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Former Sciences Dean to Sign Copies of 'Charles the Lion Dog' at Village Bookstore

By Steve Daniel

Author Joseph Daniel with Charles the Lion Dog. Photo courtesy of Story Arts Media (See selected illustrations from book below.)

Joseph C. Daniel's love of dogs took a new turn recently with the publication of a children's book, "Charles the Lion Dog," based on the real-life canine that has become a favorite of Old Dominion Monarch fans near and far.

A former dean of ODU's College of Sciences, Daniel, who lives in Norfolk, will be at the University Village Bookstore at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, prior to the Monarchs' final home football game of the season, to sign copies of his new book. The book's illustrator, Pamela Barcita of Chesapeake, will also be on hand, as will Charles himself. Those who stop by to purchase the book are encouraged to bring their cameras. (The hardback book sells for $17.99.)

In the book, a boy named Daniel is the owner of Charles the Lion Dog, which he receives as a gift from his parents on his 8th birthday. As the author notes on the back cover of the book, the real owner of Charles, also named Daniel (Painter), is a professional landscape designer: "However, some of the adventures you will read about in this book actually happened, including the 911 calls from people who thought Charles was a real lion, and the amazing phenomenon of Charles becoming famous worldwide."

In his dedication, Daniel writes: "Dedicated to Daniel Painter, whose imaginative mind and fun-loving personality created the real Lion Dog. He understood the broad appeal that Charles would have for children all over the world. In one sense, young Daniel's love for his dog in this story is a reflection of the love the real Daniel has for the real Charles." Painter is a longtime ODU sports fan and his daughter Natalie graduated from the university in May.

The story tells of young Daniel's adventures with his pet, including the fateful day when Charles gets lost after setting out to follow Daniel's school bus and ends up outside the Virginia Zoological Park. The book later references Charles' appearances at ODU basketball and football games with Monarch mascot Big Blue. "It was almost as if the mascot had a mascot," Joe Daniel writes.

Reflecting on why he wrote the book, which he says is probably at the reading level of third-graders, Daniel mused: "I love to write about dogs; they are such endearing animals and Charles is extra special. I am most pleased that that gray wolf came to that campfire 15,000 years ago, because his progeny have warmed human nature ever since."

Daniel, who retired from ODU in 1994, has written two previous books on dogs, including "Glenna: Raising a Dog for Guiding Eyes for the Blind." In this book, Daniel, with his wife, Mary, recounts his experiences raising a female Labrador retriever, named Glenna, to become a guide dog. The book also covers other topics about dogs, canine evolution, genetics and dog-human relationships.

Daniel joined ODU in 1984 as dean of the School of Sciences and Health Professions, and when the university reorganized in 1986, he became dean of the College of Sciences. He stepped down from that role in 1991 to return to teaching and research before retiring from the university as professor emeritus of biological sciences and dean emeritus. He conducted extensive research during his career, primarily in the field of mammalian embryology and reproductive physiology, and received external grant funding totaling more than $2 million. He made significant contributions to the field of mammalian reproduction and development, resulting in international recognition of his pioneering work with uterine proteins and early mammalian development. He authored almost 200 publications.

Following his retirement from the university, Daniel continued to pursue some of his research interests, including the communication, breeding and general biology of the rhinoceros. Most of this work was done using captive animals in zoos, with the occasional trip to Africa to test wild rhinos in their natural habitat.

In his spare time now, Daniel dabbles in real estate and enjoys canoeing, bicycling, gardening and fly-fishing. He also reads proofs for Story Arts Media, the firm run by his oldest son, Joe, which published his latest book. In 2004, he completed his memoirs for his six children and 10 grandchildren.

All of the paintings in "Charles the Lion Dog" are by Barcita, an award-winning children's book illustrator. A member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, she has illustrated more than 20 children's books. She is the winner of three gold medals and one silver medal from Mom's Choice Awards, and a silver from the Ben Franklin Awards.

For those unable to visit the University Village Bookstore, the book is available for purchase online at www.charlestheliondogbook.com.

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