Sunday, July 27, 2008


He was the beloved companion of my dear friend, Judy. A terribly handsome black and white cat, Smudge spent many years in Judy’s happy furry family. He always wanted to be nearby, but not held or cuddled. About 18 months ago he was diagnosed with a very serious heart problem, but he continued to live as if nothing had changed.

It is one of the wonderful lessons our animal companions teach us – live for today, and we’ll worry about tomorrow…well, tomorrow!

He continued to be a light in Judy’s life, enjoying the new kitty furniture she had bought and being the first one to show up for Catnip Friday – the day everything gets a sprinkle of fresh catnip!

Things began to change a few weeks ago, and it quickly became clear that Smudge’s extraordinary heart would not beat forever. Judy and her veterinarian tried everything they could think of to help him. Smudge tried, too…until he let Judy know his soaring spirit wanted to be free of his old, worn-out body.

Judy said goodbye to her dear Smudger on July 23rd. Catnip Friday is forever changed, as that special ritual has little meaning for Judy’s other kitty, Cinnamin, and absolutely NO meaning for Jeremy…her English Bulldog.

Smudge is happy and healthy again, flying through the stars with furry friends from days gone by. He is watching over Judy and the boys…
but he is missed more than any of us will ever know.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rescue Remedy

It was really very innocent…

Several months ago Mary Wilkinson, a wonderful woman who lives in Arizona , got in touch with me regarding my books for animal lovers. Turned out we had a mutual friend in Denver, so we had a lot to talk about.

She mentioned she had a dog who was very excitable, and I asked if she was familiar with a flower essence called Rescue Remedy. Many of you may have heard of the calming effect of this product – it is used for both two-leggeds and four-leggeds.

I had a bottle I wasn’t using, so I sent it to Mary with the idea she might let her dog try it when the 4th of July rolled around.

The other day I received a card from Mary, and with her permission would like to share the highlights of her Rescue Remedy experience.

"Hi Chris,

Just a quick note to let you know how the July 4th fireworks affected Kirby. An unscientific result shows a calmer dog with heightened senses. Nose and eyes detected an interesting rock we came upon during our 9:00 p.m. walk. That is, I thought it was a rock. Turns out to be a very thin (dedydrated/emaciated) cat. We are trying to share our abode, but I’m allergic and Kirby is sure “In-D” (that’s what she named the cat – for Independence Day) is his earned “atta-boy” prize.

Soooo, it must be a great product because he never paid any attention to the noise of the fireworks.

You’ve got to see the humor in this, as I close with the truth of the product. It did as advertised: Rescue Remedy!"

Now THAT’S funny!


Wednesday, July 09, 2008


When I was growing up in New York City, I remember going to a place in Rye, NY for the 4th of July fireworks. A quick online search tells me that Rye Playland is still going strong, and has been providing family fun for 80 years!

I think the pre-Playland festivities included me and my siblings waving some sparklers around, and we may have even set off a few fireworks. It all seemed very magical. I loved the fireworks back then, and still do.

But things have changed. While many families leave fireworks to the professionals and attend organized events, there are others who feel the holiday isn’t complete without setting off tons of explosions in their own front yard.

If people did this responsibly…if it was safe...perhaps I wouldn’t feel so tired of it all. But year after year it seems the safety factor has gone out the window, and just like with movie special effects, when it comes to home fireworks displays - bigger is DEFINITELY better!

In Oregon, anything that goes over 12 inches high, travels 6 feet along the ground, or makes a “bang” is illegal. Of course, this is essentially a meaningless law, because people go out of state and buy whatever they want. Well-intentioned efforts to “crack down” on illegal fireworks are ineffective – there just isn’t any way to control this.

Here’s the problem. I live in the woods. If you look at an aerial view of the property it looks like someone dropped a few homes into the middle of a national forest. Granted, the mall is two miles down the road, but outside my front door it looks like a little slice of heaven. The deer still stroll down the street, rabbits run through the grass, and birdsong fills the forest.

It’s hard to imagine someone would want to jeopardize this, but that’s just what happened this year when new residents to the neighborhood set off an arsenal of illegal fireworks in their front yard and projected them into the woods…INTO THE WOODS! It was like sitting in the front row of a horrifying war movie. This went on for many, many hours, over two nights.

I swear – this show was as good as something you’d get at a local event. However, at such an event there would be a fire truck handy, and the fireworks would be set off in a safe area, far away from trees, homes or anything combustible.

My cats were terrified. I closed windows and shades, turned on televisions, and did everything I could to soothe the poor critters. It was one of the few times I was glad my dog, Jake, was happily flying through the starry skies, for he would have been out of his mind with fear.

This little scenario was repeated over and over, in neighborhoods throughout the area. And now companion animals are missing, and animal shelters are overflowing with critters who, by no fault of their own, are waiting…hoping…that their families will come to bring them home.

I’m still struggling with the grief over losing my beautiful neighborhood. I have lived here in peace for over 17 years with all the other people who gravitated to this special location. Attending the organized 4th of July celebrations is a thing of the past – someone needs to stay back and watch over our homes and the woodlands.

It is a far cry from my younger, innocent days.