Thursday, November 27, 2008

My new book is out! Basset Hound: Your Happy Healthy Pet

Today I was thrilled to receive the first copies of my new book, Basset Hound, Your Happy Healthy Pet. It is available for sale on Amazon, just in time for the holidays. I'm sure you will all want one, even if you don't have a Basset (VERY big grin). 

I spent about two months on this project earlier this year. The Happy Healthy Pet series from Howell Books is a series about each of the most popular breeds. I am happy to report that this book is specifically written about about Basset Hounds, rather than just a formula "how-to-care-for-your-dog" book with a Basset Hound on the cover. Although the editor provided me with a table of contents, I was free to reorganize and add elements, and of course, write the content. This is a second edition; the first edition, written by Barbara Wicklund, a respected member of the Basset Hound Club of America, was released in 1996. I was given the first edition to pull from as I wished. The previous book focused more on breeders and dog fanciers rather than pet owners, so my mission was to rewrite the book for the pet dog owner.  A lot of information needed to be updated also. Her writing style was more formal where my style is conversational, so that needed to be changed too. The new edition, while including some of her work, is mostly mine. The editors provided content for some of the sidebars– for example, on vaccinations – so it would be consistent throughout all of their breed books. Since I have so much experience with training, it killed me not to be able to write that chapter! But someday someone will probably rewrite my version too. 

I had some terrific help with my research for the book. Jo Ann and Bill Nolan, of Splash Basset Hounds, Heather Simonek of Vogue Bassets, Don Bullock of Woebgon Bassets, and Cathy Wheeler (whose dogs compete in agility) all spent hours with me as I diligently took notes. Sylvie McGee of Seattle helped me with rescue and Basset health issues. She is the Basset breed rep for Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue (a group I used to volunteer for) and is on the national breed club's health committee. Jacqueline Nolan posed with dogs, and Kevin Whelan had his agility dogs perform for photos. 

My close friend and a professional photographer, Melanie Snowhite, took some fabulous photos which are featured in the book. I love how the Basset's loose skin seems to be caught in slow motion, flapping around mid-action in some of the shots.

I learned so much on this, my first book, that will help me when I write the next one, and there will be a next one, I promise! 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I'm famous!

A friend and fellow Dog Writers Association member has written an interesting blog on Kim Thornton writes about what pet owners are doing to save money in these tough economic times.

I thought it was fun to find myself quoted in the article, talking about how I deal with the cost of grooming three shelties and shots for four dogs. I'll let you read her blog to find out what I do! 

My cousin in Missouri read the article and was glad to see I'm not being quoted about yet another wildfire in San Diego, which just shows that the fire season isn't over yet.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Catch an escaped dog or cat

• Most dogs will come to you if you squat down, open your arms, and call in a happy, fun voice. You are much less scary when you are down on the dog’s eye level.
• Face sideways as the dog approaches. Facing straight-on is a dominant position, and may intimidate him into keeping his distance. Avoid direct eye contact for the same reason.
• If there’s another dog in the household, snap on a leash and take her out with you. The loose dog will often come to his buddy.
• Tempt Rover with a trail of treats leading to you. Don’t let him see the leash.
• Get ahead of him and herd him back towards the house. Leave the door open; he may run right in.
• Run away from the dog. Get his attention and take off in the opposite direction. This really works! Rover thinks it’s a game, and readily plays.
• If the dog is afraid to come to you, put some really good, tasty canned food out and sit with your back turned. Lay down and he will often come right up and start sniffing you, wondering what the heck you’re doing.
• No matter how mad you are, praise Rover to the heavens when he comes back. If he gets punished, he won’t come next time.

No doubt about it; cats are much harder to catch.
• Throw a blanket or towel over him.
• Run the can opener to lure him in, if he knows what the sound means.
• Ignore him and move away from the door, or herd him in that direction. If you’re not in the way, he may go back in on his own, especially if he’s never been out. An indoor cat is usually terrified outside.
• You may have to rent a humane trap (cage) and put food in it and leave, or watch from a distance. Feed stores or animal shelters should have traps for rent.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Old Dogs are the best

I've been cruising through the dog rescue sites lately, looking at photos of old Labs, Collies, and Dachshunds, all available for adoption. I have two 10 year old shelties, so it's not like I need another old dog, but they just tug at my heart. The article from The Week, linked from the title above, puts it beautifully. It is an excerpt form the book,  Old Dogsby Gene Weingarten and Michael S. Williamson. I quote:

Some people who seem unmoved by the deaths of tens of thousands through war or natural disaster will nonetheless grieve inconsolably over the loss of the family dog. People who find this behavior distasteful are often the ones without pets. It is hard to understand, in the abstract, the degree to which a companion animal, particularly after a long life, becomes a part of you. I believe I’ve figured out what this is all about. It is not as noble as I’d like it to be, but it is not anything of which to be ashamed, either.

In our dogs, we see ourselves. Dogs exhibit almost all of our emotions; if you think a dog cannot register envy or pity or pride or melancholia, you have never lived with one for any length of time. What dogs lack is our ability to dissimulate. They wear their emotions nakedly, and so, in watching them, we see ourselves as we would be if we were stripped of posture and pretense. Their innocence is enormously appealing. When we watch a dog progress from puppy hood to old age, we are watching our own lives in microcosm. Our dogs become old, frail, crotchety, and vulnerable, just as Grandma did, just as we surely will, come the day. When we grieve for them, we grieve for ourselves.

I continually marvel that every writer is compelled to write about their beloved dog when it dies. I did it too, when Tank died. He was that once in a lifetime dog, and I will never forget him. We had a blast throughout his youth, and in his old age, I clung to him, afraid he would go away before I was ready. I was never ready. 

October has been a hard month for me. It is the 26th anniversary of my mother's death. A friend died October 3, 2007. I had my last visit with my father in October last year, and he died Nov. 2. Horrible fires raced through San Diego at this time last year, and two of my friends' homes burned down, and one friend (and client) lost her elderly cat. 

When you lose someone or something that matters to you, you can't help but remember other losses. I guess that's why I'm thinking about Tank, and the love of an old dog. There is just nothing like it. For all the old dogs I have owned, some for a very short time, I wouldn't trade them for anything. The sorrow of losing them is nothing compared to what they give back. Unconditional love, friendship, and an appreciation for the time we have on this earth and the time we have together, however short or long it may be.
Read Tank's story here.