Sunday, January 21, 2018

Come to the World of Pets, Januray 26-28 in Maryland

What are you doing next weekend? Why not take the whole family to the State Fairgrounds in Timonium, MD, for the 17th annual World of Pets! ( It’s like an indoor carnival during the long snowy cold winter. And the dock diving dogs are back to compete for the highest jump, the longest jump and the quickest Run/Jump/WaterFetch. The dogs even wear swim suits.

Are you thinking about getting a dog? (I know the kids are!) Talk to a dog rescue or animal shelter or veterinarian at the World of Pets.

From dogs to cats, ferrets to birds, gerbils to rabbits, guinea pigs to snakes and maybe even an alpaca or two!

Muttville Comix

Watch a former rescue dog climb a ladder, or a Bassett Hound skateboard in this slapstick dog act that will keep you laughing.

Educational seminars, shopping for leashes and dog treats and T-shirts and other great new products, fabulous food (BBQ, slurpies, cotton candy, pretzels, caramel apples, lemonade), entertainment - and all this is indoors! With free parking.

An Annual Family Tradition

A cat show and clinic, parade of dog breeds, dogs competing in agility (a type of obstacle course), bird demonstrations, a petting zoo - even a rainforest exhibit. Learn how to talk to the animals or train a parrot or ask a groomer. It’s an annual event you will want to make a family tradition.

Bunnies and gerbils and pony rides and the Bug Man, too! Even a Gerbiil Olympics.


Friday from 2 – 8, Saturday from 10-7 and Sunday from 10-5. Go all three days! Free parking. Adults $10, kids 5-12 $5, under 5 FREE. Accessible by light rail, too. See you there!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Book Review: A Dog Called Hope (Labrador Retriever service dog, Texas, Air Force veteran)

A Dog Called Hope: A Wounded Warrior and the Service Dog Who Saved Him, by Jason Morgan and Damien Lewis* (Simon and Schuster, 2017, 324 pages, $26)


Imagine you are a special operations-type Air Force guy, fully physically fit and well-prepared for the job. You brief others on your team.

Then, it happens. You are stationed in a foreign country, drive into an ambush and the vehicle turns over. On you. You are medevac’d back to the States but will never walk again. Your future lies in a chair – a wheelchair.

The pain is excruciating. Your marriage breaks up. How can a guy in a wheel chair ever raise three boys alone?

Then, It Happens!

After a few years, quite by chance you meet someone from a service dog organization and, after contemplating a while, you apply for a service dog, a service dog who changes your life and gives you meaning and a mission for living: spreading the word about service dogs for veterans and living life to the fullest.

Napal is a Black Lab

Napal is so much more than ‘just a dog.’ He picks things up, he finds lost keys, he opens and closes doors – but, most of all, he is love and joy and fun. And love changes your life and the lives of your sons.

A Star Among Stars

Napal is a star among stars. A service dog can be a bridge to a wider body of humanity. Service dogs change every life they touch, especially their new human family who becomes nearly normal again with relief that their person now has someone to help take care of him not to mention the independence a service dog brings – a new start on life.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, or, Choose Your Battles

For some reason, DogEvals reviews a lot of service dog books ** and military books*** - perhaps because one of us is a veteran and a dog trainer.

A Dog Called Hope earns an A-minus**** from DogEvals. The good is a simply amazing story, well-written to a T. Would you believe Napal’s puppy raiser, Jim, was a wheelchair-bound veteran himself and Napal was selected to assist a wheelchair-bound veteran? But be prepared to shed a few happy and a few sad tears.

And the lesson Morgan and Napal convey is to not sweat the small things. Sure, the duo was refused service when trying to purchase some snacks at a gas station, a doctor refused to discuss laboratory results with them immediately before surgery because of Napal’s presence (legal), and Jason had to (chose to) leave the field when coaching a boy’s football game because one parent was afraid his chair would get out of control and injure her son.

Napal lives for the day – today and every day (but too few, in the end). He brings Morgan back down to earth and tells him that they are legally in the right but that trying to explain their rights is simply not worth it sometimes. Other times, the world bends over backwards to get to know the duo and do whatever they can to make life easier. They even visit the White House!

How Does Napal Do It All?

“The amazing thing with this kind of training is that Jim [puppy raiser] never once scolds Napal. Jim’s golden rule is: Reinforce and praise the positive. Find the good in the dog, not the bad. Don’t overcorrect the bad; seek the good to praise. We don’t. Punish. The dog. It isn’t right to, and in any case, it doesn’t work.” (p. 178)

Hope is an excellent uplifting way to spend a weekend. It may just change your life.

*Lewis also wrote Sergeant Rex, Judy, It’s All About Treo and The Dog Who Could Fly.
**A Dog Like Daisy, Chester and Gus, Cowboy and Wills. Also the Tuesday books.
***Megan Leavy, The Places in Between (Afghanistan), It’s What I Do (female combat photographer), War Machine, War Dogs, Dogs of War.

****only an A-minus due to terms like ‘command’ and an inappropriate visit to a zoo

Monday, January 1, 2018

DVD Review: Rescue! Brooklyn: Sean Casey Animal Rescue

Rescue! Brooklyn: Sean Casey Animal Rescue (Dreamscape Media, 2017, 96 minutes, $24.95 on Amazon)

Rescue Dogs Rock!

If you are addicted to watching the professional Animal Planet programs, especially the Animal Cops shows, you will love Rescue! Brooklyn: Sean Casey Animal Rescue!

Community Shelter

Ninety-six minutes of a neighborhood animal shelter (no-kill) in Brooklyn that has grown to expand and move locations three times is not long enough – this documentary only gets better and more enticing! You will be entertained and inspired, and will be attracted to the friendly neighborhood appeal of this DVD and will wish it were longer with more heartwarming and hilarious episodes.

Starting with saving dogs when called by Animal Control and also from the streets of New York City, Casey and his growing horde of volunteers have carved out a much needed service, at least according to the Brooklynites who are part of this movement.

Dogs, Cats, Birds, Snakes, A Sheep (in NYC!), Fish, . . . .

The best part of Sean Casey Animal Rescue (SCAR) is how down-to-earth he is: he swears when he takes off his shoes to step into a backyard fish pond to gather up the fish - the water is so cold his feet quickly become numb. He admits over and over again, laughingly, how hard it is to net a parrot outside in a tree but he keeps trying until he succeeds, which turns out to be several days. And finally, Casey still does the hard work of the shelter himself.

Peace. Love. Pit Bulls.

Scenes rotate back and forth between couples and families adopting cats and dogs to rescue attempts and finally successes (birds, sheep, dogs, cats being hoarded, scared pit bulls on the run), to introducing the SCAR family of team members (employees), all of whom spent years volunteering first, to the complete stories of dogs who cannot use their hind limbs only to learn to zip around on donated ‘wheelies’ and then regain the use of their legs!

You may just be inspired to start a shelter of your own or at least volunteer at your neighborhood animal shelter. And that is a good thing! Go for it! You will be so blessed in many ways. Pass it on and pay it forward. (Sean Casey started as a 5-year-old, according to his animal activist mom.)