It’s a funny time, the week between Christmas and New Year’s — even for people like me who don’t really celebrate the holidays, except by drinking too much eggnog and gorging on cookies and fudge. It’s limbo, not quite out with the old nor in with the new. I always look forward to this as a quiet time to get some work done, but without strict deadlines — which I don’t have at the moment — I’m a bit at sea.

I’ve also been distracted by Frankie. He’s had a few hypoglycemic incidents during walks, which hadn’t happened before. It’s been cold, so he is probably using more energy trying to keep warm, even when he’s wearing a sweater. The fact is, he’s not getting any younger, and it’s hard for me to be in my usual state of denial about that when he’s not his normally stroppy self.

And then there’s this odd blast from an unknown past. I always knew that one of my great uncles, who was sent to a concentration camp from Vienna like most members of both parents’ families, had owned a butcher shop and that Sigmund Freud was one of his customers. But I never realized that Freud lived and practiced psychoanalysis right above that butcher shop — and that, in 2001, it had become part of the Freud Museum in Vienna, which I’ve never visited (see the second paragraph).

I can’t even begin to figure out what to do with this information; I’m waiting for the museum to get back to me after an initial introductory email and inquiry about whether my family archives are there along with Freud’s.

So forgive my spaciness at this year-end wrap up/housekeeping post.

The Book Club Regroups — and Reschedules

I know I’m not the only one who’s been distracted, and I realized January 5 might be a bit early for the next meeting of the book club. So I’ve shifted the date to Thursday January 12.  That means it’s not too late to purchase signed copies of the paperback and the hardcover editions of Dog Walks Man at a discount, including shipping charges. To order these signed, discounted copies directly from the publisher, contact Amy Alexander at 203.458.4541 or e-mail Amy.Alexander at Signed hardcovers are $20, signed paperbacks are $15, and prices include tax and shipping (I imagine if you want extra fast shipping you’ll have to pay more).

And of course there’s Kindle edition, but no signing will be involved: Dog Walks Man by John Zeaman.

Also that week…

To get you right into the swing of things for the New Year, don’t forget the Pet Blogger’s Challenge.  Grab the badge to the right and proclaim, I’M A PET BLOGGER AND I’M PROUD (or conflicted, or depressed, or whatever you plan to write in answer to the questions that Amy of and I posed).

A couple of things that make me happy


On Jan. 20, 2012,  the U.S. Postal Service celebrates the partnership between dogs and people with the Dogs at Work stamps:

As the press release explains:

Currently, some 10,000 guide dogs in the U.S. and Canada serve as an extra set of eyes for people who are blind. Therapy dogs, chosen for their friendly dispositions, bring comfort and joy to the elderly and the ill. Dogs that work with police and military personnel are trained to detect drugs, guns, and explosives. Search and rescue dogs speed up search efforts, increasing the odds of survival for disaster victims.

The original paintings on which the stamps are based are by John M. Thompson. And you’ll be happy to learn that 62¢ is not the new first-class rate for one ounce; rather, it’ll get you two ounces of heft. I can’t vouch for how long.

Wiener dog races

I’m sure my pal Jessica at You Did What With Your Weiner knows all about the Wienerschnitzel Wiener Nationals; maybe Chester and Greta, whose athleticism was celebrated on this blog, are participating. But I wasn’t aware of the events to determine the fastest dachshund in the nation until I saw an item about Fritz, a Tucson dog who is competing. Go Fritz.

[hmmm:  Wienerschnitzel originated in Vienna and my father’s brother was named Fritz. To get back to one source of distraction, is there something Freudian about my interest? Of course, sometimes a wiener dog is just a wiener dog.]

One thing that makes me nuts

I’ve saved the worst for last because if this makes you as crazy as it makes me, you never would have gotten further than this item. To wit: A shelter in Arizona killed an injured cat, not because of the extent of its injuries but because the owner — who credited the cat with helping him get past his addiction — didn’t have money to pay for treatment. Nor would the shelter take his mother’s credit card number over the phone in payment or wait until the next day when the owner could pay.

This doesn’t only make me crazy for the immediate situation, though it certainly is horrendous. I’m working on a series about the Shelter Pet Project, and have become even more aware than I had been about the importance of shelters doing their part to change their image. Bad publicity like this doesn’t only impact one cat and one person who loved her. It also sets back the cause of trying to get people to perceive shelters as welcoming places, as environments for finding wonderful pets.

Is it just me? Or does a story like this get you furious at the damage the thoughtlessness of one person in a position of power can do?

22 thoughts on “Year End Musings and Newsings”

  1. I love this week before year end. I always get so much done! This year I am hard at work promoting a new feature with some treat companies I admire, planning some articles and series I want to attack in the new year and working to create an editorial calendar to keep me on track! If I get even half done, I’ll be thrilled!

  2. I always really look forward to this week. We begin to reclaim our lives from all the holiday craziness that takes over.

    I have got to get my hands on those stamps! We have two of the four areas covered here at our house. Hubby will love those!

    That’s very cool to find out some things about your ancestry that way! I hope you get to go and see it.

    Good grief! Did that shelter never realize what kind of damage that could do? Seriously! Didn’t they even think that it might become a story locally that could get them in hot water? What is wrong with people?

    1. I don’t have any prizes to give, but I so appreciate your reading my post to the end and commenting on so many different parts! I’d begun to think I’d gone on a bit long, and had meandered too far.

      I do wonder about people; if they’re motivated by kindness, you’d at least think they would be into self preservation.

  3. What a unique piece of news! I wonder if you might be able to get your hands on old family photos from the museum?

    I just read about Scruffy on the Yes Biscuit blog and it made me absolutely ill. The shelter refused to take the credit card of the owner’s mother, over the phone. They also refused to treat the cat and wait for a payment the next day. Scruffys owner took him to the shelter because he thought that it would be cheaper than a vets office.

    WTG Arizona Humane Society, you made my s**t list.

    1. I’m thinking there have got to be records and photos, Karen, but I know it’s going to be upsetting at the same time because the way of life depicted in the photos was forced to end. Emotional can of worms, but one I think it’s time to open.

      The story about Scruffy was horrible; as I said to Roberta, one more reason to be embarrassed by Arizona.

  4. The Christmas season (which we are in – only the commercial season is over) is a very good time to meander and consider. I’m glad you moved forward the book club – need to check out my library.
    Very interesting and a bit discombobulating, I imagine, about Freud and your great-uncle’s shop.
    I’ve been following the AZ cat story on Yes! Biscuit. I do not understand. AZ Humane now has a PR person to spin this for the public (allegedly pro bono). They have a $12 million dollar budget! and they couldn’t not kill a kitten whose existence saved a man’s life?
    Those stamps are gorgeous! I just need to post mail more stuff – really – I like getting actual mail instead of bills but it helps to send first.
    I haven’t even begun a year end wrap up on any blog, so you are doing good!

    1. Hope you find the book in your library, Roberta. And yes, the Freud story is discombobulating. I still have to process what I want to do about it.

      Thanks for the link to Yes! Biscuit. I am embarrassed for my state (again). I know the PR person, who used to work in tourism, and she a good person. She must be in hell right now. There’s no defending this.

      You have time to do a year end wrap up for the Pet Blogger’s Challenge 😉

  5. Very interesting about the Freud connection – although I can imagine it’s a bit much to take in as well. Understandable that it would be a big source of distraction.

    I’ve got my book all ready for the book club… but I haven’t cracked it open yet (other than to look for the signature, which was very cool). I plan to start on it this weekend – I’m a fast reader when I actually have time to read, so I should be ready to go on the 12th. 🙂

    I love the stamps… very cool!

    That story about the animal shelter is making me very sad while also getting my blood boiling. Just terrible. 🙁 Why such a rush to kill the cat? I just can’t make any sense of it.

  6. “Of course, sometimes a wiener dog is just a wiener dog.” Har har. Very sophisticated bad pun.

    I’m always amazed that you can discover and research such diverse subjects, from the divine to the ridiculous, with a little horrific thrown in when necessary (your family in the Holocaust, the murdered cat). None of your readers would want you to cease your “meandering” as you call it, brilliant blogging as I call it.

    1. Thank you, as ever, BFF and #1 fan (I’m not sure that there’s a list, but you’d be on top of it if there were one).

  7. As a dog blogger and Arizonan, I’ve been watching the AHS story unfold. It’s absolutely devastating. It’s also a little surprising – for as many negative stories as I’ve heard about shelters, AHS is one that I had heard mainly positive things about. So I was amazed when I heard about how they handled Daniel and his cat.

    They’ve come out and said that they’re revising policies to make sure nothing like this happens again. They will now accept credit card payments over the phone, which they formerly refused unless it was for donations (speaks volumes, doesn’t it?), and they’re setting up an emergency fund for owners who cannot pay bills in the spot. (Source – AZ Republic, It’s too little too late for Daniel Dockery, but I really hope that these changes are as a result of true remorse and commitment to improving, rather than a knee-jerk PR move that will cease once the furor has dissipated.

    And I really hope that, whenever he’s ready, AHS will give Daniel pick of the litter for another companion. I can’t imagine how hurt he must be and yet he’s saying he doesn’t want people to pull donations to AHS and animals to suffer. He knows what’s really important.

    1. Thanks for your update of the story. It *does* speak volumes that they only took donations by credit card over the phone but not payments for treatment, doesn’t it? Being in Tucson, I haven’t heard much about AHS’s policy, though I ran a pet adoption video of theirs a few weeks ago. So this is not a great first introduction.

      Kudos to Daniel Dockery for seeing beyond his immediate pain and being able to forgive.

      P.S. This somehow ended up in my spam bin; that’s why it didn’t turn up earlier.

  8. Story of Scruffy the murdered cat is sickening. Please keep in mind guilty party
    Arizona Humane Society in Phoenix not Southern Arizona Humane Society (or Humane. Social of Southern Arizona) here in Tucson. Let’s make sure wrath is properly directed.

    1. Yes, we do need to make a distinction… bad immigration policies, animal killing in shelters — not typical of Tucson! In fairness, I don’t imagine it’s typical of Phoenix either. And it definitely won’t be after this publicity!

  9. The news from Vienna must leave you torn with the question what to do with it. I found these pictures of the exhibition’s imagery-artwork that restores the former storefront of the butcher shop. The artist quotes Freud on the top of the storefront addressing a similar dilemma you now face.

    1. Sorry for the delay in posting your comment — my spam filter is being overactive!

      Thank you so much for this link: I’ve been trying to navigate around the Freud Museum website but didn’t find anything so directly relevant to my situation. It’s so odd to see my great uncle’s name in big letters across the banner — I’m going to have to try to get a better image to view — and yes, the quote is indeed relevant. You’re very perceptive about what I am feeling, ranging from anger (why didn’t they try to find any living family members for this exhibit?!) to interest to dread about uncovering the past.

  10. What a fascinating discovery! I know so little about my family’s past. Given that we were either poor farmers or poor miners in teeny tiny villages, there aren’t many written documents. I would be so excited to find out something like this.

    I am also very relieved for the change of date. I just received an e-reader over the holidays and haven’t had a chance to use it yet, due to all the other books sitting on my shelf, yours included!

    I hope Frankie returns to his old cranky self soon. Take care!

    1. It *is* fascinating; I’m sure there would have been no record of my great uncle had Sigmund Freud not been involved.

      And I’m glad you’re relieved by the change of date — me too! I read the book a long time ago and need a refresher.

      Frankie still has…issues. My regular vet is still off this week so I’m waiting for him to get back to discuss. Thanks for the good wishes, though.

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