Rikki’s Coming to 30A!

Well, all the humans are heading to "the World’s Most Beautiful Beaches," so therapy dog Rikki is planning to join them.

Rikki has been invited to "pawtograph" copies of her book, Encounters with Rikki, (along with her much-less-important author) at the Blue Giraffe in WaterColor and Sundog Books in downtown Seaside. Both along the route of that gorgeous historic 30A.

So if you’re in the neighborhood on these dates, come say hello to Rikki:

  • Wednesday, June 8, 2016, 10:30 am – 1:00 pm at The Blue Giraffe gift shop at WaterColor Beach. 1777 E. County Hwy 30A, WaterColor Town Center, WaterColor, FL 32459. Phone: 850-231-5112
  • Thursday, June 9, 2016, 10:00 am – Noon at Sundog Books, Downtown Seaside, Florida. Address:  89 Central Square, Scenic Highway 30-A, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459. Phone:  850-231-5481.
Both locations have books already in stock, so you can also slip by and grab one to enjoy on your vacation.

In other news, Rikki’s folks, Chuck and Patty Mitchell, are in Prague at the moment attending the Assistance Dogs International conference. They’re on the lookout for "pawsitive" partnerships between therapy animals and service dogs. Of course, they have copies of Encounters with Rikki with them to help tell their story and possibly introduce Courthouse Therapy Dogs to the legal community in Europe. 

Who knows, maybe we’ll see Rikki’s story published in other languages!

Enjoy your summer.

- Julie

Five Stars - Times Two!

Rikki’s book is building momentum and I wanted share some of the successes with our followers. . . 

  • Encounters with Rikki has retained its "five star" rating with 21 readers on Goodreads.
  • The book has 18 reviews on Amazon, all with five stars as well.
  • The Chicago Tribune published a review and the story is being picked up in other markets. So far there have been sightings in Central Florida and Richmond, Virginia.
  • Chuck Mitchell and I continue to answer interview requests, including radio. And Rikki is still very much enjoying the limelight during personal appearances!
Thank you to those who have taken valuable time to write reviews or give a rating. Of course, the most gratifying of all is to hear that a reader "couldn’t put the book down." That’s every author’s dream!

If you haven’t yet provided a review, consider this to be your invitation. Readers need to hear your voice and every review assures more people will hear about how Therapy Dogs are changing lives. Which means more lives will be changed...

Here are the links:

Thank you, again, for being part of Rikki’s journey. You’re our early readers – and you made it happen!

- Julie

(Rikki at a recent signing/pawtographing)

You’re getting books! I know, because I’m seeing posts on Facebook and receiving very kind notes from readers...

Since Chuck Mitchell and I truly feel that Encounters with Rikki can be a tool for change – to allow children across the country to have the comfort of a therapy dog when they need it most – we’re asking… 

Would you please consider reviewing this book on official channels? 

Two measures of a book’s worth in today’s world come in the form of reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. These determine a book’s fate – will it be read by the masses or wind up on the dreaded “remainders” list, nine months after pub date? 

Here are the two channels that can change that for Encounters with Rikki: Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Encounters-Rikki-Hurricane-Katrina-Exceptional/dp/1941758533 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26783429-encounters-with-rikki 

It’s as simple as clicking on those links and giving “stars,” or adding comments. If you don’t use the site regularly, they’ll have to verify you’re “real” of course. But we hope that you’ll take just a few minutes TODAY to tell other readers about this book. Booksellers will be looking beginning next Tuesday, Encounters’ official pub date, and your review will make the difference! 

Finally, if you haven’t yet gotten your books “pawtographed,” or need to buy more books, catch us at the signing later today at the Bookshelf in Thomasville or this Saturday at Hearth & Soul in Tallahassee. It’s “drop in,” so not a big time commitment. 

 Hope to see you there!

We have books! Now it's time for a "pawtograph"...

Yes, if you've been anywhere on Facebook these last few days, I don't think you could have missed Rikki's beautiful mug on the cover of Encounters with Rikki and all the great comments from readers.

If you pre-ordered books, you may have just received yours. If not, you'll have it any day now.

If you're in the Tallahassee, Florida/Thomasville, GA area in the next few weeks, please bring them to one of the book signings below and we'll get them properly "pawtographed."

There will be more news on Rikki's Facebook page, so please be sure to "like" it to receive updates in your newsfeed. You can also learn more about her whereabouts via Twitter: @TherapyDogRikki

All are "drop in" - come when you can!
  • Thursday, January 14, 2016, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm at Tallahassee Memorial Rehabilitation Center, 1609 Medical Drive, Tallahassee, FL. Therapy dog Rikki and Chuck Mitchell will be there with author Julie Bettinger. 
  • Thursday, January 21, 2016, 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm at The Bookshelf, 126 Broad Street in downtown Thomasville, GA. Therapy dog Rikki and Chuck Mitchell will be there with author Julie Bettinger. 
  • Saturday, January 23, 2016, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm at Hearth & Soul, 1410 Market Street, Tallahassee, FL. Therapy dog Rikki and Chuck Mitchell will be there with author Julie Bettinger. 
  • Saturday, February 1, 2016, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm at Naturally Healthy Pet, 1850 Thomasville Road (across from Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts), Tallahassee, FL. Chuck Mitchell will be there with author Julie Bettinger.
We are entertaining invitations for other book signings and private parties for people to meet Rikki, so please let us know if you have ideas.

Rikki, Chuck and I hope to see you and your books soon!

To "Encounters with Rikki" fans -

I'm very pleased to share news on Therapy Dog Rikki's work and the upcoming book.

  • There is an article in today's Tallahassee newspaper, which included Rikki's sweet face as a teaser on the front page and covered the entire section of the "family" section. Find a link here: http://on.tdo.com/1QYxfjG

  • Amazon is calling the book The "#1 New Release in Child Advocacy and Family Law."

Our publisher confirmed that books are in the distributor's warehouse, so those of you who pre-ordered can expect them in early January. Booksellers like Amazon, BAM and B&N ship at different times, so please don't get concerned if you hear people receiving them before you do.

We have several opportunities already lined up for getting your copies "pawtographed" by Rikki. Please consider "liking" her Facebook page, so you can stay up to date on the events and opportunities. You can also learn more about her whereabouts via Twitter: @TherapyDogRikki

And, of course, when you receive the book, please let me know what you think!

I remain grateful for the privilege of telling this story...

- Julie Strauss Bettinger

They came from as far away as UCLA and Albany, New York. And they included everyone from animal advocates to the American Bar.

What do they have in common?  They read an advance copy of Encounters with Rikki: From Hurricane Katrina Rescue to Exceptional Therapy Dog and gave it a glowing review!

Of course, that would have never been possible if not for you – our supporters who believed in the idea of telling Rikki’s story and pre-ordered the book. Thank you!

And now, for what they have to say…

“Heartfully captures the amazing power animals have to lift the human spirit.” —Barbara Natterson, MD, coauthor of Zoobiquity and professor of medicine, UCLA Division of Cardiology

“Children who enter the criminal court system as victims may have to relive the abuse they experienced by testifying . . . Encounters with Rikki tells the story of an amazing therapy dog who helps children cope with this stress so they can tell their stories and so justice can be served. It’s essential reading . . .” —Cynthia J. Najdowski, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Criminal Justice, University at Albany

“A compelling story of the human-animal bond at its absolute finest.”

—Mary R. Burch, PhD, director of the AKC Canine Good Citizen & Therapy Dog Program

“This beautiful book shines a light on what vulnerable crime victims encounter and how the loving touch of a paw can provide the strength on the path to healing. We need more Rikki and Chuck teams in the world.”

—Allie Phillips, cofounder of Therapy Animals Supporting Kids (TASK) Program

“This riveting story will forever change how you view the power of animal therapy.” —Martha Barnett, Former President of the American Bar Association

Encounters with Rikki tells the story of a truly amazing bond between man and dog and the life-saving healing and companionship their relationship has inspired . . . [It captures] the magical way in which therapy animals unlock love and trust for those who most desperately need it.” —Lauren Book, MS.Ed, founder and CEO of Lauren’s Kids foundation

“A wonderful read . . . told with the details that make the possibilities of therapy through animals real and will stir even a pessimist to optimism.”

—Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte, former president of the American Bar Association

“A moving account of how a loving dog and a determined man can make a world of difference in the lives of those who need it most.” —Janice Gary, author of Short Leash: A Memoir of Dog Walking and Deliverance

“An extremely moving book . . . A profoundly human journey told through the unlikely story of a canine.” —Armand B. Cognetta Jr, chief of dermatology, Florida State University College of Medicine

Look for your copy of Encounters with Rikki: From Hurricane Katrina Rescue to Exceptional Therapy Dog January 2016!

 Please consider sharing your favorite review on Facebook, Twitter and via email...

"In Katrina, there was nowhere to go with your pets..."

On this 10th anniversary weekend when we're remembering the devastation of Hurricane Katrina (and, ironically, Florida is in a state of emergency for Hurricane Erika), I decided to post something close to my heart.

Find it here:  Remembering Katrina Pets

And when the books are published, you'll be among the FIRST to read the rest of the story.

Many thanks for your interest!

- Julie Strauss Bettinger

P.S. - Please feel free to share the blog post with your friends via email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.


Friends of Rikki,

We hit a major milestone this past week on the book, Encounters with Rikki: From Hurricane Katrina rescue to exceptional Therapy Dog: 

After a four-year effort the manuscript is in the hands of the publisher and the production process has begun. That means we are on our way to having books before the end of the year!

Obviously, we wouldn't be at this stage if not for you – the people who supported us, encouraged us, and pre-ordered the book. We continue to receive optimistic comments related to the timing of this story and predictions that it will help more children have access to a therapy animal when they need it most.

I always remember Chuck Mitchell, Rikki's pet dad, commenting after one particular challenging court case:  

It's amazing to me how my Therapy Dog who has no voice helps give a voice to vulnerable victims.

That's what it's about. That's why we need this book.  Thank you for being a part of this great story!

- Julie Strauss Bettinger

P.S. – Feel free to share this message and the link to Encounters with Rikki with your social communities.

Rikki is fully funded!

Friends, I was driving back from an 8-day outdoor adventure in the Texas Hill Country yesterday when my phone started buzzing and beeping and chiming. I knew something was up and hoped it was good news. When we stopped for lunch, I learned that we had reached our funding goal for Encounters with Rikki!

The stories of how YOU, our readers and those who believe in this book, pulled it off are such an inspiration. We were backed by benefactors of animal-related causes who not only want this story told, but can use the books for their favorite nonprofit's fundraising efforts. And individuals who've had their own "encounters" with Rikki. I recognized names of friends and those who have been like family to me over the years – plus lots of people I look forward to getting to know after the book is published.

I am truly humbled by your generosity. I have been fortified by this effort and can't wait to get back to work writing the final chapters.

The publisher expects to have our book out December 10th of this year. I am going to do everything in my power to get us to the finish.

Thank you, again.  You are all heroes in my book!

 - Julie Strauss Bettinger and the Encounters with Rikki team

"Rikki" readers and friends:

We had a tremendous launch for “Encounters with Rikki: from Hurricane Katrina rescue to exceptional Therapy Dog.” Thank you all for being our pacesetters!

We’ve heard from fellow therapy dog team members, educators, veterinarians and even Rikki’s personal fan club (grandparents and aunt included). What we hear most often:

This is an important story, it needs to be told.

We need this book!

In this crowd-funded publishing venture, we have now moved into the pre-order phase. We have only 46 days to “pre-sell” 1,135 books at the discounted rate.

GOOD NEWS:  One group has come forward and offered to match any future purchases up to the amount of $5,000. That would get us close to the finish!

Recommendation:  If you have already supported the book, you may consider pre-ordering more books at the Grand Patron level. This would allow you to receive a significant discount on the retail price of the book and you can donate them to your favorite nonprofit to use in fundraising or distribute to your friends and family who love dogs and want to see more people benefit from animal assisted therapy – especially children.

At the very least, please post this link on blogs and share with your social communities (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). 


If you need a specific message crafted, please let us know.  After all, Rikki has her own personal wordsmith!

Thanks, again. We so appreciate your support.

- Julie Strauss Bettinger and the Encounters with Rikki team

Notable Readers

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Larry Levitsky
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Stephanie Perkins
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Rikki Mitchell
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Luke Edward Murphy
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Jim G Bettinger
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John e Campbell
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Charles Lorch
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Matt Brown
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Amber Igoe
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Bobbie Barnett
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Sam Childers
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David D Redfield
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