Fraser’s adventures continue
April 10, 2002
Aspen resident Jill Sheeley, a self-published author for nearly 22 years, found limited success with her early work.Titles that highlighted her world-famous hometown – “Christmas in Aspen” commemorated local holiday rituals, while “Tastes of Aspen” circulated favorite recipes from local restaurants – were well circulated, but it was not until Sheeley decided to make a small addition to her family that she found a certain amount of fame.Just over eight years ago, Sheeley fell in love with a friend’s dog, a playful, easygoing yellow Labrador. Sheeley and her family – husband Don and daughter Courtney – decided to adopt a lab of their own, a male they named Fraser. Fraser, an adventurous pup that loved to wonder and explore with then-8-year-old Courtney, quickly became fodder for Sheeley’s love of writing. After discovering a lack of children’s books involving Aspen, Sheeley decided writing for a younger audience would be her next move as an author.”And here I had this great yellow dog who goes on so many, many adventures, and here I had a daughter, so I thought I’d write about both of them,” Sheeley said.Sheeley collaborated with local artist Tammie Lane to flesh out the first book, “Adventures of Fraser the Yellow Dog: Rescue on Snowmass Mountain.” Lane’s watercolor paintings joined with Sheeley’s story of the brave Fraser and his human companion, Courtney, to create an almost instant hit among local children. The real Fraser accompanied Sheeley on book tours and even visited local schools to greet his fans.Continuing a phenomenon that has spawned three books, a book-on-tape and a Fraser beanie toy, Sheeley has recently published her four-legged friend’s latest adventure, “Rescue on Aspen Mountain.” Though the book includes all the familiar characters – the Yellow Dog himself and his three human friends – the story also introduces Maggie, a yellow Lab puppy that benefits from the rescue of the title. Just like the fictional Fraser and Courtney, Maggie has a real-world counterpart: a 3-year-old Lab of the same name adopted by the Sheeleys as a puppy. In fact, all of Sheeley’s stories are loosely based on real events – the latest book, the author said, was inspired by neighbor Craig Ward’s rescue of a puppy in an abandoned mine shaft on Aspen Mountain. “Every time we’d go camping, he would tell us this wonderful story,” Sheeley said.Though Fraser is now 8 years old – in human years, possibly thinking about retirement – he’s not ready to give up his job as Aspen’s most famous dog, Sheeley said. After all, he might be the only animal in town that receives fan mail and boasts his own Internet guest book.”He loves his job. He loves going to the schools and adores the children,” Sheeley said. “When they surround him, he’s all smiles.”For more information on Sheeley’s selection of titles, visit her Web site, http://www.jillsheeleybooks.com.