Monday, February 24, 2014

Review: "Throw the Damn Ball" and A Contest!

Every so often a book comes my way to review. Granted, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool book-a-holic and pet books are always of interest but I read a wide range of books and they don't necessarily have animals in them.  Frankly, if I didn't have a book to read (and I'm so backed up now I don't know how I'll find time to read them all!) I'd read the cereal box in the morning.  It's just who I am.

Waiting in my TBR (To Be Read) pile was the hardcover book, "Throw the Damn Ball, Classic Poetry by Dogs," written by R.D. Rosen, Harry Prichett, and Rob Battles, authors of the New York Times authors of "Bad Dog."  To be honest, I didn't read that one.  I don't think there are bad dogs, just uninformed owners who need to get help from a professional using positive reinforcement.

Obviously a book of dog poetry is aimed for the gift book market.  

I opened it thinking it would be full of cute little innocuous poems.  Well, some were cute and some are downright hilarious. Many are based upon classic poems, homages, if you will, to such notables as Dylan Thomas and Robert Frost. Each credited to a different dog whose name along with city and State, appears with the dog's picture and poem.  Some are odes to food and loss. Others, devoted to love, aren't necessarily of the, well, pure kind. Let's just say that this isn't a children's book.  I'm sure you get the point. And you'll be wondering if your dog is as literate.

Indeed, "Throw the Damn Ball" would make a wonderful gift, not just for the holidays but for any occasion.  Warning: if you give this book to a dog-loving friend who is in the hospital for surgery, be sure not to personally take the blame for any pain induced by laughter.  

"Throw the Damn Ball," by R.D. Rosen, Harry Prichett, and Rob Battles is published by Plume and retails for $15.00.  It's for sale wherever books are sold.  

Now for the contest.  I have a copy of this book, courtesy of the publisher, to give away to one lucky reader!  To enter the contest, open to U.S. Residents Only, just leave a comment.  The winter will be announced on Friday, February 28th.  Enter now and feel free to share this blog post with friends!

NOTE: No money was paid or received for this review.  The review is the sole responsibility of the reviewer, Darlene Arden.  All that was received was a copy for review and a copy to give away to a reader.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Dog Named Shadow Needs Your Help

If you follow this blog you know that a Guest Blogger is more than rare but we have one today. My colleague, Laura Nativo, alerted us to a heartbreaking story about a dog named Shadow and the help he needs. I'm going to leave it to Laura to tell the story:

A dog named SHADOW desperately needs YOUR HELP!!
by Laura Nativo

Found abandoned in a crate in the middle of the desert with her brother and deceased friend, surrounded by bullet casings, Shadow was recently rescued and rehabilitated by Marley's Mutts Dog Rescue... Her new family took her into the vet when she began coughing up blood, only to discover she has a bullet lodged in her lung.

 She has been flown LA for emergency surgery at VCA West this afternoon, and needs your help... please share her story?! Shadow needs prayers, positive vibes and any financial assistance you can spare to pay for her expensive, emergency surgery. This situation touched my heart. Read below for the full story from Zach Skow of MarleysMutts Dog Rescue:

"MUTT MILITIA, SHADOW AND I NEED YOUR HELP! Here is where we stand: Shadow has gotten progressively worse and is coughing up considerable amounts of blood. The bullet that is lodged in her lung (or near it) is navigating or abscessing which is very dangerous. She needs surgery by an expert ASAP! I've been on the phone with surgeons, techs and thoracic specialists all morning and we have developed a plan. Rick and Holly (our inestimable duo) are going to meet Robbie and Shadow at the airport in Kern Valley and fly her to near LA. I'm going to meet them at the airport and transfer he the rest of the way to VCA All-Care in West LA. To make matters worse, the 405 is closed so we have to take an alternate route. She has to be kept calm and as motionless as possible, therefore a flight will be much better than the windy road down from Isabella and them through the grapevine. We should have her there and ready for surgery ASAP! 

WHAT WE NEED FROM THE MUTT MILITIA: please reach out to any and all news outlets, media sources, periodicals, papers and bloggers to cover this! THIS WILL BE VERY EXPENSIVE but we have to act now. Most of you know her story but here is a quick recap: Shadow was found with her brother and a deceased dog in the middle of the desert, locked in a crate. Bullet casings surrounded the crate but it appeared that the deceased dog had died of hypothermia. Shadow rehabbed with me at my house for months and became an amazing running partner. She was adopted by Robbie and his mom a few weeks ago and Robbie and she have become insuperable, just like she was with me. This was important for Shadow but also for Robbie who was just released from prison after 12 years. Robbie is the only one that could love that girl like me and I'm more than blessed to have had them adopt our girl. Shadow began to cough up blood yesterday and X-rays revealed that she does indeed have a bullet lodged in get chest that is causing her to reverse aspirate blood. Her situation is critical and we need to spread the word to as many news outlets as possible. Get onto website, call news lines, phone newspapers and email anyone who may listen! Reach out to those you know would care like ELLEN AND RACHEL RAY... Please attack this with a vengeance, we need to tell her story and raise money for her surgery."

Thank you, Laura, for sharing this. For those of you who can contribute, that would be wonderful. Every little bit counts. Please share this with friends via e-mail and social networking. There are so many pets in need.  We may never hear all of their stories but here is one we now know.  I hope we can help!

Here's the website:

And here's the Facebook page where you can follow Shadow's story:
Thanks to Laura Nativo, and thanks to you, my readers, for caring.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Review: Heated Wellness Cushion

I was interested in reviewing PetSafe's Heated Wellness Cushion.  I thought my 14-year-old cat, Aimee, would be a good candidate to test it. However, the cushion that arrived for testing and review was for a large dog. I don't have room for anything that large. So, I asked Veronique (Ronnie) Schejtman if she would test it with her Flatcoat Retriever, Karma, and then review it. I knew she'd give it a fair try and an honest review. She promised to take pictures so we could see Karma's reaction to it. 

Living in New England, Karma has ample chance to romp in the snow with the family children. While some of us aren't fond of snow, Karma seems to really enjoy it.

Here's Ronnie's review:

"I was sooo excited to receive the PetSafe big dog Heated Wellness Cushion. As a brutally cold winter in New England was just setting in, the timing was perfect."

"I couldn't wait for my flat coat retriever, Karma, to try it. As I hoped, she took to it right away. I can't imagine a dog not liking it, especially an older one with an ailment such as arthritis. It's basically one giant heating pad-soft, comfortable and warm. The two sided cover, navy and sand, is neutral and blends with any d├ęcor. It  large enough to accommodate Karma at her full length with room to spare. 

"After playing out in the snow, my two children and Karma come in and all snuggle on the cushion to "de-thaw". I don't know who's enjoying it more but Karma is more than happy to share. This cushion definitely lived up to my expectations and more!"

NOTE:  No one received any monetary compensation for this Review. PetSafe sent the Heated Wellness Cushion for review. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

What Will Happen to Your Pets?

Photo by Veronique Schejtman
It's a difficult topic but: what will happen to your pets if/when you die? Have you made arrangements for them?  None of us likes to think about our own death but we must think about the well-being and safety of our pets.

Nearly every day of the week I receive an e-mail about one or more pets in need of a home because the owner died. Some of these pets are older and the first ones likely to be euthanized if shipped off to a "shelter." What is so hard for me to take when I read this gut-wrenching pleas for help is that the relatives of the person who died haven't cared about the person, only their "things."  The only comfort that person may have had in their life is that four-legged companion, often more than one, and that beloved companion has not only lost their "family," but they have either been thrown outside to fend for themselves and hopefully rescued (I don't want to contemplate how many have been killed by cars, other animals, etc.), or are shipped off to a shelter, still left to fend for themselves and, most likely, to be "put down."  I'm not fond of euphemisms.  Let's call it what it is: they'll be killed.  A lifetime of providing love to their person and that's what they get.  It makes me sick!

I forward the e-mails to people I know in whichever State the cats or dogs are in and ask them to keep forwarding to their friends in hopes that someone will step up.
Photo of Alana by Claire Clayton

Now, look at your own beloved companions.  Have you made arrangements for them in case of your death, no matter how or when it comes?  You should.  Choose carefully and wisely.  Ask the person you trust the most with your companions. If they won't, keep asking people if they will step up.  The person who agrees is the person whose name goes into your will. Do not name your companion(s) in your will because you may have others when you die. Rather than naming names just mention dogs, cats and the name of the person to whom they are to be given and, if you so choose, a sum of money for their care.

Remember that anything can happen to any of us at any time.  If your chosen person predeceases you, choose another person using the same method and add a codicil to your will.  

If there's a chance that someone will contest this, write a letter, or have your lawyer put it into your will, stating why this person is to get the pet(s).  You want to be certain that your wishes are carried out.

Photo of Vinny by Mary Slaney

Please do it now. Don't put it off. Do it now. Do it this week.  Any of us can be hit by a car, run over by a truck, have a heart attack, or a fatal disease. None of us will live forever.  That is the sad truth. But we should carry out our full responsibility to our companions and be sure that their lives will continue in the way you want, with the person you feel will take the best possible care of them.  Don't let your companions become the victims in your death. It's bad enough that they will be left grieving for you. And, yes, pets do grieve.  

Provide for them now. While you can.