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Orbit, Life with My People Tells the Tale of a Beloved Dog

Peter Longley

A book signing this weekend will feature a local author whose latest book is far different from other works he's written.  Peter Longley will sell and sign copies of his book, Orbit, Life with My People.  KSMU's Michele Skalicky talked with Longley about his book.

Orbit began his life in a log cabin in the Ozarks.  The Great Pyrenees Mountain Dog was a beloved companion to Peter Longley and his wife Bettine Clemen ever since he claimed them as his own when they moved to Alpha Meadows near Seymour.  That’s why Longley decided to write the book.

"I just had such a great love for this dog and so did , Bettine, and he affected so many people--everybody just about who came in touch with him, so I just felt, well, it was a tribute to him to write this book," he said.

The book, Orbit, Life with My People, is told from the dog’s point of view, which Longley said was a challenge to write.

"You have to take certain, you know, obviously, certain poetic license if you write from the point of view of a dog.  Obviously, the dog's going to have to understand English and he's going to have to understand what people are saying and so on and so forth around him.  But the thing that you have to watch is the story line--the back story--you know all about it, but the dog doesn't," he said.

The book begins in the log cabin where Orbit was born and tells the tale of his life, including the fame he achieved when Clemen, a famous flautist, featured the dog in her concerts.

"He started to sing to her flutes, and, actually, he really did sing to her flutes.  It was quite remarkable.  The first time it happened it was before a concert with her harpist, and they were just practicing, and Orbit started singing, and, you know, well, Bettine said, 'well, maybe we can incorporate that in the concert,'" he said.

According to Longley, Clement incorporated Orbit’s singing into a multi-media presentation during concerts she performed all over the world.

Orbit was loved by lots of local people, too.  He was a therapy dog in Nixa Public Schools, and he was quite popular when he hung around with Longley at the Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center.  Longley said Orbit was a special dog who had an impact on everyone he met.

"He just had this great love of people. He had this sort of sense of how people felt and if somebody was in trouble he could sense it, and he would immediately go to help them," he said.

Longley will hold a book signing for his new book Saturday morning (7/18) at 11 at Barnes and Noble. 

He says this is a much different style of book from previous works he’s written, including The Magdala Trilogy, a six-part epic depicting a plausible life of Mary Magdelene and her times.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.