Dicy McCullough: Gift of dog leads to a book

  • Posted: Thursday, January 3, 2013 7:11 p.m.
Garrett White’s book reflects his lifelong love of the outdoors.
Garrett White’s book reflects his lifelong love of the outdoors.

If you know someone who has a favorite beagle and loves to hunt, then you know someone like Garrett White. I’ve known Garrett ever since he was a toddler growing up in the Mt. Ulla community. Now grown, he is a student at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College working towards an electrical engineering degree through a co-op program with Duke Energy McGuire Nuclear Plant in Huntersville.

Garrett, excited about his degree, loves his job almost as much as he loves hunting, but in addition, he has another love. That love is the love of writing, which began in fourth grade at Mt. Ulla Elementary School.

It all started the day Garrett told Mary Sloop, the school librarian, that he was concerned about the lack of books for boys. He said there were a lot of books for girls but not many for boys on “boy stuff.” Mrs. Sloop, pondering for a minute, said, “Well, Garrett, why don’t you write a book for boys?” Taking Mrs. Sloop up on her challenge, Garrett decided he would do just that, and so began his journey as a writer.

Before that day, if someone had asked Garrett what he loved, he would have said hunting and his dog, Buster. Even before kindergarten, it wasn’t unusual to see him out hunting with his dad, Dale White. So, when it came time to write in his journal at school, Garrett naturally would write about hunting.

Not long after the discussion with Mrs. Sloop, Garrett had an assignment to write a story about a favorite Christmas present. He knew immediately his story would be about his first beagle, Buster Junior Christmas. Garrett named his first beagle in honor of his dad’s dog, Buster, who passed away before Christmas when Garrett was only 6. To fill the void, Garrett asked for a beagle puppy as a present. That beagle, however, did more than fill a void because over the next nine years, Garrett and his dog became best friends.

Those who read Garrett’s story about his favorite Christmas present told him it was so good, someday he should make it into a book. Getting a good grade on the assignment, he brought the story home and gave it to his mom, Debbie White. She saved it along with others in a box. Through the years, encouraged by high school teachers and college professors who noticed his talent for writing, Garrett began seriously thinking of publishing. His older sister, Hillary White Graham, excited to hear the news, also gave him encouragement.

Not long after Garrett decided to publish, I was having lunch with my mom at K&W Cafeteria and noticed him there with his family. A few months before, I had published my first children’s book, “Tired of My Bath,” so I was glad to answer questions, sharing what I had learned. After that day, though, it was another year before I saw Garrett again. This time he had a big smile on his face, telling me his book would soon be published. Knowing the amount of work it takes to get to that point, I was happy for him.

A couple of months later, I heard the good news. Garrett’s first book, “A Boy’s Best Friend,” had been released for sale. The book, modified somewhat from his childhood story, includes pictures of Garrett with Buster Junior.

Garrett’s main purpose for writing this book was to showcase his love for the outdoors, inspiring others to love it, too. Relationships and responsibility are prominent themes woven throughout the pages, revealed through taking care of a beloved pet.

Inspired so many years ago, Garrett’s dream is now a reality. Although his challenge from Mrs. Sloop originally was to write a book for boys about “boy stuff,” girls will enjoy this story, too. After all, who doesn’t like a good book about a boy and his dog?

If interested in having Garrett share his book with your organization, school or church group, contact him at gdwhite2@ncsu.edu or 704-213-2292.

Dicy McCullough’s books are available at local bookstores, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. Call her at 704-278-4377.

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