How One Stray Rescue Pit Bull Changed His Owner's Life and Inspired a New Sci-Fi Book
Once a little pup on the street in need of help, Anthony the pit bull changed his owner's life and continues to inspire him
Anthony the pit bull is dearly missed, but Glen Zipper's beloved late dog continues to live on in almost everything Zipper does.
Sometimes Anthony's imprint on Zipper's work is obvious, like in the executive producer's Netflix docu-series Dogs, which follows different canines around the world and explores the deep emotional bonds the pets form with the people who care for them.
But for Zipper's most recent project, Anthony's influence isn't as obvious, but once you know where to look the pit bull's loving nature shines through. The project is Devastation Class, a new young adult science fiction novel written by Zipper and his co-author and ex-girlfriend Elaine Mongeon.
When the former couple first met and started dating, they bonded over their shared love of the science fiction genre.
"And we decided, we can write our own story, can't we?" Zipper told PEOPLE of how the first seeds for the story were planted.
What they came up with is a story about a group of young men and women, with little intergalactic wartime experience, who take over a battleship in the midst of a devastating alien attack to protect their loved ones and the rest of humanity. Originally, Mongeon and Zipper pitched this story as a television pilot but pivoted the project to a book after getting feedback that the story was too large for a tv series.
"I remember them calling us out of the blue and saying 'You know how to write a book, right?" Zipper said of one of his initial calls with publishers. Five years later, the novel is complete with plans to turn the story into a literary trilogy already in the works with the book's publisher Blink.
While shifting from producer to author was a bit of an unexpected move for Zipper, it wasn't his first notable career change. Before moving to Los Angeles and getting involved in the entertainment industry, Zipper had a different life as a criminal prosecutor in Hudson Country, New Jersey, where he was "deeply, deeply unhappy." The force that encouraged him to make the radical change he needed was a homeless pit bull puppy he found on the street. The discovery led Zipper to an animal shelter, where something changed inside him. Zipper realized he wanted to help animals, so he quit his job to volunteer at the shelter, helping the facility find homes for their adoptable dogs.
While Zipper helped the shelter find homes for dozens of dogs, he couldn't find the right forever family for Anthony, the pit bull puppy who inspired Zipper's shift to animal rescue, so Zipper adopted the pup. This decision ultimately led a now-happy Zipper to move to Hollywood, where he hoped to, through film and television, inspire others to rescue and care for animals in need like Anthony.
"If it wasn't for me crossing paths with him on Jersey Avenue in Jersey City that day, I would have a completely different life. He changed my path. He put me on the path that I am still walking today. That's all Anthony," Zippers said of his late dog, who recently passed away at the age of 17.
Zipper tries to honor the immeasurable ways Anthony has affected his life, by including the dog in all of his work. "He's a throughline," the dog's owner added.
For Devastation Class, readers will see this continuing tribute to Anthony on the first page, where both Zipper and Mongeon have dedicated the book to Anthony.
"That book never would've happened without Anthony, there's even a character in the book that is named after him," Zipper said. "While we were banging away at the keyboard, Anthony was there inspiring everything that we wrote,"
Anthony's character is strong and loyal, just like the pit bull. Mongeon, who became cuddly close with Anthony during her relationship with Zipper, and Zipper also tried to imbue all the book's characters with the positive characteristics found in most rescue dogs, so animal lovers shouldn't be surprised if they see some of their own devoted canine's personality reflected on the page.
"When we were sick or feeling bad, Anthony always knew and was there to snuggle us," Mongeon says of the characteristic she adored about Anthony and wrote into Devastation Class. "He was empathetic. He was a healer."
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It was also these qualities that helped Zipper and Mongeon keep working together as friends and partners after their romantic relationship ended. A mutual love for Anthony and what they pooch brought to their lives led the co-authors to find a healthy and successful way to work together after their split.
For those keeping track, Anthony radically changed Zipper's life, inspired a Netflix series and a book, and was also a talented relationship coach. It makes sense why much of what Zipper and Mongeon do is dedicated to this one dog.
Readers can experience the power of Anthony's presence themselves in Devastation Class, which is available now. Animal lovers can also look forward to even more dog content from Zipper in the future, as he is currently working on the second season of Dogs on Netflix for 2021.