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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.


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!


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. 


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):



Recently, on the banks of the Metedeconk River in Brick Township, NJ, American Legion Post 348 hosted their First Annual Lappy Hour on the ‘Cric. While sixteen happy dogs lapped up the sunshine and canine companionship, their humans enjoyed socializing with other dog-lovers and enjoyed the beautiful setting on the water.
Lappy Hour 1

Lappy Hour was held to raise awareness of Military Dogs and those Service Dogs that are trained to help veterans navigate the challenges of daily life. The entry fee for the event and money raised through a doggy-bag raffle will be donated to an organization that assists the nation’s Military Dog program. I was so happy to see these well-behaved dogs that belong to post-members, have a great time of socializing with other dogs. Many people, who are not aware of the benefit of these events often make the mistake of thinking the worst when dogs are allowed to congregate. Trust me, there was no fighting, but many showed a great deal of affection for each other!

The “rules” of this event called for dogs to be leashed, and to have them stay out of the Tiki Bar. Within an hour, however, many dogs roamed free, finding companionship and shade in the shelter of…you guessed it, the Tiki Bar. Don’t worry, nothing stronger than cold water was served to these thirsty pooches.
From the tiniest of tea-cup Yorkies, to a 90 pound Therapy Airedale named Lily, these dogs got the day they deserved, and I think their humans had a great time, too. We hope to repeat this event in the Fall.

When it comes to dogs, we should all work nose to nose when it comes to their health and welfare (Dog Fest, Brick, NJ-10/6/12)

“The dog is quick to sniff, grunt, blow his breath – he inhales deeply and repeatedly; a questioning look comes into his eyes as his nose seeks to get information or solve a momentary mystery.”  Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week, written in 1949

After my last post, I feel a need to write something positive. But before I move on, I just wanted to say that when you have a large platform, you have a large responsibility. Some say Kelly Ripa’s comments were taken out of context, or spoken carelessly off the cuff. But I think that when you fail to address the feelings of so many humans who are in emotional pain and you exhibit such blatant disregard for the lives of so many endangered dogs, you have abused your role and missed an opportunity to do some real good. I don’t have nearly as many followers or make the kind of money Kelly Ripa does, but if just one of my posts influences someone to make real change, I’ll consider myself a success. I hope something good can still come out of all of this.

Last night when I spoke to my mom she said, “So I read your post. I can tell you were mad. I found two typos.” Perhaps my mom is my biggest fan, and best editor, and that would be all I really need.

So…all this got me thinking of plans for next year’s National Dog Week. If plans go well, my biography of the man who established the occasion will be out and circulating and I will have a good working draft of my sequel to Something’s Lost and Must be Found in progress as well as other projects that are under review as we speak. With the help of my publisher, I hope to have a larger platform from which to work.

Now, about that pawsitivity…Just to recap, over the course of National Dog Week, our number of “Likes” on our Facebook Page doubled! Please keep referring others so we can be stronger next year.!/pages/National-Dog-Week/218596591491974?fref=ts

As I mentioned previously, under the directive of Principal John Billen, the students and teachers of Midstreams Elementary School in Brick, NJ, collected a nice monetary donation for a local fostering group and they invited me to set up a table at their Fall Festival to collect linen and bedding items for a local shelter. I made a very nice delivery to our local shelter just yesterday.

And what about those Junior Auxiliary members of Brick American Legion Unit 348? Last week they donated $500.00 to Laura Pople at Seer Farms in Jackson, NJ, and they still have another donation at the ready for another group! Those girls made a successful campaign at the post’s Canteen selling colorful stars for a dollar apiece and asking the general American Legion membership and the local VFW Post for contributions. All came through with flying colors and I personally thank them all.

The cameras for the NDW Paws to Pose Project are returning to me now. Can’t wait to work with New Jersey-based Pet Photographer, Joseph Frazz, on presenting them. Next year, I would love to have a NDW representative in each state (or several). These reps would just make sure some kind of activity was planned in their state during National Dog Week.  It could be anything, a parade, party, dog food pantry drive, change collection, reading at a library or book shop. It’s a nice opportunity for school and church groups and many other organizations to get involved. I will post more about this soon. It is never too early to plan. Please contact me at if you would like to be included. No event or action is too small.

Let’s put National Dog Week back on a tight leash and be the enlightened ones to lead it back to the occasion it was meant to be, a time of fun, yes, but also a time to reflect on some important issues facing our dogs and the way they affect our lives.

Also…if you like what I am doing here, please visit my Crowd Funding Project and give me a paw. Thank you. We have a few weeks left.

Blog Notes: We send our good friend, Bocker the Labradoodle, a big Get Well Wish! Our next post will present a light-hearted interview with author Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest Books, on his timely Pawlitical new book, Red Dog, Blue Dog.


"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 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”