Tag Archives: Dogs

Book Buzz: A Dog’s Purpose

Anyone who knows me knows I love books and I love dogs. So it is no surprise that I love reading books about dogs.

I will tell you why A Dog’s Purpose is one of my favorites, one of the most charming dog books ever written. The author, W. Bruce Cameron, has an uncanny ability to get inside a dog’s head. Combine that with his sense of humor and talent for storytelling, and you can understand why his books are so pupular popular. A Dog’s Purpose was on the New York Times bestseller list for a solid year, and deservedly so.

I am so beyond excited that A Dog’s Purpose is coming out as a movie next month. More about that in a minute. Let me tell you first about the book.

A Dog’s Purpose

Book Buzz: A Dog's PurposeMeet Bailey the dog, the narrator of his story, who yearns to figure out his purpose in life, and finds himself reincarnated over and over to continue that quest. With each life he is a little wiser, remembering life lessons from his past that continue to guide him.  Author Cameron is so attuned to the gestalt of dogs, he has truly provided a window into their souls giving us readers a deeper understanding of what makes them tick. Why they love us unconditionally. Why they like sniffing nasty smells. Why they are clueless about cats.

Here, for example, Ethan the boy is teaching Bailey to rescue him in the water. Bailey recounts:

I looked down at the frothy water where the boy had gone in, then back at Grandpa.

“Go on!” Grandpa told me.

I suddenly understood and looked at him in disbelief. Did I have to do everything in this family? With one more bark I dove off the end of the dock, swimming down toward the bottom, where I could sense Ethan lying motionless. I gripped his collar in my jaws and headed for air.

“See! He saved me!” the boy called when we both surfaced.

“Good boy, Bailey!” Grandpa and the boy shouted together. Their praise pleased me so much  I took off after the ducks, who quacked stupidly as they swam away. I got so close to being able to nip off a few tail feathers that a couple of them flapped their wings and briefly took flight, which meant I won, in my opinion.

With the perfect balance of joy and pathos woven through a page turning adventure, the book will touch your heart, make you laugh and cry, and sigh with contentment at the end.

Bailey’s story will leave you hungering for more, and thankfully Cameron heard our cry and wrote a sequel, A Dog’s Journey, another terrific story.
Book Buzz: A Dog's Purpose

I loved this book too, in which Bailey is now Buddy, who rescues a little girl and realizes his purpose is to protect her forever. Over the course of her life, that is exactly what he does, but I won’t tell you any more because I don’t want this to be a spoiler.

I would have gone into a deep depression after finishing this book, bereft without a Cameron dog book to look forward to, but then I heard about the movie and I felt better.

A Dog’s Purpose, the movie

Starring Dennis Quaid, Britt Robertson and Josh Gad, A Dog’s Purpose opens in theaters January 27, 2017.

True to the novel, the narrator is Bailey, a bounding Golden Retriever who has already lived several lives and come back to fulfill the elusive purpose he knows is his destiny. Bailey’s running commentary on life as a dog is just what you would imagine a dog’s thought process to be. I guarantee you will fall in love with him.

One of the takeaways is that you can make a dog very happy just by telling him he is a good dog. So don’t forget to do that when you have the chance.

This movie trailer gives you a preview of the magic that is to come. I can’t wait.

Don’t wait until January to become a fan. Read one or both of the books first.

Thanks to the author, I am delighted to offer either A Dog’s Purpose or A Dog’s Journey to one of my readers. Please leave a comment below, and a winner will be randomly selected. USA addresses only, please.

 

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Book Buzz: Dogs and Their People

Why write about dogs, with all the turmoil in our country right now, and with little else on my mind but the election and its aftermath?

Book Buzz: Dogs and Their People

It’s been a tough week, a gloomy week, for me. I feel dispirited and unmotivated. I needed a pick-me-up. The book gods must have looked kindly on me, because this book could not have come at a better time.

Books and dogs are two of my greatest passions. Combine them and you’ve got a win-win.

Dogs and Their People

If you are a dog person — and I venture to say even if you are not — you will get a kick out of Dogs and Their People: Photos and Stories of Life with a Four-Legged Love.

Why? Because we humans are capable of going overboard for our fur babies and the stories in this book tell you just how far we can go.

Our furry friends have a knack for righting our worlds no matter what is going on. A soulful gaze, a wag of the tail, a sympathetic snuggle — they sense how we feel, and know how to make us feel better with their unconditional love.

So how do we respond to them? With love, care, and sometimes … well, we dress them up. We sing to them. We sleep with them.

Our two pups, Max and Wyatt, are just over a year old. While it often seems like we’ve got two unruly toddlers in the house, life would not be as full without them. Here they are in one of their quiet moments.

Book Buzz: Dogs and Their People

Filled with beautiful photographs, Dogs and Their People is a book that you can spend as much or as little time with as you choose, and come back to again and again. The stories about our love for our dogs, the lengths we will go to for them, certainly resonated with me.

For example …

Do you celebrate your dog’s birthday with a canine birthday cake?

Do you know the dog people in the neighborhood as “Ginger’s mommy” or “Dylan’s dad?”

Do you tell your dog you will be back soon when you are leaving the house? As if he understands that?

Do you arrange playdates so that your dog will have a social life?

I will neither confirm nor deny that I am guilty of any of the above.

Dogs and Their People will brighten your day. Here is an example.

Book Buzz: Dogs and Their People

You will read funny stories, touching stories, like the owner who sold her house to pay for the dog’s back surgery or another who went homeless for the sake of keeping a furry family together.

Book Buzz: Dogs and Their People

I can’t think of a better gift for dog lovers than Dogs and Their People.

Book Buzz: Dogs and Their People

In this time of uncertainty, there is at least this universal truth: dogs really are a person’s best friend.

Book Buzz: Dogs and Their People

That is reassuring to me.

One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of Dogs and Their People. Please leave a comment below and a winner will be randomly selected. USA addresses only, please.

I received a copy of Dog and Their People from Putnam for an honest review, which is the only  kind of review I write.

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Eight Great Books About Dogs

 

Eight Great Books About DogsHere it is, late August. Hazy hot and humid seesaws with crisp and cool, a sign that summer is tapping fall on the shoulder, the annual game of tag you’re it.

The dog days of summer, they are. Nightfall comes earlier now. The evening performance of the cicada orchestra is unfailingly on time. Local blueberries are no longer in season; once plump and juicy, they are now unpleasantly sour and soon will be gone until next year.

If it sounds like I’m in an end-of-summer funk, it’s true.

But dog days remind me of dogs, and that cheers me up. If you love dogs, and even if you think you don’t and might be persuaded to, here are some really good books about canines you might want to try.

Warning: weeping may happen.

The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein

In a flashback, Enzo the dog reflects upon the ten years of his life with Denny, a semi-professional race car driver, Denny’s wife Eve, and their baby daughter Zoe. Since Enzo believes he will come back in his next life at a human, he is a keen observer of the human condition. No lie, you will be a soggy mess at the end.

The Dogs of Babel, Carolyn Parkhurst

How many times I’ve wondered what my dog would say if it could talk. When Paul’s wife Lexy dies in an accident, Lorelei, a Rhodesian Ridgeback dog, is the only witness. Grief-stricken and haunted with questions, Paul attempts to teach Lorelei to talk so that she can communicate what happened. You will tear up for humans and dogs alike.

Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog, John Grogan

The subtitle clues you in about Marley, a big galumph of a dog whose antics and foibles take over the lives of John and Jenny. Equal parts humor and pathos, this book will delight anyone who has seen both the worst and the best in their dogs and loves them just the same. On a scale of 1 to 10 on the Cry-o-meter: off the scale.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, David Wroblewski

Hamlet is retold with tail-wagging canines as the characters. Edgar is the mute son of a family that breeds a special variety of dogs, Sawtelle dogs. Edgar has an uncanny sense of communication with these dogs and is able to get to the bottom of a murder mystery with their help. Have tissues at the ready.

A Dog’s Purpose, W. Bruce Cameron

Buddy the existential dog is the narrator in this novel as he tries to understand why he is here. Author Cameron totally gets the essence of dogs and Buddy’s voice is genuine. As if I haven’t showered my dogs with endless affection, now I religiously tack on a “good dog” several times a day. This book will soon be released by Dreamworks as a movie and I can not wait. Expect a cascade of tears.

A Dog’s Journey, W. Bruce Cameron

Thank God Cameron wrote a sequel, because I could not bear to think that Buddy’s story was over. More smiles and tears with this book, just as wonderful as the first. I kid you not, the sobs started in the first chapter.

Dog Medicine: How My Dog Saved Me From Myself, Julie Barton

When her life came crashing down on her at age 22, Julie could not find a way out of her depression. Not therapy, not medication, not moving back into her parents’ home. But when she and the Golden Retriever puppy Bunker found each other, her world became brighter. Sniffles throughout for Julie and Bunker.

Good Dog. Stay., Anna Quindlen

A sweet, funny, poignant tribute to her big old Black Labrador Beau, this memoir can be read in a single, joyful sitting. Among the words of wisdom is this: “Occasionally someone will tell me that they won’t have pets because they are messy … the truth is that we were far messier without dogs than with them.” I love that. Tears and hiccups.

Have you read these? What other books about dogs have you read and loved?

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Book Buzz: Jonathan Unleashed

I have a soft spot in my heart for books about dogs, so I eagerly dove into Jonathan Unleashed, best-selling author Meg Rosoff’s quirky new novel about a young man at odds with the world and the two dogs that help him find his way to happiness.

Jonathan Unleashed is also Jonathan Unhinged

Recent college graduate Jonathan Trefoil is ensconced in an advertising job that he hates and stuck in an unsatisfying relationship with his girlfriend of four years. He yearns for a more meaningful existence but has no idea how he can get there.

Book Buzz: Jonathan Unleashed

In the midst of this millennial angst, he agrees to take care of his brother’s two dogs, Dante the Border collie and Sissy the cocker spaniel, while his brother is in Dubai on business for six months.

Being a sensitive and, I’ll be honest here, neurotic kind of guy (or more kindly, charmingly flawed), he frets that the dogs are plotting against him because they are unhappy being cooped up in his New York City apartment while he is at work. Although the veterinarian he consults gently tells him that the dogs are fine, he continues to obsess. But, good news, his company allows him to bring the dogs to the office, and all is well.

But then, not.

It turns out that four is a crowd when his girlfriend moves in with him and can barely contain her disdain for the dogs. A conniving sort, she convinces him to marry her because the wedding magazine she works for, Bridal-360, will foot the bill if they agree to let it be live streamed on the internet. Confused and unsure, but anxious to mollify her, he agrees.

As the wedding date approaches, his life continues to unravel. His job and his boss irritate him to the point of collapse. Mysteriously, he loses his ability to speak coherently (the ensuing malapropisms are very entertaining).

Who, or what, will save the day? As all dog lovers know, canine intuition is second to none, and Dante and Sissy take matters into their own hands paws. With a clever twist in the story, Rosoff shows how man’s (and women’s) best friend has an uncanny way of making everything right.

As Rosoff said in an interview,

“It’s much easier to have a relationship with a dog than with a person. Dogs tend to be happy, affectionate, emotionally consistent companions. They don’t sulk or insist on seeing Spiderman when you’d rather see a foreign film.  They don’t come with in-laws and don’t mind eating toast you’ve dropped on the floor. It’s why every eight-year-old boy fantasizes about having a dog not a wife. Dogs are relatively simple, people are relatively complicated. Plus, dogs look better naked than most people do.”

A woof and a tail wag to that.

 

One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of Jonathan Unleashed by leaving a comment below. USA addresses only, please.

 

I received a copy of Jonathan Unleashed from Viking for an honest review, which is the only kind of review I write.

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Doggone it, It’s Mother’s Day

Doggone it, It's Mother's Day

A few weeks ago Pete and I went out to dinner with our friends Linda and Bill.

I called Linda to make arrangements. “We’ll pick you up,” I offered. “Six forty-five okay?”

“Sounds good,” Linda answered. “I can feed Greta, Parker and Charlie before we leave.”

“You think we’ll be done by 8:30-ish?” I asked. “Max and Wyatt should be fine, but I worry about them being alone for too long.”

“Totally get it,” Linda said.  “I want to get home to our guys too.”

A mother’s job is 24/7.

At the restaurant we met up with two other couples. It was a lively scene, a boisterous atmosphere, and the eight of us had to practically yell to be heard.

Of course we all pulled out our cell phones to share the latest photos of our families.

“Look how big Max is getting!” Susan exclaimed as she peered at my phone. “How much does he weigh now?”

“Last time we checked he was 41 pounds,” I said, as Pete nodded in affirmation. “He’s going to be a big boy.”

“He did the cutest thing today,” I added.

Mimi cupped her hand to her ear. “Who did the cutest thing? Your daughter?”

“No, Max,” I shouted. “Look at this photo. Adorable, right?”

Mimi smiled. “Awww. Look at his face. Such a handsome boy.”

Bill pulled up a photo on his phone and shared it with me. “Look at them! They are all so precious,” I crooned as I scrolled through photo after photo of his three darlings. “Are they still sleeping in your room every night?”

“At least two of them,” he answered. “I keep telling Linda to move over and make room.”

Linda acknowledged that this was true.

“We hardly go out anymore,” she confided. “We’d rather just stay home on a Saturday night and cuddle with our guys. There’s nothing better, right?”

Pete nodded vigorously. “Why go out when we’ve got everything at home? Netflix has changed our lives.”

“Speaking of which,” I said, tapping my watch, “where are our drinks?” I searched the restaurant for our waiter. “Geez, they’re slow here.”

“I hope Max and Wyatt won’t be upset if we’re late,” Pete said. “Maybe we should bring them a doggie bag to make up for it.”

 

Doggone it, It's Mother's Day

Doggone it, It's Mother's Day

Mother’s Day is on Sunday, and there is still time to find something special to let the mother in your life know how much she is appreciated. What, you forgot haven’t gotten to it yet? With the lovely Mother’s Day selection at Hallmark, there is no need to look further. Check out these adorable Mother’s Day gifts that you can find at any Hallmark Gold Crown store or Hallmark.com.

 

Doggone it, It's Mother's Day

Thanks to Hallmark, one of my lucky readers will receive this giveaway pack including a “Some Things We Hold Onto Forever” pillow and “Love Only Grows” framed print as well as Signature and Kim Mallory greeting cards. Simply leave a comment below and a winner will be randomly selected.

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms, no matter who it is you mother!

I received this giveaway box from Hallmark but received no other compensation.

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We Adopted a Puppy, Part Two

We Adopted a Puppy Part Two

We Adopted a Puppy Part Two

So far, 2016 has been The Year of the Puppy.

Our family is growing.

Last month we welcomed a puppy, Max, to our household. This is Max.

We Adopted a Puppy Part Two

Isn’t he the cutest?

We thought our empty canine nest was full, but once again, Fate intervened. Last week, waiting for the snow storm to arrive, I happened to come upon these photos posted on Facebook …

… with this message:

We are looking for a FOREVER home for sweet Wyatt. A home where he will have unconditional love and care, patience and training, and where he will eventually grow old. If you are looking to adopt a great puppy and willing to help him grow into a wonderful dog then please message me.

His introduction to life hasn’t been easy. He was seized for cruelty. His previous owner tried to beat him to death. While he was only a tiny puppy, she hung him and broke several of his ribs. After suffering all of this abuse, he greets the world with only love. He is truly an amazing dog. He gets along well with other dogs, he is interested in (but gentle with) cats, and he loves to be snuggled by humans and other fur creatures alike. He listens well and is highly motivated by treats. At this young age, he is both potty and crate trained – he would absolutely thrive after a basic canine manners training class. He really loves people.

The foster mother added that the four month-old puppy was a pit bull/terrier mix.

I will admit to a longstanding distrust of pit bulls. Not that I have had any experience with them, mind you. It was their reputation that preceded them. I bought into that completely.

I felt sorry for them, because I know they are often unwanted and ill regarded. But I never considered adopting one.

But … these photos. So adorable! And the description of Wyatt, well, it tugged at my heart. All of a sudden, I imagined that a second puppy in the house might be a good thing.

This puppy.

I remembered how we found our beloved dog, Duncan, who passed away after 10 wonderful years with us. I had seen his photo and description on an adoption website and fell in love. He was also being fostered by a caring family, as Wyatt was, a family that wanted to keep him but didn’t have the room for another dog. We brought him home with us right then and there.

It was one of the best decisions we ever made.

And now, looking at pictures of Wyatt, I tried to picture him in our family. I knew that we could provide a safe and loving home for him. We would have a playmate for Max, he of the indefatigable energy.

Maybe it is time to debunk this stereotype, I thought. The stereotype of the vicious pit bull. Let’s meet Wyatt and see.

The next day Wyatt’s foster parents brought him to our house.

He ran right over to us and wagged his tail.  It was instant love. How could you not? He’s got polka dots on his ears!

We Adopted a Puppy Part Two

As you’ve guessed, the rest is history.

Wyatt is everything his foster mother had said: docile, friendly and charming. He is the best cuddler ever. He is sweet to our cat, Lexie, and is a wonderful playmate for Max, amenable to playing or napping or chewing toys, whatever Max chooses.

We Adopted a Puppy Part Two

Will a second dog be more work? Undoubtedly. But in no time at all, Wyatt has proved himself to be an adaptable, polite new resident. He asks for little but gives so much in return. He fits into our lives, the rhythms of our home, perfectly.

I always said that Duncan thanked us every day of his life.  Perhaps I’m attributing human traits to animals, but Duncan was a very smart dog.

Maybe all our pets are grateful for forever homes. Some just show it more than others.

 

I’ve seen a bumper sticker that says “Who rescued whom?”

In this case, it’s hard to say.

 

#MidLifeLuv Linky
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We Adopted a Puppy: A Love Story

Do you ever look for signs in the universe? I confess that I do.

Call me crazy, but I believe the universe whispers to us. The problem is we don’t always hear it.

I pay attention to veiled signals and the sigh of a message in the wind, that could be nothing … or something. Life is mostly random, but if we listen closely there are lessons to be learned.

Which is a long winded explanation of why we adopted a puppy.

We Adopted a Puppy

We lost our beloved 13 year-old dog Duncan just after Thanksgiving.

We were shattered and bereft.  We had done everything we could to prolong his life, but when his suffering could no longer be eased it was time to say goodbye.

Anyone who has lost a pet knows the strange stillness of the house, the phantom nuzzlings at night, the leftover treats, the empty spaces once filled with furry joy, the toys. I had been home with Duncan all day. My world revolved around his schedule.

Our friends and family, especially those who had known Duncan, were unfailingly compassionate. My children, all living at a distance, were concerned. What about another dog?

No, was my quick reply. It is too soon. We are not done mourning him.

But then, there was a sign. And another sign.

Sign #1

A notice popped up on my community’s Facebook page.  A dog rescue organization had several litters of puppies that were being transported from a shelter in South Carolina to an adoption fair five minutes from our house.

I reread the ad. I clicked on the link to the website of Home at Last Dog Rescue. I read about its mission and I scanned the profiles of the puppies hoping to be adopted.

I thought for a moment. Well, it wouldn’t hurt to fill out the online application. Even though it wasn’t the right time for another dog. Anyway, they probably wouldn’t be able to process the application in time for Saturday. They had to check my references, contact my vet, make a home visit.

In order to complete the application, I had to select the dog I wanted to adopt. I selected Eagle, a 9 week-old mixed breed puppy.

The day before the adoption fair I got a call that our application had been approved. They could do the home visit the next day, assuming we brought the puppy home.

I called my husband. “What do you think?” I asked him.

“I’m ready if you are,” he said.

Sign #2

If we get the puppy, he will need a name, I thought. What would we call him? I racked my brain. From past experience, I knew it took time to find the perfect name. I was coming up empty.

I thought and thought, and then the name Max popped into my mind. I liked the sound of it.

So when my husband got home and we started making plans for the visit to the adoption fair, he asked me if I had thought of names. I said, you tell me, do you have any ideas?

“You know what name I really like?” he said. “Max.”

Sign #3

I stopped at the pet store to pick up a few toys. Just in case we brought home the dog. A wave of happiness surged through me, something I hadn’t felt since Duncan got so sick. It felt right that we were getting a dog.

I thought I could never love another dog the way I loved Duncan. But I was ready to try.

Sign #4

We got to the adoption fair and there he was in a wire-enclosed pen. Eagle the mixed breed puppy. He was playful yet calm and he snuggled when we held him. I just noticed that my husband was wearing his Eagles sweatshirt. Coincidence?

We Adopted a Puppy

We put him back in the pen and walked around to observe the other puppies, all of them cute, of course. When we walked back to Eagle’s pen, I put my fingers through the small opening. He ran over to me and licked my hand.

I was convinced. My husband was convinced. Max, once known as Eagle, came home that day.

We are puppy parents.

He watches me when I get ready in the morning. He sleeps by my feet as I work at the computer. He loves to play fetch and scamper in our back yard. He does not like cheese. He tolerates his crate. He responds to “sit” and “down.” The leash perplexes him.

This is Max.

We Adopted a Puppy

Our lives as puppy parents are way busier now, but we know that this was meant to be. Max was meant to be.

The signs were all there.

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Wordless Wednesday: My Furry Caretakers

Lexie the cat

With a broken foot slowing me down, I’m doing a lot of nothing for six weeks.

But I don’t lack for TLC. Duncan and Lexie are smothering me with love.

dog and cat love

 

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Wordless Wednesday: Doggone Love

Doggone it, who needs words when the eyes speak volumes?

a dog's expression of love

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Duncan and Me

Duncan’s eyes shifted reproachfully to the suitcase I was hefting into the trunk of my car. His ears drooped. His shoulders slumped. As I retrieved my coat from the closet and returned to the garage, I found that Duncan had trotted silently out to the car and was sitting patiently in the front seat, ready to get this party started. My heart melted, but reality prevailed as I tried to sweet-talk him inside.

“Come in the house,”I pleaded.

No dice, said his body language as he avoided eye contact.

     “How about a treat?” I suggested.

       I can not be bribed, he told me.

I scooped him up with tender kisses.

“I need to go pumpkin,” I said, “but I promise I’ll bring you something.”

Unsatisfied, but with a sigh of quiet resignation, he watched the door close, and I was gone.

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