Furry Friends

Leo the Lovable Lab: An Inspiration for Pet Adoption

Carol Farmer has always enjoyed the free spirit of dogs and the way they go about their daily activities. When she noticed that there were more dogs than people in her neighborhood, and that many of those dogs had been abandoned, she felt called to be a champion for pet adoption. Having graduated from the University of Georgia with a Marketing degree and working in marketing research and sales, Farmer is creatively talented. She used her talent, fueled by her love of dogs and desire to advocate for pet adoption, to write her new book, Leo the Lovable Lab. 

The inspiration for writing Leo the Lovable Lab began when Farmer and her husband moved to a house on the lake and began to appreciate a lifestyle where animals roam freely.  She noticed that dogs outnumbered people in her neighborhood and many of the adopted dogs were abandoned nearby. Observing this as a problem that needs more attention, Farmer decided to raise awareness by writing a book.

“My love for our neighborhood dogs and my own rescue dog, captivated by their unrestrained spirits and daily antics, fueled my passion to craft stories that shed light on dog adoption,” Farmer says.  

Leo the Lovable Lab is Farmer’s first book and the main character, Leo, is based on a real dog. 

“All of the stories are based on real life experiences but names and some of the details have been changed for children’s fiction and to make Leo the main character,” Farmer explains. 

Writing Leo the Lovable Lab from start to finish took one year. Farmer’s original idea was to capture multiple dog adoption stories and their relationship with each other in daily interaction and funny events. But after getting some feedback, that changed.

“After multiple reviews, the focus changed to have Leo as the main character since he is the leader of the pack,” Farmer says. “I also dropped a number of stories to save for a future book.” 

Going through these reviews proved to be the most challenging part of the writing process for Farmer. She had 20 reviewers and editors during the process.

“I wanted to include all age groups for children, teachers, students, parents, and grandparents, so that I could get varying opinions and ideas. I received very good constructive contributions from everyone who reviewed or edited the manuscript. They helped mold and modify the stories throughout the year,” Farmer states. 

Like any children’s book, the illustrations were vital to the book. Farmer met her illustrator, Michael Salter, when he was referred to her by a fellow author’s graphic designer. After his initial reading of the book, Salter had a vision for the illustrations.

“I knew I wanted a look that would be colorful, yet approachable and familiar. I wanted to achieve a feeling of security that when read at bedtime, would start a child’s dreams on a good foot,” Salter said. 

Farmer’s vision for the illustrations was for the dogs to be the main focus. 

“I wanted the dogs to have action and expression through ear position, eyes and eyebrows, mouth, tongue, and leg movement. The picture needed to convey the main point of each story so a preschooler could know what the story was about by looking at the picture,” Farmer notes. 

There are twenty full color painted illustrations in the book. Keeping these illustrations consistent can prove to be challenging in most cases, but Salter says that a keen eye for detail from Farmer ensured consistency.

“We both agreed the book would cover a span of time. Leo slowly grows up and the illustrations needed to reflect that. Details are important. Carol helped me keep the details consistent,” says Salter.

Leo the Lovable Lab can be purchased in Anderson at McDowell’s Emporium, Tracie Starr Home, and the Barkery Bistro, and in Seneca at First Chapter Bookstore and The Bee’s Knees Toys and Books, and online at Amazon, Walmart, Books A Million, Barnes and Noble, Google Books, Abe Books, and Christianbook.

To learn more about Carol and Leo the Lovable Lab, you can find her at the following social media handles. 

Facebook: Carol Howze Farmer

Instagram: @Carolfarmer_LEO

X: @carol_farmerLEO

TikTok: leothelovablelab

Linkedin: Carol Farmer