"I was going for a ride with my 'human family.' ... All of a sudden, the car stopped. I looked around; we were in the middle of a road, but I didn't know the place. Before I knew what was happening, 'my people' were yelling, and some strong hands grabbed me. The car door opened, and I was dropped out onto the road. ... But then the car door closed, and the car started going away without me. 'They forgot about me,' I thought. So I started running as fast as I could and barking as loudly as I could, trying to let 'my people' know that I wasn't in the car. The car kept going farther and farther away ..." an excerpt from "A Beagle's Tale," told from the perspective of Keeper, the author's beagle. Keeper stumbled into Halina Bochynek's life on July 3, 2007. He was only eight or nine months old. Bochynek spotted him out on the road near her house in Pisgah Forest at 7 a.m. She figured he lived nearby and he'd go back home. Later that afternoon, her future son-in-law alerted Bochynek: "Look at this beagle sitting in the middle of the road." They called to the puppy to get him out of the road. "I guess he was to the point of desperation," Bochynek says. "He was walking like it was his very last step." They gave him some water, thinking he would find his way back home after that. But the beagle turned up again later that day. He howled at their window, like he was begging to come in. Bochyneck brought him into the house. Her family posted signs in the area and asked neighbors if they recognized him, hoping to find the puppy's owner. A neighbor told Bochynek's husband, Ludwik, that she had seen an SUV driving along the road come to a stop. Someone opened a door, dumped the little pup out and sped off. "I was born a happy puppy. Then I was dropped on the road by people who had taken me away from my mother," Keeper says in "A Beagle's Tale." "These were people that I loved in my beagle way. But then I was lost with no place to go and nobody to miss me." Bochynek took Keeper to the vet's office to check for a microchip, which he didn't have. The vet told her that his markings are an indication that Keeper could be a purebred beagle from a rare bloodline. Keeper is brown with black highlights, four white socks and white on his chest and belly. "He's the most handsome beagle," Bochynek says adoringly as she looks at Keeper. He responds with an appreciative bark. "He knows that," she says with a laugh. "He is very manipulative." A keeper It's easy to see why kids are drawn to Keeper. Besides his natural good looks, the 2 1/2-year-old Beagle is more than happy to share his love and kisses with any kind soul he can find, large or small. He sociably runs up to greet anyone who comes his way. Today Keeper lives happily on a small farm with Bochynek, 52, her husband Ludwik and the family's other pets: Bourbon, a giant black Schnauzer, Warta, a Husky, horses Baby, Madeira and Bugsy and several barn cats. They also have two grown daughters. Motivated by her positive rescue of Keeper, Bochynek decided to write a children's book designed to teach children responsibility. She also hopes the book, endearingly written through Keeper's perspective, will encourage kids to think about the consequences of pet ownership before acquiring a furry friend. "It's a cute little book," says Mary Cervini, president and co-founder of Flat Rock-based Community Partnership for Pets, a nonprofit animal advocacy group. "It's very easy to read." In the book, Keeper takes children on his journey from terrified abandoned puppy to his forever home with Bochynek. It shows kids that animals have feelings just like they do. "The love of animals is something that is learned and it's never too late to teach," Cervini says. Earlier this month, Community Partnership for Pets had a spay-neuter event in conjunction with one of Keeper and Bochynek's book signings in downtown Hendersonville. "The book's language is very simple," Bochynek says in her Polish accent. "Parents love what he's saying." Since "A Beagle's Tale" came out in November, Keeper has been busy "signing" (paw printing) books for his admirers at local bookstores and pet events. "He's excited," Bochynek says. "He loves kids. ... He wants to please very much." Bochynek, a native of Poland, whose education was in pedagogy (teaching others how to teach), puts her background to good use when she tells children about Keeper and reads from the book. She gets down on their level. Lessons from Keeper On a recent afternoon, Bochynek leans over and kisses her "Beagle Bagel" on the head. "He found me, honestly," she says. Cervini commends Bochynek's attempts to find Keeper's owners. "The lost and found part of finding an animal is just really important," says Cervini. "You don't really know under what circumstances that animal was lost." The worst thing to do is dump an animal on the side of the road; the animal doesn't know how to care for itself. "A Beagle's Tale" also portrays how frightened abandoned animals become. "They're really scared," Cervini says. "They're just like children." It's much better for people to take an animal they can no longer care for or one they find to an animal shelter than to abandon it, Cervini says. A neighbor of hers recently found a Labrador Retriever and took it to the local shelter. It was soon reunited with its owner, who had checked the shelter for the missing lab. "It's far better than them starving to death or being hit by a car or being killed by another animal," Cervini says. "Animals are not disposable. Just like you wouldn't set your 3-year-old child on the street, you wouldn't do that to a pet." By reaching out to children with "A Beagle's Tale," Bochynek hopes to reduce the number of impulsive pet adoptions and animal abandonments. "Ask yourself, can you provide that for them?" Bochynek says. "It's not always roses." Sometimes people don't consider important issues before choosing a suitable pet breed compatible with their lifestyle. "People spend more time considering which cell plan they are going to purchase than what pet they will get," Cervini says. "You really need to do your homework, read up on the type of pet that you need." For example, if you're a single mom with three young kids, a Chihuahua may not be the best choice because the breed isn't always child-friendly. And senior citizens may need to think twice if they want a Jack Russell terrier, a breed known for its high energy level. Crazy Bagle Time Each night around 8 p.m. Keeper initiates his favorite routine with his family. They call it "Crazy Bagle Time." "All of a sudden I got this outburst of energy. I started running circles around the room. Bourbon tried to keep up with me, but he is older and he has some problem with his hind legs. So, I was running, and Bourbon was trying to catch me every time I ran close by. The people were laughing, watching us play. The husband stopped the TV show and said, 'This is better entertainment than anything you see on TV.'" That's Keeper's description of his favorite activity: running. The two dogs also enjoy playing tug of war. But their size difference gives Bourbon a slight advantage. Bourbon is easily two to two and a half times Keeper's size. "If Bourbon wanted to, he could just sweep Keeper up in the air," Bochynek says. But Bourbon doesn't. He likes Keeper's company. Keeper has some other entertaining habits. Unlike many dogs, Keeper likes cats. He's been spotted running up to one of Bochynek's barn cats, Dolphin, and laying a big slurpy tongue kiss on him. Besides laughs, Keeper has given Bochynek and her husband some much-needed gifts. He's taught them to stop and smell the roses. "When we go on walks with them, he will stop and he will get amazed with butterflies," Bochynek says. "He just taught us to slow down and see the beautiful things that are right around us. ... Those are just the beautiful moments with him." Another favorite pasttime of Keeper's: Sitting on the bank of the pond at Bochynek's home to watch the wild ducks eat. He's also a good host. When someone visits his Pisgah Forest home, Keeper likes to leap into their lap and give lots of licks, while wagging his tail nonstop, of course. Keeper wasn't Bochynek's first animal rescue. She also took in a horse that needed a home. Bochynek enjoys returning some of the compassion she and her husband have received. The couple was granted political asylum when they immigrated to the United States in 1982 from Poland. They arrived with just $80. A group of warm, caring St. James Episcopal Church members from Hendersonville took the couple under their wing and helped them transition to living in the United States. "If I see a human being that needs help and I can help, I will do it," Bochynek says. "And animals are no different." Keeper's winsome personality Since the book came out, Keeper has become a four-legged celebrity in this corner of Western North Carolina. He frequently attends public events at places like Hands On! A Children's Gallery and even seems to enjoy making pawprint autographs in his book for children. And he's definitely having an impact on the kids he meets, Bochynek says. For instance, when the pair visited Asheville Catholic School in March, one boy who was frightened of dogs just stared at Keeper as the other children petted him. When the children lined up to give Keeper a small piece of dry dog food, the boy got in line. Thanks to Keeper's calm personality, when it was the boy's turn, he held his hand out and fed Keeper too. Bochynek has since heard that the boy no longer panicks around dogs. Keeper and his owner are also keeping their paws and fingers crossed. Scholastic, the national children's book publisher, has invited Bochynek to submit her manuscript of "A Beagle's Tale" for review. Meanwhile Keeper continues to be a keeper -- warm, friendly and full of loving kisses for his family and friends. Bochynek shares this happy message from Keeper with children in their book: "... look at me now! I am a very happy beagle. I have found a home unlike any other in the world as I know it." Keeper takes part in story time at Hands On! A Childrens Gallery.