By Ellie Leeper
A Texas girl and her ranch dog telling tales of what they see in the land in which they live. It seems so simple, doesn’t it? In the new children’s book, Buster Tells All by Carolyn Berry, imagine a land where exotic game from all over the world cohabitate in peace, without fences or fear of the challenges of a life in the wild. This land is tucked away in a near a town called Glen Rose, Texas and it is fondly known to so many as the Pony Creek Ranch. Encompassing a thousand acres, the ranch is home to both endangered and protected wildlife rescued and raised by native Texan ranchers Carolyn and Jim Berry, who have a son who lives in San Antonio.
The Berry’s have cultivated their ranch property to be a safe-haven for both the exotic and the not-so-exotic and they share their passion for wildlife and open the gates of their ranch each year to visitors from all over the world, in the hopes that others will gain the valuable life lessons they have learned from caring for their animals over the years.
Carolyn, as a life-long animal lover, believes that caring for animals can teach both children and adults four important characteristics: compassion, loyalty, trustworthiness, and honesty. In order to convey the importance of these characteristics to children who live within and outside of Texas’ borders, Carolyn has written the book set on the Pony Creek Ranch.
In Buster Tells It All the Pony Creek Ranch dog “Buster” acts as the animal guardian of the property, narrating the story, seen through his eyes of the love, friendship, and support that can exist between animals and people. He faces some challenges along the way because he must act as the stand-in caregiver for a young Nubian ibex named April whose mother abandoned her at birth. Buster eventually overcomes these challenges by teaching April how to bottle-feed so that she receives the appropriate nutrition that she needs to survive.
The story has a purpose, too. Carolyn wrote the tome in response to the tragic loss of her young niece Becca in an automobile accident just a few years ago. Like Carolyn, Becca was passionate about fostering a bond with wildlife. In addition to aiding in caring for the animals at Pony Creek Ranch, throughout her youth, Becca dedicated much of her time volunteering for Operation Kindness, one of the oldest and largest non-profit no-kill animal welfare organizations that cares for homeless cats and dogs.
Becca always displayed compassion, loyalty, trustworthiness, and honesty in her daily life because she spent so much time caring for the animals that surrounded her. “The honesty given by an animal shows us who they are. Their trust, when earned, stirs our compassion and reminds us of our own humanity,” says Berry. To honor Becca’s humanity and the compassion she shared with others, Carolyn wrote this children’s book that she hopes is the first of many in a series about Pony Creek Ranch experiences.
Buster Tells It All is available for purchase on Amazon.com and in select bookstores. More information on Carolyn Berry’s book and her life as a rancher can be found on the Pony Creek Ranch website at www.ponycreekranch.com. A portion of the proceeds from Buster Tells It All will be donated to Teach For America and to The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Texas (SPCA).