BBD: That’s an interesting point how dogs, animals, can actually have a humanizing influence. And something I love about the Dog Tags books is that each dog you write is a completely distinct character. They’re just as diverse as your human characters. Were any of your fictional dogs inspired by real dogs in your life? Or do they tend to be reflections of your own personality?
BBD: I know that Mr. Burnam’s book was a great resource as you researched the second Dog Tags book, Strays. In the course of all your research, did you come across any facts or stories that particularly surprised you? If you were asked what you learned in the course of writing these books, what comes to mind first?
History is filled with amazing stories like that, of loyal dogs being used by their masters for purposes they never could have imagined. But there are far more stories of dogs on the battlefield, from the Revolutionary War to today, whose masters were injured or even, sadly, killed in battle, and their dogs will not leave their sides in spite of the danger. That is not something a dog is simply taught or trained to do. That, to me, is the essence of the Dog Tags books. Loyalty, even love, is in a dog’s nature. And even in war, their tails keep wagging, no matter what strange or terrifying situation their humans have gotten them into. You can find Dog Tags #1: Semper Fido and Dog Tags #2: Strays
Nick Eliopulos is a senior editor at Scholastic Press. His projects include the Dog Tags books, the Vietnam series by Chris Lynch, and the multi-platform time-travel adventure series, Infinity Ring. He lives in Brooklyn, in an apartment that is far too small for a dog.