One Year of Wag: Happy Tails from a Debut Author

Reflections on the publication of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy, one year on.

Two black dogs lie in front of a fireplace with a copy of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy. Reflections on a year as a debut author.
Dixie and Hamish with Wag. Photo: Bonnie Hartney, Ocean Park Dog Training.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

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It’s exactly one year since the publication of my book Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy. And it’s been a year like no other for so many reasons. I thought I’d share a few reflections on what this time has been like as a debut author.

Against the backdrop of everything else that’s been going on, I know that I’ve been very lucky. This time a year ago, I was booked to go to Toronto for a big TV show, and worrying about whether it would be safe to go (of course I didn’t go). The situation was changing every day. People emailed me because they wanted my book, but bookstores were closed and Amazon wasn’t shipping books. But in the grand scheme of things, these were small concerns.

Cover of Wag: The  Science of Making Your Dog Happy

One thing I hadn’t expected was just how nervous I would be about publication. I think of myself as a fairly calm kind of person, but I was a bag of nerves about how the book would be received. Luckily, I needn’t have worried. 

Before publication, I was booked for a set of CBC syndication interviews. I spent 4 hours in a radio booth in Vancouver and did 15 interviews with radio stations across Canada.

A copy of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy, along with my notes and a flask of water, in a radio booth at the CBC offices in Vancouver.

A few days after publication, I had a book signing at my local pet store – thank you, Bosleys! Instead of cake I had individually wrapped cookies so that people could take them home and wash their hands before eating them. And everyone kept their distance. (This was a few days before the province limited public gatherings to 50 people and of course, this event was half that size anyway. But it was heartening how many people came out).

I had the excitement of seeing Wag on the shelves of my local bookstore, Black Bond Books, before they had to close…

Wag pictured on the shelves at Black Bond Books in Maple Ridge, March 2020

…and a month later, on the shelves of my local Save On because supermarkets were still open. (Don’t worry, I only took the photo when there was no one else around. I was following physical distancing rules and already wearing a mask).

Wag prominently displayed on the shelves at Save On supermarket in Maple Ridge in April 2020

Since in-person events were inevitably cancelled, things had to happen online instead. I did a Facebook live where I talked about the book and answered people's questions about dogs and dog training. I also enjoyed the Zoom chats I had with book clubs and dog training groups.

I was lucky to get lots of interviews, some of which happened shockingly early in the morning because of time differences. Somehow I managed to sound awake! 

I was interviewed by several magazines and newspapers, including the UK's Daily Telegraph. Since I'm not in the UK, a relative kindly took a photo of the interview for me.

A copy of the Daily Telegraph with an interview with Zazie Todd about her book, Wag
An interview with Zazie Todd in the UK's Daily Telegraph

The Vancouver Sun interview was even mentioned on the front page.

Cover of the Vancouver Sun, 7th May 2020, with the top corner highlighting an interview with Zazie Todd
Cover of the Vancouver Sun, 7th May 2020, with the top right hand corner mentioning an interview with Zazie inside.

I did some TV and radio interviews from my study, like this one with The Morning Show...

... and including The Upgrade podcast with Lifehacker which was a lot of fun. (And I do have more than one outfit, I promise!).

Screenshot of Zazie Todd appearing on The Upgrade podcast with Alice Bradley and Claire Lower

Wag was a BC bestseller for two weeks in May 2020.

BC Bestseller list for 9th May 2020 showing Wag:  The Science of Making Your dog Happy at no 5

One of the most exciting things was seeing Wag on the bookshelf of Global BC’s political bureau chief, Keith Baldrey. Keith has been doing an amazing job of supporting local authors whilst reporting on the pandemic (his pandemic reporting is top-notch, too). 

Photo of the Global BC screen showing Keith Baldrey reporting, with Wag prominently displayed on the bookshelf behind him
Wag on the bookshelf of journalist Keith Baldrey, reporting on Global BC News on 19th Feb 2021

He even got a 10/10 from Room Rater while Wag was on his bookshelf!

Tweet showing Room Rater gives Keith Baldrey 10/10, with a copy of Wag on his bookshelf behind him

And recently I was incredibly honoured to receive a Maxwell medallion from the Dog Writer’s Association of America for the best book on behaviour, health, and general care.

A copy of Wag on a table, with the Maxwell medallion it won for the best book on dog behaviour, health, or general care
Wag with its Maxwell medallion.

One of my favourite things has been seeing photos of people’s dogs with Wag, like the one at the top of this post. Thanks to everyone who shared their photos with me! (You can see more of those photos here and here). 

Thank you to everyone who has written a review of Wag on Amazon or elsewhere. It is really appreciated – reviews make a big difference to authors!

An Amazon review giving Wag 5 out of 5, titled read this if you're lucky to live with a dog
The top review of Wag on

So that was a year in the life of my book! Throughout, I had the amazing support of family, friends, and my very special Wag Team. I’m grateful to all of you. Thank you! 

And of course thanks to everyone at my publisher, and to my agent, for their hard work and support during this time.

I spent years working on Wag. It makes me very happy to know that so many people care about dogs' happiness.

I’ve been lucky to be able to work from home for the past year, and I’ve also had a project to work on that involves spending a lot of time at my computer. I’ll be honest, there have been days when it’s been hard to write because of everything else going on. But there is something I’ve been working on and I can’t wait to share more details with you soon.

Zazie Todd's tortoiseshell cat Melina with a copy of Wag
My tortoiseshell cat, Melina, approves of my writing projects.

Zazie Todd, PhD, is the award-winning author of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy and Purr: The Science of Making Your Cat Happy. She is the creator of the popular blog, Companion Animal Psychology and also has a column at Psychology Today. Todd lives in Maple Ridge, BC, with her husband, one dog, and two cats. 

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