Sunday, May 31, 2009

Name this Picture Contest

I stumbled on some old pictures of myself, back in the days when my only after school activities were piano lessons and ballet class. In every ballet photo I seemed to be pointing at something with my right hand.

The logical explanation is that I just wasn’t a very good ballerina. But now, after all these years, I'm wondering if I was really trying to send a message, maybe to a future Chris, or to someone else who might see this photograph and know exactly what I was trying to tell them.

So, I’ve decided to hold a Name this Picture contest. Whoever comes up with the best photo caption which explains why I’m pointing that finger or what I’m pointing at will win one of my books for animal lovers and a Rainbow Bridge Wristband. The prize can go to you, a friend, your veterinarian, or it can be donated to an animal organization. You choose the book and I’ll autograph it and send it and the wristband on its way.

I’ll be the judge of this contest, although if there are any ballerinas out there who want to consult let me know.
You can post your responses here as a comment, post them on my Facebook page or email them to me at

All entries must be submitted by 6/10/09.

Have fun,

Friday, May 29, 2009

What the vultures taught me

It was certainly unexpected, seeing the vultures sitting on my neighbor’s front deck.
The home is vacant, so the vultures were a welcome sign of life. When I remembered why vultures show up I knew it wouldn’t be life, but rather death, that was occurring next door. And, indeed, there was a dead deer under the deck.

I’ve never seen a vulture before, but I’ve been watching the deer for all the years I’ve lived in this little patch of woods, just a mile from the mall! It saddened me to see that one had died. The vultures just perched there looking at the deer, and were still looking at it the next morning. They hadn’t touched it. They weren’t eager or excited. There was almost a sense of reverence about the scene I was observing. Then one of the vultures spread its enormous wings and flew right over my head – it was breathtaking!

Ultimately the deer was removed, and the vultures flew off in search of other places that might offer them some sustenance. They left behind one feather, which I was honored to find.

Prior to this experience I would have thought of a vulture as a dark force, swooping in after an untimely death to pick away at the bones. But as I held that feather I remembered that animals often present themselves to us when we need their wisdom and guidance, and I realized that the vultures…and perhaps even the deer…had come to me for a reason.

I knew there was an area of my life that was, indeed, dead, but I had refused to accept it. It was festering away inside of me, taking a terrible toll on my health and causing me enormous pain and suffering.

Suddenly I knew it was time to acknowledge this death in my life. I needed to open the door to my heart and invite the vultures in. I wanted them to find whatever nourishment they could, for I finally understood that none remained there for me.

I've read that these magnificent birds keep the planet clean and in balance. Balance is certainly something that has eluded me lately.

Yes, the vultures had much to tell me…and I listened.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

I must have been about 14 years old.

My older brother, Bob, was in Vietnam, and we were counting the days until he’d be home again. I adored my brother, and I missed him terribly. Yup, that's me over there on the right, sitting on Bob's lap. Of course, back then he was Bobby and I was Chrissy...yikes!

His homecoming was still about 8 months away. I decided to write a song for Bob. It was called 240 Days - yes, I know, not very creative. I stuck a tape player on my piano and recorded myself singing this masterpiece. The only words I can remember are:

In two-forty days I’m going to change my ways
Just two hundred forty days

Be kind – I was just a kid.

I sent the tape to my brother. Although he said he liked it, I think he was grateful I didn’t do any follow up versions. I mean, can you imagine “In eighty-one days I’m going to come through the haze”…well, you get the picture.

My brother DID come home, but he was a changed man. The boy who had played endless games of Chutes & Ladders with me, who had told me that horrific haircut I had gotten looked great, who had stood up for me as a kid – he was gone. One can never understand the journey a soldier takes unless one has walked those same steps. But, thankfully, Bob HAD come home.

Today I'm thinking of all the men and women who have given their lives on behalf of our country. To all the family mambers and friends whose hearts are hurting...especially the little sisters whose older brothers never came are in my prayers this Memorial Day.

With gratitude,


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mother Nature works her magic

It seems like just yesterday I took this picture! It was last December, Portland was buried in two feet of snow, and this lovely birch tree up on my hill was bent over from the weight of all that white stuff! A thrush was perched on the icy branches, looking for food and water in our winter wonderland.

Fast forward 5 months. Spring has arrived, and the warmer weather has finally found us here in Oregon.

This is the same birch tree, all dressed up in her best spring greenery. The winter thrush stayed around until late April but has since left us for its summer home- perhaps some beach-front property?

It's interesting to note that the birch and I had a lot in common this past year. I was struggling with a painful knee problem, and walking was rather difficult all winter. I believe I looked a bit like that bent birch - without the thrush!

Physical therapy worked wonders on my knees, so when the warmer temperatures arrived I was able to stand up straight and strong.

Note to the universe:

I am most happy to be a perch for a passing bird, but could we make it a smaller one - still working on those knees!


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Friday, May 15, 2009

Potato the Pig & Henry the Duck

Friends should always stick together.

That’s what the Humane Society believes about Potato the Pig & Henry the Duck, two survivors from a sad animal neglect case here in Oregon. These two critters, along with another pig, were apparently raised together, so the hope is the three friends will be able to stay together in one new home.

I've always been fascinated by pigs...if I could offer a good home to two pigs and a duck I'd be heading over to the shelter now!

Visit the Oregon Humane Society for more information about this special group of closely bonded friends.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Watch those car window openers

It's a miracle that this story has a happy ending.

Last winter I fell in love with a fabulous dog who was up for adoption in another state. I was overjoyed when I learned he’d found his forever family. A few weeks ago he was in the car with his mom. They were doing about 65 mph on a highway when the dog accidentally pressed his paw on the window opener, rolled down the window and jumped out of the car!

Mom said it was surreal, watching her dog roll over and over and over. She made an immediate U-turn, and although people had stopped to help her the dog miraculously got up and jumped into the car on his own.

He is fine, and the window opener is now locked, but I shudder to think how badly this might have ended.

About 5 years ago I was cruising along in my new Jeep with my dear dog, Jake, hanging out in the back seat as usual. This was the only place he would ride – no amount of pleading would get him to sit in the front with me.

Suddenly I heard him yelping, and saw he had managed to close the window on his snout as it was sticking out in the breeze!

I quickly got him unstuck and made sure he could never hurt himself again, but now I’m wondering if other people have had problems with dogs working the window openers and getting into trouble.

With the warmer weather finally here I guess we should all check those openers and child locks and make sure everything is safe before our critters hop into the car and head out into the sunset with us!


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Jessie - a very special mom

Those of you who've read my books have probably heard me talk about Martha, the magical doggie who was born in my bathroom 27 years ago.

But it really started with her mom, Jessie, who I found running around on the train tracks in late May of 1982. She was skinny, covered in fleas, had lost much of her hair…and she was pregnant.

Jessie came home and joined my family of two other dogs. On June 28th she gave birth to 6 puppies in the bathroom of my old 1908 home. She did her best to care for her babies, but let’s face it – her heart really wasn’t in it. She was born for adventure, and with so many things to discover in the world being a stay-at-home mom wasn’t her thing.

I found homes for all the pups – including Martha. It is a long and scary story, but suffice it to say that Martha and her mom found their true home – with me and the other doggies.

Jessie and Martha have both been gone for many years now, but I will never forget the miracles they worked in my life. It was the unexpected loss of Martha in 1995 that resulted in my writing For Every Dog An Angel, a book that is now shared with animal lovers all over the world who have lost a beloved dog.

You were the best, Jessie. You gave me so many priceless gifts, the best one being Martha. While you two are flying around up there in the stars would you please do me a favor? Since today is Mother's Day, could you go find Jake, Penny and Gypsy and then head on over to my Mom – and tell her how much I love her.

To mothers everywhere - whether your babies are two-legged or four-legged - Happy Mother's Day!


Monday, May 04, 2009

When neighborhood critters are on their own

If you care about animals, the chances are good you’ve found yourself in this situation. You see a neighborhood dog who lives its life on the end of a chain in the yard – all day, every day. Food and water are scarce. There may be a minimal shelter...or none at all.

Or perhaps you are being visited by a neighbor’s kitty who is skin and bones, or has an infected wound or clearly looks ill. The neighbor isn’t friendly, so you decide to feed the cat...if you can. The cat begins to show up regularly, and then suddenly stops coming. You keep looking out the window, hoping to see it waiting on your deck. Is it hurt? Is it ok?

It’s so hard to keep our emotions in check when something like this happens. I have lost my temper many times when confronted with a situation where an animal is being abused or neglected.
Depending upon where you live, the chained dog situation may be illegal. A fabulous group called Dogs Deserve Better is working hard to educate people and change laws so that one day all dogs will be off chains and inside with their families, where they belong.

Even if it’s legal to keep the dog on a chain people are required to provide food, clean water and adequate shelter for their outside animals.

As for the hungry cat, it’s always best if you can talk with the family. I have a dear friend in another state who has been feeding two neighborhood cats. The cats live near her home, and it's clear their family wants nothing to do with them. However, they don’t seem to want anyone to interfere, either. First one cat disappeared, then the other. My friend is heartbroken, not knowing what has happened to them.

I’ve been feeding my little black feral cat, Sammy, for almost 6 years. I know he doesn’t have a home. What he DOES have is a very strong constitution – my neighbor said her vet calls it “hybrid vigor.”

When a small, skinny orange cat began visiting I went into feeding mode. This little guy was very friendly, and I felt sure he had a home. It took awhile but I finally found his family, and because I knew these people I stopped by to talk with them.

The cat's name is Creamsicle – how cute! Unlike so many situations, these people really care about their kitty. He had just been to the vet and was thoroughly checked out. Now he has two households watching over him!

If a neighborhood critter needs your help I hope you can talk with the family and see where they stand on the matter. Hopefully, they will want to do what it takes to care for their furball. If not, do what you can within the law, and consult with the authorities if outside intervention is needed.
There will probably be a few sleepless nights in your future - and a lot of trips to the window - but at least you'll know you did all you could to help another living creature in need.
Hugs to all you earth angels,