Union Bridge resident Jill Trail volunteers for Operation Paws for Homes, an international dog rescue based in various small pockets of the world. Their mission is to rescue animals regardless of circumstances or location.
And that motto directly applied to her after she adopted Pihu, an Indian pariah dog who is a double amputee that uses a wheelchair and is now the star of Trail’s new children’s book, “Pihu Makes a Friend: The Desi Trail.”
After visiting India to volunteer at a partnering animal shelter in December of 2019, Trail had set her sights on adopting Pihu after learning that she had been struck by a vehicle and suffered spinal injuries as a puppy. As a result, Pihu had to have her back right leg cut off.
After becoming a “foster failure,” an affectionate term used to describe when a foster pet parent permanently adopts a dog or cat, Pihu came to the United States just before the outbreak of COVID-19.
“She arrived on March third, just in time as the country was beginning to shut down,” said Trail. “She still had her left leg and after I did some research, I found that it was ultimately weighing her down –– it was just dead wight.”
Trail then had her back left leg removed and began to teach her how to use her wheelchair.
“She had never used one before. And when I first put it on her, she kept trying to figure out what was attached to her butt,” said Trail. “But after a little coaxing with a treat and teaching, she had this ah-ha moment, and she started going.”
According to Trail, writing her new children’s book was inspired by the ongoing fascination kids have about Pihu and her wheelchair during their outdoor walks in Union Bridge.
“I was out walking with [Pihu] one day, when a boy on a bike stopped to talk me and said, ‘Wow, she has two wheels’,” Trail explained. “And I said to him, ‘yeah, she does –– just like you.”
Trail’s encounter with that young boy this past July, led her to begin writing about Pihu’s spinal injury in way that explained focused on the larger commonalities between people, rather than their differences.
“The purpose of Pihu’s book is to teach acceptance and diversity,” said Trail. “I want kids to learn how to embrace who they are and others around them.”
Trail said that she intended on showing many different faces of kids from different backgrounds so that images are reflective of her message of acceptance.
“I sat down and begin to put this story together in August and I wrote it in a script format. And once I begin to the put the words down, it began to come together,” said Trail. “The hardest part was finding the illustrator, and once that work was completed, it was finally finished.”
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“Pihu Makes a Friend: The Desi Trail,” was published and was made available online by Amazon Publishing.