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Mark Federman, front, Ryan Segall and Dallas Sessoms get ready to record in the studios of WCQS in Asheville.
Over the past few months, NPR's In Character series has explored famous American fictional characters — who they are, how they've inspired us.
Martin is the author of A Dog's Life: Autobiography of a Stray, a book she says was inspired her dog, Sadie.
At, audiences have been encouraged to respond to NPR's stories and to write essays about their own favorite characters.
All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. Stray Squirrel, taught to avoid humans, is alone in the world when her mother and brother are taken away from her. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. Lying in the warmth remembering other nightsa€”nights in the woods under a blanket of stars, nights spent with Moon, nights in the shed when I was a puppy.

The fire pops and I rise slowly, turn around twice, then a third time, and settle onto the bed again, Susan smiling fondly at me from her armchair.
And one of them revealed a very special connection with Squirrel — the four-legged protagonist of Ann M. I've known of dogs who dined on fine foods and led pampered lives, sleeping on soft beds and being served hamburger and chicken and even steak. I've known of dogs who looked longingly at warm homes, who were not invited inside, who stayed in a garage or a shed or under a wheelbarrow for a few days, then moved on. I've known of dogs who were treated cruelly by human hands and dogs who were treated with the gentlest touch, dogs who starved and dogs who grew fat from too many treats. He is very polite, answering questions with "Yes, sir" or "Yes, ma'am." He's never recorded himself reading, but he's been practicing.
From there, a lesson plan developed, "a whole unit of study where kids got to not only brainstorm and list, but then describe and defend." A Dog's Life was a Christmas gift to Mark from his foster mother, Cristina Skillin-Federman. The more I was reading about (Squirrel) and about the dog finding its way, I thought that maybe it could relate to Mark, just because of where he was at in his life." Skillin-Federman also liked that A Dog's Life doesn't sugarcoat the story.

Squirrel roams the woods, searches for food and nearly dies crossing a busy highway with his brother. The two stray dogs get picked up by humans who want them as pets — but then they get thrown out. Having had "to move into different homes, and being disappointed because they weren't the right family for us," he says, he could identify with Squirrel's ups and downs.
Reading about another creature's struggle to find a good fit, he says, "kind of made me feel happy because I'm not the only one.
Sadie's mother was a stray who was found wandering the highway just before giving birth to a litter of puppies.

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life of a dog book

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