Katy McQuaid believes the most important trait of the Finnish Lapphund breed of dog is that they know how to look into someone’s eyes and let them know they are loved.
“This is what Grace does best,” McQuaid said.
McQuaid, a resident of the Baker neighborhood, started her “Everybody Loves Grace” series of children’s books a couple of years after retiring in 2015 from a 32-year career with the CIA.
“Grace has an impact on people,” McQuaid said. “When people meet her, there’s a natural connection, and the stories follow.”
Grace is McQuaid’s Finnish Lapphund. She has fans across the nation, as Grace accompanies McQuaid to story times with children and older adults, and the two stayed busy with virtual story times when in-person events ceased due to the pandemic.
Grace came into McQuaid’s life in 2011 to be a companion to the senior-aged Tinto, also a Finnish Lapphund. McQuaid adopted Grace when she was a 4-year-old dog from a woman in Canada who needed to find a safe home for Grace.
McQuaid’s first Grace book was published in 2018, and the sixth in the series, “Everybody Loves Grace: A True Story of Grace’s Adventure to Washington, D.C.,” came out in October 2021.
An approximate 25-minute read for adults, McQuaid’s Grace books are about 65 pages and eight chapters, written from Grace’s perspective. While they’re primarily geared toward children ages 6-10, people of all ages enjoy them. Older adults particularly like that the books help spark intergenerational conversations with their younger family members.
For example, “children may not understand aging,” McQuaid said, “but it’s easier when told through the perspective of a dog.”
Each of the Grace books also includes a “simple life lesson,” McQuaid said. These range from the profound effect on others that simple acts of kindness can have to learning the journey is an important part of the adventure.
Grace’s adventures in the stories include many areas in town that are familiar landmarks to people — and serve as Grace’s favorite sniff spots — such as the Mayan Theatre on Broadway.
Denver Health is another one of those spots. Once when McQuaid and Grace were out walking near the hospital, one of Denver Health’s paramedics stopped and asked to pet Grace.
“He said, `if only I could start my day like this every day,’” McQuaid said. “There’s just something about the comfort of a dog.”
Q&A with Katy McQuaid
Why do you think people of all ages have a natural connection to Grace?
I think the connection comes from Grace’s gift of presence. People of all ages feel seen and heard when they meet Grace. When she looks into someone’s eyes, they feel her great love for them.
What is most enjoyable about writing about Grace’s adventures, and why?
What’s fun is thinking about our adventures through Grace’s eyes. I love incorporating Grace’s wit and wise view of the world into each story. Every time I’ve written a book, she comes into the room where I’m writing to let me know when I’m done.
Speaking on behalf of Grace, what do you think she enjoys most about meeting people?
It’s Grace’s mission to enrich lives through storytelling and meaningful connection. In addition to receiving scratches behind her ears, I’d say Grace’s favorite part is making a difference in someone’s day just by looking in their eyes and into their heart.