Haven Lindsey recently moved to Taos from Austin, Texas. The COVID pandemic has lately swelled our ranks up here in the previously, rather hidden, valley. One soon discovers, however, the people attracted to Taos are always the most interesting, accomplished, eccentric and bohemian characters, and Lindsay is no exception, A well-traveled writer, a lover of animals and children, the relationship she observed between her dog, Gracie, and a horse they befriended named Max, inspired her to write this little book - a way for children to discover the joy of bonding with animals - their pets, and others.

Please tell us a little about yourself and why you decided to move to Taos during a pandemic?

After decades in Maine, I was living in Austin. Life in Texas was a big change for me and one that I embraced, yet I knew it was not my forever home. The first time I crossed into Taos County on a vacation I was moved to tears. I could not explain the feeling that was the catalyst for the tears rolling down my face, but something clearly moved me. I fell in love with Taos, the area and the community immediately. On some visceral level I knew I had found my forever home. I continued to visit Taos and when the horses I was caring for were moved, I knew Texas was closing the door. I waited for Taos and the mountain to welcome me and it didn't take long. I never anticipated moving mid-pandemic. It seemed crazy yet timing can be cryptic and puzzling - when Taos placed the welcome mat at my feet, pandemic or not, I took the opportunity and moved 'home.'

Your new book for children is based on a couple of animals you know quite well. What inspired you to write about them?

Despite the fact that I'm a writer, I never intended to write a children's book - and certainly not one about my dog, Gracie, and a horse. I adopted Gracie while I was spending a lot of time on a ranch helping to care for three horses. I knew Gracie was skittish and fearful and hoped the ranch experience would be good for her. I never anticipated that Max, the wise old horse, would bond with the shy young dog. The two of them became fast friends and it wasn't long before I began feeling like the third wheel in their friendship. So many times I watched them communicate and share experiences and knew I was seeing something special unfold. Max mentored Gracie, she learned from him and became more confident and trusting. And Max, who seemed a bit sad and forgotten after a competitive roping career, came to life again. I watched that horse smile and laugh and regain a sense of purpose. This wasn't about me, it was about Gracie and Max. I felt grateful for the experience and I wanted to share it. Their friendship helped my heart soften and expand. I wanted others to feel that too.

Is there a particular age group you see as your target demographic for this story?

One of the first things I suggested to my editor was to form an Advisory Board. She compiled a small, strategic group of early childhood education experts - some who have also published children's books - to advise us with the messaging. According to the board, the book is suited for the 7-11 age group, however, I've seen that much younger children are responding well to the book when it is read to them. It is resonating with adults too. I think I'm most proud that the stories are not only true, but they're also heart-warming in a time when I think we could all use a little more of that. The simplest, purest stories often transcend age and demographics.

Do you have a sequel in the works?

Yes. This book includes just a fraction of the stories about Gracie and Max that I have to share. I am currently working on an activity book that will engage kids and help them learn more about the lessons that animals can teach us when we simply stop and listen. Kids have asked all sorts of questions after reading the book - things like where do horses sleep and why is it called a cattle guard if it's on a horse ranch. The activity book will help them to explore their questions and answers. My dream is to turn "The Blue Dog and The White Horse" into a series of books.

What are you looking forward to most about being in Taos once the world reopens?

Mostly, I'm looking forward to lingering. I want to linger in the museums. I want to linger at a restaurant - savor a meal and enjoy a margarita while listening to live music. I'm looking forward to walking around the village square and being spontaneous again. The pandemic has taken away our ability to be untethered, it has robbed us of the ability to be spontaneous and that's what I treasure most about our beautiful community - our ability to simply stroll about town and live in the moment. Taos is rich with opportunities to slow down, to linger, and to be spontaneous. We've lived the past year on a proverbial leash and in some ways it has brought us together, but I'm excited to run free again.

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