Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Amie Flanagan and Vincent, the One Eared Dog

                                                             Vincent Van Gogh

Mom said she got him seconds before he was to be euthanized. Apparently, saving this older German Shepherd was a massive group effort for many different organizations. However, we did it. I had yet to meet the dog and I wondered how I would like him. The shelter had named the dog Vincent. I wanted him named something else.   

The dog approached me shyly when I got home and I petted him. I’m not really a dog person, but he had the kindest brown eyes. The real miracle occurred when my dad got home. We waited for him to hit the roof. My dad petted the dog and went to sit down. The dog went and sat down next to dad. 

Later that night Vincent had to go to the bathroom. He didn’t know to come and get either my dad or I. Instead, he just took a dump in the living room. The smell was so horrendous it woke me up from a dead sleep. I sat up and knew my dad would tell me the dog would have to go back.  

I took the dog outside and put him in the old dog pen that is about five feet high, grabbed a shovel, and cleaned up the dog’s mess. I realized the poor thing had hookworm. Afterwards I went back and was almost halfway asleep when I heard him.  

I stood up and went to the backdoor where Vincent now waited to go inside. I was in awe that he cleared a five-foot fence. I let him in and Vincent found my parents bedroom. He curled up at the foot of my dad’s bed.  

While he was in the shelter, Vincent had developed a horrible ear infection. Dad made the decision to have the ear amputated. Mom started to call him Vincent Van Gogh.

Over the next few years the dog had proven to become my dad's best friend. He would follow my dad everywhere. We thought the dog might’ve belonged to an older person or may have been a retired service dog. Vincent didn’t like fireworks, and God forbid if he didn’t like somebody. Vincent was a gentle and unusual dog in the sense that he had a calm personality. He was always afraid we would leave him behind, but we never did.

About Amie Flanagan:

  Amie Flanagan attends Savannah College of Art and Design, where she’s in the process of obtaining a M.A. in Cinema Studies and a M.F.A. in Writing. She is a contributing editor to the blog Curvy Moi  and her website Keys To The Page is dedicated to writers. Amie attended Kennesaw State University where she earned her B.S. in Communication with a focus in Journalism. She interned at the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange with the Center for Sustainable Journalism at Kennesaw State University and at EUE/Screen Gems Studio in Atlanta, Georgia. She has interviewed many authors, actors, musicians, screenwriters, and politicians while at Kennesaw State Universities Owl Radio (click here to see list) . Amie loves to read. Here’s a list of her favorite books. She also loves to write.  Check out her portfolio.

About Keys To The Page:

KeysTo The Page is a website that helps encourage writers to be the best they can be. Exercises and Examples help writers form their craft. There are also quick references on the page for writers, screenwriters, and playwrights. This page also posts news, and interesting things that will be sure to help the budding author and contains basic facts, recommended reading, basic reviews, interviews, and special event coverage to help create a strong mastery of the art of writing.

And then there are the cats . . .
 Amie and Skippy
We won't say how many . . .  but here's a hint, let's count from 1 to 7.


Keys To The Page Web


Twitter   @amieflanagan




Amie and Charlie

Monday, July 21, 2014

Dog Blogger K.S. Mueller with Hobie, Cooper, and Charlie Brown

K.S. Mueller and friends.
At no time in my life have I ever been dog-free.  I hear some dog owners say that they look forward to a time, later in life, when they will not have a dog so they can have more freedom.  For me, it’s just the opposite… if and when I retire, I want to have multiple dogs!  My dream is to own and operate a senior pet sanctuary some day.  I have been fortunate to have many dogs and cats who enjoyed their golden years with us, and feel I have been given a great gift to be able to care for so many elderly animals.

At the moment, we have three dogs.  Hobie is a 14 ½ year-old Lab/Shepherd mix with whom I fell in love at first sight when he was just a puppy.  Charlie Brown and Cooper are 2-year-old littermates from the “Kate Plus Eight” litter of “Tennessee Ugly Brown Dogs” transported north to Massachusetts with their mom saving them from a high-kill facility.  Charlie is the “alpha” of the household now; and his brother Cooper only has three legs (but he doesn’t know that, so please don’t tell him!).  Watching over us always are the late, great, Hector Hound and the girl-dog I knew the longest, Timba; as well as Mr. Kitty, the reincarnated dog.  We also have three cats:  Tux, Newman and Cali.  My significant other gave them nicknames:  Bullet, Hairball and Lady Kitty, respectively!
The dogs follow me everywhere.  I like to say we move as a unit!  If I leave a room, they follow.  The cats follow us, too, usually on walks on our lakeside, dead-end dirt road.  Neighbors point and laugh -- it is pretty funny to see the cats following along, and even putting their paws in the lake.  We are a pack, that is for sure. It can get crowded in our too-small house, but I love having them nearby.  They lie under my desk, or somewhere nearby, when I’m writing and using the computer.  I take pictures of them almost daily, which I’m sure drives some of my social-media friends crazy. 

About K.S. Mueller:
K.S. Mueller (a.k.a. "k2" **) writes essays about dogs, cats and other topics during her spare time from her "real job" as a travel executive, and takes a lot of photos. Mueller lives in Massachusetts with her significant other, their dogs Hobie, Charlie Brown, and Cooper, and three cats, Cali, Tux and Newman. Mueller has shared her life with dozens of dogs and cats since childhood, and volunteers for several animal-related non-profit organizations. In 2010, she discovered a box of letters written by her late parents during WWII, and is currently publishing those letters in a three-volume biography of the Mueller family.

The Blogs:

 Travel and lifestyle tips for you and your dog.
What The Human Does In Her Own Words:
For the last three decades, I’ve been employed by my significant other’s student travel business.  It’s sort of like running the family business, but not being an actual owner – even though I act like an owner.  Folks generally don’t understand what student travel is.  Remember when your school’s French class went to France with their teacher?  Or the Spanish teacher took her kids to Spain or Costa Rica?  That’s what we do.  Although I have “worn every hat” in the company, my main function is Bookkeeper Extraordinaire.  A far cry from writing, right?  I recently started writing the company’s blog, Going Places.

Available on Amazon and Kindle

 A collection of WWII love letters written by my parents during World War II from 1943 through 1945 when my father was a sergeant in the U.S. Army stationed in various locations including Illinois, California, Kansas, Louisiana, Texas, England, Germany, Belgium and France. Includes autobiographical documents written by Frank J. Mueller. Volume I comprises 1942 & 1943. Future volumes will complete the series.
Dog books:  In progress!  “Dear Hobie:  Letters To A Yellow Dog” and “Everything Is A Song: Essays”.
Sites Where K.S. Mueller writesDoggyLoot blog    Fairy Dog Parents blog
Personal Blogs:    K2K9   The Traveling Dog Lady
Amazon:  Paper and Kindle
Twitter @k2k9


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Author Roy Dimond with Mickey and Lou

Mickey on the couch that we cut the legs off when he got old.
Lou with her kind eyes
Barbara, thank you so much for providing me with the opportunity to share a story on your exciting new blog. I swear that every word here is the absolute truth. This all happened… to me.     Roy Dimond

I was on a date with a young woman whom I found most attractive. It was early in the relationship and I was on my best behavior, trying mightily to impress her. We were walking beside a four-lane highway holding hands and chatting -- when I saw it -- and without even realizing it my shoulder pressed against the young lady nudging her out into traffic. I was halfway into the oncoming traffic; hands holding her so tight our knuckles were turning white before I realized what I was doing.

By the time we meandered between honking cars and had made it to the other side of the street without dying, I knew she was the woman I would marry. Anyone who would follow me into traffic, help me stop four lanes of cars, with no explanation other than my shoulder slowly guiding us, well she was the woman for me.

Now you may ask, what would cause a perfectly sane man to drag his date out into traffic. I had spotted a dog. A black dog to be specific. Probably a lab, but to me all black dogs were hounds spawned from some biblical beast and a threat. Why? Because of what happened to me when I was 6 years old.

It was a beautiful summer day and I was throwing a tennis ball against the house. I will always remember that day when the ball went into our open garage door. I trotted into the darkness and waited for my eyes to adjust before finding my ball. I remember it so clearly, partially because it was such a beautiful summer day with summer clouds and bright summer sun, and so dark in the depths of the garage. When I turned around to leave, three of the biggest, blackest, most vicious dogs I have ever seen or ever hope to see -- hounds from hell -- cornered me in that dark garage for who knows how long. A day, a year, it seemed longer, but most likely it was about ten minutes. But ten minutes of hell is a lifetime to a six-year-old boy. They snarled and their back legs quivered in attack mode anytime I moved. With hackles up they kept me cornered until thankfully my mom came looking for me. She was Super Woman that summer afternoon. Beating them off with the handle of a broom. They jumped our fence and the pack was never seen in our neighborhood again.

That is why, despite trying to impress my future wife, I crossed to the other side of the street… I had to, at any cost… loss of dignity and thus loss of future wife, run over by car, cause a multiple car pile up, it didn’t matter. It was a black dog and it was on my side of the sidewalk. This is what my life was like whenever I saw a dog, especially a black dog… until…

One day, my now happily married wife, and yes it was that same loyal woman who married me, came home and announced, “We are getting a dog.”

“No we aren’t.”

“Yes, we are.”

“NO we are NOT.”

As with most arguments between my wife and me, it went back and forth like this until I finally put my foot down and insisted, “Yes darling, you are right, we are getting a dog.” I take great pride in that I win most of the family arguments, even if it takes me some time to see the correctness of my position.

So we went to meet the beast -- the enemy -- the spawn of Satan. En route, I admit to some mild complaining, but not, as my wife has expanded over the years when telling the story, to sniveling and whining like a five-year-old girl. That NEVER happened… anyway… back to my story…

We showed up at the country home where a dozen dogs roamed about terrorizing all other life forms. Sure it looked like play to the untrained eye, but I knew they were actually exercising their skills of trickery, rolling on the ground exposing their bellies for a pat only to rip and tear the hand that offered nothing but kindness. I watched them run and frolic until their tongues hung out. No doubt these were cardiovascular drills training them to chase down humans and to attack as a pack. Ruthless beasts.

While standing in the middle of their drills of death, I heard my wife.  “Here, this is the one I wanted to show you… he’s perfect.” She picked up the puppy and held it close.

I thought to myself, what guile… tricking her into bringing her face close so he could rip a hunk of flesh right from her cheek. But no… he licked her. Little bugger must be waiting for his canine teeth.

At least he was white and a lab; they do have a nice face… I was weakening. Then it happened…

I took a step closer and almost fell flat on my face. Down at my feet was the cutest… err… I mean the most deadly looking beast… it was a lab… curled around my ankles so if I moved I would fall allowing the other hounds to eat the flesh off my bones. Worse of all… yep… it was black. Yes, yes, it was the runt of the litter, but it was black… and it had me in its grip and it was NOT letting go.

Still clutching the white lab puppy to her chest, my wife laughed so hard that tears streamed down her face… she had a cruel streak in her.  My knees were locked, paralyzed with fear. The dog owner chuckled, “I can’t do a better selling job than that.”

Unfortunately my wife agreed. “We have to have both of them.”

“No, we do not.”

“Yes, we are.”

“NO we are absolutely NOT.”

I, of course, eventually saw the error of my ways and won the argument… by paying the dog owner for two Labrador puppies.

By the time we got home it was raining hard and we had not one, but two dogs romping about the basement. We agreed that the white lab would be named Mickey. He was all boy and handsome as handsome can be – Mickey Mantle.

The girl dog we named Lou and she was tiny, tiny, tiny, so naturally she was already bossing around her bigger brother.

I put down my car keys and closed the garage door, and before I could stop him, Mickey had picked up my keys in his mouth and sprinted into the back yard. For two hours in the pouring rain I searched for my keys, and by the way neither mutt even offered to come out into the downpour to help look.  After locating them, I marched inside soaked to the skin. I yelled at Mickey, “Bad dog! You don’t ever take my keys again.” Please remember, it was my first hour, ever, with the enemy and I did not understand the terms of our agreement yet.  His head cocked from side to side clearly confused by my tirade. My bemused wife offered me a towel, but then it happened. In that moment, the enemy became a part of my family. I yelled one last time at Mickey, “BAD DOG” when in the corner of my eye I saw little Lou faint -- she toppled over, legs in the air, unconscious.

It was then that I realized she wasn’t a beast, but as sensitive a creature that has ever walked the earth. Better than man and kinder and wiser as well. I coaxed her back to consciousness and realized that I could never raise my voice in my house ever again. That included shouts of joy over a sports event, as that would mean twenty minutes of what we came to call “Love Talk” -- twenty minutes of kind words so that precious Lou knew she was safe and loved.

I also learned that I was not allowed to do sit ups because that caused dear nurse Lou to run to my side and closely monitor me. If I continued my sit-ups, she would put a paw on my chest to pin me to the ground. If I persisted, she would spread eagle on top of me.  I would be laughing so hard I was forced to stop.

In time, as the puppies grew into healthy dogs, my fear vanished and for that I am ever grateful for being wise enough to demand that we bring home both dogs. At least that’s how I remember it.

In his old age, Mickey began having seizures and Lou would always come and tell us minutes before they happened. Somehow she knew and would try to pin her much bigger brother to the ground thus giving us warning so we could put him into his safe bed where he couldn’t hurt himself.

On Lou’s final day she passed peacefully while giving me her paw. That night, Mickey went to bed alone for the first time in his life.  After my wife and I went to bed, he let out the most mournful howl imaginable. We cried and climbed out of bed and went down stairs to sleep with him.  He never recovered from that loss and followed Lou one year later, but at least he never had to sleep alone.

Now when a black dog comes walking along the sidewalk, I don’t cross over, but am the first to greet it.  Every time, I am reminded of my Mickey and my Lou and miss them -- I would have it no other way.

Book Excerpt:

Mickey with his bowl... good story In Saving Our Pennys about him saving his bowl from a storm.

This is a segment from a book I co-authored with my good friend Jeff Leitch. It is a story about an individual who is struggling with his day-to-day life and the journey he takes to find joy and happiness. It is called, Saving Our Pennys.
In the book, we shared a couple of stories about Mickey {we call him Lab}. Although he has a small part in the book, he is very fundamental to the tale and everything we shared is true. I hope you enjoy…


Available on Amazon

     When I finally arrive at the end of the driveway, Lab frantically dashes out to share all the day’s events with me. One of the peculiarities of this rather peculiar dog is that wherever he goes he carries his food bowl in his mouth. No one has ever taught him this, but my kids attribute it to the Boy Scout in him. “Always be prepared,” as one never knows when food might arrive. At this point in our greeting ritual, he usually does me the honor of dropping his bowl and taking my hand to guide me around the yard. It is his way of showing me what happened during his day.

     However, just before he is able to do this, there is a bright light followed by an ear-splitting crack of thunder. I am nearly hit in the head, not by the lightening, but by Lab’s bowl as it flies into the air. In the millisecond it takes me to realize what is happening, a tail disappears through the dog door. I run after him as cold wet drops begin to splatter the ground. Inside, whimpering comes from a dog that has no bowl. My consoling does no good as he paces.

     Despite the thunder, his courage wins the day, and I have never been so proud of him. I open the door and at warp speed he races out, ears pinned back, crying in fear during the entire frantic dash. Without breaking stride he scoops up his bowl and, trying to bleed off speed, forces his head to aim toward the house while his back legs skid out from under him. This makes his circle route as small as the laws of physics allow. I open the door just slightly wider than his terror-filled eyes. Focusing on his destination with one mighty leap through the opening, he slides across the floor and with a loud grunt bashes into the wall on the other side of the room. With his bowl tightly gripped in canine teeth, he has made it! A finer display of courage I have never seen.

     I congratulate and then console him, as thunder shatters our moment. We share unimaginable trust as he allows me to pry the just saved bowl from his jaws and place it beside his blanket. Still panting, he sprawls next to it. I lie beside him and pat his head, muttering, “Good boy. Good dog.” Despite the thunder, we are both thankful: he for his bowl and me for my dog.
About The Authors Of Saving Our Pennys.
Roy has visited three times on my Book Talk Blog. You can click on each book title and visit the post. Saving Our Pennys, The Rubicon Effect, and The Singing Bowl.
Roy Dimond lives with his wife in Pender Harbour, a small fishing village on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, Canada. Locals call it "Penderdise." In his first life, Roy had the honor of helping at risk children and their families. In his second life, he pursues his love of travel and writing. Having explored four continents from Cuzco to Kyoto, Santorini to Tsumago, his wanderings have all found a way into his stories. Roy's first book The Singing Bowl and is now in a Second Edition. His second novel is called, The Rubicon Effect.  Saving Our Pennys is his third book, and first work of non-fiction.


Jeff Leitch lives with his family in Maple Ridge, a proud community at the base of the majestic GoldenEarsMountain in British Columbia, Canada. Honoured to be a teacher in his native Coquitlam, British Columbia, Jeff’s passions include his wife Linda, and their three kids, Amanda, Matthew and Adam, “all his families” and friends, and the great stories they share. You can find him at any sporting venue, or live theatre, with coffee in hand, cheering and coaching those who display courage and dare to chase greatness. Along with writing occasional articles for local papers, Jeff’s current restlessness has him dreaming of many more novels, while writing at least one musical hit as he goes beyond the three chords he knows on his acoustic guitar.
About the Book:
Ever been overwhelmed by the everyday burdens of life? And yet, everyone else turns to you for support and guidance. You see a person sitting next to you laughing, enjoying life. How did they get there?  
The universe seldom takes the straight path. Seeing someone filled with simple joy can often provide the opportunity for a profound experience. Our long journey is often twisted with depression, angst, dread... But IF we have the energy to keep our eyes open, then solutions may appear in the strangest of places.  
Mentors are everywhere, waiting patiently... IF we look for them. Heroes take many forms, one may be the small child laughing on a swing and another may be the old man smiling contentedly beside you on a bus, or perhaps even the people who look to you for help and guidance. Is it possible to help someone else while helping yourself?
Author Website         Facebook         Goodreads     Buy On Amazon                                                                             


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Author Barbara Techel and Frankie, The Walk 'N Roll Dog That Started A Legacy

   Barbara and her current dog Gidget

Frankie the Walk 'Roll Dog 8/20/99 - 6/21/12  - The Dog That Started It All

It’s my love of dogs that started me down a new path in life at the age of 41 over ten years ago. Being a writer or caring for special needs dogs was never a part of my life plan. But oh, how it has helped me become the woman I am today!
The bond between human and animal that can be so deeply intense I yearned to capture all the different facets of it. But little did I know I’d be taken on a journey of personal healing that would help me live more from the true authentic center of who I am.
It began with my favorite flavor in color- chocolate. For many years I yearned for a Labrador retriever. I finally got one as a puppy and named her Cassie Jo. I learned patience, grew deeper in compassion, and began to understand the depths of unconditional love because of her.
Her diagnoses of bone cancer that took her life eight months later, as odd as it might sound, was a gift in disguise for me. As I watched cancer invade her body, it was her spirit that astounded me. It was as if she had no idea that the tumor on the side of her hip would eventually claim her life. Despite what she was going through, she was truly happy. It was that joyful spirit that I wanted, too. She paved the way, and gave me the courage to venture out into the world of writing.
Dogs would continue to reveal the many layers of who I am when my spunky, short, red haired dachshund, named Frankie, became paralyzed in her hind legs due to disc disease. She was custom-fitted for a dog wheelchair and her zest for life was absolutely contagious.
I often sat in awe of this 10-inch tall dog with limp back legs who now enjoyed life to the fullest in a wheelchair that helped her to do all the things she did just like before her paralysis. It was her unabashed attitude of not worrying that others might think it strange she was in a wheelchair, that the next layer of my own insecurity fell away.
This moment etched in my memory forever, watching my petite 14-pound dog roll through the grass, happy to be who she is, despite her wheelchair. All of a sudden, as if a bolt of lightning hit me, I realized all along I had a choice. I could continue to worry what others thought of how I should live my life or I could live from the heart of who I truly wanted to be.
That skin of which for so many years I felt so uncomfortable in was beginning to feel so much more comfortable. Writing about my experience with a dog in a wheelchair, and the many lessons I learned from her, became my passion. The more I wrote, the deeper I healed.
Available on Amazon
For the next five years Frankie and I visited over 350 schools and libraries in our state of Wisconsin. Through the children’s series I wrote about her, Frankie the Walk ‘N Roll Dog, we taught kids to be positive, make a difference, and keep on rolling no matter what their challenges. Frankie also became a therapy dog and left a loving and joyful affect on the lives of many in need. She logged over 250 visits visiting people in hospice, our local hospital and an assisted living facility. She was also, as far as I know, one of the first dogs to ever Skype sharing her story to over 50 schools right from the comfort of my writing cottage.
When Frankie died at the age of twelve, my world as I knew it fell apart. I thought I had finally found my calling with all the work I did with her. Without Frankie, I questioned what it is I’m supposed to do on the next leg of my journey.
Four months later, Joie (pronounced Joey), a black and tan dachshund, found her way into my heart when I was searching for another disabled dog to love.

But it would only be ten short months later when my heart would shatter into a million pieces yet again. Complications and serious health challenges unbeknownst to me when I adopted her, made themselves known in a sudden and unexpected way. The greatest gift I could give her was to let her go.
At my side during the painful grieving process of Frankie and Joie has been my eight year old English Labrador, Kylie. She has been my rock of solace and comfort during very sad days.
It would only be after Joie left this earth that I would realize the gift of what she taught me. Her lesson to me was that it was time for me to be still.  She left so that I could sit in reflection and refill the well of which I knew was empty, but was too frightened to accept. After years of writing for my blog, writing children’s books and nearing the completion of my memoir, I stepped back. I completely stopped everything I had been doing and took a two month sabbatical. I felt this was essential to my soul. I knew had to find my way back to my center again.
Through daily journaling just for me, I was able to peel away even more layers and heal on yet another level. It is where I came to grasp the gift of being a woman who is a work in progress. In this I’ve realized there are more opportunities to grow and evolve. I’ve learned that a big part of my calling is caring for special needs dachshunds and I knew I would do that again someday soon.
November 2013 found me holding a newly adopted dachshund in my arms that I found through a rescue organization on the west coast. Inflicted with the same disc disease, Gidget is what I call my “walk ‘n wobble” dog. Unlike Frankie and Joie, she does not need a wheelchair. Though she may webble and wobble, and fall down at times, it’s a new adventure for me to watch a new kind of perseverance in her determination. I also lovingly refer to her as my Buddha dog.

There is just something about her that reminds me to practice daily stillness, pay attention to the whispers of my heart, and encourages me to not be afraid of what the next step on my path is. She does this all just by the way in which she seems to be so planted firmly in the spirit of who she is.

Tea anyone?
It continues to be my love of dogs and especially those like Frankie, Joie and Gidget with special needs, that I continue my writing through my blog at It is there that I not only write about my love of them, but also write about how I define a meaningful and authentic life— all these lessons of which, I continue to learn through my beloved pets.

Joyful Paws Web
It’s also my honor to carry on the legacy and mission that Frankie and I began with a day I founded in her memory, called National Walk ‘N Roll Dog Day. Along with this special day I also founded The Frankie Wheelchair Fund which helps disabled dogs in need. To date, the fund has granted 27 wheelchairs to paralyzed dogs.

National Walk 'N Roll Dog Day Web

About Barbara Techel:

Barbara Techel is the award-winning author of Through Frankie’s Eyes, an inspirational memoir about her journey to her authentic self. It’s the story of how her paralyzed Dachshund, Frankie, in a wheelchair, helped her overcome many of her fears to live with more joy, integrity and intent. Frankie taught Barbara to let go of what didn’t matter and embrace the whispers of her heart, and stand tall in who she is.

 Available on Amazon and Kindle
Other Books by Barbara Techel
Activity Book on Amazon

And For Writers

Author Amazon Page (links to all books)     FaceBook    Twitter @Joyfulpaws