The Hanson family’s golden retriever, Treasure, died one month before her best friend returned from military service in Afghanistan in 2012.
Jessica Hanson was 12 years old when her family brought Treasure to live with them in Ramsey.
“There was a bond between those two,” said Laurie Hanson, Jessica’s mom. “It’s like the dog could read her mind.”
Ten years later, brain cancer forced Jessica to say goodbye to her companion on Skype before the veterinarian put her down.
“She said goodbye to her, and Treasure wagged her tail,” Laurie recalled, eyes welling up with tears. Five years later, “it’s still so hard.”
Laurie was determined to keep Treasure’s memory alive, so she wrote a children’s book from Treasure’s point of view.
The book was released in September 2016, and last month “Treasure’s Gift” took home a Purple Dragonfly Book Award in the animals and pets category.
The 36-page chapter book for young readers is available online through Amazon and www.lauriehansonbooks.com. It’s also for sale at the Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul.
The book sells for $16.95, and a dollar from each purchase is donated to the Morris Animal Foundation Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. Laurie has raised more than $300 so far, she said.
Across the country, more than 3,000 golden retrievers are enrolled in the study, which is working to determine why cancer is affecting the breed.
“So many dogs are dying of cancer very young now,” Laurie said.
One of Laurie’s current dogs, Karma, a great-niece to Treasure, is enrolled in the study.
Writing a book has been a dream of Laurie’s since she was a young girl.
“I’m proud of my mom,” said Jessica. “She’s in her 50s now doing what she’s always dreamed of doing.”
Laurie’s book follows a little girl named Annie, inspired by Jessica, whose middle name is Ann. Treasure mirrors Annie’s emotions as they move to a new house, and she makes it her mission to find Annie new friends before her birthday party.
While the Hanson family never moved from Ramsey, Laurie credits Treasure for bringing many new friends into their lives.
“Dogs can be a great icebreaker,” Laurie said. “She just had this presence and drew people to her.”
When Treasure died, the family received cards and flowers from across the country.
Laurie and Jessica traveled throughout the United States with Treasure, competing in shows. Treasure won 34 titles in her short life, traveling to compete in the elite Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show twice.
When she wasn’t competing, Treasure was often working, modeling for 3M, Best Buy, Cargill, Target and other large companies.
Even though it has been years since Treasure’s death, the Hanson family still sees her every once in a while in an advertisement.
Treasure also volunteered in the Read to a Dog program at Lincoln Elementary School in Elk River. While children can’t read with Treasure anymore, they can read about her.
Laurie worked with illustrator Darcy Bell-Myers to get Treasure’s expressions just right in “Treasure’s Gift.” She was adamant that Treasure not turn into a cartoon.
Another Treasure adventure featuring Hope, one of Laurie’s Siberian huskies, is in the works.
Treasure will once again save the day, this time with her tracking skills.
“I can’t wait to write that one,” Laurie said.
To learn more about Laurie and Treasure, visit www.lauriehansonbooks.com.