One day on the porch of her “new home” in the hills of Los Angeles, XENA, a rescued 7 year old brindle Great Dane, opens a conversation with her 2 best friends, OSO (an 18 month old rescued Golden Retriever/Chow mix) and OSCAR (a 10 year old rescued Boxer) with the question, “Like, how did we all get here to Los Angeles?” Xena had originally started out as a potential show dog—or at least that’s what she had been told by her first owner. Born and raised in “the Valley” of Chatsworth, California, she speaks with a “Valley Girl” accent and carries herself as a Princess. Due to mysterious circumstances, at the age of 19 months she was taken from her pampered life and left at a rescue shelter. Within 2 weeks there, she is completely heartbroken and stops eating. Enter JEANIE, her wacky, eccentric new human, who sees the beauty in this poor, skinny creature and brings her home with her.
Oso, at the tender age of 4months old, narrowly escaped the clutches of evil dog catchers in Cabo San Lucas. His mother and 5 brothers and sisters were not so lucky, however. Born on the streets, he and his siblings enjoyed the freedom of living off of the good graces of humans and their garbage cans until the day the dog catchers came and took all but Oso away. He recounts with sadness and guilt the harrowing memories of hearing their cries as they were being driven off to uncertain futures in locked boxes. Rescued by a young couple (SAUL and REBECCA, their two young daughters HANNAH & MARIE, and their cat SUSHI)—he is brought to Los Angeles where he now lives directly across the street from Xena and Oscar.
Oscar is a brindle Boxer who’d been abandoned in a park miles from his home just after he turned 10 years old. He was rescued by Xena and Jeanie while they were out on a walk early one morning and now lives happily with them. Jeanie, their human, is a gentle lady with a crazy sense of humor and a heart of gold, though many—including the dogs—consider her slightly “out there”.
The three pals now describe their sorrowful pasts with one another and then decide to form their own pack as “Los Diggities”. Joyful in their new found homes and friendships, Xena the “Princess from the valley”, Oscar, the “wise old sage”, and Oso, the young, reckless “puppy”, vow to always “stick together as friends forever”. Book One, “Los Diggities By Name” is the beginning of their many adventures and lessons learned together—lessons and adventures meant to be shared with young children and their families and friends alike!
Los Diggities By Name is an audio/visual dog book for children written by Jeanie Cunningham and Elisabeth Thormodsrud and narrated by Jeanie Cunningham. Each page of the story has a speaker icon, which, when pressed, gives Jeannie's narration of that particular page. Los Diggities is a pack of three dogs, Xena, Oscar and Oso. Xena and Oscar live together with Jeannie, and Oso lives across the street from them with his human family. The three friends have a lot of fun relaxing and hanging out together on Jeannie's porch or in her yard. One day, they started sharing their stories on how they ended up where they were right then. Oso was born in Mexico. He, his mom and siblings lived off what they could find in the garbage and lived outside behind some houses. His people found him there and saved him from the men who took his brother and sister away. Xena was a show-quality dog, whose loving owner had to move one day and sadly took her to a shelter. Oscar was dumped in a park after a lifetime of neglect. They each had sad memories, but they also had each other right now.
Jeanie Cunningham and Elisabeth Thormodsrud's animal picture and audio book for children, Los Diggities By Name, is an eloquent argument for rescuing and adopting animal companions. Each of these dogs, whose stories are real, got a second chance at life because they were rescued. I love the format of this book. Having the option to play each page's recording separately works so well, and the simplicity of design is very kid and non-tech adult-friendly. Oso, Oscar and Xena's stories are detailed and moving, and Jeanie's use of different voices for each of her characters makes them and the story come alive. The format of Los Diggities is grand for storytelling hour, but it's even better, I think, for new readers as they can see and hear the words sounded out as they go along. Los Diggities is lively, well-produced and lots of fun, and it's highly recommended.