‘Dogs Tell Their Stories’ makes us as happy as a dog on the beach

Story by Kellie Ann Benz | Photos by Marcy Merrill | Published: January 13, 2017

There are few things that inspire joy more than witnessing a dog running with abandon along a beach or hopping through tall grass in a field. Their happiness is our happiness. If only we could hear their thoughts and share ours with them. That’s exactly the thinking that got photographer Marcy Merrill and author Rex Paul Martin — both Washington coast residents — to create the picture book “Dogs Tell Their Stories”

In it, the two long-time dog adopters share the images and stories of coastal dogs who have made the ocean beaches their backyards. To create the book, Merrill photographed each dog in their neighborhood with their guardians, and Martin imagined each dog’s thought-process during a pivotal moment in their lives.

First published in 2012, the coffee table book has helped to raise money for the Stafford Creek Correctional Center’s prison dog program, Freedom Tails. The program pairs inmates with shelter dogs who need some nurturing time to become socialized enough for adoption. The inmate handlers teach dogs boundaries, basic obedience and house training, as well as offer them much needed affection and grooming. To date, the program has successfully placed more than 200 dogs into loving homes and the more than 40 inmate handlers have learned invaluable lessons in patience, loyalty and the power of kindness.

Here’s a snippet of just one of the dog stories from the book.


The story of Heidi James

Every time I get in the car to go someplace, I never know if it will just be a trip to the store, or one of those weeks and weeks on the road with my humans. When I do get in the car these days, Marcy has to help me up. My jumper doesn’t jump so well anymore. I guess I’ve been to every State except Hawaii and Alaska.

Bob and Marcy never had puppies. I am glad. Puppies give me the creeps. Bob and Marcy appreciate me alone for all my talents: I can sense a change in the weather; I can scare away frogs and clothes that hang over the upstairs railing, and thunder and lightning. I wipe my face on my bed after dinner when Marcy wants to show off that I understand her commands, and she gets proud when the neighbors say I am ‘aloof’. Actually, that is a cover for being afraid of a lot of things, which is embarrassing, and then I try to be fierce and fearless and bark more. You know that giant statue of Paul Bunyan and Babe, his blue ox, in Bemidgi, Minnesota? It scared the heck out of me, so I barked so loud and long that people were driving by, looking, pointing and laughing. I was embarrassed, but not as much as Bob and Marcy.


The book can be ordered online through Amazon, directly from the book’s Facebook page, which is called DOGS Tell Their Stories, or by calling 360-267-1036.