This past weekend, I noticed that it was the anniversary of the day our dog Sydney died, in 2014. I wrote a tribute to her a few weeks after she passed, and just as with Tucker in 2010, I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love from people around the world who identified with my loss. That’s when I knew that the world needed a book of tributes about the dogs we share life with. So it was Sydney who inspired the book Gone Dogs – and why she is on the cover. 

Building this book was hard. I recruited my good friend and designer/artist Laurie Smithwick to help and together we got to work on learning how to not only to self-publish a book, but crowdsource it. There were so many hoops to jump through. So many obstacles to overcome. So much emotion. But one thing was certain – with the number of people who wanted to be part of this concept, we were onto something. 

In 2019, we finally launched and since then we’ve sold nearly 10,000 copies of Gone Dogs in various forms from ebook to paperback and of course, the original hardcover. And every year from November through Christmas, we’ve nearly sold out. 


Only, this year will be different. Because we went to a print-on-demand service this past summer, we will no longer run out. But that means customers have to deal with lead time. Typically 3-6 weeks lead time for hardcover – 2-4 for softcover. And so that means if you’re thinking of giving our book to a dog lover at Christmas, the sooner you order the better. Like – this week soon. For our hardcover books, we have a limited supply on hand and are offering FREE SHIPPING on those through December, or until we run out (we will definitely run out and then it’s 3-6 weeks lead time.) We will do our best to get to the post office every day this month for hardcover orders processed through our website.

Click here to order.

We Hear You Loud and Clear!

You want more. We know because not a week goes by when someone doesn’t ask whether they can order the next volume or submit a story to be part of it. We had hoped to get Volume 2 and 3 going this year – but it just wasn’t meant to be. I had some health issues to deal with and work (my regular job) got crazy – so we had to put future volumes on hold. We’re still planning on continuing to grow the book for as long as people want to be part of it, and we look forward to sharing more about future volumes in 2024. Thank you for your continued interest. 

The Reason for All of This

When I had the idea for Gone Dogs, it was because writing about my dogs helped me come to terms with the grief. If I could encourage others to share, it might help them too. But then something amazing happened – people who read our book began telling us that simply reading about the love other people had for their dogs helped THEM. Don’t get me wrong, I knew that these love stories were beautiful and heartwarming – but I never anticipated that the book would actually help readers.

It does. I routinely receive private messages from fans telling me how much the book has helped them cope with grief. I am always so grateful to hear this, but you should see what other readers have said about Gone Dogs since launching in 2019 – check out the reviews on Amazon or anywhere else it’s sold. The things people say are pretty remarkable. And humbling. 

Last year, I was diagnosed with cancer. The prognosis was good, but I had to wait a few months for surgery because Covid was clogging hospitals. During that time, a thought occurred to me – we had such a passionate fanbase online, we could create a private group for people to grieve in a safe place amongst others who could identify with what they are going through. After a quick search to find that this wasn’t currently a thing, I launched the Gone Dogs bereavement group on Facebook. Since that time I’ve become convinced that this group was the reason I had the idea for the book at all. During my recovery from cancer surgery, the group took off like wildfire. Now it’s more than 4,000 members strong and is a constant beacon of light, love, and understanding. If you are grieving and need to share with people who care, please consider joining. I sincerely believe this group, with all its healing, was the reason for the book at all.

That’s about it from here in Charlotte. Thank you for being part of our community. Happy holidays to you and your pack. – Jim 

Gone Dogs - Tales of Dogs We've Loved

We are happy to report that we recently received the THIRD PRINTING of our beautiful book. This means a couple of things. First, it means we have a very good book on our hands. And, based on feedback we’ve received since launching in 2019, the stories in the book are helping people cope with their own grief by sharing the love that other people have for their dogs. You have no idea how happy this makes us. Our intention was to create a book of love stories about dogs. We didn’t anticipate that it would have this kind of positive effect on people. We are so grateful.

The second thing that receiving our latest shipment of 1,000 copies means is that we can once again offer FREE SHIPPING on our beautiful hardcover book through the holidays. If you love dogs or you’re looking for a gift for someone who does, our book is something they’ll cherish. Order here.

We have also moved our on-demand printing and fulfillment service for softcover books to Amazon KDP. We expect KDP to ship way faster than our previous printer (a few days v. a few weeks) and the quality is top notch. Get your softcover books here.

Gone Dogs Volume 2 (and 3!

We are excited to announce that due to demand, in 2023 we are planning to build and publish TWO new volumes of our book. We’ll send out another email in early 2023 about this, but if you planned on submitting your dog’s story for our next volumes, you might want to get started on writing it. Follow us on Facebook for the latest on this news … and get those pencils sharpened.

Helping People Heal

Since launching in 2019, we’ve heard from so many of you about how reading Gone Dogs has helped you grieve the loss of your best friends. What a remarkable thing to know something you created has helped people in this way. But even more importantly, earlier this year we created a private Facebook group for bereaved dog parents to share and help others. It’s amazing to us how this community has come together to support each other through a difficult time in life. And we are happy to report that the Gone Dogs Facebook Group has more than 2000 members and is filled with light and love. Visit the Gone Dogs Facebook group to join, share, and maybe help someone who needs it.

We’ve had a busy December and there’s still a lot to go!

Recently, Gretchen Voth of CLT DOG met up with Jim Mitchem to talk about Gone Dogs.

We recently got together to celebrate the launch of our book. Gone Dogs – It’s about love ❤️

Share your Gone Dog with the world in a tribute that will live forever. Gone Dogs. It’s about love. ❤️

Our official Gone Dogs book trailer video is live! Gone Dogs – It’s about love ❤️

We’ve been promoting our book for a couple of months now, and if you’re following along you no doubt know about the heartwarming stories and poems, and the remarkable photography of  each dog. 

But there’s another element of the book that I want to bring into the light—the design. 

When I had the idea for Gone Dogs in 2014, the first person I talked to was my wife. The next was someone I respect in the publishing industry. The next was Laurie Smithwick, a friend since the mid-2000s, who is also one of the most talented designers I’ve ever known. And, being in advertising, I’ve known plenty. If this book was going to become a thing, Laurie was the person I wanted marching this long road with me. Because I knew she was the one who would make it beautiful. 

Boy did she. 

From a design standpoint, I only had one suggestion—that my dog Sydney be on the cover. That was it. Everything else was Laurie. 

From the moment you hold the book in your hands, you feel its quality. When you open the cover,  you’re hit with a green full-bleed liner that she custom created. (The one in the back of the book might look the same, but it’s actually different.) The weight of the pages, Laurie. The composition of the stories, Laurie. And the photography, as beautiful as it is, was sent from people all over the world in multiple formats and resolutions, and all required intense Photoshop work. Laurie. 

But there’s something else that to me is the most important design element in the book. 

Every story and poem begins on a left page. Clearly not all of the stories/poems are the same length, so some of the them also ended on a left page. Which meant we had to decide what to do with the empty right page. It was something we thought a lot about. Then one day Laurie said, “I have an idea.” 

The result of her idea is the brightly colored pages that complete stories that end on a left page, with an outline of a dog in white on the right page. Simple. Elegant. Beautiful. Right? 

But there’s more. 

They’re not just outlines of dogs. They’re not even just outlines of the kinds of dogs in the story they bookend. 

They’re holes. 

Every dog lover knows, when a dog dies it leaves a hole in your heart. A hole in your life. 

This seemingly innocuous design element is actually a stroke of genius, and precisely why I wanted Laurie on this project back in 2014. 

When I asked her about these “holes,” she told me that the idea is from a line in the book, “The God of Small Things,” by Arundhati Roy, which reads, “Joe was dead now. Killed in a car crash. Dead as a doorknob. A Joe-shaped hole in the Universe.” 

“I read the ‘The God of Small Things’ in 1998. That line has stayed with me ever since. And seemed like a perfect fit for our book.”  – Laurie Smithwick

Design is important, kids. And this book is as much a tribute to great design as it is the dogs who grace its pages. Thanks to Laurie.

Gone Dogs. It’s about love. ❤️

Own Gone Dogs



In case you missed it, Gone Dogs was featured on WCNC’s Charlotte Today show on Friday! This on the heels of a segment on WFAE’s Charlotte Talks earlier this month.


We’re into month two of our book being unleashed in the world, and the early feedback is amazing! 

If you’ve bought our book, thank you. Really. Now we need to ask for your help in spreading the word. If you could post about it in your social streams, please link back to our main site And if you could leave a review on Amazon, that would be huge for us. You see, Amazon prioritizes reviews based on “verified” purchases. Yours carries weight. Products with more reviews (especially “verified” purchases) influence the Amazon algorithm when someone searches for something similar (such as “Dog books,” for example.) It’s a great way for us to extend the reach of our book beyond our immediate networks. Thank you. 

Now for some cool news —

Gone Dogs on WFAE Charlotte Talks

October 3: We will be on WFAE’s Charlotte Talks discussing our book. You can access the WFAE site here, and listen online. The show airs at 9 a.m. and again at 7 p.m.. Click here for more details.

Gone Dogs on WCNC Charlotte Today

October 18: We will be on WCNC’s Charlotte Today show talking about the book at 11 a.m. Click here for more details

Gone Dogs launch party at Moxie Mercantile

November 2: Come out to Moxie Mercantile on Commonwealth in Charlotte for our official launch party! The event runs from 1-4 p.m. and we’ll be doing meet and greets, author readings, and have plenty of books on hand. It’s also Moxie’s 4th anniversary so come out and enjoy the festivities. Click here for more info on the launch event.

We’re also lining up other events in the region so be sure to follow us on Facebook to stay on top of all the happenings. 

In case you didn’t know, we are donating one dollar of every book sale to Best Friends Animal Society. Please take a moment to check out this wonderful organization.

Best Friends Animal Society and Gone Dogs

Thank you again for being a fan. We are delighted that so many people love it. It feels wonderful to spread some light in the world. 

Gone Dogs – It’s About Love ❤️