I know for many, holiday weekend plans are underway already, but I want to relay this message from my friend and fellow dog-welfare advocate, Janice Fisher Patterson, who is trying to garner support for a very important issue. I hope my dog-loving friends will help by calling, sending e-mails, and sharing. Did you catch Janice on a recent segment of Dr. Brian Voynick’s “The Pet Stop” on News 12 NJ, talking about the new Pet Shop Disclosure Law that was recently instituted in the Garden State? Thank you for your support.

New laws can help to prevent the abusive tethering of dogs

New laws can help to prevent the abusive tethering of dogs

A two-minute phone call and e-mail to your state senator and two assemblymen will make a world of difference to dogs that are tethered 24/7 outdoors in the extreme heat and freezing cold.

District 10 lawmakers, Sen. Jim Holzapfel, Asm. David Wolfe and Asm. Gregory McGuckin, have introduced a bill that will prohibit this cruel treatment of dogs.  Besides being subjected to all types of weather extremes causing physical pain, animal attacks, disease and the threat of being stolen for dog fighting, these animals are usually deprived of human interaction, a cruel fate for highly social animals.

Recently local towns have been adopting their own ordinances prohibiting 24/7 tethering, following a sad situation in Plainfield, NJ where a German Shepherd was left outdoors all winter long on a six-foot chain with only a wire crate for shelter.  This is only one example of the neglect that these animals are exposed to at the end of a chain.  These animals are NOT lawn ornaments and they must not be treated that way.

PLEASE help these animals by contacting your legislators (Senator and two Assemblymen) to ask  that they CO-SPONSOR  (S3061/A4628) (anti-tethering and proper shelter bill).  You can find your legislators by accessing the NJ legislature website:  www.njleg.state.nj.us and look to the left of the home page for “Find Your Legislator.”

PLEASE call first and follow up with an e-mail. We thank our caring government officials for promoting the welfare of our Companion Animals. If you have questions for Janice, or you are an animal advocate advocate outside the state of New Jersey, please contact me at pst39crd@aol.com. Thank you.

Author’s Note: I so loved speaking at my town’s library last week. Great reception and I met this ten-year old girl who was fascinated with the story of Harriet White Fisher, her journey, and of course Harriet’s incredible traveling pets!

A young Harriet and Honk Honk fan at a recent local author visit

A young Harriet and Honk Honk fan at a recent local author visit

One of the nice aspects of writing Non-fiction and Biographies is getting to know the living ancestors of your subject matter; such was the case with Will Judy and Harriet White Fisher.

Al Judy and Maya

Al Judy and Maya

In writing a Father’s Day Tribute to Captain Will Judy, I thought it would be fun to include his Great Nephew, Al Judy who introduced himself to me via my Facebook Page established for Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy, Founder of National Week and Dog World Publisher.

Al Judy was pleased to learn that his accomplished relative, Great Uncle “Bill” (as he was called by family I’ve recently learned) had been given his “day” and his legacy had been shared with the world!

Will Judy married later in life and had no children. However, he was a father-figure to many dogs in his lifetime, his, and the thousands of dogs or more (and their humans) who benefited from his wisdom, experience and guidance offered through the pages of his Dog World Magazine and numerous dog books.

Long before it was fashionable, Will Judy extolled the value of dogs in building good character in our children. He believed that youngsters who cared for dogs developed traits of kindness and responsibility, and developed parenting skills. Over the years, celebrations of National Dog Week included writing contests for kids and events planned by scout troops. National Dog Week was meant to educate everyone, including the young, on dog breeds, dogs who needed good homes, and the physical as well as emotional needs of all dogs.

Keep in mind he wrote about this in the 1930s and 40s, and it may be argued that in our contemporary throw-away society, with its penchant for instant gratification, Judy’s ideas may be viewed as outmoded. I would like to think his views are still valid, however!

Recently, I saw that Al Judy had posted some photos of his adorable dog named Maya on his Facebook page. Maya (nicknamed Doodle Bug) is a seven-year old Standard Jack Russell terrier who came to the Judy household three years ago when a family friend had become too old and infirm to care for her and sought Al’s help . Judy and his family happily obliged and now Al calls Maya a gift. Al Judy’s entire family seems to have gone to the dogs, too, just as Judy had hoped all Americans would.

Descendants of Will Judy and their dogs

Descendants of Will Judy and their dogs


It warms my heart to see this generational progression of a dog-loving family. I know that somewhere in that “Dogdom in the Sky” Will Judy must be smiling down! Al’s mom, who lives in Will Judy’s hometown, has agreed to talk with me, and of course I will share with my good friends here on the NDW Blog. Always learning…the story continues.

Happy Father’s Day to my dad “Jackie Boy” aka Coach Begin, my husband Rich, a father and father-figure to many, and all those father-like “stand-ins” who guide their dogs and humans throughout the course of life.

A Puppy Miller and his

A Puppy Miller and his “merchandise”

“…for the dog is a living breathing thing rather than a piece of fixed merchandise…the breeder has an attachment for his dogs which prevents him from considering them as merchandise on the shelf…”

Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week

As a kid, in the early 1970s, I was an avid-animal lover and a huge fan of a local family-run pet shop on the other side of my hometown (still standing today). My friends and I loved to look at the fish and turtles (you could buy them then), mice and other assorted creatures. This place fueled my passion for animals and I dreamed of becoming a veterinarian, or the owner of a pet shop just like this one. On the occasions when we overstayed our welcome in that shop, we were kindly asked to hang elsewhere. We obeyed, but from outside the shop we looked in the window where we were sometimes thrilled by the vision of puppies for sale.

On occasion, a litter of pups, or kittens, were offered for sale, “donated” to the shop by a local family who needed help finding homes for them. While I did not acquire one of these pups, when I was ten, I asked (pleaded) for a chocolate toy poodle, as I had fallen in love with one that belonged to a family friend. My parents succumbed to pressure, and in the winter of 1969, I became the happy caretaker of a tiny brown pup we named Princess Sheri Cocoa Puff, or “Cokie” for short. I remember going to the breeders home and carrying out this little fluffy bundle of sweetness and love. It was a great learning experience.

However, as an adult, I recall just ten years ago, travelling with my husband in northern Florida and stopping at a large Flea Market where you could buy almost anything…including puppies. Now, at the time, I was ignorant as to the source of these cuddly canines. Like most people, I thought these dogs came from good homes or kennels where humans lovingly raised and cared for them as if they were family members (like Cocoa’s breeder). I did not know the harsh truth behind how these pups came to be both captive and captivating, sitting in their crates in these retail outlets sold to anyone who was charmed and could pay the right price, unceremoniously discounted or discarded if they grew “too old”.

But now I do know, and as someone one who was once so “blissfully” unaware, perhaps I am a good messenger because I do understand how most people really don’t  know the ugly truth behind the origins and lives of these “Rovers of Retail”. Most (some say over 99 percent) of the puppies in these retail outlets are the products of places known as Puppy Mills or Commercial Breeding facilities.

Earlier this year, a “Puppy Lemon Law” was passed in New Jersey requiring pet retailers to present full disclosure regarding the source of their puppies. Today, on June 6th, this law will take on wider scope. To learn more about the history of this legislation, please see these links. http://www.humanesociety.org/news/news_briefs/2014/12/nj-legislature-pm-bill-121914.html  https://www.facebook.com/pwnj.org/posts/820314178038218?fref=nf&pnref=story

I’ve been informed that this new legislation amends the Puppy Lemon Law by giving consumers more rights.   Pet stores must now be more transparent by adhering to the following:   posting breeder information on each cage card for every puppy offered for sale; posting two years of USDA inspection reports on the breeders; they must buy ONLY from USDA-licensed breeders and those breeders cannot have certain violations that affect the health and well-being of the animals.  This law was necessary because pet stores, generally, withheld breeder information from customers until after the sale was complete making it impossible for customers to make an informed purchase rather than an impulse purchase.

Bottom line, even some USDA-licensed breeders don’t provide living conditions for these animals that any pet-lover would approve of.  The USDA only sets forth a “minimum standard of care” so, effectively; a dog can sit in a cage FOR LIFE as long as the cage is six inches taller, six inches longer and six inches wider than the dog.  These pathetic animals not only lack proper housing but they lack socialization and mental stimulation which is why, when you see photos of them, their eyes are lifeless.  They have simply given up.  Once they can no longer breed, they are sold at auction for a couple of dollars and another puppy farmer will squeeze one more litter out of them – and then destroy them.  Would any of you do that to your own pet?  Doubtful….which is why it is so important to STILL not support this industry by purchasing a pet store puppy.

Some people tell me how they “rescued” or “saved” an animal’s life by purchasing a puppy from a pet store. While I applaud their good intentions, I have to relay that in doing so, they helped to perpetuate the cycle of puppy milling by putting money in the hands of these corrupt individuals. Some may say I am anti-commerce…that it isn’t anyone’s business how they make a living as long as it is legal. For the record, in my township, puppy retailers are no longer welcome and we wait the day when the one that remains in operation closes its doors forever.

The world seems to have changed considerably since my innocent days of youthful pet shop visits, but has it really? Back in the 1930s, Will Judy warned about the growth of “puppy factories” and the ensuing adverse effects on canine welfare. The internet and our nation’s throw away mentality and shortening attention spans have not made it a better place, unfortunately. However, we do have the opportunity to educate a new generation of animal lovers and those who choose to be guardians of our Companion Animals.

For the record, in my lifetime, I have acquired pets as gifts, through breeders (mice, dogs, and birds), a duffle bag discarded at my feet (five adorable kittens), a classified ad (best cat ever), a “loan” (beautiful horse), as street strays and through fostering. Aside from fish and those now forbidden turtles, I have never purchased a dog or cat from a pet shop. The laws mentioned above are designed to help the welfare of the nation’s dogs, and to strengthen the human-canine bond. So now that you know…please share this good news from the Garden State and perhaps inspire some of our other states to get progressive, too. And let me know the results!

Please give us a LIKE on facebook:

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Service

Happy springtime! It was quite a long winter, just too cold to blog. Hopefully April will “thaw the paw” and I will be motivated by warmth and the promise of better days ahead.

The first quarter of 2015 has kept me busy with the promotion of Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher, and Around the World in 1909: Harriet White Fisher and Her Locomobile. Both titles tell the tales of some incredible people and their contributions to history. I am honored to tell their stories! I have also been working on a proposal for a children’s series of books based on the adorable world-traveling pets found in Around the World in 1909, something I am very excited about.

I am also happy to share that during the first two weeks of May, I will be the featured author on the DogRead site, the original cyber-book club established just for those who love to read about dogs. We will be discussing the short stories of Something’s Lost and Must be Found. If you’ve read this book, or wish to do so and join in the discussion, you can join the group by going to: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/DogRead/info

September seems a long way off, but it is never too early to think about National Dog Week. Its 87th Observance will take place the week of September 28th. This year, we celebrate the occasion with the theme, “At Your Service, All-Ways” a return to the theme of 1951 in which dogs were, and continue to be, honored by all the ways they serve humans. Will Judy, the founder of National Dog Week, never forgot the invaluable service of our Military Dogs even before they were an official part of our militia. Furthermore, he championed their therapeutic value to veterans of war suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder long before it was “fashionable”.

Dogs serve us in so many ways. Whether they are listening to a young person read out loud in “Read to the Dogs” programs, working as a Therapy Dog, or as a Service Dog (there are differences between the two), assisting our military on the war front or even detecting diseases like cancer, I think we are only beginning to realize their full potential.

If you wish to share a story that might suit the theme of “At Your Service-Allways” or plan to honor our dogs during National Dog Week, please send me an e-mail at pst39crd@aol.com.

For more information on my books and bio, please visit www.lisabegin-kruysmanauthor.com

The residence of Alice Huyler Ramsey, Hackensack, NJ

The residence of Alice Huyler Ramsey, Hackensack, NJ

Last week, a story about Around the World in 1909: Harriet White Fisher and Her Locomobile appeared on the cover of the Times of Trenton. To read the entire article:
http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2015/01/book_details_ewing_residents_1909_journey_around_t.html#incart_river
Amazon Link: http://tinyurl.com/obfhemv

I started blogging in January 2010 and I don’t know where those five years have gone. But when I look back, each post reminds me of my long journey to launch a career as a writer. I realize now I really had no idea of what I was getting into. But that’s a good thing because I might have reconsidered my choices. But I prevailed, and with the help of so many, saw several projects launched and completed; five books in all.

2014 was very busy with three of my books finding their way to the market. One, the first of the Collar and a Dream series was self-published. Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher was released by McFarland & Co in September, followed by my most recent, Around the World in 1909: Harriet White Fisher and Her Locomobile published by American History Press.

You might say I am driven to write (pun intended). But with so many fascinating events and people to write about, I see words and chapters as a literal path to adventure and self-discovery. I often find myself wondering if I could choose just one day to spend with Harriet’s traveling party, which would it be?

On the occasion of a visit to my hometown of Hackensack, NJ, during the holidays, I took a ride downtown to visit the street where Hackensack Middle School is located. As fate and coincidence would have it, the home of Alice Huyler Ramsey stands just a few houses down the road from my old school. Alice, if you don’t already know, is celebrated for being the first woman to drive an automobile from New York City to San Francisco in 1909, accompanied by three female companions. My “discovery” of her story would later inspire me to write the book about her equally famous contemporary and fellow-New Jerseyean, Harriet White Fisher.

When I pulled up to “Alice’s” house last month, I got out to take a few photos with my IPhone and noticed the house was being restored. I became aware I was being watched by neighbors and I shouted to one woman that I was just doing some research. Before long, I was aware of a person coming to the front door. A man emerged, “Can I help you he asked?” with a look of mild suspicion on his face. He explained the neighbors had alerted him of my presence.

I answered with a question, “Do you know the significance of this house?” to which he replied that he indeed did. “This is the house that belonged to the first woman to drive across America,” he stated. I was overjoyed. I quickly explained why I was there taking photos, and showed him a copy of Around the World in 1909 in case he thought I was a lunatic. I expressed that I was so glad to know the house would remain standing and he assured me in turn that it was being lovingly restored and served as offices for his law practice.

I always enjoy my visits back home and I’ve come to learn that roots go deep. Little did I know as a gangly tween attending Hackensack Middle School that I was less than a block away from my future. So I say, forget about The Snookie and her shore buddies, dismiss the Housewives of New Jersey, and embrace some True-Jersey treasures and the way they opened doors (cars and otherwise) for those to come. I hope that when I return to Hackensack to speak at the Johnson Public Library, or a hometown bookstore, I might stop by again and this time, be invited in to that historic home of Alice’s.

Well, that’s my “True Jersey” story, and this is where I exit.

CompassionThe Dogs of New Jersey, and beyond, need your help NOW! Please Call 609-292-6000 ASAP and ask Governor Christie to sign s. 1870! It’s not just a Jersey Problem.

Hello to all of our National Dog Week friends. No doubt, everyone is concerned with the health and welfare of the nation’s dogs and those who love and care for them. Many express genuine concern for the issues that adversely affect their quality of life, and while most sincerely talk about change, a few go further and actually write legislation to bring about real change.

This is the case in New Jersey right now. Governor Chris Christie has been asked to sign a bill (S.1870/A.3306), that if passed into law, will make those retailers who offer pets for sale in their stores accountable for the dogs they sell. While it isn’t perfect, it is a step in the right direction, as they will have to provide full disclosure on the origins of those puppies for sale in the window. This is important because many of these dogs are products of objectionable puppy mills and are sold to misinformed customers who soon find out their new pup has some serious health issues and experience emotional and financial distress, to say the least.

Many decades ago, Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week warned that dogs should not be sold like grocery items in stores and was concerned about the rise of what he called “puppy factories”. In a perfect world, dogs will no longer be sold like toys, and other inanimate objects. Until then, bills like S-1870 can lead the way to the more humane treatment of the Nation’s dogs.

Below is an e-mail I received today. I have also spoken to the author’s of the bill and they are imploring everyone to call the Governor’s office to ask him to sign this bill and support the cause for the paws.

Dear Lisa Kruysman:
Thank you for your recent email to our office regarding S-1870/A-3306,
legislation which establishes additional requirements under the “Pet
Purchase Protection Act” to provide breeder information to the consumer
about each cat or dog being offered for sale in a pet shop. We certainly
appreciate your input.

As you are aware, we are the prime sponsors of this bill and this issue
is extremely important to us. As you may be aware, this legislation has
passed both houses of the legislature.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact our
Chief-of-Staff, Glen Feldman at 732-840-9028.

Sincerely,

Senator, Jim Holzapfel
Assemblyman, Greg McGuckin
Assemblyman, Dave Wolfe

10th Legislative District Office
852 Highway 70
Brick, N.J. 08724
Phone: 732-840-9028
Fax: 732-840-9757

McFarlandcoverbutch

For complete book and author information please visit: http://www.lisabegin-kruysmanauthor.com/

My friends who are authors know that unless you self-publish, you have to accept the fact that when published by others you will not retain the creative control over what your book may look like in its final incarnation. While this may sound discouraging, it can have its rewards and the wonderful process of what I call Universal Collaboration can blossom. Hear me out. Will Judy, founder of National Dog Week, often commissioned artists to create images to be used for NDW stamps and posters to promote the themes of annual Dog Weeks. You can see some displayed on my NDW Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/National-Dog-Week/218596591491974?fref=photo Of course I desired to use these images in my book, Dog’s Best Friend (McFarland & Co.) and although I, and others, presented information that Judy never called for this artwork to be copyrighted, my publisher chose the safe route and we were not able to include them in the book, and that was bad news for this author. Among my proposed book covers, I had envisioned a red, white and blue poster stamp of a military man posing with a German shepherd dog, promoting NDW’s theme of “In War and Peace” in 1945. As artists were not generally credited for the work they created for Judy, it was daunting to identify or credit them. My angst set in, how would we find the right cover without being able to obtain publishing rights? I have to admit, I recited the prayer to St. Anthony (Saint of all things lost) often, hoping the answer to my challenge would be found. But let’s back up a bit. At some point, I had contacted an author named Sharon Damkaer. Sharon is a huge fan of Will Judy’s and wrote a book about the renowned artist, Albert Staehle. http://www.americanartarchives.com/staehle.htm. Sharon understood my dilemma, and, when my publisher contacted her about obtaining the rights of one of Staehle’s works to serve as the cover for my book, she offered to help. She had at one time faced her own similar publishing challenges. During this process, independent of all of this, an older gentleman named Anthony had called my home and spoke to my husband. He told Rich that he did not own a computer, but someone had told him of my writing project about Judy and National Dog Week. He wanted to know if I would like to have an original poster from National Dog Week 1950. I returned his call and said indeed I would and within days, it arrived in the mail. You guessed it; it was the very same image that had been selected by McFarland & Co. to appear on the book’s cover. I sent him a thank you note with a copy of my book Something’s Lost and Must be Found. He responded in turn to thank me and said that this volume was now on his library shelf next to his volumes of Will Judy books. That image just put all doubt to rest. All things come full circle. By the way, did you note that his name is Anthony? And so, while the cover of Dog’s Best Friend is different from the one I envisioned, it shows me that sometimes, if we just chill out and let things happen in their own course, the results can be beautiful. These days I find myself repeating the mantra… Remain Focused, have Faith, be Confident that you’ve done your best work, and move on. Which reminds me, please watch for news on my next book due out shortly! Around the World in 1909: Harriet White Fisher and Her Locomobile (American History Press) the true account of an intrepid New Jersey woman who took the ultimate road trip with a dog on her lap at a time it was most unlikely. Happy National Dog Week to you all, may its spirit be with you year-round! Next year, we are embracing the way dogs serve humans with a revisited NDW theme of, “At Your Service – All Ways”. It is so good to find so many dog-enthusiasts Finding the spirit of a great American tradition that seemed to have been Lost for awhile! Thank you. Amazon book link: http://tinyurl.com/qbon8ty Please note that on October 31st, Dog’s Best Friend will be available in e-reader format. http://www.lisabegin-kruysmanauthor.com/

Cover of my latest book, the "Dog Week Bible"!

Cover of my latest book, the “Dog Week Bible”!

Please check out my new author website for book links and author/artist news! Four years in the making, Will Judy finally claims his place in Canine History. http://www.lisabegin-kruysmanauthor.com/

Stephen McGarva’s book The Rescue at Dead Dog Beach was successfully launched on National Dog Day in August. The book marketing department at Dey Street Books (Harper Collins) asked me if I could continue to share the book bark during the 86th Observance of National Dog Week. NDW was launched in September 1928 by Captain Will Judy, minister, lawyer, decorated WWI veteran and publisher of Dog World magazine for four decades.

Will Judy wrote, “You strike your dog, you whip, you even lower yourself and debase your soul to kick at him and you really kick your own dignity into the ditch.” If you agree with Judy, then surely, many of the “humans” found on the pages of this book are destined to spend an eternity at the bottom of a ditch. Stephen’s book is his memoir of his time spent in Puerto Rico where a day at the beach turned into a two year personal mission to save the lives of satos (street dogs) in this Commonwealth, often with dire consequences.

Authors are often advised to “show, don’t tell” in their writing. Stephen has done a very good job of that, taking his readers to the trenches of that hellish killing field, surrounded by hundreds of unwanted, neglected, abused albeit loving dogs. I have to admit, while I had read about the sato population in PR, I truly was not aware of how horrifically these dogs were treated; stabbed, shot, hung and run over by cars by “men” who were worried about the tourism dollar or just needed an innocent target on which to vent their depravity. This island is also popularly known in Spanish as la isla del encanto, which translates to “the island of enchantment”. I doubt anyone in their right mind would find anything enchanting about this scenario.

But not all island inhabitants were bad, and Stephen knows that he was just one more soldier in a daily battle trying to win the war on ignorance and abuse and do some good in the world. He makes that clear in this book.

I thank Dey Street for generously offering several copies of Stephen’s book which will be given away this week on the NDW Face Book Page. Be sure to check daily to see how you can win your own copy! https://www.facebook.com/pages/National-Dog-Week/218596591491974

RescueDeadDogBeach

It strikes me that many authors are also artists, and I understand that you are a Fine Artist. Can you talk about your training and the types of art you produce. As an artist myself, the imagery evoked by your writing lends itself to some potential artistic expression. Are dogs ever the subject of your subject matter, or do you plan to include them at some point?
For the most part, I’m self-trained as an artist. I guess if I had to describe myself, I’d say I’m a sculptor that loves to draw and oil paint. In the past I worked mostly in metal and glass. However, more recently I’ve been working in clay on a series inspired by dogs and their relationship with humans.

You have volunteered elsewhere. Can you tell us about your work with children in Southeast Asia?
As a child I dreamed of traveling and exploring the world. I wanted to do something that would make a difference in the life of someone less fortunate. So, after graduating high school, I volunteered with a non-profit organization and traveled to South East Asia to work with orphaned children. I had no real skill set to offer. But, I was willing to do whatever it took to help. I cooked, cleaned, treated minor injuries and showed love to kids that had nothing – no family, home, or food except that which we provided. It was a rewarding experience and the most fulfilled I’d ever felt.

When did you first conceive the notion of writing a book about your time spent with the dogs of Puerto Rico? How did you go about finding a publisher and what was the feedback received? Do you have a literary agent?
The idea of writing the book came to me shortly after leaving Puerto Rico. I had been struggling with the wreckage of emotions and memories of what had happened. Initially, I wrote the stories just to get them out of my head. I soon realized there was something really powerful in just trying to make sense of my thoughts and then articulate them in sentences. It was a pretty powerful process and often-quite cathartic. My story was pitched to the publisher thru a client I’d taken for a flight in my tandem Paraglider. He asked a lot of questions and showed interest in my story. A few weeks later he called and said that he’d gotten me a contract to write the book. He also helped me to connect with my literary agent at Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc in NYC.

At the end of your book, you list many rescue organizations that exist to serve the dogs of Puerto Rico and elsewhere. But your book includes themes of what I term “Rescue Rivalry”. Do you feel that there are those who have spent many years trying to help these ill-fated dogs who may be resentful of a “newcomer” getting a lot of attention, or succeeding on a larger scale? Do you feel these groups work together for a common goal or does more of this need to happen for true and enduring change
The old saying, ‘Can’t we all just get along’ comes to mind when I think of rescue rivalry. I often find it hard to believe that animal rights groups criticize and fight with one another on public forums. In the fight over the moral high ground, media attention or for the top spot at the money trough, rescuers often lose sight of their original goal to help animals in need. Unfortunately, this sort of behavior makes it very difficult for the general public to take rescuers work seriously. If rescuers spent more time working together rather than against each other, more would be accomplished. At the end of the day, it’s supposed to be about the animals not our egos. I know it has bothered a few individual rescuers that I (the newbie) managed to get international media attention and a book deal. I’ve never had an ulterior motive for anything I’ve done with the dogs. I did what I did because it was the right thing to do… I’m just a guy that stumbled onto a bad situation and chose not to walk away or turn a blind eye.

You also write of some religious and cultural norms of the region that may influence pet welfare, such as the woman who was upset with you for having a severely injured dog euthanized because she felt you should let God take care of these matters, or some males in the Latino culture who do not want male dogs neutered. Does this contribute to the stray dog issue?
There will always be cultural and religious differences impacting the way people think and respond to situations. I’ve always tried to be sensitive and respectful, but when it comes to another living creature suffering due to someone’s inability to make a difficult decision based on religious or so called moral beliefs, I draw the line. It’s not always easy to make hard decisions and I realize I won’t likely win the popularity contest. I try to encourage education and offer statistics on spay and neutering a pet to counter animal population problems that plague most countries in the world.

It saddened me to read that many of the so-called stray dogs, or satos (street dogs) had actually been pets at one time. It was difficult to read that many of the local vets penalized these dogs by refusing them medical treatment without comprehending (or ignoring) the fact that these sickened and injured animals might have been the very same dogs they treated at one time. Were they afraid of not getting paid, disease, or they did not see them as worthy of their time and attention?
Getting medical treatment for a Sato is a complicated situation at best. Considering street dogs are thought of as vermin and nothing more than an eye sore on the island. Vets are often afraid they’ll lose their regular paying customers if they treat a mangy unhealthy ‘Sato’ in the same building as someone’s healthy household pet. When a vet is willing to help, the dreaded topic of money and payment will need to be addressed. Diagnosing and treating a street dog with multiple health issues is very expensive. I know a few vets that have been stuck holding the bill after treatment was done. End result is a leery vet that doesn't want to work with rescuers or street dogs.

What is the current status of the sato population now?
Sadly, the Sato population remains much the same. It’s estimated there are likely a quarter of a million strays roaming the island. Animal rights groups have offered help to create long term sustainable solutions such as education programs in schools and low cost spay and neuter clinics. Unfortunately, in Puerto Rico the Island hotelier association and government officials continue to push back, stating they don’t need any outside help. I believe their pride is clouding good judgement which will ultimately have a negative long term impact on how the world views the island.

Are the problems facing dogs in Mexico similar to those in PR? If not, what different approaches are used in rescue?
The problems facing the dogs are really the same in both countries. However, the major difference I’ve experienced is that like Puerto Rico, Mexico has been willing to accept outside help from rescue groups. Many of the hotelier associations and local government officials are ready and willing to embrace change.

I read how many tourist resorts had a big hand in the maiming and killing of unwanted dogs. Have the tourist resorts had a change of heart with the your work and the release of the book. Do you think tourists can use “tourism” dollar-power” to influence the situation positively. If yes, how so?
Tourist dollars are a powerful tool for implementing change to the problem of animal welfare in Puerto Rico and other tourist destinations. The Puerto Rico tourism board as well as the hotelier association on the island have been slow to respond and reluctant to change their current practices of rounding-up and killing unwanted dogs. This practice has to change or tourists will stop spending their money vacationing on the island. In recent past, threats of a tourist boycott inspired the government to listen and begin to address the issue of animal welfare. I hope that the release of my book will re-apply pressure and spur officials to do the right thing.

You mention that the book is dedicated to your beloved dog Achates and that you had formed a non-profit foundation in his memory. What is the current status of this Foundation? If no longer active, how can people help fund your work
The Achates Legacy foundation operated for approximately 4 years until the board members voted to dissolve the foundation due to a lack of funding. I continue to support several groups working on and off the island and Mexico. The organizations I mention in the back of the book are a few of the groups I have worked with and support their efforts.

Do you think that your book would translate well to film?
I do think that the book would translate nicely to film. I’m a very visual person, so I was always able to imagine my journey with the dogs as a movie. Now that the book is out, many people have asked if there’s any possibility it will be made into film. During a few recent radio interviews, the on-air personalities asked if I’d thought about what actor I’d like to have playing the part of me when the movie comes out. I just laugh saying I really have no idea… They suggested a couple of possible actors and said they hope it makes it to film.

Do you prefer the writing process to that of creative art? Do you have plans for another book project?
I prefer to work in my studio creating and expressing myself thru fine arts, but I have learned to enjoy expressing myself thru writing as well. I think I’d like to give illustrate children’s books a shot. I’ve already started working on some ideas. Kids and dogs are my two favorite subjects. I’m sure I’ll find a way to combine the two.

Happy National Dog Week to all those who rescue, foster, transport, arrange for spay and neuter clinics, combat puppy mills, fight Breed Specific Legislation, volunteer and raise funds for displaced Companion Animals, train our service, military, police and therapy dogs, represent dog’s in art, music and words, practice responsible pet ownership and at the very least, show some compassion to man’s best friend with a kind word and show of affection whenever possible. Thank you Stephen, too, for sharing your story and for your support on my work on behalf of National Dog Week. Thanks to Parkeast Literary Agency and McFarland & Co. also.

Teddy meets a sweet sato named Louie who awaits his new home through the efforts of Wag-on-Inn Rescue in NJ - Finding homes for satos for over seven years!

Teddy meets a sweet sato named Louie who awaits his new home through the efforts of Wag-on-Inn Rescue in NJ – Finding homes for satos for over seven years!

Hooper celebrates National Dog Week

Hooper celebrates National Dog Week

August 27th marks the two year anniversary of the passing of our beloved Portuguese water dog, Hooper. Hooper was eleven years and eight months old when her health took a turn for the worse, but up to that point she was full of energy and feisty, so the suddenness of the event left us devastated.

“Hoops” and I had a special history. She was curled up at my feet when I first learned about National Dog Week while mindlessly surfing the internet. I recall excitedly informing her that she, and her four-legged friends, were entitled to an entire week of celebration each September.

But the human was more enthusiastic about this news. Hooper got up, yawned, and went to find a spot on the sofa as if to say, “I thought every week was dog week!” But I wasn’t discouraged. I told her that I was going to write a book about National Dog Week someday and we would travel the country together telling the world about it!

So I got to work. I learned how to create a non-fiction proposal, wrote one, and then set out to find a literary agent and a publisher. How hard could it be? America is a dog-obsessed nation, wouldn’t everyone want to know about this venerable event just for dogs?

But I quickly came to realize that the work of an unknown author with no contacts in the world of publishing or the dog world, was not the pick the slush pile, that heap of manuscripts and proposals that accumulate on the desks of agents and editors.

It may sound cliché, but if you truly believe in a course of action, and apply yourself with the help of supportive people, your work will become known, slowly, but surely. The keys is to have faith and patience. I eventually found a literary agent willing to take on my project and two years later, signed a book contract.

As I write and remember our Hooper today, I recall how she sat with me day after long dog day, patiently waiting for our debut! With her passing, it was difficult to continue writing about dogs. I took a break and worked on another book, and lo and behold, I found a publisher for that project, too.

But without a dog, our house was way too quiet. I thought fostering dogs would help fill our home with the spirit of dog, and do some good, too. Soon, a little black and white dog named Teddy came our way. It was evident in a week’s time, he was here to stay.

I returned to my work on the Dog Week book, with Teddy at my feet now, but unlike Hooper, who had known love and care from the first moment of birth, Teddy came from a situation of neglect and had faced some tough times. He seemed to understand that some dogs never even have their day, let alone their week.

Over the past four years, in my writing of Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher, I have come to form relationships with many in the dog and publishing industry who have been generous with their knowledge and experience. They understand that National Dog Week was established in 1928 not to bring more dogs into the world, but to make humans more responsible for the ones that are already here.

As an elderly woman at Assisted Living said to me recently, “You know a house just isn’t a home without a dog.” If you are up to the responsibility, I highly recommend having one.

Romp in Peace “Hoop Girl”.

Teddy

Teddy

Recently, on the banks of the Metedeconk River in Brick Township, NJ, American Legion Post 348 hosted their First Annual Lappy Hour on the ‘Cric. While sixteen happy dogs lapped up the sunshine and canine companionship, their humans enjoyed socializing with other dog-lovers and enjoyed the beautiful setting on the water.
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Lappy Hour was held to raise awareness of Military Dogs and those Service Dogs that are trained to help veterans navigate the challenges of daily life. The entry fee for the event and money raised through a doggy-bag raffle will be donated to an organization that assists the nation’s Military Dog program. I was so happy to see these well-behaved dogs that belong to post-members, have a great time of socializing with other dogs. Many people, who are not aware of the benefit of these events often make the mistake of thinking the worst when dogs are allowed to congregate. Trust me, there was no fighting, but many showed a great deal of affection for each other!
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The “rules” of this event called for dogs to be leashed, and to have them stay out of the Tiki Bar. Within an hour, however, many dogs roamed free, finding companionship and shade in the shelter of…you guessed it, the Tiki Bar. Don’t worry, nothing stronger than cold water was served to these thirsty pooches.
From the tiniest of tea-cup Yorkies, to a 90 pound Therapy Airedale named Lily, these dogs got the day they deserved, and I think their humans had a great time, too. We hope to repeat this event in the Fall.
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