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Dog inspires COD professor’s first book for kids

Sandy Fries holds Toby in his office at the College of DuPage. (Michelle Manchir/Tribune)

Sandy Fries holds Toby in his office at the College of DuPage. (Michelle Manchir/Tribune)

The front cover of Fries' first children's book, featuring Toby on the front, with his favorite duck toy. (Photo provided by Fries)

Sandy Fries remembers the moment inspiration struck seven months ago he sat at his Warrenville kitchen table.

Paying bills is boring, he remembers thinking. He wanted to write a book instead.

The freelance journalist, TV script writer, and communications professor at College of DuPage recently released his first e-book, “Toby the Doggie,” a product inspired by his two-and-a-half-year-old Bichon Frise.

His first effort as a children’s author, Fries said the 25 page book is meant to serve as a manual for children with pets. It discusses appropriate diet and the importance of hygiene, making friends and exercising.

“I made it for young kids on how to take care of their dogs but also what’s important for them,” Fries said.

Though this is his first book aimed at children, Fries is no stranger to the written word.

Before he came to the Glen Ellyn college to teach eight years ago, he lived in Los Angeles for 20 years, working as a freelance writer for newspapers and a staff writer the TV show “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

His resume is diverse. He said he’s covered presidents, including Jimmy Carter, as a freelance reporter, but he’s also written scripts for “Quantum Leap,” an NBC program in the early ’90s, and also for now off-the-air cartoons “The Smurfs” and “The Care Bears.”

“I like to do a variety of different writing,” Fries said. “It keeps me fresh. If I constantly wrote science fiction, it gets boring.”

College of DuPage Associate Dean of Fine and Applied Arts Cathryn Wilkinson said Fries is one of “an entire cadre of creative professor and imaginative thinkers” at the school.

“I’m not surprised at all with the kinds of things that they explore and have been able to achieve as artists and writers,” she said.

In addition to the story in “Toby the Doggie,” Fries and his wife, Gitana, are responsible for the photos of Toby.

“He’s Mr. Photogenic,” Fries said. “Whenever I take a photo with him I love it because he looks cute, but I don’t love it because he looks about 20 times better than me.”

Toby, a fan of cheese and generous with kisses, could be the subject of more books too. Fries said he’s considering beginning a series featuring his beloved dog.

“Toby the Doggie” is available on www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com as an e-book for $2.99.

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