It was in early November (2010) that I got the idea to put together a book for Mary and Philip Breidenstein, the breeders of our dear little and sometimes naughty Mr. H cocker spaniel. Mary and Philip both had some serious health issues come up, and it looked like Maggie and Charlie’s little “Angel” was going to be the last SBG (Stone Broke Gardens) cocker puppy – and she was. Mary and Philip were forced to close their kennel and find new homes for most of their dogs. I thought it would be a neat idea to put together a collection of photographs and stories about many of their dogs and puppies from over the years, but I didn’t really know where to begin.
My original idea was to get the stories of how five or six of us had met Mary and Philip – I wanted to include pictures of the dogs, and then give it to Mary and Philip. I had seen the books that you can make at Wal-Mart, and I thought that was where I would go. But once the word got out that I was putting this “book” together, our cocker spaniel family grew to 18, and I wondered if I could do it. I knew that it would be a lot of work to try and include everyone’s stories and pictures, as well as everything I could pull from Mary’s website, but I wanted to try. Mary had worked so hard over the years, putting their website and blogs together (many of the pups had their own blogs), and she did it all with only a slow dial-up connection. The thought of it all being lost broke my heart.
I met Sarah Landphier last summer while we were running an oversized load out to Albuquerque, NM (you might remember the story about our adventures on the Sandia Peak Tramway). I told her what I wanted to do and she found Katie Cappozzo with Heritage Makers at a Stamp Show in Madison, WI. I got to meet Katie the last day of the show and we scheduled to meet at a coffee shop to discuss how to get me started on the book. Heritage Makers is a company that, with help from personal consultants, helps you build custom books for any occasion and then prints and ships them for you. I found the quality of their books to be surprisingly professional-looking, and the price was very reasonable, too.
Before I tell you any more, I’m proud to say Heritage Makers prints their books right here in the USA (in Provo, UT). And they stand behind their product! Several people got their books before I did, and everyone was too kind to tell me of two printing errors. When I opened mine and saw the errors, I was just sick. One page was not as we had ok’d the layout and the other had big, bold, black lettering across the page that wasn’t supposed to be there. Katie said she would take care of it, called the company, and they did! They reprinted and shipped everyone’s new book at their expense. Today, there are too few companies that will give service like this – I was impressed!
Katie showed me the program I would be using to put all of the pages together, and what I had to do. I thought I would get everything to her and she could put it together, but she assured me that it was simple and that I could do it. After seeing a few of the pages, Katie told me that she was very impressed by all of the stories from all the people and their dogs, and moved about how we all felt about Mary and Philip. She said that she hadn’t worked on any other book like this one and was excited to help me get it all done – and all this while she was eight months pregnant with a little girl!
After I got going, I learned how to copy and paste pretty well. I had to save all of the pictures everyone sent me onto my computer and then keep everything organized so I could properly place them onto the pages I was creating for the book. In this program I was using, they have an art collection of embellishments that you can add to your pages, as well as a huge variety of quotes for various subjects including pets, friendship, love, etc. The template that Katie chose for me to work with was perfect. Luckily, I was able to use my laptop and work on the project wherever I happened to be and found a few extra minutes. And the best part was that there was no charge for me to use the program to put my book together.
My biggest fears were putting the wrong dog on the wrong page with the wrong people, or just spelling something wrong, but I did okay – and I only have basic computer skills. But the program I was using really made it easy by enabling me to zoom in and see what I was doing up close, create text boxes and change fonts, colors and the size of the letters, add artwork, pictures, frames and all sorts of other stuff. The choices were almost endless. And, in addition to all of the stories and pictures, I was fortunate to get a fantastic poem from our very own Trevor Hardwick for the book. Trevor wrote the poem as if the puppies were talking directly to Mary – it is really cute. We all want to offer our condolences to Trevor and his wife Alicia on the recent loss of their beloved dog, Howard.
Once I had put everything together, Katie and I spent four hours on the phone proofreading everything to make sure it was all right. She checked and double checked, and we were good to go – then the books were ordered! She was so thorough – which was why I was so shocked to see the errors. But, like I said before, they fixed the errors and then reprinted EVERYTHING at no charge. There are several sizes of books you can choose from – I chose the 12” x 12” book, and we ended up with 65 pages. The books come with 21 pages and then each extra page is $2. And in the end, we ordered 15 books, which helped get the price down to about $100 per book.
The books were ordered just before Christmas on December 16th, and by December 27th I was already getting calls from people who had received their copies. Katie had told me that we would all have them by the first of the year, and she was right. And when some of them came early, we were all so happy! The quality of the paper is outstanding, the books are stitched not glued, and they come with a cardboard sleeve that says, “Every story deserves a book of its own.” Everyone who has seen it says the same thing – it looks professionally done!
So, what does all of this have to do with trucking? Well, every trucker has a story, and a family, and maybe even a truck that they would love to preserve forever. Scrapbooking has become very popular, and it’s a great way to put all of your pictures together, but it is a lot of time-consuming work, and there would be no way to put a bunch of books together with over 1,000 pictures. A book like this would make an awesome gift – no matter what the subject or focus. I’ve said for years, you can put the trucks in museums, but when the drivers who drove them are gone, so are their stories. What a wonderful way to pass the stories of real and special people on!
Heritage Makers now has a program that allows you to add pictures and stories as the year goes along, and then, at the end of the year, you just hit “publish” and you are done! You could put books together for birthdays, major anniversaries, new babies, trucks, pets, company profiles, etc. The ideas are only limited by what you want to put together. Katie told me that the company started printing in-house to make the books more affordable. The price will depend on the size of your book, the number of pages, and the quantity you order.
I’ve only known Mary and Philip since we got Mr. H, but in that short time, she has touched our lives and the lives of so many others. Almost every story in the book started with someone losing a cocker spaniel and then finding Mary through her website. On Halloween, our family grew when I went to pick up Bee (Mr. H’s real mom). Mary and Philip have the heartbreak of finding homes for many of their beloved babies, but like all of the puppies, they are going to homes hand-picked by Mary. It never mattered if you had twice the money the puppies were listed for, if Mary didn’t think you were the right home, you were not going home with one of her puppies! She once told me, “The one thing I have control of is what home they get,” and she was very right about that.
Mary also started our community of dog bloggers. When we got Mr. H, she told me I had to blog for him and share all of his adventures on the road (mrhreportsfromtheroad.blogspot.com). Then, we have Miss Abby Dabby Do (abbyspotlight.blogspot.com). Abby is a real character. Angie is working with her to become a therapy dog. We also have “The Firedogs” blog – their dad Kevin is a volunteer fireman, and, along with his wife Marsha, they have three beautiful boys (thefiredogs.blogspot.com). And, of course, the one who started it all, Mary (sbgcockers.blogspot.com). Check out all of these blogs whenever you get the chance – they are really fun. I know that there are a lot of dogs in trucks out there, and to the drivers who love them, they are the best company.
If you have a special story you would like to tell in the form of a book, you can get in touch with Katie Cappozzo at email@example.com. She has helped people all over the map put together their own special books, and would love to help you with yours.