If Heather Lehrman is not yet a familiar face to local pet owners, her name is likely to soon become a household name to dog lovers and families with young children, as her children’s book, Bullied at the Dog Park, was released this week. The book is based on a real-life incident with her own dog, Herbie, and fans will have a chance to meet her and Herbie at a book signing at Petco in Glen Cove on Saturday, Oct. 25.
“I wanted to help get the message out in my own way about the effects of bullying,” says Lehrman, a resident of Great Neck. “This book teaches children valuable lessons about treating all dogs (and people) with respect, and the importance of simple kindness.”
Owner of the Gold Coast franchise of In Home Pet Services, with clients from Roslyn, Locust Valley, Glen Cove, Sea Cliff, Glen Head and Manhasset, and founder of the Long Island Smushed Face Group, Lehrman now has the opportunity to take her love of dogs to a new level, and is excited to help raise awareness of topics like this through a story. This is the first edition in her series, Herbie and the Smushies.
“I hope to see this book in every elementary school, since it’s such an important topic,” says Lehrman.
Herbie is a Boston terrier who was bullied in the park one day by a much larger dog; Lehrman says the story just stayed in her head. She considered taking it to a publisher, but ended up self-publishing to retain control and creative rights.
Some of her clients and friends had a sneak peek at the book, including elementary school teachers. She says it already is getting a great response and envisions it to be even bigger.
“My dream is that this book becomes a cartoon,” she says.
Lehrman worked a start-up biotech company as an office manager for three years before the company moved to Colorado. She knew she didn’t want to move and had always wanted to start her own business, but had not found the right opportunity.
“Nothing clicked until this,” she says. “I kept looking at the option to own a franchise on the web site, and I just knew I had to do it.”
She got in at the right time, being the fourth owner in 2011, the company now has 12 franchises. “After mine, it started spreading like wildfire.”
Now, not only does she manage a staff of seven, she also provides support for new franchise owners. And, the business won Best of Long Island in 2012.
“It’s hard work I had to get all of the clients myself…and I am always looking for good, reliable staff members.”
She says she initially started the meet-up group to gain clients several months prior to the launch of her business, but “the group has become popular on its own” and her own business has grown to 200 clients.
“There was no group like it on Long Island for people to bring their dogs to play and make new friends. It consists of Boston Terriers, French Bulldogs, Pugs, Pekingese, Bulldogs; Shih Tzhus and mixes of these breeds.”
They do many themed meet-ups, including Halloween; this will tie in to the book signing at Petco, 227 Forest Ave., Glen Cove, from 1 to 3 p.m., so dress your dog in costume for free prizes and professional photos. Lehrman will be donating 10 percent of all book proceeds to SNORT, a rescue group for these breeds.
Another signing will take place on Sunday, Nov. 2 at Dolphin Bookshop, 299 Main St., Port Washington, from 1 to 3 p.m.
Bullied at the Dog Park is available on Amazon.com. To join the Long Island Smushed Faced Group, go to www.meetup.com/The-Long-Island-Smushed-Face-Mertup-Group/ and sign up for free. For information regarding the company, dog group or the book go to www.inhomepetservices.com.