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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?:

Keep current on National Dog Week and “Paw-thor” News at:


My “T-editor” takes a moment to reflect!







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.


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.


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:


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.


For complete book and author information please visit:

My friends who are authors know that unless you self-publish, you have to accept the fact that when published by others you will not retain the creative control over what your book may look like in its final incarnation. While this may sound discouraging, it can have its rewards and the wonderful process of what I call Universal Collaboration can blossom. Hear me out. Will Judy, founder of National Dog Week, often commissioned artists to create images to be used for NDW stamps and posters to promote the themes of annual Dog Weeks. You can see some displayed on my NDW Facebook page Of course I desired to use these images in my book, Dog’s Best Friend (McFarland & Co.) and although I, and others, presented information that Judy never called for this artwork to be copyrighted, my publisher chose the safe route and we were not able to include them in the book, and that was bad news for this author. Among my proposed book covers, I had envisioned a red, white and blue poster stamp of a military man posing with a German shepherd dog, promoting NDW’s theme of “In War and Peace” in 1945. As artists were not generally credited for the work they created for Judy, it was daunting to identify or credit them. My angst set in, how would we find the right cover without being able to obtain publishing rights? I have to admit, I recited the prayer to St. Anthony (Saint of all things lost) often, hoping the answer to my challenge would be found. But let’s back up a bit. At some point, I had contacted an author named Sharon Damkaer. Sharon is a huge fan of Will Judy’s and wrote a book about the renowned artist, Albert Staehle. Sharon understood my dilemma, and, when my publisher contacted her about obtaining the rights of one of Staehle’s works to serve as the cover for my book, she offered to help. She had at one time faced her own similar publishing challenges. During this process, independent of all of this, an older gentleman named Anthony had called my home and spoke to my husband. He told Rich that he did not own a computer, but someone had told him of my writing project about Judy and National Dog Week. He wanted to know if I would like to have an original poster from National Dog Week 1950. I returned his call and said indeed I would and within days, it arrived in the mail. You guessed it; it was the very same image that had been selected by McFarland & Co. to appear on the book’s cover. I sent him a thank you note with a copy of my book Something’s Lost and Must be Found. He responded in turn to thank me and said that this volume was now on his library shelf next to his volumes of Will Judy books. That image just put all doubt to rest. All things come full circle. By the way, did you note that his name is Anthony? And so, while the cover of Dog’s Best Friend is different from the one I envisioned, it shows me that sometimes, if we just chill out and let things happen in their own course, the results can be beautiful. These days I find myself repeating the mantra… Remain Focused, have Faith, be Confident that you’ve done your best work, and move on. Which reminds me, please watch for news on my next book due out shortly! Around the World in 1909: Harriet White Fisher and Her Locomobile (American History Press) the true account of an intrepid New Jersey woman who took the ultimate road trip with a dog on her lap at a time it was most unlikely. Happy National Dog Week to you all, may its spirit be with you year-round! Next year, we are embracing the way dogs serve humans with a revisited NDW theme of, “At Your Service – All Ways”. It is so good to find so many dog-enthusiasts Finding the spirit of a great American tradition that seemed to have been Lost for awhile! Thank you. Amazon book link: Please note that on October 31st, Dog’s Best Friend will be available in e-reader format.

Congratulations to the Brick (NJ) Township Council. Last week they unanimously voted to ban any new retail businesses that sell puppies or dogs. Stay put for a new post on that decision, an interview with Sunny Benedict of the fabulous Baja Animal Sanctuary and a word from Pet Photographer, Joe Frazz, who will be assisting with the exciting Paws to Pose Project to celebrate National Dog Week this September…!/pages/National-Dog-Week/218596591491974

Today the East Coast is experiencing a welcome cool-down after enduring four heatwaves since the beginning of the summer season. Personal circumstances have kept me from writing and blogging, so I thought I would present this extra guest-post that did not appear on my recent Virtual Blog Tour for SOMETHING’S LOST AND MUST BE FOUND, still a bestseller in the Kindle Store in “Dogs.” (See ABOUT for Amazon Link).

The east coast has been experiencing the Dog Days and right on time I am told, as they generally begin in early July. Although the Greeks used the term, “Dog Days,” the Romans referred to them as diēs caniculārēs, (days of the dog) occurring during the hottest weather of the season andassociated with the star called Sirius also known as the “Dog Star,” the brightest star in the night sky.

While every dog is said to have its day, this wasn’t true for all dogs of ancient Rome. While we might think the Romans honored their dogs during this time, such was not the case. To appease the rage of Sirius, it has been noted that the Romans sacrificed a brown dog at the beginning of the Dog Days as they mistakenly believed the star caused the hot spell of weather.

And it only gets worse as the Dog Days were also considered a period of evil. According to Brady’s Clavis Calendarium, 1813, these days marked a time when “the Sea boiled, the Wine turned sour, Dogs grew mad, and all other creatures became languid; causing to man, among other diseases, burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies.”

As a writer living along the coast of New Jersey, the Dog Days mean many things to me. While I may be languid at times, I am not hysterical and my sea does not boil (unless the cast of Jersey Shore is going for a swim), and my wine is fine. For me, this is a time when I enjoy scribbling notes on a hammock or typing away in my air-cooled studio during those extra-long carefree days.

As is often the case, at those times I am writing about what I call the Dog Daze, for we Americans are crazy for our canines and all the books and stories that are published about them. What strikes me, however, is no matter how many movies or tv shows are produced or books and magazine articles written about them, many of them still live what is often called a Dog’s Life (which was not a good thing).

In what is comparable to my observation of the human condition, I often note some dogs that have better clothes and accessories or see a doctor or visit a salon more often than most people. But, conversely, I also see dogs that are sad, lonely, neglected and abused, much like their struggling human counterparts. Because a dog’s quality of life is so connected to the life situation of its human guardian, the two cannot be separated.

In writing the short story collection, SOMETHING’S LOST AND MUST BE FOUND, I tried to express this. Of all the stories, the one I enjoyed writing the most is the longest, The House of the Happy Dog. This selection was inspired by two rather ordinary “events” in my life. First, someone told me that on average, a dog lives in four different homes in its lifetime. This was something I wanted to write about, but it wasn’t until I saw a photo of an inn located in Mexico called, “La Casa del Feliz Perro,” that it all came together. I loved the words, “House of the Happy Dog,” and the image they evoked.

In my story, Poor Simon the dog, is shuttled from house to house through no fault of his own, his fate (for better or worse) tied to that of his most current owner. Many humans can relate to an animal that is adored then ignored, lovingly regarded then discarded, or in homes where good intentions and love just aren’t enough to keep everyone together. The reader follows the life path of this big sweet dog, just doing what dogs do best, being there for their humans through good times and bad.

It’s no wonder we love our dogs, we can see so much of our own lives through the reflection of their eyes…and their souls.

As I work on my book that brought me to the dogs (The biography of the man who founded National Dog Week due out next year) I grow weary of seeing the faces of dogs and cats who face a sad fate that no one want to think about. But I keep writing, sharing the stories of those who have FOUND purpose and meaning through trying to help them; a personal commitment that won’t be LOST despite the continued ignorance of those who do not see.

“One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters.”     

          – George Herbert

Happy Father’s Day. For this post, I present a warm and fuzzy father/son/dog story titled, “Grooming Conversation” that is one of the short stories found in SOMETHING’S LOST AND MUST BE FOUND (see ABOUT). It was inspired by a talk I had with a friend a few years ago.  She told me that when she and her son talked while grooming the family dog, he was more open to conversation and always seemed to be more relaxed (and the dog was happier for it, too).

I changed “her role” to that of a father’s, but the message is the same. Most people who understand the power of the paw know that a “Divine Reciprocity” exists between human and animal and manifests in even the most ordinary times often with extraordinary results that go way beyond words. Happy Father’s Day to my Dad and all the fathering figures of the world, who nurture our human and fur-children each and every day.


Drip. Drop.  A bathtub full of tepid water accepts a few strays from a leaky faucet.   Sammy, a big Golden Retriever gently pants nearby, patiently awaiting a much-needed bath.  Along with the plumbing, the poor dog’s grooming has been neglected.  I make a mental note to fix that leak as I kneel next to Sammy, removing his worn leather collar and his red bandana thickly coated with long reddish strands.

“Good boy,” I whisper rubbing the unfettered neck of the eight-year old family pet.

Family pet?  I think to myself.  There was a time, not too long ago, when this duty of dog grooming was relegated to my son, Jake.  After all, Sammy is technically his dog, a gift for Jake’s sixth birthday.  Now at age fourteen, Jake doesn’t have too much time for Sammy, or me, for that matter.

This thought gets me worked up.  “Jake!” I call out the bathroom door.  I wait a few moments and then call again.  Lately I think I’d have a better chance of communicating with my son through a text message or an e-mail.  “Jake,” I try again.

Jake’s lanky outline finally appears at the bathroom door, ear buds and a cell phone attached to his head and hand like appendages.  “Yeah, Dad, what’s up?”

“Would you mind helping me wash your dog?” I shout, motioning for him to remove the plugs from his ears.

Jake reluctantly relinquishes his IPOD and cell phone, placing both on a laundry hamper in the corner of the room.  Stripped of his electronic armor he looks vulnerable and awkward, alone in this quiet room with his father.  Jake drops to his knees and joins me.  He picks up Sammy’s brush and without much enthusiasm runs it over the dog’s back.

Instead of reprimanding Jake for his lack of responsibility I remain quiet, fostering a glimmer of hope that I might have the opportunity for an actual conversation with my son.  For good measure I visualize an imaginary harness placed around his chest, attached to a retractable leash.

Sammy, responding to this unexpected attention from my son, dispenses two well-placed licks on Jake’s chin.  For the first time Jake smiles.

“Look.  He misses you.”

“I’m around,” Jake snaps, his smile vanishing.

Easy, I coach myself.  I let out some of the imaginary leash.

From on top of the hamper Jake’s cell phone buzzes like a cicada on a hot June sidewalk.  He stops brushing, staring at his phone as a text message is delivered.  It takes all his strength not to pounce on it like a cat on a field mouse.

I tighten up on the leash, distracting him with a question.  “How’s that algebra coming along?”

Jake is examining Sammy’s left ear.  “Okay, I guess,” the standard answer is dispatched, followed by a few seconds of dead silence as he examines the dog’s big head.

Then something happens; Jake initiates a dialogue. “Remember the time that stupid Boxer bit Sammy right here?  Look, you can still see the scar,” he says stroking the dog’s notched ear.

“Yeah, I sure do.  That dog ambushed poor Sammy,” I answer, carefully letting up on the leash a bit, allowing Jake to take the lead of our conversation.

Jake reacts with a sudden outburst.  “Yeah, that dog was a bully.  Just like those kids at school who won’t leave my friend, Tommy alone.  Why do they have to call him stupid names, and take things out of his locker all the time?”

In his agitated state, Jake yanks hard with the brush at the fur on Sammy’s rump.  Sammy lets out a small whimper.  “Easy,” I say, calming Jake and comforting Sammy without interrupting the moment.

Jake abruptly changes the subject while apologetically smoothing the dog’s roughened haunches with his hands.  “Yesterday my algebra teacher, Mrs. Lerner, said I need a tutor if I want to be an architect some day,” he continues to talk freely.  “I got a C plus on my test the other day.  But apparently that’s not good enough for her.”

“Well it is better than a D,” I say, making a small attempt at humor, pulling back on the virtual leash, drawing him a little closer to me.  An increasingly impatient Sammy stands up and arches his back with a prolonged yawn.  With my index finger I test the bath water’s temperature trying to buy some time.

“My friend John’s uncle has to go back to Iraq next month,” Jake continues to air his grievances now sputtering like a long dormant volcano.  “He’s in the army and he just got back from being there for two years.  It’s not fair, he has two little kids and they need him at home.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.  I hope that terrible war ends soon,” is all I can think to say.

Sammy slumps to the floor with a sigh.  Then he rolls over, soliciting a belly rub from Jake who quickly obliges.

“You want to be an architect?” I ask, bringing the subject back to my son.  I recall that just last month it was a Crime Scene Investigator.

“Yeah, maybe we should get me a tutor,” Jake says, speaking to me over the dog’s underside.

As if on cue, Sammy sits up as though he knows the water is ready for him.  No more stalling.  I know this moment will come to an end very shortly.  I let out the leash to its full capacity as Jake’s cell phone hums again.

“My girlfriend Julie’s mother had to have some kind of cancer test.  Her operation was this morning,” he explains with his eyes glued to the phone. “I hope she’s going to be okay.”

Off comes the invisible collar, and leash.  I release my son from his duties, breaking off our connection.  “Take your message.  I’ll give Sammy his bath.”

“Thanks Dad,” Jake says.  Smiling, he places a big kiss on the top of Sammy’s head.  Then he spontaneously hugs me around the neck before snatching up his phone and IPOD, disappearing down the hall.

“Let’s not let Sammy’s grooming go for so long next time, okay?” I call after him, but he is gone, reclaimed by the surprisingly complicated matters of his teen-age life.

As the last of the bath water swooshes loudly down the drain I help the clumsy dog from the tub, savoring the words that still hang in the air.  In the unlikely space of a bathroom I had briefly captured one of those rare head-to-head moments with my son; sitting around a crackling campfire, baiting a fish hook, soothing a bruised knee suffered during his first solo bike ride, and now grooming the family dog; each presenting an opportunity to communicate, to practice the lost art of conversation.

War, bullies, cancer, career and a girlfriend.  Who knows what concerns go through a kid’s head if we don’t ever get the opportunity to talk to them?

With a large towel I dry the big dog giving him a full body hug.  Then I speak to the clueless canine, “Thanks, Sammy. You were great!”  Sammy regales me with an impromptu shower as he wildly shakes off the excess bath water.

Later that afternoon, I replace Sammy’s collar and attach his leash.  It’s a warm spring day and the newly clean and dry Sammy needs a walk.  Nearing a park, Sammy strains on his chain eager to join a group of young children and their parents on the playground.  The youngsters chatter away noisily, eager for the attention of their caretakers who are too absorbed with talking to each other, or reading the day’s news.  “Listen to your kids now,” I want to tell them, “They won’t always want to talk to you.”

Sammy yanks again, harder.  If I let him off-leash I know he will skip the playground and head straight to the red soil of a nearby baseball diamond, indulging in a luxurious dirt bath.

“No, boy,” I command, holding tight to his leash. “Not today, you just got all nice and clean.  Maybe in a few days.”

Sammy whines in protest and a pleasant prospect pops into my head.  Then I smile, anticipating just how filthy Sammy can get in that dirt and the inevitable grooming session it will bring about; another chance for a real conversation with my son over the haunches and under the belly of a wordless, but wonderful family friend.

“The old era of the breeder-seller ‘washing his hands’ of a sale as soon as the puppy left his place, has passed.”  Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week, (written in 1961 after publishing Dog World Magazine for 36 years)

According to Tracy Green, the Page Administor of Make it Illegal to Sell Dogs/Puppies in Pet Stores,!/pages/Make-it-Illegal-to-sell-DogsPuppies-in-Pet-Stores/196025447082684 there are at least 14  communities in the United States that have successfully banned these establishments: 1. Parkland Florida 2. Lake Worth Florida 3. Hallandale Beach FL 4. Irvine CA 5. Glendale CA 6. Albuquerque New Mexico (first to ban in US) 7. West Hollywood CA 8. South Lake Tahoe CA 9. Chula Vista CA 10. Laguna Beach CA 11. Dana Point CA 12. Hermosa Beach CA 13. Fountain Colorado 14. Austin Texas.

El Paso Texas has banned puppies under one year of age in pet stores and Los Angeles approved a motion to draft an ordinance to ban sales of cats, dogs and rabbits in pet stores. Although an official ordinance is not in place yet, Huntington Beach, CA, passed a first reading and they are in the process of putting a motion to draft an official ordinance. Richmond, BC, Canada has banned sales; Toronto became the second Canadian city to ban these sales. (please visit site for updates).

Recently, my township of Brick, NJ has been in the spotlight as potentially becoming the first city in the MidAtlantic to follow suit. Over the weekend, National Pets Examiner, Prenny Preston Eims, wrote on this development . The ordinance has been tabled but you can help by contacting the township and voicing your support.

I thank the Fisher family and all those town officials, veterinarians and others who have worked so hard to bring this about and those who helped rescue 39 sick and neglected pups from another “Dog Store” in Brick Township. And a nod of appreciation to all those across the nation who are organizing activities to call attention to this problem.

A few years ago, when I began writing the short story, HUMAN DIRECTIONAL, I wanted to show, not tell, the story of a young man who chooses to work for a shop that sells dogs acquired through puppy mills. The story is purely ficitional, but captures the message on the callousness of this business, as well the economic angst many are experiencing (sometimes they go hand in hand, or hand in paw). Below, I present an excerpt from HUMAN DIRECTIONAL, one of the seven stories of SOMETHING’S LOST AND MUST BE FOUND. (Please see ABOUT for more book information). Thanks to all who have kept this book among the top sellers in “Dogs” on Amazon.

For the record, I am not anit-breeder. In my lifetime, I have welcomed many pets  in a variety of ways. Ten years ago, I acquired  (with love) my Portuguese water dog from a breeder who made me come to her home three times, fill out a questionnaire, be interviewed and after all that, she asked me if I still wanted one of her pups. I even got to hold my pup and meet her dog mom. This is not what goes on when people buy from a retail shop. If I am able to add another dog to my household, I will work with a shelter or a local rescue group. I happily await the day.

People say to me, why does the government have to get involved, why don’t people just stop buying at these shops?  That’s a good question. A dog is not a car or a toy or an appliance.  Encourage people to acquire dogs intelligently. It is a big commitment, think about it. Ask them to consider the welfare of all dogs like those abused and neglected on the grounds of Commercial Breeding facilities and their pups that are dumped in overcrowded shelters.

Excerpt from Human Directional

Enlightenment can be obtained in houses of worship, halls of education, on a magnificent mountain top, or sometimes in the confines of a sweaty dog suit working as a Human Directional.

You’ve seen them, how could you not? They seem to be everywhere, at the corner of busy intersections; living breathing human billboards, hoisting big signs shaped like arrows.  Some dance and jump around in staged excitement, swirling, swinging, flipping, and twirling their signs.  Others stand slumped, stuck in place, brought down by boredom, heat, exhaustion…life.

But the sign they cling to is a life raft, offering its carrier a way to earn wages on which he or she can just scrape by, all the while pointed toward the Grand Opening of some new store in a strip mall, or directing house hunters to a housing tract featuring mini-mansions listed at “Market Adjusted” prices.

Does anyone ever grow up wanting to be a Human Directional?  Perhaps, but you’ll find that these hired walking signs have surrendered hope, at a point in their lives when any job will do because they lack skills, paper work, or opportunity.  Many exist in quiet desperation looking for some personal direction, some kind of sign, while actually being one.  Most won’t get the irony, but there are exceptions, like John, a twenty-five year old college graduate with a degree in business from a prestigious university.

This formerly goal-directed young man had been laid off a year earlier and just never could find something to replace that good run of employment he’d enjoyed for three years.  For the past six months he’d done some light carpentry work, some house painting and worked as a busboy.  He’d become discouraged about the prospects of ever finding meaningful work with a good paycheck, the kind of work he felt someone of his education and background deserved.

John recalled a time not so long ago when he held little regard for those who were not so smart, so lucky, so entitled; the legions who labored on the lawns of others, waited on tables at chain restaurants, flipped greasy burgers, cared for the elderly, children, or animals… but now here he stood at a busy intersection dressed in a human-sized dog suit, luring customers to a store called PETS-4-U!

He had found his new job after answering an ad on Craig’s List, under the heading of Advertising and Promotion.  In desperate times the John’s of the world overlook a lot, including their inner compasses, when accepting a position like that of a Human Directional for a place like PETS-4-U!

PETS-4-U! had been in business at its new spot for just four months, having moved from one just a few miles down the road where it had been known as PUPS-2-GO!  Now with the Thanksgiving and holiday season near, it was time to take advantage of this new highly trafficked business location and rev up the lucrative sale of adorable pups.

“I need someone with a big bark and lots of energy,” the owner of the shop had explained to John during his interview. “If you can be available weekends, you’re hired.” he’d continued. “I’ll start you out at $15.00 an hour and if business is good, I’ll give you a raise and a holiday bonus.”

As this was the best offer John had received in a while, he accepted, what did he have to lose he’d reasoned?

“Call me Ron,” the pet shop owner had said offering John his hand.  “Too bad those good looks of yours will be wasted.”  With this, he’d presented John with his new uniform, a Golden retriever suit which John would be wearing on his beat. “Get it? You’re a member of the Working Dog Group now, a retriever of customers,” Ron said, guffawing.  “You can start tomorrow.  Just keep that big arrow pointed in this direction and move around a lot, get creative, act like a dog, chase cars, offer your paw.  Kids love it!”

John reported to his corner the next morning dressed in a dog suit the color of the amber-hued lagers he used to pound down at the upscale bars he’d frequented in days of yore.  He would have to get used to the stifling sensation that came with wearing a big dog head with slits for eyes, grateful it allowed him to remain anonymous.

The first hour passed without incident, but then it started.  (End of Excerpt).

I hope you were engaged enough to invest in a download (only .99 on Amazon). Please remember, a portion of all book sales is designated to some special causes for our Companion Animals, especially those involving Spay and Neuter initiatives.

I also hope that you do can do your part to replicate what those in the above-mentioned communities (and hopefully, soon, Brick Township) have been able to do. Please contact the town officials in Brick and let them know how you feel. Please feel free to quote any material obtained from my blog posts.

Sweet Dreams, Railan

Thanks to blogger/author Kevin Middleton for this great interview last week. We talked about FULL SNOW MOON and SOMETHING’S LOST AND MUST BE FOUND. I hear his wife is a true lover of dogs, so hopefully they will become friends of National Dog Week!

Rose Russo is a friend and a true advocate for man’s best friend. If her name sounds familiar, it is because she is very active among the New York City circle of animal advocates. A former NYPD Detective, Rose’s life was changed forever by the events of 9/11. Rose now dedicates her life to helping dogs as a trainer, groomer, foster and rescuer. To read more please see BLOG ARCHIVES of August 26,2010.

Recently, Rose told me the story of a little terrier she rescued while staying in Homestead, Florida. Rose tells it so well, I am just going to let her do all the talking!

BLOG NOTES: I just want to say a quick congratulations to Sean Martin and his Kids Adopt a Shelter Spring Drive. Hopefully we can provide feedback soon. I also want to point out that Project Pets Spay, Neuter, Love has a new website . Every once in awhile, I will hit their donate button and donate a dollar or two. Just imagine how much money could be raised for the Spay and Neuter of more dogs and cats if everyone did the same.

Now for the story of Railan Russo as told by Rose Russo~

On Friday, January 20th, at approximately 6:30 PM, we packed the Ford Explorer, punched an address into the GPS and headed to the Sunshine State. I took the wheel and Penny-Lane and Lily-Pads were onboard for the drive. Originally, we had planned to leave early Saturday morning, but Mother Nature planned otherwise. With a pending storm bearing down on the North East, Saturday morning, we skipped the good night rest and left Friday night. Of to Florida we went. Even with the few stretches of bad weather we continued straight through only making a few stops to nap and freshen up.

I had never been to Homestead, Florida; I actually never even knew it existed. Because we had to get back to New York for Westminster our time was limited. We were meeting Designer Kiki Hamann for a Pre-Westminster dress fitting. Kiki Hamann is one of the premier designers for the event. The ride to Kiki’s home was astonishing, the cows, the farms and all the stray dogs. Once I arrived at Kiki’s home I learned that Homestead was a wonderfully close community that is unfortunately burdened with the reputation of being a place to abandon dogs. Many individuals end up caring for seven, eight and more dogs. Kiki herself has 8 dogs, most she has rescued. I remember growing up in Brooklyn and seeing dogs walking in packs, but we are in the 21st century I thought those days were long gone. I couldn’t believe my eyes, and of course my heart went out to them.

At Kiki’s home, I was greeted not only by Hamann’s 8 dogs but by one little guy lurking near the fence. I think he was checking us out. The next morning, while the Hamanns had to run some errands, I stayed behind. Well back came our little visitor,, and it seemed as if he wanted to come over and play but being cautious he kept his distance. As he saw me sitting in the field, playing and rolling around the grass with my dogs, he became more curious. He was so adorable looking, and I knew behind all that smell and crusted matted hair, he had a beautiful coat.

When the Hamanns came home, the little guy had been groomed and looked like a brand new dog. Kiki couldn’t believe her eyes, she told me she had been trying for months to get close to him and pet him but he kept his guard. I took the task of grooming many stays that day and It was priceless watching their faces during and after being groomed and pampered. I would do it again and again, because every fur baby needs to be groomed and pampered once in their lifetime.

As my visit grew longer, he began to stay with. I would go to sleep and wake and he would be there, I would go out and come back and he would come looking for us….OMG what to do? As my departing date was getting near I went through the neighborhood looking to see if he belonged to someone. No one looked for him, asked for him….nothing. I wasn’t looking for another fur baby, but I guess he was looking for a family.

As I was packing the truck the night before he stayed as if he knew what was going on. The very next morning the girls and I got onto the truck. As he watched me with those little green eyes of his, I opened the door and asked him if he wanted to come – He jumped right in the front seat and didn’t care one bit, all he cared was that he had found a family, finally a place to call home.

I always think people meet for a reason, well the same applies to animals. We never know why paths cross just that it is something meant to be. But I tell you this little dog came to me at a moment I wasn’t feeling well, I was stressed with family matters and he just let me care for him.

As the girls and I were driving back, I realized that he needed a name. Little-Man was a thought but this didn’t fit for someone who is small, feisty, sweet, caring and loving soul. He came from a farm country place so I wanted to give a name that would fit him, I threw some names out there but the one he liked was “RAILAN” Railan Russo. We drove twenty-two straight hours and he did well on the return trip. Most importantly the girls were good with him and he was a gentleman with the girls.

February 10th arrived quickly and we arrived at the Pre-Westminster fashion show in New York City, organized by Ada Nieves. Penny-Lane and Lily-Pads were modeling Kiki Hamann’s designs. Now Railan, a new member of the family got into the act. Kiki Hamann gave him a black and white blinged harness, but it wasn’t just a harness, it looked like a tuxedo shirt and amazingly it matched the girls beautiful venetian-styled gowns. For Railan’s first exposure to our crazy life, he did very well. Railan has become very good around people and other fur babies. Penny-Lane and Lily-Pads have shown him how to interact and be calm around other fur babies. He still looks for me and wants to be around me almost like a security blanket. I have had people ask me if I am looking to place him. I tell people he is not ready yet, for now he is a Little Russo.

Railan is a long hair silk terrier, approximately between 1 and 2 years of age, with a great personality. He learns quickly and wants to please. He is affectionate and loves to hang and sunbathe with Penny-Lane and Lily-Pads. He would make a great addition to any family and has brought some new life to ours.

Thank you Rose for this beautiful story. Your life-story and work on behalf of our dogs epitomizes the true mission of National Dog Week!

“For it is by muteness that a dog becomes for one so utterly beyond value; with him one is at peace, where words play no torturing tricks.”  John Galsworthy, English 1867-1933

NOTES FROM THE BLOG…it’s been a difficult time for dog-lovers…Nike has awarded Michael Vick a great big bone of an endorsement deal and James Lovell, the man who dragged the sweet “Little Brown Dog” showed up in court this week in Tennessee only to find he gets another seven months to roam free until a new court date in February despite the best efforts of some hardworking advocates… Let’s carry on anyway…

The 83rd Observance of National Dog Week will be honored the week of September 19th.  Use it as a time to make a difference.  For more information, please see ABOUT.

As promised, I am publishing the seventh story of my short story collection, SOMETHING’S LOST AND MUST BE FOUND.  It is still only available as a Kindle version, but as requested, it will be available in softcover by August. remember that a portion of all proceeds will go to help some deserving animals (I’ve already chosen the first recipient and will share soon). Next time someones asks what book they should download …please keep this in mind!

 I thank those who have been able to read it. Currently, it has received 26 Five-Star Reviews!  Below, is Part One of STILL LIFE WITH DOG IN RED COLLAR, an updated version of a short story that was awarded an Honorable Mention in the 75th Annual Writer’s Digest Competition.  I will print its conclusion in the next post. 


Still Life with Dog in Red Collar

 “What exactly have you been learning in that art room anyway, Kevin?” My father talked at me from across the breakfast table on this warm mid-September morning. 

I chose not to answer.

“You have to start focusing on your S. A. T.s.  In case you’ve forgotten you’ll be retaking them soon.  Your last scores weren’t exactly spectacular.”

Exactly was a meaningful word for my father, a Certified Public Accountant.  In his world, exactly was a word that fit.  And as to his question, I couldn’t exactly explain what I was learning in that art room. But I was well aware that I wasn’t the conventional college-bound A-plus son he desired.

Despite my silence, he persisted.  “By the way, how are we doing in our S. A. T. prep classes?” 

We? Our? I wanted to say. But I just managed an “Okay.”

Lately, it seemed the inhabitants of my universe were so hung up on S. A. T. scores, grades and choosing the right colleges. It all seemed pointless to me because most of my classmates didn’t even have a clue as to what they wanted to do with their lives. At least I did.

I knew the real purpose of this conversation was to further discourage my career choice of becoming a fine artist. A fine lawyer or even a fine investment banker was more to his liking, something he deemed safe and sound. I knew he was only thinking of my welfare, but the subject was getting old.

“My art teacher, Mrs. Turner, said I have a good chance at an art scholarship if I turn in a strong senior project for my portfolio,” I said.  “Or I can enlist in the military and go to Afghanistan.”

This strategy worked. My father stood up so fast he knocked over his chair. He slammed down his coffee mug, breaking off its handle. 

“Damn hand-made pottery,” he muttered for my benefit. It had been purchased by me last June as a Father’s Day gift at a local arts and crafts fair. 

He stormed out of the room, but hurried back to the kitchen, groping through a messy stack of papers and junk mail for his car keys.  He seemed eager to escape to the sanctuary of his orderly office several safe miles away. “And since you brought it up, how are you doing on that senior art project of yours anyway?” He spoke to me over his shoulder, just before making his final exit.

“Good,” I answered, a little too quickly.

Mrs. Turner’s encouragement and praise throughout the past three years had fueled my desire to seriously pursue a career in art. But the truth was I had not found much creative inspiration during the long summer break. How could I, in this environment?

Later that day it became apparent that I was dealing with a serious creative block. The conversation begun earlier with my father had now followed me to the school’s art room. “Kevin, what’s going on with your scholarship project?” Mrs. Turner asked, sneaking up on me as silently as a cat.

I said nothing. How could I tell her I hadn’t even chosen a medium or subject yet?

“Focus on your strengths.  You’re a talented painter,” she said as if reading my thoughts.  “Just get started and stop hiding your light under a barrel.” 

But what would I paint? I had grown tired of meaningless still life compositions, bowls brimming with boring green and red apples and pale yellow roses. 

I poked half-heartedly at a glob of cerulean blue paint on a clean palette with a stiff new brush, staring at a white canvas.  A rap at the window startled me. I looked up to see the face of my good friend, Tommy.

“Hi Kev,” he shouted.  His blond head was partially concealed by a faded mural painted on the windowpane; a sappy mountain scene I had helped to create during my freshman year. 

“Me and John are headed to the marina after school,” he spoke quickly.  “Meet us there at three.  We’re going fishing.” 

From across the room, Mrs. Turner cleared her throat, continuing to advise me. “Guard against outside distractions,” she warned.  But Tommy had already ducked out of sight and I returned to staring at my blank canvas.

After school, I wandered toward the marina. I knew I should have been heading for home to look at the college brochures my father had collected for me. But it was one of those late summer afternoons, just before the leaves began to turn. I knew these days were numbered.

I entered the park next to the marina and stood at the edge of the river, its murky brown water flowed like a stream of spilled flat cola. Pausing to admire the scene of a brilliant blue sky dotted with huge white clouds rimmed in gray, my eye caught the movement of a black dog darting among a wooded area.  He looked like some kind of lab-mix.

“Hey Kev, over here,” Tommy yelled, distracting me.  He was on board his father’s boat handing a fishing rod and bucket to John. Further down the dock, a group of young kids squealed with laughter. They struggled with a heavy crab trap, trying to yank it free from the shallow river bottom. Two tiny blue-clawed crabs had escaped and scattered off the dock. They plopped back into the river to temporary safety.

I started to walk over to the dock, but something else now had my full attention; in the center of a circular rock garden, just a few yards from where I stood, appeared the image of an angel. I recalled that this statue had been erected sometime during the summer, but I had never even taken the time to notice.

The angel was on her knees, hunched over a pedestal engraved with the names of local people who had perished a year earlier on September eleventh.  The skilled hand of the sculptor had convincingly conveyed the angel’s pain through her slumped posture and folded wings. She had been caught off guard. Her head hung in sorrow over the etched image of the World Trade Center. 

“Yo man, what are you doing? C’mon!” Tommy’s voice carried over to me from the dock. But inspiration had struck. I recalled Mrs. Turner’s warning about outside distractions. There was no time to explain to my friend; somehow I knew he wouldn’t understand.

“Got to go,” I answered, waving and running away from the dock and out of the park.

At home I gathered up my sketch pad, a handful of charcoal pencils and a tin of watercolors. I almost escaped out the back door unnoticed.

“Kevin, what about those applications?” my mom called from upstairs.  “You promised your father.”

“I’ll look at them tonight. Gotta go, can’t lose the light.”

Back at the park, the dock was quiet; Tommy and John had gone fishing. I sketched quickly, using the watercolors to make color notes. 

It was then that I again noticed the big black dog. This time, he came out of the woods and stood just yards away from where I worked, watching my every move. He wore no collar.

“Here, boy,” I spoke to him.  But the skittish dog kept its distance, circling me a few times before disappearing into a stand of pine and pin oak. I wondered if he had a home…To be continued

Copyright © 2011 by Lisa Begin-Kruysman

All rights reserved.  No part of this book may be used, reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage or retrieval system, without the written permission of the publisher, except where permitted by law, or in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.  For information, contact

“People own dogs for varied reasons.  The reason is of small consequence; the important item is that the owners be worthy of their dogs.”  

Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week

My first collection of Short Stories, Something’s Lost and Must be Found has been published on Amazon and can now be downloaded on Kindle, IPAD, PC and IPhone.  Early reviews have been very positive.  If you really enjoyed the stories, please be sure to leave a Review on my AMAZON page!  Also, if you belong to a book club, please consider having my book be one of your “reads.”  Something’s Lost and Must be Found offers some interesting and engaging points for discussions; not just for dog-lovers.

The book’s title is derived from a prayer to St. Anthony, patron saint of the lost (items, the poor, the troubled, and travelers).  I am sure we can all relate to the feeling of being completely (or a little) lost at some point in our lives.  It’s always nice to have a good dog by our side, to help us as we find our way.  May we all gain from our “losses.”

I started writing short fiction several years ago.  Why?  I love to write and because this kind of writing didn’t have to be lengthy, I thought it would be easy.  I soon found out I was wrong.  But, in the beginning, I was encouraged when some of my first efforts received Honorable Mentions in national writing competitions (including those sponsored by Writer’s Digest Magazine); some of them went on to be published.  Because of that, I stuck with it.  Since then I’ve learned that a well-written short story is deceptively simple and I’ve developed a new respect for the genre.  I am still learning.

Wanting to explore other formats, I began to draft a Young Adult Novel, a Children’s Book (both currently under consideration), and a major Non-Fiction project, Every Dog has its Week which is represented by the Parkeast Literary Agency.  I’ve also done my best to keep this Blog informative and interesting.  

It’s been incredibly rewarding to come to know so many individuals who are using their talents and energy to improve the way we treat our pets in this nation.  Now with over one-hundred posts, I thank my readers and those who have agreed to be interviewed and hope to present many more enlightening posts in the coming year. 

Here are some quick FAQs about Something’s Lost and Must be Found:

What: A collection of six short stories centered on a theme of lost and found; celebrating the search and rescue dogs of the soul (most of us have had one or two).  At a total word count of approximately 23,500, (they range in length from under 3,000 to 10,000 words) these stories were inspired by real life events, either experienced by me, my friends, news items, or stories relayed to me.  All accounts are fictionalized.  By engaging readers in the fictional genre, I hope to enforce the spirit of the posts that have appeared on the National Dog Week Blog.

Why: Because of the success of some of my writing friends, I was encouraged to try my “paw” at e-publishing.  The market for short stories has been rather limited and as many of these stories were just sitting all crated up on my computer, I thought that publishing them on Amazon would be a good thing. What good is being a writer if no one ever gets to read your work? I hope you’ll agree.

Who: These stories are targeted for an adult readership, although I believe that a mature teen-ager can appreciate them.  That is best left up to the discretion of individual parties.

And here is the best part.  A portion of the proceeds of all Kindle downloads will be earmarked for some worthy, grassroots causes that aid and assist animals in need.  If I can pay for some spay and neuter procedures, a tank of gas for a transporter, an adoption fee, etc…I will consider this project a success.  I am already encouraged by those who have contacted me about this new venture, expressing their support.

So I appeal to you, my friends.  Please download Something’s Lost and Must be Found and review it on Amazon.  Certainly with six stories, you can relate to one.  Hopefully, within the next month or so, I can happily report that this “experiment” is a great success. 

With your readership, I can help to “write” some wrongs one short story at a time, and perhaps inspire some of you to get out there and find the courage to follow your own dreams, whatever they may be.

SOMETHING’S LOST AND MUST BE FOUND: Six Short Tails of Inspiration on a Long Leash…read it and leap.

Welcome to my Blog, established to promote the message of Will Judy’s National Dog Week Movement.  To learn more please see ABOUT.  Be sure to visit us on Facebook and view our new page: SOMETHING’S LOST AND MUST BE FOUND to learn about a new writing project.


“I like a dog at my feet when I read, Whatever his size or whatever his breed.”  Edgar A. Guest, American (b. England)  1881-1959

It’s National Reading is Fun Week and what could be more appropriate than a word from Bocker, the writing dog?  My good friend, Bocker the Labradoodle has a tale to tell and he’s asked me to help him get the bark out…Many of you are familiar with this big blond handsome boy.  I’ve written about him often.  To read more about Bocker, please see my post of September 23, 2010 

What is Chasing Bocker’s Tale about?  Chasing Bocker’s Tale (yes play on words) is just that.  Bocker’s own story. His life from his eyes.  Even as a very young pup, Bocker the Labradoodle pondered on where his life would lead, what was his purpose in life. Follow Bocker’s own tale of his amazing journey and how he has touched the lives of so many throughout the world.

How is the book helping animal shelters?  A major part of Bocker’s life has been lending a helping paw to those less fortunate than he is.  There are so many shelters, rescue organizations, non-profits that help both animals and children in need that Bocker has always willingly supported and his support has made a difference in so many lives.  We wanted these organizations to be recognized in his book so we created a section where individuals could sponsor whatever organization they supported.  We are asking for a $20 donation.  $10 will go directly to the organization and the other money will help us pay for the additional pages which will be added to the book.  The shelter’s sponsor’s name will be listed as well as the shelter/organization’s name and contact information and website.  These pages will appear in our first printing and any additional printings of the book, as well as the eBook, which will have a working hyperlink to the shelter’s website.  This will help bring attention to them and hopefully more donations.  More information can be found on Bocker’s website or on his Chasing Bocker’s Tale Facebook page.

Sounds very interesting. When will the book be available?  We are hoping that the book will be ready for distribution mid-summer. We wanted the book to be “Bocker-Worthy” so we are taking extra steps and extra time to have it printed the way we want.  The first edition will be a hard cover, collectible, limited run of 200, which will be numbered and pawtographed, and in color.  There will be lots of photos because we know with Bocker, a picture is definitely worth a thousand words! When we are ready to take pre-orders, Bocker fans will even have the opportunity to choose the number book they want.  We’ve already had requests to hold certain favorite numbers!

 How can people obtain a copy?  The book will be available online.  These details are still being worked out.

What really makes this book so special? As you know Bocker has a huge following all over the world. Quite amazing!  There are always so many questions about him and his life. There was just something in his eyes that said that his story should be told. There was always something very special and different about Bocker and from the beginning, it seemed that there was a reason for his existence.  He brings smiles wherever he goes and we feel his story will do the same. It is special because it is life from Bocker’s eyes and because he has made an impact on so many lives and is very special to so many.

Thanks for sharing Bocker.  I know how hard it is to get a book project completed, and then to let everyone know about it.  But it’s worth it; with our words, we can wag the world!  Make sure your favorite animal shelter is included in this worthy project!


Here is an update from the folks at the Big Pine Bark Park…. Congratulations…Bark On!  I love that place…
Dear Friends of the Big Pine Bark Park,
I have been waiting to write this e mail for well over 2 years now!!  We have our permits and will be breaking ground in the next few days, was supposed to be tomorrow but evidently the permits are not hung so it may be another day or so.  And a thank you to John King with Monroe County for your tireless efforts in helping make this a reality.   
The wonderful F&W fence company is giving us a killer deal on our fence and the owner – Jed – is volunteering his own time for this project which will amount to at least a complete weeks worth of work for him.  Thank you, thank you, thank you Jed!!  I really want to support him and his men and am looking for some of you to rally and bring them lunch / cold drinks, take them out to lunch in AC?   That sort of thing.  I am personally out of town so Sandy is your main contact for the going-ons of the week, please reach out to her at 305.923.9161 if you can help, so we can coordinate, it will be a total of 4-5 days. 
We may need some labor assistance in moving fencing / removing fencing, not quite sure yet what is going to be necessary but if you can help with that sort of thing also reach out to Sandy and let her know so we may call you if the time comes. 
Sometime this week hopefully the water line will be moved then the Pavers & signs and we will have our PARK!! 
I am sooo looking forward to seeing you all at the grand opening very soon!

Michele Adams


"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”