Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship by Tom Ryan is published by William Morrow. It tells the story of my adventures with Atticus M. Finch, a little dog of some distinction. You can also find our column in the NorthCountry News.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

On March 12th Atticus Maxwell Finch Turns 10; Help Us Give To The Jimmy Fund and MSPCA Angell Animal Medical Center

(A Ken Stampfer photograph.)
On March 12th Atticus Maxwell Finch will turn 10-years old.

What a decade it’s been.  What a life he’s lived.  And what a gift he’s given me.  Of course you already know all of this if you’ve read Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, andan Extraordinary Friendship, our shared memoir.

Ten years ago Atticus shocked his breeder, Paige Foster, when he was born an only puppy.  She was expecting more puppies to come out of his mother, and this was something she was never wrong about - until this night.  And from the first moment she held his tiny body in her hands Paige could feel there was something different about him – something special. During the first few weeks of his life Paige spent countless hours alone with the 'different' little puppy and this woman who led a life that was anything but charmed decided that for once, she would keep a puppy and not sell him as she had done with the more than the thousand she’d bred before.  Injuries she had sustained in an accident six months prior and had never healed would soon get better.  

That’s when I entered the picture.  I had lost Maxwell Garrison Gillis, an elderly miniature schnauzer I rescued less than a year and a half earlier.  My heart was broken and I wanted it fixed.  I searched for breeders through an on-line database and fate brought Paige and I together.  She showed me all the puppies she had for sale but when I didn’t see one I wanted, she asked me just what I was looking for.  I told her it was not so much about a certain look as it was a feel.  I told her how ‘Max’ had started to heal my jaded life and how his passing had broken that now-tender heart.

Paige then did something most others wouldn’t consider.  Paige was a woman with little happiness and she didn’t have many belongings.  All she really had that meant anything to her was that one special puppy.  But through our correspondence she believed that the same qualities he had within him that helped heal her could also heal me, and perhaps finish the job of saving me from myself that ‘Max’ had started.  Within a couple of days she sent Atticus to me and neither one of us could possibly understand how her selfless act would set the wheels of change in motion in so many lives. 

In the years since then much has transpired – enough to fill a book. 
Atticus did indeed finish the job Max started and brought me home to myself.  As I write in Following Atticus, “In telling the story of my friend, Atticus M. Finch, I often think of the something Antoine de Saint Exupery wrote, ‘Perhaps the act of love is my gently leading you back to yourself.’ For that’s what this little dog did. He led, I followed, and in the end I became the man I dreamed of being when I was a little boy.”      

If you’ve read the book you know how important the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Angell Animal Medical Center are to us.  Over the course of two winters we climbed 147 4,000-foot peaks and raised thousands of dollars for the fight against cancer and for animals in need.
To mark Atticus’s tenth birthday I wanted to do something a little bit different with our book.  Many of you have already read it.  Some have even bought it for others.  And some still plan to buy it for themselves – and for others.  It is my hope that if you plan to read Following Atticus or to give it to someone else, that you buy it on March 12th, his birthday, or in the few days following it.  If enough people buy it that week we’ll make it to the New York Times bestseller list for the week and if we do we’ll donate a $1,000 to the Jimmy Fund and a $1,000 to Angell Animal Medical Center. 

On March 12th, we’ll post a reminder on our Facebook page along with the Following Atticus book trailer and ask you to share it with a note about what we hope to achieve.  It would be great if you would share this with your Facebook friends.

We’ve yet to grab the attention of the national media.  However, we’ve been wonderfully successful because of you, our readers, and your word of mouth.  It has meant all the difference.  We’ve not made the NY Times bestseller list yet but there have been weeks when we haven’t been far off.  We have been on the New England Independent Booksellers Association (NEIBA) bestseller list in each of the last seven months, and we’ve made it to the Top 10 of the Sunday Times of London (UK).  With your help and continued support, we will make it to the NY Times list soon enough.  And if we do it for the week of Atticus’s birthday, we’ll give back to those two organizations we believe in.  So pass the word – March 12 is the day!

(A note: not all booksellers report their sales to the New York Times.  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, I-Tunes, Powells, and many of the bigger independent booksellers do.  It doesn’t matter whether you buy the hardcover or download an e-book.  All sales go towards making the list.)

Thank you for reading our story – a story that was started by the selflessness of a remarkable woman ten years ago and a thousand miles away.


Bonnie said...

I have two copies myself, arc and hardcover, but I think I can buy another for a gift for someone!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great plan! We will do this for sure! Happy 10th bifday Atticus!!!

Kelly said...

Again your words have managed to bring tears to my eyes (the happy kind!) You have a deal! You all deserve all the happiness and success life has to offer and I will absolutely re-post, without a doubt :) Best of luck and a most happy 10th birthday to a very special little friend named Atticus! I, for one, cannot wait for book #2 to make it appearance on shelves!

Tim said...

Tom and Atticus,

The word will be spread from Appalachia and Beyond. :D

I couldn't think of a better birthday present than to make the NY Times best seller list and then to top it off, donate to worthy causes. You two truly are a class act.


Paula Clare said...

Hi Tom! Happy birthday (soon) Atticus! I will buy my extra copies and spread the word via Facebook on March 12! Your story deserves to be on the NY Times Bestseller list...and it WILL BE!

Blessings and peace to you and yours!

Anonymous said...

Here we go. Get ready.

Anonymous said...

Will do it. I can think of so many folks who would love your book as much as I have. It is a book that becomes a part of your life and stays with you forever. Thank you again, Tom.

Kathryn Wightkin said...

I'll be sure to get one on March 12th, I use so it'll be counted. I have a mini schnauzer named Max and he's brought nothing but joy into my life. I love reading about you and Atticus. Good luck with the book sales!

Hazel & Trusty Canine Teddy said...

Count me in! Happy Birthday to the most amazing little furry four-legged miniature schnauzer, Atticus M. Finch!

colleen said...

I know the perfect person who needs to read this book, and find her self.I will purchase it on the 12. Thanks for the inspiration.

Diane Herd Smith said...

I treasure my autographed & pawprinted copy, and gave 6 copies for Christmas presents this year, and will, with great pleasure, especially in honor of Paige, buy another and download one too! Happy Birthday Atticus Maxwell Finch!

Anne/Cape Cod, MA said...

I have just this minute read the final page of your book -- I could hardly put it down! Beautiful writing and a beautiful story -- thank you! I have always yearned to do more mountain climbing -- perhaps this will give me the inspiration to go forth.

Anonymous said...

Loved your book Tom. Have the audio version and feels like we are sitting in a room with you and Atticus just talking. Happy Birthday Atticus!

Hoe said...

I hope the libraries in my country will buy the book. We have so many dog lovers here.

Susan Stanley FB Fan said...

Dear Tom,
I would love to buy another copy of your book on Atticus' 10th birthday! I may even buy two! Happy Birthday Atticus. Buddy would have been 14 on the 13th. (March is one mighty special month!) I'm sure you'll spoil Atticus even more so on his birthday! :)

Anonymous said...

Happy 10th Birthday, Atticus Maxwell Finch! And all the best to you, too, Tom. Bought my own copy of the book this week and will definitely buy one for a friend on the 12th! Your book brought tears and laughter to me and I can't tell enough people about it...I'm even stopping strangers to tell them about this terrific book! Here's to many more good years together! I lost my 3rd miniature schnauzer this past year to pancreatitis and was rescued by another mini schnauzer shortly thereafter. You both are my Heroes. Keep up the good work!
Blessings to you, from Karen and Kiana (woof)in WA!

Michele said...

I just read the book -- one of those books I did not want to end. Happy Birthday sweet Atticus! My son and daugther-in-law just adopted their new dog today and I will buy the book for them.

Carolyn Coppola said...

Went to Barnes and Nobles today to buy your book, couldn't wait until the 12th, I have been dying to read it after hearing about it from a friend! I was so disappointed they didn't have 1 copy :( I did buy a kindle fire today and will be downloading it as soon as I figure out how :) I planned to buy a couple as gifts today too! maybe I can do this on line on the 12th instead! GOOD LUCK!!!!!!! LOVE YOUR STORY! INSPIRATIONAL and AMAZING, I know I will LOVE THE BOOK!

Diane Elsner said...

Happy birthday,little bug! I hope you enjoyed your special day! You have brought so much love and joy to the world, I hope it all came back to you today.
I can't wait to get my audiobook. I enjoyed the book so much but ever since I heard that the story was told by Tom I wanted to experience it again.
God Bless you and your family!!
Diane from RI

Lisa K. said...

Hi Tom, I just finished reading the book and it moved me to tears many times. I am licensed instructor for Pet Partners, a national non-profit organization that promotes human health & healing through the human animal bond, ans as such as seen the amazing power of animals to change a life, as Atticus has done for you. We have a local affiliate group, ElderPet, out of Durham and I was going to email all of our volunteers tonight to tell them about your book. How incredible that I searched for your blog and discovered it is Atticus's 10th birthday! And I am now going to include the info about the donations to Angel Animal Medical Center & Dana Farber. By the way, I met you in Exeter at Water Street bookstore. I am the person who brought my 95 year old neighbor who recently had to put down her miniature schnauzer, Scooter, who has been her sole companion for many years. Your book has brought much joy to her & she hasn't stopped talking about Atticus! Thank you for giving her, and all of us, the gift of sharing this beautiful story!

DDawg said...

Happy belated birthday Atticus!

As a new fan, I'm looking forward to what the next year brings!

Anonymous said...

Hope you had a great birthday, Atticus! You and Tom are on your way to the NY Times BestSeller list.
I bought another copy of the book yesterday (this one in audio) and posted a review on
The world should be beating a path to your door now.
All the best to you both,
Karen & Kiana in WA

Constance Walden said...

Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful blog and dog with the world. We just lost our dog. Same breed. She died after 11 years of giving us joy. They are wonderful dogs, aren't they? Connie

Ralph Gregorio said...

Making the NYT bestsellers list is a huge undertaking. I've written two novels, 'A Murder In Zurich' as well as 'Abduction and Revenge' and haven't come close to making it. I hope you reach that gola. I purchased a hardcover from Amazon last week and just finished it today. Your book reminds me of my dog who died a few years ago. I dedicated my last book to him. Like you, I had a deep love of Jake and I still miss him.
Good luck in your next quest.
Ralph Gregorio

Unknown said...

I am joining too late for the B"Day! but here's a belated 1.
Found your words, from the Love of a very special Dog in Atticus, to be very compelling. Only good things come from the hearts of men, who can cherish the simple "Love" of an animal. Your passion can only grow in leaps and bounds now, just as in his joyful play, his memory with be with you always...
Best of Luck

rob rogers said...

I have just finished reading the book, wonderful, your are both so lucky to have each other, I have posted on Facebook.

I will urge everyone to read the wonderful book.

Happy Birthday and few days late Atticus

Fox Valley Dog Mom said...

Happy belated birthday, Atticus. I discovered your book at the library but will definitely buy it. God bless you both! It's no small thing to find your one "Great Love", as Nelson would say.