Saturday, October 27, 2012

Book Review: Drop Dead on Recall

When non-fiction dog writer, Sheila Webster Boneham turned her talents to fiction I wondered how she'd make the cross-over to a new genre. She did it with skill and produced her first novel, the page-turner, Drop Dead on Recall.

The protagonist, Janet MacPhail, is a dog photographer with a love of Obedience Trials and all things dog, especially her Australian Shepherd, Jay.  A divorcee, her family is rounded out by Leo, her charming orange tabby.  As the story opens, Janet is at an obedience trial where one of the best competitors in the country keels over in the ring in the middle of working her Border Collie. She dies not long afterwards.

The book is full of vivid descriptions of everything from scenery to people, bringing both alive for the reader. And what would any novel be without a little romance? Janet finds that in Tom, a fellow obedience trial lover with a Labrador Retriever. 

As romance starts to bloom and bodies keep appearing, all from within the obedience trial community, Janet becomes a target. Will she be the next victim?

A subplot in the book deals with Janet's mother who has suddenly developed dementia. This difficult family issue is written with sympathy and understanding and allows for the added information about therapy dog work.

This is a book anyone would love. Boneham explains enough about the dog fancy, breeding and obedience trials for any reader to feel comfortable. For those who are already immersed in those topics, it's a bonus. She even works in the title of one of her non-fiction books. And when MacPhail decides her cat will be an indoor-only feline, it's a bonus of lesson learned for the character and the reader.

I was sorry to see the book end and hope this is the beginning of a series. You will, too.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dr. R.K. Anderson - Farewell

It's with a heavy heart that I write. I wanted to blog for the last couple of days but couldn't seem to find a way to do it. But do it I must. 

On October 18th the world lost a wonderful man, a pioneer in veterinary behavior whose inventions, The Gentle Leader (co-created with Ruth Foster and named by the Smithsonian as one of the world's 100 Best Inventions) and Easy Walk Harness have improved life for countless dogs and their owners. I did the first major interview with R.K. about the Gentle Leader halter system and he told me later that he nearly had to put in another phone line for all of the orders.  We had met earlier at a Morris Animal Foundation meeting in 1990. His warmth and lack of any ego, his interest in everything around him and his quick, sharp mind instantly impressed me. A friendship began to grow, a bond of mutual respect and trust.

Born and raised in Colorado, R.K. became the Director of Veterinary Public Health in Denver after his stint in the Navy which had followed his graduation from veterinary school. Even in those early days he was positive, training shelter dogs with food instead of punishment. Such a gentle, caring man could do no less, especially one who had been raised around cows and horses; you can't put a choke collar on either of those animals.

Relocating to Minnesota in 1954 to become the University's first Director of Veterinary Public Health Program at the School of Public Health, he was also a researcher into such diseases as Brucellosis. 

By 1980 he was ready for even more knowledge and took a sabbatical. He went to University of California, Davis to study Animal Behavior and Psychology. 

One of the founders of the Delta Society, now called Pet Partners, he was a long-time proponent of the human-animal bond. He founded The Animal Behavior Resources Institute.

R.K. received many honors in his lifetime and there will, no doubt, be posthumous honors for this very special man. 

I remember R.K. telling me, at the very first meeting of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants that he came because he was told that I was there. Whether true or not, and I've never known R.K. to tell anything but the truth, I was deeply humbled and honored by his words.  He was honored there as well.  

He leaves behind family, a long-time companion, and many friends, colleagues and countless admirers. The world has lost a great man. Animals have lost a real hero who made life so much better for so many of them. And my heart hurts. 

Do some research about the man, learn more about his life, his work. He would never brag about it. And say a little prayer of thanks that he lived such a full, rich life and made such a tremendous impact on the world of people and animals.

Rest well, my friend.

Monday, October 8, 2012

AMAZON CARES' Historic Victory in Peru

Amazon CARES, the not-for-profit animal organization has secured a conviction in the Iquitos area of Peru. The victory is a case in which a woman was charged with poisoning a 5-month-old puppy.

After seven months, this landmark verdict was recently handed down, setting a legal precedent for all of Peru, and an example for many Third World nations.

“In this particular case, 
Amazon Cares, in partnership with the Iquitos Bar Association, had been working with legislative officials to enforce and/or strengthen animal cruelty laws,” Amazon CARES’ Founder and Executive Director, Molly Mednikow, shares. “This case, of a  neighbor intentionally poisoning and killing her neighbor's puppy, is the first case we have brought to trial.”

Sandra Milagros Padilla Alvis, never imagined that an attempt on the life of Arthas, a 5-month-old puppy, owned by Alfredo Martín Díaz García, would result in being charged for a crime.  In the 3rd Counsel Magistrates Court, Padilla Alvis was sentenced for offenses against morality under an Animal Abuse and Cruelty Code and will pay fines of 2000 Peruvian Nuevo Soles, which will cost her one-fourth of her income for nearly seven months.

Amazon Community Animal Rescue, Education and Safety (Amazon CARES) remains the only charity in the entire Peruvian Amazon region dedicated to the protection of domestic animals and wildlife. Programs extend far beyond animal health, and Amazon CARES is recognized for humane education, assisted animal therapy, and volunteer driven travel to areas with no access to veterinary care.

Alfredo Diaz tells the story, remembering what happened to his puppy and saying that it was time to have justice for the life of Arthas.  His speaking up is a sign of progress for Amazon CARES AMAZON Cares, which continually advocates that people should not remain silent about these abuses.

A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Molly Mednikow received her MBA and began working in her family’s jewelry business. Though successful, she began traveling to the Peruvian Amazon to deliver school supplies to remote jungle villages. By 2004, her interests in Peru had grown to the extent that she made a life-altering decision. She stepped away from her jewelry business to spend a year in the Amazon. In 2005, she finalized her decision and made her move official, selling her business back to family members. Mednikow lived in the Peruvian Amazon until 2008, when she returned to the United States to open an office from which her charity could grow. Mednikow divides her time between Peru and the United States.

Brava to this courageous woman who is making a real difference in the lives of companion animals in Peru.