20507418_1456907751018997_3970605173854024062_o

“Ted, White and Blue – Patriotic Paws”

Five years ago today, we said farewell to our beloved Portuguese Water Dog, Hooper. Named for the Matt Hooper character of  the blockbuster movie Jaws, she really did drive the boat, our house, our lives.

On a cold night in the winter of 2010, “Hoop Girl” was sitting by my feet at the moment I happened upon something called National Dog Week, a quirky yet poignant Canine American Holiday established in 1928. I fell in love with its colorful history, and began writing a biography about its Founder, Captain Will Judy, chronicling its unique, roller coaster-like legacy. In doing so, a new career was launched, and five books later, I’ve never stopped writing.

Alone with Hooper during the last moments of her life, I had an odd request. I whispered in her ear, “When the time is right, please send Dad and I a special new dog friend, and if possible please send one that likes other dogs and is calm, cool and collected.”

It seemed like a strange way to say goodbye to a loyal and loving companion, but in true dog-like fashion, within five months, my heart-felt request was granted when we fostered a little black and white Havanese-mix named Teddy.

Teddy came to us like a bright light in a bleak post Hurricane Sandy landscape. He wasn’t intended to stay, but stay he did, and has brought us much happiness. “Steady Teddy” couldn’t be any more different than “Hyper Hooper”. And unlike Hooper, Teddy adores other dogs. Now, with us for nearly four years, Teddy sits by my feet and inspires me to keep on writing, in fact, a story I wrote, based on his arrival in our lives, will be part of an Anthology released by the Revell Publishing group in October 2018. When the editor titles the book, I will let you know!

And another interesting thing happened with the Tedster by my side. I revamped my art studio and did something I’d wanted to do for a very long time, paint my first pet portrait. The painting of Teddy featured above, draped by the American flag, brings my creative life full circle, and reminds me why I continue to write about dogs and history, or anything else that inspires me. It also captures the spirit of National Dog Week that was established to encourage a collective and thoughtful period when we are mindful of all the ways dogs enrich our lives.

 

10897959_815564955153283_1213171223345105934_n

Hooper, Ready for Her Close-Up

There are many exciting things going on in the Creative Front, and we’re working hard and visualizing some good days ahead; creating during challenging circumstances when the sun is temporarily hidden by fleeting clouds; welcoming the positive influences and encouragement from a dog that’s been sent to help makes it all worthwhile. That’s the ultimate gift.

The 89th Observance of National Dog Week will be celebrated the week of September 25th this year!

Advertisements

 

IMG_2882

Dogs Rule in the House of Tito’s

In 2014 while attending a beverage industry trade show in New Jersey, I had the good fortune to meet Bert Butler “Tito” Beveridge II, the founder of Tito’s Hand Made Vodka. Yes, Tito’s real last name is Beveridge and while the comparison of his name to the word beverage might get tiresome for him at times, his genuine concern for animal welfare does not.

Dapper, professional and genuine, Beveridge struck me as someone who just might like dogs. I’d wanted to ask him if he did, but it was a busy event with many people to meet. I didn’t get the chance. Later, while visiting the Tito’s official website, I detected a distinct dog-loving presence that confirmed my suspicions.

The following year, while participating as a panelist at the BlogPaws Conference in Arizona, I’d discovered that Tito’s Vodka for Dog People was one the sponsors for the event. BlogPaws is the world’s largest organization for those who support animal welfare through blogging and the use of Social Media. The collaboration made sense.

Tito’s Handmade Vodka was born in Austin, Texas. Commercial production began in 1997 when Beveridge formed Fifth Generation, Inc., establishing his Mockingbird Distillery. Tito’s Vodka “went to the dogs” when in those early days the budding entrepreneur wished to help the stray dogs  wandering near his distillery. 

IMG_2084

Tito and a Friend

Today, that commitment to help homeless dogs has manifested as a marketing platform with a mission; Tito’s Vodka for Dog People, a company established to help raise funds for animal welfare and non-profit organizations through the sale of Tito’s, product donation, event support and branded merchandise. Presently, Tito’s Vodka for Dog People collaborates with thousands of animal welfare non-profits groups world-wide, and partners with approximately 700 additional animal welfare groups on fundraising events each year.

According to Elizabeth Bellanti Pander, Program Manager, Vodka For Dog People this entity embraces the innate connection humans have with their dogs. As she explains, “Working with Tito Beveridge to bring his business dream to life for over 20 years, we’ve been committed to rescuing and protecting the dogs that have come into our lives through this process.” With the continual support of dedicated dog-loving friends and a growing fan base, their goal to improve the lives of pets and their humans far and wide has been successfully met.

IMG_7744

Enjoying his Tito Toy!

In their effort to support their work on behalf of dog welfare, Vodka for Dog People partnered with Emancipet, a nonprofit organization with a mission to offer low cost veterinary services and spay/neuter procedures in underserved communities. Through this partnership, Tito’s Vodka for Dog People and Emancipet have helped to reduce the number of pets euthanized in Austin, Texas and elsewhere. Amy Mills, CEO of Emancipet, her staff, and volunteers truly understand that pets bring immeasurable joy to the lives of their humans and that all pets deserve high-quality affordable veterinary care. Emancipet also assists nonprofits in the areas of rescue, transport, therapy and guide dogs.

On the Vodka for Dog People’s website one can choose from an array of products of dog-oriented merchandise including wearable items for humans, barware, dog swag and more. All profit from these sales go to aid Emancipet, a Texas-based nonprofit organization with a mission to offer high-quality spay/neuter procedures for area pet owners and affordable quality veterinary care.

In 1999, during their first year of operation, Emancipet provided 5,000 low-cost spay/neuter surgeries in the Austin area onboard a mobile clinic. In impoverished areas, Emancipet and the City of Austin partnered to offer “Free Days” for these procedures once a week. With the help of grants from PetSmart Charities and Impact Austin, Emancipet opened their first brick and mortar low-cost spay/neuter clinic, to serve pet owners inside and outside of Austin.

In 2009, celebrating ten years of successfully helping animals, they reached the milestone of offering 100,000 free and low-cost spay/neuter surgeries for pets in Central Texas. Within 2 years, Emancipet added a second mobile clinic expanding their service area to include the entire Central Texas region, spanning 7 counties.

The positive effect of their efforts is staggering. Since its inception, Emancipet has been responsible for the spay/neuter procedures for nearly 250,000 dogs and cats. By 2016 they’d offered veterinarian care for more than 100,000 pets in locations in Austin, Pflugerville, Killeen, and Houston, Texas and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Through a national social change training program, Emancipet continues to address the growing need for services; working to end animal homelessness through three primary initiatives—new clinics, training, and advocacy. This year, Emancipet opened a new clinic in the Lawncrest neighborhood of North Philadelphia. This clinic staffed by a team of veterinarians and veterinary technicians who’ve been handpicked now offer spay/neuter and preventive services to a population in need of these services

In this new Philadelphia clinic, a caring veterinary technician assists pet owners to determine the pet’s needs. Low-cost spay/neuter services are offered Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, with appointments required. walk-in preventive care provided by a staff veterinarian, such as vaccinations, microchipping, as well as flea and Heart Worm prevention are also offered at this location. Emancipet’s training team also offers training and support services to help local animal welfare organizations, spay/neuter clinics and public and private shelters.

This training aims to boost spay/neuter efficiency and impact, develop leaders and staff, improve customer service, strengthen organizational infrastructure and advocate for strategies and public policy that improve the lives of pets in underserved communities. Emancipet educates organizations to achieve these results through dynamic and fun training experiences that include seminars held in Austin, and elsewhere, providing private personalized training for animal advocates and groups.

Vodka for Dog Lovers continues to be innovative in their unique efforts to promote dog welfare. In January 2017 they opened a bar in the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, the venue for the Philadelphia Flyers and 76ers games with a theme that embraces their partnership with Emancipet. A portion of proceeds from cocktails will help to fund their national expansion in the Philadelphia market and beyond.

Here’s to Tito Beveridge and his dedicated workers and partners who are enjoying amazing business success and paying it forward for the pets and people who need a helping hand, or paw, in Texas and beyond. May their business and philanthropic initiatives inspire many more to do the same.

To learn more about Tito’s Vodka for Dog People please visit: http://www.titosvodka.com/dogs/

To learn more about the services and locations for Emancipet: https://emancipet.org/

Photo credits: Elizabeth Bellanti Pander

Good News! Sagitta is scheduled for her Cataract Surgery next week. She will then go on to rejoin her dog brother, Ricoh. Thanks to all who contributed to this cause and/or helped to share the work of Carolina Poodle Rescue. I also thank you on behalf of Sagitta’s Forever-in-Spirit Mother, Gayle, who had to surrender her beloved dogs, but never stopped caring about their welfare. This development has brought Gayle a measure of happiness.

Also…thanks to Krisitn Avery of The Daily Pip Blog for allowing me the honor of being her first Guest Poster! To read, hop on over to: http://www.thedailypip.com/2017/03/fostering-ginger.html?showComment=1490449231001#c6476441075255727903

Carolina Poodle Rescue (CPR) has a passion for fixing what is broken, a passion shared by this supportive community of dog-lovers. Cataracts, for example, one of the most common genetic conditions experienced by poodles, can be fixed, increasing the adoption chances of even older dogs.  

In late 2016, CPR introduced a group of dogs in need of cataract surgery. Thanks to the generosity of many, nine have already had surgery and are starting new lives. Now, CPR introduces three more in need of help. With their eye sight restored, these dogs can be placed in new homes.  The good news is that half the funds needed for these dogs has already been raised, but your care is needed to see this fundraiser all the way through to a successful conclusion. 

Right now, CPR is offering a two for one offer for Mack and Max, two miniature poodle boys. According to Donna Ezzell, Director of CPR, “A generous angel will pay for surgery for one – if CPR can raise what is needed for the other.” Mack is about nine years of age and was surrendered to a shelter by his owners with no explanation.  Max is about ten, and came to CPR under the same set of circumstances. 

Max

Enter a caption

Both of these special boys  have one more thing in common, diminishing eye sight. According to Donna, “The more their vision leaves them, the less they want to interact with other dogs and sadly, they’re losing interest in people.  When you can’t see and others bump into you or pick you up with no warning, even if it’s accidental, it puts a boy on edge.”  

Mack

Then there’s Sagitta, a beautiful white Standard poodle. Loving and lovely, Sagitta has never met a stranger. Whether she’s preening like a model, or rolling in the mud at the barn, Sagitta has a zest for life that brings smiles to all she meets. 

Sagitta is much-loved  by her previous owner, Gayle. Gayle is no longer able to live on her own and now resided in an Assisted Living facility fighting physical battles of her own with Multiple Sclerosis. No longer able to care for Sagitta and Ricoh, a stunning black Standard poodle, she had to give up both. 

Sagitta

Gayle thought she had found a loving home for her dogs, but when that home did not work out, CPR reclaimed both dogs.  Donna notes, “At first, we did not know who their original owner was. When Gayle was healthy, she had volunteered with CPR and even though her name was not on the owner release form given to CPR, her information was on the medical documents and we were able to contact Gayle to let her know her dogs were with us.” 

Happily, Richo has been placed in his forever home, and now Gayle has become Sagitta’s champion, tirelessly fundraising on her behalf.  Gayle has already raised over half the funds needed for Sagitta’s surgery; $1200 of the  $ 2,100 needed.

CPR is now trying to help raise the other half so that Sagitta can have her cataract surgery and join Richo with the family who wishes to keep them together forever!  Ricoh and his human visits with Gayle at her Assisted Living facility on a regular basis and Gayle can’t wait for the time when both dogs can be reunited and visit together.

In her own words Gayle explains, “Sagitta is my current heartbreak. For me the most satisfying solution is to have her eye repaired and then to be placed with her beloved Ricoh. Donna did a wonderful job finding a loving home for him. Sagitta and Ricoh are like my children and never would I have imagined deserting them in their later years. It is quite ironic that I had to turn to CPR for a solution. I BELIEVE in rescue and tried to help when I was healthy. It bothers me that some think of rescue animals as throw sways. I just can no longer provide the care they need. The state has taken all of my property and allows me only $50.00 a month. Without rescue this very bonded pair of dogs who have been together since puppyhood, would be separated and would no longer be part of my life.”

Mack and Max, surrendered by no fault of their own, are living their golden years in the dark. Having their vision restored will increase their chances for adoption. Sagitta’s former owner is struggling physically. Having her girl near her will help her tremendously but only if Sagitta can be healthy. 

Here’s how you can help. Please support CPR during their  “$30.00 for 3 Dogs” campaign. Presently, we are seeking just over $3,000 to get these dogs on the way to health and new homes.  $30 .00 is a small gift that will mean the world to these three deserving dogs and to one very special,very brave woman who wants nothing more than to see her dog again.  CPR is a 501c3 organization, recognized by the IRS as a charity. All donations are tax-deductible. To donate, please visit our donation page and let us know that it’s for the gift of sight.   

Since introducing our first group “cataract dogs” in late 2016, CPR has raised funds for nine other dogs. Of that group, four have been adopted and the rest are recovering and the process of their rehoming has begun.

If you are interested in opening your home and heart to one of the CPR after they’ve undergone their surgeries, please visit our webpage at www.carolinapoodlerescue.org and complete the adoption application. If you are a pre-approved or previous adopter, please drop a line to applications@carolinapoodlerescue.org with the name of the dog that you’d like to meet. 

Reunion

A Happy CPR Match!

The Gang

Healthy and Happy CPR Adoptees!

war_dogs

The Author presents Bud Buccone with the Captain Wm. Lewis Judy Special Award at DWWA Conference


     February is Spay and Neuter Awareness Month and Prevent a Litter Month, making Sunday, February 12, especially memorable for me, when I attended the Dog Writers Association of America’s Awards Banquet in New York City.

     Late last year, while filing entries for the DWAA’s Annual Writing Competition, I entered a blog post I had published in August  2016 to be considered for the North Shore Animal League America Special Award for a piece titled “Desert Paws” about a successful Spay and Neuter program in New Mexico.

(see Link below).

     Unlike entries in the Regular Categories, the names of those who receive a Special Award/Grant are not revealed until the day of the Awards Banquet. I knew, for instance, I had been nominated in the Art and Short Fiction Categories, and that alone was truly exciting.

     At the event, I was also fortunate to be part of a speakers panel featuring Carol Bryant of Blog Paws, Maggie Bradburn Marton, Amy Tokcic for a writing seminar offered by the DWAA. Topics included navigating the publishing industry, pet blogging and utilizing Social Media effectively. I was also thrilled to receive a Maxwell Medallion for my Short Story Second Chances and also presented the first-ever Captain Wm. Lewis Judy Award to Bud Buccone for his video, “My Buddy” honoring Military Dogs of WWII!

     I haven’t blogged much these days as I’ve been focusing on book length projects, however, if my posts can make a difference, I hope to do more of this in the coming year.

     Preventing unplanned and ultimately unwanted litters of cats and dogs is the truest rescue there is. There will always be displaced and unhomed companion animals, however, if the unplanned pet population is reduced through Spay and Neuter initiatives, those pets that find themselves without homes will be fewer in number and will benefit from healthier and happier shelter and foster experiences. Please support those who are working so hard to make the world a better place for humans and animals, like the folks at Desert Paws. 


Teddy_writes

My Muse, Teddy!

To read the winning post for the North Shore Animal League America Award:

Desert Paws Offers a Regional Program as a Model for Nation-Wide Spay & Neuter Initiatives

To Read Second Chances (Maxwell Medallion Award for Short Fiction):

http://4theloveofanimals.com/blog/2016/07/20/second-chances/

 

 

This post received the North Shore Animal League America Special Award given by the Dog Writer’s Association of America on February 12, 2017 for excellence in the writing on the topic of Spay and Neuter Initiatives in the nation.

Pueblo_deCochiti

Desert Landscape of Pueblo de Cochiti

A colleague in the animal advocacy community once declared, “We can’t rescue ourselves out of this mess,” when discussing the seemingly never-ending problem of pet overpopulation. For many, Spay and Neuter initiatives are regarded as the most humane form of rescue and advocacy. If we can stem the tide of unwanted pets, we can offer better care for those animals that will inevitably find themselves unhomed despite our best efforts.

At the BlogPaws conference in Phoenix Arizona in June, this topic seemed to “find” me as I became aware of how groups in different parts of the nation addressed these issue. BlogPaws represents the largest community of pet-professionals, advocates and writers in the world, with the common goal to improve the lives of companion animals. We sometimes, forget, however, that different regions of the nation face unique challenges when advocating for our companion animals.

At BlogPaws, I met Krystyn Bleda, a life time animal advocate from New Mexico. Krystyn and her husband, Raymond Sandor, are the co-founders of Desert Paws, Inc. animal rescue. Residing in Cochiti Lake, a small leasehold town on the Pueblo de Cochiti Indian Reservation, the couple with a slew of volunteers provides hands-on rescue, caregiving and transportation for Spay and Neuter procedures and veterinary care for tribal members animals from the neighboring three Pueblos.

Krystyn explains, “Moving from New York in 2003, we launched Desert Paws Inc. when we realized that there was an urgent need to help homeless, unwanted and injured animals in this area. Animals were being abandon, wandering around looking for food, warmth, help, some were killed on the road by vehicles, dumped from moving cars, close to death, some old, blind and unwanted. We obtained medical care for each one and then each was placed in foster homes, trained and finally placed into forever homes.”

dp_huggy bear with watermark

Dixie-A Happy Cochiti Success Story!

Eventually, the Governor of the Cochiti tribe invited them to sit down and discuss possible solutions to address this situation. Krystyn and her husband developed a low/no cost Spay and Neuter program and worked with a local veterinarian, developing a solution on how to handle their appointments and emergencies. They were also able to attract several long term donors to help sponsor their Spay and Neuter program specializing in a tribal setting.

The challenges of animal advocacy in these rural, sovereign tribal communities  are unique and significant. Although, many individuals care deeply about their pets, due to lack of resources on and around tribal lands many cannot easily obtain basic veterinary care, including Spay and Neuter procedures. As one of the poorest states in the nation, with a general population that is not well informed about the benefits of Spay and Neuter and lack law in their enforcement of  inhumane chaining of dogs and backyard breeding,  the municipal shelters of New Mexico are burdend by overcrowding.

Previously, veterinary students had come to the area to perform Spay and Neuter procedures, however, it didn’t work in many areas due to the lack of participation from locals. Many of the animals in the community are free-roaming, never even having been in a vehicle or a house making for surgery “round-up” efforts very difficult. In addition, tribal lands present unique challenges due to cultural beliefs stemming from agricultural lifestyles. People are not well- informed about common pet illnesses, treatment possibilities and yearly veterinary maintenance of a dogs or cats such as vaccines, heartworm, flea/tick prevention methods, and transmittable diseases.

dp_kittens

A Pair of healthy Cochiti Cats receive Veterinary Care

In thinking outside the box, Desert Paws Inc. launched their current program, “Door2Door Spay/Neuter & Veterinary Care” about 3 years ago.  In this successful initiative, Desert Paws Inc. volunteers pick-up animals from homes and bring them to their vet’s clinic where the Spay and Neuter procedure is safely performed. Raymond explains, however, “Our biggest challenge is transportation. Volunteers use their own cars to transport animals to our veterinary clinic that is over an hour away. Each Tuesday 3-5 animals arrive by 9:30 am and their stomachs must be empty. The following day, another 3-5 animals arrive and the animals brought in the day prior are returned safely to their families for monitoring and the process is repeated. Often, pets requiring other veterinarian treatments, such as for tick-born illnesses, bite wounds or surgeries for broken bones are brought in for medical attention, also.”

dp_clementine with watermark

Clementine – ready to be someone’s new Best Friend!

Krystyn points out the significant impact of strong Spay and Neuter initiatives. “For every dog, or cat, that is spayed or neutered, the births of six to twenty unwanted puppies and kittens are prevented. Pueblo de Cochiti, has a population of 1,500 people. With about two to four dogs per household (many of them are female) you can figure there are many dozens of reproducing moms at any given time that can typically produce a litter of 6-12 annually. That’s hundreds of pups born each year! Allowing for the fact that many of their offspring will not make it to adulthood, the area could still see a very substantial population spurt each year without a spay and neuter program in place. The cycle just repeats itself, growing and growing without intervention.”

Raymond notes that Cochiti Pueblo is one of the smaller pueblos, and now the goal of Desert Paws Inc. is to help the larger neighboring pueblos of Santo Domingo and San Felipe, and later on possibly expand the programs into the Navajo Reservation farther west and north.

Krystyn stresses that she and her husband could not accomplish all of this alone, saying, “Thanks to the relentless efforts of our board member and volunteer coordinator, Margaret Evans, we now have the best volunteer crew!” In order to grow and accomplish more, however, they are looking for more funding and sponsorship for the rescue and a reliable, newer vehicle for transport is needed immediately. In the very near future, Desert Paws Inc. also hopes to raise funds to purchase a building, which they will convert into a surgery/veterinary clinic and hold/recovery facility in a more closer, central location.

It is clear that Desert Paws Inc. and the Cochiti Pueblo’s government came together at the right time to prevent the cycle of pet over-population in their native land. Through community collaboration, the dog and cat populations have lessened and its animal (and human) members are much happier and becoming healthier. These ground-breaking efforts have created a model that can be and need to be replicated elsewhere whether on sovereign tribal lands or on any rural areas in America. Small rescues can and need to play a huge part of these efforts and state governments need to offer a helping hand (and financial sponsorship) for such rescue organizations and their programs.

Krystyn is also aware of the power of the written word. She credits the blogging community for helping  to spread the news about Desert Paws Inc. and their success. With conferences like the one recently organized by BlogPaws, Krystyn and her husband have faith that those who attended can use their blogging and writing expertise and influence to help increase awareness, share ideas and assist with the nation-wide implementation of programs like those started and offered by Desert Paws Inc. To learn more about Desert Paws Inc. or to sponsor their efforts/programs please visit their website at www.desertpawsnm.org or email them at desertpawsnm@live.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48n7i-R-wYs&feature=youtu.be

 

2016_NDW_Logo_Theme_epsIt’s been a hot summer here on the East Coast. But nothing beats the heat of Chandler, AZ, the place to which I travelled for the Blog Paws conference in June. BlogPaws is the world’s only organization comprised of pet bloggers and authors. Although it was extremely hot outside, I heard so many cool speakers inside it was well-balanced! A shout out for the top-rate facility and gracious staff of the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort.

For me, it was a whirlwind experience; I attended many workshops and events and also got to participate in a Speaking panel and lead a lunch-table discussion. I was inspired by many and hope I was able to do so for others.

Here it is now, the end of August and I spend my time working with my hardworking agent, Donna Eastman of the Parkeast Literary agency. We’ve got some interesting projects circulating and working as a team, we hope that the right editor will reward us and lend their expertise and experience to bring these books to fruition (that’s fancy-talk for grant us a book contract(s)). Who knows what fall will bring. I thank all of you who continue to be so supportive and encouraging.

There’s also  my work on behalf of National Dog Week and my promotion of Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher (McFarland& Co., 2014) – the only account of Judy’s life and work ever written. It is filled with and interesting account of one man’s influence on America’s love-affair with its canines achieved through Judy’s prolific publishing, writing and editing efforts over the course of five decades.

This year, we declare that National Dog Week begins on Sunday, September 18th. But, if you wish to begin on Monday, or keep on celebrating the following week…no one will fault you! This year’s theme? “Readers Unleashed: Promoting Literacy with K9s” where dog-lovers utilize the power of the paw to encourage literacy and strengthen the dog-human bond. Does your library welcome Therapy Dogs, or does your shelter allow young people to read to the dogs?

I will also be guest blogging for the dog-loving folks at Tito’s Vodka for Dog People during National Dog Week. This all-American company founded by “Tito” Beveridge  fifteen years ago is sharing its growth and success to benefit canine well-fare across the nation.

I am currently  preparing for the Seaside Park Art Show held on September 3rd in Ocean County, New Jersey, combining my “dog writing” and art as presented in the work below. I hope you enjoy this scene that captures the magic of a fleeting season. Happy “Dog-ust”.

Postcard_Dog

“Boy, Dog and Sea” vintage postcard c. 1945, acrylic painting on mat board-8 x 10

 

 

 

 

 

BP Badge

So excited to be part of the Speaker Agenda at the            Eighth Annual BlogPaws Conference!

Barking News: Looking forward my participation in a Publishing-industry Speaker’s Panel with the Cat Writers Association of America and during a session with the BlogPaws  folks this weekend! Temperatures are soaring, but we’ll be inside exploring…during so many fabulous sessions surrounded by some lovely pets! Check out my recent contribution to Ruff Drafts https://dogwriters.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/2016springsummer_members.pdf– page 11 , the official newsletter of the DWAA where I discuss my work with Laura Pople of Seer Farms. If you are part of the Yahoo on-line reading group DogRead, please join me as I discuss Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher. I am their featured author through June 30th! We are having a very nostalgic look back in time via our love affair (and Will Judy’s) with man’s best friend. And…Look for updates on the launch of my new kid’s Picture Book, Teddy Two-Tone and the Seven Days of Dog Week written for the youngest of eyes. I may have lots of questions when I attend a session presented by Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, at BlogPaws. Happy summer!

 

National Cat Week

         A Poster Stamp from National Cat Week 1946

 “We like cats. They furnish running exercise for dogs and always win the race. They are a living, moving thing of beauty, softness and grace. They and the birds are among the few animals that wash themselves.” Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week, 1949

As I excitedly prepare to attend the 8th BlogPaws/CWA Conference in Phoenix later this month, it is not lost on me that although I have been writing and blogging about canines for several years now, in Phoenix, I will be part of a publishing-industry speaking panel organized by the Cat Writers Association of America. Preparing for this event has made me nostalgic.

Yes, I love dogs, but the truth is, more cats have blessed my life than dogs, and as I’ve discussed in past posts, I grew up in a menagerie masquerading as a house of humans.

My very first pet (although I barely recall) was a grey tiger striped kitten named mittens (I presume she had white paws). My only real memory of her was the day she jumped on our huge Christmas tree, toppling it full force onto our living room floor. The memories stop there.

Two bunnies followed – and I proceeded to let them out of their hutches early each morning only to have them return to their homes each evening (Don’t judge, I was 7 and it was the mid-1960s).

I also recall daily kick ball games that took place on our dead end street. One late afternoon, a mysterious car stopped and deposited a large duffle bag on to the curb. In those pre-terrorist days not filled with warnings of “see something, say something” we had no fear. We raced to the moving bag and unzipped it,  “unleashing” a parent’s worst nightmare; contained in that writhing bag were five gorgeous kittens suitable for Hallmark greeting card images.

We convinced our parents to let us foster them, (they were so adorable we had no trouble placing them). Gypsy, a black and white cat stayed with us and being an unaltered female, we faced the inevitable (don’t judge – it was the late-1960s). A year later, on the Fourth of July, my father was drawn to our garage by a strange wailing. Inside an open drawer that contained a folded American flag, rested one perfectly formed tri-color newborn kitten (red, white and black). My brother named him Jefferson.

Much later, my  brother Matt (RIP) answered (in a pre-Craig’s List world) a free-to-good-home ad for a kitten. I’ll never forget coming home from college for a holiday visit in 1977, expecting to meet a tiny ball of fur  only to meet Morrison (named after Jim Morrison) a cat much older than I had expected. My brother, upon meeting this charming young cat, couldn’t help but bring him home. Morrie lived life as an indoor outdoor cat (Don’t judge, it was the late 70s) and yes, he was neutered. He was one of the best family pets we’ve ever had.

Next came a little tortoise-shell cat that Matt brought home from a construction site. We named her Pita (short for pain in the you-know-what). Pita was a clingy sweet heart with a good disposition. Just a few years ago, after a very long life of over 21 years, she said good bye and went off to die in peace at a time of her own choosing.

So much has changed in the world, I recall a time when carefree kids ran about in the outdoor world, accompanied by their pets. Kids and pets need that, and so do we. So, on days when you are feeling frazzled by tweeting, pinning, instagramming, blogging and snap-chatting about your own pets and those of others, remember to unplug and take a break and enjoy this beautiful season.

Be it fur, hair, fins, hooves, or scales, we engage our hearts when we share our tales…It doesn’t matter our topic, good writing will engage almost anyone and you can even educate others in the process.

What a terrific  opportunity it is when we get to sit and chat with fellow authors and bloggers. It doesn’t happen often enough. If you are attending the CWA/Blog Paws Conference – please join me for my sessions: Friday, June 24th at 2:30 (joined by members of the pet-book publishing industry) and Saturday at noon, for a lunch time Table Topic about all things “writing”. If you don’t, and I have to sit alone, I might just revert to Middle School behavior – throwing spit balls (or hair balls), making fun of what your cats and dogs are wearing (I would NEVER do that), taking selfies, and passing notes, when the lunch monitors are not looking! Happy travels.

 

 

Me_and_T

The Author and her dog, Teddy consult on a Winning Proposal

 

Preparing for my participation in the fast-approaching Cat Writers of America/BlogPaws Conference in Arizona this June, I reflect on the past six years and my own path to becoming an author.  Back then, I wondered if I’d ever get a book completed, published and promoted, let alone be invited to talk about it at a conference!

Today, I am happy to say that I have birthed five books, with several in various stages of production and review. Although my primary topic has focused on canines, and those who celebrate them, I am  open to any topic that fascinates me including sports, history, and travel.

While I have averaged a book a year, nothing has unfolded as planned, and in many ways, I feel I am just warming up and I didn’t even begin writing “siriusly” until 2010.

Whenever someone learns that I am an author, they quickly tell me that their friend, or a family member, has written a book (congrats), or, that they, them, themselves, have a great idea for a book. In truth, many of these ideas are very good and have potential, but the big question is, how will they get their idea on the path to publication?

If their book idea falls under the category of Non-Fiction (memoir, how-to, history) there is one phrase that separates the wannabe author from the true “story-teller” who is willing to go-the-distance and endure the rocky road to get it all down and done…the Full Book Proposal.

I am always glad to help those in their authoring journey within reason, however, if they aspire to write Non-Fiction, the first thing they will receive from me are examples and templates for creating a strong Full Proposal, which typically is comprised of several parts that requiring a GREAT deal of thought, planning, research and editing. That Proposal, is your book’s blue print, and will also require something called a Query, a few short paragraphs that accompanies the Proposal –  that will make an agent or editor want to dive in to your Proposal, and take your book out of the “Slush” pile.

This is part of what I will be speaking about at the BlogPaws Conference in Phoenix come June, in the company of so many other bloggers, reporters, authors, publishers and social media specialists. As someone who has worked with agents, and publishers, I will be asking my personal partners in the publishing world for advice that I can share with those attending the BlogPaws Conference to help them to create strong, saleable projects. I will also discuss Fiction projects that have their own special guidelines.

The CWA/BlogPaws event is open to anyone, at any level, who wishes to learn more about writing for the pet-industry, and beyond. Once you learn the basics of writing a great Proposal, Query and Cover Letter or a sensational Synopsis, the writing process will flow and if being a published author is your goal, you will be on the “write” path and enjoying the journey and all the emotions it is sure to invoke.

I look forward to learning so much this June. Bring your Proposals (and your ideas) Want to know more, or to make your reservation?: http://blogpaws.com/events/2016-conference/

Keep current on National Dog Week and “Paw-thor” News at: http://www.lisabegin-kruysmanauthor.com

Teddy_writes

My “T-editor” takes a moment to reflect!

 

 

 

In March, it was announced that National Dog Week 2016 had a new theme and logo! Today, on this blog launched to promote NDW, we present “Readers Unleashed: Promoting Literacy with K-9s.” We hope you love its logo, too, and will share with those groups and organizations that will help to promote this initiative.

2016_NDW_Logo_Theme_eps

This logo was inspired by an original drawing attributed to Will Judy

 

As many are curious about these programs, we invited our friend Bocker Labradoodle to share his experience through a dog’s-eye-view. For more about “Reading to the Dogs” and National Dog Week, please visit the Today Show Parenting Team Site: http://community.today.com/parentingteam/post/national-dog-week-2016-will-have-kids-pawsing-to-read

Can any dog wander into the library and be read to by a student? If not, what special training does a dog need to be part of reading programs in libraries and schools? No, a dog just can’t walk into a library or a school. A dog has to be certified with a therapy dog group in order to take part in reading programs whether they are in a library or a school.  It’s not so much training, but the dog must pass a certification test with a therapy group in order to act as a therapy dog.  Dogs need to be calm, gentle, not easily frightened by noises or sudden movements.  There are certain rules to be followed by both dog and handlers.  Of course, there is the matter of insurance and the therapy dog organization holds insurance for their dogs who visit certain facilities.

How long have you been listening to student readers? I passed my therapy dog certification test when I was about three years old. The first read program in which I participated was called Tail Wagging Tutors, in 2008.

How do you get your reading “jobs”? The therapy group that I have been certified with had a Tail Wagging Tutors group. A local elementary school made it part of the school day for these certified dogs to come and be read to once a week for an hour. The young people that wanted to take part were excused from their regular class for that hour.  The classes were held in the school library.

Are some students afraid of you and your reading dog friends? If so, how do you help them overcome their fear? In therapy visits to schools, I have come across children who have been afraid of dogs for one reason or another. We have tried on occasion for the teacher to approach me with the child and almost always by the end of the session, the child is petting me and feeling like they made a huge step forward. It’s so rewarding for the child, the teacher, and of course me.

What happens if a student is allergic to dogs? There is no such thing as a purely hypo-allergenic dog, although some dogs have less dander. I’m sure it would be at the discretion of the family if a child has allergies.

Do you see children improve their reading after a few visits with them? It’s very easy to spot children who improve with their reading after a short time. We pups are non-judgmental and children are at ease reading to us, so they are more apt to enjoy reading and think of it as fun.  By reading more, they obviously become better readers. Studies have been done and show how reading scores increase.

Do you have a special story or moment you can share about your work? Yes, the children would usually bring their own books to read and on one occasion one of the boys just came in with a notebook. We asked where his books were and he said someone at home had gotten ill and he had to go stay with a grandparent at night and he didn’t have his books.  He said because he didn’t have the books he usually reads, he had written a story for me. It was a story about how much I meant to him and how much he loved reading with me.  Very special to say the least.

How can schools and libraries find certified dogs to visit them? Therapy groups usually have lists of schools and libraries in their area that wish to take part in reading programs.   Otherwise, schools/libraries can find out what Therapy groups work in their area and contact them.  The elementary school I went to had an actual approved program that took part once a week during school hours in the school’s library.  That was terrific.

What are your favorite books? I love anything that is read to me. So much fun to find out the different interests of each child I read with. So I get a great mix…stories about friends, animal stories, superheroes, science, sports.

Have you ever written any books of your own? Yes. My book is Chasing Bocker’s Tale.  It’s about my early life and how I got involved in so many different things and found so many ways to help others.  I have been invited to Libraries so children can read my book.  It’s so much fun and I usually give them copies, pawtographed, of course, to take home.

bocker_read

We thank Bocker and his mom, Marie, for taking time to share with us!

If you wish to share your “Reading to the Dogs” story with us, please comment or send an e-mail to pst39crd@aol.com.

Harriet_cover

Earlier this month, I had the honor of presenting to the Medford-area (NJ) Branch of the American Association of University Women. Last fall they had contacted me after Tricia Reace, Vice-President of the chapter’s literary group read coverage of my book Around the World in 1909: Harriet White Fisher and Her Locomobile that had appeared in the Times of Trenton. http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2015/01/book_details_ewing_residents_1909_journey_around_t.html#incart_river

 

AAUW_Cid_Me

Cid Richards (L) and author

The AAUW’s mission is to advance equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research, breaking through educational and economic barriers so that all women have a fair chance.

When Cid Richards, Vice President of Programs, contacted me she explained that each year the group invites a woman author from New Jersey as their guest presenter at their annual Book & Author Champagne Brunch. The goal of this occasion is to raise money for their scholarship fund. As this book was authored by an author from New Jersey, about a New Jersey-based automotive pioneer, she thought the event’s attendees would appreciate this subject matter during Woman’s History Month.

AAUW_Me_MB_Cid

l to r – me, Mary Anne Brookes, Cid Richards

At this gathering that over-looked the beautiful grounds of Medford Leas, I addressed a roomful of women (and a few men) that were fascinated by the life and travel of Trenton’s Harriet White Fisher and her intrepid band of traveling companions. Together, this team covered four continents during the course of thirteen months in a vehicle called a Locomobile.

AAUW_Rich_Tricia

Rich Kruysman and Tricia Teace

During the event, I received several questions about Harriet’s trip as well as inquiries about how I came to tell her story and about my writing process and impressions of the publishing industry. What a great opportunity to share, and hopefully inspire, others.

AAUW_June_Diane

June Ramondetta (l) and Diane Levy

At the conclusion of the address, I had the pleasure of signing copies of Around the World in 1909 as well as copies of Dog’s Best Friend and Something’s Lost and Must be Found. As an added bonus, I learned that a donation had been made in my name to the Alice Paul Institute. The Alice Paul Institute educates the public about the life and work of Alice Stokes Paul (1885-1977), author of the Equal Rights Amendment, and offers heritage and girls’ leadership development programs

AAUW_Men

“The Men” Ish Chawla (l), Paul Ramondetta (m) and Rich

I thank all of those of the AAUW involved in making the day so special including Elsie Behmer, Co-President, Treasurer Mary Ann Brookes, VP of Membership and Publicity coordinator June Ramondetta, Co-Vice President Literature Group Tricia Reace, AAUW NJ State Board Member Mary Switzer and of course, Cid Richards, Tri-Vice President of Programs; my point of contact throughout the planning process.

AAUW_Alice_Paul

In turn, I will be contributing a percentage of book sales from this event to my “Be the Change” collection to benefit a local animal advocacy group.

AAUW_Me_sigining

Signing copies of Around the World in 1909!

NJ_Me_Podioum

Another terrific Women’s History Event-Speaking at the NJ State Library on 3/30 as part of their Author Lunch Hour series.

Happy National Women’s History Month, Happy Spring. Watch for exciting news about National Dog Week 2016 in a subsequent post. Visit and LIKE the NDW Page:https://www.facebook.com/National-Dog-Week-218596591491974/?fref=ts

 

 

Hooper

"Is it dog week yet?"

"Is it dog week yet?"

Michelle Mongelli and Wheezey

Pike, at Geiger Key

Hooper in the Keys

Hooper in the Keys

“Two Culprits” by Steven Hall

Logan & Koda

DJ

DJ Goes to Westminster

Zac and Cooper

"Look daddy, I can fly!"

“Hooper” – Best in Snow

Pita in Matt’s Garden

Hooper with cousin Roxy, Summer 2009

Me and my “Hoop”