Giving Back

Children’s Book Author Donates Proceeds to Buy Protective Vests for K-9s in New Jersey

"The Adventures of Solo, The Big Dog" author Jim Wiater holds a K-9 armored vest. Credits: Courtesy of Jim Wiater
Sales of "The Adventures of Solo, The Big Dog" children's book are used to purchase armored vests for K-9 police dogs. Credits: Courtesy of Big Dog Books
K-9 Basilone. the newest member of the Somerset County Sheriff's Department. Credits: Rod Hirsch

SOMERVILLE, NJ  — Author Jim Wiater came up with the story by chance. He was multitasking — driving the car and entertaining his young daughters, Nikki and Kaci, with a story that he made up as he drove.  

Over the years, he expanded and refined the story line, sat down and began to write. Finally, last year, he self-published “The Adventures of Solo, The Big Dog,” nearly 12 years after the story was first conceived, inspired by the bravery of a real-life K-9.

It is a children’s book, about a K-9 police dog, but it goes beyond teaching children value lessons  — “The Adventures of Solo, The Big Dog” helps to protect other K-9s on the job.

Sign Up for E-News

Proceeds from the sale of each book are used to underwrite the expense of body armor for K-9s, as well as other customized K-9 equipment. It takes about 60 books to buy a custom K-9 vest, according to Wiater.

Each vest is custom fit after the dog has been measured to ensure maximum comfort during an eight-, 10- or 12-hour shift,  said the Millstone resident, who is a carpentry teacher at Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools' Piscataway campus.

Next in line for a fitted armor vest is K9 Basilone, a 14-month-old black and brown German shepherd, the newest officer in the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department, trained in article search and tracking.

Since publication in January, 750 copies of Wiater's book have been sold; proceeds have purchased K-9 body armor for three other dogs, as well as a K-9 first aid field trauma kits, a K-9 cooling vest, and pet oxygen mask kits requested by local police departments, prosecutor's and sheriff's offices in New Jersey, according to Wiater.

The real-life K-9 Solo was killed in the line of duty in Bradley Beach in 1998. Touched by the story of the dog’s bravery, Wiater told a gathering of the New Jersey State Patrolmen's Benevolent Association that he made a promise to himself then that he would purchase a bulletproof vest for a K-9 officer — a vow that has been strengthened many times over with the book effort.

The author encourages other police agencies to request K-9 armor or other equipment; requests are handled on a first-come, first-served basis, he said.

More information can be found online at and at GoFundMe, Friends of Solo/K-9 equipment on Facebook.

The single-copy price for “The Adventures of Solo, The Big Dog,” is $18.70, plus shipping and handling. To purchase a copy online visit  or email

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Belmar/Lake Como

Health Alert: Child with Measles Traveled to Newark Airport on March 12

March 15, 2018

TRENTON, NJ — If you were at Newark Liberty International Airport on Monday, March 12 between 12:45 and 9 p.m., you may have been exposed to measles and should contact your health care provider.

The N.J. Department of Health has issued a public health alert after a child with a confirmed case of measles — a highly contagious disease — arrived in Terminal B at Newark Liberty ...

Building Meadow's Garden & Playground: A Father's Vision to Honor His Daughter

March 11, 2018

PARKLAND, FL — For Andrew Pollack, the loss of his daughter Meadow Pollack in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas tragedy has spurred him to focus his energies on improving school safety and build a playground to honor his daughter.

"I had a vision of, instead of going to the cemetery, I wanted to do something that Meadow would have liked to go to, Pollack said. "I had a vision of ...

Electronics: The Negative Impact on Literacy

March 6, 2018

To the Editor:

As speech-language pathologists across New Jersey prepare to mark National March into Literacy Month,  let’s address the alarming number of young children who spend countless hours a day on a handheld screen.

According to a study from the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting, the more time that children under age 2 spend on smartphones, tablets and electronic ...