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“Be the god-on-earth, all-wise master your dogs think you are.”  Will Judy, (1949) Founder of National Dog Week

News Bark:  My Short Story Collection, SOMETHING’S LOST AND MUST BE FOUND, inspired by these blog posts, is now available in a soft cover version! If you are an Independent Book Store looking to add to your Dog or Inspirational Categories…please let me know.  If you are a member of a book club, I would love to talk about having this book read and discussed…please feel free to contact me at pst39crd@aol.com

As one who writes about special days, weeks and months, it is perfect that the year ends with something called Awareness Month of Awareness Month Months (seriously).  For example, December brings the serious, World Aids Month and Colorectal Awareness Education Month; it is Rising Star and Spiritual Literacy Month, Bingo’s Birthday Month and Operation Santa Paws Month.  Throughout the year, there is a month dedicated to all food groups, beverages, diseases and things we probably never even thought to be aware of.

In the past couple of years, I’ve spent a lot of time making people aware of National Dog Week (the last full week in September) and the way this week can present a time of organized reflection about issues affecting our Companion Animals, specifically dogs.  Of course, these issues are relevant every week of the year, but perhaps there is one issue that should be addressed on the occasion of a week filled with two important gift-giving holidays, Hanukkah and Christmas. If you, or someone you know, is planning to add a dog to the family unit at this time please read on.

One way of achieving awareness is to talk to someone who is knowledgeable about a subject that is important to you. In the case of puppy mills and pet shop dogs, I sought the experience of Jacki Flannigan.  I became aware of Jacki and her work on Facebook.  This dog-advocate began arranging Peaceful Protests in front of Retail Pet Shops after watching a special program produced by Lisa Ling for the Oprah Winfrey Show about the horrors of puppy mills.  Jacki was struck by the fact that Lisa stated that of all the documentaries she had produced for her Oprah Specials, this was the one that had the most profound effect on her.

Jacki, who now lives in Pennsylvania, arranges planned Peaceful Demonstrations outside pet retailers in New York State.   She recruits participants through her Facebook Page and makes the carefully worded signs for the Protesters to carry.  She does not wish for confrontation, but wants to make the public aware of what is going on behind the doors of these innocent looking Pup Shops.

Jacki talks about the terrible lives the parents of these puppies must endure.  The pup you buy at these stores might turn out to be physically and emotionally okay, but there is a high price to be paid (apart from the amount of money the buyer will dole out with an average 300 percent markup on the price of puppy).

Interesting, Jacki’s first “event” was held on Christmas Eve to dissuade those who think popping into the pup shop for a last-minute canine-centric gift might be a good idea. In my local newspaper the Asbury Park Press this evening, a woman wrote a Featured Letter to the Editor titled, “Choose breeder or shelter when adopting a puppy.” In it, Janice Fisher of Manasquan, NJ, makes some excellent points.  Of these retail pups she notes, “…Their pathetic lives will be solely for the purpose of reproducing.  They will not know a warm bed, human touch, a dog bone or exercise.”  These dogs will never leave their cage and will be put down, often inhumanely, when deemed no longer productive.

Janice rightfully points out that these shop owners will tell you that they only buy from USDA licensed kennels, assuring that these pups are top-quality when the Animal Welfare Act only provides for, “a minimal standard of care.” They will also say they don’t buy from puppy mills (duh) but they do buy from Brokers who buy from the mills.

So, if you really want a dog for the holidays, either explore your local shelters for adoption, foster during the holidays or if you really prefer to go the breeder route, carefully select your breeder and get lots of references…also really try to learn about the breed you wish to “acquire.”

Fittingly, the photo at the top of this post pleading for Awareness serves as Jacki’s Profile Picture. There is so much more to write about on this topic, but if this brief post makes you Aware, then my writing, and this Awareness Month of Awareness Month Months wrought something positive.

Wishing you a very insightful and inspiring year. Thank you for taking time to read.

Here are some informative links on this topic:

Jacki’s call for volunteers:!/events/156659541100368/

Good reading about puppy mills:



"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”