no stranger to the animal community. Susan has been dedicated to sharing health and lifestyle information for pet parents and their fur kids since she started The Doggy Diva Show with her dog Sophia back in 2003. Together, the two became a voice for homeless dogs everywhere, educating people about adopting dogs in need and ways that they can support their furry family members.
When Sophia passed in 2013, Susan’s work didn’t end there. As she continued working on The Doggy Diva Show, Susan adopted an Italian Greyhound named Miss Olive in 2015. Miss Olive is a special needs dog who lost a leg to cancer and all her teeth due to a lack of medical care, but she never lost her gentle spirit and ability to love.
Miss Olive’s story helped inspire Susan to write The Doggy Diva Diaries, an award-winning trilogy of books that captured the hearts of people across the country. The third-book, Miss Olive Finds Her “Furever” Winter Wonderland, was published in 2021, capping off the heartwarming series – for now. We checked in with Susan about The Doggy Diva Diaries, her growing audience, and future projects for her and Miss Olive.
First off, congratulations on releasing Miss Olive Finds Her “Furever” Winter Wonderland! How does it feel to have published the third part of The Doggy Diva Diaries?
Susan: Thank you for your congratulations! I love that Miss Olive’s story has come full circle. In the first book, she was in a foster home awaiting adoption, but she got adopted into a forever family and met her forever friends. Now in the third book, she’s giving back to the foster home where she was adopted from.
Was there a seasonal aspect that you wanted to capture when you worked on Miss Olive Finds Her “Furever” Winter Wonderland?
I wrote all three books at once in 2016, but I did have to go back to change the third book a little because times have changed. Everybody can’t go out or go to events right now, so I updated the book a little, but the whole premise was still that Miss Olive would give back to the rescue group where she was adopted from.
In Miss Olive Finds Her “Furever” Winter Wonderland, she wonders about the true meaning of the holidays and she discovers that the greatest gift of all is the joy of giving and sharing kindness with others. The same theme throughout the entire series has been kindness and love. It’s okay to be kind and good to be kind, and that’s what Miss Olive found out her superpower was – kindness.
Based on the awards and feedback, both readers and critics love The Doggy Diva Diaries. Why do you think people respond so well to Miss Olive?
I think that her story is one of hope. It’s about looking for love and looking to connect. Miss Olive is a special needs pup. She lost a leg to cancer and lost all of her teeth. She came from very sad beginnings. She has a wonderful life now, but she was lonely and afraid early on in life, but then she found her furever family and furever friends.
Miss Olive discovers that it doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside, which is how she felt she was judged in her early years, it’s the kindness and love that you have on the inside that counts. I think that resonates with young readers and young-at-heart readers. The message resonates with people in a positive way.
Miss Olive isn’t the only furry friend you’ve come to know. As a longtime advocate for the health and welfare of animals, what should people know if they’re looking to add a furry friend to their family?
What I always encourage people to do when they look for new furry family members is to plan. You’re actually adding a fur kid into your family. Whether you live alone, you live with a family, you work during the day, or something else, you have to plan for that and bring a dog into your life who is going to adapt to that family plan.
You’re bringing a living being into your home and you have to care for them and nurture them. In return, you get this unconditional love. You’ll want to introduce other pets or family members to the incoming pet just to make sure that everybody is in connection with each other. That’s a family member for life. You want to make sure you’re bringing a furry friend into your life that will be with you forever.
You’ve been airing The Doggy Diva Show since 2003. How has your ability to share information with pet parents and support the animal community changed over the years?
When we first started, it was with Sophia. We were asked to do a local 30-minute radio show and we brought on local rescues and people from the pet community to discuss what was going on locally. In 2003, it wasn’t nearly what it is now.
The show got really popular and the owner of the station asked us to bring it to an hour. We then were heard nationwide. Now we’re on a podcast and we’re heard through all different mediums. We have guests that are from all over and experts from all walks of life coming in and sharing health and lifestyle tips with our listeners. For example, we have Bil-Jac on our show regularly as a contributor to share valuable nutrition and pet care advice with our listeners, along with bestselling authors, professional dog trainers including Joel Silverman, and so much more..
The show has really resonated well with people. They learn a lot and send us questions. They really want to learn more as a pet parent. In a short time we grew from a local community radio show to being heard nationwide with a much larger audience. It’s great for pet parents who are trying to connect to a show that has a bit of everything in it.
As the show has grown, how has the feedback changed? How has it expanded across the countries and to different age groups?
Absolutely. Social media was just beginning back then, so I had more personal interactions with people. There were more occasions where someone would directly email me or call the station and ask for things. Now with social media, our presence is really out there. We get great questions and suggestions from people who contact us through the website. Pet parents will ask me about adopting an animal, bringing a new puppy into their house, how to help senior pets diet and nutrition, so many things. It's evolved from something very simple to a show with many layers.
What’s next for The Doggy Diva? Can readers look forward to another book or other plans?
When I wrote these books as a trilogy, it was in 2016 and they evolved. I never thought they’d be as popular or touch as many people as they did. It was like an extension of me bringing Olive into the world – she was just this sweet, little special needs animal that seemed to bring joy to people, so I put it into story form and was blessed to work with a great illustrator, Rebekah Phillips, who brought Olive to life on the page so magically.
We had originally said that The Doggy Diva Diaries was going to be a trilogy, but there’s a lot of interest in Miss Olive and her story. We’ve been asked if I would continue. I talked with my illustrator and editor and there’s a good possibility that we may be continuing her adventures.
Want to learn more about Miss Olive and the Doggy Diva? Check out The Doggy Diva website and Facebook page for the latest news and tune into the show on PetLifeRadio(with over 100 million downloads), Speak Up Talk Radio, iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play.
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