Fostering and Rescuing – A Book Review

As you probably know I’m very passionate about rescues (both Norman and Elsa were rescued) so when I was recently provided an opportunity to review a new book by best-selling author, Cara Achterberg, I jumped at the chance. Yes, we’re talking about THAT Cara Achterberg, author of Another Good Dog. Squeals! Ms. Achterberg is one amazing upright who has taken dog rescue advocacy to a whole ‘nother level. Reviewing One Hundred Dogs & Counting One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles and a Journey into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues” being released on July 7, was just something I couldn’t pass up.

Book review
Cowgirl author and rescue advocate, Cara Achterberg

For anyone not familiar with Cara, she is an award-winning writer, blogger, and consummate dog rescue champion. I was keen to review her latest book which explains the ins and outs of rescue work like nothing I’d ever read before and I learned so much about the behind-the-scenes work of rescuing and shelters. Who knew the public perception of shelters and the private reality could be so disparate?

One Hundred Dogs & Counting follows the footsteps of Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs. Cara’s latest book began as a mother/son trip into the world of ‘dog pounds,’ private rescues and some of the most desperate public shelters around that most people are completely unaware. I had no idea how the world of shelters and rescues worked. With humor and deep compassion, Cara writes the book every dog lover needs to read and provides a remarkable journal how shelter dogs end up with a rescue and some of the heartbreaking details as to why some do and others don’t. This book offers hope in the face of unthinkable heartache, limited resources and long odds toward success. It also provides a narrative of hope shared by a cadry of real heroes working with limited resources in shelters and rescue groups while providing you an opportunity to help by sharing its message.

With generous praise and gratitude for her family, Operation Paws for Homes (OPA), the group with which she fosters dogs, numerous directors, rescue coordinators, Animal Control Offices and countless volunteers, Cara takes you through just what a “no-kill” shelter is. She provides a terrific resource list giving readers an opportunity to help in exposing the quiet reality of too many shelters by crafting a remarkable story with a heartfelt plea. As dog lovers and pet bloggers, it’s up to use to educate people of the all too familiar goings on in cities and towns across the country. As she puts it: let’s all work toward bringing Gandhi’s words to fruition.

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated.

Book review

Be sure to put this book on your summer reading list and order your copy of this remarkable rescue journey and spread its powerful message today. The Ranch Hands enthusiastically give it a 4 out of 4 paw endorsement. ūüźĺūüźĺ

Book review

Live, love, bark! ūüźĺ

Creating a New Year

Realizing a detox was probably necessary after my holiday fudge transfusion, I came to the conclusion I should probably detox my addled brain too. Along with my best intentions, I found myself diving down the online rabbit-hole a bit too much. When you finally¬†come to your senses, look around and discover you just lost 3 hours when you only consciously meant to look up¬†X¬† and wonder why the heck you’re now reading Y which was totally unrelated, you probably need to do a reassessment. Or have an intervention. Has this ever happened to you? What’s that old saying…the road to hell is paved with the best of intentions? Well, I reckon to change that now in 2019.

It seemed clear I needed to spend more time visiting the library than falling down the rabbit-hole, fun as that may be. Enter an old-fashioned concept…reading a book. I have a complicated history with reading. While I do enjoy it, taking 87 years to get my degree years ago (but by golly I did it and graduated Phi Beta Kappa eligible), reading for pleasure was a luxury I didn’t have, nor a habit that was very well-developed. Making ends meet while raising a couple of kids in a new urban location, working full-time and going to school at night, didn’t exactly lend itself to reading for pleasure. There was always too much required reading for classes or kids to parent or grocery shopping or cooking, cleaning…well you get the idea. It’s always easy putting things off, isn’t it?

Several months ago I entered a couple of blog contests and actually won a couple of amazing books related to my passion-pet rescue. One book struck a special chord with me. Mind you, I wasn’t actually the winner, but the author, Diane Rose-Solomon was touched enough by my entry describing Elsa’s rescue story that she generously sent a signed copy of her book nonetheless. A hectic summer turned into a busy fall, and then the winter holidays hit which brings me here. Excuses and apologies.

Although I finished the book back in November while in Mexico, I’m just now writing a long overdue review for which I sincerely apologize to Diane. This book is easy to read, provides loads of tips with resources and the chapters can be easily read in any order. Add to the fact Diane has a rescue named Ninja…well imagine how that touched me.

Organized into five modules, Diane shares personal experience from the heart and provides oodles of resources. You know…real life stuff. Have an issue with a particular aspect of rescuing a dog? You can easily find it covered in one of the modules. While I’ve rescued more than one shelter dog, Elsa’s story was complicated because she spent years in a puppy mill cage. Diane’s book gave me insight I hadn’t encountered with diverse resources that has helped with her socialization. A quick and gentle read, once I earnestly dug into it I was irritated at how easily I let myself get distracted with other things before finishing this pawsome book.

Even if you’re a seasoned dog owner, this book will provide you with expert advice from rescue specialists, veterinarians, dog parents, and pet business owners with links to the most relevant articles from pet professionals, making this book a one-stop shop for dog-related questions, before, during, and after adoption. I can’t urge you enough to have this excellent resource on your own bookshelf. Many, many thanks to Diane for being patient with me. It is most appreciated. And make sure you stop by her website¬†to check out all the great things with which she’s involved. You’ll be glad you did.

Happy reading! I look forward to sharing more reviews of pet related books and articles throughout 2019. Now where did I put that library card?

Live, love, bark! ūüźĺ

A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home

I know, the title of this post sounds like the beginning of cheesy joke. It’s not and in this case, it’s not about Sam either (well, for the most part). What I am referring to is the book,¬†A Dog Walks Into a Nursing Home¬†by Sue Halpern (Riverhead Books, 2013) which was a gift from my dear friend, Cheryl. She saw a review of it and thought of Sam and I since she knows how passionate I am about pet therapy (and dogs in general). I’ve known Cheryl since our days when we worked together for a global healthcare company some 12 years or so ago. Cheryl is the kind of friend you can only dream about. Funny, smart, beautiful, loyal and wise beyond her years, she’s the kind of person¬†you’d hate if she weren’t such a terrific human being. She reads people and situations like no one I’ve ever known and every time she shares one of her patented Cheryl-isms, I think “oh my god, you’re my hero.” Her observations have been spot on over the past years I’ve known her and she was definitely right about this book once again proving what a terrific friend she is and for which I’m very¬†grateful. Love ya, Cheryl! Thanks again for the book but more importantly thank you for your ongoing gift of friendship. I am truly blessed.

dognursinghome_cvf_med¬†A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home is a story about Halpern¬†and her Labradoodle facing life at a cross-road. Pransky was her under-occupied and bored older pet and¬†Halpern herself was suffering from soon to be empty-nest syndrome. Upon reflection, she decides the two of them will become certified as a therapy team and volunteer at a Vermont nursing home. Their adventures proved insightful beyond expectation and they wander around the infinite possibilities where love of life and openness shine. This story deals with self-discovery of one woman’s quest to invest in others as a way to fill her day. The book is keen and insightful without being sappy for its description of the infirm and elderly. It doesn’t gloss over thoughts on aging and companionship. Soon Halpern learns to stretch her comfort zone by discovering death isn’t something to be feared through acceptance with dignity from an¬†enthusiastic dog with a distinctive face who was happy¬†to spend time with people who could use some love and affection. An even bigger lesson that Halpern discovered was how simple acts of kindness transform not only the recipient¬†but also to the giver.

This book impacted me in a number of ways. Oh sure, I thought of our shared experiences. We have engaging, clever pets who force us out of our comfort zones and we both visit patients, visitors and staff though Sam and I aren’t afforded the luxury of developing ongoing relationships with patients. Initially I was somewhat envious until I realized Halpern and Pransky watched their patients slowly decline over time¬†and in the case of dementia, witness a slow dreadful death I wouldn’t wish on anyone. When older people die, the general consensus is “this is the circle of life, an inevitability.” When someone passes who was “simply too young to die,” we view it as tragic, like an icy wind¬†that stays with us. Acknowledging the difficulty of returning to the room of a young resident who had passed, Halpern felt disloyal. Many of their visits were to patients suffering from dementia and when I see those kinds of patients, my thought is “but for the grace of God, there go I.” It’s humbling to view an eventual outcome many of us fear. Not the mere idea¬†of death mind you, but how we get there. Living life is truly all about the journey.

Sam and I see patients once and the majority of them heal and go back to¬†resume their regular lives. There is always someone new in their rooms, and¬†for Sam and I, it’s like Day 1 all over again. We’re granted a fresh new slate every time we arrive. I’m not sure I could handle repeat visits especially when¬†I see patients at hospice who are left completely alone. It would leave me feeling too sad. I cannot imagine leaving life with no one to see you on the path to wherever that next chapter goes¬†and more than once the thought has left me heartbroken.

One thing I came away with after reading this book, was that both Pransky and Sam make no judgment on the people they see. They love unconditionally for that exact reason and make it look so effortlessly. They have love to spare. Goodness is theirs to dispense yet the distance between giving and receiving is sometimes murky.  And although we share memories, these remarkable creatures on the opposite side of the proverbial coin known as pet therapy, show us that living in the present is the most valuable lesson we can learn.

Bottom line…I highly recommend this book. It’s a quick and easy read but it will make you think about mortality and whether you are misusing your gift of life. Read it. You’ll be glad you did and you’ll smile at the thought of a goofy dog walking down a hospital corridor ready to dispense love and a tail wag to any and everyone he comes in contact with along the way.

Live, love, bark! <3