Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Year!!

Hey - Do you know what?? I forgot it was Leap Year. I thought the book was supposed to be ready today. Hey, guess what, if you have a Kindle ... IT IS!! (The paperback version should be available in a couple weeks. I'm working on that project.) So, if you have a Kindle, or the free Kindle app for your smart phone or other device, go to and plug in "A Foster's Tail".

Also, for those of you in the Lake Country Area, when the paperback comes out, yes, it will be available at The Doggy Bag in Downtown Oconomowoc .

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Whoa ... What's this? A Surprise Teaser?

You have all been so kind to me and have checked out the Facebook Page and "liked" it that I want to thank you and treat you to one last snippet before we release the book. We didn't quite make it to 150 likes but maybe, just maybe an extra piece of the puzzle will encourage the shyer Facebook fans to click that cyber button (please).

"Sometimes I can be a bit naive and my “silver lining” optimism gets the best of me.  This was one of those times.  When the director told me that a breeder wanted to get out of the breeding business and wanted to relinquish her dogs, I was all on board.  I looked up the breed online and discovered how beautiful, energetic and wonderful Bearded Collies were.  I saw pictures of dogs with long, flowing hair.  They were perfectly groomed, at a perfect weight and smiling as they played and bounced with other dogs.

 My husband, who is a bit more of a realist, advised me otherwise.  “No,” he said, “these dogs won’t be like that.  These dogs are probably kept outside all of the time and won’t know anything about being in the house.  They won’t be able to climb the stairs and they probably aren’t housetrained.”

 What did he know?  Before he met me, and before we adopted Andie, he’d never had his own dog for more than a minute.  Besides, even if they were everything he said, we could still housetrain a dog, we could teach it to use the stairs. 

“I don’t know, Shelly.”

It’s no use trying to argue with me when I know I’m right.  I suppose it’s that way with everyone.  I was convinced that the dogs we were receiving from this loving, caring woman from Missouri were cherished babes that she pampered and groomed until they shined like gold.  They were house pets that respected indoor versus outdoor.  They would run and play and frolic in the yard and they would all find homes in a heartbeat.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

At the time, we worked with a local grooming salon. This was the first point of contact that the fosters had with the dogs.  Here the dogs were bathed, ears cleaned, nails cut before they went to their new temporary homes.

If you look up Bearded Collies on the internet, you will discover that they are called “bouncing Beardies” as they are so full of life and exuberance.  They have beautiful grey and white or brown and white coats that, when properly taken care of, fly in the breeze with every bounce.

The dogs that we met that September night were anything but bouncing Beardies.  They were severely malnourished.  Their beautiful coats had been shaved to the skin because the breeder had not taken care of them.  They were matted and smelly and it was easier to shave the hair than it was to try and brush it out. 

This was just what we saw on the outside of the dogs.  We would discover as time passed that the insides of the dogs were even more damaged than any amount of shaving could have ever done.

There were five dogs in kennels at the salon.  The owner of the salon told us the names that the director had given them and a bit about their personalities.  This one was pretty good, that one had a bad eye, this one is better than the rest, oh, and here, this one is yours.  Yes, she is the most “messed up” of the dogs that came up.  Yup, she’s yours.  Her name is *****.

She opened the kennel door and out stepped the most pathetic looking beast I’d ever seen in my life.  Not that I’m so worldly, because I’m not, but as a lifelong dog person it was heartbreaking to look at this dog.

She scrabbled out of the kennel and across the tile floor of the shop.  It wasn’t so much walking, or running or any sort of locomotion I’d seen a dog perform before.  It was rather like she was some sort of ballet dancer on her tiptoes, but instead of her tiptoes, she was on her nails.  Instead of walking with poise, confidence and grace, she lowered her head, made herself small and travelled like this around the salon.

Eventually she wound up in the shampoo room, under the sanitary sink, with her legs wrapped around the legs of the tub.  My husband went in to get her out.  Later he confessed that that probably wasn’t the greatest idea he’d ever had.  She could have turned on him and ripped his face to shreds."

Oh, darn, something must have gone wrong in the transfer of the document from my flash drive to the Blog. It completely wiped out the dog's name. Awww... now for those of you who know who this naked doggie was, please, shhhhhh. It's supposed to be a teaser. But I think, that if you look really hard, you'll find the dog you're looking for ... (wait for it) somewhere on Facebook.  Check it out - A Foster's Tail is the page. 

Thank you for Reading! Thank you for thinking Rescue!! 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A quick update!

Ok, so I've purchased the ISBNs for my new book.  Initial plans are for Amazon's Kindle and a paperback to be purchased via Print on Demand from a website. 

If you live in the Oconomowoc Area, I will be talking with Eric, the owner at The Doggy Bag in Downtown Oconomowoc.  He wondered aloud on the "A Foster's Tail" Facebook wall if the book would be available at his store.  I would certainly love to accomodate him (and you!)

Have you seen the Facebook for "A Foster's Tail"? If you have a chance, please stop by and click the "LIKE" button on the top of the page. We'd like to reach 150 fan likes by tomorrow.

How 'bout if there's one last sample of the book if we reach 150 fan likes!  Tell you what...

As a show of good faith since at this moment, we are at 61 fan likes, I will give you a little video.

Go to Facebook, type, "A Foster's Tail" in the search box.  When you reach the page, click the "LIKE" button on the top right of the page. 

Thank you for your support.

Thank you for thinking rescue. Thank you for reading!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Teaser #2

Ok, after promising an additional teaser for reaching 50 "likes" on Facebook and falling short last night, I got crackin this morning and waded through my edited manuscript.  I've been changing things that my editor recommended I change and I've been tweaking here and there.  Oh, in the meantime, worked on finding my remaining homeless foster dog a home.

So here is your second little teaser.  We're coming down to the wire here and I'm hopeful I'll still be able to get this to you in both epublication format and a physical book format.  Just need to get the writing wrinkles ironed out first.

I'm thinking that it would be fun to see 150 "likes" on Facebook by next Friday, February 24.  Do you think we could do?  Can you be bribed?  How about I promise another snippet?

This little blurb is about Zootee - our Standard Poodle!

Most of the dogs that arrive at my house through rescue are underfed, un-housetrained and unneutered.  There are few exceptions.  Some of the dogs are even more pathetic.  The longer haired dogs are most often shaved as they are so matted.  It’s just easier to take it all off and start over fresh.

            Zoot was a standard poodle who came to us like that.  Mostly starved, presumably beaten, he was shaved to the skin.  His coat color, we were to find out later, was apricot.  All we could see was his pink skin with less than a quarter of an inch of hair to keep him covered.

            Underneath that pink skin you could count his ribs.  He was such a hideous mess that our neighbor didn’t recognize the breed when he stopped over one of the first afternoons we had Zootee.  “What the hell is that?” he asked. 

He didn’t believe me when I told him that Zoot was a Standard Poodle.  He was a shaved, 20 pounds underweight, Standard Poodle.

            We rarely know the “stories” where the dogs come from.  Generally perhaps, we know.  This one came from Ohio.  A lot of the dogs don’t like men.  A few don’t like women.  It seems that the greater majority of rescue dogs like kids.  That’s it.  The rest of the story we make up.  When Zootee slept, he tucked his underweight frame into a teeny little ball.  His docked tail was between his legs and his nose was touching his tail between his hind feet.

            Despite his past, he was a proud dog.  He walked with his head and tail up.  He walked nicely on a leash and was always up for a walk and a sniff around the neighborhood.

            I picked him up from the doggy daycare on Saturday and by the next Wednesday, he had gone to the S.N.I.P. Clinic and was neutered.  On Friday, we packed the crew, Mocha, Te’a and our two-day post-surgical Standard Poodle and drove to Chippewa Falls for the Labor Day Weekend.

            Yes, we were the only ones in the campground with a Standard Poodle.  No, it really didn’t faze him to be gawked at. I’m pretty sure he liked all the attention, plus the walks around the park at night provided heavenly smells!

            It was a standard camping trip. I had taken along the “Foster Dog” blanket for Zoot to sleep on. It was an old king-sized bedspread I had picked up at a local thrift store and washed it and laid it out for each new foster to sleep on when they arrived at the house. 

            I wasn’t really thinking about it but it was early September in the Northwoods.  It was cold at night.  I slept in a toasty warm sleeping bag with my jacket on and a sweatshirt underneath. 

            I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why this dog wouldn’t settle at night.  I figured it was because he was just uncomfortable.  Well, yeah, he was uncomfortable. He was cold. 

            On the last night, I had an epiphany. I had him lie down on a corner of the blanket and I wrapped him up in it.  He never moved the whole night.  Sorry, buddy, promise I’ll do better next time. I had no idea at the time, but I had set a precedent in future sleeping arrangements.  His new mom tucks in him and his new brother, another Standard Poodle from our rescue, into their blankies every night.

            The next two weeks passed pretty much without incident.  He ate like a horse and put on a few pounds.  By the time he left my house, at the end of three weeks, he was sleeping on his back, all four legs in the air.

            His new mom wasn’t quite so sure how to go about “fattening” up a dog.  Sure, she’d put plenty of dogs on diets but never had to overfeed one.

            I guess she got it right because when I met them at a local dog park a few months later, he was quite plump and healthy looking.  His hair had grown in and he was curly and poofy like a poodle should be.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Uh ...

Due to an unforeseen lengthy catch-up time with a lifelong friend, who also wrote a book, the next morsel of the blog will not be seen until sometime this weekend. 

I apologize for the delay. 

Please, refrain from leaving scathing messages on the blog. I will delete them.

Thank you for your kind patience and understanding. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Dotting my "i's" and Crossing my "t's"

Well, I've just heard back from my editor and she's all set. We're hoping to get together on Wednesday morning - should I invite her to The Lodge to experience the mayhem for herself?

After I get it all back, I'll go thru and correct her corrections and then hopefully get it all rolling and put it out there for you to read the whole thing.

I'm hoping to get it to you via an ebook format.  At this time, it will be Kindle via Amazon.  There has been a question or two about the availability for Nooks as well. I will have to look into that.  Additionally, I know there are people who prefer the feel, the smell, the weight of an old fashioned paperback book.  I am working on that too. 

There is a print on demand link thru Amazon that one can order a book or three and they will print just those three books and ship it out to you within a couple days.  That may be the way to go for a while.  I know there are a few folks who would like a physical copy of the book.  I'd like one for my shelf and for my friends and family who dont have the electronic toys.

Thank you to everyone who is saying kind things about the teaser I put up here for you all to read.  I'm hoping you agree that the rest is just as good.

Thank you to my adoptive moms who sent me pictures of their boys and girls.  There is a picture from Trixie-Pixie-Xena, Warrior Puppy's Mom and once I finish this I will post a whole slew of pictures from General Enzo, Sir's Mom and Chase's Mom.  It's amazing what gorgeous beasts they have grown into. 

I didnt think that Enzo could get anymore handsome but he has.  Chase has filled out and become this stunning looking boy.  And little Xena, she is still cute as a bug's ear but ready to play at the drop of a hat.

Have you checked out the Facebook Page - "A Foster's Tail" is the name of the page.  I'll put up pictures there and once things get a little more under control, some pictures from the first Fluffy Dogs at Grade Lodge and maybe a video or two.  If you can, I'm hoping for at least 50 "likes" by the end of the week - It's only six more people between now and Saturday.  I bet we could pull it off.  I'm hoping for a hundred likes by March 1, could you help with that?

Thank you for thinking rescue!  Thank you for reading!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Teaser ...

Ok, so here it is.  A little taste of the book for you to sample. A little snippet of what's to come.  Are you in? 

With a little luck and some patience it will be available March 1, 2012.  Thanks for reading!!

In the Beginning

I’m a dog person.  If I have to explain it to you, you probably aren’t one.  A sketchy definition, you ask?  I prefer the company of my dogs to your cats.  I “get” dogs.  Dogs “get” me.  Cats?  I’m never really sure what they are up to.  Why are they skulking around after dark? Why am I afraid to do something that will tick off the cat for fear of feline retribution on my pillow?  What’s the deal with their tails?  Always looked like weird little furry worms to me.

            Don’t get me wrong.  I like cats.  I live with three of them.  I’ve shooed them off the counter and the table and the refrigerator and the stove more times than I could throw a stick for my Labradors.  But I’m NOT a cat person.

            Why do I prefer dogs over cats?  A dog would never sit on the desk, soaking in the heat of the computer, blocking the screen with its fluffy shedding body.  A dog wouldn’t refuse to move so that you have to push it and knock over a full 20-oz. glass of drink mix, causing you to stop what you are doing, get out the paper towels, get out the “spray stuff,” get out regular towels, and take off your socks because you stepped in the whole sticky mess.  Then after walking around on the newly washed floor in bare feet, realize that you are tracking the whole sticky mess all around the kitchen.  So, you stand there, stuck to the floor, spraying your feet with the “spray stuff” while your 13-year-old son looks at you like you’ve lost (yet another) marble. 

            No, I don’t think a dog would do that.  A dog would be less covert about things and squat on the floor or lift his leg on the only upholstered chair in your living room.  A dog would chase her tennis ball under the corner of your new leather couch and gnaw at it until she got the ball out.  That’s what a dog would do.

            As a kid, we always had a dog.  Female Black Labradors.  Never a male because they peed on the bushes and wrecked the grass.  Always a female.  Always a black one.  Which, as a parent, I have to say is one of the best dog breeds for families.  They are up for anything, including but not limited to, walks in drenching downpours or a run in a blinding Wisconsin snowstorm through your backyard neighbor’s front yard.  Yup, nothing like a Labrador.  A Lab can go on a hike on the bluffs around Devil’s Lake with you in the middle of July and still have energy left over to chase a tennis ball and swim enthusiastically for an hour and a half afterward.

            When I was a baby, my dad brought home a lab mix pup from the neighbors of a family friend.  That dog and I “grew up” together.  Tag-a-long went on every adventure my family did.  Camping, canoeing, hiking, you name it – that dog was there.  She was tolerant and patient, the perfect family pet.   She was also my dad’s best hunting partner.  She could flush pheasants and retrieve ducks like no other.  There are pictures from “the old days” of my dad and Tag and a half a dozen ring-necked pheasants laid neatly on the ground.  My dad, with a full head of brown hair, holding his shotgun in one hand and arm around the dog with the other, wearing a smile that couldn’t be bribed off.

            That dog was there for me to learn how to walk, pulling myself up on her fur. I’m sure that when my brother came along, she was a little out of sorts as this put her farther down the attention ladder.  But like all family pets, she accepted her fate and tolerated the poked eyes, the tickled feet (and ears) and the rare tail pulling.

            One of my favorite quotes about dogs is by Agnes Sligh Tumbull.  She says, “Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really.”

            Time passes and children grow up.  We watch our beloved pets graying and aging, knowing what is coming but are still surprised when that day comes.

            One day, after hours of sledding on “The Hill,” we were walking home when Tag collapsed in the snow.  My dad knelt down next to her and talked softly to keep her, and my brother and me, calm.  I was about ten at the time and the thought of losing my dog was right up there with losing my grandpa.  How could she be dying?  Wasn’t she only ten years old, like me?  As a kid, you’ve had this creature with you every day of your life, as close as skin.  She was my sibling before my brother, my playmate, guardian, and my dad’s hunting pal.  How could she be dying? What would I do? Who would I love?

            My dad took her to the vet and was told that she had had a stroke.  I guess a stroke isn’t so bad.  We were able to fix her up with a baby aspirin a day and we were good to go again, mostly.  She moved slowly, a bit arthritic in her hips, but that was to be expected of a ten-year-old dog.  She still ate and drank and did all the things that a dog was supposed to do, where a dog was supposed to do it.

            Not long after that, my dad told us that he was going to “go look at some puppies.”  When it came to my dad and dogs, just looking at puppies and not bringing one home was a process easier said than done.  There was an ad in the local paper for some black Lab puppies.  A backyard breeder on the other side of town had a litter that he was looking for homes for.  Sure enough, my dad came home with this wriggling, fuzzy black ball.  His thinking was that if we had a second dog it wouldn’t be as hard on us when the time came when Tag-a-long had to cross over the Rainbow Bridge.  Based on the way she was physically, it seemed to us, that dog could have gone any day.

            But there we were, with two dogs, for two years.

            They went on every family vacation near and far.  Mostly it was canoe trips.  We spent a lot of time camping on Wisconsin River sandbars, and the dogs got front seat in the bows of the canoes.  We would paddle downriver for a couple of hours, find our “campsite” sandbar and set up our tents.  The rest of the day would be spent swimming, floating downstream and running back upstream on the sandbar to do it all over again.

            If you’ve had a Labrador for more than ten minutes, you know they love to swim almost as much as they love to eat.  On these camping trips, our two dogs would be in and out of the water all day long.  Somewhere around six o’clock, the kids would be dragged out of the water, sunburned and waterlogged.  We’d have to “change out of those wet suits and go look for driftwood” so we could have a fire to cook our dinner. 

The dogs would come with us. Sometimes helping carry the firewood.  Mostly, just to get the opportunity to go splashing back in the water.  Belle, the younger dog, had a thinner coat that dried quickly.  Tag had a thick coat that held water like a wool sweater and smelled about as bad when it was wet.   Wet dog hair sticks to everything, and everything sticks to it.

            Crawling into your tent at bedtime, damp sand clinging to your sunburned shoulders and legs, easing your way into your sleeping bag; ooh, that smarts.  The dog comes in behind you.  She’s damp, more wet than dry, smelling like fish with sand sticking to every single strand of her fur.  She shakes.  Water, sand and dog hair are everywhere.  There’s sand in your eyes, your ears and in your clothes, which are on top of a sunburned body.  There’s a lot of shuffling from inside the tent which prompts a “What are you kids doing in there?” from Mom and Dad.

            In Wisconsin, the weather can change in an instant and sometimes you wind up going to bed in a thunderstorm.  A tiny, nylon two-person tent was our shelter. The only things I had for comfort were my younger brother (who smelled), an old, damp sandy dog, who was more unnerved than I when the thunder crashed, and an old boat cushion for a pillow.  Don’t need a therapist to tell me why I’m not a big fan of thunderstorms.

            Flash-forward two years. 

            Today is the day.  Tag’s arthritis has gotten worse.  She can’t see.  She can’t hear.  Poor thing plods along because she can hardly move.  She has pressure wounds that wouldn’t heal on her “elbows” from lying on the concrete driveway.  My dad told us, as gently as possible, he’s taking her to the vet and if there’s nothing more they can do for her, he was going to have to put her to sleep.