1. Bruce, how did a radio talk show host get involved in writing children's books?
To be honest, it was not planned. Once Tami & I rescued Hobbes in 2009, & we added him to the radio station, people heard about his background (in being a domestic violence survivor.) Folks from around the world began contacting us & wanted to know his story. As our exposure grew, the more popular the show, "The Wake-Up Crew with Bruce & Hobbes," became.
Hobbes was a tough, little dog and a survivor. He had been beaten, almost to death, by a man and his children, and as the show grew in popularity, people were drawn to us. We heard their inspiring stories about overcoming bullying, abuse & domestic violence, and realized Hobbes had a story of his own to tell. Even though I was a DJ, not an author, and certainly not an expert on bullying or domestic violence, I soon realized I needed to be his voice, and share his story with the world. "Hobbes Goes Home," is Hobbes' story, and what makes it so special, is that we didn't write the book - we lived it. It's powerful, and a story almost anyone can relate to. Tami had written children's stories before, and we were able to collaborate on our project.
2. Your book is about dog adoption and of a dog, Hobbes, that you saved from domestic abuse and loved until his recent passing. Can you tell us about him?
When Tami & I rescued Hobbes, we had no intention of getting a dog. We had just relocated back to Vermont, and had a number of things going on, including my new job at 92.1 WVTK in Middlebury, as the host of "The Wake-Up Crew." I had been there about a week, when I received a call from Homeward Bound, Addison County's Humane Society, about a tiny, brown dachshund who was in terrible shape. While we weren't planning on adding a new pup, because my family has had dachshunds for over 60 years, I went to the Humane Society to help this pup find a home.
I was horrified to see his condition when I arrived. Hobbes had bloody, red welts all over his tiny body, and a collar embedded in his neck. Shocked at how bad he looked; I knew I couldn't leave him there. After a quick call to my wife, Tami, we adopted him on the spot, and named him Hobbes.
When we brought him home, we learned he was terrified of men. We left Hobbie alone that afternoon, and eventually, he started looking out from under the furniture. At one point, I said to him, "This is your house, and these are your toys. This is your bed, and your dish and bowl. I'm your dad, and you're safe now. No one will EVER hurt you again." About an hour after I did this, he sprinted out from under one of the chairs, hopped on the couch, and let out a huge sigh - almost like he knew, he was FINALLY home.
3. Hobbes joined you on your radio show as well. He joined you into the Radio Hall of Fame as a broadcaster. Has that ever happened before?
WVTK, in 2009, was a new radio station, and wasn't making much money. It needed to make money to survive, and so in December, 2009, I approached Ken Barlow, the visionary Managing Partner of Vox Media, and told him I wanted to do "The Wake-Up Crew," with Hobbes. I was worried he would think I was crazy, but I also believed, completely, the show would work - and I was right.
I had done my research, and a show with a canine as a full-fledged, morning radio show host had never been tried before. I was nervous about asking Ken, but once I did, he gave his blessing, and the show launched in December, 2009.
Not long after Hobbes joined the show, the station's ratings and revenue exploded, and the "Wake-Up Crew with Bruce & Hobbes" quickly became the #1 rated morning show in Addison County, where it remains to this day. With the show's launch, Hobbes made history as the FIRST canine morning radio show star in American history.
Over the course of our time together, Hobbes & I accomplished quite a bit. In 2012, Hobbes & I were honored by the Vermont Association of Broadcasters with the prestigious, Alan Noyes Award, recognizing our commitment to community service. We were also honored by the Vermont Legislature in 2012, and again in 2016, for our work on behalf of animals. During our 11 years together, Hobbes & I helped thousands of animals find homes, raised over $500,000 for Homeward Bound, & donated over $300,000 in free airtime to animal-related causes. Hobbes was also an honorary Police K9 in Middlebury, Bristol and Vergennes, Vermont, a deputy sheriff with the Addison County Sheriff's Department, and the "Fire Dog," for the New Haven Volunteer Fire Dept.
Unquestionably the most famous canine the state of Vermont has ever had, Hobbes also joined me in speaking to students across the nation about humane education, animal welfare, compassion, kindness, anti-bullying efforts, & preventing animal cruelty.
In 2014, Hobbes & I began a nationwide book tour, reading our story, “Hobbes Goes Home” in schools. We visited about 250 schools, and had more scheduled. Unfortunately, with Hobbes’ passing on July 28, 2020, and the COVID-19 pandemic, the tour was put on hold, although it is about to resume.
On the day he passed, Hobbes was honored with a full, police escort by the Vermont State Police and the Addison County's Sheriff's department on his way to the funeral home. Along the way, people lined the streets to pay tribute to him, on what was the most emotional day of our lives.
On July 28, 2021, Vermont Governor Phil Scott declared the day, "Hobbes Remembrance Day," across the state, the first time in history a rescue dog was honored with such a proclamation. In December 2021, Hobbes & I received the ULTIMATE honor for broadcasters, when we were elected into the Vermont Association of Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame. With Hobbes induction, he became the first dog in American history inducted into a broadcasting hall-of-fame.
4. What was it like doing your show with your best four-legged friend?
Doing the show with Hobbie was incredible. We had so much fun every morning that it never seemed like work. Between the pranks, guests, music and chaos Hobbes caused, no day was ever the same, It may sound crazy, but I have no doubt he understood me, and knew he was the star. It was his show, and our listeners were "his people." Hobbie knew commands, and would bark, and make noise when I told him to, as long as he got cookies, which I was wise enough to always have on hand. He was a favorite of our sales staff, and made the office a great place to be.
What also made the show so special was how invested our listeners were and are. They loved Hobbes, and ANYTHING he did on social media was a huge success. From our fundraisers, to "Ca$h for Paws," we did EVERYTHING together, and it was a tremendous amount of fun.
5. How can people get involved in dog adoption and support the cause to help rescue millions of dogs?
We found the best way is to get involved with your local shelter and / or rescue group. Volunteering your time to help at the shelter, fostering animals or donating. Hobbes was rescued by Homeward Bound, Addison County's Humane Society, and his legacy is helping that shelter through "Ca$h for Paws," (a 24-hour radiothon to raise money, which has generated $125,000 in 7 years) and donations from the sale of "Hobbes Goes Home." Even in 2023, almost 100% of the profits from sales of the book are donated, or used to fund our animal rescue work. If people want to get a copy of "Hobbes Goes Home," they can visit www.bruceandhobbes.com. Folks can also connect with us by visiting, "Bruce & Hobbes - Your Two Best Buddies," on Facebook.
Your book received wild praise from The White House and celebrities.
Drop a few names on us. Were you shocked to get their attention?
As soon as the book came out, it received a tremendous amount of media attention because of the important topics it addresses, in a kid-friendly manner. Anti-bullying, domestic violence, empathy, compassion, tolerance, hope, the importance of family, and kindness are all brought into our "true" story. Several educators have called "Hobbes Goes Home," "One of the most important children's books ever written," which is quite an honor. When we launched our tour, & went into schools, the publicity was crazy. At one point, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin sent the book to President Barack Obama, who wrote us a letter telling us how important he thought the book was. Many other celebrities (below) also told us how much they LOVED the book because of its positivity, and the way it covers such critically important social issues for children.
Former Vermont Governor, Jim Douglas,
Vermont Senator, Peter Welch,
Vermont Governor, Phil Scott,
PETA Co-Founder, Ingrid Newkirk,
In Defense of Animals Founder, Elliot Katz,
Bruce Friedrich, Member, U.S. Animal Rights Hall of Fame
Author, Christopher Locke
Actor, Jeremy Holm - "House of Cards,"
Actor / Director, Colin A. Borden - "Dhar Man Videos,"
Hollywood Publicist, Michael Caprio,
Actress, Kim Sill
As for the attention we received, we were surprised, and happy. Tami & I knew we had written a powerful, important book, and were glad other people agreed, and could relate to it. It was great getting celebrity attention, but it was the parents, teachers, child-welfare advocates, educators, politicians, animal welfare advocates, and the kids themselves, who contacted us, and shared how important the book was to them, who made our efforts worth it.
7. You visited hundreds of schools together. What messages were you seeking to get across at these events?
The extensive media coverage of "Hobbes Goes Home," led to schools all over the country contacting us. By last count, we visited about 250 schools in 11 states, and the buzz about the book remains palpable. Seldom have we visited a school, when we did not receive a standing ovation after the presentation. There's also not usually many dry eyes either, as people follow Hobbes on his journey from being abandoned at the shelter, to becoming a cherished family member.
the book has several important messages: anti-bullying, anti-domestic
violence, empathy, compassion, hope, tolerance, the importance of family, and
kindness, it also drives home a very simple premise - one person can change the
world through his or her actions. Based on the incredible response the
book received, we feel it's safe to say people agree with us. These
important themes, and many others, will be recurring themes, as the
"Hobbes" series continues.
8. Any advice to someone who wants to adopt a dog?
Before adopting, do the research on what's involved in bringing a new, companion animal into your home, Make sure you have the time, resources & commitment to have a new canine friend. Dogs are family members, and not disposable objects. If you're going to adopt one, make sure you know what you're getting into, and be prepared to love that pup with all your heart, because he or she deserves nothing less, given the unconditional love they give us.
9. How about some advice to someone who wants to become a radio host or an author?
Being either a radio host, or author, is beyond exciting. Do what you're passionate about, and be invested in what you do. Whether it's "on the air," or on a printed page, speak (or write) from the heart, to connect with people, and you will be successful. "Hobbes Goes Home," is the first book in a planned series about Hobbes & his adventures with us. Based on the incredible response we've received from this first book, we know people are passionately invested in our story, and believe in what we're doing, to help kids & animals. Once people "believe" in your message, regardless of your medium, you've hit a home run! We're excited about what we've done with "Hobbes Goes Home," and look forward to continuing our work with our next book, "Hobbes Goes to Work," which has equally important messages about making our world a better place!
About The Author: Bruce Zeman is an award-winning, national radio show host, who is also a member of the Vermont Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Along with Hobbes, also a member of the VAB Hall of Fame, the duo was the first human / canine broadcast duo in American history. He is also an author, speaker and animal welfare activist who has helped animals for over 35 years. Bruce and his wife Tami, also an animal welfare activist, author, and award-winning photographer, wrote "Hobbes Goes Home" to help children understand important issues - bullying, adoption, tolerance, empathy, compassion for animals, kindness and the importance of family - that many of them face daily. The Zeman's didn't just write "Hobbes Goes Home," - they've lived it. The couple resides in New Haven, Vermont, with Hobbes' canine sisters Zoey & Olivia, brother Calvin & feline big brother, Willie. For more information, please see: www.bruceandhobbes.com.
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