Local author celebrates Oliver the Pug and her family’s healing in new book

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

pug235Alison Hodgson knew that eventually she would write about the fire that destroyed her home, but she didn’t think that story would also involve a pug named Oliver.

Hodgson’s first book, “The Pug List: A Ridiculous Little Dog, a Family Who Lost Everything and How They All Found Their Way Home,” released on April 5 (Zondervan, $15.99) and she and the dog have been on the run ever since.

They’ve been on local television, traveled to California and Colorado, and will make an appearance at Book Expo America in Chicago in May. Hodgson will also do a number of local events wherein she talks about the book and people fawn over The Real Pug Oliver, as he’s known on Instagram.

“We had talked about rescuing a pug before an arsonist set our house on fire in June 2010, but the one we wanted was adopted,” said Hodgson, who with her family lives in Ada. “After the fire, getting a dog was a bad idea. Adding creatures to take care of while we were rebuilding wasn’t on the agenda.”

But it was on the agenda of her daughter Eden, who was seven at the time of the fire. Several years later, her mom found a notebook with a fawn pug on the cover and Eden’s Pug List inside.

“She had earned the money, we were in the house but I was stressed and exhausted,” said Hodgson. “But I saw her heart and knew there was a lot on the line for her and for us.”

Oliver joined the family on Jan. 1, 2012 and Hodgson started writing the book in Fall 2014. She had been working on other projects, none of which seemed to coalesce. Until she realized the pug was alive and snoring on her foot.

“That’s the book I knew I should write,” she said. “Part of the book is about honoring my family, part of it is showing a family going through a terrible and painful experience and where we dropped the ball. The hardest thing about parenting is when you’re under the most stress and your kids need you the most.”

She wants “The Pug List” to show a family that struggled and how long it took to heal. “We came through it, finding hope in unexpected places. Oliver changed everything for Eden,” she said. “Overnight her smile came back. Oliver is a pain in the neck, but you can’t help loving something that brings your child so much joy.”

Hodgson wants readers to come away with hope that they can make it through difficult circumstances and that hope doesn’t always show up in the way we expect.

“People need to know they can go through a tragedy imperfectly, but that it’s OK,” she said. “The book will make people laugh and cry, and offers hope that they’ll find that thing that gets them through. It may not be a smush-faced, semi potty trained dog, but it will be something.”

Find Oliver at TheRealPugOliver on Instagram, and the book at Baker Book House, Schuler Books, Barnes & Noble and Costco.

Alison and Oliver will be at the following local events:

April 16: 1-2 pm, book signing at Kentwood Costco, 5100 28th St. SE.

April 19: 7 pm, book signing at Baker Book House, 2768 E. Paris Ave. SE

Author Information
Ann Byle
Ann Byle is a freelance writer and owner of AB Writing Services. She writes for a number of publications including WMCN, Publishers Weekly, CBA Christian Market and Grand Rapids Magazine, and is author or coauthor of several books including The Baker Book House Story, The Call to Care: A Compassionate Response to Caring for Vulnerable Children (2018) and Christian Publishing 101 (2018). She and her husband Ray, a science teacher, have four young adult children.

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