As local Northern Michigan author Tricia Frey wrote her memoir “River Love – The True Story of a Wayward Sheltie, a Woman, and a Magical Place Called Rivershire,” she knew one thing for certain; if she could get the book published one day, a portion of the proceeds would benefit lost and homeless pets. That day has come.

“When a sweet little Sheltie who I eventually named Sheldon wandered onto my lawn in the spring of 2006, my life changed forever,” Frey says. “I quickly realized he was a stray. It took me two years to touch him for the first time and six more months to get him into my home. Years later when I decided to write his story, I dreamed of ways to use the book to rescue more pets like Sheldon. I wanted to make sure good things came from Sheldon’s amazing journey and life.”

Photo by Tricia Fey

Cherryland Humane Society will be the first recipient of what Frey hopes will be many fundraisers for homeless pets. The fundraiser is a collaborative effort between the rescue shelter, holistic pet supply store Pets Naturally and Frey. “I was brainstorming a way to sell books on behalf of Cherryland Humane Society,” Frey says. “Due to the pandemic, there aren’t many large-scale fundraisers happening right now, so after first conferring with CHS, I decided to ask a local store with a pet connection to sell the books. Pets Naturally generously agreed to act as the point of sale. They have a history of supporting local rescue groups, including CHS, so it’s a great fit.”

From Friday, October 16 through Sunday, November 15, Pets Naturally, located at 1117 W South Airport Rd. in Traverse City, will sell copies of “River Love” for $20, half of which will be donated to Cherryland Humane Society. Pets Naturally will also include a $5 store coupon for added value.

”Pets Naturally is delighted to be a part of this fundraiser,” says owner Kathy Hyland. “We embrace opportunities to help our local homeless pets and hope to raise lots of money for CHS.”

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The story of “River Love” resonates with Cherryland Humane Society, according to Executive Director Heidi Yates. ”This is an inspiring story that illuminates the deep bond and life-changing moments when one decides to take a rescue animal into their home and heart.”

Set on the banks of the Boardman River just south of Traverse City, “River Love” is Frey’s deeply personal, touching and often humorous memoir, telling a tale of trust, resilience, healing, redemption and—most of all—love. “Once I realized Sheldon was a stray and not the neighbor’s dog, my sister and I built him a house and fed him daily,” Frey says. “We went to great lengths to entice him to come to us, but he was too skittish and frightened. When I was able to touch Sheldon two years after first seeing him, I removed a red collar, but there were no identifying tags. Six months later, I carried him into my home and our deep bonding began.”

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Photo by Tricia Fey

Several years later—during a veterinarian visit to determine the cause of a cough Sheldon had developed—the doctor mentioned that one of the small marks on Sheldon’s X-ray was a microchip. Having never had Sheldon microchipped herself, Frey grappled with the implications and obligations of such a discovery and ultimately decided not to immediately make contact with those who knew Sheldon previously. Nine months later, Sheldon died in Frey’s arms. With that, she sent a letter to the address provided on his microchip and eventually learned the rest of Sheldon’s story. “Sheldon made quite a journey to get to me,” Frey says. “’River Love’ is a story that comes at just the right time for a world in need of healing and compassion. It is my hope this fundraiser will extend a great deal of compassion to the dogs and cats of Cherryland Humane Society who are in need of love and shelter just like Sheldon.”

For more information on “River Love” and the CHS fundraiser, including how to order books online if you’re unable to get copies at Pets Naturally, visit Tricia Frey’s website.

Photo(s) by Tricia Fey