Posted in Creativity, Home

Things to Try this Summer by Carlene O’Connor

Wild Spy

 Spend the day at the zoo. Pretend you can secretly talk to one species of animal. The first animal you make direct eye contact with– that’s the one you can secretly talk to. Imagine you’re there to give them a message– and get one back from them. Imagine. Everyone else is just there to see the giraffes and eat greasy food. You are on a mission. I can’t wait to see what wisdom the wild animals have for me today.

Star Gazing

 I’ve always wanted to own a telescope. I’ve lived in too many cities to make it worth it, unless I want to be one of those creepy people spying into condo windows. Although that does sound fascinating for a writer, it’s still a bridge too far. So this summer I’m going to have to make it somewhere with open, clear skies, and do some star gazing. It’s good for the soul. Continue reading “Things to Try this Summer by Carlene O’Connor”

Posted in Creativity, Home

A Holiday For The Dogs by Donna Kauffman

In Unleashed, the first story in my Hamilton Christmas novella trilogy, heroine Emma Lafferty owns a professional pet sitting service. While I did, at one time, many (oh so very many) moons ago teach obedience training professionally, these days my pet-sitting services are exclusively reserved for my granddogs. (I’m still waiting on grandkids, but granddogs are absolutely the next best thing!)

My oldest has an adorable rescue, Lily, whose mama was a yellow Labrador retriever, and her papa was a dachshund. (I know, how did that work?) Lily has the thicker body of a lab, but the shorter legs and longer body of a dachshund, hence her nickname, Lily Long Dog.  Halloween is a favorite holiday of ours and Oldest’s dogs have always been involved, sporting their own canine costumes as they help to hand out treats to the all the neighborhood kids. (You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a one-hundred-pound bull dog in a tutu and bunny ears!)  Lily is now part of that grand Halloween tradition. Continue reading “A Holiday For The Dogs by Donna Kauffman”

Posted in Home

The Pug Connection by Nancy Bush

Long ago I conceived of a book that co-starred a pug, which is how “The Binkster” became a central part of CANDY APPLE RED, the first book in my Jane Kelly Mystery Series. The dog was a pure figment of my imagination, but as I wrote the mystery her character became so real to me that I decided to go out and find her in the real world. This caused serious worry to my husband. He felt the need to explain to me that well, I could sure try to find The Binkster, but my chances were slim and none. He also wasn’t certain he wanted this new addition to our family as we’d never had a dog throughout our married life.

He wasn’t wrong. I’d never been a particular dog lover. Dogs, cats, birds, fish . . . they all fell into the same category: pets. So, to say that my new obsession was half-baked would be putting it kindly. I was working off my own fabrication. This dog, this pug, would be terrific. A companion, a friend, a compatriot both to me and my protagonist, reluctant private investigator Jane Kelly.

I found The Binkster from a dog breeder who had six puppies, three males, three females. A friend of mine who knew dogs and was possibly as worried as my husband about my new endeavor, told me to pick the least outgoing dog. I’m sure she had a vision of me bringing home one that would be more than I could handle. I listened to her and, at the breeder’s, I asked to see the three females. The breeder put them all on the floor with me. One yipped and jumped right into my lap and wanted all my attention. One hung by, a little less eager, but wiggling all around, waiting for her chance to be in the spotlight. The third one quietly toddled away from me and batted at the fringe on a chair. That was The Binkster.

That was some of the best advice I was ever given as The Binkster proved to be everything I envisioned and more. My husband became her constant companion, even more than I did. He and she took several trips a day to the park and grew to know all the other dogs whose owners lived in the neighborhood. The Binkster went on road trips with us and even amused a trooper who pulled me over on the freeway for speeding. (He still gave me a ticket.) My daughter, who’d never grown up with dogs, fell in love with her and adopted her own pug in the first year of her marriage, Dexter. My sister now has two pugs. Continue reading “The Pug Connection by Nancy Bush”

Posted in Home

Blog Post by David McCaleb

When I was a kid, choosing an animal companion was simple. Selection took place in a variety of ways, none too complicated. Sometimes it was the adoption of a stray. Or by inheritance – a family member asking to take care of their beloved while on vacation, then conveniently failing to pick them back up.

A more sophisticated method was a visit to the local SPCA. I felt so cultured with my older sisters there, strolling past kennels full of dogs, judging each one’s character. Like a vintner in his cellar, drawing a sample from a barrel with a that tool that looks like a turkey baster, analyzing his product’s aroma. Only, these musky kennels with dank concrete floors summoned a different odor. They housed an eclectic mix of animals, large and small, short-haired and furry, napping and barking. We expressed wisdoms such as, “His ears are too floppy,” or, “I like the way that one wags its tail.” We’d usually settle on a German shepherd or black lab mix, though all appeared as if cobbled together by Congress.

Then we’d take it home and let Darwin figure out if it suited our family. You see, we lived on a farm. There was no such thing as leash laws. In our family culture such restraints were considered inhumane. Dogs had the run of field and forest. It was heaven.

If they visited the neighbors – let me quickly explain for city-bound readers: A neighbor qualifies as anyone the next field over. That could mean a half-mile to ten. But for a dog, crossing such distances was like ambling to the other side of a room. Neighbors were kind and would call if our animals overstayed their welcome. Mom was always nearest the phone when the phone rang, usually during dinner.



“Digger is over here. The kids have had a great time with him all afternoon, but he needs a ride home now.”

Mom would nod toward Dad. He’d drop his fork, mutter a few obscenities, then hop into the car. Upon return, sufficiently scolded, the dog would slink through the door, head bowed, pretending to be sorry. The family would return the gesture, feigning anger by shaking fingers and speaking in deep tones, but I’d feed him scraps under the table. That’s one lovely thing about dogs – they erase all evidence of Mom’s eggplant casserole.

But that is where Darwin’s theory of natural selection proved true. Did you catch it? Digger passed. Any dog whose karma melded nicely with others would survive. But if one was mean-spirited, neighbors would still be neighborly. The conversation would just go a little differently.



“Digger is over here again.”

“So sorry. What about Rex? Is he with Digger?”

A throat clearing. “No. Haven’t seen Rex for a bit.”

“Oh. You guys OK? I heard shots across the field.” Continue reading “Blog Post by David McCaleb”

Posted in Home

The Dogs’ Guide to Summer By Buttercup and Baron Davis

Dig in and enjoy the ultimate guide to summer, as brought to you by Buttercup and Baron Davis.

Summer is what the hoomans call the period when the big yellow bus doesn’t come down the road. We miss barking at it, but don’t worry because it returns in the season hoomans call “fall.” If there are small hoomans in your home, they will begin to whine and complain in the days before the bus returns.

Because summer is a short season, we recommend that you make the most of it.  Here is our list of pros and cons.

Good Things About Summer

Brief pause in writing for a discussion.

Buttercup: This should not be the best thing about summer! I nearly drowned, so I hate the water. But the shore usually has interesting scents. I do like that.

Baron: You did not nearly drown.

Buttercup: Did so! I jumped on a huge block of white stuff floating on the water and it drifted away from the shore. There was water all the way around me. I thought I was a goner.

Baron: You have to be in the water to drown.

Buttercup: I was in the water! I was surrounded by it. I could have drowned! The very best thing about summer should be ice cream.

  1. Ice cream. There’s hooman ice cream and doggy ice cream . We both agree that they’re great! There should be a law requiring ice cream all year ‘round.
  2. Camping and long walks in the woods when the weather cools off.


  1. Chasing skunks.

Continue reading “The Dogs’ Guide to Summer By Buttercup and Baron Davis”

Posted in Home

Blog Post by Anna Bradley

My husband and I are dog people. In the 19 years we’ve been together, we’ve always had a dog. In that time, we’ve lived in Seattle and Portland, OR—two cities that fit us perfectly, because they love their dogs!

Some of you may have heard me talk about Barkley, our beloved 9-year old Old English Sheepdog. Barkley is my writing partner and an amazing friend, but today I want to pay tribute to another incredible dog—one we lost ten years ago this month.

Before we had Barkley, we had Max. Max was a gorgeous Great Pyrenees. If you know the breed, then you’ll know what I mean when I say a Great Pyrenees is “a lot of dog”! Max was 110 pounds of pure-white, brown-eyed doggie perfection, and he was as kind as he was beautiful. My husband and I doted on Max. He was our child before we had children, and we lavished all our attention on him.

We lived in Seattle, and at the time it didn’t have a Great Pyrenees Club. It did have a Bernese Mountain Dog club, though, so we figured, why not join their club, instead? I’m sure the Berner owners thought we were nuts, but dog lovers get other dog lovers, and they welcomed us with open arms. Max had a great time playing with all the other dogs, but he didn’t precisely blend in. He was the only white dog in a sea of dark brown and russet Berners!

Dog lovers do funny things, like throw birthday parties for their dogs, or, in the case of the Seattle Bernese Mountain Dog Club, Halloween parties! They had one every year. The first year we went my husband decided to make Max a costume to wear to the party—a Bernese Mountain Dog costume.

I wasn’t enthusiastic about the idea:

Me:                  “You can’t do that to him! Dogs hate wearing costumes.” Continue reading “Blog Post by Anna Bradley”

Posted in Home

Blog Post by Christine D’Abo

I know I’m not alone when I say that love my dogs. As a dog mom, there is nothing better than having your faithful companion by your side, on good days or bad. I’m lucky enough to have two fur-babies in my life. They are my best friends and I love them to bits.


Jack and Jill are miniature dachshunds, balls of fun and energy that make me smile daily. They are also creatures of habit, which suits me just fine. Here are five things that my dogs love to do every day, rain or shine.

Walks – When you look at these two wee things, you wouldn’t think that they demand to go on a three kilometer walk every single day. But man, do they get grumpy with me if I’m feeling lazy and try to get out of going. I can’t even say the word walk in the mornings unless I’m planning on taking them right exactly now. We’ve had to come up with code phrases: daily constitutional, a jaunt, about to do the loop. I think they’re catching on.

Treats – Some dogs are picky. My dogs will eat just about anything. Liver bites and Greenies are their favorites. First thing in the morning they get one Greenie, which is supposed to help their teeth, but I call shenanigans. Still, if I ever run out both Jack and Jill get quite annoyed with me. Liver bites are their go to hey I’m cute and you should totally give me a snack I give them too many. They love me for it.

Sleep – They wake up in the morning, go pee, have a treat, and then immediately go back to sleep. I’m envious. When they want to be left alone they will burrow under a blanket. Jill will do this more than Jack, but both will at night when they are really tired. Continue reading “Blog Post by Christine D’Abo”

Posted in Home

My Remarkable Not-So-Cute Dog Story by Kevin O’Brien

My first dog, Mickey, won a bunch of awards at dog shows, but what makes her really unique is her remote connection to the most famous murder of the twentieth century.

I’m the youngest of six kids, and in October, 1963, we moved into a rather stately looking house in Glencoe—on Chicago’s North Shore. From the previous owners, the Kleins, we inherited a dining room set, a big custom-made sofa, and their miniature German Schnauzer, Mickey. Actually, Mickey’s real name was Machenz Marlene (or something fancy and pretentious like that), and she’d already won a ton of Best in Show ribbons when we got her.  This distinction was kind of lost on us, because none of us were big dog show enthusiasts.  Mickey did all the normal things dogs did: sat, jumped, rolled over and barked on cue—especially if a Milk Bone came with the command. She also went berserk whenever someone approached our front door.

On the evening of November 22, 1963, Mickey went into her berserk routine, because someone was at our front door.  It was the police.  A cop car and a second, unmarked car had pulled into our driveway.  The police were looking for Mr. Klein, who owned a huge sporting goods store in Chicago. Klein’s Sporting Goods is where “A. Hidell” bought—via mail order—the Italian carbine rifle used to assassinate President Kennedy. Continue reading “My Remarkable Not-So-Cute Dog Story by Kevin O’Brien”

Posted in Home

Dog Days of August blog by Alexandra Ivy

If anyone follows my Facebook page, you’ll know that I recently adopted a gorgeous silver lab that I named Levet after the silly gargoyle in my Guardians of Eternity series. I have tumbled head over heels in love and he’s spoiled to the point of insanity. He’s taken over my couch, he gets a new toy or treat each time I go to the store, and I spend at least two afternoons a week taking him on playdates. It’s no wonder he has no idea that he’s my pet, not my child.

Continue reading “Dog Days of August blog by Alexandra Ivy”

Posted in Home

Blog Post by Bernard Schaffer

At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted him. Cody was a basement dog, rescued out of Philly. He had scabs all across his front and hind legs from sleeping on concrete for so long. He’d never been neutered, which made me suspect he’d just been used for breeding. He was a big, powerful, yellow lab with a coat like a lion’s mane. When I first went to meet him, he didn’t know how to act around people. I brought him a few toys, and he ignored them completely. He seemed wild and to be honest, a little scary.

At the time, my daughter was just eight, and tiny, and the night before we brought him home I lay in bed terrified that something would go wrong.

The rescue foundation had taken a picture of him while he was still chained up in the basement, and in it, he was looking up at the camera. I started to wonder what his life had been like, lying down there, listening to the family above, maybe wanting nothing more than to be a part of the pack.

Me and the kids went to get him from the shelter, and I took him over to the car. The kids got in the back seat and I had to heave him into the front seat, because he seemed too confused to understand he was coming with us. Well, I thought. Here goes nothing.

The second the car started moving, he squeezed between the two front seats and forced himself into the back. He laid down across both kids’ laps and they petted him and played with him the entire ride home. That was it. He was our dog after that.

I dressed him up Star Trek shirts and cool bandanas and took him on daily walks and yelled at him to move over when he took up the entire bed. I carried him through the snow when he decided he didn’t like the way the ice felt on his paws and wouldn’t walk any further.

It lasted two years. Two very good years. The vet found the first tumor in his back leg and operated on it. Assuring me it was all gone. It came back six months later, worse than before. Inoperable, they said. Something needs to be done quick, they said. Continue reading “Blog Post by Bernard Schaffer”