Howard of Pawsland

Howard from Pawsland

About 18 months ago I had a complete breakdown, brought on by the pressure of a new job and getting care sorted for my 89-year-old mother, who had become bedridden due to ill health and the ravages of dementia. I knew I was in a dark place, but rather than open up and talk I did what a lot of men do – I buried my head in the sand.

I decided I was gonna take my car to a quiet area and drive it at speed straight into a wall, but life had other plans for me – or someone looking down on me did. A friend who is a postman found me with my head on the steering wheel of the car minutes before I was going to attempt taking my life; after finding me he persuaded me to go home and talk to my partner Annette.

And so began the first part of my healing: talking to Annette was the best thing I ever did and should have done long before. We cried together and she sent me straight to my GP, who helped me. But Annette pulled off a master stroke in getting me back to a mental state I seemed to have been a long way from for what seemed a long long time: she decided I needed a pup in my life.

We had dogs before and she knew how much I had loved them. Once Annette gets a idea in her head, we’ll there’s no stopping her, and I’ll be forever grateful. Howard, our bearded collie pup, changed my life. He helped heal me and smile everyday. A dog’s love is unconditional of course, Annette knew that. I decided to write a children’s book about Howard to do his love justice, to spread a message of love, kindness and sustainability for children 3 to 7 years of age.

But just before I was going to self-publish, Annette sent me up the road from where we live to a new office that had recently opened, because she believed you could design your own wrapping paper there and thought it would be great to get some done to wrap our granddaughter a first edition of Howard’s book when we self published. But as it turned out that was completely wrong and they published train books in this office.

As I was about to walk out the office and thank the lady in charge for her time, the lady asked if I could stick a train in my children’s book. I said I would if it had a sustainability story, and she gave me 24 hours! Just over a week later, after she read my book with a train in it, I was invited to a meeting with the publishers at the office where I was offered a six-book deal!

Quite incredible, we never know what life has planned for us! But to anyone who finds themselves in a place I was: talk, to a friend, to your family. Call 111, contact Mind, or Calm – just pick up that phone, but talk. There’s a way out the darkness. So here I am still, now a published author in my 50s. I have to pinch myself to be honest, I still Google “Howard of Pawsland by Mark Taylor” because I can’t quite believe it.

This is a guest post by Mark Taylor. Want to write for us? Visit or email


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