Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Very Sick Dog

On our ride home from the vet.

     Annabelle is a very sick girl. Recently diagnosed with Lymphoma she will not be with the pack much longer. I say that and find it hard to believe. Do I sound accepting of this fact? Not really. I am more in denial that she is so ill. She is a trooper. Now on prednisone, her symptoms are masked, and she is quite content for her remaining days. However many there are. I don’t have a clue, no one does. The fact she is with me now, happy, pain-free, and enjoying her time here is good enough for me. I chose not to put her through extended treatments. She is old. It would not buy her enough time to make that time so unpleasant for her.

     We don’t know how old Annabelle is. She came to me in late April 2009, when I was on my dog adopting frenzy. She was number two. The folks with animal rescue pulled her from DeKalb Animal Control. Her owners turned her in, giving her age as five years old. A quick run by the vet brought up many guesses as to her real age. Anywhere from 8 to 10, based on her teeth and overall health and appearance. She had puppies at one time, maybe lots of them, her belly sagging low as she walked. Her teeth were a mess, and shame on me, they still are. Annabelle had a few teeth pulled but the rest are still in her mouth. Her breath could knock you over. Yet, she gives kisses freely, even now, and her breath? Well love conquers all.

      Annabelle had her chapter, Someone New In My Bed, in my widow memoir, Her first night in her new house - my house, our house, and the doghouse, where the numbers were growing -  told me all I needed to know about her. She got up on my bed and curled next to me. I rolled on my side, slipped my arm over her chubby tan frame, and slept the best sleep since my husband had died the year before. She had come in for a trial run but I knew she was mine forever.

      She could put the cartoon character Maxine to shame. Annabelle can be a curmudgeon, a cantankerous old lady, or a sweetheart.  She looks like an old school marm on days and on other days she smiles her partially-toothless grin that is infectious. She is a heartbreaker, no doubt about that, and soon will be breaking my heart.

     Our time now is fun. I treat Annabelle as a princess. Of course, all my dogs are spoiled; she is just getting a bit more attention and a bit of special food. I tuck her meds in hunks of rotisserie chicken. She inhales the bits so quickly she has no clue what is inside. Her eyes are bright as she does a happy dance.

      Trips to the vet include a stop along the ride home. A bit of Chick-fil-A sandwich, a small cup of low-fat yogurt from Brusters (free to dog visitors) and plenty of treats tucked in my pocket to keep her entertained on the short drive.

      Her arrival back home is that of a rock-star. Five dogs sniff her butt, saying Welcome Home. Rascal licks Annabelle’s face, a caring gesture that happens often and I have yet to figure out why. I wonder if they know.

     I do not count her days. I count my blessings. I am lucky to have this time with her and with all my dogs. Each day is a miracle. For her, for me, for you. None of us, canine or human, know how many days or years we have left. The gift is to live those days full of love and compassion. Perhaps a dog enjoying her remaining time teaches a lesson for all of us. My old gal Annabelle is full of grace and beauty, and yes, rotisserie chicken. She won’t let me forget the chicken . . .
Nurse Rascal

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Miss April In Paris Has A Fan

Skipper likes April's Diary!
Writers like to hear someone has enjoyed their story. I am no exception. So I was thrilled to get the following e-mail (see below) from a stranger who loved my latest book and let me know. Thanks so much, Sharon Gilbert, for my lovely review and the pictures of Skipper. April is smitten with him! Sharon won a copy of my book while I was on a blog tour with WOW! Woman on Writing. I treasure this note.
Remember, proceeds from the sale of A Dog Dreams of Paris go to animal rescue. Available on Amazon.
Thank You so much I received my book today that I won from Oh My Dog (Maggie Marton) contest! I had to sit right down and read the book before I did anything else. I LOVE LOVE your book A Dog Dreams Of Paris. The pictures are so magnificent. The story from Miss April's view was so amazing. I have triplet grand children and next time they are in town and I going to read the story to them.  Two of them are girls and they will love the pictures of the dogs with hats.  They love wearing hats. I am sure the boy is going to laugh his butt off when I read them about the dogs sniffing butts.  They have 2 black lab/great pyrenees (they are rescued siblings - girl and boy) and they are always sniffing butt. I have 2 Vizslas and 1 is a rescue.
Again Love your book!
You are an amazing writer.
Sharon Gilbert
Thank you Sharon and Skipper! You made our day.
                                                                      Barbara and Miss April In Paris

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Celebrating Bastille Day Doggie Style

Miss April in Paris
 Welcome to the Writer With Dogs Bastille Day Blog Party
This post is part of A Dog Dreams of Paris blog tour with WOW! Women On Writing. Click here for the kick-off interview on The Muffin and the remaining stops on the tour, which ends July 24th.
Miss April in Paris has enlivened this household of one human and six dogs. The human stays active, but six dogs are pretty much couch potatoes. The excitement of the publication of April's diary has caused a stir with the hounds. They have been following her blog tour and wonder if perhaps sometime down the road they will each have their own book. Time will tell on that one. However, time is important today. . . . Party time that is, as the dogs plan to celebrate Bastille Day!
"I've never heard of Bastille Day." Chloe, the alpha Chihuahua, exclaimed as soon as the party was brought up. She was slightly preoccupied with her fake mustache. It tickled her nose.
"It's simple," Diva dog Miss April in Paris explained. "Bastille Day, the French national holiday, commemorates the storming of the Bastille, which took place on July 14, 1789, and was the beginning of the French Revolution. The Bastille was a prison and a symbol of the power of Louis the 16th's Regime. By capturing this symbol, the people signaled that the king's power was no longer absolute: power should be based on the Nation and be limited by a separation of powers. The French celebrate Bastille Day each year on July 14th, with parties, parades,  food, drinks, dances and fireworks!"
"Do we get dog bones?" Bray, usually reserved and shy, was excited at the thought of more food. He slipped into a pair of cool shades and helped himself to a frosty beverage.
"Yes, and special drinks. Now, doesn't that taste yummy?" Diva April snorted, a very unladylike gesture. Perhaps she had already had a few of the special party drinks.
"I love music," Annabelle stretched on the couch, her big belly pointing up at the ceiling. The sound of a favorite pop song Uptown Funk got her up and moving. "I can make a run to the store if we need anything." While she didn't drive, Annabelle loved to ride in the car with the radio blasting tunes into the universe.
Rascal's eyes rolled. Her blue eye (for she has two different colored eyes) winked at April. "Are you wearing that old pink hat again?"
"It's my Diva hat. It's the hat that started my story. And yes, I am wearing it. You can have one of those silly party hats on the table."
"Gladly," Rascal yawned, then raced across the room to grab a hat and a party drink.
"Count me in, too!" Bertha rambled over to the table to find a pair of party glasses, both to wear and to drink from. "Let the party begin!" Bertha was especially social. She looked at her drink and wondered if perhaps she should have put the lime in the coconut. Then she barked, a loud piercing sound and shook her head, her funny mustache mixing with saliva dripping off her chops. Bertha took a sip out of her coconut and toasted the day.  "Viva La France!"
Before the party gets too rowdy, the dogs posed for their Bastille Day portraits.
Wishing all a happy Bastille Day. Party On!


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Writing Animal Stories for Children By Fiona Ingram

Join in as Fiona Ingram's blog tour with WOW! continues. 

On Writing Animal Stories for Children

I was overjoyed to do a post on writing animal stories for children. Animal welfare has become closer to my heart more than ever over the past few years. Authors contemplating writing a book for children featuring animals should consider what the main message is. Is it an entertaining tale? A moral or fable? An educational theme? When writing animal books for children, a clever writer can incorporate all sorts of themes without sounding didactic.

I began writing animal rescue books after reading stories about animals saved from abuse, and decided to do what I could to raise awareness about the care of animals, their importance in our lives, and the fact that they are sentient beings. They feel all the emotions we do; they need us for shelter, protection, food/water, love, grooming etc. We have a huge responsibility as the guardians of the planet and of all animal life, domestic and exotic. We should be teaching this to our children from an early age.
Champ’s story came about when I read about an abused little dog left for dead at a California shelter. Vets literally brought him back to life from the brink of death (he was almost suffocated in two plastic bags). From there he began a long and painful road to recovery, until he now is a happy, healthy, wonderful little dog, bringing joy into people’s lives.
When writing his tale, I had to think about who this book would appeal to and why. Adults who are animal lovers would want to know Champ’s journey, but might not want their kids to see too many horrible images. Kids would be interested in learning about caring for animals and how every little act or gesture counts. Younger readers (needing to be read to) would like to hear a story from Champ’s point of view. So I included all these elements. Champ writes his own heroic tale in which he experiences what many kids do: fear, insecurity, wondering if he is brave enough. He foils a plan of two would-be dognappers to kidnap and hold to ransom all the dogs in his area. He enlists the aid of caring and well-meaning animal friends, and becomes the hero of the day. Champ also writes a poem to express his joy at having a new life with lots of love.
When one sees the number of children with physical or emotional problems being able to overcome these with service dogs and/or other pets, one can easily understand how children relate on a deep emotional level to an animal that does not judge; it only loves. An author can include lots of positive messages in a book for children with or about animals, such as making new friends, giving and receiving help, overcoming difficult situations.
Another important lesson authors can include is teaching children responsibility towards a pet, caring for it properly, treating it as they would like to be treated, not as a toy one tosses aside when bored.
I hope readers will take the time to read more about Champ and share his amazing story with friends and family who love animals.

Read more about Champ's Champion Christmas on Fiona Ingram's blog. 
Visit S.A.F.E. Rescue No-Kill Shelter (who saved Champ)

See Champ on Twitter @ChampMyStory    


Author Fiona Ingram is visiting Writer With Dogs today as part of her WOW! (Women on Writing) blog tour for The Search for the Stone of Excalibur. Visit The Muffin for more information on the author and her tour schedule, which began on January 19th and runs through February 13th.

About the Book: 
A modern day adventure as our protagonists search for Excalibur and the treasures it holds!
Continuing the adventure that began in Egypt a few months prior in TheSecret of the Sacred Scarab, cousins Adam and Justin Sinclair are hot on the trail of the second Stone of Power, one of seven ancient stones lost centuries ago. This stone might be embedded in the hilt of a newly discovered sword that archaeologists believe belonged to King Arthur: Excalibur.
However, their long-standing enemy, Dr. Khalid, is following them as they travel to Scotland to investigate an old castle. Little do they know there is another deadly force, the Eaters of Poison, who have their own mission to complete. Time is running out as the confluence of the planets draws closer. Can Justin and Adam find the second Stone of Power and survive? And why did Aunt Isabel send a girl with them?
Join Justin and Adam as they search not only for the second Stone of Power, but also for the Scroll of the Ancients, a mysterious document that holds important clues to the Seven Stones of Power. As their adventure unfolds, they learn many things and face dangers that make even their perils in Egypt look tame. And how annoying for them that their tag-along companion, Kim, seems to have such good ideas when they are stumped.
About Fiona Ingram:

Fiona Ingram was born and educated in South Africa, and has worked as a full-time journalist and editor. Her interest in ancient history, mystery, and legends, and her enjoyment of travel resulted in The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, the first in her exciting children’s adventure series—The Chronicles of the Stone. This was inspired by a family trip the author took with her mom and two young nephews aged ten and twelve at the time. The book began as a short story for her nephews and grew from there. The Search for the Stone of Excalibur is a treat for young King Arthur fans. Fiona is busy with Book 3 entitled The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper, set in Mexico.

While writing The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, Fiona fostered (and later adopted) a young African child from a disadvantaged background. Her daughter became the inspiration for the little heroine, Kim, in The Search for the Stone of Excalibur. Interestingly, the fictional character’s background and social problems are reflected in the book as Kim learns to deal with life. Fiona’s experiences in teaching her daughter to read and to enjoy books also inspired many of her articles on child literacy and getting kids to love reading.


Links:  Author Web      Author Blog     Twitter @FionaRobyn     Facebook
               Author's Amazon Page

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Three-Dog Night and More

Rascal likes to snuggle by my pillow. Not only does it keep me warm, I get dog kisses periodically until she falls asleep.
With frigid temperatures falling all over the country, the south no exception, and my little spot in Decatur, with the wind chill, in the single digits. According to the weather channel, we are facing forty hours of below freezing (OMG)temperatures. Yikes!
I jokingly posted on Facebook yesterday evening that it was a six-dog night at my house, thinking of the phrase, a three-d0g night. Then I began to wonder, just where did that phrase come from? We all say it and know it means how many dogs to ward off the chill.
I did a bit of research.
The geographic source of the phrase has been debated many times. Is it the Australian outback or the northern reaches of North America with the Eskimos. The meaning is clear, no matter the location. The phrase is a rudimentary nightly temperature gauge. Dogs huddled with humans at night for their warmth. On really cold nights, three dogs were brought to bed to keep the owner from freezing to death.
In American Literature:
Available on Amazon
Whatever its origins it does turn up in American literature, and most of those included a definition as well as the phrase. A passage from a juvenile novel, Courage at Indian Deep by Jane Resh Thomas, provides a good example. Jane Resh Thomas is the author of more than a dozen fiction and non-fiction books for young readers. This book was published in 1990.
A ship sinks during an autumn blizzard on Lake Superior, and Cass and his dog are the only ones who can help the survivors.
     “Here, Tongue.” Cass dried the dog and coaxed him under the open sleeping bag. “This is a three-dog night, for sure, but one dog will have to do.”  
     Answering the puzzled look on Torberg’s face, Cass said, “I read that frontiersmen slept with dog because their body temperature is higher than a human’s. A three-dog night was a night so cold it took three dogs to keep a man warm.” 
     “Tongue’s a living electric blanket,” said Torberg smiling.

Another children's book:

From Amazon
Another children's book piles on more dogs for warmth. The Five-Dog Night, written and illustrated by Eileen Christelow. When Old Betty tries to advise Ezra on how to survive the cold winter nights, Ezra rebuffs her concerns because he has his own private source of warmth. Published in 1993.
You might say I am living the dream. Covered in dogs. At my house we have a six-dog night most every night!
Bertha Barth, Miss April in Paris, Bray-boy, Annabelle, Rascal,
and Chloe in her pink sweater.