A local couple will celebrate the publication of their first children’s book this weekend, and everyone is invited — especially animal lovers.
Cindy and Tim Romero, of Stansbury Park, are the author-illustrator duo behind “Skip Thomas Gets Adopted.” The book, which is based on the true story of a rescue dog named Skip Thomas, was recently published by Surrogate Press in Park City.
This Saturday, the Romeros will hold a public book launch and signing on the lower level of the Stansbury Park Clubhouse to celebrate the book’s publication and their memories of Skip Thomas. People are welcome to attend between 12-5 p.m. Refreshments will be served, and there will be a gift bag drawing, according to www.skipthomasadventures.com.
For every book that is sold, the Romeros will donate $1 to an animal charity in need. In the past, they’ve donated to charities like Best Friends, the Humane Society, and local shelters.
“It all depends on … whoever’s in need,” Tim said.
The book has been years in the making, Cindy said. She first met Skip Thomas 19 years ago while working as a FedEx driver in Tooele.
“I was delivering to a farm and heard some puppies in the back,” Cindy said. “The people weren’t home, so I wasn’t able to deliver the packages, and I had to go back the next day.”
The following day, while she was delivering the packages, she asked about the puppies. The homeowner explained the puppies were supposed to be purebred yellow labradors, but that particular litter turned out to be a mix of Australian Shepherd and Labrador. The original buyer had refused to take them because they weren’t purebred, and the puppies needed new homes.
Cindy knew what she had to do.
That evening after work, Cindy told her husband she wanted to show him something. Tim suspected something was up.
“We had just gotten married, and I knew she wanted a child — a canine child,” he said.
The couple returned to the farm to look at the puppies. Neither of them would ever forget that first experience with the dog who would change their lives.
“All the puppies were playing with the mom except one,” Tim recalled. “He was off playing by himself. As soon as I saw him, I knew he was the one we wanted.”
When Tim pointed the puppy out, the homeowner’s little girl got excited.
“She told us, ‘That’s my favorite one!’ She had named all the puppies, and told us that this one’s name was Tommy,” Tim said. “She asked if we would keep his name. We had been wanting a dog called Skip, and we thought, ‘Why don’t we call him Skip Thomas?’ It made the little girl really happy.”
Tim and Cindy soon realized they had adopted an extraordinary dog. Dogs are generally loving and loyal to their owners, but Skip Thomas took those qualities to the next level. He was extremely empathetic and seemed to understand everything Cindy and Tim said.
In addition, many of his actions were more like a person than a dog. For example, he loved jumping into leaf piles, he helped push the snow shovel during winter, and he got ready for bed much as a child would.
“At nighttime, I’d say ‘We’re going to bed,’ and he’d look at me, then look at Cindy, and try to fit all his stuffed animals in his mouth to take upstairs,” Tim said. “He couldn’t take all his stuffed animals in one trip, so on the second trip he’d stop and wait for us both to come up with him.”
Perhaps the most life-changing experience the Romeros had with Skip Thomas took place around 16 years ago, when Cindy broke her neck in an accident at work and the company let her go. Skip Thomas became a vital source of comfort for Cindy during that difficult time.
“I was devastated, thinking, ‘What do I do now?’” Cindy said. “While I was waiting for surgery, Skippy was with me. That dog never left my side. He would always jump up on the bed and snuggle with us, but when I got my surgery he just knew — he knew I was hurt, and he never left my side. He was my little angel; he took care of me.”
During her recovery from surgery, Cindy started writing down stories about her and Tim’s adventures with Skip Thomas.
“That‘s when a lot of the stories started to come out,” she said.
In addition to writing stories about Skip Thomas, Cindy wrote poetry. One of her poems was even published.
After Skip Thomas passed away at age seven, Cindy started sending story manuscripts to traditional publishers in New York.
“I sent package after package, and they’d reject them and send them back — or sometimes they wouldn’t send them back,” Cindy said. “I was disappointed, but not devastated. I knew one day it would happen.”
After receiving multiple rejection letters, Cindy decided to put her stories on the back burner for a while. Two years ago, everything changed when she and her husband decided to take a scenic drive.
“We had both taken a day off work, and we went up the scenic highway and had a picnic,” she said. “We stopped at a smokehouse on the way home, and I saw two children’s books. I’m a children’s book freak — I have a library here at the house — and I have to buy every children’s book I find. I looked at the publisher for these books and thought, ‘Wow, this publisher’s in Park City. Maybe we should consider them.’”
Taking a risk, Cindy made a cold call to Surrogate Press and asked if they would be interested in publishing the first book in the Skip Thomas Adventures series.
“I called and I thought, ‘They’re never going to call back,’” Cindy said, “but she (Katie Mullaly, the company owner) called back in 10 minutes and said, ‘I want to publish your book!’”
Cindy and Tim met with Mullaly for the first time in May. It was clear from the start of that meeting, when Mullaly greeted the couple with a hug, that their partnership was meant to be.
“We’ve been working with her ever since,” Cindy said. “She was born in August, so we’re all Leos, and she has her own children’s books. It’s perfect; we foresee many more years with her. … It was worth the wait; I think all good things come in due time.”
Tim added, “I’m still on cloud nine right now, and I probably will be for the rest of my life. … We’ve been on so many dirt roads trying to find our dream, and now we’re finally on asphalt; we’re riding the speed limit!”
Since Skip Thomas, the Romeros have taken in three more rescue dogs. Since they don’t have children, their dogs are their kids. Their passion for helping animals in need has been a key part of their married life. Tim believes it was destiny.
“It’s why we were meant to be together,” he said.
Destiny certainly seemed to bring them together in the first place. While Tim and Cindy grew up in different places — he in Tooele and New Mexico and she in New Jersey — they have a lot in common, and fate had a way of bringing them together.
There was the time when Cindy delivered tires to Tim for his Midget racecar; the fact they both had sailboats tethered at the same dock at the Great Salt Lake; and the day they visited the home of a mutual friend at the exact same time — which allowed Tim to finally get her number and ask her out.
“I’d seen Cindy around for the past 15 years, and I knew I was going to marry this girl,” Tim said. “I knew I was going to marry her — I just didn’t know when I was going to meet her.”
Their first date was to a Jonny Lang concert on a Friday night. Tim and Cindy talked on the phone every day leading up to the date, and were amazed by how similar they were.
“We love everything the same,” Tim said. “We love golf the same, we love fishing the same, we love the Razor (four wheeler) the same, we both cry during the same Hallmark movies — she’s perfect for me.”
The evening of their very first date, when Tim took Cindy home, he proposed marriage to her. She said yes.
“The next weekend we went to Matchbox 20, I got her golf clubs, and we never went back,” Tim said.
This year, he and Cindy celebrated their 19th wedding anniversary.
As for Skip Thomas, his spirit will live on forever in the writing and illustrations of Cindy and Tim Romero.