Lockdown has been a frustrating time for many people – but it’s been a boom time for one Huddersfield woman.
Millions of people cooped up at home with time on their hands created the perfect storm for Linda Whitwam, author of The Canine Handbook series of dog breed books.
“Not only did people rush out in their thousands to get a dog, but they were also stuck at home and had plenty of time to read a book on how to look after their new arrivals,” said Linda, who lives at Farnley Tyas.
The result was an explosion in Linda’s book sales on both sides of the Atlantic, resulting in her 17 books becoming the leading dog breed series on Amazon in both the UK and USA.
Linda said: “I do feel very sorry for people who have been isolated at home; Covid and lockdowns have been very difficult for a lot of individuals, particularly those who live alone.
“But if I’m being honest, lockdown was a bonus for me and my books. Sales went through the roof and the pace of life slowed down, which I also enjoyed. We couldn’t go anywhere and so it was a very productive time for writing too.”
Linda, who trained as a journalist and photographer, first started writing about dogs in 2008. She set up a website called Max the Schnauzer, named after her own dog, and wrote lots of articles on how to look after Schnauzers.
“After a few years I thought, I’ve written all these free articles, I’m going to put them into a book. So I wrote The Schnauzer Handbook and put it up for sale on Amazon in 2013.
“I’ll never forget my first book sale; no other sale will ever be as good! I kept checking online every half hour to see if I’d sold any and when the first sale came through, I danced around my office punching the air.”
Since then, Linda, who worked part-time for the Huddersfield Examiner while she was building up the series, has written another 16 books on many major breeds and crossbreeds: Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Cocker and Cavalier Spaniels, German Shepherds, Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Pugs, Boston Terriers, Poodles, Dachshunds, Beagles, Cockapoos, Labradoodles, Goldendoodles and Cavapoos. She is currently working on The English Springer Spaniel Handbook, due out this winter.
She doesn’t regard herself as an expert on all the different breeds, so enlists the help of those who are by working with leading breeders in the UK and USA, various breed clubs, rescue organisations and owners.
“If you remember the old Haynes Manuals for cars, the Canine Handbooks are like that. They guide the reader step-by-step from bringing your puppy or adult dog home on Day 1 to housetraining, feeding, exercise, etc. right through to looking after your dog in old age. And readers love to hear first-hand experiences and DO’s and DON’T’s from breeders and owners; that is one of the main strengths of the books.”
However, there has been a downside to the boom in dog ownership and Linda said: “Unfortunately, as people start going back to work, they are realising that having a dog is a huge responsibility and time commitment, and we are starting to see lots of young dogs being given up for rescue, which is an absolute tragedy.
“Dogs are so loyal and they don’t understand why they beloved owners are abandoning them,” added Linda, who regularly donates to dog rescue charities.
“I’d advise anyone thinking of getting a puppy to ask themselves if they are sure they can look after that dog for the next 10 to 15 years. Dog ownership is life-enhancing, as long as you are prepared to make a massive commitment to Man – and Woman’s – Best Friend.”
Linda’s books can be seen on Amazon at www.amazon.co.uk/Linda-Whitwam/e/B00HJCJXH8 (click Paperback).