How does one write a second book when one never intended to write the first book?

outside-of-a-dog

The book that I never meant to write is just a sweet, little collection of memories of my dog, Molly. When it was time to say goodbye to Molly, which was very hard, I was more than a little consumed with making sure that I would not forget all of the special little things about her.  (All dogs are special, I know.  But when there is a real connection like what Molly and I shared, man that is just over-the-top-special.  And that’s what fueled my need to keep her memories close.)  The best way for me to do that was to sit at the keyboard and tap out the thoughts, feelings, emotions, remembrances, and all of the tears and heartbreak.  A hundred and eighty-some pages later, there it was.  A book.  All because I kissed a dog and I liked it.

Now fast forward a few years, and it seems that it may be appropriate to follow-up my unintended book with an intentional set of Molly stories. More than one suggestion has been delivered to me that a children’s series of Molly antics is a perfect idea.  I’ve been slow and reluctant to the advice; resistant even.  A children’s series is a pretty big commitment.  There are drawings and caricatures and storylines and covers and more that have to be created all from scratch.  Don’t these people know that I already have a full-time job?  Plus I know I will need help with a lot of this.

So in the interest of at least dipping my toe in the water, I’ll be using the blog to post some basic ideas and give them a trial run. Honest feedback will be very much appreciated.

Here’s a rundown of some titles/plots that have been initially started.

  • Molly Eats Her Vegetables
  • Molly Learns to Cross the Street with Her Mom
  • Molly Learns to Play Nice
  • Molly Learns to Potty

Be on the lookout for future postings to provide the trial run for each one of these stories. Again, your honest feedback will be very much appreciated.  Anything from content, style, subject matter, network connections for artists, been-there-done-that advice, and opinions…all of it will be welcome.

Many thanks, fellow bloggers. As always, God Bless.  tiny paw

photo credit:  “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.  Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” by Bruno at https://www.flickr.com/people/brunobib/ – creative commons license

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The Dog in the Blog

dr-seuss

Well, isn’t this special?  I’ve got a blog and I don’t know what to blog.

My blog was inspired by my dog.

But now my head is in a fog.

Can you help me with my blog?

My dog’s name was Molly.

She was cute and jolly.

Oh, I still love her by golly.

Molly was a Yorkie.

She was not a porky.

Oh, this post isn’t going to work-y.

Molly barked like Dino.

Everyone thought she was keen-o.

What else rhymes with the sound ‘ee-no’?

This is all very elementary.

It’s not the work of the century.

But you’re still reading it, aren’t ye?

Such writing style is done much better by Dr. Seuss.

And this post is cooking my goose.

It needs much more; it’s not profuse!

Alas, I fear I have failed my blog.

My heart is broken over my dog.

Dear Reader, please forgive me and this cog.

Next year will be better.

I’ve got ideas! I will deliver!

Wait for them.  This is just a sliver.

Love, Molly and me.

photo credit:  “Dr Seuss” by marshillonline in 2010 under Creative Commons Attribution License.

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Holidays, Traditions, Memories, and More!

christmas-decorations

This time of year is always good at bringing back wonderful childhood memories.

Playing outside in the snow on cold winter days, then coming inside (snow and all) and drinking warm mugs of yummy cocoa. Watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas and other Christmas movies on tv.  Picking out a live tree and stringing popcorn to decorate it.  Singing Christmas Carols all day and night to practice for the school play.  (Well, actually it could be the middle of summer and I was singing Christmas songs.  Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, The Twelve Days of Christmas, Away in a Manger, The First Noel…I sang ‘em all regardless of what the calendar or the weather was like.  My brothers didn’t seem to appreciate it, but that’s another set of childhood memories for another blog!)

Memories are good. They ground us.  They make us who we are.  A song, a scent, a word, anything can trigger the brain to transport you back to another place and time, and in that special moment you get to relive it all, even if it’s just for a fleeting second.

While decorating my own Christmas tree this year, many of those childhood memories came back to me. Remember bubble lights?  Man, I’ve got to find me some bubble lights!  It made me wonder too, just what happened to my mom’s Christmas decorations.  She made some of the most beautiful hand-made ornaments.  I always loved helping her put them on the tree, working hard to find the perfect spot for the special orbs of silk-threaded beauty bedazzled with sequins, ribbons, pearls, stones and gems.

A lot of memories of Molly came flooding back to me too. Just how is it that animals know when there’s something special that’s going to happen before it happens?  It’s kind of tradition at my house that the tree comes up the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  Maybe figuring out that it was Thanksgiving Day and then counting two days forward was Molly’s clue.  But you can bet that on Saturday morning she would be eagerly anticipating the ritualistic retrieval of totes and boxes in order to put up the tree.  Each box and tote had to be sniffed and inspected before I could open them.  Then each ornament had to be officially Molly-approved before I could place it where I wanted it.  She always made putting up the tree and getting it decorated a fun time.  Then of course, we’d snuggle and just gaze at the tree all night.

This is where you can imagine my deep, contented sigh. And where, if you listen carefully, you just might hear my heart break a little bit.  I miss my mom.  I miss Molly.  I miss being a kid singing Christmas Carols with careless regard for the calendar.

My memories of all of these things are cherished pieces. As long as I have my memories, I still have my mom; I still have Molly; I can still be that kid shouting at the top of my lungs, “All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth”.

My hope for all of you is that you have wonderful, cherished memories too. I also hope that the holiday season will not be too busy and inundated with too many other things that you don’t have time to reflect on those memories.

If by chance you don’t have memories worth remembering, then fret not. It’s easy to make new ones, starting today.  Sing a song.  Go to your local shelter and volunteer to help decorate or do something special for the animals that are there for the holidays.  Foster or adopt.  There are a whole lot of magnificent and delightful memories just waiting to be made for you.

Happy Holidays to everyone and God Bless!

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Bittersweet

ps_2013_05_19___12_17_33How many tears will I cry for you?

Will the tears ever stop?

You were a blessing to me, Molly, an answer to a prayer.

Really Molly, you were exactly that…an answer to a prayer.

And you were such a good and sweet little girl.

There has never been such a wonderful doggy like you.

And there never will be again.

Molly, my sweet little Baby Boo-Bear Molly.

Oh, I love you and I miss you so very much!

I miss your sweet little face, your big brown eyes,

And your floppy little ears, and your black button nose.

What an adorable little girl you were!

And your waggily puff tail that would wiggle so

When you wanted a treat or to run and play, or

Even if you just saw that I was coming home!

I remember all of our snuggle-time too.

Your contented little puppy sighs

As you curled into your little sleep ball

Could make any bad day right again.

Oh Molly, I didn’t mean to send you away without telling you

things first.

I meant to tell you that it was okay to go on without me,

That it was okay to go to Heaven and wait for me there,

That you didn’t need to be afraid or to feel alone,

That Heaven is a wonderful place,

A place where you would always be safe, and healthy, and happy

And be surrounded by people who love you

And where you could run and play in the sweet light of the Lord.

It’s awful to think that you might have thought I was getting rid of you.

I wasn’t! Oh Molly, I wasn’t!

I still want you! I still love you! Always and forever I love you, Molly!

I wanted to hold you close to my heart and tell you sweet little love things

And kiss on you and hug you and hold you while you went to sleep.

But I was afraid to take you out of your oxygen cage.

So I didn’t take the time to hold you to my heart

Or to let you relax in my arms.

I didn’t take the time to comfort you

Or to say all of those things to you about Heaven.

I just let you lay in your basket and told you that I loved you.

I didn’t know what else to say in those quick seconds once it was happening.

So I kept saying only that.

“I love you, Molly. I love you, Molly. I love you, Molly.”

Please forgive me, Molly.

And please know how sorry I am that I messed it up.

My biggest prayer now is for you to know how much I love you,

How much I miss you, and how sorry I am.

I pray that from the Heavenly side,

You now know all the little love things I wanted to say but didn’t.

I pray that you know and understand,

And that you aren’t confused about what happened

Or why I sent you to be in Heaven to wait for me there.

And so my tears will not stop.

Even when they do not fall, they are there.

My heart is broken in two.

Until we can be together again, Molly,

Until I can tell you these things and hold you again myself,

My heart will never be the same.

Will you forgive me and reward me with Molly-Kisses when I see you in Heaven?

Oh, I hope so, Molly! I hope so!

And I will spend the rest of eternity telling you how much I love you!

It will be me that follows you around like a little puppy dog,

With puppy love in my eyes for only you.

And we will laugh, and play, and run, and chase flying geese,

And have so much fun in the warm, beautiful light of Heaven.

And there will be no more pain,

No more strokes,

No more trouble breathing,

No more dizziness,

No more sorrow, or fear, or loneliness.

Just love.

I love you, Molly.

And I always will.

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The Meaning of Words

huh

Do you have any funny stories from when you were a kid? You know, silly things you said or did that are just a hoot to remember and to retell now that you are all grown up?

Boy, do I have some stories that are real doozies. I use them as a humorous way to help explain why the adult me is so analytical and sees things in black and white.  Sometimes the adult me wears blinders like a horse, and it takes a kick under the meeting table to get me to realize, oh wait, there is another way to look at this.

So there I was in a business meeting and once again forced to remember two stories from my childhood.

Story One – Picture it: first grade, six years old, pigtails, missing teeth, and a serious desire to learn new words.  Learning to put various letters from the alphabet into these things called words had opened up a whole other world for me.  And when it came to pedestrian cross-walks, I knew the words that were blinking before me and my mother as we came to the intersection.  Walk.  Don’t Walk.  And they were blinking, Don’t Walk.

So what did I do? Well, I did exactly what the sign said.  I took off like a shot of lightening and ran through the traffic to the other side of the street.

“What are you doing!” yelled my mother from the side of the street that I had just vacated. As I turned back and looked at her, there she was all exasperated at her six-year old child and she hollered out with much arm waving and exaggerated gestures, “The sign says ‘Don’t Walk’!”

“I know”, I yelled back equally exasperated at her for not running with me. “That’s why you have to run!  There’s cars coming!”  I said this to help her understand, since she obviously didn’t.

Once traffic stopped and the light changed to walk, she came at me with severe determination. I was lucky she didn’t tan my hide right there.  But my mom calmly explained to me that ‘Don’t Walk’ meant for me to stay put instead of to run.

Oh.

Well, yeah after she explained it that way, then sure, that’s another way to look at it, I suppose.  But seriously, if we play opposites and I ask you what’s the opposite of light and you say dark, what’s the opposite of open and you say closed, guess what you’re going to say when I ask what’s the opposite of walk?  You’re going to say run!  The opposite of walk is not to stand still.  It’s to run.  So when a sign shines out a command of Don’t Walk, then to an analytical child who’s learning to read new words, that means Run!

Really, it’s a good thing that they changed the pedestrian signals from the words of Walk and Don’t Walk to the pictures of a person walking and the traffic cop hand signal for stop. Otherwise, I’d be petitioning the powers-that-be to change the words to Walk and Stay Put.

Story Two – Picture it: first grade, six-year old me again with a teacher named Miss Bonnie.  I had been taught to call adults by the title of Mr., Miss, or Mrs. followed by their last name.  If I was granted permission or they requested to be called by their first name, I must still use a title in front of it.  From day one of first grade, I was told to call my teacher Miss Bonnie.

I only knew to associate the name Bonnie as a first name. So, I automatically interpreted this to be her first name.  Imagine my confusion when I found out Miss Bonnie’s last name.  It was Bonnie.  Not only pronounced the same as her first name, but also spelled the same as her first name.  Yep, her name was Bonnie Bonnie.

What! No!  Wait!  Six-year old me was confused.

“Um, Miss Bonnie?” I asked ever so confused and softly.

“Yes, Lori”.

“When I call you Miss Bonnie, am I calling you Miss Bonnie first name? Or am I calling you Miss Bonnie last name?”

She looked at me and I’m sure she was thinking ‘when is 3:00 getting here’? But instead, she simply turned the question back to me and said, “Well, which do you think you are calling me?”

I quickly replied that I thought I was calling her by her first name.  “Then that’s what you are doing,” she said.

Oh, this wasn’t going well for six-year old me. Confusion, confusion, confusion.  “But how do you know which name I mean when I say it?”  There was desperation in my voice, I’m sure.  The memory is very real because the struggle and the confusion at the time was very real.

“Because you told me,” she offered as a way to calm me down. It didn’t work.

“What if I ever say it as your last name and you hear it as your first name?” All I remember as an answer was an instruction to go sit down.

See, I’m telling you the struggle was real. Life is hard for a six year old who thinks things literally and sees the meanings of words in black and white.

Where am I going with all of this? Well, I’m just sharing as a way to let you know I’m an analytical thinker and I take things pretty literally most times.

But I’m also a sentimental person and these memories bring up all kinds of warm-fuzzies about my mother, my childhood days, and fun with grade school friends, and wonderful teachers who taught me my ABCs and my 123s.

My dog Molly probably knew me more as a sentimental person than as an analytical person. Lots of hugs, kisses, and snuggles.  Plus from her perspective there was no confusion over names, words, or the meanings of them.  She and I both had the same very clear understanding of ‘Walk’.  No analysis of any kind was needed to figure out what that meant, and it meant fun!

I guess in conclusion, this is just to encourage readers to take a journey back in time. Remember your childlike selves and fit that memory into your current grownup roles and correlate what makes six-year old you into who you are today.  In the process, don’t forget to picture what your dog thinks of the grownup you.

Just so you know, your dog thinks you are the greatest thing that ever existed.

Please feel free to comment back and share your own childhood funny memories or special moments in learning to understand yourself. And if any of those stories include a dog or favorite pet, all the more reason to share.

God bless to everyone.

Photo credit: “Huh?” by Liz West, 2005, www. flickr.com/people/calliope/

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If a Dog Was President

dog-in-suit

A group of us were discussing the upcoming election the other day. The dialogue included strong opinions, sarcastic comments, and specifically negative emotions from despair and disgust to hopelessness and surrender.  There wasn’t one single positive comment that was shared or offered by any of us about either candidate.  The focus for each of us was on (almost pathetically) validating our own votes for the candidate OPPOSITE of the one we DID NOT want elected.  Instead of casting our votes to elect the one person that we feel deserves the honor and supreme title of President of the United States, we’re forced to settle for wasting our votes on the one whom we hope can beat the one that LEAST deserves to be President of the United States.

One question tossed out during the discussion was, “what’s your biggest fear about this election?” The ultimate answer by consensus?  “One of them is going to win.”

Wow. For the world’s most iconic country that embodies freedom and democracy, we’ve not faired very well.

As an avid dog-lover, it made me wonder if we’d be in this position if dogs ran the country. I’ve heard others use this line of debate before, so yeah, I know I’m not being very original here.  But, this was the first time I actually thought about it for more than just a couple seconds, with a flippant yeah-right-now-get-serious, kind of response.

So, what if a dog was President?

Well first, the country would not be divided into separate States. The country would be delineated by separate Parks.  The area now known as Florida, for example, would not be the State of Florida.  A comparable land mass portion of it would become the Park of Disney. California would not be the State of California, but rather the Park of Yosemite.  And each Park would be known for its own particular brand of entertainment and atmosphere, and carry its own unique sense of purpose for living there or booking a visit.  But don’t worry peoples.  President Top Dog will ensure that all Parks are human-friendly.

Second, instead of White House, it would be Dog House, and the term ‘in the dog house’ would mean something really special and not be a bad thing at all. The Dog House would be a place of honor and it would be worthy of everyone’s respect.

And picture this. Instead of animal zoos, there’d be people zoos where animals could come and see us in our natural environment.  The people zoos would be built to accommodate us with all kinds of electronic gadgets and gizmos to keep us connected, entertained, occupied and productive.  Then at the end of the day, we’d all be released from the people zoos to go home and play with our dogs.  (Let’s face it, we’ve all described a day at work as being a day at the zoo.  This would just make it real.)

Now before you go bashing the post because it took a political topic like the election and complained about it, let me declare that I LOVE that I live in a free country where I have the right to vote. I can worship in the church of my choice, I have civil rights, and I can own my home and live the American Dream.  I haven’t forgotten that this is due to the brave men and women who have paid the ultimate price to give me this freedom, either.  God bless the U.S. military.  God Bless America.  And America, Bless God!

This year’s election just seemed to give a good opportunity to stop and ponder the point of how we got here. Two hundred and twenty-eight years after the first election named George Washington our very first President of the United States, we’re arguing instead of debating.  Politically speaking, we’re accusing instead of discussing; we’re pushing aside others instead of working for cohesion; and we’re lying to everyone instead of being honest.

Can you see a dog doing any of those things? No, they’d sniff each other out, come to a reasonable conclusion, and let the leader of the pack lead the way.

It’s the truth. Dogs rule.  And we American humans could take a good cue and start learning to be more like them.

p.s. Don’t forget to exercise your right to vote!

Photo credit: Dog in suit, by Matt Barber, 2008, http://www.flickr.com/people/matt512/

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This One is for Caleb

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In one of my earlier blog entries, I made a statement that I would not use my book’s blog as a platform for animal rights or to concentrate on condemning animal abuse. But in that same post, “Dogs are People Too!”, I felt compelled to write about a news story that covered a group of dogs that were intentionally left behind by their owners, locked in a trailer. The dogs that survived until found were starving and dehydrated, lonely, scared, and in need of emergency medical care and plenty of love and TLC. Note that I said those were the dogs that survived until found; for some of the dogs did not survive being thoughtlessly and carelessly abandoned by the very people who were supposed to be caring for them.

My whole and complete intention for my book was and is to share with the world the beautiful, special and meaningful love that my dog (and God) shared with me. The purpose was and is to also share with the world a grieving process that comes from losing such a special kind of love. We’ve all been there, right? We can all relate somehow. So those are the things that I most want to share in my book’s blog. Stories of love and companionship, trust and hope, fun days and doggy kisses. Stories that make you realize that you make a difference for the better in the world when you share your love with a dog. Or better yet, when you accept the love of a dog.

But today, I feel as if it is my duty as a self-proclaimed lover of animals to once again post about a dog abuse story that caught my attention a while ago. Please pardon me while, one more time, I try to contain my anger at the horrible realization that, sometimes, people are just plain inhumane. Dogs make better people than most people.

The story was about Caleb and it made me cry. I’m sure it would make you cry as well. If you’ve not heard anything about the story yet, brace yourself for a shock as you proceed reading.

Caleb was a three-month old puppy when he was rescued after being thrown away like unwanted trash. Someone saw him being thrown over a tall fence and thankfully that someone called for help. When the responding veterinarians took him under their care, they discovered so much more to poor Caleb’s condition.

He had a broken jaw. Cigarette burns covered his little body. He was emaciated. He was dehydrated. His skull was battered. At just three months old, he had received so much of the worst that the world can do to an animal. He had been subjected to pure evil. But the litany of his abuses doesn’t end there. You see, of all those appalling things that you just read, that isn’t the worst part of what he endured. To the horror of the veterinarians, they discovered that poor little Caleb had suffered through repeated torture of sexual abuse.

You read that right. A three-month old puppy was being sexually abused by someone or a group of someones.

Tragically, Caleb was not strong enough to recover despite the best of medical care that was being provided to him.

Without being too graphic here, I challenge you to just imagine what he went through. Can you hear him crying for help as he was being burned and tortured? Can you see the look of his cowering little body and the fear in his eyes as he realizes that his torturers are coming for him again and he can’t escape?

I am so sad right now at the thought of poor Caleb. My heart is truly in a state of sorrow. In one update that had been posted about the story, his rescuers said that even in his sleep, Caleb couldn’t stop crying. It’s not hard for me to understand that.

I honestly don’t know where to go next with my words. I’m truly just rambling right now at the keyboard. Do I write about the state of the world and how we need to do something to stop people like this? And what would that something be? Pray? Certainly, but what else? And what do I pray for? Justice? That the offenders be caught and prosecuted? Yes, I pray for that. Do I pray for a forgiving heart? Because I don’t feel terribly forgiving right now. I could write about how even the worst of humankind deserves a chance of redemption. Maybe then my anger will give up room for forgiveness. What if I write a sweet little poem to Caleb and tell him I’m sorry? On behalf of all humanity, I’m so terribly sorry! Will someone read it and be motivated to do something? Do I write about how, if all I do is write about Caleb, I’m not really doing anything either? In my heart, I know that Caleb is in a better place now and he is no longer suffering. Do I write about that?

God, please tell me what to do and what to say. I’m going to need help resolving my heart and my mind to this heartbreaking story of Caleb.

There is a petition, “Justice for Caleb”. I tried to sign it, and I’m honestly not sure if it took, so I’ll keep checking and trying. The petition is to keep the investigation going to find Caleb’s abusers and bring them to justice, prosecuting them to the fullest extent of the law. It’s also to bring into focus the lack of legal ramifications against people who abuse animals.  Hopefully, with the help of those who sign the petition, the laws will be stronger and more enforceable.  Please, please, please, add your name to the petition.

In departure on this post, I would like to thank the nameless rescuers who tried their best to comfort Caleb and nurse him back to health with their tender loving care. In particular, those at Fulton County Animal Services in Atlanta where Caleb first received care, and those at Rescue Dogs Rock NYC who ultimately took over the care of Caleb and posted about his story and his condition.

May God bless us all.

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