Latest newsletter with easy prize giveaways!

Well, I’ve not been posting too much in the last few weeks as life sometimes gets so busy and so complicated and so, so messy. But, there are always obligations. And, that means getting out my foundation’s quarterly newsletter.

You don’t want to miss it. There’s a NEW giveaway with 3 folks each winning a prize valued at $20 …. simply by answering a mystery question and posting the answer at our foundation’s Facebook page.

Just click here and you can print out your own full-color issue.

Dr. Nancy Kay …. a fitting tribute, indeed

I recently heard from veterinarian, Dr. Nancy Kay, and was so glad she sent us a copy of her seminal book, Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life.

These days, it seems impossible to keep up with all the great books debuting in our ever expanding realm of the dog. Already in its third printing, the book was honored in 2009 by the Dog Writers Association of America and her Speaking for Spot Blog (which is fabulous btw) won a Best Blog Award as well. Wanting to become a veterinarian for just about as long as she can remember, Dr. Kay graduated from the Cornell College of Vet. Medicine, her residency completed at the Univ of CA-Davis in Internal Medicine.

Currently a board certified internist at the Rohnert Park, CA Animal Care Center, a 24-hour emergency/specialty care center, Dr Kay additionally founded and helps facilitate the Animal Care Center Pet Support Group. Of course, you know just how important she is when you see the fitting tribute received from Bruce and Jim at Draw the Dog.

We love how Dr. Kay helps you come to grips with a cancer diagnosis, and explains the tough choices that are bound to follow. Plus, you’ll find an alphabetical listing of the most common symptoms experienced by dogs and the questions your vet is sure to ask when you report them—not to mention hundreds of prevalent diseases and related points you should be certain to clarify before leaving your vet’s office with a treatment plan in hand. A labor of love, this book was fueled by her passion to teach people how to be effective medical advocates for their four-legged best friends. Gone are the days of simply following doc’s orders―today’s dog lovers are confronted with health-care decision-making on many levels. Have you ever wondered . . .

  • How do I find a vet that feels just right for me and my dog?
  • What are the important questions I should be asking my vet?
  • How will I be able to afford my dog’s health care? Is pet insurance the way to go?
  • Does my dog truly need all those vaccines listed on the reminder postcard?
  • Does my dog really need the surgery or procedure that has been recommended?
  • Are there other options I should be considering?
  • When is it appropriate to get a second opinion? Where should I go to get one and how can I avoid offending my vet?
  • Should I take my dog to see a specialist?
  • Should I consider treating my dog’s cancer?
    Am I doing the right thing? Am I doing this for him or for me?
  • Is my dog ready to say goodbye? Am I ready to let him go? What are my choices when it comes to the euthanasia process?

If you’ve struggled with these questions, you’ve come to just the right place! Dr. Kay and Speaking for Spot will help you answer all of these questions and many more. With warmth, candor, and humor cultivated over 20-plus years of working with dogs and their human companions Dr. Kay provides an insider’s guide to navigating the potentially overwhelming, confusing, and expensive world of veterinary medicine. The result is everything you need to know in one fabulous, fully illustrated book. Speaking for Spot is the consummate guide on how to be your best friend’s medical advocate!



Dr. Greg’s Dog Dish Diet (and 10 Practical Home Remedies) – Updated

We love how Dr. Greg begins his book: “I’m Dr. Greg Martinez and I feed my dogs people food, even though in veterinary school I was taught to use only commercial dog food. In truth, feeding healthful people food to dogs contradicts most everything I was taught.” Committed to helping as many dogs as he can, the April 2007 pet food recall was clearly his epiphany.

Dr. Greg admits to previously being a kibble pusher, but now knows each dog is an individual, and that: “Kibble + dog = Fat in 50% of Dogs.”

We used kibble once upon a time, even graduating to organic kibble, which somehow meant we were doing even more for our kids. But, honestly, just pouring dried, processed chunks into bowls—even if the ingredients were impeccable—was not an accomplishment. Only laziness kept us from home-cooking. But, once the commitment was made, it was amazing how efficient we became at making and freezing meals in advance.

An easy and fun read, Dr. Greg’s Dog Dish Diet is both personal and practical. It is filled with oodles of easy-to-remember sound bytes of tasty information, nutrition & ingredient charts, and conversion info on kilograms to ounces (to determine calories). The secret recipe that Dr. Greg shares is a keeper. And, we may never forget his spot on Dog Better Health Rule #6: “Treats are the crack cocaine of the canine world.”

Dr. Greg believes changing your dog’s diet may help relieve weight gain, red and painful ears, flaky and inflamed skin, hotspots, stomach upsets, and urinary infections. In his book, you will learn about: food allergens; choosing healthier dog treats from the refrigerator that will save you money; the importance of adding needed healthful fats and oils; cutting calories without leaving your dog hungry/unsatisfied; and, feeding your dog’s inner wolf by simulating the ratio of proteins, carbohydrates and fats that sustained dogs earliest ancestors.

Dr. Greg also has a great little set of 10 Practical Home Remedies. Click here to print out a copy for yourself!

EXCITING UPDATE: If you order a personally autographed book online at Dr. Greg’s site and mention the Land of PureGold Foundation, he will donate $5.00 per book to our nonprofit.

You will also receive a special chart to download, print out and post near your dog’s feeding area. This chart will help you to quickly get started making changes in your dog’s health and creating a Dog Dish Diet for Your Dog.

FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD!


Well, just finished my 2nd issue of our Foundation’s Newsletter. It is actually over 2x longer than the 1st issue and packed with some great finds. There is an absolutely fabulous MUST-HAVE article on mushrooms with recipes galore, and reviews of two great new food books from veterinarians.

Please let me know what you think. REALLY.

Just click here.

Remembering Golden Riley: The Real (Iconic) Hero of 9/11

New York, N.Y. (Sept. 15, 2001) -- Golden Retriever SAR dog, Riley, is transported out of the debris of the World Trade Center. The twin towers of the center were destroyed in a Sept. 11 terrorist attack. U.S. Navy Photo by Journalist 1st Class Preston Keres.

This one photo has never left my mind, heart, or soul as the images
from such a tragic day tend to be indelibly marked.

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The following post originally appeared on May 28, 2007, but sad news that I received today from his Riley’s dad, Chris Selfridge, prompted my giving it top billing again. My heart is truly heavy today. Although I never got to meet Riley, I loved him as did so many other folks who had been glued to their television sets after the attack on the twin towers.

On 2/26/10, Riley passed away. He was our family pet, my friend and partner. Riley was 13 in November. He lived a good life and taught me many lessons during his time with me. He will be greatly missed. I love you Bub!

Dog book author, Susan McCullough, has included Riley in her upcoming book on Golden Retrievers and learned more about his final days.

While Riley had aced a physical this past December, a mass was found in his abdomen on February 20. Surgery to remove the mass took place on February 24, but Riley died two days later.

Chris and I exchanged email last fall when I was writing my book about Golden Retrievers and wanted to feature Riley as a representative of the breed. At that point, Riley was still enjoying chasing Frisbees and had helped to welcome a new puppy into the family. He clearly was enjoying his retirement from SAR work.

I am so glad Riley was able to be by his family’s side for a little over 13 years. Cancer has kept me from having a Golden Retriever beyond the age of 11. These special souls live their lives so intensely, never tiring of seeing our faces or simply the joy of going for a walk or getting a treat. I don’t think we could ever appreciate life or live it as well as they do. So, while it seems like they have such short lives, I think they live far longer than we do when it comes to happiness and fulfillment.

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May 28, 2007 Post

I have a page at the foundation site on our Disaster Search and Rescue Goldens. It details a great book, Dog Heroes of September 11th: A Tribute to America’s Search and Rescue Dogs. The book details the stories of 77 handlers and their Search and Rescue dogs who responded at the World Trade Center & Pentagon following the September 11th attacks. It shows a photo of Dissaster SAR Golden, Riley.

Riley is one of the most famous dogs of Sept. 11 because of a photo taken of him at the World Trade Center site a few days after the attacks. In the photo, Riley is in a basket being sent over a 60-foot-deep canyon to search the rubble of the North Tower. “Normally when we send a dog, the handler goes with him,” said Riley’s trainer, Chris Selfridge. “This time we decided it was more practical to just send the dog.”

I also recently learned of video being available of Golden Riley through SAR worker and author extraordinaire, Susannah Charleson. She is most familiar with this apparatus on Riley as she has trained in activities with similar gear with her SAR Golden Puzzle.

It is wonderful to actually have footage of the Golden Retriever who really DID work at the World Trade Center (separating him from those preposterous claims made by Scott Shields).

Riley is now retired, and suffers from various skin problems and the like due to his time at Ground Zero.

A Big Little Life: Dean Koontz’s Memoir of his Joyful Golden Trixie

A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog, is Dean Koontz’s new book about life with his beloved Golden Retriever, Trixie (you can read an excerpt here).

“Trixie was joyful, affectionate, comical, intelligent, remarkably well behaved. She was also more self-possessed and dignified than I had ever realized a dog could be,” says Dean. “Already and unexpectedly, she has changed me as a person and as a writer. I am only beginning to understand the nature of those changes and where they will lead me.”

DEAN KOONTZ thought he had everything he needed. A successful novelist with more than twenty #1 New York Times bestsellers to his credit, Dean had forged a career out of industry and imagination. Then along came Trixie.

Dean had always wanted a dog–had even written several books in which dogs were featured. But not until Trixie was he truly open to the change that such a beautiful creature could bring about in him. Trixie had intelligence, a lack of vanity, and an uncanny knack for living in the present. And because she was joyful and direct as all dogs are, she put her heart into everything–from chasing tennis balls, to playing practical jokes, to protecting those she loved.

A retired service dog with Canine Companions for Independence, Trixie became an assistance dog of another kind. She taught Dean to trust his instincts, persuaded him to cut down to a fifty-hour work week, and, perhaps most important, renewed in him a sense of wonder that will remain with him for the rest of his life. She mended him in many ways.

Trixie weighed only sixty-something pounds, Dean occasionally called her Short Stuff, and she lived less than twelve years. In this big world, she was a little thing, but in all the ways that mattered, including the effect she had on those who loved her, she lived a big life. Dean reads from his memoir in the video clip below.

DEAN KOONTZ thought he had everything he needed. A successful novelist with more

than twenty #1 New York Times bestsellers to his credit, Dean had forged a career

out of industry and imagination. He had been married to his high school sweetheart,

Gerda, since the age of twenty, and together they had made a happy life for

themselves in their Southern California home. It was the picture of peace and

contentment. Then along came Trixie.

Dean had always wanted a dog–had even written several books in which dogs were

featured. But not until Trixie was he truly open to the change that such a

beautiful creature could bring about in him. Trixie had intelligence, a lack of

vanity, and an uncanny knack for living in the present. And because she was joyful

and direct as all dogs are, she put her heart into everything–from chasing tennis

balls, to playing practical jokes, to protecting those she loved.

A retired service dog with Canine Companions for Independence, Trixie became an

assistance dog of another kind. She taught Dean to trust his instincts, persuaded

him to cut down to a fifty-hour work week, and, perhaps most important, renewed in

him a sense of wonder that will remain with him for the rest of his life. She

mended him in many ways.

Trixie weighed only sixty-something pounds, Dean occasionally called her Short

Stuff, and she lived less than twelve years. In this big world, she was a little

thing, but in all the ways that mattered, including the effect she had on those who

loved her, she lived a big life.

Obstructionist Conservatives truly are “damaging the fabric of governance”

I really was not in the greatest of moods (given Golden Alfie’s current situation), but when I read this article this morning about another hold on an Obama nominee I just couldn’t NOT comment.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) has blocked Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein from heading the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs because of his position on animal rights. In a 2004 book, Sunstein wrote: “I will suggest that animals should be permitted to bring suit, with human beings as their representatives, to prevent violations of current law.”

More specifically, Professor Sunstein wrote: “Laws designed to protect animals against cruelty and abuse should be amended or interpreted to give a private cause of action against those who violate them, so as to allow private people to supplement the efforts of public prosecutors.” Chambliss is supposedly troubled by  Sunstein’s potential impact on this as well as many other agriculture related issues.

I am cheered by the fact that Cass Sunstein believes that there should be much greater regulation of the use of animals in entertainment, in scientific experiments, and in agriculture — the spotlight needing to rest squarely on the issue of suffering and well-being.

Actually, 21 Obama nominees for important posts remain unconfirmed.

Most of the stranded nominees have long since had hearings and majority approval by Senate committees and meetings with lawmakers. None of the nominees have been tainted by scandal or had their core competence questioned. And yet, they remain unconfirmed — one for more than three months and several others for more than a month — mainly because of holds, often anonymous and unexplained, by Republican senators.

Holds are effectively a filibuster, requiring 60 votes to overcome. Used legitimately, they can buy time to clear up unanswered questions about a nominee’s qualifications. But the current widespread holds of uncertain duration are obstructionism. Writing in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, Norman Ornstein, a Congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said the mass delays are “damaging the fabric of governance.”

The 2004 animal rights books attributed to Cass Sunstein is an important one. Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions is a seminal 2004 book edited by Cass R. Sunstein and Martha C. Nussbaum.

Millions of people live with cats, dogs, and other pets, which they treat as members of their families. But through their daily behavior, people who love those pets, and greatly care about their welfare, help ensure short and painful lives for millions, even billions of animals that cannot easily be distinguished from dogs and cats. Today, the overwhelming percentage of animals with whom Westerners interact are raised for food. Countless animals endure lives of relentless misery and die often torturous deaths.

The use of animals by human beings, often for important human purposes, has forced uncomfortable questions to center stage: Should people change their behavior? Should the law promote animal welfare? Should animals have legal rights? Should animals continue to be counted as “property”? What reforms make sense?

Cass Sunstein and Martha Nussbaum bring together an all-star cast of contributors to explore the legal and political issues that underlie the campaign for animal rights and the opposition to it. Addressing ethical questions about ownership, protection against unjustified suffering, and the ability of animals to make their own choices free from human control, the authors offer numerous different perspectives on animal rights and animal welfare. They show that whatever one’s ultimate conclusions, the relationship between human beings and nonhuman animals is being fundamentally rethought. This book offers a state-of-the-art treatment of that rethinking.

Just look at some of the reviews:

“Our society is in the midst of a major debate over animal rights, our duties, and the legal status of animals. This new compilation of essays has profoundly contributed to this debate…. Animal Rights is an incredible resource introducing readers to the basic issues in animal rights and highlighting directions animal advocates may go.” — Animal Law

“An important and thought-provoking work. Sunstein and Nussbaum illuminate issues that have the power to unite or divide those of us who care deeply about animals. By fostering better understanding, their book can help light the pathway to common ground.” — Kathryn S. Fuller, President, World Wildlife Fund – US

“Several chapters…discuss political and legal changes that could drastically improve the lives of animals without giving them rights or personhood. …This is a book political decision makers should read.” — The Law and Politics Book Review

You must must must check out the book’s table of contents and read the incredible introduction (which begins with the title: DOGS, CATS, AND HYPOCRISY). Just click here.

Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals

Marc Bekoff, one of our favorite authors, is coming out with a new book on May 30th, Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals.

Scientists have long counseled against interpreting animal behavior in terms of human emotions, warning that such anthropomorphizing limits our ability to understand animals as they really are. Yet what are we to make of a female gorilla in a German zoo who spent days mourning the death of her baby? Or a wild female elephant who cared for a younger one after she was injured by a rambunctious teenage male? Or a rat who refused to push a lever for food when he saw that doing so caused another rat to be shocked? Aren’t these clear signs that animals have recognizable emotions and moral intelligence? With Wild Justice Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce unequivocally answer yes.

Marrying years of behavioral and cognitive research with compelling and moving anecdotes, Bekoff and Pierce reveal that animals exhibit a broad repertoire of moral behaviors, including fairness, empathy, trust, and reciprocity. Underlying these behaviors is a complex and nuanced range of emotions, backed by a high degree of intelligence and surprising behavioral flexibility. Animals, in short, are incredibly adept social beings, relying on rules of conduct to navigate intricate social networks that are essential to their survival. Ultimately, Bekoff and Pierce draw the astonishing conclusion that there is no moral gap between humans and other species: morality is an evolved trait that we unquestionably share with other social mammals.

Sure to be controversial, Wild Justice offers not just cutting-edge science, but a provocative call to rethink our relationship with—and our responsibilities toward—our fellow animals.

Read more commentary here, in the article, Animals can tell right from wrong.

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We have long touted Bekoff’s book, The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy — and Why They Matter.

Based on award-winning scientist Marc Bekoff’s years of experience studying patterns of social communication in a wide range of species, this important 2007 publication shows that numerous animals have rich emotional lives. Animal emotions not only teach us about love, empathy, and compassion, argues Bekoff, but they require us to radically rethink our current relationship of domination and abuse of animals.

Bekoff skillfully blends extraordinary stories of animal joy, empathy, grief, embarrassment, anger, and love with the latest scientific research confirming the existence of emotions that common sense and experience with animals have long implied. Bekoff also explores the evolution of emotions and points to new scientific discoveries of brain structures shared by humans and animals that are important in processing emotions. He goes on to emphasize their role in establishing evolutionary continuity among diverse species and presents new findings of non-invasive neurological research and detailed behavioral studies. Filled with Bekoff’s light humor and touching stories, The Emotional Lives of Animals is a clarion call for reassessing both how we view animals and how we treat them.

Any dog owner knows that her own pet has feelings, but what evidence exists beyond the anecdotal, and what does this evidence teach us? Bekoff, professor emeritus of biology at the University of Colorado, pores through decades of animal research—behavioral, neurochemical, psychological and environmental—to answer that question, compelling readers to accept both the existence and significance of animal emotions.

Seated in the most primitive structures of the brain (pleasure receptors, for example, are biologically correlative in all mammals), emotions have a long evolutionary history. Indeed, as vertebrates became more complex, they developed ever more complex emotional and social lives, “setting rules” that permit group living-a far better survival strategy than going solo.

Along the way, Bekoff forces the reader to re-examine the nature of human beings; our species could not have persevered through the past 100,000 years without the evolution of strong and cohesive social relationships cemented with emotions, a conclusion contrary to contemporary pop sociology notions that prioritize individualism and competition. He also explores, painfully but honestly, the abuse animals regularly withstand in factory farms, research centers and elsewhere, and calls on fellow scientists to practice their discipline with “heart.” Demonstrating the far-reaching implications for readers’ relationships with any number of living beings, Bekoff’s book is profound, thought-provoking and even touching.

For several years ethologist and author Bekoff (Minding Animals 2002; Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, 2005) studied communication in wild and domestic animals and gradually became convinced that humans are not the only animals that experience emotions. Here, Bekoff examines the concept of emotion in the lives of non-humans, the evolutionary advantages of emotions, and the neurological basis for emotions. The final sections focus on how to conduct scientifically rigorous research while addressing scientific rigidity on the subject of animal emotions, and the ethics of how we live our lives with animals. A readable book equally charming and challenging.

Lazy Dog’s Guide to Enlightenment

Enlightenment doesn’t always come in the form we expect it. It need not be a self-styled guru or a complicated contraption measuring some mysterious quality. Sometimes it’s as close as the Chocolate Lab bounding happily through the backyard, or the feisty Terrier contentedly curled up on one’s lap for a nap.

In the foreword to this thoughtful, wonderfully illustrated gift book by Andrea Hurst and Beth Wilson, Dr. Bernie Siegel says, “Dogs are healers. . . . They seem to have figured out how to live beautifully so much better than we humans have.” Loosely modeled on 1980’s underground classic The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment, this charming book celebrates the simple wisdom and that special combination of natural earthiness and subtle spirituality that characterizes humankind’s best friend. Distinctive black-and-white dog images by acclaimed photographer Zackary Folk are accompanied by captions of down-to-earth spiritual wisdom “from” the dogs to their often confused “owners.”

We simply love this book! The wonderful photos show many breeds and the wisdom is just so apropos for us 2-legged folks, as we often need guidance from our spiritual furkids. Some of our favorites are:

►Admit to your faults: What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine too.
►Be content. Longing is the root of all suffering.
►Be willing to ask for forgiveness. We all make mistakes, but who we are is not one of them.

Get the book with a bonus of free glossy puppy stickers & an art illustration greeting card. Profits from this purchase, of course, go towards the grants that we provide for cancer treatment.

Alex & Me: A Human-Animal Bond of true wonder

Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Uncovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence–and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process, written by Irene Pepperberg, is an incredible book.

On September 6, 2007, an African Grey parrot named Alex died prematurely at age thirty-one. His last words to his owner, Irene Pepperberg, were “You be good. I love you.” What would normally be a quiet, very private event was, in Alex’s case, headline news. Over the thirty years they had worked together, Alex and Irene had become famous—two pioneers who opened an unprecedented window into the hidden yet vast world of animal minds. Alex’s brain was the size of a shelled walnut, and when Irene and Alex first met, birds were not believed to possess any potential for language, consciousness, or anything remotely comparable to human intelligence. Yet, over the years, Alex proved many things. He could add. He could sound out words. He understood concepts like bigger, smaller, more, fewer, and none. He was capable of thought and intention. Together, Alex and Irene uncovered a startling reality: We live in a world populated by thinking, conscious creatures.

The fame that resulted was extraordinary. Yet there was a side to their relationship that never made the papers. They were emotionally connected to one another. They shared a deep bond far beyond science. Alex missed Irene when she was away. He was jealous when she paid attention to other parrots, or even people. He liked to show her who was boss. He loved to dance. He sometimes became bored by the repetition of his tests, and played jokes on her. Sometimes they sniped at each other. Yet nearly every day, they each said, “I love you.”

Alex and Irene stayed together through thick and thin—despite sneers from experts, extraordinary financial sacrifices, and a nomadic existence from one univer­sity to another. The story of their thirty-year adventure is equally a landmark of scientific achievement and of an unforgettable human-animal bond.

Barbara J. King is a biological anthropologist and Professor of Anthropology at The College of William and Mary. Her writings are amazing and her blogging should not be missed. Here is part of her must-read article: A Tale of Alex, Bird with a Walnut-Sized Brain (And What a Brain it Was)

For 23 years, Alex the African Grey Parrot had been surprising scientist Irene Pepperberg with his skills, skills no birdbrain was supposed to have. One day in 2000, working at MIT’s Media Lab, Pepperberg soared beyond surprise to sky-high astonishment. She was engaging Alex (so named in honor of the “Avian Language Experiment”) in sounding out phonemes, the individual sounds that make up words.

Alex had already made progress on this task. If shown a tray of plastic letters, the kind parents affix to a refrigerator door to stimulate their kids’ alphabet learning, he responded correctly to questions. Shown an array of letters that included, say, a red “Ch,” a green “N” and a blue “S,” and so on, when asked, “What sound is blue?,” Alex answered “Ssss….”

That day, some of MIT’s corporate sponsors had flocked to watch Alex do a demo. Alex answered a phoneme question correctly, but then piped up with “Want a nut.” Like students everywhere, Alex liked a good snack now and again, and to push his luck with his teachers.

Wanting to keep him on task, Irene pressed Alex with another question, and got the correct answer and immediately, another “Want a nut.” A third Q&A round followed, but this time Alex underscored the seriousness of his craving with the avian equivalent of italics: “Want a nut.”

At this point, Pepperberg writes, Alex “became very slitty-eyed, always a sign he was up to something.” He looked at her and slowly said, “Want a nut. Nnn…uh….tuh.” No birdbrain there! Alex had just leaped from sounding out phonemes to spelling out the letters of a whole word.

This vignette is one of my favorites in Alex and Me. It conveys Alex’s smarts but also his sass. Alex was an independent bird with a haughty streak and an entitlement complex. Star of The Alex Project and darling of the media, Alex commanded English to convey one thing most clearly: Boredom was his enemy. Irene and her team of students asked him question after question in a quest to satisfy skeptics with statistically significant results. The whole process just wore on his nerves. And sometimes, as with his pointed n-u-t response, he’d just fly beyond the tests, and leave the testers behind.

Go do yourself a favor and read the rest. It is such a special piece.

Golden Winners of Dean Koontz Super Dog Contest

Dean Koontz recently held a “Super Dog” Contest, which ended September 15th. With so many wonderful entries, though, he had to do what I often do with my contests …. choose more winners!

The top 5 entrants each received a set of five limited, signed, and numbered collector’s editions of Dean’s books, a value of more than $1,000 plus a signed copy of Trixie’s new book, BLISS TO YOU. If you do not have this book, you must go and order a copy right away. It is just incredible. I have all of Trixie’s books but this one is definitely my favorite.

Bliss to You: Trixie’s Guide to a Happy Life
Bestselling author Dean Koontz says that his dog, Trixie, changed his life and made him a better, happier person. A 68-pound dog who lived close to the ground, Trixie certainly did cast a long shadow. She first became known outside of her own house (dog-house, that is) as a guest blogger on Dean’s website, signing off every entry Life is Good, Bliss to You. Now, in this warm and funny book-as told to Dean Koontz-Trixie once again shares her inspiring outlook on life and reveals the eight steps that anyone can take to achieve not merely happiness, but bliss.

Packed with dog wisdom, both poignant and funny, this charming and heartfelt book gives the reader much food for thought-which might not be as tasty as a bowl of kibble but is nonetheless nourishing.

And, check this out. You can read an excerpt online at Dean Koontz’s site. Just click here and enjoy!

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Okay, back to the contest. Of the top 5 winners, 2 were Golden Retriever folks (yea). The tales are both wonderful.

Joyce Adams and Golden Retriever Hannah Belle (Phoenix, AZ)
Hannah arrived in Arizona from Tennessee, wrapped in an anxiety vest – heavily medicated to keep her under control.  EVERYTHING terrified this beauty. Her first 8 years were spent on a puppy mill in Tennessee. She was used only for producing puppies, litter after litter, under horrid conditions. She captured my heart.  Hannah taught me patience – my reward was watching her blossom and live her remaining years happy and loved unconditionally, as it should be.

Deborah Holstein and Golden Retriever Bari (Sacramento, CA)
Bari is a gentle soul whose super hero gift appeared to be boundless love for her family, until the day she approached me with a small wet breathing object gently tucked in her mouth. She handed this precious bundle to us and led us to a nest of feral kittens – three now treasured members of my mom’s family. She continues to rescue small helpless baby animals asking only for peanut butter as her reward.

Bliss to You: Trixie’s Guide to a Happy Life

Bestselling author Dean Koontz says that his dog, Trixie, changed his life and made him a better, happier person. A 68-pound dog who lived close to the ground, Trixie certainly did cast a long shadow. She first became known outside of her own house (dog-house, that is) as a guest blogger on Dean’s website, signing off every entry Life is Good, Bliss to You. Now, in this warm and funny book–as told to Dean Koontz–Trixie once again shares her inspiring outlook on life and reveals the eight steps that anyone can take to achieve not merely happiness, but bliss.

Packed with dog wisdom, both poignant and funny, this charming and heartfelt book gives the reader much food for thought–which might not be as tasty as a bowl of kibble but is nonetheless nourishing.

This must-have book (I’m sure since I have all the other books by Trixie) will be released on September 16, 2008. But, you can CLICK HERE AND PRE-ORDER IT NOW!

You can also get this publication as a CD Audiobook.

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Trixie is Dean Koontz’s forever super dog, but we know there are more super dogs out there! It’s time to brag about why your dog should win Trixie’s Super Dog prize. Email trixiecontest@deankoontz.com your short story or poem in 75 words (or less) about a heroic virtue of your canine companion. Feel free to send a photo as well.

Trixie’s Super Dog Contest Prizes!

The contest began on August 1, 2008 and will end on September 15, 2008. The winners will be announced on October 1, 2008. You can find the official rules by clicking here.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
BTW, if you’d like to affix a flag to your favorite furkids, you can do so here. It is a nifty program provided by CCI. Just click here and enjoy!

Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), an organization that since 1975 has been providing highly-trained assistance dogs for children and adults with disabilities, free of charge, is Dean Koontz’s favorite charity. The Oceanside, California, campus of CCI was years ago named the Dean and Gerda Koontz Campus. CCI has now renamed that facility the Dean, Gerda, and Trixie Koontz Campus. And, Dean’s friends at the Assistance Dog Institute, in Santa Rose, California, another worthwhile organization, will award Trixie Koontz scholarships to students in their bachelor’s and master’s programs.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

You can learn more about assistance dogs at our foundation site by clicking here.

A Friend like Golden Retriever Henry — Updated

This article was originally posted in Sept 2007 but I’ve just discovered a nice video clip to go with it. I only wish the film could be seen in the US.

In the article, The dog who spoke to Dale, you can learn about Nuala Gardner’s autistic son, who was violent and withdrawn. Then Golden Henry the retriever arrived, so saving the family.

Nuala also just published the book, A Friend Like Henry. This is the inspiring account of a family’s struggle to break into their son’s autistic world, and how a dog made the real difference.

A Friend Like HenryDale was still a baby when his parents realized that something wasn’t right. Worried, his mother Nuala took him to see several doctors, before finally hearing the word ‘autism’ for the first time in a specialist’s office. Scared but determined that Dale should live a fulfilling life, Nuala describes her despair at her son’s condition, her struggle to prevent Dale being excluded from a ‘normal’ education and her sense of hopeless isolation. Dale’s autism was severe and violent and family life was a daily battleground.

But the Gardner’s lives were transformed when they welcomed a gorgeous Golden Retriever into the family. The special bond between Dale and his dog Henry helped them to produce the breakthrough in Dale they had long sought. From taking a bath to saying ‘I love you’, Henry helped introduce Dale to all the normal activities most parents take for granted, and set him on the road to being the charming and well-adjusted young man he is today.

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Afternoons with Puppy … A new Must-Have Book!

pupp.jpgAfternoons with Puppy: Inspirations from a Therapist and His Animals is Dr. Aubrey H. Fine’s newest publication (Nov 2007), his seminal book on animal-assisted therapy, Handbook on Animal-Assisted Therapy: Theoretical Foundations and Guidelines for Practice, now in its second edition.

Dr. Fine, a licensed psychologist and professor at California State Polytechnic U, is an internationally renowned export on Animal-Assisted Therapy.

The praise for Professor Fine’s newest book is quite extensive . . . and telling. And, truly, it would be hard for me to improve upon the magical words of authors Dean Koontz & Susan Chernak McElroy, or that of Dr. Marty Becker, who provides the book’s foreword. The book is described this way:

The inspirational stories in Afternoons with Puppy are all about recovery. Dr. Fine’s journey with his animals have enriched the lives of many patients. The subtle interactions, the soft touches, the silent signals of Fine’s unique therapeutic process have led to awe-inspiring successes.

Afternoons with Puppy is a compelling story of discovery the discovery of a brilliant process of learning and relearning from therapist to patient to animal. Within the pages, Fine reveals how more than twenty years of continual engagement has uncovered new paths, connected hope and healing, and renewed meaning and purpose.

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I must admit that this book had quite special meaning for me, and much of its reflections could have come from my own experiences in utilizing my Goldens through private practice work with children. And, I read it cover to cover and was captivated throughout. Dr. Fine is a wonderful storyteller, which has surely enabled him to be an incredible therapist.

This is a must-have book that will be enjoyed by dog lovers and non dog lovers alike.

The video below features Pet Talk Radio’s Kaye Browne and Professor Aubrey Fine, who talks about his new Afternoons With Puppy book.

Remembering war dogs, adopting retired military dogs & more

lemish.jpgA couple of months ago, I heard from Mike Lemish, a fellow Golden lover as you can see, his pictured with his guy Sedona. Mike is the official Historian for the Vietnam Dog Handler Association (VDHA).
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The VDHA was organized in 1993 by a group of six veteran war dog handlers that served during the Vietnam Conflict. One of their original goals was to never give up the search to re-unite veteran war dog handlers and honor the memory of their war dog partners. As a result, the group has grown from six to almost 3000 members.

war.jpgMike is the author of the seminal war dog book, “War Dogs: A History of Loyalty and Heroism“. This book was originally published in 1996 and tells the history of the U.S. K-9 Corps. Now in paperback, War Dogs provides an eye-opening look at unsung canine heroes from World War I to the present. Terriers, shepherds, beagles, collies, huskies, and Dobermans are only a few of the breeds that have pulled sleds, searched caves and bunkers, and even parachuted into combat. Mike has collected true stories and rare photos that reflect the strong bonds that have formed between war dogs and their masters as they worked together in dangerous situations.

Mike is finishing up my second book with the working title “Forever Forward: K-9 Operations in Vietnam 1960-1972“. This is not just about Vietnam but also tells about the continuing effort to educate the public about military working dogs so that they receive proper recognition. Although not a military dog handler, he is proud to be part of the group that persuaded the government to enact a law to allow citizens to adopt retired military dogs (not done since the close of WWII).

Mike has just shared a wonderful new website with me: www.militaryworkingdogadoptions.com . This site will aid in placing many of these wonderful dogs into good homes to have the retirement they so richly deserve!

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This letter comes from Debbie Kandoll (site creator) pictured above with Military Working Dog (Ret.) Benny B163.

As many of you already know, Mike and I adopted a retired Military Working Dog (MWD) in January 2008. From the process, I discovered that the “How To’s” of MWD were not clear, and as a result some retiring MWDs fall through the cracks and are euthanized simply because their time for placement has run out.

I passionately wanted to do SOMETHING to HELP, and since I can’t adopt them ALL, this website to disseminate information is the next best thing! Please check out my new Military Working Dog Adoptions website, and forward it to anyone you think would have an interest in a MWD Adoption.

Visit the site to learn more and do go learn about Benny’s story, and how at age 10, he has already started out on a second career as a Therapy Dog.

Grieving family fetches son’s dogs from Iraq

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Sgt. Peter Neesley holding puppy Boris

We learned about this story from author, Greg Mitchell, who has been pursuing stories about non-combat American deaths in Iraq. Greg is the esteemed editor of Editor & Publisher, the journal of the newspaper business which has won several major awards for its coverage of Iraq and the media. He has written eight books, his latest just published today: So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits and the President Failed on Iraq.

books.jpgIt is often said that a free press is the watchdog of democracy, insuring that the conduct of our leaders is examined with a critical eye. This makes Greg Mitchell the watchdog of watchdogs, his weekly column “Pressing Issues” over the past five years intensely scrutinizing the coverage of the Iraq war, the media’s views of the credibility of the Bush Administration, and such related topics as 9/11, the war in Afghanistan, and the CIA Leak Case.

Actually, back in 2003, Mitchell was one of the few mainstream journalists to question the grounds for war, this book providing a unique history of the conflict from the hyped WMD stories to the “surge.” It is a must-have book for anyone concerned with how we got into Iraq and why we can’t seem to get out.

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This photo shows Neesley on a visit to his nephew’s 4th grade class in Grosse Pointe Farms, the school’s newsletter, describing it this way: “Sergeant Peter Neesley, uncle of Patrick D., visited Richard Elementary while home on leave from Iraq. Sgt. Neesley led the school in the Pledge of Allegiance and visited several classrooms answering questions from our inquisitive students. Thanks for spending valuable time with us Sgt. Neesley and don’t forget to write and keep in touch. Thanks to all the men and women in the armed forces. We are so proud of you!”

According to Greg, this is how the discovery began.

Peter Neesley died in his sleep on Christmas Day in Iraq last December but the dogs he rescued there live on, miraculously, back at his home in the USA. I’m proud to say that I had at least a tiny something to do with it. I wrote about Sgt. Neesley’s passing right after Christmas, both at Editor & Publisher (which I edit) and on my blog, when few knew about it. I also printed a photo of him taken recently with a group of kids at his old elementary school. The outpouring of response I received from friends (near his Michigan home and scattered) and family was incredible. Through their postings, many were able to get in touch with each other. He was clearly quite a young man, someone who hailed from a very well-off area who had a lot of other choices in life but joined the military.

But the story didn’t end there. It turned out that all of these people, and more, soon learned, from my writings or elsewhere, that Peter, 28, had saved and cared for a couple of dogs over in Iraq, and they were now in peril. So his family and friends, with the help of media and local groups, launched a campaign to rescue them, again, and bring them to the U.S.

dh.jpgAn AP story revealed: “In e-mails and phone calls from Iraq, Neesley talked about how he came across Mama, a black Labrador mix, and Boris, her white and brown spotted puppy, while on patrol in their Baghdad neighborhood. One of Mama’s puppies was later killed by a car, so Neesley and his friends built a doghouse to shelter the animals. Photographs show Neesley feeding the dogs and kneeling next to the red-and-white doghouse and Boris walking along the cracked sidewalks of Baghdad.”

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After he died, “Still grieving, the family decided that they would honor Neesley’s wishes and try to bring the dogs home to Michigan. ‘To have something that they can hold and touch and care for that Peter cared about, that’s the whole thing,” said Julie Dean, his aunt.”

After four weeks of work, and the help of the Iraqi Society for Animals, the dogs recently arrived in the U.S.

Carey Neesley said her brother decided to re-enlist in the Army in 2005 after learning that one of his friends was killed in Iraq, leaving behind a wife and two children. Protecting others was part of his life, she said. “He didn’t want another young man who had a wife and kids at home to die,” she said. “He’s always had such a strong sense of family and protecting those who can’t protect themselves. Caring for a mother and her stray puppy, why would you ever think to do anything else?”

My own small role concluded when the well-known Banfield Pet Hospital office in Portland, Ore., contacted me saying they wanted to offer free lifetime care to the two dogs, at one of their local hospitals in Michigan, and asking me to put them in touch with the family. I contacted Julie Dean and last week the offer was accepted and announced. Peter, at least, would be happy about this.

ira.jpgYou can also hear a 4 minute NPR “All Things Considered” Feb 19th report with Sgt. Peter Neesley’s sister, Carey. In this AP photo by Paul Sancya, Patrick Neesley is petting Boris as his mom, Carey, holds him after arriving in Grosse Pointe Farms, MI, from Iraq. She has indicated that the dogs are slowly adjusting to their new environment.

Neesley says both Mama and Boris are “very sweet and very mild-mannered dogs,” but Mama is used to having to protect her pup, as well as her food and territory. “So we’re just kind of trying to ease her into the fact that she’s safe and sound here, and nobody’s going to hurt them,” Neesley says.

The dogs also have to adjust to the Michigan winter. “They’re not used to the cold and especially not the snow,” Neesley says. “I have to carry the puppy out in the snow; he will not go. He goes to the bathroom right away and wants right back in the house.

“I think they’ll adjust. You know, right now, their coats are very thin because of the weather in Baghdad. And I think, you know, [once] their coats get a little bit warmer and they get used to it, they’ll be OK, but I think right now it’s a shock.”

Neesley says the family is thankful for all the help they got with the dogs. “They’re tremendous dogs, and we are so fortunate to have them and so grateful to everyone who played a part, down to the soldiers who were caring for them on the base, you know, making sure they were safe and fed until we could get them,” she says.

The family still keeps in contact with those soldiers, Neesley says. “There are two in particular … who were very concerned about the dogs’ welfare, and were very close to Peter, and we exchange e-mails,” she says. “I think part of what we’ve learned from all of this is that there are so many good, kind people in this world. There really are.”

Best of Friends

I recently discovered a song (with lyrics that are so wonderful) by Livingston Taylor , one of the hundreds of Celebrity Parents that I have detailed at our foundation’s site.

LIVINGSTON TAYLOR (singer, songwriter and also multi-instrumental musician) has a Golden Retriever named Ajax. They like mucking out about the pond and going fishing as you can see.

Man's Best Friend albumWhen asked how Ajax got his name, Liv replied: “We decided on it when were driving to pick him up as a pup. I liked the name ‘Ajax’; it felt good”. Elaborating, Maggie says “Liv named him . . . I agreed . . . . I named him after Achilles’ best friend . . . Liv after the cleanser.”

Livingston Taylor started his major-label recording career in 1970. Playing guitar, piano, and banjo established him as the Taylor family’s most ultifaceted musician. Performance is dear to Livingston’s heart, and with his animated personality, wrinkled-grin humor, and musical talents, the stage is where he shines brightest. Liv has been very busy teaching performance since 1984 at the Berklee College of Music, the focus of his new Taylor workshops.

Click here to order this book!Can I Be Good was written by Livingston Taylor, illustrated by Ted Rand, and published by Gulliver Books in 1993. Here, a young Golden Retriever tried his best to be a good dog, but it’s just so hard! He just keeps doing things that get him into trouble, like chewing on Dad’s new shoe or splattering his family and the kitchen when he shakes dry his rain- and mud-sodden fur. The Taylors have no children, but Livingston has said writing children’s books comes very easy to him. Of course, Ajax served as the inspiration for this adorable book!

You can clearly see that Livingston’s love of Goldens goes way back. He published an album in 1980, entitled “Man’s Best Friend,” and another album in 1988, entitled “Life is Good,” includes a Golden friend.

Here is a video that I put together to go with Liv’s wonderful song, Best of Friends. It shows my special darling Darcy and silly English puppy boy Alfie, and then Carolyn Scott and her Rookie.

Best of Friends

We’re the best of friends, heart and soul, head to head, toe to toe
I’m not letting go

We’re the best of friends, I thought you knew, that the best I am, is beside you
We’re a couple of comfy shoes

Oh together we’re a pipe dream, all lit up and smoking,
‘Bout all the things we’ll do
Oh together we are wishes, my aren’t we delicious, Coming true

We’re the best of friends, are we wise, thinning hair, fuzzy eyes
Your face is my best surprise

We’re the best of friends, I’m here to say, it was me and you
The whole darn way, thanks for the chance to play

Oh together we are magic, together we are mystery, I think we may have soul
Oh together the world is brighter, Lovers fools and fighters, on a roll

We’re the best of friends, the drift the sway, the give the take
The day to day, a bit in each others way

And when it’s time, to let you go, at the last we’ll always know
That it started long ago, with a simple quick hello
Hello we’re the best of friends

Dean Koontz’s “The Darkest Evening of the Year” coming Nov 27th

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Click here to listen to Dean Koontz talk with his new Trixie Avatar!

 

Dean Koontz writes nonstop and there is seldom a book of his that does not make it to the New York Times bestsellers list. He is a Golden lover from way back, and I can only imagine how tough his newest publication was, given the recent loss of his Golden Trixie to cancer.

Cover ImageWatchers , written by Dean Koontz in 1996, was my favorite book from this author. Of course, it’s easy to guess why. The hero of the book is a genius Golden Retriever, aptly named “Einstein.” When Travis Cornell and Nora Devon meet Einstein, they are touched by the dog’s intelligence. Einstein is one of two altered life forms that had escaped from a top-secret lab. The other, “The Outsider,” is a deadly hybrid. To protect themselves, Travis and Nora must learn to be deadly as well. This book has it all — suspense, horror, pity, love & conscience!

Cover ImageThis newest book, The Darkest Evening of the Year, which is due to be published November 27th, has been one that he’s been waiting years to write, at once a love story, a thrilling adventure, and a masterwork of suspense that redefines the boundaries of primal fear–and of enduring devotion. This is Dean’s special comment about the book:

THE DARKEST EVENING OF THE YEAR is meant to be (but you’ll be the judge) an edge-of-the-seat, funny, uplifting novel about dogs and the wonderful people who rescue dogs that have been abused or abandoned. It’s about an exceptional woman, Amy Redwing, and a mysterious golden retriever, Nickie, who go on a magical journey through some dark territory that will require all the courage and all the faith in each other they can muster. I hope you’ll think I’ve done dogs proud, because I’ve known few human beings who can match the goodness of the average dog!

Amy Redwing has dedicated her life to the southern California organization she founded to rescue abandoned and endangered Golden Retrievers. Among dog lovers, she’s a legend for the risks she’ll take to save an animal from abuse. Among her friends, Amy’s heedless devotion is often cause for concern. To widower Brian McCarthy, whose commitment she can’t allow herself to return, Amy’s behavior is far more puzzling and hides a shattering secret.

No one is surprised when Amy risks her life to save Nickie, nor when she takes the female golden into her home. The bond between Amy and Nickie is immediate and uncanny. Even her two other Goldens, Fred and Ethel, recognize Nickie as special, a natural alpha. But the instant joy Nickie brings is shadowed by a series of eerie incidents. An ominous stranger. A mysterious home invasion.

And the unmistakable sense that someone is watching Amy’s every move and that, whoever it is, he’s not alone. Someone has come back to turn Amy into the desperate, hunted creature she’s always been there to save. But now there’s no one to save Amy and those she loves. From its breathtaking opening scene to its shocking climax, The Darkest Evening of the Year should be Dean Koontz at his finest (given his Golden love), a transcendent thriller certain to have readers turning pages until dawn.

Click here to read the 1st chapter of the book and click here to read the 2nd chapter.

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Click on the video for a clip of Dean Koontz talking about his new book.

Dean Koontz comes back to his Golden Retriever love

Dean Koontz writes nonstop and there is seldom a book of his that does not make it to the New York Times bestsellers list. He is a Golden lover from way back, and I can only imagine how tough his newest publication was, given the recent loss of his Golden Trixie to cancer.

Cover ImageWatchers , written by Dean Koontz in 1996, was my favorite book from this author. Of course, it’s easy to guess why. The hero of the book is a genius Golden Retriever, aptly named “Einstein.” When Travis Cornell and Nora Devon meet Einstein, they are touched by the dog’s intelligence. Einstein is one of two altered life forms that had escaped from a top-secret lab. The other, “The Outsider,” is a deadly hybrid. To protect themselves, Travis and Nora must learn to be deadly as well. This book has it all — suspense, horror, pity, love & conscience!

ThisCover Image newest book, The Darkest Evening of the Year, which is due to be published the third week of November, has been one that he’s been waiting years to write, at once a love story, a thrilling adventure, and a masterwork of suspense that redefines the boundaries of primal fear–and of enduring devotion.

Amy Redwing has dedicated her life to the southern California organization she founded to rescue abandoned and endangered Golden Retrievers. Among dog lovers, she’s a legend for the risks she’ll take to save an animal from abuse. Among her friends, Amy’s heedless devotion is often cause for concern. To widower Brian McCarthy, whose commitment she can’t allow herself to return, Amy’s behavior is far more puzzling and hides a shattering secret.

No one is surprised when Amy risks her life to save Nickie, nor when she takes the female golden into her home. The bond between Amy and Nickie is immediate and uncanny. Even her two other Goldens, Fred and Ethel, recognize Nickie as special, a natural alpha. But the instant joy Nickie brings is shadowed by a series of eerie incidents. An ominous stranger. A mysterious home invasion.

And the unmistakable sense that someone is watching Amy’s every move and that, whoever it is, he’s not alone. Someone has come back to turn Amy into the desperate, hunted creature she’s always been there to save. But now there’s no one to save Amy and those she loves. From its breathtaking opening scene to its shocking climax, The Darkest Evening of the Year should be Dean Koontz at his finest (given his Golden love), a transcendent thriller certain to have readers turning pages until dawn.

Great Golden Book Finds to Explore

What Animals Can Teach Us About Spirituality: Inspiring Lessons from Wild and Tame Creatures (2003)
Written by Diana L. Guerrero. Do you want to deepen your spiritual connection? Do you want to strengthen your bond with animals? What Animals Can Teach Us about Spirituality will help you unlock the secrets of the animal kingdom, provide intriguing perspectives on the complex relationships between nature and humans, and lead you to a greater awareness of yourself and the world around you. Respected animal behaviorist and therapist Diana L. Guerrero demonstrates the ways in which animals can teach us about: Bringing Out the Best in Each Other Living in the Now, Moving Beyond Fear, Helping One Another Healing through Life Experiences, Living by Example, Embracing Change Positively Listening to the Unspoken, Unconditional Acceptance, and Making Time to Play. With practical and meaningful advice, Guerrero will help you understand why animals touch the soul, and explore your own answer to the question: “Do animals have souls?”

Cormac (October 2007)
Written by Sonny Brewer. This upcoming book was inspired by the true story of how Sonny’s dog Cormac was missing for almost a month, and was found more than a thousand miles away in Connecticut. In the same vein as Marley and Me and My Dog Skip, this “ mostly true” novel is at once a whimsical campfire mystery and a universal story about the friendship between a man and his dog. Golden Cormac, who has always been afraid of thunderstorms and lightning flashes, runs away one stormy night while his master is away.

So begins a strange adventure that lands Cormac in the back of a red pickup truck driven by a mysterious woman, takes him to a series of dog pounds and rescue shelters, and ultimately brings him to the suburbs of Connecticut. His owner, meanwhile, devastated by Cormac’ s disappearance and trying to juggle a family, a book tour, and writing his new novel, becomes determined to solve the “ dog-napping” case. With the help of the local veterinarian, bookstore colleagues, animal rescue employees, and old friends, he picks up on Cormac’ s trail and watches his small-town community come together in search of his lost companion. Inspired by real events, and embellished only to serve the story through the spirit of imagination, Brewer has, as he says, “ mainly told the truth in this story of losing my good dog Cormac.”

Rusty, the Runaway Golden Retriever (2007)
Written by Vince Stead for ages 9-12. Rusty is a Golden that breaks out of his kennel to explore his neighborhood and the world. He meets other animals in his neighborhood and then he gets lost while discovering his own town. While he is lost, he meets new friends along the way who help him and feed him. Meanwhile, back at home, Jazmyn is worried sick she might never see Rusty again. Rusty meets a boy named Stevie who lives over a bakery his dad owns, and Rusty meets a new dog named Ginger that helps him on his journey to get back home. They are chased by security guards, are almost run over by a tractor, experience a near-death-defying bridge crossing, and encounter fast-moving cars everywhere! You will love Rusty. He is the nicest, friendliest dog there is!

Blind Puppy Five Dollars: A Joyous Memoir of a Rescued Golden Retriever (2007)
Written by Loretta Scott Miller. His name was Cooper, and though no smarter or more beautiful than the majority of golden retrievers, he was weird, odd, crazy and extraordinarily goofy. He knew how to have a good time, and in doing so he made Loretta laugh every day. A portion of the proceeds benefits golden retriever rescue. Click here to read the first 2 chapters!

 

The Forever Dog

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The Forever Dog is a simple yet affecting tale about a little boy named Mike who makes a Forever Plan with his dog Corky — a promise that the two will always remain together. But Corky’s death prompts anger and feelings of betrayal until Mike’s mom helps him understand how his memories of their lives together will forever live in his heart.

Bill Cochran, the author of this touching and beautifully illustrated book, was inspired to write his story after experiencing the sudden and quite devastating loss of his beloved 2-year-old Golden Retriever girl, Mo. Becoming sick on a Sunday, Mo went to the vet’s office on Monday and was already gone by that Thursday due to leukemia. A gift to Bill on his 26th birthday, Mo was his first dog, so compounding an already tragic, young death.

To say she was a perfect dog would simply be ridiculous revisionist history, but she was indeed “my” dog . It’s entirely cliché, but she was indeed my best friend, despite her need to destroy at least one thing (shoe, book, you name it) every single day. She loved to swim in lakes after sticks, lie on my bed with at least one part of her body touching mine, and strangely, she felt the need to bring one large rock (yes rock) inside every day after taking her walk. My dad thought she was trying to build a small monument and was simply collecting raw materials.

Within a week after Mo passed, I was inspired to write “Forever Plan”. I was on vacation in California and I remember looking out across the ocean on Pacific Coast Highway and clearly still feeling like Mo was somehow still with me. And she always will be. Forever. Indeed, like the character Mike from the book, I did feel warm inside.

It took much perseverance and passion, as Mr. Cochran spent six years tying to sell the story and five more before it finally was published. But, I cannot imagine him being prouder than any other accomplishment in his life.

Nothing in life is as painful, yet nothing is so inevitable, as losing someone you care for. Whether it be a dog, cat, ferret, parrot, friend or other family member. I deeply hope this story can be even just a little help to someone.

In a review of the book, by Joyce Davis of The Fort Collins Coloradoan, it is noted that when Bill visits many schools and signs books at various events he is astounded at the effect that his 32-page story has had. “Adults seem to be hit harder by it and they cry. Sometimes they hand the book back to me when they find out the dog dies.”

But for kids, the story elicits conversation about their own pets. “They especially like the part where Corky sleeps on Mike’s head,” Cochran says. “It’s all about quirky things their own pets do.”

Dr. Bruce Fogle, a veterinarian and member of the United Kingdom’s the Royal College Veterinary Surgeons, said the book is a valuable teaching story. “It is so often through the inevitable fate of our family pets, that kids are first exposed to the confusing realities of the cycle of life,” he said in a review of the book. “He (Cochran) helps parents, just as much as he helps children, to recognize the everlasting nature of loving friendships.”

When reading to children, Cochran says his biggest message is to encourage them to go home and play with their pets and to ask their parents to take pictures of them with their dogs. “I always regret that I don’t have that many photos of Mo and me,” he says.

Mobility Service Golden Retriever Morgan — Educating us All

Working Like Dogs: The Service Dog Guidebook is an absolutely FABULOUS addition to the service dog literature. The authors define it as an A to Z resource book, and it certainly lives up to the promise. Honestly, I have not seen another book like it and can say from all the questions that come my way, that is is desperately needed. I am hoping that it does fill a void out there for the many people who are interested in obtaining a service dog.

There is one caveat, however, to our increasing recognition for the value of service dogs. Sadly, the need and desire for such partnerships far outnumbers the number of available, trained dogs. The training process can take from 1-2 years and many dogs do not make it through training due to various difficulties related to health, noise reactivity, etc.

In the book Marcie speaks to the fact that once she decided on getting a service dog came the disappointment in learning that she would be placed on a waiting list that would span years. And, while she does not address this more fully in the book, it is the reason for the great movement now to provide individual training to folks in order for them to train their dogs on their own and not through a dedicated service dog organization.

Yet, however a dog is trained, once a person has a dog functioning in a service role, this book is an incredible resource. It is truly a must-read for …
1. Anyone considering a service dog;
2. A person who has a service dog;
3. A person who is responsible for the care of a service dog; or,
4. Anyone who wants to learn more about the service dog partnership.

The book had me smiling as Marcie described her current Service Golden Morgan’s ability to open his designated toy drawer to retrieve a toy for playtime. And, it had me tearing up as she detailed the loss of her first service dog Ramona to hemangiosarcoma. This is Marcie with Ramona, a Golden Retriever/Black Lab cross and first service dog from Canine Companions for Independence.

There is so much that impressed me about this new May 2007 publication. First, I was thrilled with its large 8.5″ x 11″ format. The quality is wonderful and the vivid color photos that are interspersed within the book are tremendous. There are several resources and listings of information which are presented so clearly. So many important questions are answered and the guidance that is provided, especially with respect to the tough yet critical issues of retirement, loss & euthanasia, is extremely valuable.

Great resource listings included the following:
1. 50+ Service Dog Commands
2. Important Questions to Ask a Potential Service Dog Agency
3. Basic Service Dog Travel Tips
4. Planning for Separation
5. The Veterinarian’s Service Dog Checklist
6. Safety Tips
7. Service Dog Emergency Kit
8. Service Dog First Aid Kit
9. Important Questions about your Service Dog’s Retirement
10. Strategies for An Impending Retirement
11. The Euthanasia Plan
12. Questions to Ask When Considering Euthanasia / Process of Euthanasia
13. Creative Healing (18 creative activities)
14. Explaining Loss to Others

This was one of our most favorite photos in the entire book. It appeared in the chapter on keeping your Service Dog healthy and happy, so describing the important need for exercise and play.

The photo (courtesy of Kim Alaburda) shows Morgan relaxing after a hard day of work.

The Working Like Dogs Service Dog Guidebook includes the following chapters:
1 — History of Service Dogs
2 — Making the Decision to Get a Service Dog
3 — They Don’t Call it Boot Camp for Nothing
4 — Access to the World
5 — You, Your Service Dog and Your Veterinarian
6 — Keeping Your Service Dog Healthy and Happy
7 — Illness and Retirement
8 — The Death of a Service Dog
9 — Surviving the Loss
10 — Successor Dog
11 — Behind Every Great Service Dog is a Great Puppy Raiser
Conclusion and Reflections
Appendix I: Training, Behavior, and Performance Standards
Appendix II: Service Dog Resources

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Here is a wonderful newspaper article about Marcie and Golden Morgan.

Service dog frees owner from many limitations
By Aaron Ogg,The Grand Rapids Press

In many ways, Morgan is the ideal spouse. He fetches the last sock out of the dryer, picks up a dropped set of keys and tucks Marcie Davis into bed at night.

But Morgan is not Davis’ hubby. He is her golden retriever — an essential one, at that.

“Morgan is a part of my body and a part of my being,” said the Santa Fe resident and co-author of “Working Like Dogs: The Service Dog Guidebook.” “He gives me independence.”

Davis, who has used a wheelchair since age 6, adamantly says there is no competition between the two main males in her life. She said she has a loving spouse who knows his role and lets Morgan perform the tasks he does best.

“My husband is so respectful of my relationship with my service dog because he knows how much I depend on him,” she said.

“It’s great that my husband can help me, but it’s also great that I don’t need that help.”

Davis also has two cats, with whom Morgan gets along swimmingly. That was part of his training.

Davis has used service dogs since 1993. She met Morgan after her first pooch, Ramona, developed bone spurs in her spine that forced her into early retirement. Part of what prompted Davis to write the book was to help owners cope with that kind of loss.

There’s lots more to read here . . . .

Animal Joy, Sorrow & Empathy — Why these emotions matter!

We have a wonderful new book to recommend on the emotional lives of animals. The book explores animal joy, sorrow and empathy … and why they matter!

The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy – and Why They Matter (2007)
Written by Marc Bekoff. Any dog owner knows that her own pet has feelings, but what evidence exists beyond the anecdotal, and what does this evidence teach us? Bekoff, professor emeritus of biology at the University of Colorado, pores through decades of animal research-behavioral, neurochemical, psychological and environmental-to answer that question, compelling readers to accept both the existence and significance of animal emotions. Seated in the most primitive structures of the brain (pleasure receptors, for example, are biologically correlative in all mammals), emotions have a long evolutionary history. Indeed, as vertebrates became more complex, they developed ever more complex emotional and social lives, “setting rules” that permit group living-a far better survival strategy than going solo.

Along the way, Bekoff forces the reader to re-examine the nature of human beings; our species could not have persevered through the past 100,000 years without the evolution of strong and cohesive social relationships cemented with emotions, a conclusion contrary to contemporary pop sociology notions that prioritize individualism and competition. He also explores, painfully but honestly, the abuse animals regularly withstand in factory farms, research centers and elsewhere, and calls on fellow scientists to practice their discipline with “heart.”

Demonstrating the far-reaching implications for readers’ relationships with any number of living beings, Bekoff’s book is profound, thought-provoking and even touching.

The Emotional Lives of Animals

What a great book to start out the new year! I’m ordering mine right away. Of course, finding the time to read it with everything else going on will be a challenge.

Based on Marc Bekoff’s years of experience studying the social communication patterns of a wide range of animals, this important book shows that animals have rich emotional lives. Not only can animal emotions teach us about love, empathy, and compassion, argues Bekoff — they require us to radically rethink our current relationship of domination and abuse of animals. Award-winning scientist Bekoff skillfully blends extraordinary stories and anecdotes of animal grief, joy, embarrassment, anger, and love with the latest scientific research confirming the existence of emotions that commonsense experience has long implied. The author also explores the evolutionary purposes of emotions in a wide range of different species, showing how science is discovering brain structures that produce emotions, how we can track an evolutionary continuum based on shared brain structures among species, and how new information is being revealed by noninvasive neurological research techniques. Filled with Bekoff’s light humor and touching stories, The Emotional Lives of Animals is a clarion call for reassessing both how we view animals and how we treat them.


Smarts are going to the dogs – Study shows pooches can put names to faces
By Amy Sacks, Daily News Writer

Calling your dog’s name may do more than get Rover’s tail wagging. Scientists are now suggesting a dog can create a mental image of their owner upon hearing his voice.

“This is a very interesting and important study because it shows us that we really are connected to dogs and they to us,” said Marc Bekoff, an ethologist and biology professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Animal lovers have long felt that their beloved canines are able to recognize them. It’s not rocket science, Bekoff said, but scientifically proving a dog can distinguish its owner’s face illustrates that canines are extremely intelligent and emotional beings.

“Taken together with a lot of other data, we see that dogs have very rich mental lives and are not robots – they are thinking and feeling beings – sentient animals who are able to vary their responses to varying stimuli,” said Bekoff, author of “The Emotional Lives of Animals

There’s more……

A Gaggle of Goldens

Now, this looks like a Golden dream, don’t you think. That handsome man surrounded by Gold is author Tom Corwin. The photo was taken during the Goldstock 2006 camp event, a wonderful gathering of Golden Rescue folks who celebrate their love for the breed as well as raising many thousands of dollars for the cause.

Tom participated in the most recent Goldstock, his genuineness and own Golden obsession apparent to one and all.

A musician by trade, Tom recently made his debut as author, writing the moving book, Mostly Bob. Be sure to check out my page on Tom’s work. And, then keep note of his newest web presence with his Mostly Bob Blog.