BACK TO SCHOOL BLUES
Kids get the blues when summer's over and it's time to go back to school. So do their canine companions. Now that dogs are allowed on restaurant patios in many cities and people can take them to the office, maybe it's time to institute Take Your Dog To School Day, where children could take turns bringing a well-behaved dog to class, one that is comfortable being with children, obviously.
It's been proven that workers in offices are calmer and more productive when their pets are present. Might that not also be true of children in school? I know I would have been in dog heaven if I could have brought my old childhood playmate, Dusty, to school with me. There are now Read to Your Dog programs at libraries, which encourage children to read more books, and it works! Thus far, dogs aren't reading books back to the kids, but why not take it a step further?
Yes, I can hear the collective howls and they aren't coming from the dogs. I know teachers have enough on their plates already, but perhaps the children would be easier to manage with a canine present in the classroom. Dogs do have a way of making everyone feel more relaxed. I know it works for me. It could work in schools, too. It would have the added benefit of teaching youngsters to be kind to animals.
Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What? is currently ranked #4 in the Kindle Store under Miracles and Spirituality.
THE HOUSE OF PUDDLES
Cleaning day at House of Puddles. Man, they must spend a lot of time cleaning with this lot. Looks like the kind of house I'd love to live in, though.
CHICKEN SOUP RELEASE
Chicken Soup for the Soul: THE DOG DID WHAT? came out for sale yesterday. I have waited years to see a story of mine published in one of these books. It isn't easy to make the final cut out of the thousands of submissions they receive, so I am pleased to be included at long last and glad that it was my story, Crazy for Daisy, that got published in Chicken Soup.
Daisy was certainly my most challenging adoptee, worthy of an entire cauldron of Chicken Soup for my soul. It would have been tempting to give up on such a nutty dog. Many others would have, including her first owners, who did, but my love for her prevailed. She enjoyed a long, happy life with us and left me with memories I'm still writing about.
There are 101 wonderful stories in this book, so I encourage you to visit your local Barnes and Noble or other bookstore and purchase a copy of THE DOG DID WHAT? It's also sold on Amazon, of course. Royalties from all sales of the book benefit the American Humane Association.
I'm proud to have an essay of mine included in
the upcoming PEN Oakland anthology, "Fightin' Words-25 Years of Provocative Poetry and Prose from "The Blue-Collar PEN," which will be available for purchase November 2014 from Heyday Books. I consider myself fortunate
to share the pages of this literary volume with some illustrious
company, including Norman Mailer, Paul Krassner and Kitty Kelley.
Some of the advance praise for the book comes from Eugene B. Redmond, who was my poetry professor at CSUS. I took his Black Poetry class and loved hearing him read from the works of other notable African American poets like Paul Laurence Dunbar and Langston Hughes. Unfortunately, my timing was a bit off to have studied with Maya Angelou, who was also teaching at Sac State around the same time. I think I'd already graduated by then. Born too soon.
TEACH KINDNESS WITH RED ROVER
If you enjoy children and want to promote empathy for animals, RedRover has a training opportunity that may interest you:
Join us for a RedRover Readers training workshop on Sunday, August 17 at the RedRover Office!
The RedRover Readers program is a social and emotional learning program designed to help children develop compassion and empathy while building their listening and critical thinking skills.
RedRover Readers volunteers and trained teachers read in elementary
schools, animal shelters and after-school programs. Using pre-selected
books about animals, teachers and volunteers facilitate discussion about
the children's thoughts, feelings and experiences about animals.
Sunday, August 17
9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
IN MEMORY OF BUTTER
BUTTERSCOTCH SUNDAY 1975-1987
After 20 years, Bojangles still grieved for his dog, and 27 years later, I still grieve for Butterscotch, my first beautiful red and white basset. Of all the dogs we've had, she was the most well bred, the healthiest, and had the best temperament. Our Butter lived to be 12 1/2, but succumbed to bloat on a hot August day. She'd had two previous bouts of bloat from which she rallied, but the third time was just too much for her dear old heart.
Until our tragic experience with Butter, we knew nothing of the basset's tendency to bloat, along with other deep-chested breeds. Since then, I have always been cautious not to exercise our dogs within a couple of hours before or after meals and don't let them drink too much water after exercising. We've had no others bloat like that, and I learned about the magic of dosing my dogs with simethicone to prevent tummy troubles. You can get it in your grocer's baby section. It comes in a dropper bottle, which makes it easy to administer to your pet. One dropper full usually does the trick.
This was a very hard lesson to learn about the breed. It was hardest of all for poor Butter. Sadder yet, I was not there with her when she drew her last breath. It haunts me still. I hope she forgave me. Perhaps she did, because when I sat down that evening I lost her and poured all my loving memories of her into a journal, it was the beginning of my sojourn into being a dog writer.
I always dread the arrival of dog days of summer. I have lost two dogs to the month of August, one on August 9 (Butterscotch, our first basset) and the other on August 15 (Patience, Butter's successor). I have two old dogs, Peaches (11-ish) and Beau (about 10). Beau is having issues, so I pray we make it through these dog days together without incident. I had hoped to take them up to Lake Tahoe this weekend, but there are too many thunderstorms there right now. Beau hates thunder, and he has trouble traversing the trails near the cabin. His hindquarters are becoming awfully weak, and he has control issues. He made three mistakes in the house today. How I hate seeing my dogs get old. I do hope we get to go to Tahoe again sometime, though. They both love it so. All my dogs have! Whatever happens, I have great memories of our Tahoe adventures, most of which end up in my books.