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Legacies are important.
Some legacies are larger than others, and Lakewood author Charlotte Havey has recently published her debut children’s book, which chronicles the legacy of a beloved figure in Colorado’s history — Shep the Turnpike Dog.
“This is a project I’ve been working for around three and a half years,” Havey explained. “I have a film production company with my family and Broomfield hired us to do a film for them and that’s when I came across Shep.”
The book’s art is done in watercolor by artist Renee Gregory, who lives in Alaska and communicated with Havey via e-mail and Skype during the process.
Shep first appeared as a stray puppy at a tollboth on the Denver-Boulder Turnpike in 1951, and he quickly befriended the tollbooth workers he came in contact with.
“He was eventually adopted by the tollbooth workers and spend the next 14 years there,” Havey said. “He became a total icon for the Broomfield area and as chance has it, it will be the fiftieth anniversary of his death in August, so it seemed like a great way to celebrate.”
Shep’s remains are relocated to the Broomfield Depot Museum and has remained a part of Broomfield’s consciousness for decades.
Havey describes herself as a major animal lover, and since she is a former educator who taught at places like South Lakewood Elementary, she feels she has a special feeling for children and how they relate to animals.
“I went through several drafts while I was working on this story and eventually came up with the idea of making it into a poem,” she said. “That opened up a whole new genre to me and I had great feedback from workshops.”
Havey said that Shep’s story not only shines a light on a specific moment in Colorado’s history that doesn’t get examined often, but also teaches children about coping with loss.
“You have to be real delicate when writing about issues like this, but I think it can be a great tool for starting a dialogue about loss,” she said. “I also think the book is perfect for elementary students are studying Colorado’s history.
The process of writing the book and getting it published by Sue Baer with Bear Paw Print has been a great ride, and she already has ideas for her next book.
“I hope readers coming away realizing how blessed we are to have animals, and how unconditionally they love us,” she said. “It’s amazing to think that Shep’s legacy is being kept alive half a century later.”
The book can be found at the Tattered Cover Book stores, The Book Celler and History Colorado, as well as on .
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