As you may have surmised, Knock Knock—and KK-ers—love dogs. I hope you’ve gotten to know a little about Paco and Maisie, our Head Honcho Jen’s goofy and serene (respectively) resident pups, and you may have seen (and purchased!) some of our past animal-loving products: the instructional book How to Have an Ill-Behaved Dog (from our Self-Hurt series), the Pet Organizer, and a KK Pad, “Don’t Kill the Pets.” Yup, we’re dog people. To be fair, we also have cat people here (some of us are even poly-pet-owners or, as Jen likes to put it, “ambipetrous”).
Creating a dog journal had been a pet project (pun intended) of our head honcho’s for some time. Originally envisioned as something along the lines of the classic “baby’s first year” journal, but for dog owners, the idea morphed after some brainstorming as well as because of our support for older and rescue dog adoption. About a thousand hours and a gazillion decisions later, in the spring of 2012, you’ll be able to find It’s a Dog’s Life: A Journal of Our First Year Together in amazing stores near you. After all, whether you get a purebred puppy or a middle-aged mutt, it’s about your dog’s first year with you.
One of our main goals for It’s a Dog’s Life was to create a combination guided journal and record-keeping organizer, with a sizable dose of Knock Knock humor. With fill-in-the-blanks, checkboxes, and helpful prompts, as well as interesting monthly content about the care and handling of your pooch (maybe I’ve drunk the orange Kool-Aid, but who doesn’t want to know about, say, canine body language?), this approach entailed a bigger editorial project than a straightforward journal. More factual content always means extra time given to research, fact-checking, and proofing. My first correspondence about this project was on Valentine’s Day 2011, and the final typeset, fully designed files were off to manufacturing at the end of July. We recently got the first proofs back from the printer, and they look great!
A lot of the research was done online, of course, but I also haunted my vet’s office and pet stores for written material. A funny thing happens when you’re researching a new project—everywhere you turn, something pertains to it. The New York Times, YouTube, news stories, my dog Elsa’s several trips to the emergency room (she’s fine)—all provided fodder (kibble?) for the project.
This was a completely new product for us, which meant free reign to dream up any ideas and concepts—no precedents! This suited me fine, since I take a somewhat unusual approach to writing for layouts—instead of working in Illustrator or InDesign, I dream up content and then sketch it out by hand. This means I need to work closely with a designer because, as you can see, my drawing talent is more MOBA than MOCA. But that’s the only way I can envision the layout as it incorporates text with design. Luckily, I got to work with the brilliant and patient designer Alexis Lowery, who transformed my scribblings into a design approach blending her take on (gotta say it) doggy style with the signature Knock Knock wit. Alexis also found a talented illustrator, Marian Richardson, who brought various dog personalities to life within the pages. I won’t lie—some of it was a struggle to get exactly right (for instance, deciding on the cover took longer than we thought) but in the final push, it just all came together.
I love the result, as do Paco, Maisie, and Elsa, and I hope you will, too!