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Retired Virginia Beach teacher's book teaches life lessons through dogs

Retired Rosemont Elementary educator Annesley Hackathorn wrote a book inspired by her first Goldendoodle, Shenleigh, to encourage kids to believe in themselves.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — No, the story of Shenleigh O'Doodle, a special pup with superpowers, isn't real.

But Shenleigh was a real dog.

"She was my dog for 14 years, my very first Goldendoodle," said Annesley Hackathorn, author of the children's book 'Shenleigh O'Doodle, Half Golden, Half Poodle'.

"I wanted her memory to live on and just share her unconditional love and kindness with children," Hackathorn said.

She used Shenleigh as inspiration to craft a story about a dog who used her unique gifts and talents to save the day when chaos unfolds at her pet daycare.

The message of celebrating individuality resonated with young minds at Rosemont Elementary School in Virginia Beach when Hackathorn stopped by to read 'Shenleigh' to a few classes. Hackathorn retired from the school as a teacher and guidance counselor.

"Shenleigh used the skills that she was given," Hackathorn said. "Shenleigh was very unique."

"She didn't look like her parents and the other dogs almost bullied her," Shenleigh said. "But she prevailed. She was very kind. She worked through the bullying. She has a nice level of confidence."

Hackathorn said the story includes several teachable moments.

"I really packed it with some powerful guidance counselor messages," Hackathorn said.

But she hopes one simple lesson stands out for readers.

"Follow your dreams and believe in yourself," Hackathorn said.

She wants 'Shenleigh' to inspire children to embrace what makes them special.

"Every child goes through self-doubt," Hackathorn said. "So, just learning to be empowered by your differences and, you know, rise above. Let them empower you to find your superpower."

Hackathorn is also a Goldendoodle breeder and owns Virginia Beach Goldendoodles.

You can find out if any pups are ready for adoption or get more information about ‘Shenleigh’ through Hackathorn's website.

The book is available for purchase on Amazon.

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