Jon Katz, author of “Saving Simon”

Jon Katz—the New York Times bestselling author of 26 books, most recently “Saving Simon: How A Rescue Donkey Taught Me The Meaning Of Compassion”—discusses how he came to place the titular donkey at the center of the new book. 1412261571000-9780345531193In response to my noting I’ve called “Saving Simon” a “tale of redemption, a bit of a love story and a meditation on compassion,” he explains which of those descriptions ranks first for him. Katz describes some of what Simon taught him about compassion, and how these lessons spurred wider examinations of his feelings of compassion—or lack thereof—in other relationships, including with his late mother, with whom things were profoundly complicated and, ultimately, estranged. He also elaborates on a Morning-Simon-944x629related observation he writes in the book: “People who struggled for connection with their mothers are the most likely to turn to animals for unconditional love and connection.” Katz also speaks to the notion raised in the conversation that “Saving Simon” is richer with emotions of various stripes than his previous books and that, perhaps not coincidentally, it’s bursting with change—including in animal lives, human lives, Katz losing two of his dogs within six months, selling the original Bedlam Farm to downsize to a smaller property,  and more.  (

ALSO: We had a brief conversation with Jessica Goodin, a college student at the University of South Florida who organized a benefit for Big Cat Rescue, the Tampa sanctuary that houses abused and abandoned big cats. She explains that the event was an outgrowth of a school project involving drumming up 100 additional customers for a local business, but she and her partner, sharing a passion for animal welfare generally, and Big Cat Rescue specifically, altered the focus of their project accordingly. (

COMEDY CORNER: Kevin Nealon’s “Cows On The Roof” (

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” Emmylou Harris’ “Big Black Dog,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: The Lovin’ Spoonful’s version of “Nashville Cats”


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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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