Saturday, February 27, 2010

Stuffed Animals

Can you count each and every Bichon Frise in this picture?

OK – that’s a trick question. Can you count the ones that bark, run and go for walks?

Meet Sue Geller’s three Bichons – Star, Tess and Mazie. Star is a certified therapy dog at Baylor Hospital in Texas.

Here's what Sue said about a time she and Star were visiting the hospital:

There was a young man (20s) who began speaking to Star - "You're so pretty - you're so fluffy," etc. One of the nurses came over and said the young man had been there 2 weeks and that was the first time he had spoken.

I asked him if he would like Star to sit on the couch with him. He never looked at me - but looking at Star said "Star will you come sit by me, please?"

I lifted her onto the couch and she walked over, climbed onto his lap and curled up. Every nurse in the room had tears in their eyes.

We had only been doing the therapy visits for a month or so when this happened. It was the moment when it really hit me what a profound effect our babies can have.

Sue said she still gets goose bumps telling this story, and is honored to be Star’s partner.

I never cease to be amazed at the capacity animals have for touching the frightened, hurting places in our hearts. They don’t wear white coats, prescribe meds or require insurance, and yet their healing powers are beyond comprehension.

Have you ever experienced healing, hope or inspiration from an animal companion?


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The White Whisker

Last year I was delighted to discover that my big black cat, Dickens, had grown one beautiful white whisker. It was very noticeable against his glossy black fur.

I was fascinated with that whisker, and spent several weeks pondering its beauty.

Then I never gave it another thought…until this morning.

I woke up having a strange dream. I could hear a very insistent voice talking about the white whisker. I felt there was something I was supposed to do...right away. So I jumped out of bed and went to find my beautiful boy.

I knelt down in front of Dickens and sure enoughthe whisker was gone!

For some reason I felt a bit sad. I had gotten so much enjoyment from the whisker, and when the time came for it to move on I hadn’t even noticed. I would have liked to have said farewell.

I gave the kitties their wet food and went to check the dry food bowl. There, perched on top of the remaining kibble, was one perfect, snowy white whisker.



Saturday, February 20, 2010

And you thought dogs couldn't read!

Yes, indeed, that's Mack - reading my book, The Shelter Dog.

When Julie Nowicki, from The Grey Muzzle Foundation, sent me this picture I knew I had to follow up on the story. So I contacted Tina Valant, Mack’s two-legged companion, and here is their story, in Tina’s own words.

Meet Mack – an e locus (rare color), rescued Australian shepherd.

Living a true rags to riches story; he was abandoned in the woods and hit by a truck (how he got his name and broken back leg). He lived at a vet's for five months, surviving heartworm treatment.

"It was love at first sight when I saw him (online)," stated Tina Valant-Siebelts.
Tina had two dreams: Mack would be in Florida with her, and would become a reading dog.
Everyone said she was crazy.
Following her heart, she flew to Houston and brought Mack home March, 2001. They trained and were certified as an animal assisted therapy team that fall.

Mack and Tina participate in HS of Broward's Wags N Tales program, geared to children ages 5-12. The Shelter Dog is one of their favorites and in Mack's library bag! They were recognized for their outstanding service and promoting rescue/adoption this past fall.

They reside in south Florida with Tina's husband Bob, four other rescued aussies, cats, birds and three iguanas.

To learn more about Tina be sure to visit her website

To learn more about improving the lives of older dogs who are waiting for their forever homes please visit The Grey Muzzle Organization.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Is your dog afraid of thunderstorms?

I used to LOVE thunder and lightning storms – especially if they came in the middle of the night! My bedroom would light up as if a thousand candles were floating in the air. It was really beautiful.

However, it was NOT beautiful to Martha, the magical dog who was born in my bathroom back in 1982. I learned about her fear one night when I felt her stand up next to my bed and frantically bury her paws into my hair.

Martha was terrified! I carried her 50 lb. shaggy body to another floor in my home, away from all the windows in my bedroom. After each lightning bolt I covered her floppy ears as we waited for the thunder that always followed. In this way we rode out the storm.

I tried de-sensitizing her with recordings of thunder, which helped a little. As the years went by Martha’s hearing began to fail, which turned out to be a blessing.

It's hard to believe that my sweet girl has been gone for 15 years. She left me with many warm memories, and one very special gift -it as Martha who inspired the writing of my first book, For Every Dog An Angel.

I know she is flying through the starry skies, riding the heavenly lightning bolts with grace and joy!

Miss you, girl.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Do cats manipulate us?

According to the University of Sussex, cats have learned how to manipulate their people.

Now THERE’S a surprise!

Researchers at the university concluded that cats use a “regular purr” when they are relaxed and happy, and a “soliciting purr” when they want something, such as food or attention. The soliciting purr incorporates a cry that has a frequency similar to that of a human baby.

Dr. Janet McComb, lead author of the study, said the cry occurs at a low level during normal purring.
"But we think (they) learn to dramatically exaggerate it when it proves effective in generating a response from humans.

Cats have tapped into a human bias, producing a sound that humans find very difficult to ignore."
That certainly explains a lot!
Gotta go...Dickens wants to be fed.


Thursday, February 04, 2010

No - this is MY heating pad!

For some critters, being comfy and warm is a top priority!

Just look at what happened when O'Malley, beloved Bulldog companion of my friend, Ruth Phillips, discovered Ruth's heating pad.

But when O'Malley "borrowed" Ruth's chair, that left his donut bed on the floor fair game for his pal, Dixie.

Hmm...what to do?

I guess O'Malley decided that sharing a bed with a friend was the best answer!

Wise choice, O'Malley.