PESOTUM - If, like much of the world's population, you are hooked on electronic gadgets, Pearl and Earl have a hint for you: get disconnected from technology and reconnected to nature.
Ditch the BoneFone, Houndtooth capable, of course. Forget the iPaw, good for a mere 2,000 high-pitched sounds. Unplug the laptop, made by LapDog Computer Co. with Wi-Fi and scratch-resistant case. And find your way without the global positioning unit that is programmed with favorite hydrants, trees and shrubs.
So, just in case none of this is clear, Pearl and Earl are dogs, the primary characters in the Pringles' new book, "Happy Tails: The Call of Nature."
Well, actually, they are family members in the household of Cindy and Kirby Pringle of rural Pesotum.
Q: This isn't Earl and Pearl's first book, but could you remind us a bit about the dogs' histories?
They are both rescue dogs, said Cindy Pringle. Earl - whose name at home is Buster - is 10 years old.
"He's outgoing and friendly, a white boxer," she said.
"'Earl' was roaming the streets of Southern Illinois, followed by a harem of females and a group of children," she remembered.
The couple asked if they could buy him, and he loved becoming a house dog.
"Pearl," whose name is really Barney, is shy and quiet, and was found through a veterinarian when he was a puppy. They don't really know his breed.
But, Cindy Pringle quipped, "They kind of rule our roost."
Q: Your book is filled with photos of the dogs in varying costumes and varying locations around the country. How?
When they started, they found the dogs were very expressive, said Cindy Pringle.
"Look at their eyes," she continued. "They really go with what's going on in the photographs.
"We want the dogs' expression to match what's going on in the photo."
They take multiple photographs, sometimes with the dogs wearing wigs, sunglasses, scarves, sometimes with a paw coming out a sleeve. These are then meshed via computer with matching photographs of the costumes the dogs wear in the final product.
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Q: Don't you feel this book carries a definite message to readers?
"The message really is for people to really appreciate the beauty of nature," said Cindy Pringle.
That's why among the photographs are some of their favorite sites, including multiple locations at Lake Shelbyville, an area the couple frequents.
Technology is a good thing, Pringle continued, but it can be a bad thing if it rules your life.
"Pearl (in the book) is a bit autobiographical of myself," she admitted, and how intensely focused she becomes when working on photographs.
"I spend hours and hours and hours on the computer. I spend too much time there.
"I think that's the biggest message: to not let technology become the biggest part of our life.
"Enjoy the simple things in nature, the beauty."
Q: The book is a collaborative effort of both husband and wife. Does that make for difficulties?
"It can be fun because we are both willing to have fun," she said.
"We're both willing to look goofy for the sake of our photos.
"Sometimes I have an idea, sometimes Kirby does. One of us will eventually win out."
And one added note. The book is classified by amazon.com as geared to ages 4 to 8.
"I think ours is really duly aimed," said Cindy Pringle, "for adults as well as children.
"We see it appealing to a really broad range."
Arlene Mannlein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 421-6976.