Author Carmen Tribbett Helps Children Understand: The Monster Dog – A Small Dog with a Big Heart Learns About Alzheimer’s Disease

The Monster Dog – A Small Dog with a Big Heart Learns bout Alzheimer’s DiseaseBy Carmen Tribbett

First off, I was born in Austin, Minnesota, a very long time ago. I am, in fact, almost eighty-nine. Writing is my fifth career. Writing the “Monster Dog” book series has been a blessing in my life because I have made so many new and stimulating friends.

After the Second World War, my father moved our family to Texas, Arizona, and California before bringing the family back to Minnesota. It seems to be my lot in life to be born, live, and die in Austin! But it is a lovely place to live with a great theater, symphony, and art center. I am very content to live here now, although I fear I made my husband’s life miserable because I wanted to live somewhere warm. He loved his job so much that we stayed and stayed until neither one of us wanted to move.

The first thing I remember writing was for our adopted son, John. He went through a difficult time when he was seven, and so the two of us stayed home from church, and I wrote a book for him. After I read it to him, I asked him how he liked his book? He responded, “Fine, but why are you crying?” He plans to rewrite it someday and have it published. It is very gender-specific and needs to be rewritten.

My husband and Tasse (the ‘Monster Dog’) chose each other – she has always been a one-man dog. After Ken died in the nursing home, I realized Tasse was just too funny. I began to write on post-its, jotting down the funny things she did. Hence, the first book in The Monster Dog series, A Small Dog with a Big Attitude, was published. Four-year-old children loved the book, and so I was encouraged to write another, and another, and another. There is a total of four Monster Dog books now.

But it is the second book, The Monster Dog – A Small Dog with a Big Heart Learns About Alzheimer’s Disease, which is most important to me since my husband died from the disease. Tasse, as usual, narrates her story for children to help them understand dementia, grief, death, and recovery. The theme is, as Tasse explains, “someone they love may forget them in their mind but will always remember them in their heart.”

I am currently working on Our Life with Alzheimer’s Disease. It is written for caretakers and advocates and describes our nearly eighteen-year journey with this heart-breaking disease. It will be out in 2021. I do not regret those years. Ken’s illness changed my life. It enriched my life and understanding of life’s sorrows, as well as my faith.

When I have time and the spirit moves me, so to speak, I write. I write very quickly and often have stacks of post-its with ideas. I have even awakened in the night to write an idea or story on post-its.

Perhaps because I was both a nurse and a teacher, I write books for children that include stories teachers and parents can use for discussion regarding problems children might face. Tasse readily confesses that sometimes she doesn’t know what to do.

Personally, my favorite book is The Monster Dog – Tasse’s Diary of Secrets. I never catch on when she does naughty things, and her favorite refrain is, “Ha, Ha, Ha! I have fooled her again!” Surprisingly, adults like this book.

The latest Monster Dog book became available last week. It is The Monster dog – Life’s Lessons Learned. It has my favorite story, “Smiles are Nice.” In this story, Tasse tries to communicate with a snowman who only smiles. Finally, Tasse realizes that she doesn’t speak “Snowman” and the snowman doesn’t speak “dog,” and so she concludes that “smiles are nice.”

Katie Hunerdosse is my marvelous artist. Her pictures capture Miss Tasse, who is a small Shih Tzu with a BIG attitude. Katie, who is young, and I have become good friends. Making new friends has been the joy of this fifth career.

Carmen - TribbettAbout the Author

The Christmas I was four, my daddy made me a roll-top desk and a new bed for my dolls. One day they would be sick, and I would make them all better. The next day they would go to school and I, of course, was the teacher. And that is the story of a large part of my life. I was always torn between teaching and nursing until being hired to teach nursing skills at our community college.

Born in Austin, Minnesota, almost eighty-nine years ago, I think it is my lot in life to live and die in Austin. My husband took a job here and brought me back to my hometown when he accepted a career as a machine designer. It was here we raised our son and daughter.

My husband, Ken, and I traveled a great deal, part of it on bicycles. We made four trips to bike in five European countries after we retired. He was a great cyclist, and I grumbled along the way. However, now I realize it was the great adventure of my life.

My husband died in 2017, after living with Alzheimer’s Disease for nearly eighteen years. His Shih Tzu, Tasse, is a funny little dog with a BIG attitude. She suffered terribly after his death and her experience became the vehicle for my second children’s book, The Monster Dog – A Small Dog with a Big Heart Learns bout Alzheimer’s Disease. After publishing that book, I settled on my fifth career as an author, in my long and joy-filled life. I now have four published books with a fifth one on its way.

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