Book Review: Romancing the Dog, The struggle to make a pound dog happy in Beverly Hills by Marion Zola

February is the month of love and it is appropriate that in the month of February we celebrate our love of dogs. Our dogs. The dogs of people we know. Dogs who are in shelters, their pleading innocent eyes gazing back at ours with the hopes that we just might become their  forever homes. The  “owners”, “parents”, whatever you wish to call them, who hold these beautiful beings close to their hearts, should also be celebrated.

romancing the dog cover

Yes this book is about DOGS, but the love and dedication that is clear in this touching book applies to EVERYONE who has ever loved an animal. Dog or not.

In celebration of this love, I am thrilled to present to you the book: Romancing the Dog by Marion Zola.

From the publisher: Romancing the Dog, a humorous memoir, reminds the reader just how much one dog can transform human lives. It will take you on a romp of unique adventures laced with poignant moments. When Chips, a rescue dog, enters the neat routines of a middle-aged couple and messes them up in the most delectable ways, the new guardians are led from one challenging situation to another. A Tibetan Terrier who always seems to have the upper paw, he sends Marion’s and Sam’s stress levels off the charts. Readers will smile, laugh and cry as they follow this trio through the journey of angst and joy.

I felt an instant sense of familiarity when I read that Author Marion Zola once loved a dog named Chips in her childhood who belonged to someone else. My love of Shetland Sheepdogs began with a dog named Dandy, a  feisty Shetland Sheepdog who also “belonged to someone else”, our neighbors across the street. Truth be told, I was 5 yrs old at the time and ONLY played with the 3 children who lived with Dandy because I was madly in love with their dog. That is when my love of Shetland Sheepdogs began. I was determined that one day I would own my own Shetland Sheepdog. Now I do, my precious Dakota.

When Dakota came into mine and my husband’s life, our “neat routines” were also “messed up.”  Dakota also has the “upper paw” and often, sends OUR stress levels “off the charts” as well. It is just those things that make us love him that much more, it was the same with Chips, it is the same with all of us who love, have loved, and are loved by animals.

We all know that moment of looking into a beloved animal’s eyes for the first time and knowing in our guts that “THIS is the ONE.” Author Zola and her husband, Sam, spend their years with Chips making him the center of their universe. Their lives are dedicated to making sure that Chips is happy, that all of his needs, and then some, are being met. Certain that Chips had been abused before he ended up in a Shelter, Marion and Sam were determined to make Chips  feel secure, confident and always LOVED. Through illnesses, allergies, attempts to find a “job” for Chips, separation anxiety, there are countless moments of sacrifice, worrying,  and loving to the nth degree that we all can relate to.

Before Dakota, my only other pet as an adult was my “soul kitty” named Bobo. He came into my life as a stray and lived with me for 18 wonderful years. Yes dog lovers,  because I have shared my life with a dog for only 6 years, I relate to this book more as a cat mother. Romancing the Dog reminded me of the lengths I went to throughout Bobo’s 18 years to make sure that he had the most marvelous life ever, and that the end was as peaceful and full of love as it could be. This book brought back joyous as well as painful memories of Bobo and as a   new and rather inexperienced dog mother, let me know that some of my fixations and obsessions are indeed, NORMAL.  They are normal to all of us who have made the life-long emotional, financial and physical commitment to care for one who depends on US for everything of value in their world.

From Romancing the Dog: “More than many other areas of our lives, pets and our treatment of them demonstrate our values, both as a nation and as individuals. Our dominion over these creatures thrusts a responsibility on us that is not unlike that for our children.” 

Romancing the Dog is a must-read for dog lovers,  ANIMAL lovers. You will recognize yourselves described on the pages, and you will  fall in love,  with Chips, Marion and Sam, just as I did.

 

To purchase Romancing the Dog click here

About the Author: Marion Zola is also the author of All the Good Ones Are Married. Recently, Marion co-produced Shelter Me a PBS show about the rewards of adopting shelter pets that has also appeared on this blog. Visit the Shelter Me TV website here

 

 

In full disclosure: I was not compensated for this review. I was mailed a copy of the book by the author for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: Planet of the Dogs: by Robert J. McCarty, Illustrations by Stella Mustanoja McCarty

Looking for a book for the  youngsters in your life that sends the message of love, friendship and loyalty?

planet of the dogs bookmark

Have you wondered what life was like BEFORE there were dogs?

Where did the first dog come from?

Why did dogs inhabit Earth?

From the Publisher: Out in space, on the other side of the sun is the Planet Of The Dogs. This is the story of the first time dogs came to planet earth to teach people about love and to save the farmers of Green Valley from the invasion of the Stone City warriors.

Planet of the Dogs is a delightful fantasy for  those in the mid to upper elementary grades as well as their parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents!

The story begins in a time long ago before there were dogs on Planet Earth.

For a while things were beautiful, people prospered and life was good.

Then, as is often the case, where there is good, to have balance in life there must be some bad. Planet Earth was threatened by evil forces.  These forces made some people forget how to love.

When Miss Merrie (Queen of the dogs on Planet Dog) heard of the problems on Earth she knew that something had to be done to help them.  The first dog arrived and the course of the world changed.

“The most special thing about dogs is their ability to love.   They do this better than any other creature.”

People learned about loving without judging, devotion, the rewards of hard work, protection, peace and much more.

Planet of the Dogs is a quick read for adults.  The  resplendent imagery,  is sure to captivate,  delighting the imaginations of the young readers by transporting them to a  fantasy place where dogs are the heroes and heroines.

If only we all always lived the lessons of the most devoted animals on the planet, DOGS. Then it would truly be “Heaven on Earth.”

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert McCarty is a producer/writer/director of films and videos on subjects ranging from teenage lifestyles to race relations. His short film,Rooftops Of New York, was nominated for an Academy Award. He is a former adjunct instructor at Teacher’s College, Columbia University and at the School Of Visual Arts, New York City.Planet Of The Dogs was inspired by the many stories made up for his four children and five grandchildren.

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR: Stella Mustanoja McCarty, who teaches painting and drawing at the Vantaa, Finland, Art School, illustrated the book. She graduated as a painting major  from the Art Academy in Helsinki and also holds degrees from the University of Helsinki in Education and Sociology and Social Policy.

ISBN 978-0-9786928-0-3

Visit www.planetofthedogs.net

 

To purchase

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

 

 

Book Review: Paw Prints in the Sand by Elizabeth Parker #BtC4A

Since I began my primary blog, (Cat Chat With Caren & Cody), it has been important to me to take part in Blog the Change For Animals, a well-known blogging event where bloggers blog about causes, people and events that  are  near and dear to our hearts in the world of animals.  Blog the Change For Animals  takes place annually, (January 15,  April 15,  July 15 and October 15).   Many of us blog about animal causes that are important to us all throughout the year, but  it is extra heart-warming to see so many come together for this most important event.

Click on the badge to visit Blog the Change for animals

Click on the badge to visit Blog the Change for animals

I was given the opportunity of reviewing a marvelous book this past weekend, Paw Prints in the Sand by author Elizabeth Parker. This is not the first book that I have reviewed of Elizabeth’s, it is at least the third! Through the course of reading and reviewing Elizabeth’s books,  I not only became  a HUGE fan of her writing, but I have enormous respect and admiration  for her as a PERSON. Elizabeth has to be one of the kindest, most compassionate women that I have met on my blogging journey. ****More about that at the end of this blog post.

Why include Paw Prints in the Sand in the Blog the Change For Animals blogging event? While reading this book I saw that there was no way that I WOULDN’T include it.

Click on the photo to visit Elizabeth's website and to purchase Paw Prints and other books by Elizabeth Parker

Click on the photo to visit Elizabeth’s website and to purchase Paw Prints and other books by Elizabeth Parker

Paw Prints in the Sand tackles  important subjects such as;  the importance of spaying and neutering pets and adopting from a local shelter, as well as the horrors of irresponsible “backyard breeders” and the deplorable conditions that puppy mill pups are subjected to.

From the moment I began reading Paw Prints my heart was pounding, my attention was riveted, I was on the edge of my seat.  I originally had planned on reading Paw Prints last Friday night, and my intention was to begin the book and finish it on Saturday. I finished Paw Prints in about three hours. I could NOT put it down.


The  imagery evoked is often unsettling , there were times that I cried, gasped and cringed,  the plot was so real to me that I had forgotten that this book is a work of  fiction. While the book is fictional, the conditions described in Paw Prints, sadly, are NOT. 

Note from the Author:

Although this book and the groups/organizations in this book are a work of fiction and a complete figment of my imagination, unfortunately puppy mills and backyard breeders are quite real. The fears and quirks I’ve described in this book are extremely common with rescue dogs.

The environment for puppy mill dogs is incomprehensible. Keep in mind that while not all, many puppy stores do get their puppies from puppy mills and it is a continuing practice here in the United States.

Paw Prints in the Sand isn’t just about puppy mills, it is “a moving love story of sorts that demonstrates the unbreakable bond and sustainable love between dogs and humans.”

Now available on Kindle

Also in paperback on Amazon

And Nook

Available in paperback on createspace.com

Use Coupon Code SG6M99JZ for $2.00 Off on createspace orders!

***Author Elizabeth Parker GIVES BACK

A portion of the proceeds from her books are donated to various animal rescue groups.

One of the first books of Elizabeth’s that I had the honor of reviewing was: Final Journey: Buddy’s Book a tribute to her beloved Golden Retriever “Buddy” who after the publication of Finally Home was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma.  Elizabeth decided she wanted to help other dogs with the same diagnosis, hence Buddy Bracelets was born

Click on the photo to see Elizabeth's beautiful creations and to purchase.

Click on the photo to see Elizabeth’s beautiful creations and to purchase.

40% of the sales of Buddy Bracelets will be donated to canine cancer foundations.

Now, as you can see, after reading about Paw Prints in the Sand and Elizabeth’s ongoing philanthropic efforts for rescue dogs, there was no way that I would ever think of NOT making her mission the topic of my Blog the  Change For Animals post.

Learn more about Author, Elizabeth Parker here

Today I have introduced an author to you who is actively helping to make a change to raise awareness about puppy mills, rescue dogs and dogs who have canine cancer. My question to YOU is: “What is your gift, and how will you use it to bring about positive change to your world?”

Book Review & Give-Away “A Christmas Home” A Novel by Greg Kincaid

Todd McCray a 24-year-old with developmental disabilities,  works at a local animal shelter where he befriends Laura, a young volunteer who also has disabilities but hers are more physical than developmental. Todd and his ever-present, trusted Labrador retriever (appropriately named Christmas) trains Gracie ( who was abandoned  by her owners due to financial woes) to help Laura with the day-to-day tasks that are difficult for her.

The local government in Todd’s town is also experiencing financial woes and in early December delivers the sad news that the shelter will have to close.

What will happen to all the animals?

What will happen to Todd? Laura?

a christmas home

click on photo to purchase from http://www.crownpublishing.com

I love books where the main characters are faced with challenges and are able to prove how these challenges can be overcome. A Christmas Home by Greg Kincaid is one of these books.

You will fall in love with the child-like honesty of Todd McCray and his ability to stay positive, no matter what obstacles are placed in his path and his ability to know his true-calling in spite of his disabilities.

What I particularly loved is the variety of meanings that the title of this book has to the story.

Will Gracie the abandoned dog have a home for Christmas?

Will the shelter animals who are soon to be displaced find homes in time for Christmas?

Will Christmas the dog, well into his senior years be forced to move to a new home for Christmas?

Will Todd find a new “home” for Christmas doing work that he loves and a new residence?

You will have to read this charmer to find out!

It is the perfect book to warm your heart as well as your winter nights!

From Crown Publishing: In A Christmas Home, Greg Kincaid again treats us to a story rich in the courage of people who, in overcoming their own limitations, teach us a lesson in how to prevail, no matter the odds, no matter the trials.”-Steve Duno author of Last Dog on the Hill.

WIN IT! TWO READERS can win a copy of A Christmas Home by Greg Kincaid! HOW TO ENTER: leave a comment telling me you would like to win this book (U.S. only please) by MONDAY, DECEMBER 10th AT 5pm. Winner will be announced WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 12th. (Be sure to leave an email address so that I may contact you if you are one of the lucky winners!) Good luck!

ISBN 978-0-307-95197-7

To purchase visit www.crownpublishing.com

My Name Is Gonna Be In The Book “Lost And Found” by Amy Shojai!!

Yep you read that right! Back in July my Mom entered my name, “Dakota” in a contest held by Amy Shojai.  Amy is super well-known in the cat world, for those of you who may not know her, here is some info about her:

Amy Shojai

From http://amyshojai.com

AMY’S BLOG: Bling, Bitches & Blood– is your virtual water cooler for all-things-pets,  bloody-good writing tips, and some serious sparkle-icity. The edu-tainment empowers dog and cat lovers, inspires writers, and dazzles readers with wit, wisdom, and shiny objects. (She cain’t hep it, she’s from Texas!)

Amy Shojai has been reinventing herself for years. She’s a certified animal behavior consultant, and the award-winning author of 24 best selling pet books that cover furry babies to old-fogies, first aid to natural healing, and behavior/training to Chicken Soup-icity. She is the Puppies Guide atpuppies.About.com, the cat behavior expert at cats.About.com, writes features for AOL’s PawNation.com and Huffington Post, and hosts a weekly half hour Internet Pet Peeves radio show. Amy has been featured as an expert in hundreds of print venues including The New York Times, Reader’s Digest, and Family Circle, as well as national radio and television networks such as CNN, Animal Planet’s DOGS 101 and CATS 101. She’s been a consultant to the pet products industry and a host/program consultant for select “furry”  TV projects. Amy  brings her unique pet-centric viewpoint to public appearances, writer conferences keynotes/seminars and thriller fiction (including pet “voice”).

What a pedigree, eh?

Anyway….back to the contest!

Amy held a contest asking readers to suggest names for the canines in her debut thriller:

click on the book cover to read all about Amy’s new book!

Here are the results from Amy’s blog post

 

NAME THAT PET CONTEST RESULTS

Thank you to everyone for your participation in the “Name That Dog” and “Name That Cat” contests to help me find the perfect choices for some of the furry characters in the book LOST AND FOUND.

More than 85 terrific cat and dog names were suggested. I narrowed the choices to about a dozen each, set up polls for you to vote, and we had over 800 votes result.

I’d say pet people are passionate about pet names! Without further delay, here are the results.

DOG HEROES NAMED

Caren Gittleman suggested the winning dog name Dakota because it means “trusted friend” and is also the name of her lovely Sheltie (who helps her co-write Dakota’s Den Blog).

In the book LOST AND FOUND, the main character September mourns the loss of her heart-dog (we’ve all been there right?) who died trying to save her husband. Therefore, her long lost canine partner DAKOTA is mentioned throughout the book.

How cool is THAT? 

Is that MAJOR mischief or what?

Mom can’t wait to receive her copy of the book to read and review, so stay tuned!!

Published in: on August 6, 2012 at 12:09 am  Comments (37)  
Tags: , , , ,

“The Dog That Talked to God” A Novel by Jim Kraus, Book Review And Give-Away:

While recovering from my FIFTH lithotripsy (which was a repeat litho done on my left kidney) last Friday, I decided this was the perfect time to catch up on some books that I needed to read and review.

The book I chose was one that had been sent to me a few weeks ago, The Dog That Talked to God, A Novel by Jim Kraus,  and I couldn’t have picked a better book to  read while spending my weekend  recovering.

There are some things they say that people should never discuss. Those things are religion and politics.  Being Jewish, religion is a topic I would more than likely avoid  referring to on this blog, but this book is not only an exception, it is EXCEPTIONAL.

 The Dog That Talked To God,  has a strong religious base (it is classified as FICTION/Christian/General),  but not in reference to one formal religion,  rather it deals strongly with one’s belief  (or not, or temporary separation from one’s belief in God).

Description from  the Publisher: 

Recently widowed Mary Fassler buys a Miniature Schnauzer, Rufus, and her world is turned sideways in the midst of her grief.  It seems that Rufus speaks. And not just to her. He also talks to God.  
When Rufus begins sharing advice that could result in major changes, Mary gets the feeling the pooch might not be steering her in the right direction. Or, is she just afraid to take the leap and discover something she desperately needs? Only Rufus…and God…knows.

 Author Jim Kraus is a longtime writer and editor who has authored or coauthored 20 books, both fiction and non-fiction but The Dog Who Talked to God was the first of his books that I have read. I am eager to read more.
His conversational writing style, (he wrote this as Mary Fassler telling us the story),  his  humor and uncanny ability to get inside of a woman’s brain, made me often stop and check the cover to be sure that indeed a MAN had written this fabulous story.
Anyone who has suffered a loss will be able to relate to Mary Fassler. Your heart will be simultaneously breaking  and cheering Mary on.  . You will fall in love with the “gifted” and insightful Rufus who ultimately leads Mary to where she SHOULD BE.  Wait! Was it Rufus, God, Mary’s own strength or possibly a combination of all of those things? You will have to read this gem to find out.
I normally do not print quotes that other reviewers have said, but I found two that sum up this book perfectly. They completely convey exactly how I felt while reading this marvelous book:
“I loved this story. Quirky and unusual, this unique tale wove a spell around me and drew me in. It wasn’t what I expected at all, and when I turned the last page, it left me wanting more.” – Ane Mulligan, Sr. Editor of Novel RocketThe Dog That Talked to God is a moving and powerful read, inspirational long after the last page has been turned.” – New York Journal of Books

ISBN-13: 9781426742569
 Intrigued? You should be. You may purchase The Dog That Talked to God right here
GIVE-AWAY!  OPEN TO EVERYONE! The publisher generously sent me one extra copy of The Dog That Talked to God  to share with one lucky reader. To enter, leave a comment letting me know that you would like to win this book and a way for me to contact you should you be the lucky winner. DEADLINE TO ENTER IS: MONDAY JUNE 4TH at 11PM EST, the winner (as chosen by www.random.org) will be announced WEDNESDAY, JUNE 6TH. GOOD LUCK!
I was not compensated for this review. I received 2 copies of this book. One for me and one for my readers. The “compensation” was reading this superb novel.

Semi-“Wordy” Wednesday-Dogphoria By Jim Dratfield

From Facebook: “Dogphoria celebrates the joy of dogs & their innate ability to experience euphoria in everyday moments of life.”

From Dogphoria  “Dogphoria is a 132-page collection of candid photos of dogs with insightful quotes that illustrate the companionship & loyalty of dogs.”

Enormous THANKS to my friend Stacy Kowalchuk from Trupanion Pet Insurance  for giving me the wonderful gift of Dogphoria!!!

This is a cherished addition to my dog book library! It is one that shouldn’t be hidden on a shelf,  it should be displayed and visited again and again, every quote in this book will  give you paws pause and the photos need no explanation, they stand on their own.

 

 

Dogphoria’s charity partner is Leader Dogs For The Blind.  Proceeds benefit Halo Pet Foundation.

 

I was not compensated for this post. I was given this book by Stacy and after seeing how beautiful it is, I had to share it with ALL of YOU!

Book Review: “Finally Home” By Elizabeth Parker

Hi Everyone!  It’s Dakota’s “Mom” and today I am taking over his blog to tell you about a wonderful book that I read over the weekend.  The  book is “Finally Home” By Elizabeth Parker.

From “Finally Home”

“There is a time in everyone’s life when they have been emotionally inspired or amazed by something that was completely unexpected. Sometimes it is so touching, that they want to share their experience with the world and tell their story. 
This particular story is about a precious heart along with a free-spirited little boy who owns that heart. This little boy has expressive brown eyes, a beautiful smile, and golden-brown coat that he never takes off. He also has a huge pinkish-brown nose and four very fast legs. His name is Buddy. He answers to that…when he wants to.”

Do any of you have a “free-spirited” dog? A dog who has a mind of its own, who will obey your commands when HE feels like it, who is high-energy and a fur-bundle of mischief? Who even in his “adult” years still exhibits behavior that normally is reserved for puppies?  Do you have a dog that will eat ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that isn’t fastened to the ground, table, chair or wherever? Do you have a dog that defies all traditional “textbook” training methods?

If you said “yes” to any one of the above questions then you will relate to “Buddy” the free-spirited Golden Retriever who was  the inspiration behind Elizabeth Parker’s “Finally Home.”

When I began reading “Finally Home” I was instantly reminded of Marley (from the book and movie, Marley & Me.  Marley, however was a Labrador Retriever)

“Goldens” are known for their “well-behaved and friendly temperament”.  Buddy, well-behaved? No. Friendly, definitely.

I am a Mom of a “free-spirited” dog, the namesake of this blog, Dakota. While reading “Finally Home” I found myself nodding my head in recognition. When we first acquired Dakota there were times, as was the case with Buddy, that I literally thought he was insane. I thought I would never get him to understand the concept of going outside to pee, I thought we would never break his eating wood addiction, his thievery (we have yet to conquer that but it HAS gotten better), his neurotic barking (well, that also still continues!), and his obeying commands when HE feels like it! (Ummm…that continues as well!) In spite of or BECAUSE of all of his idiosyncracies I adore him, he is a loving and sensitive dog and I wouldn’t have him any other way.

"Buddy"

As is the case with people, there are dogs whose behavior was shaped by their environment (being given rewards for “bad” behavior instead of reinforcing good behavior, being so dreadfully emotionally neglected that they will do anything to be noticed.)  In some cases the behavior is a result of environmental shaping, in other instances it is just a case of   the gene pool, or how the cards were dealt. In other words, often there isn’t a whole heck of  a lot you can do to change the dog but you can love it, nurture it, find “creative” training methods and simply accept the dog for who he is.

Love and acceptance go a long way in changing unwanted behavior.

When Buddy was adopted by Elizabeth and her (now) husband Michael, they became Buddy’s fourth home. As you read  this love-filled, engrossing and in many cases  laugh-out-loud funny story that will also touch your soul, you will find that when Elizabeth and Michael adopted Buddy, through their understanding,  love, attention, devotion and a host of other positive reinforcement methods,  Buddy did indeed learn what it is like to be “Finally Home”.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  For the first time in any book review that I have done, I am omitting this section. Why? I don’t want to reveal anything about what is coming in Elizabeth’s next book that I will be reviewing:  “Buddy’s Book.”  I will be sure to include an “About The Author” description at that time. If you absolutely cannot wait until December 5th for me to include that, click here

In the meantime, from Elizabeth: “although Buddy found a family that loves him beyond belief, not all dogs are lucky enough to get that chance.  If just one person will stop and think about the welfare of a dog after reading my book, then it was all worth it.”

To buy “Finally Home” click here “

*A portion of the proceeds from the sales of this book will be donated to an animal rescue group.*