10 Reasons Pets Are Better Than Men

PugSleepingCat_19220097_originalAt the risk of hissing off men, and with tongue firmly in cheek, I had a lot of fun putting this list together of 10 reasons pets are better than men. Frankly, most items could be applied to women, too–or kids. Or (fill in the bank). What do you think? Have I missed anything?

Is this a type of "remote training?"

Is this a type of “remote training?”

Pets Don’t Steal The Remote. Well, some dogs do, and chew it up (ahem). But both cats and dogs are happy to hang out and watch whatever TV show you want to watch. They don’t pick up the remote and change channels from DANCING WITH THE STARS to the latest football game without asking.

Pets have their own style...

Pets have their own style…

Pets Don’t Care How You Look. Cats and dogs love you whether you wear makeup, the latest designer gown, or frumpy dumpy jeans. They aren’t interested in making sure you can impress their family or friends—it’s enough that you impress them with your big heart.

Pets Always Look Good. Cats never have to be reminded to “spiff up” for an event. They’re grooming is impeccable, and they’re always ready for that close up. Even dogs maintain that “casual chic” and wear mud well.

YOU'RE HOME!!!

YOU’RE HOME!!!

Pets Are Easy to Please. If you’re a bit late coming home the dog is even happier to see you. For a birthday bash, Kitty is happy with an empty paper bag or crumpled up wrapping paper, and could care less what it contained. All the pet wants is your lap and your time.

An older lady in a black and white striped shirt holding an orange cat.

Pets Don’t Try to Change You. In fact, cats will object if you change too much. Dogs love you for yourself, they don’t ask you to slim down or change jobs or move to please them. And once Kitty has the routine down pat, you can depend on the cat to stay the course without unexpected or unwelcomed changes along the way.

Kitten laying on German ShepherdCats Don’t Snore. Well, if they do snore it’s a delicate purr-like noise. They may hog the pillow, but cats won’t pull off the covers while you’re sleeping, or mess with the thermostat when you’re freezing (or boiling)—or complain if you adjust the thermostat for your comfort.

Photo of beautiful sad dog, closeup portrait of german shepherd, brown dog looking at camera, domestic animal playing outdoors, doggie face, adorable pedigreed dog, purebred canine, fluffy pet

Pets Don’t Complain if You Leave Up the Toilet Seat. They may actually prefer that.

Pets Are Always On Time. They don’t need to call to say they’re late, or make excuses when they forget to call. And if you lose your watch and forget the time, dogs and cats remind you about the important events well in advance. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Playtime. Naptime. Cuddles. Treats. And treats. Oh, and treats and cuddles.

Cute dog listening to music with headphones - outdoors

Pets Listen. When you need a furry shoulder to cry on, or talk out a problem, cats won’t offer you unsolicited advice. They don’t tell you what should have been done, or why you’re wrong. Dog don’t argue—although they may offer barky commentary. But for the most part they simply listen, wag or purr, and let you get it all out.

lying on red sofa young woman with  cat

Pets Never Stop Loving. They show love in infinite ways. With wags and snuggles. With kitty eye-blink kisses. When they knead, cheek rub and purr, or shove a soggy tennis ball into your lap. Pet love is unconditional, and never has furry strings attached.

What are some other ways dogs and cats are better than…(YOU fill in the blank :) )

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–click the banner, above. Be sure to visit my PetHealthyStore for paw-some products for your furry wonders! Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and get a FREE BOOK when you sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Want the insider info on the latest books and appearances? Join my team and get advance sneak peaks related to my THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Magic’s Birthday–9 Glorious Years!

Greta-Magic-Baby

Magic with his littermates and Greta, his mom. Guess which one is him?

Today, my baby-dog Magic celebrates his 9th birthday! I can’t believe the puppy I fell in love with now has a gray muzzle, and am so very grateful he remains the funny, energetic, loving bundle of furry delight. He doesn’t act like an aging dog at all.

We had been without a dog for about 8 years before we got him. After I lost my heart-dog, another wonderful GSD who inspired me to become a pet writer, we just couldn’t bring ourselves to adopt again. Part of that was my travel schedule at the time, and then Seren-Kitty came along. There came a point that the hole in our lives could only be filled with another GSD.

We were incredibly fortunate to find a fantastic breeder (Fernheim Kennels) in our neck of the woods, so close that we got to visit the Mom-Dog before Magic was even a gleam in Greta’s eyes. After being on the waiting list for two years, the “M” litter was born. We got unprecedented visiting and photo ops during his early weeks of life. Here’s little “orange collar” at 17 days old, our boy who became Magical-Dawg.

17daysold

Magic at 17 days old.

7weeks

Magic at 7 days old, probably during his temperament test.

These days, I get to help Gillian with temperament tests when she has a new litter (her “Z” litter just went to new homes). I was told Magic temperament test indicated off the charts for Schutzhund potential.

Magic was night-and-day different than our first silver and black GSD in so many ways. Our first boy had hip dysplasia and such bad skin/allergy disease (atopy) we couldn’t have afforded to keep up with vet bills if I hadn’t then been working as a vet tech with a discount on services. Our first shepherd also was fearful of strangers, and a “soft” doggy eager to please and easy to train.

Magic’s breeder does all the tests, and then some, on the doggy parents. He came to us already knowing a “potty command” and crate trained.

He was never shy or “soft” by any means. He’s smart, but hard headed. A smart aleck. A challenge. Driven. Healthy, thank doG, with sound elbows, hips, eyes and skin. A canine athlete willing to throw himself into every game, to such an extent that torn dewclaws and sliced paws and other such accidents “dogged” his early years. Easy to train–he did “puppy pushups” (sit-down-sit-down) on TV at age 9 weeks–and went to HARVEY (play) rehearsals and hung out with the cast at about 5 months of age. We were grateful when he outgrew the 9-month-old delinquent phase. The fact he adored us–BOTH of us–and still does, made it possible to put up with his few challenges.

1stDayHome8weeks

First day home–8 weeks old. You can see his tattoo in his right ear which by now has faded. He was microchipped, too.

My husband didn’t grow up with pets, and our first shepherd wasn’t close to my husband at all. So I think he was surprised to fall so hard for Magic. It was a treat to watch the relationship develop between them. Today they’re still best friends.

MagicMahmoudBestFriends

Puppy kisses!

Seren-Kitty was not amused. During our long dog absence, she’d come into our lives and been an “only” cat for seven years. I planned the introduction and set up gates and schedules and relocated litter boxes and food 6 months in advance, and then more step-by-step intros once Magic arrived. He weighed 11 pounds when he arrived–and Seren never tipped the scales at more than 7 pounds. So from the very beginning, Magic was taught that “Seren is the BOSS…don’t care if she started it, she is the BOSS!” I wrote a case study published in the IAABC Journal about the introduction process that also won writing awards. Even then, Magic inspired my work. And nine years later, he still knows to bow to Seren’s rule.

MagicMeetsSeren

It took 5 months before Seren would willingly come this close to Magic when he was awake. Philly cream cheese helped.

MagicEarsUp

It took a while for the floppy ears to go up. And then it took another while for Magic to grow into the donkey-size appendages.

My first shepherd’s health issues inspired me to write about pet care and health issues. Magic’s joy and delight in everything inspired me to return to fiction-ing.
MagicOfficeMagic has never met a ball or toy or Frisbee he didn’t love. He is all about the PLAY!
MagicFrisbeeDoes your dog find ways to make you laugh? Magic does, constantly!
MagicChickenMagic also has patiently helped me with photos and product reviews. Here he is in the Thundershirt which he’ll be the first to tell you, he does not need. He loves loud noises! (Maybe it’s the puppy-party and treats he gets with each thunder-boom that helps, hmnnnn).
MagicThundershirtMagic had to wait 7 years before he got to sniff cat butt up close and personal! I think Karma-Kat was the best gift he’s ever gotten and the pair of them are inseparable.
Magic-Karma
If you’ve read my fiction, you’ll recognize the character Shadow patterned after Magic as a youngster. I wrote the first book LOST AND FOUND using the name “Magic” and then changed it once the book was finished.  Here’s Magic and Seren celebrating the arrival of my debut thriller (the old cover featured one of Magic’s doggy relatives…)
Magic-Seren-BooksMy boy does love his “treats” and especially people food. He’s cleaning up the last of the yogurt.
MagicYogurt
Writing fiction is addictive. When it includes pets, it’s joyful. Magic again inspired some of the scenes in our play STRAYS, THE MUSICAL–and helped us promote it by serving as a model. GOOD dog!
MagicStrays

MagicKarmaI took this picture (below) about an hour ago. There’s more white in his muzzle now, and he’s a wee bit calmer. But Magic will still play Frisbee-Fetch forever, if you let him, still loves games of hose-tag, adores his BFF Karma-Kat, can’t wait to play and hang out with me and my husband–

He’s the perfect dog. And I am so grateful, and hope that he has many more healthy years ahead. Today, we’re spending lots of playtime together, and (shhhh! lotsa treats!). We’uns got lots more stuff to do together!
Magic-9-bdayI love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–click the banner, above. Be sure to visit my PetHealthyStore for paw-some products for your furry wonders! Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me onFacebook, and get a FREE BOOK when you sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways, kewl product offers, and appearances related to my THRILLERS WITH BITE!

ARE YOU AUDACIOUS? JOIN AMY’S STREET TEAM!

TripleA-Logo

JOIN AMY’S STREET TEAM OF
AUDACIOUS ALLIES!

In the words of Velma Kelly (from “Chicago”), “I can’t do it alone!”

Actually, authors have very little to do with attaining success. READERS create author success by reading/liking the books, posting positive reviews and then recommending books they love to everyone they know.

That’s only one reason I’ve created AMY’S AUDACIOUS ALLIES, aka TRIPLE-A TEAM. I’m also passionate about mentoring but have limited time so this is one way to pay-it-forward without bankrupting my energy, LOL!

The TRIPLE-A TEAM is a select group of 50-75 members given exclusive access to early chapters and advance readers copies (e-versions) of forthcoming books, first dibs on give aways and a private forum to discuss our love of books and pets–and yes, help share my books in reviews, social media, blogs . . . whatever you want!

FIND AMY’S BOOKS AT AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE, KOBO, AUDIBLE, iBOOKS

BOOKS-ALL-NEWI also want to share some of the great pet care and fiction books from colleagues, too (did you SEE that haul of books I got from Thrillerfest?). Heck, I get lots of great pet products that my fur-kids can’t always use (don’t tell Magical-Dawg!), and would be delighted to pass ’em on to members of the TRIPLE-A TEAM.

And for those that want ’em, I’ll create a TRIPLE-A TEAM BADGE you can share/post on your personal blogs, websites, Facebook pages, etc. I’ll set up a special members-only FaceBook group, too, where we can support each other–I want y’all to make this group into something valuable for you.

Apply with the form below (it’s filling up fast!), and I’ll let you know if there’s an opening, and send info about next steps as soon as I can. Please be patient–I may be traveling (and collecting more goodies for give-aways!).


Email Marketing You Can Trust

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–click the banner, above. Be sure to visit my PetHealthyStore for paw-some products for your furry wonders! Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me onFacebook, and get a FREE BOOK when you sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways, kewl product offers, and appearances related to my THRILLERS WITH BITE!

10 People Foods for Cats

Banquet for the animalsMy Seren-Kitty never met a meal she didn’t like—including my own. Once she even decided to taste the hot mustard dip from my plate. Have you ever seen a cat LEVITATE?! Kitty foaming at the mouth is no laughing matter <snort> except the little squirt came back for seconds!

In the past year, I’ve created a monster because at age 18, I figure Seren should get to eat ANYTHING she wants. So now she believes it’s cool to graze from my plate. And then Karma-Kat thinks HE should do the same. Yikes! (BAD Amy…)

The first week we had Karma, he conducted a snatch-and-grab, swiped a kabob from my husband’s plate and took off with it. (10 second rule…hubby chased him down and “rescued” the kabob.) These days, the fur-kids aren’t allowed in the kitchen until AFTER we’ve finished our meal. And yes…they still get the occasional healthy treat from the table.

The key, of course, is that word “healthy.”

CatShrimp_1300524_originalWe love to indulge our kitties but people food can carry risks. Fortunately our cats appear less likely than dogs to taste-test toxic treats like chocolate, macadamia nuts, avocados, or raisons/grapes. Artificial sweeteners keep owners lean but any goodies sweetened with Xylitol could cause kitty liver failure. Thank goodness cats don’t easily detect or care about sweet flavors. Instead, their kitty taste buds are attuned to “meaty” flavors. Makes sense, knowing they’re carnivores. But that doesn’t mean they don’t at times want to nosh non-meat treats.

Sphinx cat eating chickenSeren manages to keep her svelt 6-pound figure even when the aroma of baking and roasting turns her purrs to begging. Responsible pet parents can offer healthy choices from the table. In fact, many holistic veterinarians recommend these foods as a natural way to treat your feline friend.

Cat licked over the fish. In the kitchen.

Treats typically shouldn’t make up more than about 10 percent of the pet’s total diet. So if you plan to offer table food, reduce the cat’s regular ration. Tiny amounts offered very gradually work best to avoid upset tummies. Here’s my go-to list of people foods for cats.

  1. Lean Meats. Lean chicken is a feline favorite. A hunk of firm beef means your cat must chew rather than gulp, which can scrub teeth for dental health. Turkey contains tryptophan, a natural sleep aid that works to calm excited pets during holiday visits.
  2. Fish. Many cats adore fish. Salmon, shrimp and oysters may be a holiday favorite for both humans and pets. Seren has never liked shrimp–that’s more for me! But both Karma and Seren can’t get enough of fish, especially salmon. Be careful of tuna (offer only the water-packed variety) because the strong flavor can almost be addictive.
  3. Organ meats. Don’t toss out the giblets when you roast your holiday bird. Heart, liver and gizzards are power-packed with vitamins and minerals that cats relish.
  4. Green garnish. Cats are carnivores but often enjoy grazing on such things as fresh wheat grass and catnip. A few enjoy green beans—but hold the too-rich mushroom sauce. Serving olives? Your cat may not eat them, but many felines react to olives like catnip. Offer some parsley for greens munching felines—it will also freshen kitty breath. Seren loves wheat grass.
  5. Stew. Leftover turkey soup cooked with spinach, green beans, mushrooms and slivers of beets (for liver health) makes a great treat and top dressing for regular food. A bit of garlic for flavor is fine, too, as it contains vitamin B—just don’t overdo as too much of onion or garlic can cause anemia. At our house, we eat a lot of stew-type dishes as a side to Iranian rice, and all the fur-kids love a spoonful of the broth.
  6. Sweet potatoes. High fiber sweet potato soothes upset tummies, and can be a tasty treat for cats. Cats don’t have much of a sweet tooth, though, so hold the sugary marshmallow—that’s not healthy for them.
  7. Canned pumpkin. Cats seem to love pumpkin. The high fiber also works as a great natural remedy for hairballs, diarrhea or constipation. Use the canned (plain nonflavored) version, divide servings into ice cube trays and freeze—and thaw only the amount needed.
  8. Yogurt. You’d think milk would be on the treat list, but many cats develop diarrhea from more than a tiny taste. A better milk-based treat is plain unflavored yogurt. Yogurt also helps maintain the beneficial bacteria in the stomach that keeps digestion healthy. Karma could care less but Seren ADORES plain yogurt. Whisker-licking good!
  9. Fruit. Not all cats like fruit but those that do can benefit from the vitamins. Kitties often enjoy cantaloupe and strawberries or bananas. Most cats HATE the smell of citrus and you’ll risk hissing the cat off by offering such things.
  10. Ginger. Ginger is a natural remedy that counters nausea, in case Kitty has car sick problems from the trip to Grandma’s house. But most cats won’t be interested in gingerbread or ginger cookies. Try offering a tiny taste of no-sugar whipped cream mixed with ginger as a special treat that soothes the tummy troubles. Every time I fix whipped cream, both cats (and the Magical-Dawg) line up to lick any errant splatters.

Every cat has different tastes—and nutritional needs. Be sure to ask your veterinarian before “treating” your fur-kids. Some cats doing extraordinarily well with home prepared foods or even “raw” rations, but any change requires knowledge and a slow transition. Remember you wouldn’t allow your human kid to munch exclusively on rich desserts or gravy, so balance your table-love with healthy moderation.

What table foods do your cats love? Do they counter-surf and serve themselves from the human smorgasbord? How do you foil the refrigerator raiders? Do tell!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–click the banner, above. Be sure to visit my PetHealthyStore for paw-some products for your furry wonders! Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me onFacebook, and get a FREE BOOK when you sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways, kewl product offers, and appearances related to my THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Name That Dog & Name That Cat: WINNERS!

Show_Tell(1)I am absolutely blown away both by the wonderful name suggestions and the enthusiastic voting for the pet stars of SHOW AND TELL. Arrrooo!!! and meee-WOW! Some names were hotly contested, with y’all rallying the troupes to vote.

SHOW AND TELL:  An animal behaviorist and her service dog race a deadly storm to expose a treacherous secret others will kill to protect. The story once again takes place in the fictional town of Heartland, Texas. When September Day figures out missing pets aren’t lost, but instead stolen to be training bait for dog fights linked to a drug distribution ring, she has 24 hours to save the victims (furry and human). For those who have read the first two books, you’ll be pleased that SHOW AND TELL brings the story full circle. (Okay, that’s enough of a hint!).

The winning names not only will be included in the book, but your name and real pet’s description will be added to the “fact or fiction” acknowledgements in the book, and I’ll send you a paw-tographed copy of the book as soon as it comes out. I would also like the WINNERS named below to please email me (amy@shojai.com) 1-3 photos of your named pet for possible use in future blogs/publicity about the book.

Because of the incredible interest, and I wanted to acknowledge your effort, I’ve included the names of the runners-up in the contest, too. BRAVO! And…here’s a teaser. All the runners-up will get a prize, too–not sure what just yet, but because it’s still percolating, but will have something to do with the book promo so you can share bragging rights with your peeps. Stay tuned!

The Name That Dog/Cat: VOTE post garnered a total of 7456 pages views. The combined votes of the 6 polls totaled 16,930 votes.

. . . AND THE RESULTS ARE IN! . . .

MastiffFace_2591873_original

Dog and cat images courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

NAME THAT “DROOLER” MASTIFF, total of 987 votes

WINNER: HERCULES (419 votes) Nominated by Patricia H.

Runners-Up: Thor, nominated by Vicki in honor of her Bouvier

kitten jumping isolated on white background

NAME THAT SMALL CAT, total of 1494 votes

WINNER: WAFFLES (510 votes) Nominated by Debbie Glovatsky

Runners-Up: Lucy, nominated by Robbi Hess; and Truffle, nominated by Paula/Sweet Purrfections

LadderCatKitten_42359535_l-2015NAME THAT TARZAN CAT, total of 2192 votes

WINNER: BORIS KITTY (763 votes) nominated by his-own-self (with help from Kelly)

Runners-Up: Caster, nominated by Emily Hall/Kitty Cat Chronicles

Playful little kitty isolated over white

NAME THAT KITTEN, total of 2,954 votes

WINNER: FUZZIT, aka Anubis (1688 votes) nominated by Karyl Cunningham

Runners-Up: Einstein, nominated by Elaine Dalke

Yorkshire terrierNAME THAT DIGGIDY-DOG, total of 4,111 votes

WINNER: KINSLER (2,134 votes) nominated by Theresa Littlefield

Runners-Up: Freckles, nominated by Karyl Cunningham

Brown and white Pit Bull dog sitting and looking at the camera with a happy expressionA friendly and obedient black and white Pit Bull breed dog laying down

NAME THAT HAWG DAWG, total of 4,592 votes

WINNER: TEDDY nominated by Lynette George, and DOT nominated by Kristi Brashier (1,850 votes)

Runners-Up: Buster & Bo, nominated by Una Bell Townsend

Thank you so much for lending your pet’s name to the contest–and congratulations! I can’t wait to add in these great names and descriptions and personalities into the storyline.

Now go tell all your friends and thank ’em for their votes! Hope this news gave your JULY 4th an extra SPARKLER-Y reason to celebrate!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–click the banner, above. Be sure to visit my PetHealthyStore for paw-some products for your furry wonders! Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me onFacebook, and get a FREE BOOK when you sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways, kewl product offers, and appearances related to my THRILLERS WITH BITE!