How a Rescue Dog Inspired a Children’s Book

'Belly Rubbins for Bubbins' aims to educate young readers about animal abuse. 

belly rubbins for bubbins

Michelina and Jason Kraus provide the loving care (and belly rubs) for Gibbson. The rescue dog sparked Jason to write a children’s book that enlightens young readers about animal abuse. Photo by Matthew Jadro

As 2016 was drawing to a close, Michelina Kraus was looking for a good deed that would make the holiday season special. Then she saw a Facebook post from Green Mile Rescue in Morris Plains about a grievously injured 10-year-old pit bull mix in their care. Michelina had found her good deed. She and her husband, Jason, would give the dog, named Gibbson, a happy home. 

After living and bonding with Gibbson for a few months, the impact of his injuries started to sink in. Bite marks and scratches covered Gibbson’s body, his teeth were ground down and his ears cut. Jason was determined to help stop such animal abuse.

“The only thing that ever consistently works and has a true effect is education,” says Jason. “Who better to educate than children? If we can educate a child now, we can certainly save a dog in the future.”

The result: Jason’s children’s book, Belly Rubbins for Bubbins: The Story of a Rescue Dog, partially based on Gibbson’s life (and his nickname.) In the book, self-published in April with illustrations by Connor DeHaan, the titular Bubbins spends the first 10 years of his life alone behind a fence, ignored by his owners. All the while, Bubbins never loses hope that he will find a loving family to give him “belly rubbins.”

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With the help of social media, the book rose to number 2 on Barnes & Noble’s Top 100 Bestsellers list the day after its official launch in May. To date, it has sold about 2,500 copies. The Krauses, who live in Clifton, have so far donated $2,000 of profits to both New York Bully Crew and the California-based Live Love Animal Rescue. They plan to begin donating to other charities, including Green Mile Rescue and Associated Humane Societies of Newark, by the end of the year.To further the book’s mission, lesson plans and a PDF of the book are available for educators on the Belly Rubbins for Bubbins website. 

Jason plans a Bubbins sequel, likely to be released early next year. This time, Bubbins will deal with the changes in his life and teach children about a rescue animal’s adjustment period.

How is the real-life Bubbins handling his newfound fame?

Says Jason, “I would say he is very thankful that his story is helping to shed light and start a real conversation about a real issue.”

Editors’ note: An earlier version of this article misstated donation amounts and recipients. 

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