Leigh Anne Lagoe is doing exactly what she planned, as a high school student in upstate New York. She just took an unusual path to get here, today.
Lagoe always hoped to write and illustrate children's books, and with that in mind she earned a degree in fine arts, focusing on painting and drawing. Then she married a service member. Between the frequent moves and her degree's admittedly limited career range, Lagoe decided she had to go back to school for a more practical career. She became a veterinary technician, a job she enjoyed for eight years over several duty stations.
Last year, Lagoe's husband was on deployment. Sending her two children to day care was costing her nearly as much as she earned as a veterinary technician. So, for the second time, practical considerations changed Lagoe's career plans. She decided to stay home with her children and write.
"I get a few hours in every day. It's a nice switch from the 9-to-5, to be able to work at home," Lagoe said.
Her first book, "Drips," follows a loveable but drool-challenged boxer dog as he hopes to be adopted by a permanent family. Drips was inspired by a dog the Lagoe family raised.
"Witts was a drooly dog. People always pushed him away, but all he wanted was to be loved," Lagoe said. After developing degenerative myelopathy, a disorder common in boxers which led to the loss of control of his hind end, Witts died in 2011.
After Witts' death, Lagoe starting writing her first book. Drips is now available at www.amazon.com in hard copy and for the Kindle.
"The Kindle edition is doing really well. It's already had 8,000 downloads," said Lagoe, who is offering the Kindle edition for free on Oct. 20 and 21 in honor of National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. "We've had lots of word of mouth, and people are talking about it in England and Japan."
The book is an easy read with a moral of unconditional love, and of finding one's place in the world even when people don't always accept you. Lagoe also hopes that the book will encourage families to be responsible when adopting pets.
"There are always animals being sent to the shelter because the family realized it was not the right dog for them," Lagoe said.
Lagoe is already working on a sequel about Drips' next adventure, in which he will rescue a cat. Both books are illustrated with Lagoe's acrylic-on-canvas paintings. A third easy reader book, about dreams, is also in the works, this time with watercolor illustrations.