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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. 


Teddy_writes

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):

http://4theloveofanimals.com/blog/2016/07/20/second-chances/

 

 

In March, it was announced that National Dog Week 2016 had a new theme and logo! Today, on this blog launched to promote NDW, we present “Readers Unleashed: Promoting Literacy with K-9s.” We hope you love its logo, too, and will share with those groups and organizations that will help to promote this initiative.

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This logo was inspired by an original drawing attributed to Will Judy

 

As many are curious about these programs, we invited our friend Bocker Labradoodle to share his experience through a dog’s-eye-view. For more about “Reading to the Dogs” and National Dog Week, please visit the Today Show Parenting Team Site: http://community.today.com/parentingteam/post/national-dog-week-2016-will-have-kids-pawsing-to-read

Can any dog wander into the library and be read to by a student? If not, what special training does a dog need to be part of reading programs in libraries and schools? No, a dog just can’t walk into a library or a school. A dog has to be certified with a therapy dog group in order to take part in reading programs whether they are in a library or a school.  It’s not so much training, but the dog must pass a certification test with a therapy group in order to act as a therapy dog.  Dogs need to be calm, gentle, not easily frightened by noises or sudden movements.  There are certain rules to be followed by both dog and handlers.  Of course, there is the matter of insurance and the therapy dog organization holds insurance for their dogs who visit certain facilities.

How long have you been listening to student readers? I passed my therapy dog certification test when I was about three years old. The first read program in which I participated was called Tail Wagging Tutors, in 2008.

How do you get your reading “jobs”? The therapy group that I have been certified with had a Tail Wagging Tutors group. A local elementary school made it part of the school day for these certified dogs to come and be read to once a week for an hour. The young people that wanted to take part were excused from their regular class for that hour.  The classes were held in the school library.

Are some students afraid of you and your reading dog friends? If so, how do you help them overcome their fear? In therapy visits to schools, I have come across children who have been afraid of dogs for one reason or another. We have tried on occasion for the teacher to approach me with the child and almost always by the end of the session, the child is petting me and feeling like they made a huge step forward. It’s so rewarding for the child, the teacher, and of course me.

What happens if a student is allergic to dogs? There is no such thing as a purely hypo-allergenic dog, although some dogs have less dander. I’m sure it would be at the discretion of the family if a child has allergies.

Do you see children improve their reading after a few visits with them? It’s very easy to spot children who improve with their reading after a short time. We pups are non-judgmental and children are at ease reading to us, so they are more apt to enjoy reading and think of it as fun.  By reading more, they obviously become better readers. Studies have been done and show how reading scores increase.

Do you have a special story or moment you can share about your work? Yes, the children would usually bring their own books to read and on one occasion one of the boys just came in with a notebook. We asked where his books were and he said someone at home had gotten ill and he had to go stay with a grandparent at night and he didn’t have his books.  He said because he didn’t have the books he usually reads, he had written a story for me. It was a story about how much I meant to him and how much he loved reading with me.  Very special to say the least.

How can schools and libraries find certified dogs to visit them? Therapy groups usually have lists of schools and libraries in their area that wish to take part in reading programs.   Otherwise, schools/libraries can find out what Therapy groups work in their area and contact them.  The elementary school I went to had an actual approved program that took part once a week during school hours in the school’s library.  That was terrific.

What are your favorite books? I love anything that is read to me. So much fun to find out the different interests of each child I read with. So I get a great mix…stories about friends, animal stories, superheroes, science, sports.

Have you ever written any books of your own? Yes. My book is Chasing Bocker’s Tale.  It’s about my early life and how I got involved in so many different things and found so many ways to help others.  I have been invited to Libraries so children can read my book.  It’s so much fun and I usually give them copies, pawtographed, of course, to take home.

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We thank Bocker and his mom, Marie, for taking time to share with us!

If you wish to share your “Reading to the Dogs” story with us, please comment or send an e-mail to pst39crd@aol.com.

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Dog’s Best Friend has been nominated for a Maxwell Medallion by the Dog Writers Association of America

 

Happy New Year. 2015 ended with some amazing news surrounding Dog’s Best Friend and my work on behalf of the National Dog Week Movement. I thank so many of you for your interest and support and wish you all a very rewarding and successful New Year!

Who Let the Dogs In? New Online Exhibit Captures the Legacy of Captain Will Judy and National Dog Week

 In collaboration with Amy Breyer, Executive Director of the Animal History Museum, I am pleased to announce that my online exhibit was successfully curated and went live on the museum’s site in December.  This innovative exhibit, titled “Who Let the Dogs In?”, chronicles the inspiring history of National Dog Week and its founder, Captain William Lewis Judy.

Americans have enjoyed a long-time love affair with animals – domesticated and wild. However, despite anecdotal evidence highlighting the important role that animals play in our lives, there has been little formal, institutional acknowledgement of their significance. To fill that void, the Animal History Museum seeks to explore, honor and advance our understanding of the complex and evolving nature of man’s interactions with, and relationship to, the other species around us. The museum’s mission: understanding and celebrating the human-animal bond.

Established online in January 2012, the Animal History Museum is being developed by a team of professionals who are passionate about all things animal, serving and educating all ages and segments of the general public. With the establishment of a physical site in Los Angeles County, California, the Animal History Museum will become the leading facility in the nation designed solely for the collection, preservation and exploration of the history, culture, science and law relating to the relationship between human and non-human animals.

The museum’s website offers several other inspiring online exhibits as well, including: “The Wildlife Photography of Donald D. Feare”, “Stories of Older Animal Adoption”, “Sit, Stay, Say Cheese! The Early History of Animal Photography, 1850-1915”, “Breaking Stereotypes: America’s Pit Bull Rescues and the Human Animal Bond”, and “I’m Ready for My Close-up Mr. Casteel: The Making of Underwater Dogs.”

As the author of Will Judy: Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher (McFarland & Co.), I am honored to be part of an establishment dedicated to presenting exhibitions, lectures, and other activities that are consistent with, and supportive of, the museum’s educational goals and purpose.

Captain Will Judy, as he was known, was a pioneer in the dog-care industry, and one of the founders of the DWAA. As a prolific writer, author and publisher of Dog World  Magazine for decades, Judy almost single-handedly shaped the way modern dogs are regarded in America. Most importantly, he was responsible for making sure the nation’s dogs got their week, and still do, during the last full week of September each year with National Dog Week

I hope you enjoy “Who Let the Dogs In?” and will take a virtual tour of the Animal History Museum as well:  http://animalhistorymuseum.org

 

Author’s Note: I so loved speaking at my town’s library last week. Great reception and I met this ten-year old girl who was fascinated with the story of Harriet White Fisher, her journey, and of course Harriet’s incredible traveling pets!

A young Harriet and Honk Honk fan at a recent local author visit

A young Harriet and Honk Honk fan at a recent local author visit

One of the nice aspects of writing Non-fiction and Biographies is getting to know the living ancestors of your subject matter; such was the case with Will Judy and Harriet White Fisher.

Al Judy and Maya

Al Judy and Maya

In writing a Father’s Day Tribute to Captain Will Judy, I thought it would be fun to include his Great Nephew, Al Judy who introduced himself to me via my Facebook Page established for Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy, Founder of National Week and Dog World Publisher.

Al Judy was pleased to learn that his accomplished relative, Great Uncle “Bill” (as he was called by family I’ve recently learned) had been given his “day” and his legacy had been shared with the world!

Will Judy married later in life and had no children. However, he was a father-figure to many dogs in his lifetime, his, and the thousands of dogs or more (and their humans) who benefited from his wisdom, experience and guidance offered through the pages of his Dog World Magazine and numerous dog books.

Long before it was fashionable, Will Judy extolled the value of dogs in building good character in our children. He believed that youngsters who cared for dogs developed traits of kindness and responsibility, and developed parenting skills. Over the years, celebrations of National Dog Week included writing contests for kids and events planned by scout troops. National Dog Week was meant to educate everyone, including the young, on dog breeds, dogs who needed good homes, and the physical as well as emotional needs of all dogs.

Keep in mind he wrote about this in the 1930s and 40s, and it may be argued that in our contemporary throw-away society, with its penchant for instant gratification, Judy’s ideas may be viewed as outmoded. I would like to think his views are still valid, however!

Recently, I saw that Al Judy had posted some photos of his adorable dog named Maya on his Facebook page. Maya (nicknamed Doodle Bug) is a seven-year old Standard Jack Russell terrier who came to the Judy household three years ago when a family friend had become too old and infirm to care for her and sought Al’s help . Judy and his family happily obliged and now Al calls Maya a gift. Al Judy’s entire family seems to have gone to the dogs, too, just as Judy had hoped all Americans would.

Descendants of Will Judy and their dogs

Descendants of Will Judy and their dogs


It warms my heart to see this generational progression of a dog-loving family. I know that somewhere in that “Dogdom in the Sky” Will Judy must be smiling down! Al’s mom, who lives in Will Judy’s hometown, has agreed to talk with me, and of course I will share with my good friends here on the NDW Blog. Always learning…the story continues.

Happy Father’s Day to my dad “Jackie Boy” aka Coach Begin, my husband Rich, a father and father-figure to many, and all those father-like “stand-ins” who guide their dogs and humans throughout the course of life.

Service

Happy springtime! It was quite a long winter, just too cold to blog. Hopefully April will “thaw the paw” and I will be motivated by warmth and the promise of better days ahead.

The first quarter of 2015 has kept me busy with the promotion of Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher, and Around the World in 1909: Harriet White Fisher and Her Locomobile. Both titles tell the tales of some incredible people and their contributions to history. I am honored to tell their stories! I have also been working on a proposal for a children’s series of books based on the adorable world-traveling pets found in Around the World in 1909, something I am very excited about.

I am also happy to share that during the first two weeks of May, I will be the featured author on the DogRead site, the original cyber-book club established just for those who love to read about dogs. We will be discussing the short stories of Something’s Lost and Must be Found. If you’ve read this book, or wish to do so and join in the discussion, you can join the group by going to: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/DogRead/info

September seems a long way off, but it is never too early to think about National Dog Week. Its 87th Observance will take place the week of September 28th. This year, we celebrate the occasion with the theme, “At Your Service, All-Ways” a return to the theme of 1951 in which dogs were, and continue to be, honored by all the ways they serve humans. Will Judy, the founder of National Dog Week, never forgot the invaluable service of our Military Dogs even before they were an official part of our militia. Furthermore, he championed their therapeutic value to veterans of war suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder long before it was “fashionable”.

Dogs serve us in so many ways. Whether they are listening to a young person read out loud in “Read to the Dogs” programs, working as a Therapy Dog, or as a Service Dog (there are differences between the two), assisting our military on the war front or even detecting diseases like cancer, I think we are only beginning to realize their full potential.

If you wish to share a story that might suit the theme of “At Your Service-Allways” or plan to honor our dogs during National Dog Week, please send me an e-mail at pst39crd@aol.com.

For more information on my books and bio, please visit www.lisabegin-kruysmanauthor.com

Hooper celebrates National Dog Week

Hooper celebrates National Dog Week

August 27th marks the two year anniversary of the passing of our beloved Portuguese water dog, Hooper. Hooper was eleven years and eight months old when her health took a turn for the worse, but up to that point she was full of energy and feisty, so the suddenness of the event left us devastated.

“Hoops” and I had a special history. She was curled up at my feet when I first learned about National Dog Week while mindlessly surfing the internet. I recall excitedly informing her that she, and her four-legged friends, were entitled to an entire week of celebration each September.

But the human was more enthusiastic about this news. Hooper got up, yawned, and went to find a spot on the sofa as if to say, “I thought every week was dog week!” But I wasn’t discouraged. I told her that I was going to write a book about National Dog Week someday and we would travel the country together telling the world about it!

So I got to work. I learned how to create a non-fiction proposal, wrote one, and then set out to find a literary agent and a publisher. How hard could it be? America is a dog-obsessed nation, wouldn’t everyone want to know about this venerable event just for dogs?

But I quickly came to realize that the work of an unknown author with no contacts in the world of publishing or the dog world, was not the pick the slush pile, that heap of manuscripts and proposals that accumulate on the desks of agents and editors.

It may sound cliché, but if you truly believe in a course of action, and apply yourself with the help of supportive people, your work will become known, slowly, but surely. The keys is to have faith and patience. I eventually found a literary agent willing to take on my project and two years later, signed a book contract.

As I write and remember our Hooper today, I recall how she sat with me day after long dog day, patiently waiting for our debut! With her passing, it was difficult to continue writing about dogs. I took a break and worked on another book, and lo and behold, I found a publisher for that project, too.

But without a dog, our house was way too quiet. I thought fostering dogs would help fill our home with the spirit of dog, and do some good, too. Soon, a little black and white dog named Teddy came our way. It was evident in a week’s time, he was here to stay.

I returned to my work on the Dog Week book, with Teddy at my feet now, but unlike Hooper, who had known love and care from the first moment of birth, Teddy came from a situation of neglect and had faced some tough times. He seemed to understand that some dogs never even have their day, let alone their week.

Over the past four years, in my writing of Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher, I have come to form relationships with many in the dog and publishing industry who have been generous with their knowledge and experience. They understand that National Dog Week was established in 1928 not to bring more dogs into the world, but to make humans more responsible for the ones that are already here.

As an elderly woman at Assisted Living said to me recently, “You know a house just isn’t a home without a dog.” If you are up to the responsibility, I highly recommend having one.

Romp in Peace “Hoop Girl”.

Teddy

Teddy

Teddy with his Mom

Teddy with his Mom


“If you can’t have a child, have a dog. If you can, have both of them.”
William Lewis Judy, 1949 (Founder of National Dog Week)

Today, we celebrate the day devoted to mothers. If you are not fortunate to have a mother, or mother-in-law in your life, and if they were advocates for animals, consider making a donation in their name to support a favorite animal cause. Consider donating to groups that help to pay for the spaying and neutering of cats and dogs. There are so many animals that are brought to shelters that are about to, or have just given birth. Although they may make good moms, they probably will never have the chance to be, and they, and their litters, face an uncertain fate.

The following is a post from Mother’s Day 2011.

Dog breeders, and dog trainers like to remind us all that dogs are not our children. But most of you who have dogs and cats, probably think of your pets as part of the family. Pets, especially our dogs, are in many ways, perpetual four-year olds, constantly in need of our services in order to survive and in their advanced age, need us even more.

And in many ways, our pets may be easier to love, from what I hear. It happens all the time, wherever I go, people seem to be talking about… their dogs. At bars, restaurants, and teacher’s rooms, women, and some men, often talk more about the dogs of their families than about their kids! It isn’t that they don’t love their kids, but talk of them sometimes brings up stressful topics about difficulties involving them, something that talking about dogs usually does not. Along with the talk, comes pictures in wallets, and on cell phones. One women I spoke with recently, had more photos of her dog than of her children!

Sunday is Mother’s Day, a day to celebrate the mothers of the nation. And there go those show off dogs again, during National Dog Week, they get a full seven days of honor during the last full week of September (see what I mean). But, I would like to give humans their due, and write about some special mothers that I know. My own mother for instance, someone with great style, and sense of humor; her house was and still is always filled with great food, lots of laughs, and pets a-plenty. At any given time of my youth, there was either a turtle, snake, dog or gerbil, on the loose, and a cat happy to help look for them. She always encouraged all of us to pursue our dreams and thought it was great that I left a good job in New York to become an artist.

Then there is my mother-in-law, Charlotte. She will turn 95 in July, and still drives a sports car with a spoiler and goes to Atlantic City! Charlotte always had a dog and loves to reminisce about each one. My sister, Manette, documentary film maker, and mother to handsome Zac, who she raised as a single mom, my sister-in-law, Gigi, FIT Grad, and fashion designer, now a fine artist and mom to four beautiful and creative kids.

And I extend my Mother’s Day greetings to all my friends and their terrific kids who call me aunt, and my friends whose kids are more of the K-9 or Feline kind!

In 1949, Will Judy, founder of National Dog Week, commented on the stigma his society placed on childless women who mothered their dogs when he wrote in their defense, “…some of the women cannot have children;…some of these women do not have husbands.” He went on to write, “If you can’t have a child, have a dog. If you can, have both of them.”

Remember, when your kids go off to college, or to live some place far off, you can comfort yourself with the dogs they may leave behind, knowing that in some magical way, time seems to stand still for our canines, and that they will love, need, and appreciate you, “fur-ever.”

Please see the last post for details on the Covers for Critters Project. Also, please check out Project Pets – Spay, Neuter, Love on Facebook!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Teddy and I pose with Elizabeth Ackerman, Chairperson for Brick Township's 2013 DogFest

Teddy and I pose with Elizabeth Ackerman, Chairperson for Brick Township’s 2013 DogFest

I would like to take a moment to thank the over 400 fire-fighters, and first-responders who rushed to battle an eight-alam fire in Seaside Park, New Jersey, last week in an effort to save the Boardwalks. In the end, despite their best efforts, the equivalent of four city blocks, over thirty businesses, and countless memories were consumed by flames. Portions of the Seaside Heights Boardwalk, so severely decimated by Superstorm Sandy were also destroyed by last week’s fire.

It was a massive event that made national news, and it seems we at the Jersey Shore have asked the world for a lot of help in the past year. On that note, I would also like to acknowldedge those who came to the aid of Brick Township’s American Legion Post, which continues to recover from Hurricane Sandy. On August 24th, a terrific fundraiser was held at the Brick Township VFW Post to raise funds to rebuild and restore Post #348. With combined efforts of the Post membership, Ladies Auxiliary, Sons of the American Legion, Legion Riders and our Junior Auxiliary, a significant success was achieved and our inside canteen should be up and running, better than ever, in the very near future. As part of the fundraiser, Susan Barros, President of the Ladies Auxiliary, and her dedicated committee, gathered nearly one-hundred amazing baskets that were raffled at the event. High-end items included golf outings, fishing trips and great Destination packages!

On a personal note, I would like to thank the following who generously donated to a pet-themed basket that was raffled: Dr. Adam Christman and the staff of Brick Township Veterinary Hospital, Elsa Mikus and Barbara Ryan of Tempest and a Teapot (for a sweet piece of doggy artwork), Harbour Pet Supplies in Pt. Pleasant, and A Dog House dog grooming salon, in Brick. Your contribution went to a good cause. If you would like to make a donation to our American Legion Post to further help in their recovery please go to: http://www.brickpost348.org/

Recently, the Township of Brick held their Fourth Annual Dog Fest, sponsored by our local Rotary Club. Teddy and I enjoyed the day, and as a blogger, I am happy to say this was my fourth visit to this event. At its first observance, I asked Mayor Stephen Acropolis to proclaim Brick Township a National Dog Week Community. He did so gladly, and I am happy to see that tradition continues at each Opening Ceremony of Dog Fests in the manner that the late Captain Arthur Haggerty, (aka the Grandfather of American Dog Obedience), and Will Judy intended!

Perhaps we can view this Proclamation as, “just words.” However when those words are incorporated into a event that honors dogs, the spirit of National Dog Week continues, even 85 years after its founding. Those words celebrate and embrace America’s rich canine history, and our love for dogs, while reminding us all that there is still much work to be done to protect their welfare. On that note, I am happy to report that last year, Brick Township banned any new retail sellers of dogs of ever opening in the township, the first city in the Northeast Region of the nation to do so. So a big thanks to Brick Township for making our community one that respects or canines, and provides inspiration for others. I am very proud.

Book News: My book, Dog’s Best Friend:Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher is in production and will be available I am told by the summer of next year (McFarland & Co.). I would like to thank all of my supporters and those who voted me as “Happening Ocean County AUthor,” in a contest sponsored by Ocean Happening On-line magazine. It is an honor to be singled out among a crowd of very talented people! Please stay on the alert for some special NDW posts in the coming days!

Working Dogs at rest Working Dogs at rest

Happy Labor Day. This holiday, with origins dating back to 1882, was initially, “dedicated to the social and economic achievements of the American Worker.” Today, with so much economic unrest, and the rapid development of technology, many of us feel fortunate just to have a place at which to labor. However, in many of these cases, most are doing much more work, for far less pay, and dealing with conditions that prey on the fact that there are too many workers vying for too few jobs.

I used to work full-time under some of the best working conditions imaginable. But upon turning 30, I realized that corporate life was not my calling. I became a full-time fine artist instead, and during the good years made a decent living. When times got a little “ruff” I became a substitute teacher to fill in the gaps. I loved working with the kids, and as it turned out, during this time I became inspired to write. This summer, I said farewell to the classroom and now work part-time as the manager of a church as a way to create more structure in my life to allow more time for writing.

My husband is a proud member of the ALA (Amalgamated Lithographers of America) Union. When his company moved their operations to other locales, he chose to “retire” early. Coincidentally, his last full-time job in his field was spent at a company that published Pet Care and Dog Breed books, although at that time, I had not started writing about dogs. Rich, who served our nation as a Navy Corpsman, has happily found labor as a house painter, maintenance manager and now as a Bar Captain at our local American Legion post.

I write all this because life is uncertain. We make choices, but often, choices are made for us. We must be open to change and ready to adjust. At this rate, neither of us will probably ever really retire, but that is okay with us. Work keeps us mentally and physically active, and there is always some good experience to be derived from each “job stop,” along the way.

Will Judy, the founder of National Dog Week, truly understood this. As a youth, he was trained as a minister and was the school teacher for his small rural community in Western Pennsylvania. But he had a larger vision and a need to get out in the world. His restless and inquisitive nature lead him far from home. He served his nation during WWI, became a lawyer, and when he had the opportunity, he purchased Dog World Magazine and served as its publisher for several decades.

Long before the concept was widely-embraced, Judy saw the value of the dog in the workplace. He wrote about their use in military and police work and their value as therapy dogs in the treatment of patients in VA hospitals. He knew that dogs labored in a union powered by loyalty, love and devotion to their humans no matter what the circumstances.

I thank you to all of you who have supported me during the writing of Will Judy’s story. I am now writing my 200 word “marketing description” for its publisher and bandying about titles. This has truly been a labor of love (i.e. no advance), but I hope that someday a copy of this book will be found on the library shelves of municipalities and schools across the nation. Judy was a complex and articulate man. A man of his times, yet one who foresaw how important dogs would become to the nation’s huge population of dog owners, and wanted to ensure all who “owned” them would do so responsibly.

I am now fortunate to be working on my next true-life story and will share that soon. I love writing about little-known people and obscure histories, it is so rewarding to see all of them, “have their day,” and receive credit for their labors. I hope their stories inspire others to explore the path not so clearly marked.

May all of you find a way to make your labor your love, and your love, your labor.

WOOFSTOCK

The other day at the Key Colony Beach Day event held in the Florida Keys I met a stunning Standard poodle. Her human explained that this beauty had been rescued and was a joy to have.

I don’t recall the dog’s name, but upon meeting her I was reminded of my late beloved Hooper. This year is the first time Rich and I are not traveling with her. She had accompanied us on trips to Florida for almost a decade before passing way too young at the age of ten last August.

The dog also reminded me of John Steinbeck’s classic book, Travels with Charley: In Search of America published in 1962. The book was based on the author’s road trip made in the fall of 1960 accompanied by his beloved black poodle named Charley. The book relayed Steineck’s views on the vanishing “localism” of America and the destruction of our Nation’s environment.

On the same day I met this big poodle, (let’s call her Charlene) I happened to catch an interview with a columnist named Bill Steigerwald who was discussing how he had retraced Steinbach’s journey through America. Steigerwald came to the conclusion that Steinbeck had infused some portions of his cross-country trip with some artful and creative writing inspired by the “characters” he met along the way. To many scholars and those who enjoy the book it doesn’t really matter. They embrace the spirit of a great story teller sharing the road with his fuzzy best friend where every turn of the bend offered a new adventure.

My husband Rich always loved Travels with Charley and called our own road trips with our Portie, Travels with Hooper. I bought him a copy of the Steinbeck book just before we welcomed Hooper into our lives. I thought about all this when I took a run through Founders Park this morning near where we are staying in Islamorada. I found myself walking under a shadow of sadness; the last time I had been in that park was with Hooper during last year’s occasion of Woofstock, a local celebration of the canine.

In our grief over the loss of Hooper, Rich and I did everything possible to discourage the addition of a new dog. We agreed to let a year or so pass before actually considering having another dog. That included planning a vacation that featured a rental with a strict, “no dogs allowed,” policy and flying to our destination instead of taking our annual drive.

Well, that plan went astray when instead of relinquishing our foster dog named Teddy we decided to give him a home. With our travel plans set we were fortunate to have good friends and family members to take care of our Teddy. We hear that he is enjoying himself so much we wonder if he will want to return to us!

Will Judy, in his founding of National Dog Week, urged dog lovers to respect the rights of those who did not feel the same way about dogs. Some places are just not going to welcome dogs and they have their reasons. It’s just good to know we have choices. Even Steinbeck was forced to kennel Charley during portions of his journey.

In eleven days Woofest will be in full swing over at Founders Park. I look forward to being surrounded by hundreds of special dogs and their humans with all kinds of fun events that involve Man’s Best Friends featuring Search and Rescue Dog and Agility demonstrations as well as Aquatic Pool activities and of course lots of adorable adoptable dogs in search of good homes.

I have come to understand that someone who is a dog lover and writes about them almost daily shouldn’t sign a “no dog” lease…If you enjoy being around dogs, no lease, no fence, no barrier can keep a loving canine out of your homes and hearts and vacation rentals.

When this time in paradise comes to an end you can be sure we will be anxious to begin a new chapter in our lives titled Travels with Teddy: In Search of Dog Friendly Places!

Oh the places we will go…

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”