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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.

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Today, on this “Hot Enough for you Day” (very appropriate with record-breaking heat expected here in NJ)  I extend a Happy Cousins Day to all my 42 first cousins (many of them dog lovers) throughout the nation, many of us who will be spending time together in the very near future.

When I started my work on the National Dog Week Movement, I learned how Captain Will Judy and those who would follow in his “paw prints” literally  helped America go to the dogs.  Because of the good Captain and his canine-loving cohorts, we even have an entire week in September just to honor them for all they do for us as well as the opportunity to address the deplorable conditions in which many of the nation’s dog still find themselves despite our great show of love for them.

When we’re not playing, feeding, walking, brushing, snuggling with our dogs we are reading about them.  I happen to be one of those legions of readers who just can’t get enough of these dog books whether they are Fiction of Non, and love to loan my dog-eared copies.

Last Christmas, my brother John gave me a signed copy of author Jon Katz’s A Dog Year: Twelve Months, Four Dogs and Me.  The book chronicles Jon’s relationship with four dogs in the span of a year.  When Jon rescues an energetic, troubled Border collie named Orson, his life, and the peaceful existence of his two placid Yellow Labs, Julius and Stanley are turned upside down.  Most people would have given up on the “impossible” Orson within a week’s time, but in facing the challenge of saving the life and soul of this dog, Jon would find his true life’s path.

Over the course of time, Jon would move from a bustling suburb of New Jersey to the bucolic farm country of upstate New York to a place called Bedlam Farm, his life turned over to the dogs and the happiness and pleasure they can bring. On the Bedlam Farm website  Jon states, “My dogs are the heart of the farm, the reason I came here, the thing I love the most and write about the most.”

What I found so engrossing about this book was the way Jon contrasted the temperaments of his Border collies (a calmer border named Homer would ultimately join the pack) with the docile nature of his labs.  Not every Border or Lab is alike, but each breed possesses a basic temperament that owners need to be aware of when welcoming them into their lives.

Because I am very familiar with the North Jersey town Jon brought Orson to, and by fate, my brother John now lives in a hamlet not far from Bedlam Farms (a town I spent many years visiting) I contacted the author to share this information, and tell him how much I enjoyed reading this book, and of course to let him know about my efforts on the part of National Dog Week.  Jon not only responded, but graciously offered me an opportunity to interview him.

Our talk focused on something I think is very fundamental, but often ignored in our rush to acquire dogs (purebred or otherwise); breed knowledge, and the necessity of obedience training.  If we don’t understand what dogs have been bred for over centuries, and we don’t take the time to train accordingly, we are doomed as a nation in our quest to make this world a better place for them.

For Jon, breed knowledge, and the willingness to properly train a dog is a life or death matter.  For example, Jon explains that dogs like Akitas, and Huskies, evolving from cold regions where food was scarce, may become food aggressive.  And our beloved Labs, bred over time as hunting “tools” can have biting issues.  Making the effort to become familiar with the inbred traits of a dog, (even if it is a crossbreed) can help make for safe and comfortable living conditions for dogs and humans.

The dogs that have populated Jon’s life have come to him in many ways.  Through competent breeders, and through rescue, he emphasises, “There is no single way to get a dog.”   Whether you choose to work with a reputable and caring breeder, or wisely choose to rescue a dog based on intelligence and the ability to handle the situation, we as a nation need to respect an individual’s right to make choices that can lead to a suitable and loving home for that animal.  And we, as purported dog lovers must honor our pledge to the shelter or the breeder to invest the time and energy to give our dogs the care they deserve, and that includes the promise to neuter and spay, as well as train.

As you can imagine, Bedlam Farms is inhabited by more than a few dogs, and Jon appreciates the gifts each one brings.  There’s Rose, a true working dog that loves to herd, the soulful Izzy that brought Jon to Hospice work, and Lenore “The Light” who showers all with love, perhaps the true “work” of all dogs.

Jon now finds joy in not only writing about the denizens of Bedlam, but photographing them. On the farm’s website you  Jon has lovingly captured his dogs at work and rest through an artist’s lens.  Jon has a novel due out this Fall, Rose in a Blizzard followed by  Bedlam Farm for Kids.  To learn more about all of Jon’s books, Bedlam Farm, and read his Farm Journal, go to http://www.bedlamfarm.com.

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”