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First, let me say that I have nothing against cats. I like them. At least six have “owned” me over the course of my life.
But my heart belongs to dogs—both real and fictional.
Right now I share my furniture and take long walks with two ten-pound hairballs, Bubba (a miniature Schnauzer/Yorkie mix) and Max (a purebred Maltese with issues). (Pictures on my website, www.deadlyduomysteries.com )
I share my office with a trio of fictional canines, Sebastian, Nelson, and Cheese Puff.
That puts me in good company. Dogs reside in far more than a third of all U.S. households. And a heck of a lot of writers have created canine companions—from Argos to Lassie to White Fang to Old Yeller to Winn-Dixie.
Many fictional dogs work hard, serving as symbols or sounding boards and providing pivot points for plot. Some are loyal companions, faithful and protective. Others supply comic relief, clues, or red herrings. Some are smart. Others are goofballs. Many help ratchet up tension.
Some writers hesitate to write kill off a dog (or cat or other creature) because they believe readers won’t forgive them for it. Others, however, create fictional canines that make the ultimate sacrifice.
Do well-drawn, memorable fictional dogs increase sales? Especially sales to dog lovers?
Did I consider that before I created my fictional dogs?
I created them for their value to plot and characterization.
My first fictional dog, Sebastian, makes a brief appearance at the beginning of A Place of Forgetting. He’s old, his muscles are limp and stringy, and his eyes are clouded, but protagonist Liz Roark loves him. To disrupt her life and force her to leave her hometown and get on with life, I sent them up a mountain on a perfect autumn day and let him die a peaceful death. Several readers wrote to tell me they loved Sebastian and were sad to see him go, but understood why I did that.
Nelson, the three-legged dog out for vengeance in Through a Yellow Wood, is the lone survivor of a serial killer’s attempt to hide his crimes. I thought long and hard before allowing that killer to shoot Nelson’s seven kennel mates (before the book begins). I finally took the leap in order to deepen and strengthen his character and will.
I created my third fictional dog, Cheese Puff, to get protagonist Barbara Reed out of the dumps and back into the world after a nasty divorce. He’s a shrimp of an orange mutt she finds in No Substitute for Murder, the first book in the Subbing isn’t for Sissies cozy mystery series. Barb’s neighbors find Cheese Puff endearing, but their pampering undermines her efforts to train him and encourages an excess of small-dog attitude.
Cheese Puff has been a hit with readers—especially those who have small dogs as companions. Several have suggested ideas for what might happen to him in future books. Thanks to some of those readers, he found love in No Substitute for Money and broadened his social and cultural life in No Substitute for Maturity. In the fourth book in the series—a book I hope to write this fall—Cheese Puff will be keeping a diary and tangling with Bigfoot.
It will be interesting to see what readers think about that.
The Dames of Dialogue and I would love to hear about your dogs—both real and fictional—and we’re looking forward to your comments.
Carolyn J. Rose is the author of the popular Subbing isn’t for Sissies series (No Substitute for Murder, No Substitute for Money, and No Substitute for Maturity have sold 50,000 electronic copies), as well as the Catskill Mountains mysteries (Hemlock Lake, Through a Yellow Wood, and soon-to-be-released The Devil’s Tombstone). Other works include An Uncertain Refuge, Sea of Regret, A Place of Forgetting, and five novels written with her husband, Mike Nettleton: The Hard Karma Shuffle, The Crushed Velvet Miasma, Drum Warrior, Death at Devil’s Harbor and Deception at Devil’s Harbor.
She grew up in New York’s Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, logged two years in Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America, and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. She’s now a substitute teacher in Vancouver, Washington, and her interests are reading, swimming, walking, gardening, and NOT cooking. Website www.deadlyduomysteries.com
Having been brought up in an unstable, abusive environment I often found comfort in animals – cows, dogs, chickens, wildlife – it didn’t seem to matter what kind of animal. When I got my first apartment at 14, I rescued a cat and found an amazing amount of comfort from the many animals that shared my home since then. Of the fur-friends who have shared my home the last 30 years since my first apartment, there are a few that stand out and I’d like to share those experiences with you.
Indika came into my life after a cycling accident left me in rehab for about 6 months. Having to spend most the first 6 weeks on the floor lying on a mattress, her kitten antics entertained me all day. She would play among my crutches, sleep with me and tease smiles out of an otherwise painful day. She and I grew to be very close until she passed on a few years ago due to old age.
Skylo was our first adopted dog and probably the smartest dog I have met. A 13-month-old Husky/Basenji cross. He was at the end of his rope – there was a time when animals were put down if un-adoptable instead of the current method of networking with other shelters. Fortunately for us, a softhearted staff member had prolonged Skylo’s life as long as he could. Skylo was incredibly restless, unstable from the lack of a secure home and didn’t know what he was supposed to do. We soon realized the beautifully-marked high-energy dog was strong willed and yet willing to please.
Skylo quickly became more than a “dog”. During his 6-year stay with us, he was also therapy for me, helping me deal with an anxiety disorder simply with his comforting and protective presence. Our boy was brave enough to tree a bear in order to protect me – yet kind and patient enough to understand the weak. Skylo also had an ample dose of intelligence and gentle playfulness that had him not only making great friends with his two indoor feline “siblings”, but also making friends with neighboring cats and dogs.
Sadly, on a tragic Sunday I left Skylo on the step to pop inside and get his leash before taking him for a stroll. I suspect Skylo was chasing one of the neighborhood cats out of the yard when one of the many speeding and preoccupied drivers on our street took the joy out of our home. Poor Skylo was hit and injured very badly – his insides were hemorrhaging, he was screaming for me and when I got there he was shaking badly – and frankly, so was I. Luckily the neighbors and some people passing by jumped to our aide helping to carry him on a blanket to a nearby truck bed and the driver took Skylo and I to the vet. One person, a total stranger, even rode in the back of the truck with us and was so wonderful with Skylo, keeping him calm while I struggled to focus.
Our vet met us at the office downtown within a minute or two of our arrival, despite their being closed and the vet having to bring her young child along. She was amazing with Skylo, and climbed into the truck bed to give him a pain reliever right away, so he only suffered for about 7 minutes in total – the time it took to get him to the vet.
Skylo’s death moved so many people – the vet staff cried with us, the people who took us to the vet cried with us, our neighbors grieved with us… we never knew that Skylo had become such a large part of so many people’s daily lives. One neighbor was so moved and angered by the continuing speeding on our street that she got a petition together “in honor of Skylo Brummet” and acquired 32 signatures in just one morning. This letter was presented to the city and resulted in the police monitoring our street for a few months after the event.
We will never know the impact this event had on the safety of our neighborhood, however we do know that people were saying that prior to this event their children and pets have had many close calls with inattentive drivers. Perhaps Skylo’s passing prevented the death of another beloved fur companion, or a child.
In honor of Skylo we adopted Onyx, a two year old Border Collie/Chocolate Lab cross that had been badly abused and chained up most of his life – he didn’t know how to be a dog, what to do inside a house and had a deep distrust of people. The rescue staff had deemed him un-adoptable due to his aggressive behavior – towards men in particular – but trusted us to rehabilitate him. It turned out he was never an ‘aggressive’ dog, instead it was worse – as ‘fear based reactive’ dog when something upset him he reacted by barking, showing teeth, lunging and fretting to the point of high pitch wailing. When we first brought Onyx home he had skin rashes, was awfully skinny and patches of fur missing. We discovered ragged scars on his chin and three shattered teeth, which were extracted as soon as possible. It was an ongoing daily effort to help him be a calm dog and it definitely came with its trials along the way. I was pulled to the ground and dragged a couple of times during our walks; he had also scared some others (and us) with his lightening fast moves. By providing reliable routines with plenty of exercise and attention he was slowly able to relax, develop trust and let us be the boss.
When we adopted our third rescue dog it was to help us with Onyx who was having trouble learing how to be a dog, how to play or chew a bone. That is when Skyla, a Malamute/Shepherd cross (rescued from a puppy mill gone bad), entered our lives. This little puppy was anemic from near starvation, had heart murmurs and a bad case of worms because she survived off eating other dog’s waste. It took some time to get her to understand what dog food was and how to eat out of a bowl but with a lot of feeding and nurturing she built strength, her heart grew strong and she put on some weight. She was a bundle of awkward knuckles, knees and skin for her first eighteen months then the filling out of muscles and flesh began intermittently with the lengthening of her bones and structure – earning her the nickname ‘Grendall’ due to her appearance and the grumbles and grunts she emits. A very intelligent, but independent, dog, she loves to learn new things every day. I swear she has the strength and energy of a small horse and with her sled dog genetics lurking deep inside she would love to have a job pulling something. As a matter of fact when Dave takes her for a bike ride on leash in a heel, she hints that she has no problem pulling him around but he resists her charming offer.
Sadly after only 6 years with us Onyx’s old injuries from the earlier abuse he received were causing him a lot of pain and his reactive behavior came back up to the surface so with heavy hearts we decided to let him go. 6 months later we brought in another dog from the local shelter: Duchess, a 3 year old Siberian Husky/Blue Heeler cross. She is the sweetest, gentlest, playful dog I’ve ever known. Skyla adores her and they play or sleep together constantly. A few weeks later we also had a stray cat join our home that we named Korma. She’s a 10 month old orange tabby and we are currently getting her vaccinations up to date and she’ll be spayed soon. She has a wonderful personality and after the adjustment period of introducing her to our ‘pack’ the dogs have accepted her and can actually be seen playing or sleeping with her.
Life with these rescue animals has brought so much joy and laughter and purpose into our lives. We get down on the ground and play with their squeeky toys and laugh in the middle of the day. They get us outside exercising when we probably wouldn’t have if they weren’t here. Rescueing and rehabilitating the troubled personalities we’ve encountered was for me a way of rescueing myself – I healed, as they healed. Their love opened my heart more to new experiences that I would have avoided before. They’ve helped me stay calm when the anxiety disorder levels rise and their nurturing tenderness brings such a comfort to us. Who was there to comfort me after the 2 separate accidents happened and the pain was unbearable, but my fuzzy faced friends? Who provided companionship when my husband was away? Who protected our home and yard from undesireable visitors? Who senses when we are miserable and teases smiles out of a grumpy face? Who provided tender comfort while my husband recovered from knee surgery? Exactly who, then, was rescued – the human or the animal? Perhaps both.
As painful as it is to say goodbye to our fur children when the bell toles for them – we will always bring another in to our home from the local rescue shelter. There are just so many of these gentle beings that only want to be loved and accepted that it breaks my heart. We feel that by bringing in a new fur-kid whenever we have space in our home, we are given a chance to honor those who have graced our life over the years.
Award-winning authors Dave and Lillian Brummet: owners of the Brummet Media Group (http://brummet.ca), offering book publishing services from formatting to cover design, graphic design and promotion material creation, books and CD’s, the Conscious Discussions Talk Radio: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/consciousdiscussions and the Brummet’s Conscious Blog: http://www.consciousdiscussions.blogspot.com
For as long as I can remember, I have loved animals. Collies were my family’s dog-of-choice until my college days when my brother found two Labradors roaming through town. He cared for them until their people, who were local breeders, retrieved them, no pun intended. In appreciation, he was given a puppy, which soon turned into two – Duke and Duchess. Our family has had nothing but Labradors since. They are just the most wonderful canine companions.
My love of horses was apparent from the beginning. My mother used to take me to the County Park system to longingly gaze at the horses until I was old enough to begin riding lessons at age eight. Five years later, my dream of a horse of my own came true. Since then, I’ve always had horses in my life. As my skills improved, I climbed the ranks of the show world riding jumpers until I graduated from Rutgers College of Pharmacy in ’75.
Several years after graduating, I married my horse vet and left pharmacy to manage our equine hospital and breeding farm in central New Jersey. For 27 years, I cared for many horses, both our clients’ and our own, my Labs, and any number of barn cats. Leaving pharmacy was the best thing for me. It put me back in touch with animals on a day-to-day basis. I belonged on a farm surrounded by horses.
Just after I turned 42 years old, I met one of the most influential animals in my life. Her name was Because Of Love. She was a Quarter Horse filly foal, who taught me that my life’s purpose involved telepathic animal communication and healing. Love only stayed in this life for four short months, but those astonishing months changed the course of my life forever.
Over the next year, I began telepathically communicating with animals and learning several innovative healing modalities that I continue to use almost 20 years later. During one of my earlier communication sessions for a client, I channeled information about their pet. We learned that companion animals had come into being in order to answer our souls’ cries for help. Life on Earth is very difficult, and our animals come to help us maneuver through it.
This was no surprise to me. I’d always felt like my animals took better care of me than I of them. This insight from the Universe totally resonated with my experiences. My reasoning resided in the fact that my care dealt with their physical needs; food, water, housing, medications, etc. Of course, I loved them, but my efforts were focused on the physical level. Being educated as a pharmacist emphasizes the physical. Not until I began my communication and healing work did I even realize about our mental, emotional, and spiritual needs.
Life on our farm was filled with unending responsibilities. We saved many horses and foals lives and lost others. With each loss, a small part of me left with them. After I became an animal communicator, I was better able to understand and accept the losses. I became cognizant of much that occurs beyond the physical. My dear Labs, Ben followed by Shadow and Licorice, worked side-by-side with me every day. I was blessed to have foaled (birthed) many mares for clients and had seven foals of my own over the years. Each new soul that comes into this world is a miracle, and it’s a genuine privilege to assist with their arrival.
Eight years ago, the role of my animal-family took on massive importance after my husband retired and we moved to the mountains of North Carolina. Six weeks into construction of our dream home, he walked out leaving me 600 miles from everyone I knew without a home or a job. I had entered the most traumatic time in my life – my “dark night of the soul.” Seven months later, we were divorced after 29 years together. I was stunned and distraught.
Engulfed in an emotional maelstrom, I felt betrayed and abandoned on the side of a mountain living with my two 13-year-old Labrador brothers, Shadow and Licorice. I had moved four barn cats but had lost one to possible poisoning on the mountain; Butch, Bandit, and Crystal remained. My two-year-old horse, Stormy, was living 126 miles away in Greensboro. My husband wouldn’t dare challenge me for any of the animals. He knew I considered them my children. We could divvy up all the assets equally, but the animals were off-limits.
I was 53 years old experiencing emotions I’d never felt before. From my years of communication work on the farm, I knew just how detrimental negative emotions are for the animals within the family. I kept telling my dear old Labs not take it on. I could handle it myself. They knew better than I what I could and couldn’t handle. I leaned on Shadow and Licorice more than ever before for comfort and love. And, they offered it selflessly. I simply wouldn’t have survived without them.
Even my cats, who were primarily outdoor cats, took up the cause. After purchasing a house for us to live it, my little Crystal slept with me every night for the first year. Prior to this she stayed inside at night a little through the winter but never during the other seasons. Just hearing her purr was so soothing for my battered soul. Her presence made the king bed feel a little less empty.
Four months after our separation, I moved Stormy to a beautiful barn about 20 miles from my new house. Being able to spend time with him on this gorgeous property allowed me some respite from my reign of negativity. Staying in the moment is imperative while working with horses, especially young horses. If you don’t, you risk injury. Being able to do that which I’d done for most of my life helped me find myself again. Away from the barn, I’d revert back to the victim, which lasted for quite some time.
I had become the needy one, the one that required an inordinate amount of care. Not physical care, but mental, emotional, and spiritual care. It was imperative for me to follow my own advice to clients, “Don’t feel guilty about your animal taking on your negative emotions. Guilt is just more negativity, so you create an unending loop between you and your pet.” Ha, easier said than done.
Training Stormy was a vital component to my healing. The time spent with him on his peaceful farm nourished my soul. Being surrounded by horses was so natural for me. I was so comfortable there. The horse farm was an escape from the rest of my life, which was out of control. Stormy was attempting to teach me as much as I was training him. He reflected lessons that my soul was struggling to get me to acknowledge. I must admit that Stormy was progressing much quicker than I, but Stormy and my soul hung in there. They were patient and didn’t give up on their slow student. Eventually, I began to recognize the Truths they were endeavoring to teach me.
Dear Shadow and Licorice lived until almost 15 years old – longer than any of my previous dogs. Shadow, my soulmate, was the first to leave. I’d been journaling about my challenges since leaving New Jersey in hopes of learning what my soul was attempting to teach me. When Shadow alerted me that he was ready to return to Spirit, I was devastated. But, I knew it signaled that a significant amount of healing and growth had been attained or he wouldn’t leave me. He sensed that I was finally strong enough to cope with his loss. I wasn’t so sure, but Shadow knew best.
Five months later, Licorice was ready to make his transition. Licorice had waited as long as necessary. He was aware that in two weeks two new caretakers were coming to join the family. Somehow Licorice knew he was leaving me in good “paws” – just another of the Universe’s miracles. The loss of Shadow and Licorice coincided with the culmination of my journey of healing and transformation and my emergence from my Abyss and Tunnel.
The timely arrival of the next generation of Labrador brothers, Hana and Saba, was in perfection. They brought into my life exactly what had been missing for many, many years – the exuberant and blissful nature of a child. The responsibilities of my life on the farm caring for everyone (except me) had stolen the joy for life that they were reflecting back to me.
Soon after their arrival, Saba taught so profoundly about forgiveness that I was brought to tears. Although he loved water, he hated rain. I’d gotten quite ill and was struggling with house-breaking the pups. Nature brought us much needed rain, which complicated Saba’s education. Instead of doing his chores quickly like Hana, Saba would refuse to go out in the rain. I’d accompany him and have him stubbornly sit by my feet under the umbrella.
Running very low on strength and patience, I picked Saba up and screamed at him as we headed into the house. Buried anger rose up from deep within me. Saba’s loving eyes pierced my heart. His questioning look was filled with confusion. Instantly, I felt ashamed and guilty for my indiscretion. How could I expect a ten-week-old pup to understand? I’d been berating myself for my inexcusable outburst when Saba flopped down on top of my foot. Saba’s show of affection and support caused the tears to erupt with his powerful lesson in forgiveness. Something I’d been struggling with for two years, Saba accomplished within an hour.
Raising Hana and Saba and training dear Stormy were essential to my complete recovery from my Ex’s betrayal. Slowly over the past few years, I have become the woman I was meant to be. I learned more from this period in my life than my first 53 years. I am once more confident, happy, and blessed to work as an animal communicator and healer. Thanks to the lessons and support from my animal-family, I have published two award-winning books with a third to come.
Whatever care I’ve given the animals over my life cannot compare to what I’ve received from them. Being alone for the first time in my life was terrifying for me. Having my animals with me allowed me to get through each day – one day at a time. My work with the animals taught me about reincarnation, which gives transition a whole new meaning. There was a point when I considered ending my life. I was that dark and depressed. But, I couldn’t. Who would take care of my animals? That’s how important they are to me. Like I said earlier, they are my children.
It’s been eight years since I heard those fateful words from my Ex. Honestly, I’m proud of the strong, competent healer I’ve become. I love my animal communication and healing work. I love writing and sharing what the animals have taught through my books. I am doing very well living without another human in the house.
My dear cats have all transitioned now, but Hana and Saba, now six years old, are on duty and will be for a long time to come. Stormy turned ten years old this year; hard to conceive. My time with Stormy is more beneficial than any form of therapy. These are the three wise men in my life. They continue to teach, care for, comfort, and love me unconditionally. I couldn’t ask for more. Each day, my heart is held in loving paws and hooves. I am honored and blessed to have been chosen to be their person. They are simply my best friends!
Nancy A. Kaiser lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina with her two Labrador brothers and her Swedish Warmblood horse. She operates “Just Ask” Communications, a business devoted to healing the human-animal bond through enhanced communication and understanding. Nancy is an award-winning author of two books, Letting Go: An Ordinary Woman’s Extraordinary Journey of Healing & Transformation and Tales of an Animal Communicator ~ Master Teachers. Visit her Website: www.NancyKaiserAnimalCommunicator.com.
Some of my earliest memories are of dogs—a black one that allowed me to sit astride him, a smallish white one that retrieved a ball, a blond cocker spaniel with hair as fine as corn silk.
Although I have owned cats (or, more accurately, they owned me or perhaps we co-existed), I am a dog person to the core. I love the smell of puppy breath, the satiny feel of a dog’s ears, the barks and growls of dogs at play, the warmth of a dog by my side, the intelligence and love and goofiness in a dog’s eyes. Dogs make me feel more complete. And a lot less lonely.
Until my senior year in college at the University of Arizona, I had only a share in the family dogs, but then an acquaintance made me an offer I couldn’t refuse—puppies from a litter sired by a mutt with coyote blood. I named my puppy Peyote Pancake for no particular reason except that 1) it was 1969 and 2) no one took a serious run at talking me out of it. Pancake (who appears as Sidewinder in Consulted to Death and Driven to Death—now out of print) hung with me until I went into VISTA, my father said she’d be happier living in the Catskills than wherever I might end up—his way of admitting he’d gotten attached.
I lived in spare bedrooms for several months until I got a house with another volunteer in Little Rock, Arkansas. She had two cats and I made do with them until a neighbor moved and left behind a tan and white mutt with pleading eyes. I took him in and named him Sebastian.
An escape artist, he never met a collar, harness, or fence that could hold him. I was shocked, but not really surprised, when he tangled with something (Trap? Train? Predator? I never knew) and came home with bones protruding from the remaining half of a rear leg.
The vet took the maimed leg off at the hip and Sebastian adjusted and thrived. He loved to swim, ride in my canoe, and spend tornado-watch evenings in the television station newsroom dozing under a desk while I monitored police scanners. He even acquired a pet of his own, herding in a half-grown cat off the street. When I moved to New Mexico, he and Zane Gray rode together in the passenger seat.
I brought Sebastian “back to life,” in A Place of Forgetting, and I’ll “resurrect” him again as Nelson and give him a starring role—missing leg and all—in my second Catskill Mountains mystery, Through a Yellow Wood, the sequel to Hemlock Lake. (Coming out in June)
Sebastian wasn’t much of a barker, so I went to the shelter and got a more vocal dog. She was a sheltie mix I named Butterscotch Brownie for her caramel and brown pelt. When Mike (my husband and sometimes co-author Mike Nettleton) and I got together, he brought Shadow and a cat named Juliet into the mix. Shadow, the color of a moonless midnight, was a spaniel cross with a sweet disposition. All three dogs and both cats slept with us—the dogs down the middle of our king size bed and the cats by our feet or even wrapped around our heads.
Sebastian was 15½ when he had a stroke in 1985. Mike, eager to salve my pain, hauled me to the dog shelter and we came home with a black and white spaniel cross. Stymied for a name, I remembered Mike’s outburst when a mantel clock struck the hour just as he was drifting off to sleep. “Bing. F—ing Bong,” he grumbled. “Bing F—ing Bong.” For the next 14 years the dog’s tag read “Bing F. Bong.” Bing makes a brief appearance as Hawkline in Dated to Death. (Now out of print)
Although I love dogs of all sizes, I always wanted a small one, a true lapdog—meaning one that could be contained on a lap without lapping over. Mike, who had been terrorized by a friend’s tiny canine, refused to consider it until I had a reaction to antibiotics and doctors thought my liver would shut down. “The next time we’re dogless,” he promised, “we’ll get a lapdog.” When that time came, I spotted a Yorkie/miniature Schnauzer mix featured as the pet of the week.
She went by Belle, and a shelter worker confided that her elderly owner had died and the family didn’t want her. Undernourished, frightened, and weighing in at less than 7 pounds, she now tips the scales at 12 and goes by Bubba. She’s feisty, but loving.
Two years ago we got Max, a Maltese with a smug attitude who had separation anxiety in his previous home. He’s not as feisty as Bubba, not as loving as Bing, and not as smart as Sebastian. But he loves to perform—to dance and jump through hoops. Will he turn up in print? If I continue to write, the odds are in his favor.
Meanwhile, I hope readers enjoy fictional editions of Bubba. She shows up in Mike’s hardboiled mystery, Shotgun Start, and is the inspiration for Cheese Puff in a cozy mystery I released a few months ago, No Substitute for Murder. I’ll be giving away a copy of that, so if you’d like to get into the drawing, leave a comment.
Carolyn J. Rose is the author of several novels, including Hemlock Lake, An Uncertain Refuge, A Place of Forgetting, and No Substitute for Murder. She penned two humorous cozy mysteries, The Big Grabowski and Sometimes a Great Commotion, with her husband, Mike Nettleton. Through a Yellow Wood, the sequel to Hemlock Lake, will be published in the late spring of 2012 and By the Sea of Regret, the sequel to An Uncertain Refuge, will emerge in the late fall.
She grew up in New York’s Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, logged two years in Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America, and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. She founded the Vancouver Writers’ Mixers and is an active supporter of her local bookstore, Cover to Cover. Her interests are reading, gardening, and not cooking. Visit her website www.deadlyduomysteries.com
The popularity of Marley and Me and other animal memoirs has often made me consider writing an animal tale. After all, I’ve always had animals, and I can name them all, from my earliest childhood, and remember the many wonderful qualities that distinguished each one. A glimpse at this list (http://www.lincolnlibraries.org/depts/bookguide/iyl/marley.htm) reveals some recent tales of dogs and cats and even fowl remembered by loving humans.
The question is, which animal would I choose? Would it be my childhood tomcat, Midnight? He was a coal-black feline with golden eyes who stalked proudly around the environs of our house and would famously slow traffic by lying in the middle of the road to take a leisurely bath. The blaring of car horns bothered him not; he was Zeus, and our little neighborhood was hisOlympus. He lived only to age seven, but he keeps a proud and beautiful place in my memory.
Or would it be Buffy, the dog of my youth? We chose her from a barn full of tumbling puppies on a farm near our home, and she lived with us for almost fifteen years. My memories of her create a lovely mosaic of happy times: images of her lovely coat and plumed tail running through the woods on our summer vacations; lingering melodies from the lullabies my sister and I would sing to her while she lay, eyes drooping, in her basket; laughter still at her determination not to be left behind on family trips, and her wedging of herself into the back of the station wagon with the packing of the first bag.
Pets make for happy memories; but I haven’t even given an audition to the four pets who currently share my home, padding softly around and occasionally sniffing one another’s noses to see what’s what. This current menagerie includes three cats and one beagle, the latter of whom often feels woefully outnumbered.
Cat number one has the unfortunate name of PIbby Tails, despite the fact that he A) has only one tail and B) is a proud hunter who must be secretly horrified by the name that a two-year-old bestowed on him eleven years ago. Pibby Tails is so warlike that, after a variety of painful (and expensive) treatments of his fighting wounds, has been forced into indoor confinement for all eternity. Ergo, he sits moodily in the window and gazes out like a landlorn sea captain who misses the danger of the tossing waves. He is beloved for his hour of socializing, which generally happens when we are all in the living room at night, watching television. Pibby takes the stage by stalking into the room and going to the center of our carpet, then tipping over on his side and curling all of his paws inward. This looks adorable, but he doesn’t really want to be petted—he wants to be admired. His latest trick is to approach, sharklike, when I am on the floor with my laptop, then to skim past my face to the point that his fur sticks to my skin. While I am recovering and brushing hair off of my lips, he moves back in with a skull-jab into my arm. This means, “I want attention.”
Pibby’s adopted siblings are a brother and sister duo named Rose and Mr. Mulliner, who were obtained as kittens for my youngest son as a birthday present. The gift was supposed to be one kitten, but Graham had chosen Rose and I favored Mr. Mulliner (who is particularly beautiful), and my husband, who had just been given lunch and two beers, was feeling benevolent. “Get them both,” he said, and I’m sure he relives that moment every time he is sent to the basement to deal with the litter boxes. J
Mr. Mulliner is an eccentric who likes to find all of the unexpected sitting places. His meow is higher and sadder than his sister’s, and he eats heartily. He likes to stroll into the bathroom when people are seated and to walk back and forth until they take hold of his tail. Then he yells and cries until they tug on his tail, which somehow pleases him. He proceeds to fall sideways on the carpet and purr loudly, staring with slitted eyes.
Rose is a silent partner, rarely seen but always cute. Early on she found a hiding place behind a wall blind. She climbs the wall like a spider and finds her way onto the bunched-up blind, where she sits as though she is in a hammock, or inside a taco. She stays there for much of the day, but when she gets hungry she comes splashing out. A visitor was once surprised by her exit and told us, “A cat just fell down your wall.”
Finally, there is Simon. Oh, the chapters I could fill with tales about this little beagle, who was also a birthday present, this time for my older son. He was six months old when we got him, but even at eleven he acts like a puppy. We were never very successful at training him, and so he is still guilty of begging, jumping on the couch, and occasionally using the basement as his bathroom. Angry words have him feeling briefly guilty, then forgetting entirely. His hobbies are overturning the garbage, chasing cats and squirrels (although he endures his adopted cat siblings), and looking mournfully at humans until they either pet him or feed him. He loves going for walks and still has enough energy to tug at the leash in his quest for new smells. His little legs are starting to get limpy, and the vet has diagnosed him with “crepitus,” the ugliest name for a malady than I can think of. So he and I both take glucosamine in hopes of delaying the deterioration of our joints.
Even though I tend to be the toughest on him, doglike he loves me best, and he waits for me at night to accompany him upstairs, devoted as a husband. He has a basket near my bed, but when the lights go out he sneaks out and sleeps right under me on the floor. He is a paradoxical creature, both perpetually naughty and perpetually loving. He has an unfortunate smell, even after bathtime, but his face earns him hugs anyway.
So—to whom would you award the part? Which of my animals will make it to the callbacks for my eventual animal tale?
Julia’s newly released Kindle book, THE GHOSTS OF LOVELY WOMEN, features a beagle named P.G. who bears a strong resemblance to the Simon described above. Visit her website www.juliabuckley.com
Odin, named after the Greek god of war, is a Huskamute. A cross between a husky and Alaskan Malamute. When I first saw his big, blue angelic eyes looking at me I melted to mush and knew he was mine for life. I took him home and placed him on his newly bought mat and the angel inside him fled, leaving behind a demon from hell!! To save our home from mass destruction; we had to cage him when we went to bed or ventured out. At those times he proceeded to howl like a banshee for hours on end! He ate the wall, my kitchen lino, leather sofa, feet, slippers, you name it. Nothing was sacred from Odin the destroyer of all things good!
When Odin reached three months we noticed he didn’t want to eat. We might as well have taken out shares in Pet world, as we seemed to be forever in there buying different types of food. All of which Odin licked with disinterest or just walked away. He preferred to play with his toys, rather than eat.
For the next five months we tried, spoon feeding him, hand feeding him, anything to get him to eat. People said leave his food down, he’ll eat when he’s hungry…4 days passed and Odin never touched his bowl. He lived on a few treats, raw hide bones and the odd ham sandwich. He became skinny, had constant diarrhoea and I became frantic with each passing day. I tried human food, steak, chicken. Cooked potatoes and pork chunks as instructed by the vet…the list was endless…But Odin still refused to eat a meal. Then calamity struck…Odin broke his toes running in the snow. Add pic 4
Housebound for 6 weeks he grew thin, his bones wouldn’t mend, he grew tired and depressed. The vet wanted to inject him with something to make him hungry, but that can’t be good for a sick pup, surely? So in desperation I called in a dog trainer, who had Huskamutes of her own. You know the saying, a little bit of knowledge goes a long way? Well, what she told me left gaping like a fish out of water. Odin was starving himself because instinct told him the food I was offering, (Good dog food, etc) wasn’t good for his body. And this goes for all dogs, so pay attention now!.
COOKED dog food contains minimal nutrition. Look on the cans and you will see cereal, additives (that means brains, feathers, crushed nastiness) Have you ever seen a dog stalk a field of wheat? No, it’s not in their food chain listing. Neither is rice or any grain, it’s all undigestible. In the wild they’ll eat RAW food. That means chicken carcasses, bones, raw beef or fish. EVERYTHING they need is in that food. Contrary to belief, dogs CAN eat bones as long as they are uncooked. Chicken wings, root vegetables to stimulate their digestion, liver, heart…all uncooked…are ideal diets for ALL dogs. The first day I put him down shredded parsnip, carrot and Spinach, mixed with tuna (raw) Odin ate like I’d just given him caviar. Treats became baked liver, broken into pieces. (Dog Biscuits contain wheat etc) Dinner was beef chunks, tripe, chicken, (with the odd treat of cottage cheese, which he loves.)The diarrhoea which plagued him for months, stopped completely..instantly.
All because I had no idea what he was trying to tell me. Dogs eat dog food, right?? NO!!…most dogs do, but I guarantee they’ll have bouts of diarrhoea, stomach problems etc in their lifetime. Try this diet; let me know how it goes. firstname.lastname@example.org I know it will change your dog’s life completely.
Odin and I thank you for having us on your blog today. You can find me and Odin here
Spirit Intervention is a comedy romance. When you die you’re supposed to stay gone, right? But not in the case of Patricia. She refuses to stay out of her daughter’s life even when she dies. Sally can hear her mother’s voice, but she can’t see her spirit. At first she welcomes her return, but as the month’s progress she starts to feel increasingly peeved by her mother’s constant interference in her life. When she tells a few white lies on a dating application form, Patricia sets out to prove that lies are not a foundation for a healthy relationship. She sabotages a relationship between Sally and Emilio to prove her point, not realising her interference has caused a catastrophic chain reaction in the spirit world. The children allocated to Emilio and Sally can no longer be born. It is now down to the spirit of Emilio’s grandmother to put things right. But has Patricia caused too much damage for her to mend?
Have dog hair all over their clothes but either don’t notice or don’t care.
Carpet or place rugs over hardwood floors so their dog won’t slide all over the room.
Allow the dog to have the majority of the couch while they scrunch up in a corner.
Their dog eats better than they do.
Doggie toys litter the living room.
Two kinds of dog lovers with this one: either talk to their dog in baby talk or adult speak, as if the dog completely understands everything they say (I suspect they usually do).
Sincerely believe dogs are furry angels sent here to guide us lowly humans.
In case you don’t know about LBD, here’s the email (thanks, Christy, for sending it!) which includes her heartbreaking story and the link to sign a petition:
To my friends: Many of you have heard about LBD and the horrific thing that was done to her. The person responsible for the extreme abuse will appear in court in Knoxville, TN Friday, December 11th. If you are not familiar with who LBD is and the case against Jimmy Lovell, please read the story below. At the bottom of the page is a link that leads to a petition that will be presented to the court on Friday on LBD’s behalf. Please help to be the voice for those who cannot speak. The goal is five thousand signatures.
On Nov 3, 2009 Jimmy Lovell was arrested for dragging this little 17-pound terrier mix behind his truck on the streets of Knoxville,TN. This dog is now known as “LBD” (little brown dog). Authorities allege that Lovell dragged the dog for several miles behind his truck. Police were told that several people attempted to stop the driver before he stopped near Middlebrook Pike, got out, walked toward the back of the vehicle while cursing at the witnesses, jerked the dog off the ground, removed the rope from the truck, threw the bloody dog into the passenger side of the vehicle and drove away, the dog was found shortly thereafter on the side of the road, barely alive. In shock, LBD was rushed to the intensive care unit at the University of Tennessee’s John and Ann Tickle Small Animal Hospital with horrific thermal burns from the incident but is a fighter said Dr. Patti Sura, small animal surgeon. Still in the intensive care unit of the college’s John and Ann Tickle Small Animal Hospital, the dog continues to get pain medication and has been under anesthesia as her wounds are cleaned and the dead tissue removed.
Update Dec 1st : LBD had skin grafts on the pads of her feet and they are healing on track. LBD has a long way to go but she is indeed a fighter.
Jimmy Lovell has been charged with felony intentional animal abuse and goes to court on Friday, December 11, 2009 location: 400 Main Street, Knoxville, TN.
We ask that Mr. Lovell receives the maximum punishment allowable for this heinous crime. Anyone that would drag a defenseless 17 lb dog miles behind a truck deserves no leniency. If it were not for the witnesses that forced him to stop and for the wonderful medical treatment she has received, LBD would be nothing more than another dead dog on the side of the road. We must put a stop to this and all animal abuse and we urge everyone in the area of Knoxville, TN to go to court on December 11th in support of this sweet, brave angel known around the world at LBD!
If you’re an animal lover like all of the Dames, I hope you’ll add your name to the petition to help ensure animal abuser Jimmy Lovell gets the punishment he deserves for what he did to LBD!
August 26th is National Dog Day and to honor these glorious creatures, I’d like to share an article I published about dogs and how beneficial they are for us, mentally, emotionally and physically.
The obesity rate in America is now nearing 40 percent. There are thousands of diet products offered to those who want to lose weight, yet no one has found a sure-fire resolution to this problem. I think I might have something. What’s that, you say?
Get a dog! Or two or three! This will benefit you not only physically but mentally. How, you ask? Read on!
Anyone who follows the Dog Whisperer knows that a happy dog is an exercised dog. Owning a dog is a great reason to get up off the couch and take a walk. Average calories burned per mile: 100. Walking helps to control blood pressure, decreases the risk of heart attack, boosts HDL “good” cholesterol levels, and reduces LDL “bad” cholesterol levels. It lowers the risk of stroke and gallstones, reduces the risk of breast cancer, glaucoma, and type 2 diabetes, and protects against hip fractures.
Walking can prevent depression, colon cancer, constipation, osteoporosis, and impotence. It lowers stress levels, relieves arthritis and back pain, improves sleep, strengthens muscles, bones and joints, lengthens lifespan and elevates mood and sense of well-being.
Having a dog along for the walk enhances the experience, giving the owner and dog a chance to interact and bond. Being pulled along at a fast pace behind an alpha dog who looks at you as part of his pack may be embarrassing but will increase your caloric output as your legs churn while trying to keep up and your arms pull and tug, fighting to maintain control.
Want to burn more calories? Run with your dog. Running fights aging and disease and is one of the top activities for burning fat. Jogging a one-mile distance in nine minutes will burn 580 calories for the average woman, 730 for a man. Running prevents muscle and bone loss that occur with age and promotes the human growth hormone which helps keep you looking young. Like walking, running reduces the risk of stroke and breast cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes and hypertension. Running lowers blood pressure, thus reducing the risk of heart attacks. It raises HDL “good” cholesterol and reduces the risk of blood clots. It improves breathing as running promotes the use of 50% of the lungs that are not normally “used”. It boosts the immune system by increasing lymphocytes, the white blood cells that attack disease. Running relieves stress, improves attitude, and releases endorphins which leads to euphoria or a general sense of happiness. Running is used to treat clinical depression and fatigue.
Roller-blade with your dog. Calories burned: 816 per hour for a body weight of 150 pounds. (See the information on running for health benefits.) Bear in mind being pulled behind your dog will burn calories, although not as much. But what fun! So add in a few more calories for smiles and laughs.
Throwing a Frisbee, ball or stick with your dog: 210 calories per hour. Add more calories if you have to chase your dog down to retrieve the “toy” from his mouth. (Refer to running data for health benefits.)
Riding a bike with your dog: 381 calories for a 140-pound person cycling 10-12 miles per hour. (Remember to deduct calories if your dog thinks he’s lead dog in the Iditarod and your bike’s his sled and you’re his musher.) Cycling to the point of heavy breathing but not out of breath reduces the risk of heart disease by as much as 22 percent, high blood pressure, obesity and type-two diabetes. A 15-minute bike ride five times a week will burn off the equivalent of 11 pounds of fat per year. Cycling helps reduce levels of depression and stress, improves mood and self-esteem, and even relieves symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.
Grooming and bathing your dog will burn 230 calories per hour for a 145-pound person. Additional calories are utilized if your dog escapes and you’re required to chase him down. Even more if he’s so slippery, he gets away and you’re off again. (Check running info for health benefits.)
Petting your dog will expend 132 calories per hour for a 145-pound person. Add more calories for laughing and smiling.
This might not appeal to all, and is a bit drastic, but eat while your dog eats and only for so long as your dog chows down. Most dogs devour food at a fast pace. You won’t get much in your stomach, thus, less calories.
Companion dogs have a strong, positive effect on our mental state, and if we feel good, we become more active and, thus, burn more calories. A UK study by Dr. Deborah Wells reports that owning a dog is good for your health and improves physical and mental wellbeing. Dog companions help the owner to recover more quickly from illness and give warning of early signs of cancer, seizures and hypoglycemia. Dogs help schizophrenics feel motivated and calmer and help children with chronic illnesses endure painful treatments. Strong evidence links dog owners with having lower blood pressure and cholesterol and being less likely to have minor and serious health problems. The human-dog bond provides a psychological buffer against stress.
Researcher and pediatrician James E. Gern, MD reports studies have shown that kids growing up in a home with furry animals have less risk of allergies and asthma as well as eczema. They also have a stronger immune system.
Dogs aid Alzheimer patients in having fewer anxious outbursts. AIDs patients suffer less from depression and people with high blood pressure experience reduced stress. Heart attack patients who own dogs survive longer than those without.
Playing with a dog elevates serotonin and dopamine levels, the nerve transmitters with pleasurable and calming properties. Dogs provide companionship to elderly people as well as exercise and interaction with others. As part of their medical screening, Midland Insurance Company of Ohio asks clients over 75 if they have a pet. If so, this is considered a positive in regards to good health.
Anyone who owns a dog will attest to the reciprocal feeling they experience when they return home and are greeted at the door by their beloved pet, smiling at them, tail wagging, bouncing with joy that their most favorite person in the world is back with the pack and all is well with their world.
Owning a dog is a responsibility as dogs require maintenance, depending on their owner for food and water and, if a housedog, trips outside for potty breaks and exercise. It is important to research the type of dog you’re interested in before committing to ownership in order to have the ideal companion in your life. Think how traumatic it would be for one of these special animals to think he has found his forever home, only to be abandoned or neglected. If at all possible, rescue a dog from your local pound or a rescue group and help save a life.
Interacting with your pet companion in a kinetic and emotional manner can help you lose weight, feel better mentally, and be happier in your life. I guaranty it. And remember, there’s a good reason “dog” is “God” spelled backwards.
And please take a moment and go here: http://www.theanimalrescuesite.com/tpc/ERA_082009_ARS
This is the animal rescue site where you can click daily to provide free food to shelter animals. They will send you daily reminders if you wish (look at the listing on the top left side).