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Welcome to my Blog, a site designed to discuss the state of the dog in the states of the nation.  To read more on my project please refer to ABOUT.  This year, I hope to make these posts even more interesting and relevant.  My year-end Blog stats tell me so many of  you have been visiting and that is so gratifying.  Keep watching for my interview with a gifted Pet Communicator, a talk with Ada Nieves as she prepares for the Pre-Westminster Fashion Show in NYC, and an interview with a Transporter, and more Thank you for stopping by….

Every dog is brave on his own doorstep… Irish Proverb

The recent snowstorm has made the post-holiday week between Christmas and New Year’s more quiet than usual.  With art commissions completed, and writing submissions in the right places, it is a time I slow down and take stock.  One year ago, when I started this blog, some said I would give up in no time; too difficult to sustain (sometimes), or not enough interesting material (never I hope).  But here it is, almost one year later and for better or worse, I’m still at it, showing up on the page each week.  Sometimes I have a just a handful of views, other days hundreds, depending on who or what I am writing about (very interesting backstage at the Blog).  At the very least, it keeps me writing each week and gives me a “tool” to help educate readers about my project and what I am hoping to accomplish.

Throughout the year, I’ve been taken with the spirit of generosity of those in the pet-industry that have encouraged me and have offered their help.  In turn, I hope I have been able to share their stories adequately.  Some subjects have been fun and light. For instance, I learned that dogs can, and do dance (quite well), they love to party and wear the latest fashions, and they make gracious screen stars and are subjects of great writing and art.  Some posts turned more serious with topics about shelter dogs, dog-fighting or on a more positive note, discussed how dogs help those with special challenges survive, providing therapy and service in some very unique ways, and how dogs can have a place in classrooms.  While most have appreciated these stories, sadly, some still do not “get” dogs or look at them as messy and and inconvenient.  Hopefully, it won’t take drastic measures or unfortunate personal events for them to see the foolishness of their attitudes.

For most of my life, I believed I had been born during the year of the Pig in the Chinese Zodiac.  I was content with that and if you saw my childhood bedroom (and current desk), it would make sense.  Much later, I worked for a woman from China who told me I had actually been born in the Year of the Dog, during the Hours of the Dog.  I thought it merely amusing at the time, but they apparently take this stuff pretty seriously.  I am told the Year of the Tiger has been very fortuitous for us dogs, and I hope that has been true for all of man’s best friends (Just to clarify, the Tiger Year will end on February 3, with the onset of the year of the Rabbit). 

I am also thankful for all those who see the potential in the National Dog Week Movement and for my literary agent Donna Eastman for taking on a “new” writer in a publishing industry that is changing by the minute.  I have made it my personal mission not to disappoint all involved.

But lately, with events in the news regarding Puppy Mills, and Dog Fighting, there has been much division in the dog world.  What is sad is that it sometimes has people who love dogs arguing amongst each other rather than uniting in a cause and trying to stop the problems altogether.  While we can’t eradicate all the viciousness and stupidity wrought by man, I think we can still help dogs, by helping people, to see the big picture and make more enlightened decisions. Hopefully events of 2010  focused light on the issues we need to focus on.  I don’t think that there are any one stop measures, and perhaps each region of the nation needs to adapt their solutions and approaches to suit specific needs and problems.  And of course in our current Economy, it makes the task much harder. 

If you are weary, don’t be discouraged.  In 1928, when Captain Will Judy, a man trained for the ministry and  also a decorated WWI War Veteran, launched his National Dog Week Movement he used the word movement to indicate he meant for it to continue infinitely as an important part of the nation’s legacy.  Times were bad then, to say the least and he often felt powerless despite his publishing clout, but he consistently used wisdom and words to influence, determined to see his mission accomplished.  Today with the power of the Internet and Social Networking, you have more options to reach out to others by contacting your animal-friendly officials, or by starting and signing petitions to try and bring about positive change on your Facebook walls and Twitter. 

Anything is possible in a brand new year.  So be like those dogs in that Irish proverb…Be brave on your own doorstop, but don’t be afraid to venture out and spread a little of that courage around.

Thank you for reading.  Please subscribe, share, and befriend…Stay tuned for some great new posts…and updates on some current posts.

Any "Portie" in a storm

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Welcome to my blog, a place where the state of the dog in the states of the nation is examined.  My posts are sometimes serious, often fun and whimsical, and hopefully informative.  To read more about the National Dog Week Movement please see ABOUT.  Thank you.

“Energy rightly applied and directed will accomplish anything.”  Nelly Bly,  1889

Thanks everyone, your names are adding up.  Please continue to share!

Recent events in the news have had computer screens glowing blood-red and Facebook walls covered with words of anger and disgust.  And rightly so.  Which has prompted me to wonder, besides getting fighting mad, is there anything constructive that can come out of abject discouragement? 

First came the news that Missouri Senator Bill Stouffer had filed for a repeal of a bill that his constituents had passed to help thwart Puppy Mills http://www.yesonpropb.com/about/read-act.  After sharing this information on my Facebook Page, it was suggested that people contact the Senator to voice their concern.   Thanks to my “old” friend Judy Buxton, a Missouri native, for providing the contact information for Senator Stouffer.  ph-573-751-1507/toll-free-886-768-3987 or write to him at 201 West Capitol Avenue; Room 332; Jefferson City, MO  65101.  I e-mailed the senator reminding him that once upon a time, in his very state, another Senator named Graham Vest coined the phrase Man’s Best Friend and perhaps he would like to live up to that legacy.  If you feel so moved, I encourage you to follow suit.

Onto another disturbing topic now.  Last week, Michael Vick proclaimed that in the future, he would like to adopt a dog.  The word RAGE isn’t strong enough to describe the comments that sprung up all over the internet.  On the Facebook Wall of Steve Dale, Chicago-based Nationally Syndicated Pet Columnist (Tribune Media Services) many commented on his thought-provoking Blog post  at http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/steve-dale-pet-world/2010/12/should-i-hop-on-the-vick-forgiveness-wagon.html.  I would like to thank Steve for taking the time to read a post of mine that commented on the Michael Vick situation back in March.  His continued interest in my book and work on the behalf of  National Dog Week is very much appreciated (after all, Will Judy, the Founder of National Dog Week called Chicago home).  Steve is a caring champion of both cats and dogs and if you have a chance, visit his Facebook Fan Page and become a Fan.

Over on Mark Zisk’s (Jupiter, FL) Facebook Wall, a lengthy comment thread led another Facebook friend, Ellie Parish of Long Island, New York to start a petition.  A frustrated Ellie imagined a future when MV, upon becoming blinded during an Eagle’s game came to rely on the help of a Seeing-Eye dog.  We all know of course, the all-forgiving loyal dog would most likely serve his master as is his duty and nature.  Ellie’s petition can be found at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/no-puppies-for-mike-vick.  When the petition has accrued 1,000 signatures, it will be sent to a variety of places.  Among them the NFL http://nfl.com/contact-us, The Department of Justice http://justice.gov/uspc/index.html or the ASPCA http://www.aspca.org/.

I already see some cynics asking how could a note to a Senator or names on a petition possibly change anything, how can it fight something as big and powerful as a highly paid athlete, a member of the NFL, how can an e-mail influence a Senator?  People like Ellie Parish and I truly believe in the power of “small” acts.  Maybe we can think of our small acts as a penny.  Today, most kids won’t even acknowledge them, won’t even pick one-cent off the ground.  But the older and wiser among us know that small change can add up to something big, eventually.  And like those pennies, they may even buy some thoughts.

I know everyone is busy, so I’ve kept this short.  There are a lot of links, and if you have trouble with any, please let me know, or provide the correct one.  Keep up the good fight, my Facebook Friends.  Your hard work can bring awareness and action.  Merry Christmas and much hopefulness to all.  Thank you for continuing to stop here and read.

Welcome to my Blog…established to spread the bark about my book, Every Dog has its Week, written to enlighten readers about the state of the dog in the states of the nation, and to elicit an intelligent exchange about issues regarding our four-legged best friends.  To read more, please see ABOUT.

As I take a break from painting to blog, I’ll write about some books that had an impact on me over the course of the year, and yes, they all have a dog-theme. When I first started writing a few years ago, my husband asked if I could write a story that wasn’t about dogs or ice-skating.  I proceeded to write a children’s book about an ice-skating dog  based on my experience as a skating instructor. It’s adorable by the way!  And lately, it’s true, it does seem like I’ve gone to the dogs…

Before I proceed, I would like to mention a new product called the WalkieWay, designed by author and pet expert Nikki Moustaki and Aerospace Engineers.  I’ve written about Nikki and her remarkable Pet Postcard Project often.  To read about this new product, check out http://www.walkieway.typepad.com/walkieway.  The WalkieWay is a new collar/leash combo that works as a secure “Leash on Demand,” bringing peace of mind to dog owners everywhere, and it sure would make a nice holiday gift, too, for the dog-lovers in your life.

In October of 2009, I was fortunate to have attended a Highlights Foundation Workshop to study the Art of  Biography with Editor-in-Chief of Calkins Creek Books, Carolyn Yoder.  Workshops provided by the Highlights Foundation have helped many aspiring writers to achieve their dreams.  If you are thinking you cannot afford a workshop, check out their website, http://highlightsfoundation.org/foundation.org to learn about how you may be eligible for a scholarship. (You can read my post about this in the Archives of June 25).

One of the nice things about blogging is getting to talk with other writers and occasionally receiving copies of books to read and discuss with you.  I really enjoyed Jon Katz’s return to Fiction with his book Rose in a Storm (Villard).  This story, that takes place during a monstrous snowstorm in New York State, has readers following a faithful dog as she carries out her duties despite great obstacles.  Told through the eyes of Rose, a Border Collie, it’s a gripping adventure that also packs an emotional wallop.  I had the opportunity to interview Jon earlier this year (Archives-July 29th).

In the wake of Marly and Me, Narrative Memoirs about dogs continue to be very popular.  In September (during National Dog Week) I posted my interview with Seattle-based Steve Duno about his book, Last Dog on the Hill: The Extraordinary Life of Lou (St. Martin’s).  It’s a rewarding read about a fateful meeting of a dog and a man and how they changed each other’s lives for the betterment of all.  You can read that post in the Archives of September 21.

Thanks to Glenn Plaskin’s publishers, (Center Street), for forwarding a copy of his Katie Up and Down the Hall: The True Story of How One Dog Turned Five Neighbors into a Family.  The story transports readers to the unique “village” of Battery Park in downtown New York City.  Katie, a beloved Cocker spaniel unites hallway neighbors and helps them through the events of 9-1-1 and beyond.  I also thank New Zealand author Jeffrey Moussaeiff Masson for sending me a copy of his book The Dog the Couldn’t Stop Loving: How Dogs Have Captured our Hearts for Thousands of Years (Harper Collins) which presents a compelling exploration of the unique bond between dog and man that has evolved over a prolonged period of timeYou’ll be amazed while you read about some of Jeffrey’s first-hand accounts laced with scientific findings.

This year, I also came to call Denver-based author, Tracy Aiello, a friend.  In her Miracle Dogs of Portugal, Tracy educates young readers about history, and the legendary attributes of the Portuguese water dog breed.  You can read more about Tracy in my interview with her at http://www.examiner.com/pets-in-newark/lisa-begin-kruysman.

There are many other books that are on my “must read” list and I will present them to you in the new reading year.  And of course, keep reading as I let you know how my own book, Every Dog has its Week, is progressing….Enjoy the holiday and take time out to enjoy your family, pets, and a good book or two! If you have a dog-themed book you would like me to explore, please contact me at pst39crd@aol.com.

Welcome to my blog.  To read about my project and book, please see the ABOUT section.  Thank you!

Posting has been delayed due to the seasonal nature of my art business.  I am grateful for all of my customers who choose to commission my personalized postcard artwork as gifts for family and friends.  Tomorrow I’ll be posting about some terrific dog-themed books I’ve had the opportunity to read then write about over the course of this year and provide some helpful information on workshop opportunities offered by the Highlights Foundation for those who write for Young People.

In 1928, Captain Will Judy established National Dog Week not to bring more dogs into the world, but to encourage us to be more enlightened and caring guardians of those that are already here.  In that spirit,  my sister, Manette, David, and Manette’s son, Zac, decided to welcome a homeless dog into their lives last month.  Their inspiring story, told collaboratively, shows how rewarding it can be when thought and action combine to give an “unwanted” pet a second chance…

 Please tell us why you wanted to adopt a dog…We started looking for a puppy after Masha, Zac’s girlfriend, and the owner of Cooper–a pit bull/retriever rescue who we’ve come to love, sent us a link for a pit/lab/hound puppy named Ringo. Throughout the year, we’d thought about adopting a dog and Ringo gelled that thinking into action.  After several discussions about how a dog would impose restrictions on our lives, and how it would affect our day-to-day routine, we decided to move forward. We’d both had dogs growing up; some wonderful—like Gamble, David’s Dalmatian, and a toy poodle named Cocoa Manette had grown up with.  But Zac never had a dog of his own (Tripod, the three-legged cat, Cowboy, the hermit crab, Slippery Slowpoke, the escargot that lived in the shower, Veyda, the cat that jumped on his back and hung around Manette’s neck like a fur collar, and other cats, yes, but no dog) but he had always wanted one. We all love Cooper and imagined our own dog running around the back yard and fetching balls with him in the swimming pool. It was time; we were getting a dog.

Masha, Zac, and Styles

How did you come to choose Styles?  In the meantime, Ringo had been adopted.  We checked out Petfinder, looking for “Cooperesque” candidates.  Zac had a major hand in raising Cooper.  He was also instrumental in raising a former room-mate’s, pit bull, Nina, a sweetheart who we all loved.  We thought about the “bully breed” reputation of pit bulls, and other “bully” breeds.  Our friends, Joyce and Eugene, always had Rottweilers, sweethearts all. We thought of Nina, and Cooper, and for Chrissakes, Petey, from the Little Rascals, was a pit.  We surfed web sites of pit-only trainers and read the articles describing the rehab of Michael Vick’s fighting dogs.  “Bull,” we decided about the “bully breed” myth.  A dog is what you make it, how you train it, how you treat it in the home you give it.  We decided on pit/lab mixes or other pit mixes.  We met Cinnamon, Buster and Ziggy at a Petco-sponsored adoption day for a rescue shelter. Too houndish.  Back to Petfinder, refined to pit bull babies. Rocky and Missy Blue Eyes in South Orange. Truffles in Brick.  Miss Eleven at Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge Inc. (RBARI) in Oakland, NJ looked like a mini-Cooper. But they also had this brindle named Styles that made David laugh.  On a Sunday we visited RBARI. Miss Eleven was adorable, but Styles was sweet, with a shiny, unusual brindle coat, white chest and white front paws like Two-Socks in Dances with Wolves. Undecided, we left to have a family meeting.

A beautiful Profile of Styles

But we talked most about Styles.  The staff at RBARI seems to work hard to match dogs with families.  They thought Miss Eleven might be a better match for us than Styles; as a male pit bull, they saw him as potentially more aggressive with other male dogs. And Manette actually favored Miss Eleven, too, but David and Zac thought she was aloof, less sweet than Styles. They favored Styles, with the only reservation that he played hard and might not socialize well with other dogs. Zac said he’d teach him and live with it if Styles couldn’t learn.  

Zac made it clear; Styles was the dog for him.  At that point, we called Karyn Montuori, Styles’ trainer at RBARI.  She’d fostered him for three weeks, working with him on socialization with her three other dogs, and food-aggression issues (he now eats out of our hand, and makes eye contact with us to wait for his food bowl until we tell him, “Okay”).  “He’s the best dog here,” she’d told us during our first meeting with Styles. Karyn assured us he would be great as a playmate for other dogs, including Cooper, as long as we socialized him early.  We picked up Styles that afternoon. Zac didn’t know until he got home from work.  What a great surprise he got that evening.

How did Styles end up in a shelter? Styles is a true rescue. He was surrendered–left tied up outside–at Bergen County Animal Shelter in Teterboro, New Jersey.  Karyn says sometimes unscrupulous breeders can’t place a pup and if it’s getting too old they give up and ditch it. She thinks that may have been Styles’ case.  Bergen County took him in and cared for him, including vet care.  Karyn saw his potential and had him brought to RBARI.  He fostered in the evenings with Steven, one of the RBARI staff.  He received all his vet care and vaccinations and started his obedience training under RBARI trainers, including Karyn.  He also went once a week to visit special needs kids, where he was a favorite.  After fostering with Karyn for three weeks, we adopted him in mid-November at five months old.

Can you explain Styles’ training program? RBARI requires adopters to keep training their dogs.  We would have anyhow.  We’re continuing to work with Karyn, who comes to our home once a week, and will for the foreseeable future.  Styles loves her (and she him) so it’s a great situation.  We have a big back yard with about 1/4 acre enclosed with a pool fence, so it’s an ideal space to walk, play ball with and train Styles.

How is Styles adapting to his new life? Styles and Cooper are now good friends, often sharing quiet times together, like two donuts curled up next to each other.  At other times, Styles is the instigator of their rough play.  Cooper will chase Styles around the pool, with a clever Styles cheating, still light enough at thirty pounds to cut across the pool cover, Cooper at eighty pounds now forced to run around. But when Cooper catches Styles he pushes him around with his bigger bulk.  Invariably it’s Cooper who can’t wait to leave to get this indefatigable little guy out of his face.  You can just see him thinking, “Enough play, already.  Give it a rest, squirt.”  Recently, Styles was a sensation during his first dog park visit.  When we walked into the gate at Overpeck Park in Leonia, five dogs encircled him, sniffing the new kid.  He did great playing with about fifteen dogs making us all proud with the admiring comments he got from other dog owners.  

Styles and Cooper, new bdff (best dog friends forever)

The most fun we’ve had with him was at McDonald’s.  Karyn said we should take him for a drive-in burger as a good socialization experience–the car, the drive-in window sights and sounds, the staff, ordering and picking up–and a treat of a piece of burger.  The woman taking our order said, “Oh, he’s a cutie.” Manette inched the SUV close and opened the window so he could stand on his front paws and lean out for her to pet him.  When we pulled up the lady deserted her post to run forward to the pick-up window to pet him again.  She wasn’t working on his second visit, but Styles knew exactly where he was as Manette and Zac drove in.

Will Judy wrote, “people own dogs for varied reasons. The reason is of small consequence; the important item is that the owners be worthy of their dogs.”  In their actions and efforts, Manette, David, Zac, Masha, Karyn and all of the nation’s dedicated shelter workers honor Judy’s mission, and they are indeed worthy.  I share in their sentiments that all the other dogs they met and considered find deserving forever homes of their own.  Thanks to all for sharing your story….

Look’s like Styles and Manette are all tired out.

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”