The Dreamwork Collective, UAE-based publisher, has launched a new book celebrating the healing power of animals, in a tale of one woman’s road to recovery after escaping an abusive partner. The debut novel from author, Samantha Gregson, Before You Loved Me is an uplifting read that deftly tackles the poignant issues of coercive relationships and animal welfare in a story of love and survival, told through the eyes of a dog.

Exploring the healing and symbiotic bond shared by Scarlett, a woman leaving an abusive partner, and her rescue dog, The Buddy Dog, the novel was inspired by the limited information given to the author about her own rescue dog before his adoption in 2015. Set in Doha and Dubai, from buzzing souqs to over-run dog shelters in the desert, the book offers a fascinating insight into life behind-the-scenes in some of the Middle East’s most mysterious cities, from a very different perspective.

Discussing her motivation and inspiration for the book, Samantha explained, “The story aims to ignite a sense of empathy for rescue dogs and their plight to find a home, whilst highlighting the strength of the human-dog connection and how it can be instrumental in the healing process following abuse and trauma. The book is written in the first person, from the perspective of The Buddy Dog, allowing readers to see the world through the innocent, vulnerable and non-judgmental eyes of a dog, as he navigates the many unfortunate situations that he finds himself in as part of his quest to find a home.”

Sharing an insight into the story, Samantha continued, “Fearing she will never be able to love or trust another person again after leaving her abusive partner, Scarlett is urged to take inspiration from The Buddy Dog’s resilience following his time at the shelter and while living on the streets. The story highlights important life lessons that we can learn from dogs – from living in the moment, to loving to the fullest. I hope that the story makes people see their pet in a new light whilst also spotlighting the insidious nature of abusive relationships.”

Before You Loved Me is Samantha’s first novel and a notable departure from her day job as Head of Corporate and a Director at Hanover Communications in Dubai. Prior to moving to the Middle East in 2015, Samantha spent eight years working at Sky News in London in a range of roles. Having studied an undergraduate degree in Social and Political Sciences at the University of Cambridge, specialising in the Middle East, a move to the region seemed a natural step when she relocated to Doha to set up a new newspaper.  Whilst living in the Qatari capital, she adopted a rescue dog – a two-year-old Maltese mix called The Buddy Dog.

Before You Loved Me was unveiled at a recent launch event at the dog-friendly venue, Ella’s Eatery, The Palm, Jumeirah. The book is available online and in stores now.

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