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In dogs we trust

The bond between human and dog is unmatched. And when a dog’s role is to help their person, intriguing tales are to be told. Love for animals was Sue Allison’s inspiration to write the book Friends Indeed: Assist Dogs and Their People. However, it was the human connections that captured her heart.



The 63-year-old Christchurch journalist and freelance writer lives on a lifestyle block in North Canterbury where she and her husband have raised four children as well as a menagerie of animals. “It’s a city girl’s dream,” she says. “So writing about animals as well is nirvana!”

Sue has written two children’s books and recently Secrets of Small Gardens published by New Holland, who was keen to publish her next inspiration.

“I have a background in anthropology. I’m not a newshound but I love writing, especially about humans and animals,” says Sue, who chose to write about dogs helping people in a health-related capacity such as sight, hearing and mobility impairment. She travelled around the country interviewing people with assistance dogs.

“Everyone had a story. I thought it would be a hard job choosing which ones to include in the book but everyone I talked to is in it.”

There are 41 chapters, each about a person, a dog, and their bond. The profiles include Cantabrians with heart-warming twists to the waggly, often hilarious, tales.

“People loved telling me the naughty things their ‘goofy’ dogs did when off duty. These are serious stories but there’s plenty of light heartedness.”

Errol from Christchurch certainly attracts children’s attention with a teddy bear riding the back of his guide dog, Prince. When Christchurch musician John Hore got his first guide dog, Brindy, in place of a cane, he felt like he was flying.


The Carnahan family’s life changed when Lady walked through the door to help their son with autism. Young Juno’s reading flourished when she joined the New Brighton library’s Reading to Dogs programme, because “The dog doesn’t notice when I get a word wrong.”

As an animal lover, Sue secretly feared the dogs would have a limited life. “But it was quite the opposite. They have 24/7 company, their own person, and a job. That’s a pretty perfect life for a dog. These dogs are so eager to help their people, and the trainers harness that desire.”

While labradors leap to mind as the most common assistance dogs, there is a growing diversity of breeds. With their amazing sense of smell, spaniels make excellent diabetic detection dogs, while small breeds are perfect for the elderly and there is a move towards dogs such as poodles which don’t shed hair.

Strong and amiable, golden retrievers are great for mobility assistance.

While most assist dogs undergo rigorous training and are bred for their jobs, several dogs in the book are rescue dogs, including three saved from death row at the pound.

“The dogs do so much more than their official roles,” says Sue. “For people with special needs, their dogs are a visible sign of often an invisible disability.

They are also often a portal to more kindness, bringing out the best in everyone and acting as social conduits for people who can feel quite isolated.

These dogs, and their people, are all heroes.”


On the shelf

What simpler pleasure can there be than getting stuck into a riveting holiday read. Whether you’re stretched out on a beach towel or sun lounger, or snuggled up in your favourite chair at the bach or at home, here are Metropol’s page-turning picks to take with you on your summer break, or to gift the bookworms in your life this Christmas.


Jehan Casinder
Harper Collins, $17.99


This award-winning Kiwi journalist chronicles how the power of storytelling helped him to survive depression. A gritty, vulnerable and compelling book which challenges our understanding of mental distress, and gives tools and hope to reshape our life stories. Told against a backdrop of the biggest news stories of recent years.


Rutger Bregman Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, $34.99


This international bestseller provides a new perspective on the wide-held belief that humans are inherently bad. Unpicking famous sociological experiments, historical events and philosophical arguments, Bregman shows us the reality of humanity’s kindness – that it is a powerful force for change


Trent Dalton
Harper Collins, $45


From the international bestselling author of Boy Swallows Universe, this Australian novel is set in World War II and weaves a story of love, danger and secrets. Beautifully written, this adventure tale of unlikely companions is brimming with warmth, wit and wonder.


Jessica Dettmann
Harper Collins, $34.99


A story about growing up, giving in, and family. Molly is about to have her first child. Her mother, Annie, is about to re-start her dreams of musical stardom when she is asked to step into childcare duties. For fans of Jojo Moyes, Marian Keyes and Liane Moriarty.


Lisa Jewell Penguin NZ, $26


A gripping psychological thriller to keep you tethered to your reading nook, this novel is set a decade after the disappearance of Ellie. Her mother, Laurel, has never given up hope of finding Ellie, and a new man in her life – or more specifically, his daughter – reignites her quest for answers.


Re-ordering post traumatic stress disorder

In overcoming post-traumatic stress disorder, Pleasant Point author Emma Stowell found there were only heavy text books to turn to. She soon formed her goal of making learning about the disorder more accessible.



Emma decided to mix mental health issues with intense love scenes in her debut novel, Beautifully Broken, seeking to make the subject more interesting and bring authenticity.

The mother-of-three’s novel follows a struggling writer dealing with childhood trauma, while falling for two men.

While it can be read as a stand-a-lone novel, the book will form the first in a trilogy: Beautifully Breaking and Beautifully Becoming to follow.

“I dreamed up the idea 12 years ago, but soon after I found out I was pregnant. I decided to focus on my family, but also grappled with fibromyalgia, which ended my teaching career.

“After my third child, an emergency hysterectomy and a bout of glandular fever I made the decision to focus on my health and writing,” says Emma.

“Bad health led me to writing, but I want to show people you can have all sorts of health issues and still write a really good book.”

Beautifully Broken will be released at the Wham Bam Author Jam festival in Christchurch on October 17 and will also be available through Amazon.


A poignant profession

Dr Cynric Temple-Camp sees dead people. But rather than some spooky phenomenon, he is one of New Zealand’s leading pathologists and over the years has been tasked with working on many famous and private cases. His latest book The Quick and the Dead is set to hit the streets this month, exposing the fascinating world of a pathologist.



I see each case as my patient waiting for my help and I do my best to do that.

Can you tell us about The Quick and the Dead?

These are some of the stranger or more poignant tales of both the living and the dead.

As such, it expands on my first book The Cause of Death, where I wrote mainly of the stories of those who died.

No-one expects to die or really knows the exact time of their death and there are only a few who can realistically plan their passage onward from here.

Sometimes people expect to die or perhaps they should have died but didn’t.

I have told some of their stories as well. I try to convey the element of chance there is of life and death.

The dice roll every day and how they will fall is a random event, known to no man.

How do you mentally prepare yourself to do what you do?

It seems difficult to most people in the sense that they thankfully have no exposure to a daily diet of sudden death with and without massive trauma.

Pathologists do become used to it and cope in a variety of ways, not least because of unobtrusive blocking by the brain.

A wise old pathologist once said to me as we looked staring resignedly at body fragments horrendously mixed with stone ballast from a train collision, ‘It takes about 30 seconds for frontal lobe disconnection to kick in and after that you won’t even notice anything amiss anymore.’

In a way we are no different from trauma surgeons in the Emergency Department, police, firemen, ambulance drivers and mortuary technicians.

All see terrible things and have learned to cope or perhaps become vaccinated against the shock.

There are some cases that are exceptions though.

Murder is always one, aircraft accidents are for me personally, and of course any death of a child is another.

I always tell myself that the victims are my patients, that I am their last doctor and that it is my duty to help them tell their final story.

How rewarding is what you do?

To find an answer to a diagnostic dilemma afflicting the living is one of the best feelings ever for any pathologist.

There are stories of odd medical conditions which posed a tough and tangled pathway to diagnosis and sometimes then to life.

Sometimes too the road sadly led to death.

I see each case as my patient waiting for my help and I do my best to do that. In that way my professional satisfaction is exactly the same as other doctors, nurses and other medical folk.

The only difference is that with the living, clinicians get to see the patients while we see their biopsy specimens.

They are however still our patients and we care for them the same.





Winter Reads

We’ve all certainly had a lot of time to ourselves over these last few months. If you’ve rediscovered reading during lockdown, we’ve got some hot new titles to add to the collection before you hunker down again, this time for the winter months.



A juicy rom-com about a couple who grow apart and, as a result, need a bit of a relationship renovation, written by New York Times bestselling author, Tessa Bailey. The question is all in the title of the novel; will he love her or leave her?

There’s a reason this touching memoir is a number one New York Times bestseller. It tells the story of activist, speaker and bestselling author Glennon Doyle and what motherhood, family and divorce taught her.

She first had success with her critically-acclaimed novel The Secret Life of Bees and now Sue Monk Kidd has written another fantastic piece of fiction. She takes the readers on a journey all the way back to the first century to follow the story of a woman called Ana who meets 18-year-old Jesus. It was named a Most Anticipated Book of 2020 by the likes of TIME, Marie Claire and O, The Oprah Magazine.

From the author who bought us the widely popular Divergent series, Veronica Roth has written Chosen Ones. The story follows a group of five teenagers in the aftermath of them saving the world. After partaking in an ‘end of world’ battle, what is there left to do?

Organising Your Professional Life: Marie Kondo transformed our organisation skills when she taught us to question ‘does this item spark joy?’. She’s back again and this time she’s bringing some order to our work life. Learn to clean up your messy desk and work relationships.

Jessica Simpson is a pop singer, actress, fashion designer and author and for all of those said reasons she’s a very big household name. This year, she’s released a tell-all memoir about her past relationships and her ongoing career.

Bird Box was a hit when it was adapted on Netflix, so much so that the fans demanded Josh Malerman to write a sequel. Enter Malorie, a novel that follows (you guessed it) Malorie as she navigates a nearing apocalypse. They asked and he delivered.


A gripping affair

Described as a rip-roaring wartime romance with chilling danger unknown to most, The Rigel Affair is the true story of Mattie Blanc and her love for US Navy Diver Charlie Kincaid. Metropol talks to local author L M Hedrick about this epic novel.


When did you first become aware of Charlie Kincaid?
When I was a child. The war bought Charlie Kincaid to my mother’s doorstep and the war sent him away. No one understands how situations outside of their control changes peoples’ lives. My mother (Mattie) could never find an answer. She married my father, Syd, and I was their only child. Mattie would pull the box of Charlie’s 30 letters down from the top of a bedroom cabinet and tell me their story like she was crying out to be heard.

What was it about their relationship that moved you to write their story?
Mattie pined for her fiancé, Charlie. It was like two lost souls who had the same story in different worlds and a love that would never die.

Is Mattie still alive?
Sadly, both Mattie and Charlie were long-since deceased when we decided to write The Rigel Affair. It’s a work of fiction, based upon true events. When my husband, Bud, read Charlie’s 30 letters, he said, ‘You must write this story’. So, the project began. This is a story of dedication of one woman and one man whose love transcended the war. It was heartache not only for her but for Charlie – a heartache that spurred his endurance to stay alive and fight the most horrific war in history.

In reading Charlie’s letters, did you begin to see your mother differently?
My mother would show me Charlie’s letters, but never read them to me. Only when Bud saw the letters did we read them. I now have a much deeper understanding and appreciation of my mother’s love for Charlie Kincaid.

What do you hope readers will take from this novel?
Beginning our research, we discovered interesting, exciting events that had never really been properly told. It became a historical feeding frenzy! We hope readers will enjoy the Mattie and Charlie story, but equally important is their historical journey through exciting and true wartime events.

What’s next up for L M Hedrick?
We’re about 50,000 words into The Rigel Affair sequel and I have a crime novel ready for the final edit and formatting.

When did your love affair with writing begin?
From an early age. Being an only child, the world of make-believe filled my senses. When Bud and I decided to write The Rigel Affair, we both attended numerous creative writing classes at Auckland University in order to learn the craft. Bud’s five years in the US Coast Guard after university saw him working three years as Operations Officer on a buoy tender. This tender was 1940’s vintage, so Bud has intimate knowledge and experience to portray life aboard the USS Rigel.

The Rigel Affair is available and in hot demand at Piccadilly Books.


A guide to helping your mates

Got a mate who’s looking down, isn’t themselves, maybe gone a bit quiet? Want to help but aren’t sure how?

Site Safe has created a new pocket guide about how to have conversations about mental health which has great advice on looking after friends and colleagues.

Christchurch carpet and vinyl installer Paul Lynch lost his brother Brett to suicide in 2013.

It took him a while to shake off resulting anger and darkness that he felt, but he did, and he wrote the book Suicide; Aftermath & Beyond about it. He has made it his mission to help people in the trades talk about things that are getting them down, and he says the new guide is a top tool to do this.

“In my experience in about 99 times out of a hundred, all that’s required is a conversation. It’s that simple act of letting people talk or share something they might be going through.


Resolve to Read

The latest studies suggest that New Zealand adult and children’s reading levels are lower on an international level than ever before. The solution? Experts say we simply need to read more.



The stresses of the holidays have passed and we can celebrate a New Year with the personal resolutions to do something new with our lives and the time we spend unwinding.

Why not implement a daily reading regimen to keep yourself – and the kids – on track and off of the devices.

Our top picks – both old and new – will easily keep readers of all ages enthralled for hours on end.

    The latest offering from Jeff Kinney as an addition to his ever-popular series Diary of a Wimpy Kid comes in the form of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking Ball.

    This hilarious tale has received glowing reviews as the Heffley family work on renovating their home after receiving an inheritance.

    Greg goes through a series of hilarious circumstances as they transition through a journey that includes the entire family.

    It is available from Piccadilly Bookshop, which has a new store at The Crossing.

    Local author Felicity M. Williams’ Ringlet and the Day the Oceans Stopped tells the tale of an ocean-dwelling mergirl and the fish and seafolk she lives amongst.

    Ringlet and the Day the Oceans Stopped is available locally at Scorpio Books and The Children’s Bookshop’s online store.

  2.  A CLASSIC:
    At Piccadilly Bookshop and The Clocks Bookshop you’ll find The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, a classic read fit for adult readers.

    This American classic set in the roaring 20s in New York features the famed character Jay Gatsby in all of his glory.

    However, through time and circumstance it is revealed that everything that glitters isn’t always golden.

    For all of you Lee Child fans, Blue Moon is the latest instalment in the series that will leave all readers on the edge of their seats with a tale full of corruption and crime that only Lee Child can bring and an unseen plot twist that most modern books lack. Available from Piccadilly Bookshop.

    Vegful by Nadia Lim will keep anyone who has resolved to be healthy and food conscious on the veggie-filled path.

    This book is packed full of recipes that will inspire your cooking and enhance the vegetable offerings on your plate.

    The food imagery and details will surely have your 2020 menu looking very bright, balanced and colourful.

    What better way is there to start of a New Year and new you? Get it now from Piccadilly Bookshop and The Clocks Bookshop.

  4. FUN:
    Guinness World Records 2020 is a great family book that will keep you entertained for the entire year.

    This annual offering is the ultimate guide to record-breaking facts that are sure to impress readers of all ages.

    Since its initial release in 1955, the book has boasted both human achievements and extremes of the natural world. Get your copy from Piccadilly Bookshop