Dog Blog

Monday, July 29, 2013


Peaches is headed for the vet.  There is something wrong with her left eye.  It looks furiously red, and I've been dabbing "yellow matter custard" from the corner of the eye.  I suspect she has injured it somehow.  She and Beau love to bungle in the jungle under the hedge in our back yard.  She may have poked her eye on a twig.  Whatever she's done, that eye is going to need some medical attention, and there's some hedge trimming to be done.  To quote Gilda Radner, "It's always something..."

Saturday, July 20, 2013


The Sacramento SPCA has put out an urgent call to our community to come out to their shelter on Florin-Perkins Road this weekend and adopt a pet.  Their adoption numbers have dropped, and of course the shelter population continues to grow, so many animals are in desperate need of homes.  Please, please, please, before you purchase a pet from a pet shop or online, adopt a pet from the SSPCA that is in dire need of a home.  The price of an adoption will be much less and the rewards far greater, for both you and that homeless pet. 

Check out the link provided and see photos of animals available for adoption today. I just checked it out and there are some great looking dogs, mostly small ones.  Some really cute fuzz faced darlings you'll fall head over heels in love with.  There's even one who looks just like Benji (and that's his name).  

Give a loving dog or cat, or other pet, a happy ending.  Adopt a pet this weekend and help reduce the numbers of homeless pets in our shelter. Adopt two or more!  But before you make that commitment, make certain you are fully able to properly care for that pet so it doesn't end up back at the shelter somewhere down the road.  Adoption isn't just for a weekend; it's for life!  

Friday, July 19, 2013


Last night on KCRA TV I saw a report by Mike Tessell about how scientists in a mini (yellow) submarine are exploring volcanic fissures deep in the lake bed of Tahoe to determine future seismic activity and, get ready for this, possible tsunamis.  I wrote all about this in my third book in the Beanie and Cruiser series, Embarking on Murder, which was released in 2009.  

It's weird, but it seems like whatever I write about in this series eventually comes to pass.  Spooky.  Could I be a psychic like my character, Madame Pawline, in Sirius About Murder?  Hmmm...  


I was trying to get a little housework done this morning, but Beau had other ideas.  He moseyed past me into what has become "the music room" since he joined our pack.  This is his signal that I am expected to stop whatever I'm doing and go play some music for him.  What a welcome distraction from cleaning chores. 

If ever anyone doubts that music has the power to soothe the savage basset (well, he's hardly a savage; he's a big pussycat all the time), one just has to see Beau when I sit down to play the ukelele or piano and the effect it has on him.  I'm no Jake Shimabukuru, but the moment I begin to strum that tenor uke, he flops down full length on the carpet and heaves a contented sigh before dozing off.  He stays there for as long as I'm willing to play for him.  I am always assured of an appreciative audience whenever I play music for my darlin' Beau.  I have never before had a dog quite like him who really seems to love music.  What a joy he is in my life!  

Sunday, July 14, 2013


In my latest novel in the Beanie and Cruiser series, BRACED FOR MURDER, Tahoe's first Basset Waddle takes place on July 14, Bastille Day in France and, à propos, is called The Bassetille Day Waddle.  Here's an excerpt from the book: 

The weather was perfect on the day of our first annual Basset Waddle. Tahoe’s temperate seventies and a cool breeze would keep the hounds from overheating in their Waddle Wear, which ranged from silly to bizarre. Calamity and other homeless bassets sported green jackets with yellow lettering that read, ADOPT ME! Bassetille Day would go down in Heavenly Valley history as an earmark gathering of basset hounds from hither and yon. Two attendees were real French hounds that had been flown all the way from Paris. Vive les Bassets! In all, they were nearly 1,000 strong, long, and ready to waddle. 

Friday, July 12, 2013


Malala, the young Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban for wanting to get an education speaks powerful words to the U.N.  Everyone needs to hear the speech of one girl who could not be silenced.

"One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world."  --  Malala Yousafzai


This summer I have seen so many dogs with their fur shaved off, presumably to keep them cool on the miserably hot days we've had.  I recently saw a Golden Retriever at our dog park that looked like the Lion King--all that was left was a tuft of fur at the end of his tail. 

In fact, this is the worst thing you can do to your dog and can actually cause him to overheat.  Before you plug in those clippers and start giving Fido a buzz cut, read why the ASPCA advises not to shave your dog's fur off in the summertime.

Friday, July 05, 2013


I don't know who is happier that the heat wave is finally over, the dogs or us.  It's been a rough week around here trying to survive the heat.  Our old air conditioner has been chugging along, and the dogs have spent most of the time cooling their bellies on the tile floor.  Walk schedules got messed up, and Beau's house training lapsed one day, either because he didn't want to go outside in that hideous heat to do his business or he was upset because he didn't get his usual afternoon constitutional.  When door service isn't available, he can be lazy about making his way out both the dog doors and sometimes doesn't make it all the way to the outer door into the yard, leaving us a surprise in the garage.  

All bets were off in survival mode this week.  His indiscretion was quickly forgiven, even though I nearly skated across the tile barefooted in the huge puddle he left on the dining room floor.  He not only did #1 but also #2.  Arrrgh!

They had their usual morning walk today, and there was a lovely cool breeze blowing, a welcomed change.  Aren't we Sacramentans, two-legged and four-legged, all a lot happier today?  

Tuesday, July 02, 2013


BRACED FOR MURDER                
Five Star Publishing  May, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4328-2689-5

You would imagine this Beanie and Cruiser mystery novel would make light summer reading; it does, as it follows the adventures of two basset hounds and their mistress on the trail of a killer, but Sue Owens Wright also tackles the deeper issues of high-kill shelters and cruelty to animals by owners who should never have opted for pets in the first place.
Lake Tahoe, California, is the setting in this book.  Newspaper reporter and basset hound owner Elsie MacBean, aka Beanie, member of the Washoe tribe, finds the Lakeside Animal Shelter suspiciously lax in its personnel policy.  The workers there don’t appear to treat the animals in their care with the understanding they deserve and euthanasia is the rule, rather than the exception.  The shelter is overpopulated and underfunded.  She adopts Calamity, a tri-coloured basset (who hilariously lives up to her name) and is called in for her detecting skills by Sheriff Skip Cassidy when the manager of this same shelter is found murdered.  In an ironic twist, the euthanasia cubicle has become a death chamber for a human, rather than for a canine victim.
No one mourns the death of Rhoda Marx.  She ran the shelter like a concentration camp and euthanized rescued dogs as quickly as possible, making enemies of animal rights activists and pet-owning citizens alike.  There are too many suspects.  Murder is murder, however, and Beanie and her basset team have to help Cassidy find the killer.
In addition to Wright’s peppering of dog lore throughout the novel, she explores the foibles of overly militant animal organizations, while keeping Beanie on the side of the angels in dog rescue.  She also addresses prejudices concerning Native American Washoes and the practices of the Native American Church, and what can happen when cultures clash.
Delicious elements of the paranormal drive the narrative along; they include a haunted kennel at the shelter, precognitive dreams and a very touching vision of the afterlife.
Surprisingly, I had a few teary-eyed moments while reading this novel.  This was due partly to the way Wright portrays the plight of animals who are so dependent upon humans for their welfare, and partly due to a ghostly hound presence who appears to the characters on numerous occasions.  Her writing serves to wring an emotional response from the reader, one of deep compassion.    This mystery, the fourth in the series, is a lovely little book for pet-savvy humans.                                                                                                                                              

- Leigh Byron 

William and Leigh Byron both have degrees in English literature and creative writing, and they both have been teachers for longer than they care to remember.  The Byrons live deep in the woods of Quebec with their Great Pyrenees, Tristan, and their two cats, Winston and Jiffy Elf.



Monday, July 01, 2013


(06-29) 08:25 PDT PLEASANT HILL -- A woman was arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty after her dog died when she locked it in her parked car in the heat in Pleasant Hill, police said.

I don't know what it is going to take to finally get the message through to people:  It's not okay to leave a dog locked up in the car. EVER!  This is animal cruelty, which is a punishable offense.  GO DIRECTLY TO JAIL!  Just when I think we are making progress, I see headlines like this in the news.  The woman in this story won't do it again, one hopes.  Unfortunately, it's too late for her boxer.  Tragically, the dog died.  I hate to think of how much it must have suffered before the police finally came and broke the window to get the dog out.  I wonder how much time had passed before that happened?  By the time the dog was taken to a vet, it was too late to save its life.  The damage had been done.  

Note that the dog was left in a parking garage.  Parking garages get hot, too, on these blistering summer days.  Just because a car is left in the shade doesn't mean the interior won't heat up to dangerous levels for a pet.  It doesn't take much time for that to happen. Boxers are especially vulnerable to overheating because of their flat noses.  The dog's owner was obviously ignorant of that fact.  The same is true for bulldogs, pugs, and other flat-nosed breeds.

Why didn't the garage attendant just break the window, instead of waiting for police to arrive?  Parking attendants, or anyone, should be authorized to rescue pets left to die in parked cars.  It's high time to introduce a new law that absolves people of any wrongdoing when they break a car window to save an animal in distress inside a locked car in hazardous conditions.  I don't know what this boxer's name was, but we should name the law after that poor dog who died in a hot car to represent all the others that needlessly die the same way.  A car window is just glass and easily replaced.  Its value is far less than that animal's life, which can never be replaced.