Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Book Review: The Lucky One (dog, war veteran, love)

The Lucky One, by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central Publishing, 2008, 326 pages, $24.99)


Who hasn’t read and loved books by Richard Paul Evans and Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, Nights in Rodanthe, [all movies as well] and more)? Mostly ‘chick’ books but also date movies, they are books to keep - inspiring, feel-good stories.

He Gets the Dogs Right!

The Lucky One is no exception: a bit different, perhaps, to appeal to a different readership, The Lucky One centers around an Iraq war veteran and – dogs! And Nicholas Sparks gets the dogs right! They are not merely minor characters.

Something for Everyone – And A Dog Named Zeus

Elizabeth-Beth and young son Ben, a brother who left for Iraq and never came back, ex-husband-Deputy and ‘good ol’ boy’ Keith whose family owns the county, Nana, Logan the Marine, a cross-country walk with Zeus to search for and thank the ‘woman in the photo,’ and the mother of all rainstorms which lasted for days. Something for everyone. And a dog named Zeus to keep us focused on relationships and the bond between a human and a dog.

Who is ‘The Lucky One’?

I can’t help you on this one: you’ll have to read the book to find out. But you will agree. Even though you read faster and faster, and perhaps can guess at some developments in the plot, you will feel warmly satisfied with the story. It all falls into place – the myriad of details that seem so disjointed at first, fall into place in the most perfectly believable way.

What would I change about The Lucky One? I would delete references to ‘dog obedience,’ ‘commands,’ ‘firm guidance with the leash,’ ‘Come! Good Come.’ But, all in all, Nicholas Sparks gets the dogs right and, in the end, that is all that matters.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Book Review: Comet's Tale (dog)

Comet’s Tale: How the Dog I Rescued Saved My Life, by Steven Wolf with Lynette Padwa (Algonquin, 2012, 257 pages, $23.95) 

Far From Ordinary

Comet the dog is far from ordinary. Comet’s Tale the book is far from ordinary.

If I were in the habit of reading book reviews instead of just writing them, I would have read this book last year. As it turned out, I did buy it last year, but I let life interfere and just now got around to reading it. (Actually I just now found it.)

Comet’s Tale was another 24-hour book – a most excellent story – very definitely an A-list book.  The two times I had to put it down, I couldn’t wait to get back to it.

That happens when you are inside the story and the book seems to be happening around you, about you, as you play the different characters. You genuinely like one or more characters.

A dog book should have much of the story about the dog. Comet’s Tale starts and ends with Comet, a rescued racing Greyhound, and has Comet in between - a lot.

A Rescued Racing Greyhound

We learn, naturally but surreptitiously, about the history of the breed and its characteristics – what makes the Grey a good couch potato dog; why there are so many young Greys up for adoption; why they seem so glamorous, so loyal, so regal, so calm, so accepting of other dogs and a few people; why they sleep taking up so little room; why they are so easily housetrained.

Doe Eyes and Velvety Fur

Comet’s Tale is so excellent that I will be looking for Greyhounds in the neighborhood and just may visit a Greyhound rescue website* to see when their next adoption day will take place in my town. Just to visit with the dogs, of course. For some reason, I am suddenly doubting that I am a Golden Retriever or Lab person after all – my personality and temperament seem to fit a Greyhound’s so perfectly.

What’s it All About?

Comet’s Tale - a blended family split by geography and health issues, a type A lawyer, degenerative disease, training one’s own service dog (who just happens to be ‘scary smart,’ sensitive and naturally protective), Nebraska and Arizona, being macho, divorces, a separation, grandchildren, becoming mature finally as one also becomes older (not necessarily the same thing). And a very special dog.

You might agree that the description of a rescue dog rescuing the man who rescued him is a bit lame (I still do), but it does fit the story like a wet T-shirt on a teen-age girl!

Need I say again that this was a 24-hour book? It was that good!

*www.greytexpectations.org and www.gpa-md.com

(This review was written in 2013 and the book was purchased for review.)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

EverythingdogBlog #116: (Nearly) Wordless Wednesday - De-Lightful Dog Logo


A petsitter in Ohio has left little notes and pen-and-ink drawings for her clients over the past seven years – sometimes from the pet’s point of view. While detailing the events of the day, Julie found that pets inspired her to view the world through a different perspective – the pet’s! People LOVE these little tossed-off drawings and save them to show relatives at holiday celebrations, or use them as a chronicle of their dog's life.
Julie’s husband encouraged her to turn them into cards and offer them for sale. Most of her drawings are of dogs, but since she also has cat, goat, horse, chicken, rabbit, and guinea pig clients, among other animals, she named her new endeavor AnimalCentric Designs.
The logo comes from one of her drawings.
The complete drawing features the beagle mix, Bridget, showering a KONG with hearts. The font for the logo is the same as for Julie’s parent company, A Positive Connection, and was suggested by a graphic designer, as were the colors.
Bridget (with red hearts) is also a Thank-you note.
In addition to black and white cards, Julie also has a 2014 Calendar (theme: “These are the times that try dogs' souls”), and color cards of all the calendar pictures, a line of Christmas cards (such as Happy Hollydogs),
an I'm Sorry card, a Get Well card, and a Sympathy card for dogs. She also creates individualized, custom cards and has designed cards for a lawyer, pig farmer, mortgage broker, and carpet cleaner.
Currently, Julie is working with her graphic designer to develop fabric, wrapping paper, and other dog-centered items. 
Check out her website at www.APositiveConnection.com and stay tuned for news of her forthcoming book, A Pet Sitter’s Guide to Dog Training. (Or is it A Dog Trainer’s Guide to Pet Sitting?) [Actually, neither! It is a webinar series of online training to help petsitters increase their knowledge of dog behavior, body language, and low-stress handling, among other topics. All this will give petsitters an edge in the market as well as enhance their skills and thereby the lives of their clients!] 
PS – I love the flat-coated retriever on her homepage, too! 

A Positive Connection is also on Facebook.
(Logo courtesy of A Positive Connection)
(This article first appeared on ColumbiaPatch.com on 15 January 2014.)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

If It's January, It Must Be. . . .

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday: De-Lightful Dog Logo

EverythingDogBlog #114: If it’s January, it must be Train Your Dog Month! Get your new pup or dog off to a great start!
Brought to you by the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT, of which I am a proud member), the 4th annual National Train Your Dog Month (TYDM) is off to a great start with this logo. According to CEO Mychelle Blake, APDT wanted a logo that is “very simple and easily identifiable as [being] dog related, to anyone, since TYDM is primarily an event to educate the public.”
What better month to do this than January, soon after Christmas pups and dogs arrive?
The emphasis for Train Your Dog Month is on the family dog and everyday manners with contests, free webinars for the public, and “tips and tricks” for teaching the basics: sit, down, stay, wait, come, and loose-leash-walking (LLW).
In addition Facebook chats for the public will focus on these topics to help promote taking your dog to a basic training class (no matter what his age) and understanding how your life with your dog can become better by his knowing these behaviors.
Read more about it: www.trainyourdogmonth.com
Disclaimer: This first appeared at ColumbiaPatch.com on 8 Jan 2014.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Best Darn Dog Stuff of 2012

EverythingDogBlog #113

Last year, EverythingDogBlogcombined the “Best Product Blog” with the “Best Books Blog” but this year there are so many great new dog ‘things’ that they deserve their own blog, so, . . . .
For People
For the best dog stuff for people – Sloggers! Rain/garden boots with paw prints, Slogger boots are thick enough to wear in the snow with wool socks, so I do. They come in green or blue and are easy to remove.
I purchased my green pair (but also want the blue ones) in December at Sun Nurseries in Woodbine, Maryland. The garden-rain-snow boots also come in flowery tulip prints – I want the tulip pink, tulip green, and tulip blue ones, too! Hmmmm, maybe I should move back to Seattle where it rains more often. 
Sloggers also makes a ‘clog’ that I love, called the unisex garden sandal: I need the green and the red-orange ones.
It’s a good thing they don’t come in more colors. I would be broke!
For Dogs
Last year’s Product of the Year was the soft, absorbent microfiber Soggy Doggy line of doormat, slopmat (dog placemat) and towel (three items). Their motto is ‘Soggy Paws Stop Here.’ This year, Soggy Doggy came out with a luxurious dog bed that is so soft and comfy, it just had to be the Product of the Year. 
EverythingDogBlog also blogged about Soggy Doggy in The Twelve Dog Days of Christmas, Day Six, and featured the Soggy Doggy logo in an earlier blog, De-Lightful Dog Logos, on August 21.
Dog Toys
And, finally, the Dog Toy of 2102 is KONG’s Bounzer 
which EverythingDogBlog also wrote about – twice – on the Ninth Dog Day of Christmas (with the SafeStix – see below) and in Scooter: Crazy or in Love? The Bounzer is huge and squeezable yet durable, for throwing, chasing, fectching and tugging.
Second place goes to the KONG SafeStix, available in pink, blue or green - 
a long see-through flexible rubber ‘stick’ with ball-type-ends that is great for fetch or tug games and comes in three different sizes. It even floats.

(Photo credits: See the product webpage links. Bounzer photo courtesy of LazyRiver Photos.)
(This article first appeared on ColumbiaPatch.com on 4 Jan 2013.)