Sunday, July 22, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 20

Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on August 9th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 23 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 18, Issue 23

Nipomo author's book teaches kids to care for pets


While the most popular toy may change with each holiday season, there’s one gift that will make any kid speechless with joy: a puppy to call one’s own.

Dog mom and Nipomo author Ethel Landers knows a thing or two about caring for puppies. The SLO Gay and Lesbian Alliance Center art gallery curator is also a longtime volunteer with groups like the Santa Maria Valley Humane Society. About 14 years ago while studying art in her 50s at Cal Poly, Landers was tasked with an assignment that tapped into one of her dreams: create the illustrations for the prototype of a book.

'Every Puppy Needs' by Nipomo author Ethel Landers teaches kids the basics of puppy care, like feeding their pet twice a day and providing them with fresh, clean water.

“I always wanted to do a book that taught children how to care for pets,” Landers said.

And fresh off the presses as of late July is Landers’ new book, Every Puppy Needs, which teaches kids the basics of caring for their new furry family member in English and Spanish. The story is written at a third-grade reading level under the pen name Grandma Tink, with the words and illustrations crafted by Landers. Grandma Tink’s grandson Noah lives with her and wants to adopt his very own puppy, so they go to a shelter and bring home Jack the dog. Through Noah’s journey, kids learn about feeding their pups twice a day, providing them with clean, fresh water and a dog bed inside of the house, and taking them to the vet to get fixed.

Author Ethel Landers lives with her three fur babies, Jane, Leia, and Carrie.

Landers knows firsthand how life changing the love of a dog can be to a kid.

“I was adopted and I was an only child,” Landers said. “My best friends were the dogs and pets I grew up with.”

Landers self-published Every Puppy Needs through Amazon’s Create Space, raising the $5,400 to get the project off the ground through GoFundMe. For about every two books sold, Landers will donate one book to kids in local schools.

She also started the group Grandma’s Friends, so that she and a few other ladies can read the book to kids in schools. They’ll start out focusing on schools in the Santa Maria and Nipomo areas, although Landers hopes to eventually expand to North SLO County as well. She said she chose to focus on areas with higher poverty levels since she knows from her days of writing grants for the Santa Maria Valley Humane Society that they tend to have higher instances of animal neglect and abuse. The idea is that kids will read the book to their parents and grandparents at home and influence several generations’ ideas on pet care.

Copies of Ethel Landers’ book, 'Every Puppy Needs,' will be donated to local schools to teach kids about proper pet care.

Today, Landers shares her home in Nipomo with her partner and their three dogs, Jane, Leia, and Carrie, who are all rescue pups in one way or another.

“I’m really hoping we can save animals one kid at a time and raise a generation that’s compassionate and giving to animals,” Landers said.

Ryah Cooley is arts editor at the Sun’s sister paper, the New Times, and she must pet all the puppies. Reach her at

Ruff reading
'Every Puppy Needs' by Grandma Tink (aka Ethel Landers) is available for purchase on Amazon for $9.99. Proceeds from the book go to donating books to local schools. Landers will also be signing copies of her book on Aug. 19 at a fundraiser for the local nonprofit Animals in Need at Birch Wood Garden Barn & Home in Nipomo from 3 to 7 p.m. To help Landers donate books to local kids, search “Grandma Tink’s Every Puppy Book,” on

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