Twelve years ago, Claudia Marshall welcomed home a rescued Chihuahua named “BNE” who had been found running wild in East Palo Alto. Since, they have walked the coastal bluffs together, enjoyed sunny days at cafes in Montara and become steadfast friends.
It started when Marshall felt a hole in her heart when her Labrador Bruiser died.
“When my children were growing up, we had Labradors, and when the last of the three passed, I really needed to have another heartbeat in the house,” said Marshall. “I was looking for a small dog and I found BNE and he found me.”
Inspired by her attachment to BNE and appreciation for animals, Marshall created, with the help of Cindy Ogden and Martie Sautter, a children’s book called “BNE Finds a Home!” chronicling how she found the deer-head Chihuahua at an animal shelter and sharing their story.
As an artist and teacher, Marshall has always written down little notes for potential stories.
“‘BNE Finds a Home!’ was the one I decided to write about,” said Marshall. “It’s just a little story, but it’s certainly warmed my heart.”
Sautter, of Sautter Graphics and Print, in Montara, integrated all the pieces for publication, and Ogden provided illustrations.
Ogden had been a drawing student of Marshall’s for a few years before Marshall asked her to illustrate her story. Ogden was always drawing sketches for her grandson, and Marshall thought she would be perfect.
“I’ve always loved art, but just started taking lessons from Claudia a couple years ago,” said Ogden. “I’m really happy. This is my first big thing really.”
Sautter’s granddaughter, Gianna Sautter, also contributed to the process, drawing a picture of BNE for the book.
“BNE is such a sweet dog; it’s such a dear, dear story,” said Martie Sautter. “We had a great time getting together and we really got to know each other better, too.”
“BNE Finds a Home!” is filled with lively and colorful drawings of BNE and Marshall.
It can be found at Coastside bookstores or online at etsy.com. They also plan to give a copy to the Half Moon Bay Library once it is accepting donations again.
“It’s a fun little book,” said Marshall. “In my mind, it’s just an acknowledgement of the joy that an animal brings to a person and vice versa, and particularly during the pandemic, with so many of us shut in for so long. Pets have made a huge difference.”