Sunday, December 28, 2008

Snowbound – A glimpse into the life of a shelter animal

I know it’s not a perfect analogy. Being snowbound in a nice warm home, with my critters all around me, plenty of food and a roaring fire doesn’t sound like a bad life, much less like the life of a shelter animal.

But after being stuck at home for ten days (not including the 5 days the week before) I realized something was beginning to happen inside my head…and my heart.

I knew that many neighbors down the hill were getting out – some from day one, others after several days - but my circumstances pretty much corralled me back at the old homestead. My plan was to use this time to catch up on some reading, but I was so restless I’d pick up books and put them down again. Then I thought I’d try to do all those little end-of-the-year organizing projects, but I simply couldn’t stay focused.

So I moved to the window and began watching the snow fall…and fall and fall and fall. I’d look for signs of life...not that plentiful on my dead end street.

When something happened that engaged me – a telephone call or a knock on the door – my spirits would rise and suddenly I didn’t feel so imprisoned. But shortly thereafter I’d remember I was alone and I’d sense the fingers of hopelessness trying to reach out and touch me. I was trapped, and there was no way anyone could come and bust me out of the joint!

I’m not a party animal, but I’m not a recluse either – I probably fall somewhere in the middle. Toward the end of my forced confinement I had passed my ability to cope with the solitude. I knew it was temporary, and I WOULD get out, I just didn’t know when – and the not knowing made it easy to slip into despair.

One day I said out loud “I wonder if this is how the critters feel at the shelter.”

I thought about that for awhile. Anyone who has ever walked past the dog kennels or cat cages at a shelter has seen the sweet furry faces standing at the gate, hoping for a little recognition. But there are always some critters who stay back in the corner, eyes closed, not even bothering to get up any longer. They know, as I knew, that somewhere down the road other creatures ARE getting out – that something good is happening, it’s just not happening for them.

No animal lover can walk through a shelter and not feel their heart torn into pieces. You want to save them all…and it’s just not possible. But I think after this experience of being housebound I will better understand the look in the eyes of every shelter critter who is desperately waiting for his kennel door to be flung open wide so he can be free at last...and then he can go home.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Joyful Furry Faces

I have kept this picture of Trooper on my desktop since it was first sent to me a month or so ago. I fell in love with his face – doesn’t he look like one of the Whos from Whoville?

His past was a very sad story indeed, but despite how terribly he was treated this sweet dog could still look you in the eye and smile that beautiful smile. Trooper, who luckily found his way to the Good Samaritan Pet Center in Denver, was adopted by the people who were fostering him. They just couldn’t give him up – can you blame them?

May you live many happy years, Trooper, in the loving care of your new forever family.

Then there is Suki, the beautiful Labradoodle who shares her life with my friend Debbie Knitz. I took one look at Suki’s face and couldn’t stop smiling. I understand why Debbie loves her so.

I was so inspired by these photos I decided to create a HO HO HO picture of my own special kitties. They all put their tails in the air and walked away.

“OK,” I said, “what if we put a fuzzy Santa hat on your furry little heads? Would that perk up your interest?”

This is Molly…enough said.

To all the animal lovers out there – a very joyous and happy holiday to you and your critters!


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Can we go outside and play

…asked my 4 kitties this morning. They love to be in their outside enclosure, which was written up in the March 2008 issue of Cat Fancy Magazine. As you can see, on a sunny day the enclosure is a great place to be!

We haven't seen much sun lately. It's rare for Oregon weather to force the cats to stay inside, but our snow storm - the worst in 40 years - has done just that.

I've been stranded in my home for most of the last 9 days. I feel like I'm 10 years old, but my Mom isn't around for me to pester. The cats sit by the sliding doors and claw at the glass...I'm thinking of joining them.

I'm running out of ideas for keeping us all entertained. Board games aren’t an option - can you imagine 4 cats and all those Monopoly pieces? They refuse to watch any more Christmas movies, whether from MGM, Disney or Hallmark.
I'm even starting to cry when I hear the song White Christmas - and not the happy kind of tears.

Today I was so desperate I did something practically unheard of for me – I cooked! Turns out the kitchen isn’t just a place for microwaving myself tasty meals and dishing out critter food – what a surprise.

Please let the snow melt soon – I can’t let this cooking thing become a habit.

Ho Ho Ho!

(To see more pictures and a video of the Cat Enclosure visit Lighthearted Press.)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Don't Forget the Birds!

We are getting another major snow storm here in Portland, OR. Heavy snow and ongoing temps in the teens and 20s are not the norm for us, but we are doing our best to keep going.

I can't even imagine how hard it is for the outside critters! I usually only see the starlings in the spring, when they show up with their young and attack the suet feeders. I took this picture through a window, but I think you can see it is STANDING ROOM ONLY for the suet and the seed.

Right now it's 24 degrees - must be the perfect temperature for a bath or a dip in the pond. Perhaps they think they are penguins!
The Bluejays, Juncos, Thrushes, Sparrows, Flickers, Towhees and Nuthatches are all getting their fair share, too, as are the squirrels and chipmunks.

If you are fortunate enough to be visited by outside critters, keep them in mind during this cold spell. I know they will appreciate it!
Stay warm,

Friday, December 19, 2008

Willie and the Magic Bed

Several weeks ago I wrote about The Grey Muzzle Organization, a group of volunteers who work to improve the lives of older dogs who have been abandoned or left homeless. I just love their Donate a Bed program. If you’re looking for a last-minute gift for the dog lover on your holiday list, why not donate an orthopedic bed to an older shelter dog in their name?

With their permission, I would like to share the following uplifting story that appears in the current Grey Muzzle newsletter:

Grey Muzzle provides funding for orthopedic beds and Kuranda cots for the senior dogs at Washington State's Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County. Last week, the Humane Society sent us this story. We were amazed. And so glad that we could play even a small part. We'll let the Humane Society tell the story in their words:

Willie came to us as a miserable, crippled up old shepherd mix who had a badly healed pelvic fracture, terrible skin, fungal ears, tumors, etcetera. He was going to be euthanized but we were holding him for a few days in case an owner claimed him. We actually held him two days beyond because he was doing well on pain medicine and was starting to rally. He just had such a great spirit, and something made us put it off just one more day. I think having a comfy bed, off the floor made him much happier than wherever he’d been sleeping!

Willie was scheduled to be euthanized after we closed Friday night (at 6:00), and around 5:00 a woman came in and identified him – an old neighbor had seen Willie when he came in looking for his dog, and called her to say he was sure he saw her Mom’s dog at the shelter. She came down, and sure enough, it was Willie. The strange thing was, her Mom died 2 ½ years ago, and the dog ran away during the memorial service. She has always felt so guilty about it.
Then, here he is nearly three years later, looking awful! He had probably been hit by a car and not treated for the pelvic injury, and he was at least six or seven when he disappeared. She couldn’t stop crying. We transferred him out to her van and she took him right to her vet. (The great thing about the beds is you can pick them up like a stretcher and carry the dog without moving him off of it.) He is under her vet's care, and we don't know how long he'll be with us, but he will have at least a few days at home to be loved.

I'd say Willie's bed had a lot of love tucked into it...and perhaps a little Christmas Magic!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Bucket Brigade

According to my dictionary, the definition for Bucket Brigade is:

-A line of persons formed to extinguish a fire by passing on buckets of water quickly from a distant source

- Any group of persons who cooperate to help cope with an emergency

Portland, OR has been hit with snow, ice and very cold temperatures. Mother Nature seems to be having so much fun she hasn’t put an end date on the bitter cold weather. The icy roads have left me, and many of my neighbors, stranded up here on our hill. Those lucky enough to own chains have been able to creep down the roads and make it into town. The rest of us aren’t so lucky.

I am stuck on a dead-end road in the woods, which has made it impossible for me to fill the holiday orders for the animal lovers who purchase my books. The mail truck hasn’t made it up our hill all week. Needless to say, I've been feeling very alone.

I'm not very good at asking for help, unless it's a real emergency. This will come as a surprise to a few of my neighbors, who seem to always be helping me with one thing or another (Paula & Don – you know who I’m talking about!) But I sent out an email to my neighborhood watch group to see if anyone could help me get my packages out.

That's when I realized how NOT ALONE I was! Several neighbors offered to help in any way that they could...and we put together a plan.

I trudged down the icy hill in my clogs (I keep meaning to get boots) carrying my bag of parcels and using my walking stick. The first neighbors took me to the post office and to the market for supplies. That’s where I ran into the second neighbors, who took me into their truck for the ride back up the hill. OK - I took one look at that icy hill and I bailed...but their intentions were good!

It was then that I thought of the bucket brigade. At first I thought I was the only recipient of all the kindness that was flowing around me.

But then I remembered that I have been on outside critter patrol this week, for when the cold weather arrives there are many things that have to be done. The hummingbird food has to be defrosted and replaced every two hours. The bird suet has to be broken into pieces the birdies can eat – the large blocks freeze. The seed has to be replenished often, for falling snow quickly covers it.

And then there is Sammy. He is the outdoor cat I’ve been feeding for 5 ½ years, since he showed up as a kitten in my yard. Were it not for my four inside kitties Sammy would have come into my home a long time ago.
Sammy gets top notch food that I buy from the veterinarian. When I look out and see him waiting in the little “house” we built for him my heart is full of love that is hard to put into words. He trusts me, and knows he can rely on me to take care of him. However, I get so much joy out of watching over him I'm sure I am getting the better part of the bargain.

Sammy is part of the Bucket Brigade. Only a few people in the neighborhood know about him, but those neighbors who have helped me, and are watching out for me, are therefore watching over Sammy, too…once removed.

I am filled with gratitude for being blessed with such great neighbors. If any of you are feeling alone, or stranded, as I was feeling, look around for your own bucket brigade. There may very well be a group of friends, or neighbors, waiting to tuck you securely into a safety net you didn’t even know was there.

That's what I discovered...right in my own backyard!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

D-boy, The Pitbull Hero

There's been way too many stories in the news lately about Pitbull attacks - especially here in Portland, Oregon. So you can imagine how delighted I was to hear the story about D-boy, the Pitbull hero.

D-boy is the Oklahoma dog who came to the rescue of his family when a man burst through their front door. D-boy ran in from another room, but the intruder shot the dog twice in the head before he could get to the man.

D-boy kept going, but he was shot a third time.

The intruder, apparently spooked by the dog, ran out the front door.

The good news is that D-boy survived - the veterinarian said it was his hard head that saved him! The family is safe,too, but now they are left with a large medical bill for D-boy. Visit this website to learn more about this wonderful dog.

Good boy, D-boy!


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Do cats enjoy music?

For over 20 years the same wonderful man has come to my home to tune my piano. Chris was here the other day, and, as always, when he finished tuning he played a song or two for me. I LOVE to watch Chris play the piano, because I can tell he loves to play as much as I do!

For the first time in all these years I played a recording for Chris of some Christmas songs I sent to my Mom, back in 1983. The highlight of this recording was the duet of me and my dog, Martha. Martha was an amazing singer – whenever she heard the first note on the piano she’d come running from wherever she was in the house to join me in song.

Martha’s been gone for 13 years, and for the first time in my life I am living with four very special kitties…but no dog. I haven’t played the piano as much as I used to because somehow without a dog curled up under the piano bench it just doesn't feel quite the same.

But I sat down the other day to play and to my surprise Pippen, one of my magical cats, came over and joined me on the bench. She sat there while I played and sang, and seemed to be mesmerized by the keys, the music, my singing - it was such a lovely and unexpected gift!

So, here’s my question to other cat people – do your felines enjoy music?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

When Birds Meow

So there I was on Thanksgiving, enjoying the holiday with some wonderful people and their companion animals - Jasper, a nine year-old African Grey Parrot, and Pooh, a fluffy gray cat. Jasper and Pooh are good friends.

I know very little about parrots, except that they have a talent for imitating sounds and learning words.

Jasper had a wide range of sounds, including the noise made by closing the microwave door and the clicking of dishes being washed in the sink.

But my favorite sound was something very special - he could perfectly imitate Pooh's meow.

I don't know why, but for some reason I was really touched by that. It gave me hope that maybe one day we really WILL all be able to get along.


Lighthearted Press

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Meeting Zelda

It’s not often that I meet a celebrity, but once in awhile an opportunity presents itself and I get to sit at the feet…or in this case the paws… of royalty.

Last week I had the chance to spend some time with Carol Gardner and her internationally known English Bulldog, Zelda. Together, Carol and Zelda offer comforting and uplifting thoughts through their greeting cards, books and other Zelda Wisdom products. Visit the website to see all the fun items they offer.

After spending a little time chatting with Carol it was easy to understand why her business has been such a huge success. She is open, honest and generous, and good things come to those who give so freely. I learned a lot in our time together.

I also learned a thing or two from Zelda. Even at the age of 13 she races through her home like an exuberant child, but knows exactly when to hit the doggie bed for nap time. That’s a lesson I should practice more often!

Being around Carol and Zelda is like being plugged into an outlet overflowing with good humor, high voltage energy and an authentic affection for the world...and all us crazy people who live in it.

Thank you both!

Lighthearted Press

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Grey Muzzle Foundation

I love older dogs. When I’m in their presence I feel a sense of peace that is hard for me to find out there in the rest of the world. I don’t know if it’s the grey whiskers or the wise eyes, but when I look into their beautiful faces I see something I can only describe as “heaven.”

Meet The Grey Muzzle Organization, a group of volunteers led by founder and president Julie Nowicki. This organization improves the lives of old dogs who have been abandoned or left homeless by helping animal shelters, rescue groups, and sanctuaries around the country build adoption and hospice programs for the special needs of senior dogs.

There are many wonderful ideas at the Grey Muzzle website for helping senior dogs, but I especially love their Donate a Bed program. This is a special fund that provides orthopedic beds and cots to older dogs living in shelters.

Stop by their website and see all the special ways you can help make an old dog happy this holiday season.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Oregon Kittens Seeking Forever Homes

Meet Hailey, Autumn and Mudslide, three Oregon kittens looking for good homes. Hailey is the gold and white kitten, Autumn is the little calico, and Mudslide is the little black and white bundle.

Mary Anne Miller is the angel in Sweet Home, OR who takes in kittens in need, makes sure they get any necessary medical attention and helps them find loving homes. She tells me she almost lost Muddy when he came to her. Only several syringes of her “magic elixir” brought him around!

If you would like to open your heart
and home to one of these furballs please contact Mary Anne
at Ask her to share the secret of her magic elixir.

And check out her fabulous website for all things cat-related.

Thanks cat lovers!


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Chicken Soup for the Soul - read our story!

I just learned that our story, “Jake and the Kittens,” is included in the new book Chicken Soup for the Soul: Loving our Cats.

The story originally appeared in Chicken Soup for the Cat & Dog Lover’s Soul, but their new book includes their top 101 favorite cat stories – and ours is one of them!

You’ve heard me talk about my wonderful dog, Jake, and about my dear cats Dickens, Pippen, Molly & Star. But did you know that it was Jake who found the kitties under the deck and brought them into my life?

Jake – who had previously tried to destroy anything of the feline persuasion - had made his feelings about cats clear to me from the very beginning: they were best served on a plate, with a side order of fries!

But when he discovered the 4 week old kitten in the yard, it's infected eyes glued shut, and sat there mesmerized by the tiny creature, I didn’t know how all of our lives would be transformed by what happened next.

Look for Chicken Soup for the Soul: Loving our Cats online at, and at other online bookstores.

Here’s to cats…and to one very special dog.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

When Cats Vote

The completed ballot was on my desk this morning. I was a bit perplexed, because I'd mailed my ballot in a week ago...until I saw the paw print signature on the envelope.

So, the cats had somehow gotten their little furry mitts on a second ballot. There was no question that my cat, Star, was the head of this feline operation. I turn my computer off every night because of this very smart little kitty…can you say online shopping?

Voting is supposed to be private, but I felt obligated to inspect the ballot. After all, if there was anything illegal or suspicious going on here, it might be traced back to my home. So I opened the envelope and quickly scanned the ballot. There was only one entry – a write-in candidate for president.

It was for Charlie the Tuna.

I had to smile. Leave it to the critters to circumvent all the bitter political battles of the last year and find a non-partisan solution for the leadership of this country. But maybe this vote was more savvy than I was giving it credit for.

After all, as a fish, Charlie would have a natural connection with “schools,” so he’d probably be a strong advocate for education. And all that swimming has to be good for the cardiovascular system, which means he’d also understand the importance of health care.

I was just about to reward my smart little kitty when I remembered the brand of tuna that Charlie represents.


Bad kitty!


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Seeing the Rainbow Bridge

Having spent the last few months working on the new Pet Loss Comfort section at my website, I had many opportunities to think about The Rainbow Bridge. That poem has been around for awhile now, and no one seems to know who WROTE it.

But in this picture of Luna, taken shortly before she left her earthly life, it’s clear that she has certainly SEEN it.

Sandra Thomas lost her beloved Luna on September 16, 2008. When she sent me this photo she included the following words:

“This was one of the last photos I took of her, about ten days before she went to the Rainbow Bridge…the sun was shining into her eyes, making her eyes and fur glow, and she seemed to be smiling in her own way. I love this photo of her as it is very spiritual, I think. I feel like she is seeing the Rainbow Bridge in the distance and she likes what she sees.”

I know Luna will be waiting for you, Sandra. I hope she and my dear Jake have found each other and are flying together through the starry skies, sharing stories of how much they were loved.

Read The Rainbow Bridge Poem

Chris Davis
Lighthearted Press

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pet Loss Comfort

Some of the best journeys are the ones that go down memory lane.

That's where I've been traveling over the past several months, as I was writing the new Pet Loss Comfort section for my website.
I've had the privilege of sharing conversations with many animal lovers over the years, and most of our thoughts were of special critters we had loved...and lost. It seemed like the perfect time to create this new section, and to offer personal stories and pictures from my own experiences with pet loss.

As I wrote in the introduction, whether we call them pets, companions, critters, furballs, fuzzies or any of the endearing names people use, the loss of our precious animal friends can be a devastating experience.

After I lost my magical dog, Martha, in 1995, I was so heartbroken I didn’t know how to go on without her. I thought she’d be by my side as I left the corporate workplace and began the search for my “soul work.” As it turned out, her unexpected loss would lead to the writing of my first book, For Every Dog An Angel, and to the creation of Lighthearted Press.

With Martha’s help, I had found my soul work.

If you are grieving a lost animal friend, I hope you'll stop by our website and see if these pages might provide a safe and loving place for you to remember your lost animal companion.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sunday Brunch Part 2- The Starfish Story

So there I was after Sunday Brunch, wondering if the world was just way too risky a place for an open-hearted person like me.

I want my life to matter – I want to contribute something positive to the planet. But when you look at all the heartbreak and turmoil there are times it feels like a daunting task.

And then I remembered The Starfish Story, adapted from The Star Thrower by Loren Eisley:

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "I made a difference to that one!"

Here's to making a difference...even in small things. And in the universal scheme of things, there are no small things!


Monday, October 13, 2008

Sunday Brunch Part 1: Sometimes you need a hard hat

It was a beautiful fall Sunday in Portland, OR. I was having brunch with some great people, and happened to mention that before my publishing/writing days I worked in an industry that was a supplier to the commercial construction field.

I still have my hard hat,” I mentioned.

“Sometimes you NEED a hard hat,” one of the women at the table said.

For some reason that really struck me. A hard hat is worn to prevent injury. Not only is it perfectly OK to wear one in dangerous situations, in many cases it’s required. Construction workers don’t avoid going into harm's way…they just go in prepared!

Although I’m not usually in physical danger when I head out the door each day, I often feel vulnerable on an emotional level. I'm a "wear your heart on your sleeve" kind of person, and luckily most of the people I interact with aren't really interested in smashing that old heart of mine to pieces.

But when I turn on the TV, or read the paper, or go on the Internet, and see all the stories of suffering and abuse on our planet I’m often left feeling overwhelmed…sort of shell-shocked.

Made me wonder – do they make “heart hats?”

To be continued…..


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Cat Enclosure Video

I’m always so excited when someone gets in touch with me to chat about my outside cat enclosure! I know that it probably means they want to build something similar for their own cats….and as my four kitties would tell you, that’s a GOOD THING!

I finally did a YouTube Video of our kitty playground:

Stop by to see all the special features of the enclosure, including the brightly colored ramps, perches, ladders and birdhouses. You can also learn more about the building materials that were used.

Hope you'll stop by...and remember - DOGS like cat enclosures, too!


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Oregon kittens left to perish - can you help?

It's hard to understand how someone could have left these three kittens to die, but that's exactly what happened. They were put in a baby's playpen and left outside in the yard - with no food, no water and no shelter.

The other day I wrote about Mary Anne Miller, an Oregon animal lover...and earth angel. Mary Anne has come to the rescue once again. These kittens are in her care, but they need a good home.

Please check out my last blog for more info about Mary Anne. If you're a cat lover you'll want to visit her award winning website, and also her all-things-kitten site

To learn more about these furballs and the other critters under her wing (told you she's an angel!) please email Mary Anne at

Let's find a loving home for these kitties soon!


Saturday, September 27, 2008

KSLF – Kitten Seeks Loving Family

Meet Sinclair, a 3-month old long-hair kitten who is looking for a home. This beautiful little furball just loves to cuddle and be held. Hard to imagine someone would have dropped him down a dry well when he was 4 weeks old!

At least Sinclair was lucky enough to find his way to Mary Anne Miller, who lives in Sweet Home, OR. Mary Anne provides online resources for cat lovers at her fabulous website This site was awarded the 2006 and 2007 Muse Medallion for Online Magazine by The Cat Writers’ Association in their annual Communications Contest.

You can also check out her other website,, for all things kitty-related.

Cats have a true friend in Mary Anne Miller. When she hears of felines in need of a home…and some TLC…she takes them in, makes sure they get the medical care they need and helps with their socialization skills so they will be adoption-ready. The adoption fee is $40.00. She currently has cats of all ages and colors in her care.

If you have a lap in need of a cat I hope you’ll contact Mary Anne a
t If you live in or near the Portland, OR area Mary Anne can even help with transporting the kitty to its new home.

When asked how he feels about being adopted, Sinclair stretched, purred and said he’s ready to find his forever family.

All I can say is MEOW!


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Perfect Moment

Last week I wrote about my intention to become aware of the joyous moments in my life. They don’t have to be huge events. In fact, sometimes they are very small…and quiet. Perhaps that’s why we miss them.

I experienced one of these moments yesterday. It was close to sunset, and I was snuggled in the pillows on my couch, reading a lovely book. The last rays of light were streaming in through the French doors. A few Stellar’s Jays were picking at the bird seed up on the hill.

It was cool, and I had the fireplace going. Three of my 4 cats were in the room with me – one on the couch, one on the chair and one on my lap. I looked up from my book and suddenly realized how still everything was – like a beautiful scene from a movie.

“This is a perfect moment” I said out loud.

And it was.


Friday, September 19, 2008

In Memory of Scooby Doo

Over the years I’ve shared many tearful conversations with people who’ve had to say goodbye to a beloved animal companion. My own heart holds all the memories of the many critters I have loved and lost.

But when I heard about Scooby Doo, a special dog whose life ended all too soon, I asked the family if I could share his story so that other dog lovers might be spared the pain they are living with now. The family graciously agreed.

This is Pearl and Muffet Arroll, relaxing with their dogs Scooby Doo (on the upper right) and Charlie Bear (next to him on the left.) The girls, Sadie Belle and Chopper Do, are hanging out below.

About 5 years ago Scooby Doo and Charlie Bear were found wandering around the Georgia mountains by the Arroll family. The pups were only a few months old, and, it turned out, belonged to someone who wasn't able to take care of them. So a deal was struck - money for a go-cart in trade for the dogs. As I read Muffet Arroll’s words about these sweet dogs it was clear the Arroll family traded very well that day!

Fast forward 5 years to this past Labor Day weekend. The Arrolls were spending the holiday at a lake that had been a family favorite for over 30 years. As Muffet wrote, “Anyone who is a dog lover knows how much they like the water and particularly love to have their ears flying in the wind on the boat.”

That was Scooby Doo – a powerful swimmer who LOVED the water. But his strength failed him over the weekend. An unexpected wave hit and Scooby fell off the front of the ski boat. He must have been struck by the boat, and he went down into the lake before anyone could help him.

Charlie Bear cried as the family road around in their boat, trying to find their lost friend. Divers were hired, but Scooby could not be located in the deep, cold water. Muffet said that maybe Scooby’s body was meant to remain in the lake that he loved so much.

When I learned about the circumstances that took Scooby Doo's life I felt that dog lovers everywhere needed to hear this story. My own city - Portland, Oregon - was voted Dog Town USA in 2006 by Dog Fancy Magazine. Oregon is a tapestry of rivers and lakes, often overflowing with boats full of happy people…and their dogs! I wonder how many people know the risk of bringing their dogs with them on the water?

Here’s what Muffet Arrroll said about this tragedy:

“We have had to learn a horrible lesson that there is danger in the lake for our pets no matter how great they are around the water. We pray that no one else has to experience the pain associated with this type of accident. If another pet can be saved by the story, it makes Scooby’s life and tragic death that much more meaningful.”

Farewell, Scooby Doo. You were deeply loved, and will be greatly missed.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Finding Joy

It’s the beginning of the school year, and even though my school days are far behind me it’s never too late to learn something new.

So I gave myself an assignment: become aware of what brings me joy.

I thought it would be simple. Turns out…not so simple.

As a former New Yorker who tends to move quickly through life, I realized I was going to have to do something very important to complete my assignment. I was going to have to slow down, and consciously...deliberately...become aware of all the magical, mystical, miraculous and perfectly wonderful things that are happening all around me.

So what makes me smile? You can’t write the kind of heartfelt books I write about animals and NOT find overwhelming happiness in the presence of critters. That’s a given. But I wondered if there were other precious moments, when I felt completely content and happy, that were simply passing me by. So I began my journey of joy, curious to see what I might discover.

The other day I was racing through a large fabric store, on a mission to look for a certain type of material. I go to this store all the time. I can navigate easily through the many aisles, I recognize the sales people and I know when the best sales occur.

On this particular day something made me stop in my tracks. For the first time I realized how much I LOVED being in this store, surrounded by employees and other “craft-minded” people who are passionate about sewing. The smell of the fabric, the sound of scissors cutting material off bolts, the voices of customers wondering if this particular print would work for living room drapes…I was in heaven!

And all I had to do was slow down and become aware of this lovely little moment.

And then I remembered something. Our community just organized a Neighborhood Watch program, and I’ve had the pleasure of helping to get this new program off the ground. After several meetings and lots of emails, the neighborhood agreed that given the cars that race around our loop there was one thing we needed to do right away. We collected some money, and just last week I placed the order for our first investment in the welfare of our community.

I ordered four SLOW DOWN signs.


Friday, September 05, 2008

Oops - She Did it Again!

Last week I wrote about how fabulous kitties are at playing hide and seek. My little girl, Star, is especially talented at this game. Usually it's at night when I have trouble finding her, for her tiny, black figure disappears into the dark.

Today it was broad daylight and once again - I COULD NOT FIND HER! I looked all over the house, and checked the outside kitty enclosure several times. Nothing.

And then I saw her - can you find the black cat in this picture?

How about now?

Yes, that black shadow inside the barrel planter is her. This is the first time in 7 years I have ever seen her do this.

I really need to talk to that girl!


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A Visitor from Colorado

It's always fun when animal lovers I've met through my books come to visit Oregon.

Carol Vogel, from Good Samaritan Pet Center in Denver, was in Portland over the Labor Day weekend to visit with her family. Here we are, along with her furry "niece" Moppy - aren't we a happy group?

Carol was here in December 2007. Her visit coincided with a book-signing event I was doing at a local animal shelter, and I was delighted when she stopped by.

Carol is such an upbeat, joyous person - and a true critter lover. My only regret is that she isn't a full-time Portland resident.

Come back soon, Carol!