by Susan Mikula Campbell
Luciano went to the groomer's this week so he'd look handsome for the book signing on Saturday at the Niagara County SPCA/Rainbow Animal Shelter on Lockport Road.
The book, "Luciano, A Dog's Story," was written by his owner, Ellie Marcolini of Wheatfield. Marcolini plans to donate proceeds of its sale to the local SPCA and to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
Luciano, named after Luciano Pavarotti, is Marcolini's 9-year-old bichon frise. Marcolini is a creative writing teacher and freelance writer. Longtime Lewiston residents, she and her husband, Paul, had moved to Deborah Lane in Wheatfield when they purchased Luciano in 2002. They moved to Crestwood Commons off Niagara Falls Boulevard after Paul's illness worsened. Paul and Luciano often rode around the senior living development in Paul's motorized wheelchair, and Luciano was a faithful companion whenever Marcolini or son, Jamie, had to be away from home.
Paul died on July 11, 2008.
"For the 12 days Paul spent at the Hospice in Lockport, Luciano wanted to be on his bed from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.," Marcolini said.
After Paul died, Luciano would start out sleeping in her bed, but during the night, would get up and go sleep in "Papa's chair."
Before he died, Paul asked his wife to write a book. At first she thought he meant their memoirs.
"One day I had an epiphany. What was central in Paul's life? Who never left his side?" Marcolini said. "I see this as a tribute to my husband and to dogs everywhere."
So this book of life, death and survival is written in the voice of and from the viewpoint of a cuddly, bright-eyed, loving ball of white fluff, who enjoys giving kisses, snacking on baby carrots and string beans and barking at a neighborhood cat who taunts him from outside his owner's new Wheatfield condo.
"Life would be very lonely without my little dog," Marcolini said.
Marcolini thought she'd never get her book finished and published. Soon after her husband's death, she was hospitalized for a heart attack, then had to have back surgery, and then a bad fall and broken bones put her back in the hospital again. She also had to mourn the death of one of her twin daughters. Not only that, but she writes by hand and is "struggling" to learn how to use a computer.
She told Dr. Jayanta Chaudhuri that she considered Luciano's story to be her "last hurrah." Maybe, maybe not. He's suggested a second book, based on his father's dog in India, Puffy, being pen pals with Luciano.
Meanwhile, there are the signings of the $7.99 book and the hope that the profits of this legacy to man's best friend will assist other animals through the SPCA and PETA.
Both Marcolini and Luciano will be at the SPCA, 2100 Lockport Road, Wheatfield, at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 22.
Marcolini also will sign copies of her book at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 5, at Crestwood Commons (dogs not allowed in the dining room, so no meet and greet by Luciano) and at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 29 at Milan Salon, 5073 Merrywood Drive, Lewiston.