ISBNs and Chapter One, Annie Spruce

This week I bought my ISBNs. As my hand wavered between the “Buy 1” and “Buy 10” options, I pondered how many copies of this book am I really gonna need to print. I mean, really.

Oh, I’m sure my mama will buy a few. And then there are my friends from church. And I’ll want each of my four kids to have their own copy of course. But then after that?

I clicked the Buy 10 box.

This was my logic: The paperback version needs one and the e-version needs one. I could’ve just purchased two, but once I used three, the price difference was significant. So what pushed my hand to the 10 box was the thought that maybe someday…one day…this little sweet story may sell more than a few and I might just decide to do a hardback version up special for our family. For Mr. Ken.

And that maybe…just maybe…I might need a few more of those numbers for the next time I decide to do this crazy whole process that’s called writing a book.

I’m aiming to have Annie Spruce in print by mid-November. I’m working with printers and budgets and formats and praying…praying each step…because when God gave us this story, this dog, I know He meant for us to share it.

So that’s what I’m doing.

I hope you enjoy Chapter One of Annie Spruce, The Dog that Didn’t Die.



1 ~ BO

“When the Man waked up he said, ‘What is Wild Dog doing here?’ And the Woman said, ‘His name is not Wild Dog any more, but the First Friend, because he will be our friend for always and always and always.'”  ~Rudyard Kipling  


I told the kids to put their hands on him every single time they walked by him.

“Your hands can heal.”

“Mama are you crying?” Their big eyes searched mine.

I’d found him emaciated and barely able to hold his head up when I returned home after a weekend women’s retreat. Irritated at my husband, I asked him if he’d only remembered to feed the kids.

Irritated only until he told me Bo wouldn’t eat. Worried then.

I dug out the syringe from the first aid kit, opened up the golden goodness in the jar of chicken broth I’d been saving since a friend gave us a case of it for helping her family butcher their flock that fall.

He sniffed at the handful of nutrients I offered him, licked at it, then, after three or four syringes of water, finally found the energy to eat a cup or so of good, strengthening protein.

“Good boy Bo.”


It had been almost exactly nine years since I’d brought him home from work. He was a gift. A present from the officers and dispatchers on night shift. They’d held him aside, kept him from going to the pound, given him to me at morning shift-change.

When I called Matt to tell him we had a new little buddy he told me no. Give it back.  We already have two dogs.

I can’t give back a birthday present!

“Yes you can.”

Fostering him wasn’t exactly keeping him, but it wasn’t giving him back so that’s what I called it when I cut my shift short and brought the pup home to get him a good meal and a long rest.

And as soon as Matt pulled in the driveway and saw me standing there with that fat yellow pup under my arm, there was never any more talk of giving him back.

Bo belonged to us.


If it was his parathyroid as the vet suspected, a simple surgery would fix him, most likely put him on the path to several more happy years as our family’s watch dog. Mascot. Faithful friend.

So we had blood work done and waited on the results. The lab was out of state, so we had to wait a long time. While we waited, he wasted.

Natural remedies kept him alive. I hand fed him pure coconut oil, depleted our supply of organic chicken meat, and syringed him kelp broths and as much water as I could get him to take. The kids and I researched online and checked the feed store for things that would help him hold on until we had a diagnosis.

His comfort took priority. Had there been just a smaller chance of a full recovery, we would’ve put him down, he was that weak.

But there was hope.  Strong hope.

So the kids would lay down next to him on his bed, make sure his blanket was on straight and use their hands to heal. Daily calls to the vet to check on lab reports became the news of the day. No results.

We prayed for him every single night.

Hang in there Bo.


When we brought the first baby home, he was like a big awkward teenager. Not quite sure where to stand, what to say, how to act. So he just wagged his tail and sniffed. Stood in the corner and looked at the new thing.

By the time the third baby came there were two toddlers in the house and his big buddy died. His big buddy had been boss dog.

When his big boss was loaded up in the truck and never came home, Bo sat in the front yard for a whole afternoon looking up the driveway.

The next day he became the big boss. He had a lot of things to take care of.

When the kids went outside, Bo went outside. When the kids came in, he came in. If a moose came into the yard, he chased it off. When a car pulled in the driveway, he sniffed it out before anyone came to the door. He made sure the kids had a sidekick. He sat patiently while they saddled him and tied him to doorknob hitching posts.

When the fourth baby came home, he was an expert. It was just another thing to take care of.


The vet called on a Thursday night after their office had closed. They’d received a late afternoon package. The lab results confirmed yes, it was his parathyroid. Bring Bo first thing in the morning for surgery they told me.

I strapped everyone in their car seats, watched the sunrise as we crossed the bridge over the river, Bo curled up on the floor behind my seat, right beneath the dangling feet of his kids.

“What if BoBo dies Mama?” My oldest has always been my worrier.

I choke back tears and tell him no matter what happens, they have been blessed in a way that many people will never be. To have been loved by a dog so loyal, so faithful, even if we don’t get to bring this yellow dog home, even if this was the last ride in our truck that he’d ever take, our life was made more beautiful because God put this dog in it. And that was what we thought of when we left him at the vet’s office.

And I cried all the way home.


We picked him up the next day at lunch time. The tumor was the size of a walnut. It’d been clinging to his parathyroid, an organ the size of a grain of rice.

He was a new dog right out of the office. He felt so good we took him to the beach. I borrowed a little red hoodie from my son and put it on Bo to keep off the chill.

As soon as it was zipped up across his furry chest, Bo went splashing in the ocean. He was alive again.


We had a good few days with him until the morning he urinated blood. Then began the every other day calcium checks. After a disease like this, the body may not remember how to make and regulate calcium and vitamins the vet said.

Steroids, Vitamin D, antibiotics…he had his own pharmacy. I turned to the coconut oil again, and started boiling chicken, shredding kale and carrots. I fed him well.

But still he deteriorated. If he could just get over the hump. If we could just get his kidneys to kick back in gear. Each lab test showed he was at a standstill.

On a Wednesday, after two weeks of running him in for lab checks, Matt and I decided it was time. He wasn’t improving. I knew if I could keep his system strong he’d have a fighting chance. But all the system strengthening wasn’t working. He could barely hold his body up to pee. If he didn’t make a significant turn-around by Saturday, we were going to take him in and let our beloved Dr. Tabby put him to rest.


We never had to decide. He left us on Thursday morning. He died with his big yellow head in my lap, right here in the home he watched over and loved.

When Matt carried him outside, wrapped tenderly in one of our best sheets, we gently set his body down and let each of the children say goodbye, pet the velvet ears of the sweet animal that’d been part of every single day of their childhood. Then we put our old friend in the ground.

We wept as we prayed around his grave. With tears rolling down our chins, we filled in the hole, tamped down the earth, and thanked God for the life of our yellow dog. Then, with the sun sending sprays of light through the spruce trees, we wiped our eyes and we went inside and had pancakes.


To June 3 004

Bo’s last photo on his last trip to the ocean.

{{Excerpt and photo, © Cassandra Rankin, from Annie Spruce, The Dog that Didn’t Die}}

9 thoughts on “ISBNs and Chapter One, Annie Spruce

  1. Anonymous

    That tug that our furry babies make to our hearts can last a lifetime. Can’t wait to read the rest. Great job friend! Sunshine Wafer


  2. Kate Loveton

    Wonderful, moving, heartrending. You have touched my heart with this lovely story about Bo. I love dogs; several of my wonderful boys have moved on, but still I remember them and the love they gave us.

    May I have your permission to reblog this piece? Doing so would direct people to your lovely blog. Please let me know.

    You’re a wonderful writer, and one with great heart. ❤


    1. Cassandra Post author


      What a surprise! Thank you for asking, and yes, of course I’d be so very honored to have the story of our Bo nestled into your blog that I’ve come to love to visit ❤️

      As precious as our Bo was, his story is just the beginning of an amazing tale that involves the sweet and tender prayers of a child, a wounded dog, a homeless man, and a new friendship. I’ve done my best to put all the words and all the heart down on all the pages, and God willing, it’ll be in print mid-November in softcover and E-book… Annie Spruce; The Dog that Didn’t Die.

      I’m not sure how you found me, but I’m thankful you did. Your writing is out of this world and your encouragement is a gift to this mama’s heart ❤️


      Liked by 1 person

      1. Kate Loveton

        You’re very kind. I do enjoy your blog – you write with such heart. I will look forward to your E-book. And thank you for permission to share your story about Bo. I will do so today. ❤


  3. Kate Loveton

    Cassandra, for some reason, I am unable to reblog your wonderful story. This is the first time I’ve had this difficulty… have you enabled that function? I’d love to share this – it is such a moving, terrific story.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Cassandra Post author

        I think the sharing capabilities are all set now…could you let me know if you still have trouble and I can do some more research?
        Thanks again…so much! 🙂


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