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Donald Then: ‘The Lucky Greyhound’ is informative, entertaining and filled with author’s vibrant art

The Lucky Greyhound, by Ft. Thomas artist and author Beverly Hembold Erschell, is a general-interest storybook with three distinct dimensions. First, it is a love story about a great dog, Maple the greyhound. Second, it is an informative look at the magnificent greyhound breed. Third, it is an exhibition of the talent of a truly gifted local artist.

Before continuing, I have to admit a personal bias: I love dogs. I enjoy their loyalty, companionship, and intelligence.

The Lucky Greyhound Front Cover

I suspect heaven is filled with these happy virtuosos of joy, romping here and there, sleeping in the sun, or lounging on St. Peter’s couch. And now that she is deceased, Maple, the main character in The Lucky Greyhound, is frolicking right alongside White Fang, Lassie, Old Yeller, Asta, and that very special dog you loved.

Specifically, The Lucky Greyhound is an informative study about a rescued and noble greyhound—one who did not find glory on the racetrack but rather in the hearts of the people who rescued her: first a Northern Kentucky veterinarian and then a local lab technician and artist, who ultimately shared joint ownership.

The Lucky Greyhound is a primer filled with facts about the greyhound breed, one honed for racing and hunting.

And there’s an added treat. As noted early on, the general-interest storybook vividly portrays Maple through Erschell’s expressionistic art. Each page is a candid glimpse of Maple in varied poses and postures—all of them dramatic and filled with vibrant colors.

I have always been fascinated by greyhounds and learned a few facts reading this book. Here are some tidbits (among many) about the dogs of this breed: Their name means great not grey. They are extremely intelligent. They are docile animals except when racing or hunting. They hunt by sight not by scent. They run fast, reaching speeds of 45 mph. Their blood count is high in red cells, which makes them an ideal universal blood donor for many animals. They are bred to race, running on their toes and not flat-footed like most dogs. When their racing days are over, they make fine pets and wonderful companions.

Louis Sabin, famous for his young-adult books, once said, “A dog doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, big or small, young or old. He doesn’t care if you’re not smart, not popular, not a good joke-teller, not the best athlete, [or] the best-looking person. To your dog, you are the greatest, the smartest, [and] the nicest human being who was ever born. You are his friend and protector.”

In The Lucky Greyhound you’ll read about a failed race dog’s lasting triumph. She was too slow out of the starting gates. However, she was befriended and protected. After her adoption, she really found her groove; first with a local veterinarian who used Maple’s blood for sick or injured animals and then as the loving pet of two local women. On occasion, Maple became a subject for local art students, too.

 caption (Photo provided)

Beverly Erschell (Photo provided)

According to Erschell, “I wrote this book to tell the story of our experience with a pet greyhound, an unusual breed of dog that isn’t commonly seen in everyday life. Maple opened a whole new world of history, people, enlightenment, and inspiration.” Well done, Maple!

If you remember one thing from this review, it should be that Erschell has captured Maple’s beauty and personality in both art and words in The Lucky Greyhound. The result is an enjoyable storybook that would be a great gift or splendid addition to any book collection.

Additional credits for the book list Victoria Grimme and Barbara Sweet as co-authors and Audra L. Rose as an adviser. Together with Erschell, Rose was a co-owner of Maple.

If you would like to adopt a greyhound, there are many local regional, and national websites listed in Erschell’s book; among them are the Greyhound Adoption Center of Greater Cincinnati and Queen City Greyhounds.

Erschell attended the Cincinnati Art Academy and the University of Cincinnati. She has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in fine art from UC’s College of Design, Architecture and Art. You can see her work in permanent collections at the Cincinnati Art Museum. The Lucky Greyhound is featured on Amazon.com and CincyBooks.com, or you can visit her Facebook page.

Don Then_150

Donald Then, a novelist and experienced editor and journalist, is NKyTribune’s literary editor. He will review books written by local authors or those with a Northern Kentucky setting. Reach him at author@djamesthen.com Visit his website at

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