kinds of drugs and its side effects

Embracing Sadness: Our Irreplaceable Pets

MemoriesI’ve been feeling a bit gloomy for the last few days, experiencing a sense of dread about this upcoming 4th of July weekend that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I just completed a successful Kickstarter campaign. One more assignment to finish, and I’m ready to settle in to work on Getting Naked for Money without interruption.

Also: I found a terrific new vet for Madeleine earlier in the week. I’d been a bit worried. I didn’t much care for the vet I took Madeleine to for her free post-adoption exam and, though I adored Frankie’s former vet, I was afraid he was going to retire soon and I didn’t like the other two vets in the practice: One had called Frankie “weird,” and the other dubbed him “a bad patient.” This new vet, an engaging, thoughtful man, is not only closer to my home, but is younger (no retirement soon) and has x-ray dental equipment. After interviewing several veterinary dentists for an article, I realized that I would never have my own teeth extracted without having x-rays taken first, yet had been willing to do that for a beloved dog.

Cleaning house

So why the gloom?

In preparation for getting serious about writing my book, I decided to do a little house cleaning–emphasis on “little.” Overdoing it until I became too tired to write would defeat the purpose. As I was going through my kitchen drawers, sorting through hundreds of discount coupons for Bed Bath & Beyond, I discovered some of Frankie’s things that I couldn’t bear to throw away: My diary of his blood sugar readings; a bottle of diabetic test strips; a hypodermic needle.

A bottle with a little Vetsulin remained in the refrigerator.

Seeing those items,  I was hit by a sudden wave of sadness, remembering a routine that was at once difficult and precious. And then I suddenly realized the source of my low-key anxiety: The 4th of July was Frankie’s designated  birthday. I never knew the real day and he was my Frankie Doodle Dandy.

Happy Birthday and Happy Fourth of July, Frankie!

Another reason this was not Frankie’s favorite holiday

There’s a certain irony to that. Not only was he terrified of fireworks, as many dogs are. Frankie was pretty much terrified of people, too.

I remember taking him to a Fourth of July political event early on. Even though it took place nearly nine months after I adopted him, I guess I still didn’t get the extent to which he hated crowds. I don’t think I knew the term “socialize” at the time but I probably thought that the more he experienced new situations, the more comfortable with them he would get.

Now, Frankie was an adorable dog. Based on neoteny, or puppy-like features, he was cuter in some ways than Madeleine, who looks more conventionally “doggy.” No surprise, then, that the political candidate wanted to have her picture taken with him. Frankie tolerated it, because I was nearby. But he wasn’t at all happy.

He was a one woman dog, totally devoted to me.

I wrote about my ambivalence about his dependence on me, his fearful personality in a story titled Great Expectations: A Tale of Two Dogs.  It ends this way:

Chastened, I lifted my little dog into my lap…. At least I had one source of solace:  As long as I gave him a loving home, Frankie would never know I was an asshole.

Frankie & me at in In the Raw

Frankie & me at in an early bonding session

A Guilt-Free — But Not a Pain-Free — Zone

I realize now: You can find a new vet so you don’t have to face the pain of going to the old one without your departed dog.

You can go to that vet with the type of dog you used to fantasize your departed dog would become, one that every veterinarian would be likely to love.  No one would even be tempted to call Madeleine weird or a bad patient. She cuddles up to everyone, doesn’t object to shots or even thermometers in her rectum, but she’s also frisky and a bit mischievous, a small dog even macho guys could like.

But that won’t lessen the pain of your loss. In this case, it made it worse. I feel bad that I enjoyed Madeleine’s popularity so much.

Earlier, before I started analyzing why I was feeling gloomy, I’d thought about dressing Madeleine in 4th of July regalia. But not only is she not a dress-up type of dog (see neoteny/lack thereof, above); doing that would be trying to make her into Frankie, just as I’d tried to make Frankie into another type of dog before I knew better.

So this 4th of July post is devoted to Frankie, in honor of his designated birthday, and on “his” blog, the one I created to detail his adventures, not on Edie Jarolim.com as I’d originally planned. Madeleine? She may or may not get half a hot dog. The new vet said she wasn’t really fat, but “comfortable,” and then amended that to say, “You know, like Marilyn Monroe.”

Madeleine, the curvy femme fatale of the canine world.

Frankie was more of a surfer dude.

Frankie says "Just get me to the beach, already!"

Laughing and crying at the same time, I know now too: Sometimes the pain of loss is going to blindside you.  Getting another dog, no matter how great, won’t stop that from happening, though time might. Or not. Frankie will always be my first dog. That’s not ever going to change

What do you do with that hurt, then? You acknowledge it, you experience it. You remember, you regret, you grab a box of Kleenex.

And if you’re a writer, you try to put it into words so others will know that it’s okay to love two dogs, one present, one departed, at the same time.

Posted in Dog Blogging, dog dental care, Dog mourning | Tagged , , | 20 Comments

My Dog Supports My Kickstarter — Won’t You?

Dog Kickstarter imageI announced recently that I was embarking on an exciting new project: Writing a memoir of my days as a travel writer, to be financed by a Kickstarter campaign. The campaign is live and naturally Madeleine has a prominent role in the promotional video.

Writer Adoption Videos That Won’t Make You Want to Kill Yourself

Many of you will remember the Pet Adoption Videos That Won’t Make You Want to Kill Yourself series I ran here. It included many, many posts, but here’s one example that also alludes to my inspiration for it, the [do not click unless you want to be depressed] ASPCA ads with the sad music by Sara McLachlan.

It is this video that I am parodying in my Kickstarter promo. Most everyone — i.e., not only dog people — will get the takeoff on the sad donation ads, but it takes insiders to understand things like the “food aggressive” reference, warning signs on the crates, etc. Yes, you are my peeps.

Okay, you’re saying, cute video. But why should I support a book if it’s not going to have dogs in it?

Why Support My New Book?

It’s true, as the book is currently outlined, there are no dogs in it until the end. Frankie doesn’t come on the scene until the last chapter, and even then he just has a cameo. Madeleine doesn’t appear at all.

So let me give you a few reasons:

  • If you liked this blog and my book Am I Boring My Dog, you’ll like this new book. It’s funny. And although it doesn’t have dogs in it, it has the occasional camel. (As it happens, I’m offering a matched set of the two books as one of the Kickstarter rewards.)
  • I still have another dog book in me. Madeleine is such a different character than Frankie that she has provided me with loads of new material. But until I finish my memoir I can’t start my dog book.
  • Madeleine wants steak, and right now I can’t afford it.

Tell Me More…

Well, I’m glad you asked. Here’s the story behind the book. Here’s a short primer on what it means to back this Kickstarter project.

And here’s the official badge that you can click on to get there.

Kickstarter-Campaign-Badge

Weekend Special!

On Tuesday, May 26th, I’m going to introduce a new $5 reward: A “thank you for making my book possible” postcard (I haven’t designed it yet, but it’ll be cool, I promise). But new supporters of the campaign on any reward level today (May 23), tomorrow (May 24) or Monday (May 25) get that postcard for free.

Posted in Am I Boring My Dog, Kickstarter | 2 Comments

Help Madeleine Find Her Voice: Vote!

Experts say that every dog needs a job. I am happy to announce that I am giving one to Madeleine.

I am about to embark on a Kickstarter campaign for a book that has (almost) nothing to do with dogs, a memoir of my days as a travel editor and writer. I am nevertheless going to exploit the fact that Madeleine is extremely telegenic and give her a speaking role in the promotional video being created for the campaign. I’m sure she will steal the show, though her competition includes a talking camel who is pretty darned appealing too.

But what does a talking Madeleine sound like? Several people have volunteered to try out for the role of Madeleine. I’m hoping that you, dear readers, will decide whose voice bests fits your vision of my feisty JRT mix.

I was going to hold the contest on this site, but realized that was no way over to get people to my spiffy revamped website.

Also–I was getting stressed out thinking about having a contest involving Madeleine on a site featuring a picture of the late great Frankie. I tried briefly to substitute a picture of Madeleine but technical–not to mention emotional–difficulties made me realize that this is still Frankie’s blog. My second dog book–it’s just a question of when, not if, I will write one–will include all I’ve learned since Frankie died, including all the difficulties surrounding a beloved pet’s death.

Madeleine will star in that book. When the time comes, she’ll get her picture in lights on the blog’s marquee.

In the meantime, I have this other book to write and publish. So please head over to www.EdieJarolim.com and vote.

Posted in book promotion | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

2014: My Year in (Small) Dogs

Yes-on-415In some respects, my post title should really be My Five Months in (Small) Dogs.  I adopted Madeleine at the end of July, and that’s when the terrier-mix parade began–and never stopped. I’ve had more dogs in my home in those five months than I’ve had…ever. Madeleine is not especially dog oriented, but she seems to draw canine crowds.

First there were none

Of course my dogless months were never entirely dogless. Frankie’s spirit presided over them. It was too painful for me to post much in those days, but I did write the story of how I found Frankie’s final resting place. You know you want to know what it has to do with the photo below.

Lake Srinigar, Kashmir. No, there was nothing in that hookah. We were just weird.

Lake Srinigar, Kashmir. No, there was nothing in that hookah. We were just weird.

And then there was one and, almost immediately, two

I adopted Madeleine on July 23th–a day before the date I had committed to pet sit for my friend Cynthia’s dog, Mimzy. Madeleine was too new to my house to raise  a fuss when Mimzy arrived but a single day of residency was sufficient to establish a sense of ownership of me and my residence in her. She is a possession-is-9/10th-of-the-law kind of dog. By the end of Mimzy’s stay, however, Madeleine was willing to check her out.

Visitor #1, Mimzy

Visitor #1, Mimzy

Wanna be friends

Social Media Star

Madeleine’s presence on Facebook began to attract attention. Everyone wanted to meet her, including my friend Kim, who brought her adorable adoptee Penny over for a playdate. Madeleine remained aloof, though she clearly didn’t mind the proximity.

Penny Matas and Madeleine

Visitor #2, Penny

Bogie Boogies In

More evidence that I hadn’t really been planning to adopt a dog: The fact that I had committed in advance to pet sit for another dog, my friend Vera Marie’s pal Bogie.

Good downstay

Feed us, we're starving

Bogie and Madeleine sharingThese pictures are somewhat deceptive. Bogie tried many times to get Madeleine to play–perhaps his in-your-face barking technique was not as effective as he thought–but they were definitely friends, if not playmates, by the end of Bogie’s three-week stay.

And then there were three

Madeleine’s next relationships were more, shall we say, organic. I rented my guest house to a woman who has several friends in common with me–and two small dogs, Earl and Cleo. Soon we were all having yappy hour in my backyard.

Dogs in the yard 2

And sharing Thanksgiving dinner.

Thanksgiving 2015-4So when Maryrose went back home for the holidays, it was only natural for me to have Earl and Cleo stay under my (nearby) roof.

On the green chair

Madeleine retakes her chair

Office politics

There was definitely engagement. Earl is small but won’t take no for an answer when it comes to playing.

The Reunion Tour

On the last day of the year, Vera Marie brought Bogie over to meet Madeleine’s new friends. I was convinced Cleo and Bogie would be BFFs, but not so much; Bogie received a dose of the in-your-face barking technique from Cleo and was not impressed.

But a good, if noisy, time was had by all.

Four dogs 4 Four dogs 3Madeleine will always prefer food to the company of other dogs–and humans–though she knows humans to be the source of food.

Four dogs 5

Maryrose returns tonight. She misses her pups–naturally–and will be very glad to see them. Whether Madeleine will miss their company remains to be seen, but I suspect she will be glad to have me (and my food supplies) all to herself again.

I hope at least parts of your 2014 were as amusing as mine turned out to be–and that 2015 is better yet.

P.S. If you haven’t had a sufficient small dog fix, visit Will My Dog Hate Me on Facebook.

 

 

Posted in Small dogs | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Don’t Go: In Praise of the Occasional Wallow

Madeleine is a clever girl, and also a stubborn one. The other day when I was trying to leave to go to the gym, bag in hand, she parked her little butt firmly in the backyard, refusing to come in–even when I called her with a visible piece of food in hand, even when I opened the refrigerator door, a sound that usually gets a really rapid response. I finally had to pick her up and bring her indoors.

As I recently wrote, I am very glad I adopted Madeleine. Allowing happiness into your life is a good thing, as is looking on the bright side, if you can do it without nauseating all the people you know. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid painful emotions. Sometimes it’s cathartic to have a good wallow.

I’ve been filled with dread all week, channeling last year’s countdown to saying good-bye to Frankie, a year ago today. I chose Dia de Los Muertos, Day of the Dead, because I like the Mexican tradition of incorporating death as a natural part of life. And the artwork.

Day of the Dead Skeleton Dog by Lisa Luree

Day of the Dead Skeleton Dog by Lisa Luree

But euthanizing a beloved pet is not a natural part of life, even when you know in your head that you’re doing the right thing.  It haunts you, and it compounds the pain of missing that pet’s company. I finally allowed myself to go with it, to indulge in a running nose, ugly cry-fest, which is a lot better than the free-floating anxiety I’ve been experiencing as November 1 drew close. Madeleine may have sensed my sadness, even before she heard the honking nose blows, and decided it wasn’t a good idea for me to venture out into an amusement-free zone.

I appreciate the sentiment. But today I’m allowing myself to fully grieve my late, great friend Frankie, who will always have a special place in my heart. You never forget your first love, whether four legged or two.

Posted in Pet loss | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Catching Happiness

This past week, I was feeling a little sorry for myself. I wanted to buy myself something nice for my birthday but decided I was too broke even to get the new tennis shoes I need.

I was wallowing.

I do that. I’m a wallower. I try not to wallow in public too much, so as not to get a reputation for walking around with a cloud over my head, but mild misery is my default mode. My comfort zone.

Joe Btfsplk

Joe Btfsplk. If you’re as old as I am, you’ll remember him.

Then I thought about last year’s birthday. Talk about misery. I had made a commitment to say farewell to Frankie in a week, on November 1, the Day of the Dead. I’m not going to link to any of my posts from that time, or even look at them myself; it’s too upsetting. But remembering last year, when I really had a reason to wallow, I realized I had gotten myself a pretty great early birthday present in July: Madeleine. She’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Catching the Happiness Bug

Adopting another dog wasn’t an easy decision. I felt like I was betraying Frankie, who I was/am still mourning. And I was free of responsibility for the first time in years. I wanted to travel.

But a funny thing happened last spring. I got infected by a friend’s happiness.

Leo, who blogs at Kenzo the Hovawart, also had a terrible horrible year, having to say good-bye to his beloved Viva. He wrote a lot of sad posts, which made me sad too, thus keeping me in my comfort zone.

Then he adopted another dog, Tilde. He kept posting pictures of her playing with his first dog, Kenzo, and writing these really funny blog posts. Clearly he was–dare I say it?–happy, even though I knew he was still thinking of Viva.

I felt envious.

The urge to travel was still there–and so was a fear of the unknown. What if I didn’t like a new dog as much as I liked Frankie? I’d be stuck at home AND in a bad canine relationship.

And if I liked the new dog, that would be even worse. Dogs die and rip your heart out.

Still, the possibility of happiness, even if it couldn’t last forever… it had a certain appeal. And so I took the plunge.

Madeleine the Monkey

As has been confirmed more and more since my last post, Madeleine isn’t much like Frankie, except for being small and white and cute and stubborn (it comes with terrier territory) and bending gender stereotypes–Madeleine pees like a boy, Frankie peed like a girl. Madeleine is bold, food driven; Frankie was shy and, though he liked his chow, was too stressed to eat at all outside. He didn’t spend his waking hours trying to manipulate me into feeding him or trying to find food in every nook and cranny.

Madeleine is a gremlin, a troublemaker, too smart for her own good. I spend a lot of time during my walks with her feeling frustrated, wanting to yell. True confession: I poked her in the side one morning because she was barking–not out of fear but because she thought it would elicit treats from me. I was annoyed with myself: In heading off her (once legitimate) anxiety over seeing other dogs pass in the street, I had inadvertently trained her to associate barking with treats. She wasn’t going to let the fact that she’d overcome her anxiety stop her. My poke didn’t bother her but made me feel like an awful person.

But I spend far more time laughing than I do frustrated when I’m with Madeleine, at her and at myself. I love her spirit, her energy, and, in the end, even her ability to outwit me.

And she walks really, really fast, guaranteeing that I produce endorphins.

She’s also very sweet. I suspect that if I was lying injured in the street, she would go for help, or at least guard me. I adored Frankie with all my heart, but I was never sure about his interest in taking on any kind of caretaker role reversal.

Arrr, arrr, arrrf!

A bit patchyI’m not suggesting that Madeleine is a cure all for my foul moods–as evidenced by my bout of wallowing over being broke. Nor am I recommending that everyone who is mourning the loss of a pet rush out to get another one. We all have to go at our own pace.

Above all, someone in the throes of a serious depression might find the responsibility of caring for a dog to be burdensome. Another blogger friend, Pamela, wrote very movingly about that on Something Wagging This Way Comes: Dogs Don’t Cure Depression.

I’m just saying that opting for the possibility of happiness by getting a dog turned out to be the right decision for me.

My friend Cynthia put my wallowing into perspective. En route to dinner with her last week, I complained about being broke. On the way home, I mentioned that I’d spent a half an hour on the internet looking for a pirate costume for Madeleine. She laughed at me and said, “I thought you couldn’t afford tennis shoes.”

It’s always dangerous to have friends who have your number.

Not to mention dogs.

Posted in pet adoption | Tagged , , , , , | 18 Comments

Meet Madeleine

So last week this happened: I adopted a dog. She’s about four years old and weighs 12.2 pounds. She came with the name Madeleine and I like the gravitas of that, though she is very small and very lively so I don’t think anyone will blame me if I start calling her Maddie.

MadeleineI didn’t exactly intend to adopt her. I mean, I’d been inching my way towards thinking about adoption. I’d started ogling adoption sites. I visited the local shelter and, the same day, attended a few adoption events. But I didn’t find “my” dog, the dog that spoke to my heart, and found the whole process depressing. I was about to petsit a friend’s dog and figured I’d put the search on hold.

Then another friend posted a picture from the Humane Society of Southern Arizona (HSSAZ) on Facebook and tagged me.

Oh my. Those eyes.

The post said there was an adoption event across town where I could meet this cutie. I went. There she was, by herself in a pen. I took her in a room with me. She shed. She was very pink. Was she sunburned, I wondered, did she have allergies?

I learned she was picked as a stray in the next county over, which only has a high kill shelter. It was clear that, at one point she had had puppies; her figure isn’t entirely girlish.

Was she traumatized?

If she was, there were no visible signs of it. She was friendly and perky.

I asked the universe whether she was “my” dog–you know, if she licks me in the next minute, then she is, if she follows me when I get up then she is–and the universe said yes, but I was still uncertain. The volunteer from HSSAZ gave me the adoption form and said she’d be at the PetSmart until 3.

I sat in the car and filled out the form. Then I drove away. I called the friend whose dog I was going to petsit the following day to see what she thought; I didn’t want to jeopardize the arrangement. She wasn’t home. At five minutes to 3 I phoned the volunteer, who said she was about to bring Madeleine back to the humane society and that if I was interested I should drive over there.

I stood in front of Frankie’s shrine, shed a few tears, and asked if it was okay if I got a new friend. I got no answer from him or the universe.

I waited a while. I drove over to HSSAZ. After I heard the volunteer tell the second person who phoned about Madeleine that there was someone sitting and thinking about it, I took the plunge.

Frankie shrine, the big picture

The Woman Who Knew Too Much

My friend whose dog I was going to pet sit phoned me back soon after I brought Madeleine home. I kept repeating, “I got a dog.” She said, “You sound slightly hysterical.”

I was.

I had a dark night of the soul, tossing and turning. What had I done? What happened to my travel plans–my life as a free woman?

This time, as opposed to the first time I got a dog, I know what I don’t know. The food. The insurance. The training. The car seats. The vet. There is so much that I need to do, so much money I need to spend.

Madeleine, however, had no such reservations about me and my home.

Madeleine’s MO

A week in, I know that Madeleine is not like Frankie, except for the little white fuzzy part. She is bold and confident, claiming me by the second night when Mimzy, the dog I was petsitting, arrived.

You can see, below, which bed was intended for whom. I celebrate Madeleine’s aesthetic sense, if not her ability to share. The ebony and ivory effect is much better with the contrast.

M and M, Ebony and Ivory

Madeleine is also part mountain goat. When things were suspiciously quiet and I went outside my office to look, I found her standing on top of the kitchen table. I now know I have to push the chairs in every time. I also know that I need to use a rubber band to secure the door handle of the cabinet where I keep my trash.

Even in repose, Madeline likes to find odd perches–the armrest, say, as opposed to the couch.

Resting on the armrest

She managed to escape the harness that I used to secure her in the car, twice, even after the (new) vet I took her to made sure it was on properly.

She does not seem afraid of the car, however. Nor of lightening. She barks at it, rather than shaking.

Not a replacement

A friend whose heels Madeleine tried to nip–three times!–said that Madeleine would never be the companion to me Frankie was, which was very mean. It was also true, in its fashion. She will be a different companion to me. I have yet to find out exactly what kind, but there is no question anymore that she is “my” dog, whether the universe or Frankie intended her for me or not. When I took her in the car to go to the vet and she seemed worried, I promised her I was taking her home again, that I would always take her home again.

In the meantime, while trying to establish such good habits as no begging at the table–Madeleine has the most pitiful little whimper and a way of putting her paws up on your legs and looking into your eyes–I am also trying to relax.

And here I can take a page out of Madeleine’s book.

Stretch marks who cares

 

Posted in pet adoption | Tagged , , , , | 44 Comments

Dispatches from a Professional Dog Person

hats 2Can we talk? I’m having a bit of an identity crisis.

A Woman of Many Hats (including a sombrero)

Depending on whom you ask and when, I am a…

  • Literata (= female member of the literati; woman with Ph.D. in poetry)
  • Travel editor
  • Guidebook author
  • Travel writer
  • Food and spirits writer
  • Pet writer and blogger
  • Freelance editor
  • Blogger about Freud, genealogy, and meat.

Looking back, I see I’ve followed my interests more than my common sense in a society that demands specialization.  Still, after many, many years of waffling, I finally feel comfortable defining myself as a writer.

Sometimes realizing that I ended up doing what I always wanted to do when I was a kid even makes me happy.

Who Do You Think You Are?

I’m glad I never managed to fit myself into a box, though it wasn’t for want of trying. I’ve gotten an amazing education, without paying any extra tuition. The drawback? People you’ve met in one phase of your life, especially those whose passions coincide with yours at the point of intersection, are convinced that they know the “real” you.  A friend I’ve kept up with since graduate school told me the other day that she always reads my blog. “Which one?” I wanted to ask — but I knew the answer. For her, there is only Freud’s Butcher, my so-called intellectual outlet.

ButcherBadgex200pxOthers seem to believe in metamorphosis, to assume people change on a cellular level when they pursue a different interest.  I had the odd experience recently of seeing myself discussed, obituary style, on a Facebook literary page, where I learned that I’ve “become a professional dog person.” I understand that it’s shorthand, but it’s also shortsightedness, suggesting there’s nothing I might say about pets or animal welfare that could synch with an interest in poetry, that I use as fewer brain cells here than I do when writing about Freud or genealogy.

There’s not much we can do about other people’s perceptions of us. We can only try to be the people we aspire to be — or, putting on my professional dog person’s hat, the people that our dogs think we are.

The Book That Dare Not Speak Its Name

Which brings me, finally, to my point.

I’ve been in a black mood lately. It’s what happens when you lose a muse, a best friend, an identity. For nine years, whether I wrote about him or not, a large part of how I defined myself was as Frankie’s person.

I wrote about the loss. I had a fundraiser in Frankie’s memory. And, for a while, I thought I might write another dog book; I have a good one in mind, if I say so myself. But I realized that I’m not ready to tackle it yet. I need a bit of distance.

That’s true too of the family history book I was planning. I’ve enjoyed exploring the past, locating relatives from around the world. But all roads in that story seem to lead to the Holocaust, whether succumbing to it or surviving it. I need to step back from that sadness too.

It suddenly struck me: Before Frankie and Freud, there was Misguided, the working title of a memoir of my life as a travel writer (in some incarnations, the subtitle was Confessions of a Travel Slut). Started more than a decade ago, the book has been through two agents, one of whom decided at the last minute that she didn’t like my persona (um, that would be me), the other of whom disappeared after a single round of sending out sample chapters.

The last time I worked on the memoir was in 2008; Frankie had just been diagnosed with diabetes, and had never been keen on travel in any case. It seemed like a good time for me to settle in and reflect. I hired an editor to read the proposal and sample chapters of my memoir and then sent them around to agents again.

Somehow I ended up selling a book about dogs directly to a publisher instead.

A Woman with a Plan

In the intervening six years, publishing has changed — and so has my attitude towards it. With four books with large, traditional publishers under my belt, I have nothing to prove. And I’ve realized just how much marketing authors have to do to sell books for which they only receive a small percentage. This time, I’m going to publish the book myself. Stay tuned for the details; I don’t have them yet.

It occurred to me that it might be a good idea to write the book first.

So I’ve dusted off the old sample chapters and, for the first time, approached the book from the beginning, organically, rather than picking out tidbits to serve as agent or publisher bait. Starting any large project is always tough, but so far this has been a blast. I’ve been getting in touch with old friends from my days as a travel editor at Prentice Hall (Chapter 1), including several of the authors whose books I worked on. One of them confirmed that I was the first editor to allow the use of the word “penis” in a Frommer’s guide — a historic moment!

I’ve also been revisiting some less pleasant memories.

Revenge is a dish best served cold, it’s said, and I believe in the literary corollary: The best revenge is writing well. Those of you who have done me wrong should be very afraid.

But you pet peeps have nothing to worry about, I promise. You’ve always made me proud to be a professional dog person.

Posted in Book writing | Tagged , , , , , | 22 Comments

Pet Adoption Videos That Don’t Make Me Want to Kill Myself (But Do Make Me a Little Sad)

Shelter Pet Project 2014First things first.

I love the Shelter Pet Project, a joint effort of the Ad Council, Maddie’s Fund, and the Humane Society of the United States  to end the euthanasia of healthy animals.

I wrote a three-part series about it a couple of years ago.

In Part 1, I covered the first phase of the project, which produced and distributed a series of videos aimed at changing the perception of shelter pets as being inferior. The message: Human problems lead to pets being sent to shelters, not problems with the animals.

You can see one of the videos that I highlighted, below.

In Part 2, I discussed how the Shelter Pet Project came under the aegis of the Ad Council, which was enormously influential in helping to spread the word.

In Part 3, I showcased the new (as of late 2011) series of videos and discussed the role that the shelters and the American public need to play in order for the campaign to succeed.

Here’s one example:

I think it’s clear what a huge supporter I am.

But now there’s a new series.

Can we talk?

We’re among friends. I love the new posters that the Shelter Pet Project put out; the one at the top of the page reminds me of a certain shaggy someone.

But the videos that are centerpiece of their new campaign?

And the feline version:

I get it: the sound and visual effects put appealing pets up close to your computer, phone or TV screen. But the bare room? The tapping against the glass? The frenetic running around? They all make me a little sad.

Maybe it’s me. I’ve been in a sad mood lately. I’d love your feedback. What do you think of this new campaign, especially in relation to the earlier ones?

Posted in Animal Welfare | Tagged , , , , | 20 Comments

Frankie’s Fund: Death With Dignity Through Old Dog Haven

cropped-ODH_WebHeader_Jiggy_021314When I said good-bye to Frankie, I had many regrets, all related to the fact that dogs are not immortal or immune from mind-destroying diseases. One thing I never regretted, however, was the way that Frankie left this world. Spoiled and ministered to even more than usual, my sweet boy never doubted for a minute that he was loved.

You never know what’s going to inspire you. I wanted to honor Frankie and, though there were aspects of his life that could have benefited from research funds (canine diabetes and canine cognitive dysfunction, to name two), I knew I couldn’t raise enough Frankie for blog-004money to make a difference. Then I realized that, just as I had given Frankie a good death, it was within my power to help other dogs have one too. The idea that no dog should end a life in fear and confusion, feeling alone, was the impetus for Frankie’s Fund.

The fund’s donations — more than $3,000 — went to the Grey Muzzle Organization, an umbrella nonprofit that thoroughly screens the recipients of its grants to senior dogs. I was pleased that the chosen recipient of Frankie’s Fund was the Death with Dignity program offered by  Old Dog Haven, a network of private homes in western Washington state. I didn’t know anything about the organization or its programs beforehand, but Death with Dignity turned out to fit my vision for the fund to a tee.

I think you’ll agree.

Old Dog Haven’s Death With Dignity Program

As the organization describes the program in the grant proposal:

Too often old dogs who are close to death end up in shelters, or become ill while there. One of our priorities is to get these dogs into a home for a few weeks, days or even hours so they feel safe, wanted, loved and cared for and can leave the world gently with love around them…. It’s hard for us to understand how owners could walk away from their dog at the very end, but it happens. As sad as it makes us, we gladly step in to give the dog comfort, try to “fix” their medical issues if possible, and help them finish their journey.

Along with appreciating the difficulty of offering this last gift to old dogs, the other thing that I love about Old Dog Haven is that these often-brief encounters are not forgotten. Each dog that goes into the home of an Old Dog Haven foster caretaker is immortalized in the blogosphere — where nothing ever disappears, for better or worse.

As the director of Old Dog Haven puts it:

We do a memorial profile and picture for each dog we lose,  on the website under We Remember, and it makes those who loved that dog feel a lot better.  We DO remember these little souls.

I’d like to highlight some of the stories here too.

Sophia’s Story

[Triple tissue alert!]

Sophia  was brought to a shelter far out on the Olympic Peninsula by owners who said she was 18 years old and had her last puppies three years earlier.  She was discovered to have very advanced congestive heart failure, and taken to local veterinary emergency clinic at Old Dog Haven’s expense, while Old Dog Haven lined up a hospice home and transport, transport not being an easy matter from this distant location.

The foster took her directly to her own vet and they did their best to pull her through, despite knowing that the chance of recovery was zero but hoping for some good days — which were achieved.  Sophia passed after enjoying the best of care for 12 days, and her foster mom wrote the following tribute.

A scared pup when she first came in...

A scared pup when she first came in…

We knew that tiny Sophia would not have much time with us but we wanted whatever time to be as comfortable and full of love as possible.  She came very sick with congestive heart failure and very stressed: she’d been left (at what was supposedly 18 years of age) at a shelter not knowing what had happened, then had yet another move to a new home.  With medication for her failing heart and severe joint pain, as well as a lot of love and effort to help her eat, she was able to rally enough to enjoy some of the simple pleasures of her new life — like looking out the windows in the arms of her foster mom or exploring her new surroundings.

Her mom cherished the time just holding her for hours each day and she quickly responded.  Her eyes began to have a sparkle to them and her stress melted away.

... Sophia soon gained confidence under the kind touch of her foster mom

… Sophia soon gained confidence under the kind touch of her foster mom

Our time with her though ended much sooner than any of us wanted, despite all our efforts and her willingness to fight.  Her little body just could no longer carry on.  Her foster mom is thankful for every moment spent with her and adds that  she is always amazed how these dogs can overcome all they have been through and are still able to let go of that and accept the love they are now given.  It is heartbreaking to let them go, yet the rewards of being part of their precious lives, even but for a short time, leaves a lasting impression that no one can take away.   Sophia was a special angel who is deeply missed.

Note: The official fundraising is over, but if you want to donate to help other dogs like Sophia in Frankie’s memory, the best way is to send a check to Old Dog Haven and note that you want it to go to Frankie’s Fund/Death with Dignity; see the Donations page for address details.

Posted in dog hospice | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments