June 15, 2000
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Seeley Lake, Montana
Elinor Williamson, above, with photo of the cover of her first book. Photos by Deborah Stack
Book illustrations by Marlene Austin
Story by Gary Noland
Elinor Williamson will be signing copies of her first book, a children's book based on the true story of two lost terrier show dogs in the mountains near Seeley Lake, at the Filling Station this Friday afternoon from 1 to 3 p.m.
The book, titled "Miracle in The Mountains of Montana," tells the true, heartwarming story, in adapted form, of two small, pedigreed Cairn terriers (a mother and a daughter) who wondered away from their home at Lake Inez four years ago and survived for 8 days before being found near Lake Marshall, said publisher Dale Burke of Stoneydale Press in Stevensville who printed an initial 3,000 copies of the book that will be available in bookstores, gift shops and other outlets.
Williamson has breathed life into this true tale by giving the two dogs personalities with thoughts and conversationscity puppies and dog show winners who wonder lost and afraid, yet brave, in the darkness of the woods scurrying from the dangers of lions and bears as in this quote from the book:
"Snuggled together, with daylight breaking, Tupper, with one eye opened, noticed the looming shadow. She jumped to her feet and barked loudly, startling Ursa. 'Run Ursa! It's a bear.' Ursa didn't know what a bear was, but she ran as hard as she could."
The digest-size book is just over 60 pages and beautifully illustrated with line drawings of the puppies and their adventures by Seeley Lake artist, Marlene Austin. The front cover features Montana mountains as a backdrop with an inset photo of the actual dogs.
"What a great job she (Austin) did," Williamson said. "Her illustrations give the book life. How lucky I was to have found her."
Williamson was inspired to write the book when she became involved helping the dog's owners when the puppies disappeared after going outside at a Lake Inez cabin owned by Dr. Len Wilson, Karen Erickson and family from Missoula.
The book has lessons for both adults and children, Williamson said, like "taking responsibility for your actions and the consequences."
That comes out in the first pages when the dogs realize they are lost after chasing after a chipmunk:
"Be brave, Ursa, I'll get us home." Ursa replied. "Oh Tupper, they'll call us 'teenagers' because we are out so late and then, they will say we must be responsible for our actions and take the consequences. I've heard our mistress say that many times."
Williamson said the book is "...about courage and love, about sticking together when things look hopeless. It's about surviving against the odds."
The author, now a successful real estate agent, knows a lot about struggling against the odds. She returned to high school at age 31, drove a school bus loaded with kids to school, sat in classes with her passengers, and compared grades with her own kids at home. She graduated seventh in her class of 111 students and once wrote a story, about dogs, that was voted best in her class.
In the past year, Williamson and Renee Stowe founded the Paws Up Safe Home in Seeley Lake to take in abandoned and lost dogs. Williamson has always felt deeply for animals, especially dogs, and a portion of book sales at the signing Friday will go to help with costs at the Paws Up home in Seeley Lake, and at other book signings around the state, a portion of proceeds will go to local animal care facilities in each city.
Williamson hopes her book will contribute in some way to more awareness and humane treatment for animals.
"Children who see animals abused, tied to trees and neglected, grow up with those same views and the circle of abuse continues and goes on to human beings. Children who are taught love and compassion go on to become better people in our society," she feels.