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Bascom and Tracy Bradshaw, shown with Izzy and Dingo, are writing a children's book called "Dingo the Dog." The Bradshaws say they hope the book will teach children about pet adoption.
Bascom and Tracy Bradshaw, shown with Izzy and Dingo, are writing a children's book called "Dingo the Dog." The Bradshaws say they hope the book will teach children about pet adoption. (Photo courtesy of Tracy Bradshaw)

He was delivering pizzas at one point. She was widely expected to remain unmarried, and to have a lot of cats.

Now he’s an officer, a gentleman and a doctor. She’s a physical therapist, married to him for five years — and with two cats. Based on their own happy turn of events, is it any wonder that Maj. Bascom and Tracy Bradshaw have big ambitions for their dog, Dingo?

“He’s a little bit of a celebrity in Pensacola,” Bascom, 36, flight surgeon for the 1st Military Intelligence Battalion in Wiesbaden, Germany, said of Dingo. “We’re kind of hoping it reaches Smokey the Bear status.”

Just a few short years ago, Dingo was on death row in Texas. He was saved by Tracy, who’d become attached to him at the shelter where she worked. He was scheduled to be put down, and Tracy brought him to the couple’s apartment in Galveston.

“Bascom came home and said, ‘Who is this dog, and why is he so big?’ ” Tracy, 33, recalled.

Dingo’s charisma soon became apparent. “He’s not particularly smart, he’s not smart at all,” Bascom said. “I don’t even think he knows his own name.”

But because Dingo, a chow mix, is such a looker, often inspiring people to ask to be photographed with him, and because he’s so sweet-natured and full of charming quirks, the Bradshaws were inspired to make him the lead character in a children’s book. This for a dog that already has his own MySpace page, a prototype of a stuffed animal in his likeness and numerous Dingo coffee mugs, T-shirts and shopping bags available on the Internet.

The book — a fictional story about a real dog — will focus on Dingo’s travels and travails, along with a cranky Siamese cat and a little girl named Cricket. The trio’s story proceeds as the three meet homeless animals and work to find them homes. The book also has two human characters based on the couple, called Sophie and Woody.

“It’s really about educating children about pet adoption,” Bascom said. “It really transcends even pets. If you teach children about compassion for animals, you’re really teaching them to develop bonds and trust and compassion for people.

“We’re not looking to get rich,” Bascom said. “We just want to get the message out. We kind of hope Dingo the Dog becomes synonymous with pet adoption.”

Bascom, who hadn’t picked up a sketch pad or pencil for years, is doing the illustrations. He said it takes an average of four hours for each drawing.

But the inspiration came from Tracy, who started collecting and caring for cats in college. Her mother was equally kind to cats and now has a sterile, 30-cat colony frequenting her backyard.

“When we met, she had a couple of cats,” Bascom said. “It ballooned a couple of times into the double digits. During Hurricane Ivan, we transported six cats and a dog.”

The pair met at Fort Gordon, Ga., where Tracy was a physical therapist and Bascom — who enlisted in the Army as a medic because he had no money for college, then was accepted into ROTC, then was accepted into medical school — was an intern.

“I felt kind of sorry for him because he never went out,” Tracy said. The two hit it off. “Actually, my friends always said I would be 80 and never married and have a ton of cats,” Tracy said.

The couple, who started on the Dingo project in June, plan to self-publish the book in December, a few months after an upcoming move to Qatar, where, Tracy has heard, some British ex-pats have a shelter for cats.

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Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
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