Contacts: ruffwriterbooks@gmail.com or 412-849-5574. The RUFF Writers offers both free web-based pdf learning resources as well as a book KIT to order for families to share the joy or reading, writing and reflecting. This project is based on the philosophies of the National Writing Project. The NWP advocates that the best teachers of writing are teachers who write--and that includes a child's first teacher of a family.



The Scoop journalist, Jane Miller, a grandmother, is a free-lance features, food and zone reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. She was an adjunct journalism professor for The Penn State University Greater Allegheny campus, and serves on the leadership team of the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project (WPWP) at the University of Pittsburgh, and on the advisory board of the National Elementary Schools Press Association at the University of Alabama. Richard C. Miller, Ph.D., a great-grandfather, is a retired psychologist who had a private practice for 55 years, and served as a consultant in various school districts in the field of Affective Education. He taught in the graduate Psychology Department of the University of Pittsburgh, and taught workshops in conflict resolution for teens/adults through the Workshop Institute of Living-Learning (W.I.L.L.), a program that helped inspire The RUFF Writers project.





'Live your life as if it is 50 years from now,' youth leader Alma Long told campers at the Church of the Brethren Inspiration Hills camp. She said those were the words she heard from Dan West, when she was a youth, shortly after he founded 'Heifers for Relief,' now known as Heifer International. It reminded 15-year-old Jane Cocanour that when she was five-years-old, she wanted to have a career with her dog after a Sunday School teacher shared the story about Dan West starting the Heifer Project with a 'cow named Faith.'

As a teen and young adult, she understood that to be a metaphor for character education. When she was in fifth grade, her teacher read aloud A Dog of Flanders at a time of conflict among the children of milk farmers and hamburger farmers. It led to a career path in education and writing multi-generational curriculum for teachers/families visiting the Childrenís Museum of Pittsburgh. She was writing for a national character education program when her father was diagnosed with cancer. He wasnít expected to live another month when he moved in with his only child and her husband and elementary school daughter. But his condition improved and his tumor shrunk over the next 11 months. His diagnosis was no longer terminal. That is when Jane and her two daughters visited a local no-kill shelter and the family adopted Sadie, a Bouvier des Flandres, the rare breed written about in 'The Dog of Flanders' on Fatherís Day, June 18, 2006. Exactly a month later, on July 18, 'Pa,' as everyone knew Mr. Cocanour, died. Sadie was their comfort in this time of great sadness. But Sadie seemed to have a greater mission than just comforting the Miller family following the death of PA. Young Beth, age 8, wanted to take her to nursing homes to visit with other grandparents, so Jane and her husband Rick trained with Sadie and became associates of Therapy Dog International. When Jane contacted a local personal care home about visiting room to room, the Activity Director was Sister Alice Dunlop--their hospice chaplain---and one of Sadieís first friends. She suggested group visits that could include residentsí children, and named it, 'Visits with Sadie.'

In May 2008 the mom/daughter/therapy dog team brought the book, 'Bad Dog, Marley!' to leave for residents to share with young visitors. A new grand friend asked Beth to read the book aloud, and to mom's amazement, she did (Beth was extremely shy in those days). Then Jane said, "Sadie loves to listen to stories, too. Do you have stories to share with her?" She jotted down their stories, and at home, with Sadie at their feet, they created a scrap book.

Soon Beth had an idea for a Girl Scout Bronze Award service-learning project. Other children/teens got involved, too. Jane remembered being five-years-old, and challenged by a Sunday school teacher to find ways to help others. In seven years the therapy dog/daughter/mom team made more than 200 'Visits with Sadie,' sharing dozens of favorite 'Book Friends Forever' activities.



Use the RUFF Writers Remembering K.I.T. to help your community and nonprofit charities.See the HELP page for details. See the BOOK page for K.I.T. info.