A Conversation with Author Dawn Blair.
“Me And Mr. Monks,” tells the heartwarming (and often heartbreaking) story of a tiny 7 lb. rescue dog who saved his owner's life. When Dawn Blair was diagnosed with Lyme disease, her world was turned upside down. For almost 4 years, Dawn was dealing with myriad debilitating symptoms including fatigue, crippling migraines, chronic insomnia, loss of balance, dizziness, brain fog, neuropathy, and open sores/ulcers over her body and face that would not heal. Physically beaten down to the point where she was contemplating suicide, Dawn turned to her rescue dog, Mr. Monks for comfort. And Mr. Monks delivered.
Mr. Monks and Dawn shared a unique once-in-a-lifetime relationship. The pain she felt upon his passing was almost unbearable. This book is not only a tribute to Mr. Monks, and everything he meant to Dawn, but is also about the power of friendship, and how an animal rescue can, in fact, rescue both parties.
Dawn Blair is a Registered Hospice Nurse who resides in Richmond, Virginia. An avid animal lover, when not caring for hospice patients, she dedicates the bulk of her free time to volunteering with the local Richmond area animal shelters and rescues. She lives with her husband and their four-legged friends including three Pitbulls, a long-haired Chihuahua and a Brussels Griffon.
Continue reading for an exclusive interview.
Tell us a bit about your background.
My name is Dawn M. Blair and I currently work as a full-time Registered Nurse/Case Manager with Hospice of Virginia. I have been a registered nurse for about 10 years and a hospice nurse for 3 years. I am a new author as well. The book “Me and Mr. Monks” is my first book. I am married and have been for 11 years. My husband and I have 5 dogs, 3 of which are rescue dogs. I am a huge animal advocate and have volunteered with multiple shelters and rescues in the Richmond, Virginia area. I hold a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications and an Associate’s in Applied Science/ Nursing. I’m also a Certified Dog Trainer.
How would you describe your new book, "Me And Mr. Monks?"
Me and Mr. Monks is a heartwarming and unforgettable story of a little 7lb. rescue dog that ended up saving his owners life. Mr. Monks was rescued on Valentine’s Day 2015 by Ring Dog Rescue, a pit-bull rescue in Richmond, Virginia, at a mere 6 years old. He & his owner, Dawn Blair forged a deep bond quite similar to that of a mother & child. He was her constant companion, her little shadow & quite literally her entire world. For he was the one that helped her make it through the most difficult time in her life when she became ill. The bond that Mr. Monks & his owner shared proved to be both a blessing & a curse because although the love they shared was one which comes along once in a lifetime, if you’re lucky, the pain felt upon his exit was almost too much to bear.
Me and Mr. Monks is a funny, unforgettable tribute to a wonderfully, precious little soul that changed a woman’s life & showed her what unconditional love truly meant.
What was the impetus for writing the book?
The driving force behind the creation of “Me and Mr. Monks” was the unfortunate and unexpected death of Mr. Monks on October 12, 2021. This book is the ultimate tribute to one precious little soul that changed my life.
Mr. Monks was a rescue dog, what initially attracted you to him?
Mr. Monks was and will always be the most unusual looking little dog I’ve ever seen. I truly have never known another dog that looked like him, nor had the amazing personality that he had. He looked kind of like an Ewok or Gremlin when I first saw him and I thought he was unbelievably adorable. He was also quite human-like and was the definition of joy.
You discuss your ongoing struggle with Lyme Disease in your book. What role did Mr. Monk play in that part of the story?
Mr. Monks took on essential role in me surviving the 3 and a half yearlong battle while trying to find a diagnosis for my mysterious symptoms. My symptoms started in June of 2017 with skin rashes and ulcers. Additional symptoms started to arise over the next 3 and a half years including: headaches, blurry vision, dizziness, chronic insomnia, swelling in my lower limbs, extreme sensitivity to heat and sunlight and numbness and tingling in my feet. I couldn’t work and for months I couldn’t even leave the house. I thought weekly about killing myself but every time I looked up and saw Mr. Monks big brown eyes staring back at me I knew I couldn’t do it, that I had to go on. I had to go on for him. Because if I were gone he would be devastated, he lived each day for me and so I began to live each day for him. Mr. Monks gave me the strength to keep fighting until I was diagnosed in August of 2020 with chronic Lyme disease. After my diagnosis he was my source of comfort and security. He was with me every step of the way.
Why was it important for you to write this book?
It was important for me to write this book, “Me and Mr. Monks” after his passing in order to let the world know what a special little soul he truly was. He wasn’t just a tiny rescue dog but he was my best friend, my constant companion and my furry little soulmate, so to speak. He truly saved my life from saving me from myself. He was oh so special.
What is the central message you hope readers take away after reading it?
I hope readers enjoy reading our story but most importantly I hope they understand how strong the human animal bond can be. Animals love unconditionally and can be there for you in the darkest of times. Mr. Monks didn’t care that I was sick, that I was depressed, that I had oozing ulcers on my face and could hardly get around. He didn’t care, he loved me more than anything in the world. Nothing else mattered. I also want readers to know that if you or someone you know is fighting a chronic illness there is hope, you may have to fight for it but there is hope. You are your greatest advocate when it comes to your health so you must stand up for yourself and your body no matter what.
Are you planning on writing any other books?
Yes, in fact I already have the book in the works. The book is about my special needs Pitbull Bradley. I literally rescued him off the euthanasia table from Richmond Animal Care and Control, the Richmond city shelter. He was surrendered to Richmond Animal Care and Control at 9 months old with hydrocephalus which is water on the brain. He had severe neurological deficits when he first arrived at the shelter and he was in desperate need of a medical foster home. My husband and I were the only ones that stepped up to take him in. He was a handful at first because of his neurological problems, he used to have up to 8 petite mal seizures a day but he has turned out to be an amazing dog. I wouldn’t trade him for the world. He’s truly like the “Forest Gump” of the dog world.