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Presentation to Manasquan River Artists Group (NJ)

Since 1990, I’ve participated in more than 500 art shows, my work has been displayed at numerous venues in the Tri-state area, and I’ve served as a board member and jurist, helping to organize several arts events. I’m grateful for all the judges, curators, colleagues and my clients who helped me to thrive as a productive working artist.

In my High School Art Studio, a perceptive art instructor encouraged me to use acrylics sensing it was a good medium for me (after watching me struggle with pastel and water colors). She also guided me to create my first painting on slate, a very forgiving surface. I’d go on to produce hundreds of these paintings. I still love working with the natural lines and quirks of each “rock” and find the slate surfaces (and now masonite) very receptive to acrylic paint, perfect for layering and changing one’s mind! Acrylic paints are also incredibly adaptable; just add water to thin for a watery effect, use additives to create body, highlight with oil pastels and spray on some gloss finish – magic!

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In 1990, I began working with vintage postcards making them the focal point of my work. Although I haven’t kept track, I’ve created and sold well over 1,000 pieces. My artwork hangs on the walls of offices and homes throughout the world. 

One of my former writing instructors once said to me that she believed writers were born, not made. Many feel that way about artists. Although art has always been a part of my life, I didn’t set out to have a career as a Fine Artist (or an author), but if it is true that we are born, or destined for a vocation, than the Creative World is one where I’ve learned I belong, even with all its inherent set backs.

The Art Show life presents many challenges; rain storms, high winds, blizzards, the ability (or inability) of an event promoter to promote, the health of the current tourism season (in the Northeast, H. Sandy ended many events), a weak economy and competitive venues offered by on-line options.

Then there are the long rides to get to show sites and the physical labor of putting up tents and displays and dealing with “neighbors” who encroach on your designated (and well paid-for) show space, or complain about how terrible an event is (I actually began writing as a way to shut out their negativity).

While I enjoyed my community of fellow-artists and customers, many who became friends, working so many weekends caused me to miss  numerous occasions like weddings and family reunions.

For the past seven years or so, I’ve spent time transitioning to the life of a writer, but lately, missing the painting process, I’ve spent more time on that side of the loft (see previous post). Now, my aim is to create on-line marketing initiatives to help promote my artwork, relying on my Social Media platform, while retaining a handful of in-person events. It’s also rewarding to reconnect with returning customers who are happy to reconnect and add some new pieces to their collections!

As I patiently await some publishing news (something that is ongoing and comes with the territory), I find peace, inspiration and “my rock” in the process of painting where I can just add water and go with the flow or start over when ever I feel the need.

To follow me along the Creative Path,  and of course check out art (and writing). Please LIKE my professional page and visit often as I’ll be posting paintings on a daily basis throughout December (and beyond). https://www.facebook.com/LisaBeginKruysmanAuthorAndArtist/

Thank you.

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Tomorrow on November 11, we honor those who have served militarily in all branches of service; even those who are considered man’s best friend (and of course, a woman’s, too).

In September, the American Legion Post of Brick Township, NJ, observed its Third Annual Yappy Hour on the Creek, co-sponsored by Tito’s Vodka for Dog People. The folks at Tito’s have made it their business mission to honor our dogs, and our veterans, so this was a meaningful collaboration on all fronts.

When we talk of Military Dogs, two images emerge – one of the militarily trained Dogs of War that physically serve in war-zones, and those dogs trained as Therapy and Service Dogs (There is a difference) that assist veterans when they return home; helping them with emotional and physical challenges; enabling them to be active socially and live independently.

To honor all of these deserving dogs, proceeds from our Yappy Hour were received by Ron Aiello of the United States War Dog Association and Brandon MacMillan, co-founder of the Argus Service Dog Foundation. This organization trains service dogs and pairs them with war veterans in need. Brandon is also the host of “Lucky Dog” a show where shelter dogs are transformed through his training and love before being placed in their hopefully forever homes.

Our Yappy Hour typically coincides with National Dog Week. That’s fitting, because its founder, Captain Lewis Wm. Judy was a decorated Army veteran and served as Commander for his American Legion Post in Chicago. Long before our nation understood the value of military and service dogs, Judy was sharing his vision with a public that was increasingly “going to the dogs”. Through his magazine, Dog World, and numerous books, Judy encouraged Americans to educate themselves about the value and potential of canines.

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A page from Will Judy’s book – Don’t Call a Man a Dog, 1949

Often I see  veterans proudly displaying baseball caps that proclaim their militarily service. When my husband Rich, who served as a Navy Corpsman (the medics for the Marines) wears his, I know it makes him feel good when someone thanks him for his service, so now, when I see someone proudly wearing theirs, I go out of my way to thank them.  I also thank my Dad, Jack Begin, and honor the memories of his brothers, and other relatives, who served our nation.

I read recently, that so few even know someone who is serving, or has served, our nation militarily. Organizations like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign War were established and exist to help spread awareness of sacrifices made by these dedicated men and women, and allow members to continue to serve their communities through fundraising efforts. Take a moment to learn about those organizations in your own neighborhoods, and to thank a few veterans as well.

Happy Birthday to the US Marine Corps!

 

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Teddy – Official Greeter Yappy Hour on the ”Cric, 2017

     The 89th Observance of National Dog Week has come and gone, taking its place in American Dog History on the Timeline of the the Tailwagger. In 1928, a man named Capt. Wm. Lewis Judy founded National Dog Week with a mission not to necessarily bring more dogs into the world, but to make the world a better place for the ones already here. 
     For the past several years, in honor of the occasion during the last week of each September, I’ve arranged a small event to honor this venerable national tradition. For the past three, I’ve helped to organize a Yappy Hour on the ‘Cric on the grounds of our local American Legion Post in Brick Township, NJ. 
     Long before the use of Military Dogs was embraced by the US Armed Forces, Capt. Judy saw their value as police dogs and dogs of war while serving in WWI. He also recognized their therapeutic value to soldiers returning home from the war front and encouraged their visits to Veteran Hospitals to help soothe frayed nerves and heal emotional and physical wounds. 
     Yappy Hour on the ‘Cric provides an opportunity for Post members and their dogs to enjoy a few hours of socializing and fun, while raising funds and awareness for Military Canines and their handlers. We thank Post 348 Commander Skip Amundson, Bar Chairman Rich Kruysman, Post Members who supported the event and our sponsor, Tito’s Vodka for Dog People for making this event possible. Tito’s Handmade Vodka has made it their business mission to raise funds and awareness for issues concerning man’s best friend and veterans.
     We also thank our “Dog Week Dozen”, Logan, Lily, Lilly, Teddy Labradoodle, Teddy Kruysman, Harley, Macy, Jeter, Skittles, Tabitha, Jet and Ollie for being such good dogs and enjoying the day so nicely with each other, and their humans, on the banks of the creek during the Week of the Dog. 
     I’ll let the photos bark for themselves – many canines were curious about those gift baskets!
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Our First Prize Winner is Happy!

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A New Look for the Week of the Dog!

     Welcome to the 89th Observance of a special time called National Dog Week. In searching for a quote to begin this post I opened my dog-eared copy of Will Judy’s Don’t Call a Man a Dog, 1949 (for it would be insulting to the dog) to let that quote find me! Please Note: Today, many dog-lovers don’t like the term “dog owner” however, many years ago, the Timeline of the Tail Wagger was still evolving and that term was commonly used. 
     The sentiment, no matter the wording, still stands stronger than ever.
“People own dogs for varied reasons. The reason is of small consequence; the important item is that the owners be worthy of their dogs. To your dog, you are a god. Do not do anything which destroys this delusion.”
     Captain Judy was trained as a minister, became a decorated WWI Veteran, lawyer and one of America’s most prolific writers. He published Dog World Magazine for several decades, influencing a new generation of dog-lovers and enthusiasts.
     Judy saw the value of artists and authors and was happy to include them in his magazine’s issues and campaigns to promote National Dog Week an observance he launched in 1928 just before the nation was plunged into the Great Depression. But how could a dog get a week when most humans couldn’t get one day? 
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Logos and Thems of Dog Weeks Past

     Captain Judy understood the power of the paw and prevailed and in that continuing spirit, next September, National Dog Week will celebrate 90 years of honoring the American Dog. I’d love to see it celebrated in the spectacular fashion it once was on the grounds of Rockefeller Center and elsewhere.  Suggestions on how to maket that happen are welcome.
     As one young man suggested the other day, it should be International. I’m happy to report that I often hear from people over the world sharing their stories and photos of their pups.
     This year, we’ve introduced a new logo. The image of a happy hound proudly posing against the backdrop of red, white, and blue is wishing on a star for so many reason. We hope you find it hopeful and inspiring at a time when something so “simple” as a dog’s love can help so many get through difficult times.
     Please join us in celebration by LIKING the official National Dog Week Page and posting photos of your dogs (and other pets if they’re feeling left out). If you’re an artist, author, blogger, rescue pr foster group or do work that is relevant, etc. please share your Links and experiences as well. https://www.facebook.com/NatDogWeek/
     I’ll leave you with one more quote from Captain Will Judy: 
“Dogs are an antidote to the machine-shop-precision and the speeding machinery of our present day tempo of living. Their naturalness, their lack of affectation, their use of the simple reactions of living – always naive, fresh and warm-blooded, are a balance wheel to our whirring life.“
     So come tomorrow, try to be the god your dog thinks you are (if only for a week)!
     Happy National Dog Week – Let’s keep its spirit alive year-round – 52/12! 
     Learn more about the origin and traditions of National Dog Week:
Or read Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher (McFarland & Co. – 2014) https://www.facebook.com/Dogs-Best-Friend-Will-Judy-Founder-of-National-Dog-Week-1534832043432602/?ref=br_rs

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“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.

 

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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!

 

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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. 

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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.

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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

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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

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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!

 

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         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!

 

 

 

 

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Teddy and I with Laura Pople

“Between the attitude toward the dog of those far past centuries and the attitude of today is a vast journey in the direction of kindness and a heart of sympathy.”    Will Judy, 1949

On Valentine’s Day, my husband Rich and I headed into New York City for the Dog Writers Association of America’s Awards banquet. Fittingly, my book, (a true labor of love),  Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week, and Dog World Publisher, had received a Maxwell Medallion nomination in the Reference category. As Judy was highly influential in the establishment of the DWAA back in 1935, and Maxwell Riddle was his protégé, it was quite an honor. Alas, we did not bring home the Maxwell but some stellar connections were made and more books are in progress. One of them a collaboration with Laura Pople, founder of Seer Farms, will share the poignant stories of the people and pets of this special place.

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Teddy Meets a Seer Farms Resident

 

Located in a rural area of New Jersey, Seer Farms was founded in 2009 by Laura and her board, to embrace the mission that our pets are truly family members and no circumstance should ever separate them from us. Seer Farms is a facility that will take in the family cat(s) or dog(s) (and occasional “other” creature) of those in need and care for them until the situation permits pets and people to reunite under one roof.  These pets come to her as the result of military deployments, domestic violence, natural disasters and from pet owners who are going through challenging times and need a hand in caring for their pets until more fortunate circumstances prevail. By offering this unique opportunity, many pets are saved from abandonment and uncertain fates.

I had the opportunity to meet Laura recently when Rich, and dog, Teddy, helped me deliver a collection of donated supplies. During our visit, we met a woman who was there to spend time with two of her dogs that are being cared for by the facility. Deb told us that she had lost her home in Hurricane Sandy, and like many others, still had not fully recovered from that life-changing event of three and a half years ago. Her home is in the process of being raised and when that is complete, she and her dogs will enjoy their special Reunion Day when they hop into her car and take that much-awaited ride home. Deb appreciates these visits but notes that at the end of each, her dogs try to lead her to the car so that they can go home with her. As someone who personally witnessed the devastation of that storm, I can attest to how important this oasis has been for so many.

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A Happy Cat Greeting from a Resident Feline

 

I can’t think of a happier event than the occasion of something like Reunion Day  – having your beloved pet once again by your side,  – having come through the worst of times, and now, ready to provide comfort and support to each other as their journey continues.

In her actions and her life’s work, Laura and her staff and board, have made a major difference in the lives of animals, and the humans who love them. Their work and mission fully embrace what Will Judy wrote so many years ago, “Between the attitude toward the dog of those far past centuries and the attitude of today is a vast journey in the direction of kindness and a heart of sympathy.”

I thank all those who contributed to our Seer Farms supply drive: Maureen Johnson and the Sayer and Schoberg Families, Bonnie Werkmeister, Boy Scout Pack 16 of Pt. Pleasant, NJ, Skittles (the Bichon) Barros and the members of the Junior Auxiliary Unit of American Legion Post 348 in Brick, NJ.

Recovery, Reunion, Renewal….that is the goal of Seer Farms. To read more about this unique sheltering model, its staff and volunteers:http://seerfarms.org/

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A Sign of Hope

Come join in the fun and hear me speak about writing for the pet-industry and beyond at the Blog Paws Conference in Phoenix, AZ June 23-25. https://www.pinterest.com/blogpaws/blogpaws-conference-photos/

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”