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National Pet Week!

BallTugSafeToysWell, here at Shojai Central, it’s all about the pets 24/7/365. But in case you needed an excuse, this week has been named in honor of pets. My friends at PET360 have even got a special deal going:

Celebrate National Pet Week!! Get 10% off + FREE SHIPPING on orders over $59. Plus – we’re donating a meal for every order placed to animals in need!


babyratHow do you celebrate National Pet Week? I’m curious how many of y’all have what kinds of pets. Could you list ’em in the comments and let’s get a count. Of course, y’all know that
I’ve got Magical-Dawg, Seren-Kitty and Karma-Kitten.

lizardWhen I was a kid, I also had Shelties, hamsters, and my brother kept pet mice. We kids also brought in a variety of snakes and toads and frogs and lizards and turned them into pets, and from time to time we also had goldfish.

parakeetFor a short time, I also had a Spectacle Amazon parrot named Venus, aka “the lil’ green chicken.” She was a rescue and came to me when I worked as a vet tech. Venus had been fed nothing but sunflower seeds and was addicted to the caffeine, mostly bald, and the vets said she wouldn’t live.

She did. And after her feathers returned she was gloriously beautiful–but cared nothing about people. I think she’d been caught as an adult with bird lime (she was missing two toes). So when we moved from Tennessee to Texas, I left her with a parrot expert and breeder who had a wonderful aviary and doted on the smaller parrots. The story THE RISE OF VENUS was my first published pet article.
ratWe never kept rats (for some reason my mom tolerated hamsters and mice, but not rats). I understand they’re extremely intelligent.

turtleOh, and we lived on the river so there were always diamond back, leather back, and painted turtles (that’s a kid of turtle, not how we decorated them!). One year, my brother found where the baby turtles hatched, and brought home about 40 of the nickle-size hatchlings.
resizeToddlersPuppies

My parents put up with it all, bless their hearts. And as a result I had a childhood filled with wonderful pet memories. How about you?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. Do you have a new kitten and need answers? I’m a new Brand Ambassador for The Honest Kitchen and you can get FREE samples here, check it out! (Karma loves this!). Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Strays Cast Recording

I’ve posted this on the STRAYS page as well, but want to share my excitement in a post. The musical will be performed in October, and in preparation for that, we held a Staged Reading with actor/singers Aaron and Diana Adair, Johnny Flowers, Gil Nelson, myself and my co-author Frank Steele. That fine group also lent their voices to record the songs. This is performed with only six voices–imagine how it’ll sound with a full cast and chorus!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. Do you have a new kitten and need answers? I’m a new Brand Ambassador for The Honest Kitchen and you can get FREE samples here, check it out! (Karma loves this!). Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Pets New Years Resolutions

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“More treetz, pleeze!” Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

It’s 2014, wow. A new year is a time for reflection on the past, and resolutions for the future. This year has been incredibly rewarding on the pet-writing front. I’ve published three new nonfiction pet books in the ComPETability series, a debut dog-viewpoint thriller LOST AND FOUND, and I just sent my editor the copy edits for the sequel HIDE AND SEEK coming out later this month. None of this would have been possible without YOU, my wonderful readers and partners in furry-icity. 🙂 My furry crew tells me it’s a good time to take stock of the past year from a pets’-eye-view, too, and the year to come.

The Magical-dawg romped through the year and had only one “emergency” that thank goodness turned out to be a bug bite reaction that resolved on his own. He’s now seven, so I suppose it’s time he started slowing down. Seren-kitty has reached the grand age of 16 and noticeably slowed down. This year she had her first major illness, break out with schnorkles in August and has continued to snort and snuffle ever since. She sleeps more, her black mask has turned cream, her claws click when she walks (arthritis makes it hard to keep them hidden) but pestering the dog keeps her engaged in life. I pray that the years will touch me as lightly as they have my little Siamese wannabe.

Seren 008

“More naps, alla the time. Oh, and treetz, too.” Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

So here are New Year’s Resolutions from Magic and Seren, with commentary by Amy.

Magic:  “I will train my humans to toss toys with better aim.”

Amy: He insists on fetch both inside the house and out. So I resolve to keep breakables out of tossed-ball-range, and use only the soft stuffed toys to cut down on household damage.

Seren:  “I will train my humans to offer more treats, more often—away from the (spit) dawg.”

Amy: She’s accomplished this and has trained my husband to give her a taste of plain yogurt each morning. So I resolve to keep offering her treats as long as she asks—out of Magic nose-sniffing range. At her age, she deserves feeling like the queen.

Magic: “I will kill all squeakers and chew sticky-out wrong parts on toys.”

Amy: He amputates teddy-bear ears, and SQUEEEEEKS toys forever to drive us crazy. I resolve to find a Magic-proof squeaky stuffed toy—been looking for years now. And I found an “ultra-sonic” squeaky toy, and if it lasts, I’ll be delighted!

Seren: “I will stand on table tops, hassocks and Amy’s lap and cry and yowl to get the (spit) dawg in trouble.”

Amy: She used to enjoy late night gallops from my office down the stairs and back again, but that happens less frequently now. I resolve to keep Magic otherwise engaged so that Seren can enjoy her teasing perch antics for as long as she continues to want to harass the dog.

Magic: “I will grab all the water from the hose, and dig out water from the pool every day.”

Amy: To keep Magic from drinking tainted tank water we introduced hose tag to keep him cool, and found a wading pool for the hottest days. I resolve to find a bigger wading pool that holds more water to cool off my hot dog.

Seren: “I will drink from every water bowl in the house.”

Amy: Seren loves sipping from running water, and she has two “cat fountains” and a water bowl at every sink AND on the kitchen table—and drinks from my glass, given the chance. Her water consumption reduced once we got her diet adjusted for early kidney issues, but sipping water has become a greeting behavior and interactive activity for her. If we’re there, she visits and sips. I resolve to keep giving her the attention she wants, whether she sips or not.

Magic: “I will train Amy to play with the Frisbees—all 12 of them—ALL THE TIME!”

Amy: Magic obsessed over the Frisbees. He’s learned to catch and retrieve them, if Amy can throw them correctly. And yes, he’ll stack and carry as many as I throw. I resolve to keep a supply of fresh Frisbees handy for the times Magic loses them (or they’re stolen by coyotes).

Seren: “I will sleep more, hiss less. Except around the dog.”

Amy: Seren’s blue bed rests on the dining room table under a stained glass lamp shade.  It’s out of reach of her nemesis, and a favorite spot especially on chilly winter days. I resolve to invest in light bulbs to keep the kitty “heat lamp” on at all times.

Magic: “I will go for a ride forever!”

Amy: Magic continues his love affair with the Magic-Mobile. I resolve to give Magic a car ride at least every other day, pending good weather.

Seren: “I will torment the dawg (hiss) at every opportunity! And pretend I don’t like him.”

Amy: Seren’s favorite game is to get Magic in trouble. But her hiss quotient has reduced this past year, and she’s allowed more actual dog-sniffs than ever in the past. Part of that may be her arthritis makes it hard to leap away, so she puts up with it. But she also “flips” and rolls in front of Magic so…I think he’s grown on her! I resolve to “pretend” that I don’t notice Seren actually sorta-kinda-in-a-way likes the (hiss) dog.

Seren: “I will train Amy there’s more to nine lives than paw-tapping and staring at a boxy computer-thing. Like catnip. And whisker-kisses.”

Magic: “I will train Amy that naps together are a good thing. So are tummy rubs.”

Amy: I resolve to listen to my furry wonders. What about you?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Ask Amy: Choosing Safe Dog Toys

MagicBug

Magic surgically removes squeakers, so I have to diligently supervise playtime. Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

With the holiday season upon us, many dog lovers look forward to “gifting” their dogs with fun toys. But what’s safe, and what isn’t? How do you make sure your pets’ playtime doesn’t turn into tragedy?

Today’s Ask Amy addresses the issue of choking, and I want to also include a link to first aid tips for pet choking. You’ll find lots of other life saving tips in the book The First Aid Companion for Dogs & Cats (hope you’ll never need it!

Has your pet ever choked on something? What did you do? How do you check out toys for your dogs (and cats) before gifting? Do tell!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter.

Ask Amy: Why Does My Dog Hug & Lean?

puppyfaceThere was a bit of controversy last year over a big pet products brand that promoted “Hug Your Dog Day” and got a lot of flack over it (including from me!). But what if it’s the DOG that does the hugging? What does it mean when your pooch leans against you (some can knock you flat!). Today’s Ask Amy addresses the question.

Does your dog lean on you? How about hugging? Adolescent pooches may want to hug your leg (ahem!) but that’s a subject for another Ask Amy. More dog behavior answers are found in my ComPETability: Dogs book, too, but how do you handle the situation?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter.

A Day In The Life…Of A Pet Writer

Magic-Bowl

“What’s wrong with this picture….IT’S EMPTY!!!” Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

This morning as I stared into the face of my grinning German shepherd and dodged his bruising tail flagellations, I envied him. And I envied my Siamese wannabe who still hadn’t roused herself from her daily 16-plus-hour sleep marathon. I mean, I really had a moment of green-eyed angst that Magic lives a dog’s life and Seren lives in a dream-world (literally!) while my husband and I bust our buttons keeping them in kibble. But is this a fair assessment? Just for fun, here’s a comparison.

Dog’s Morning: Runs through the field baptizing everything in sight. “Helps” collect the newspaper at the front gate. Eats breakfast. Takes a nap.

Cat’s Morning: “Helps” make Amy’s bed. Relocates to printer. Sleeps.

Seren is determined to satisfy her resolutions.

Seren is determined to break her all-time sleep record. Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

Human’s Morning: Slaps bug bites from tromping through field after the dog. Collects newspaper while keeping dog from lunging at morning traffic. Fills dog bowl, reads paper. Eats breakfast. Fends off doggy begging for leftovers. Fills cat bowl—wonders where cat is. Showers, checks email, writes. Twitters. Writes some more. Checks email again. Facebook posts. Writes. Answers phone, hangs up on telemarketer. Stares at computer screen.

Dog’s Noon: Barks. It’s Frisbee time! Goes outside, plays fetch. Plays fetch some more. Baptizes stuff. Runs into tank. Comes inside. Shakes off stinky water. Plays tug with towel. Naps.

Cat’s Noon: Moves from printer to front cat tree perch. Checks food options. Sleeps.

Amy’s Noon: Applies bug bite ointment to shins. Wipes down walls, floor, appliances from dog shake-off of dirty water. Fixes lunch. Fends off begging dog. Fends off begging cat. Writes.

Dog’s Afternoon: Barks. Time to play—Frisbee? Ball? Chase the hose? Car ride? Yes yes yes YES!

Amy’s Afternoon: Checks email. Takes dog for car ride to check snail mail. Argues with dog about driving. Goes to gas station. Argues with dog about staying in car. Goes into post office. Comes out of post office. Makes dog move from driver seat. Drives home. Wipes dog drool off car windows. Fills the dog bowl. Writes. Writes some more. Grateful for dog naps.

Cat’s Afternoon: Checks food bowl, nothing’s changed. Crunches several bites. Empties bowl. Checks dog toys. Checks empty dog bowl. Checks dog bed. Revels in dog absence. Hears dog coming home. Races to second cat tree to glare. Sleeps.

Dog’s Evening: Hasn’t played in HOURS, going through serious play-withdrawal!

Amy’s Evening: Shuts down computer. Runs dog outside. Tries to wear dog out. Fails. Brings dog inside. Dumps dog toys, one by one, off of lap where dog deposits them. Tries to eat dinner.

Cat’s Evening: Wakes up. Checks empty food bowl. Meows. Meows some more. Looks for dog, and meows again to get dog’s attention. Hisses when dog approaches. Cat smile when dog gets in trouble. Leaps to Amy’s chair to check her dinner. Human food sucks. But dog wants it. Dares dog to approach. Hisses.

Dog’s Night: Brings balls (thirteen different kinds), four stuffed toys, three Frisbees and five chew bones into living room. Thrusts them one by one into human’s laps. Again. And again. Waits with expectation. Can’t believe nobody understands the play invite. Humans aren’t very bright. Sighs. Grabs consolation bear and sucks like a pacifier.

Cat’s Night: Glares at dog. Races around up and down stairs. Thumps toys. Scratches—loudly—on upstairs cat tree. Riles up dog. Success! Only cats know the right way to play! Dog gets in trouble. Cat’s job is done. She sleeps.

Amy’s Night: Dreams about Frisbees, writing, and lap-purring cats.

Would I really trade places with my fur-kids? Hmnn. Maybe the better question is would they trade with me? After all, I’ve got thumbs to open doors and food bags, scritch hard to reach itchy spots, drive cars and flip Frisbees.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter.

Thanksgiving–The Pet Writer Way

Magic8Weeks

Magical-Dawg age 8 weeks…the first day he came home! Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

It’s the day after Thanksgiving and I plan to take the day off, for a change, and enjoy spending time with my family. This blog post revisits a similar one from a couple year’s ago but is no less true now. Hope it’s appropriate to share my THANKS list with those of you who also love pets. And I hope you’ll add to the list of thanks by posting about your blessings in the comments.

I’m thankful to be home with my family—furry and human—rather than traveling. For many years I spent the weekend before Thanksgiving at conferences and so I’m grateful that can’t-miss event has been moved to an earlier date. I’m thankful that I’m not on the bumpy road and bumpier plane. I’m thankful my human family, though miles away, remain close-knit and loving. And I’m thankful all remain healthy.

I’m thankful for veterinarians who make life better for the pets we adore. I’m thankful for researchers who work to find diagnoses, treatments, and cures for our ailments, both for pets and for people. I’m thankful for the animal welfare volunteers who do the work of the angels when others somehow let pets down.

SerenOnStair

Seren still loves her sun baths. Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

I’m thankful that I have the best job in the world, sharing information about the cats and dogs that have become so important to our emotional and physical health. I’m thankful for publishers, editors, magazines, newspapers, TV and radio shows, websites, bloggers and email lists that share these important resources to benefit cats and dogs and the people who love them. And I’m thankful to writing organizations, teachers, agents and all those who promote the craft of good communication and help others pursue this rewarding craft.

SerenBaby

Nekkid tummy after spay–when Seren came home with us for good! Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

I’m thankful that I found a dumped kitten sixteen years ago and brought her into my home and heart. I’m thankful that Seren-kitty still acts like a kitten and stays so healthy–despite her arthritis and recent bout with schneezles. I’m sure my veterinarian also is thankful Seren remains spry, since she is not a happy patient and the clinic staff likes to keep their fingers intact. I’m thankful she’s given up playing “gravity experiments” with my fine breakables, and has decided it’s okay to nap on my lap nearly every evening. I’m also thankful that she’s decided the dog is a boob and great fun to torment.

Greta-Magic-Baby

Momma dog “Greta” with Magic and his siblings (can you guess which one is Magic?). Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

I’m thankful for responsible breeders who ensure purebred dogs and pedigreed cats have a healthy paw-start in life. I’m thankful that Magic-dawg at age seven has become a bit…just a bit…less driven. I’m thankful for water hoses, and tennis balls, stuffed teddy bears and Frisbees that wear Magic out without exhausting me at the same time. I’m thankful my roughneck dawg hasn’t had any injury this year, and that his limping swollen paw turned out to be bug-sting reaction easily diagnosed and treated. I’m thankful Magic is smart, funny, a comedian, and a wonder to train—and doesn’t argue but has accepted that the cat is the boss of him.

I’m thankful that although he never grew up with pets, my husband loves Seren and Magic as much as I do. I’m even more thankful they adore him back (that could get awkward!). I’m thankful for my church family—pet lovers or not—who also support my furry notions. I’m particularly thankful to the Cuchara Gang (you know who you are) and partner in musical-play-writing crime who lift me up with friendship and love.

Finally, I’m thankful to you—yes, those who read this blog or any of the other venues mentioned. Without you, I would not have a career, and my life’s passion would remain unfulfilled. Without you, your pets wouldn’t have the wonderful love and care you provide. Without you, there wouldn’t be any reason for this heartfelt—THANK YOU.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving. And please share all your special thanks in the comments–let’s get a THANK-fest going!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter.

Ask Amy: Why Does My Dog Suck…Pillows?

Ask Amy: Why Does My Dog Suck…Pillows?

No, this isn’t some anti-canine post about why dogs suck. Rather, this post and video helps explain why some dogs practice nursing behavior on objects, and suck pillows or toys. Maybe your dogs suck, too!

why dogs suck

“My name is Magic–and I’m a suck-aholic.” Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

Why Dogs Suck

Has your dog ever had an obsession with a particular toy or object? It’s not at all unusual for kittens to nurse on their own toes, or the tail of a sibling. Just like with human infants, the behavior seems to be self-calming. Some dogs may outgrow the behavior as they mature and develop.

Dogs also can find stress relief by nursing on objects. Blankets, pillows and stuff toys are common targets. Licking or sucking can become an obsessive/compulsive behavior. For instance, Dobermans seem to indulge in “flank sucking” behavior and other dogs may lick-lick-lick a paw or toe until it becomes raw.

But in the case of puppies and even adults that indulge intermittently, it may not be a problem. (Magical-dawg told me to say that!). Now it’s your turn–what kinds of items does your pet target with licks? Do tell!

Of course, with THANKSGIVING tomorrow, there are lots more tasty things for dogs to munch. Just be sure they’re safe–a small amount of “treats” is fine but some can prove dangerous. Check out this article on people food for puppies to see what’s acceptable and what’s not–or even poisonous!

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Ask Amy: What To Do With Sniff-A-Holic Dogs

nose

I’m traveling today and may not be able to reply as quickly. But I wanted to share this fun new ASK AMY and find out how y’all handle your “nosy” dogs.

Dogs are lead around by the nose throughout life, and it starts early–as in this Ask Amy “rude” puppy behavior! What about your furry wonder? Has your dog’s nosy behavior ever gotten him or her in trouble? Created embarrassing moments? (Once our Magical-Dawg puppy stole underwear from the laundry basket and brought it out to show guests…sigh). Your turn, do tell!

In my forthcoming thriller HIDE AND SEEK, the dog hero character has been trained to track lost pets. So Shadow’s nose actually saves the day–with the help of Macy the Maine Coon cat. In these cases, savvy dogs may detect very important info that humans miss, and it’s up to the person to trust the dog’s nose. Shadow even laments the fact that scent-blind humans should pay closer attention to good-dogs able to smell important stuff. What do you think?

Here’s an article about a dog’s nose structure and sense of smell that explains a lot of what’s going on. What have I missed?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter.

Magic Markers & Seren Spots: Treasure Senior Pets

MagicChicken

He’s got some gray fur on his muzzle now…

November is National Adopt A Senior Pet Month. It’s a great time to choose a wonderful “mature” pet as your new best friend–and all the must-knows for caring for them are available in my Aging Cat and my Aging Dog books.

Now that both of my “fur-kids” are mature pets, it’s put me in a philosophical mood.

Yes, I can’t believe it—Magical-Dawg is seven! It seems only yesterday that he came into our lives and wagged his way into our hearts (and onto the pillow). Magic weighed only eleven pounds when he arrived at eight weeks. Before long he’d left marks not only on our lives, but also the walls, the baseboard, the windowsills…

Seren "owns" this old chair.

Seren “owns” this old chair.

Seren-kitty is sixteen. She was a dumped kitten found asleep in an empty flower pot on the back of a friend’s porch. I got the call to help out because my friend had a toddler who WANTED THE KITTY! but Mom was allergic. So it was Amy-to-the-rescue, and I fully intended to advertise for a lost kitten or take to the shelter. Seren had other ideas, and climbed up my pant leg and wrapped her paws around my neck. Not a single piece of paper for my columns, articles, books or blogs has ever escaped Seren’s claws before being sent on to its publishing home. She’s been my office partner and editor ever since.

Seren was nine when Magic arrived, and he already outweighed her. She quickly took control of his schooling and I do believe part of Seren’s youthful c’attitude is directly due to the fun she gets from getting Magic in trouble.

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Seren’s gotten a weee bit gray, too! Haven’t we all.

This morning my husband mentioned something that took me aback. “With our next cat, let’s…”
See, we’ve already decided we’ll have a next cat, and a next dog, but not yet. Not now, not while Magic and Seren still rule. But the time will come. I’m a bit superstitious, though, and don’t want to tempt fate by talking about that eventuality.

Meanwhile, our house is the same age as Seren-kitty and in need of some spiffing up. Every time I finish a deadline (during which I’m blind to most of what goes on in the outside world!), I come up for air and am appalled at how I’ve let the yard, the house, my office, “real life” fall into shambles. The past two days I spent shoveling out my office and now I can see the top of my desk again!

In particular, yard work is overdue. And inside, maybe fresh paint, new carpet, spackle away teeth marks, reupholster or refinish some furniture. Or, maybe not.

MAGIC MARKERS & SEREN SPOTS

The base of the glass top table in the living room has teeth marks from our first dog. Oh, how angry we felt when he turned it into his personal chew toy! But now, the sight prompts smiles and happy memories. I wouldn’t be a writer today if it weren’t for his inspiration.

You see, those Magic teeth marks on the windowsill, the here-and-there pulled thread on a Seren clawed chair, a small carpet stain, scrapes on the hard wood floor, for me are no different than the wall marks my parents used to chart their kid’s growth. Those are memories, a tangible reminder of a fleeting furry presence that shares laughs and loves for an all too short span of time.

I don’t have a perfect house. The off-white carpet matches Seren’s fur, but Magic’s drifts of black shedding turn it into a Dalmatian pattern. And furniture and baseboards have their share of puppy teeth or kitten claw marks. And that’s okay, I can live with that. I’d even put up with more claw and teeth marks if Seren and Magic would promise to stay with me for at least another dozen years each. Please.

Meanwhile, maybe I’ll enlist the dog to help dig up defunct rose bushes. I think he’d enjoy that, he’s already a champion at watering the grass (ahem). And Seren-kitty loves to supervise anything that will get the dog (spit!) in trouble.

What about your house? Are there any “pet marks” you treasure? Please share in the comments–don’t let me feel like the only awful housekeeper out there!

newagingcatfrontcoverloresnew-old-dog-lores

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Don’t forget to vote for your NAME THAT DOG and NAME THAT CAT character choice in the forthcoming HIDE AND SEEK!

All About How A Dog Uses Cat Litter Box

All About How A Dog Uses Cat Litter Box

When cat and dog people get together, you never know what to expect. We had an interesting discussion about when a dog uses cat litter box, among other things. Can you train a dog to use the litterbox? Yes!
CWA 2013 005I originally wrote this post while at the Cat Writers Conference in Dallas. At these events, we have a ball attending expert writing seminars and schmoozing with lots of cat (and dog) lovers. At the opening event there were lots of BOO-tiful costumes displayed during the bag-stuffing party. Yes, had to don my wings!

Dog Uses Cat Litter Box

Such a gathering of pet professionals often results in some terrific discussions. We often talk about the most common cat behavior issue–cat litter box problems. I wonder how many dog trainers  hear questions about training dogs to use cat litter boxes? Or how often dogs teach themselves to use the cat litter box! It sure did puzzle the pet owner!

How about you? Have your dogs ever shown unusual interest in the cat’s litter box? No, I don’t mean THAT WAY as in yucky treats from the litter box, but wanting to potty there? Here’s the Ask Amy video for my take. Oh, and be aware that cats might object to the dog claiming their potty! Learn more about cat litter box training here.

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearancesrelated to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Pets, Theater & Music, Oh My!

Last night I attended the SCP Volunteer Appreciating Dinner and Preview Performance of the annual fundraiser show. This year, it starred four local vocalists, the extremely talented Paul Jordan, Nick Timmerman, Aaron Adair and Blake Rice in FOREVER PLAID, directed by Nikki Silva. The show runs this weekend and next, August 2-11, at the Honey McGee Playhouse in Sherman, TX.

Run, do not walk, to get your tickets!

If you love music, if you love comedy, if you love theater–this is the show for you and the whole family. The four characters, wannabe 1950s songsters, missed their chance at stardom when nearly 50 years ago they were T-boned by a school bus and died–and have now come back from the grave for a one night performance. The close harmony is spot-on, the patter funny, the reactions subtle–and deadpan hilarious–and choreography so campy the audience doesn’t know whether to groan or give a standing-O. The elevated set, a bandstand that seems to hover amidst the clouds, makes the most of the available space while the onstage keyboard and bass player give all the support needed. Deceptively simple lighting and sound enhance the experience, and the costumes–white dinner jackets and later their namesake plaid tuxedos–stay with the theme of a low-rent concert. The crooning to Perry Como’s golden sweater will make you swoon. The featured solos (each actor gets several opportunities) literally rock the house!

Full disclosure–I know the guys in the show and would expect no less, and I also know the talented director. Having never seen the show, I’d suspected it would be a fun night with a thoroughly forgettable script. But this is one you’ll be buzzing about for weeks to come–and kicking yourself if you don’t go. Call for tickets now, the seats won’t last long, I guarantee. Here’s the number…903-892-7652…and learn more about the theater here.

Seren-ViolinI was invited to the Volunteer Dinner because last season I played cello as a volunteer orchestra member in the production of SEUSSICAL, and also volunteered as an usher. Many of y’all know that I perform now and then as well.

I love music and so do pets. Couldn’t get away from music during my growing-up years, since my Dad was a music teacher. Piano lessons started in second grade and our Sheltie used to rest underneath the piano when I practiced. Cello lessons in fifth grade, and I found my “major” instrument (voice) in high school. Yep, I was a music major in college–sang opera, among other things.

And then I ended up with a career writing about cats and dogs. Funny how that happens. Today I also write music (never saw THAT coming!) and just invested in some new Bose computer speakers after my CD player died. After not being able to listen to some of my favs in many months, it’s a joy to finally be surrounded by music once again. Oh, and in my thriller series, the main character plays cello. I’ve not yet decided how her cat Macy and dog Shadow should react–maybe some of your comments from your own pets will give me some inspiration, so do tell!

I do find some music distracting, though, and must be very selective about type of music when I write. As much as I loved FOREVER PLAID I couldn’t listen to them while working. I’d end up singing along and never get any writing done, or imagine the way certain pieces are arranged. Do you listen to music while you work? What kind is best for your favorite activity? Does it help or hinder your inspiration?

Our animal companions also have a relationship to music. That can be good–or bad, depending on if your pets have the same taste as you.

GSD-Music Magical-Dawg howls along if I happen to sing above a certain range. Everyone’s a critic–I guess it’s good that I chose writing as my work. Dogs (and coyotes) answer sirens with howls, and probably think human singers are simply inept at howling. Ahem.

Seren-kitty turns on her lion cough…ACK-ACK-ACK-ACK…when I play certain notes on my cello. I can’t wait to hear what she thinks of the violin if/when my husband finally gets around to taking lessons.

On a more practical note (pun intended), music can be a therapeutic tool in your pet’s home health care kit. Pleasant music can mask scary noises like thunder or New Year’s fireworks, or upsetting sounds like barking neighbor or raccoon scrabbling in the back yard. But more than that, the cadence of certain sounds influences the body’s natural rhythms and can speed them up and energize the listener, or slow them down to calm him.

So, does your dog or cat appreciate music? what kind gets his woofer working and purrs bubbling? Here’s an article with more details about how you can make music work for your dogs (hint: it helps cats, too!).


 

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Pet Passions & Channeling My “Inner Dog” (and Cat)

UschiFunnyI’m feeling a bit philosophical these days, as I continue to swim the fiction waters of the HIDE AND SEEK thriller sequel, once again with dog viewpoint and cat-astic plot points. Between the puppies.about.com nonfiction postings, this blog and the weekly newspaper columns, my work–and life–revolves around pets. For more than twenty years, I’ve puzzled over their actions, behaviors, motivations and care, nearly 24/7. Pets rule. That’s who I am.

Some folks write to change the world. They do so with passion, dedication, and great skill, and I admire them greatly. I also write to make a difference. Sometimes manage to save lives.  I rarely know what impact the work has, though, because those who most benefit from my writing never read it. I blogged about how cats read a couple of weeks ago, but some critters skip the reading and instead probably baptize it. Please don’t leave my newspaper columns on the floor. It’s disheartening.

After decades puzzling about P’ETiQuette and studying furry foibles, I’m channeling my “inner dog” with the current thriller to extrapolate what pets think–and specifically, what Shadow (the hero service dog) wants out of life in general and this adventure in particular. Macy the Maine Coon in the story has a much bigger role this time around, and I’m having a ball as his feline character develops.

There are some clueless humans, too, that September and her fur-kids must deal with. I get to speculate what exactly pets see in humans that allows them to put up with clueless folks who seem scent-blind and hearing-stupid toward all the clear-as-crystal animal talk being sent our way.

So I accept that I’m different. Pets are my obsession, my fixation, my passion in life. My true readership will never ask for a pawtograph, or care if I have initials after my name. But they will do back-flips for the right treat, and wag and purr with delight should a human finally understand that tail-talk.

But until my audience comes out from under the bed, or tires from dog-earing one of my books and actually SPEAKS in language most owners understand–and puts me gloriously, wonderfully out of business–I’ll keep typing, blogging, and fiction-ing away.

So now it’s your turn. Listen to your inner “pet” and please share–what do you think your dog or cat (or both) want their clueless humans to understand? Maybe it’ll go in the HIDE AND SEEK book, too!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Catnip Clues & STARE-‘o-DEATH!

Okay, my blog “burped” last Saturday…and posted this blog early. So if you already read it, sorry about that.

I’m repeating this blog covering catnip and why dogs stare from 2011 because…well, I’ve got a whole bunch new followers, AND the schedule for fiction-ing leaves me little time these days. Besides, it’s my blog and I make up the rules as I go along. So there! Also, I figured the blog needed a serious influsion of sparkle-icity to keep with the “bling” theme. I’ve not posted any “new” Ask Amy videos in a while but that’s on my to-do list so please offer suggestions for topics in the comments.

Please share–do your cats carry the “catnip gene?” How often do they get a kitty fix? Did you get ’em on film? *snicker*

And for the dog-matic followers, have you ever experienced the canine stare-‘o-death? Of course my Magical-dawg also stares at me when he wants me to read his mind….  “Time for a car ride, yes yes yes???!”

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Rainbow Pets and Strays The Musical

Today I’m at BLOGPAWS and having a paw-some time meeting friends and making new ones. Next week I’ll post pictures and a recap of the experience. But today, I wanted to share a new recording of a song close to my heart, that is featured in STRAYS, THE MUSICAL (currently in revisions) with my co-author Frank Steele. The actors portray…you guessed it!…cats and dogs. Everything is from the pet’s point of view.

As songs are finalized I’ll post samples here on the blog. We will premiere some songs from the show at the Cat Writers Association 20th Anniversary Conference, in Dallas, and hope the completed script will be a positive edu-tainment/fund-raising vehicle for a wide range of pet-centric groups.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Dog Car Training Tips: Dogs Travel in Style with a Licensed to Drive!

GSD Pup Temp Test
My first dog HATED car rides and would shiver, shake and cry the entire time inside the vehicle. That’s probably because he got car sick during his first-ever ride, and then later he began to associate the ride with vet visits and being left behind at a boarding kennel. No wonder he turned into a basket case! That was more than 20 years ago and I’ve learned a LOT since then.

We did things different with Magical-Dawg. And as a result, he loved car rides. He would drive the car if I let him.

Even if your dog is a reluctant rider, you can transform his hangdog attitude into a fun-loving car ride fanatic. Basically, you use desensitization to help the dog associate cars with fun, happy experiences instead of scary memories of vet visits. Once your furry friend realizes a car ride means wonderful things he’ll look forward to trips–and he might even want to buy his own car!

He got his Dog Tested. Dog Approved.TM license. Just sayin…*s* I’m afraid that gave Magical-Dawg ideas…I already had to hide the car keys.

Bravo-Dawg, though, is another reluctant car rider. Scroll down for tips we used to change his canine mind.

MagicDriversLicense

Note: This “fake” dog license is no longer available.

Make mealtime car time. For very frightened dogs just set the bowl next to the car. If he’ll hop into the back seat, feed him there and make the car his go-to-dinner spot for a week. In between times, throw treats in the open car door for the dog to find, and play fun games near the car. He should learn that only these good things in life happen when you’re near the car.

Take the Wheel. For the next step, when your dog is having fun pigging out int he back seat or gnawing that puzzle toy, get in the front seat behind the steering wheel. Just sit there for a while, no big deal, then get out, so the pet understands nothing scary happens when you’re in the car with him. Do this for one day.

Start Your Engines. The next day, when you’re behind the wheel and your puppy’s munching treats in the back seat, start the car. Then turn off the motor and get out without going anywhere. Do this three or four times during the day until the pet takes it as a matter of course.

Drive the Driveway. Finally, after you start the car, back the car to the end of the driveway and stop—do this two or three times in a row, always letting the pooch out after you return. If he whines or paces or shows stress, you may be moving too fast for him. The process takes forever! but it works.

Reward Bravery. Don’t commiserate with whiny dogs–if you say “poor baby” and whine back, he’ll think he’s right to be concerned! Cheer him along, with jolly phrases, “Isn’t this FUN?! Car ride to the park to play ball!” and use words he likes (play, ball, treat) to change his car attitude.

Increase Duration. Increasing car-time by increments—a trip around the block and home, a trip to the park and home, a trip to a drive-through restaurant, and home. Go somewhere you know your dog will enjoy—get him French fries at the nearest fast food restaurant, or a doggy treat from the tellers at the bank. Make every car trip upbeat and positive so the experience makes the dog look forward to the next trip.

Ride Safe. Be sure your pet stays in the back seat rather than riding on your lap. These fun Subaru videos are just that–lots of tongue-in-furry-cheek fun but safety always comes first. Just as kids can be injured by airbags, your pets can be crushed even inside a carrier. Even though dogs WANT to drive, they can become furry projectiles in accidents, or get in the way of safe drivers when in your lap or under the pedals.

Do your dogs love cars? How have you persuaded reluctant passengers to go the extra mile? Please share–and let me know how you like your doggy license! Betcha we could get a whole FLEET of dog-driven car maniacs, LOL!

This post is sponsored by Subaru. The opinions expressed in this post are my own. I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Guest Post at Sheila Bonham’s Blog

drop dead indd_final (519x800)Yesterday I was bad. *hanging head* I almost forgot to send my guest post to the amazing talented dog mystery author Sheila Bonham’s WRITING ON WEDNESDAY blog.  It’s been crazy, and I’ve had soooo many guest posts and special blogs scheduled that if she hadn’t sent me a gentle reminder, I’d have missed out altogether. So even though it’s a day late, I like to return the favor by a shout-out of warm wags and suchlike and send you to visit her terrific site.

Sheila writes the new Animals In Focus mystery series, with the first book Drop Dead On Recall just recently released. I’ve known Sheila and admired her dog writing work for many years–we both started out with nonfiction and are members of the Dog Writers Association of America–and now International Thriller Writer debut authors. Anyway, my guest post is all about 7 TIPS FOR ACCIDENTAL WRITER SUCCESS.

Oh, and to top off this thrilling Thursday theme and in time for the holidays, sign up for a book give away (below). Happy to paw-tograph to the winners. And looky, there’s only a few signed up so far so your chances are pretty good.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Lost And Found by Amy Shojai

Lost And Found

by Amy Shojai

Giveaway ends December 25, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Lost and Found: THE NEXT BIG THING BLOG HOP

Welcome to the NEXT  BIG THING blog hop.

What is a blog hop? Basically, it’s a way that readers can discover new authors, because with bookstores closing and publishers not promoting new authors as much, we need to find a way to introduce readers to authors they may not see in their local bookstore. So I get to give a shout-out to the wonderful author who invited me to this “dance” and then invite (and highlight) five more terrific authors at the end of the blog.

Debut thriller author Donna Galanti invited me to join the “hop” and I’d met her first by email and later in person at Thrillerfest last summer. Her paranormal suspense novel, A Human Element, is a spooky, thrilling read–don’t take my word for it. NY Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry calls her story, “an elegant and haunting first novel. Unrelenting, devious but full of heart.” See the links at the end for to five other authors you really MUST check out. Check out Donna Galanti’s website here, and you can buy A HUMAN ELEMENT at amazon or B&N or even iTunes.

Magic homecoming 3

What’s going on inside that furry head? …my answer is in LOST AND FOUND.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My dog Magic inspired me to write this book. For years I’ve looked for a book that I wanted to read, one that included thrills and made the hear trace, a story that incorporated medical issues, and above all, one that respected animal characters as ANIMALS and wrote them from that perspective–not as little humans wearing fur. Finally I wrote the book that I wanted to read.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The story is science based. Yes, there really are drugs given to children without having been tested on the children. And yes, dogs CAN learn vocabulary just as quickly as Shadow does in the “name game” scene. And finally yes, cats can be trained–and Macy’s “hero cat” scene where she “nails” the bad guys at the end is also based on something that really happened.

Below you will find authors (in no particular order) who will be joining me by blog, next Wednesday. Do be sure to bookmark and add them to your calendars for updates on WIPs and New Releases! Happy Writing and Reading!

  1. Clea Simon writes awesome cat-centric mysteries and I know her through membership in the Cat Writers Association. Check out her great blog at Cats, Crime & Rock & Roll
  2. Arden Moore, America’s Pet Edu-Tainer, writes terrific cat and dog care books, one of which was ranked #3 of ALL BOOKS on amazon!  In a former life Arden was my editor, and we share a birthday (one month apart). She has some new books in the pipeline and blogs at Four Legged Life
  3. Carol Shenold has been in my writers group for more than 20 years and is one of my dearest friends and a talented tech writer and novelist. She writes paranormal mysteries. Learn about her work and check out her Monster Under The Bed blog.
  4. Check out Michael W. Sherer blog here. He writes terrific mysteries AND thrillers. I met him through Thriller Writers, and he invited me to participate in an AWESOME Kindle Fire give-away (plus some autographed books from famous thriller authors).
  5. Victor DiGenti (writing as Parker Francis) publishes mysteries and has also written award-winning YA cat fantasy. Like Clea, we also met through Cat Writers Association.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

LOST & FOUND Tour & Pet Theme Prizes

Follow the Book Tour & Enter the Give Away

Prize: Dog-centric or Kitty-styled basket

Find Your Lost Cat-Luv Basket:
Includes “paw-tographed” to the recipient, books Lost and Found (authors debut thriller) as well as the nonfiction books Complete Care for Your Aging Cat and a “surprise” cat book from another colleague. It would also include an assortment of cat toys/treats/products. (Believe me, I have a BOATLOAD of toys/books ready to ship! Check out a picture and list here!)

Find Your Lost Dog-Luv Basket:
Includes “paw-tographed” to the recipient, books Lost and Found (authors debut thriller) as well as the nonfiction books Pet Care in the New Century: Cutting-Edge Medicine For Dogs & Cats and a “surprise” dog book from another colleague, assortment of dog toys/treats/products. (You cannot imagine the AMOUNT of toys/books I need to send! Here’s a picture and list of contents!)

Open to: 18+, US

Giveaway period: Starts at 12:01 am on November 5, 2012 and continues until 11:59 pm on November 25, 2012. All times are Eastern.

How to enter: Rafflecopter – Log in with your name and email or Facebook.

  • Click “Do It!” button to read the instructions for each entry option.

*If the rafflecopter form doesn’t appear, please wait a minute for it to load.

CLICK THIS LINK TO REACH THE ENTRY RAFFLECOPTER!

Magic with pile of Lost & Found books

Magical-Dawg is a discerning reader.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Oh Behave!

puppy licking dishes in dishwasher

Dogs aim to help us out–whether we want them to or not! Image Copr. Claire Hodkinson

In reality, pet-loving owners can have unrealistic expectations. Few of us speak “dog” or understand “felinese” at least without practice, and people easily misunderstand normal pet behaviors—and may actually encourage bad antics without even knowing any better. So what do you do?

HELP IS AVAILABLE

Too often, these socially inept cats and dogs (and owners!) means the pet ends up in shelters! Yet there is help available that can literally can save your pet relationship or even the dog and cat’s life. To promote that idea, the Keep the L.O.V.E. Alive Behavior Express Tour sponsored by Ceva Animal Health and the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists may be coming to a city near you!

Dr. Marty Becker, America’s Veterinarian, is a spokesperson at the September 8, 2012 Dallas event (THAT’S SATURDAY, GANG!) where you’ll find free behavior tips, shelter pet adoptions, behavior demonstrations, giveaways and more. My friend and colleague Dr. Amanda Florsheim, a veterinary behaviorist, will also be on hand to field your dog and cat questions. For a preview, check out this hot-off-the-virtual-press radio interview with Dr. Marty at Pet Peeves Radio.

FINDING PET BEHAVIOR HELP

You really can’t separate pet behavior from their health and well being. For instance, the kitty that gets “creative” outside the box may, indeed, be a behavior problem to you but due to a health condition–or a combination of both. Getting the dog checked by the veterinarian can help pinpoint an anal gland abscess, for instance, that makes him snarl when approached from the rear.

The vet can also direct you to the best person for helping you with a potential behavior issue. Some puppy problems can be fixed with training from a reputable dog trainer. Kitty angst prompting frenzied furniture scratching may be soothed with some help from a cat behavior consultant’s tips about enriching the environment. And veterinarians are the ONLY folks able to prescribe medication (for physical or emotional issues) that may be the tipping point for solving big-time problems. Learn about some of the professional behavior organizations here.  You can learn more about questions to ask to find a dog trainer in this article. Of course, your local veterinarian should know who might be available in your neck of the woods. Many of my referrals come from veterinarians.

ComPetability: Dog Behavior ProblemsComPETability: Cat Behavior ProblemsComPETability: Dog/Cat Behavior Problems

MAKING IT PURR-SONAL

Have you ever needed the help of a pet professional like a dog training specialist or a cat behavior consultant? Where do you go for behavior advice? Yes, you can find some solid, helpful tips on the Internet or even in my books–that first one on dog behavior problems is brand new!–but honestly, it’s a toss up how good “free” info might be, and it could do more harm than good. Your pets rely on you to get the best help possible. And the longer a behavior gets “practiced” the more time it will take to un-learn. Just sayin…

What are your top kitty or doggy behavior complaints? How do you manage them? Please share! And if you’re in the area, say “howdy” to Dr. Marty Becker and the other behavior experts at the event. They truly do want to help your pets behave!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay tuned for more news about my forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND!

Dog Shows & Putting On “The Dog”

Golden with owner

Have you and your dog ever competed in a dog show? It’s some of the most fun you can have with your canine companion, and isn’t a new activity by any means.

The earliest record of a dog show dates to June 1859 in England, with only 60 hunting dogs (Pointers and Setters) shown. Today the sport of dogs has grown to include more than 200 separate breeds, and expanded beyond pedigree-only dogs to embrace mutts in a variety of shaggy competitions.

DOG SHOW BASICS

I am NOT an expert in purebred dogs or the show fancy. In fact my Magical-Dawg isn’t the right “type” to do well in conformation, although he has the drive and talent to be extraordinary in tracking or other performance sports. It’s not him–it’s me. It takes lots of time and energy and I just can’t manage that right now. If I look the other way and Magic swipes the keys to the Magic-Mobile, no doubt he’ll be heading off to a show of his choice.

clumber spaniel

This gorgeous fellow was one of the first Clumber spaniels shown at Westminster!

A group match features all the breeds that belong to a general “type” of dog–say, the Toy group, which includes the Chihuahua, Pug, Pekingese, Yorkshire terrier and Toy poodle (to name only a few). The American Kennel Club (AKC) divides the groups by function and purpose for which the dogs were bred, or by size.

Sporting Group consists of Labs, Setters, Spaniels, pointers, retrievers; Hounds includes Greyhounds, beagles, foxhounds, etc; Working group includes the sled dogs, draft dogs, Doberman, etc.; Terriers consists of nearly any breed with ‘terrier’ in the name; Toys are by size–the little guys; Non-sporting includes Chow chow, Dalmation, Bichon, Lhasa Apso, etc.; Herding are all the shepherds, sheepdogs, cattle dogs, etc; and the Miscellaneous Class is an odd catchall category for dogs that don’t fit in any of the others. A terrific book to find out more is Cheryl Smith’s The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Dog Shows . . . I believe she’ll soon bring it back into print.

FUN SHOWS

Is your pooch a show-stopper? There are lots of summertime dog-centric events that you and your dog may enjoy. For instance, this Saturday September 8 can compete and win prizes locally at a fun Bark and Paw Dog Show in Denison, Texas. For the second annual event, Downtown Denison’s Bark & Paw show has certain requirements and “groups” –but your pooch does NOT have to be a purebred.

Register your dogs for free—and then sign up for a variety of contests for $1 each at Heritage Park beginning at 9:00 for the day’s events that run from 10 am to 4 pm. All dogs must be up to date on rabies vaccines and stay on leash for the event (except for specific off-leash contests). Anyone can purchase $1 tickets for fun door prizes, too.

I’m one of the judges—but I don’t know which contest yet. It promises to be a dog-gone fun event! Weinie Dog Races leads off at 10 a.m. followed by a retriever contest, most obedient, best trick, and even contests for the biggest, littlest, ugliest, oldest, and one that traveled farthest.

Don’t miss the 11:00 Pet Parade that travels from Forest Park to Heritage Park with Parade Grand Marshal Luke Robinson, founder of 2 Million Dogs and the Puppy Up walks for dog cancer research (2milliondogs.com). The theme is patriotic so owners can “put on the dog” with matching costumes.

Off leash events are at Forest Park while vendors are located on Burnett next to Heritage Park. You’ll find chair massage, pet massage, veterinarian, groomers, trainers, pet adoption, tee shirts, dog bandanas and munchies for both four-legged and two-legged attendees. You’ll even have the opportunity to drool over and then bid on some awesome custom doghouses at 12:30.

Have you ever participated in a doggy “fun show” event? How’d that work out? Do you dress up your dogs for parades, Halloween, or other holiday events? Do tell!

Remember that all dogs are winners when they have someone to love them. Be sure your dog enjoys events where other dogs and people are present, because some pooches prefer to be home-bodies. Please be especially mindful of the weather and keep your hot dogs safe as cool companions. If your dog loves the spotlight, you’ll all have a howling good time.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay tuned for more news about my forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND!

Cover Reveal (again!) and NAME THAT PET Results!

Nope, you’re not high on puppy Prozac. The cover of the book has changed! In fact, this is version number seven, and it’s by far the most striking and mysterious, while offering a taste of what to expect. Like it? I love it! While many folks (me included) thought the first cover worked extremely well, the powers-that-be decided to go another direction.

Isn’t that a great cover quote from D.P. Lyle? I just received another terrific advance quote from the awesome Dr. Marty Becker. Read about ’em on the LOST AND FOUND page.

NAME THAT PET CONTEST RESULTS

Thank you to everyone for your participation in the “Name That Dog” and “Name That Cat” contests to help me find the perfect choices for some of the furry characters in the book LOST AND FOUND.

More than 85 terrific cat and dog names were suggested. I narrowed the choices to about a dozen each, set up polls for you to vote, and we had over 800 votes result.

I’d say pet people are passionate about pet names! Without further delay, here are the results.

DOG HEROES NAMED

Caren Gittleman suggested the winning dog name Dakota because it means “trusted friend” and is also the name of her lovely Sheltie (who helps her co-write Dakota’s Den Blog).

In the book LOST AND FOUND, the main character September mourns the loss of her heart-dog (we’ve all been there right?) who died trying to save her husband. Therefore, her long lost canine partner DAKOTA is mentioned throughout the book.

Raelyn Barclay offered several dog name suggestions including Bruno, which won the second hero dog spot. Congratulations!

When September’s nephew becomes lost in the blizzard, she enlists the aid of a still active senior citizen tracking dog to find the boy. BRUNO is the star in that chapter, and demonstrates that old dogs still have the stuff of heroes.

CAT HEROES NAMED

Patricia suggested the winning cat name Macy. This name garnered more than a hundred individual votes from readers, wow! Macy is the name of Patricia’s seven-year-old yellow tabby, and named after a character in the Bold and the Beautiful television show.

September’s sable and white Maine coon cat is mentioned throughout the book, including cat-training scenes that demonstrate just how smart cats truly are! Macy literally “nails” the villain at just the right moment to help save the day.

Karyl Cunningham has been one of my most faithful blog followers (~waving at Karyl) so I’m delighted readers chose one of her name selections as the second cat hero character–Simba is the second cat name winner. Simba is the name of Karyl’s slightly chubby, arthritic senior citizen kitty.

As in all good thrillers, tragic victims often kick off the story. The first is a lovely woman in the wrong place at the wrong time, and she leaves behind a beloved rescue kitty–Simba, slightly chubby aging kitty with a bit of arthritis who finds a forever home with the victim’s daughter.

In addition to having their pets’ names spotlighted in the book, and their own contribution noted in the acknowledgements, these four winners  will receive an advance copy of the book.

SPECIAL THANKS

Thank you again to everyone who suggested names and voted. The response demonstrates to me why I love pets–and writing about them so much–because never mind the age or breed or attitude. In our heart of hearts, true pet lovers know that EVERY dog and cat has a hero inside them.

LOST AND FOUND is scheduled for release September 20 in Amazon Kindle (and other Ebook formats), with print versions available about a week later. I will of course post to my blog (here) as well as Facebook, but will also send out an email newsletter notification–if I have your email.

In fact, what the hey. Send me an email to amy @ shojai.com with LOST AND FOUND in the subject line between now and the release date, and I’ll add you to the drawing for a free copy of the book. Don’t be shy, you can share this with other thriller/pet lovers.

Now go pet your hero dogs and cats for me. Oh, and stay tuned–the regular WOOF WEDNESDAY blog will go out later today with more puppy-licious info. 🙂

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay tuned for more news about my forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND!

Woof Wednesday: VOTE for NAME THAT DOG!

Yes, the day has come. I am delighted at the outpouring of interest in naming dogs who appear in my forthcoming thriller LOST AND FOUND. There were 29 total suggestions for canine character names. Some were wonderful names but the same as one of my human characters (now THAT would be confusing!), and others seemed too similar to other suggestions. I ended up choosing four or five of my favorites from your suggestions and then drawing the remainder out of a fish bowl. Two canine characters, both “hero dogs,”  will be named based on your votes. (Watch for Feline Friday for the kitty poll picks!).

The winner’s names and why they chose their selection will also be included in the book, and winners will receive an advance copy of the book.

Just who ARE these canine heroes?

  • A dark sable German shepherd dog, trained for search and rescue, and protection (Schutzhund) was devoted to the main character, September. He died protecting her husband, and she still deeply mourns his loss. He is the “ideal” dog she compares all other canines to.
  • A senior citizen German shepherd comes out of retirement to track down the September’s missing nephew Steven. He ends up defending his trainer as well as giving September a chance to escape.

Does your dog’s name embody the essence of these doggy characters? Love, devotion, fearlessness, great heart? Looks don’t matter, neither does breed or age or even sex–everyone knows that all dogs have the heart and soul and devotion of heroes, so make your choice and follow your heart!

The poll below allows you to choose THREE (3) of your favorites. You can come back and vote again as many times as you’d like–and I hope you’ll encourage family and friends to champion your cause and also vote.

DEADLINE MONDAY AUGUST 30TH!

[polldaddy poll=6379780

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Don’t forget to vote for your NAME THAT DOG/CAT character choice in the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND!

Woof Wednesday: Patriotic Dogs

“Even if all friends desert you, the dog remains true…”

I’m loving my dog today, and thanking God for all those who fight for the rights of the underdog.  God bless us and keep our loved ones safe.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter . Don’t forget to check out the NAME THAT DOG/CAT character in the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND!