Reprinted from the Plano Profile
By Britney Mott, Staff Writer
Spunky dog duo Belle and Chloe eat, sleep and play together in The Misadventures of Belle & Chloe: A book of short stories about two insane chocolate Labs growing up in Texas. Written by Doyle Walker, a former Plano principal and teacher, the book is a humorous take on raising two-of-a-kind Labrador Retrievers. While some of the stories are slightly embellished, all of them, according to the author, are true.
Belle is clearly the alpha dog, which is fitting as most of the stories are told from her point of view. She and Chloe address Doyle as “Mister” and Doyle’s wife Cathy as “the Missus.” While Belle is Cathy’s shadow, her mischievous sister Chloe is Doyle’s. “Chloe is a little nutcase,” said Doyle. “She doesn’t have a care in the world; she just bounces all over the place. They’re both Looney-tune dogs.”
Doyle may describe them as ‘Looney-tune dogs,’ but Cathy named the Labs after soap opera characters: Belle Black and Chloe Lane in “Days of Our Lives.” The Labs were just 6 weeks old when Doyle and Cathy purchased them nine years ago. Said Doyle, “We had two black Labs who were sisters – Jett and Jazz – but after 15 years, we finally had to put them down. It just ripped our hearts out and we thought we’d never want to go through that again. Well, after six months, a neighbor of a friend of Cathy’s had a chocolate Lab named Cheyenne who gave birth to a litter. Cathy said, ‘Let’s at least go over and look at them.’ Well, I knew that we weren’t going to just look at them.”
Doyle was originally inspired to write the book due to Cathy having a mild stroke. She didn’t have any speech or physical problems, but she lost her math skills. “The doctor said, ‘Everything looks really good, but what’s 10 times 10?’ Cathy didn’t have a clue, and this is the girl with a 4.0 GPA who helped me through college algebra. The doctor told her if she’d exercise her mind, maybe things will start to come back. So I decided to write some short stories about Belle and Chloe for her to read because those two dogs are so near to her heart.” She loved reading the stories, and they not only eventually led to the publishing of “The Misadventures of Belle and Chloe,” but Doyle’s wife regained her math skills.
Born in Temple, Texas, Doyle and Cathy started dating in high school and married when Doyle was a junior at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. He double majored in history and business and graduated in 1972 to pursue a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of North Texas. After graduation, he and Cathy moved to Plano where he taught history at Plano High School, the only high school in Plano at the time. At 22 years old, Doyle was teaching students who were 17 and 18. “Luckily I was 6’4”, so that helped,” he said. “I remember one of my students asked me to the prom, and I said, ‘Gosh, that’s sweet of you, but I’d really need to check with my wife!”
Doyle taught at Plano High School for three years, making $7,000 a year. When Plano Senior High opened, he couldn’t turn down an offer to be the assistant principal and a pay raise to $8,000. “I remember telling Cathy and she said, ‘We can have pizza every night!’ he laughed. The following year, Doyle’s friend was opening Vines High School and asked Doyle to be his assistant principal. Doyle accepted the position but it wasn’t long before he stepped up as principal in 1980. He was just turning 30 years old. “Back then, Plano was small but we were growing so rapidly. If you were a teacher or assistant principal and you wanted to advance, this was the perfect district because we were opening a new school every year,” Doyle said.
He remained at Vines for 10 years and in 1990 began a new chapter in his career at Jostens. He was familiar with the company because it produces most of the yearbooks in Plano schools, as well as graduation rings, caps and gowns. A senior sales representative, Doyle boasts a 20-year career with Jostens, but what he is most proud of is being able to work with the Plano Independent School District. “One of the main reasons I joined Jostens was so that I could stay involved in the schools,” he said. “I’m in schools every day working with the teachers and kids. The school system is what has kept me in Plano all these years.” Plus, Jostens allows Doyle to arrange his own work schedule. This was convenient when his son, Chris, was growing up and needed to be dropped off at school or taken to the doctor’s office or late’ afternoon band practice. Doyle’s flexible schedule also allowed him to teach his son how to fish, and coach Little League baseball for almost 10 seasons.
Chris, a 1995 Plano Senior High School alumnus and today a Special Agent with the United States Secret Service, is Doyle and Cathy’s only child. “Plano’s a good place to raise a family and two dogs,” said Doyle. “Family to me is – well, I can’t put a value on it. I had opportunities to move to other places, but I love Plano. This is our home...it always will be.”
The Misadventures of Belle & Chloe is available online at Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.com. Visit www.belleandchloe.com for more information, as well as ordering a personal signed book.