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Inspirational story - The dog saved the day

PUBLISHED: 14:39 10 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:32 20 February 2013

‘Without Nick we would have had no chance’

‘Without Nick we would have had no chance’

The start of a new decade is a momentous time and many of us wonder what the future might hold. In the first of a new series, Maheesha Kottegoda meets people with inspiring stories to tell...

The start of a new decade is a momentous time and many of us wonder what the future might hold. In the first of a new series, Maheesha Kottegoda meets people with inspiring stories to tell.
Here Julie Smale and Peter Bourne tell how their pet prompted a childrens book that changed their fortunes forever...


Some dogs sit, bark and roll over, others sniff out criminals and save lives but this one has learned a new trick altogether. Owners Julie Smale and Peter Bourne always knew he was something special but could never have guessed just how pivotal he would be in turning their lives around.
Peter had lost heavily in the recession. He was forced to close his jewellery shop and absorb losses on property. Peter, a former professional footballer, says: A few years ago, I nearly lost everything when my jewellery shop in Covent Garden didnt work out. A friend loaned us 10,000 against our car and that was our last asset. We lost on property and at that point I could not sleep at night.
I was having panic attacks. That is how bad it got.
Worried they may lose the family home in Rustington, the pair sold their assets and prayed for a miracle.

Enter Brussels their loyal Airedale Terrier to the rescue. A breed, interestingly enough, that won the Victoria Cross for gallantry in the field during World War One.
Julie had often talked about writing a childrens book centred on Brussels but never quite plucked up the courage to pursue her ambition.
Spurred on by her fiance, and the belief that those who knew Brussels would want to read about his adventures, the former air hostess attempted a first draft.
Peter says: This was our last chance. It was our final roll of the dice. We worked our socks off.
The story of their happy-go-lucky pet, his love of running through meadows and covering himself in mud was presented to publishers.
The first firm rejected it as did the second and third. By the sixth, Julie and Peter began to lose hope.
He says: No businessman is successful first time and when you have children you cant run away from it. From my understanding WD40 took 39 attempts to get it right. In the end we decided to pay to publish it ourselves. Perhaps the most cost-effective method might have been to publish in Hong Kong and have the paperbacks shipped back but the dog-loving pair wanted to keep the production in Sussex.
Worthing-based firm Concord Press printed 1,000 books at a cost of around 3,000. A lot of money to a couple facing financial ruin but the gamble paid off. Brussels sold 11,500 copies in eight weeks.
Now on its fourth print run, the colourful page turner pitched at three to six year olds adorns the shelves of booksellers from Sussex Stationers to Harrods.
Peter adds: Without my good friend printer Nick Britton we would have had very little chance. He is a supportive, nice person and what he did was give me the energy to believe in the product.
He offered direction and motivation at no extra cost. Without him I dont think this would be as successful.
Why was it successful? I think the book has been successful becuase the product is high quality, well priced and organic in its roots and completely created and printed in West Sussex.

Brussels is in bookshops now at 5.99

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