Doggy Love at First Sight

By Betty Boyd

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She was so fragile and small among the other litter of eight Chihuahua’s, an air of uniqueness that attracted my friend to this standout puppy. She was ailing, and needed of a lot of help and love, so Janet came to her rescue.  She named this adorable pup Ginger.

Ginger had to go through three operations. At least one of them made her very weak, and she almost didn’t make it. Janet’s love for this new puppy helped Ginger survive.

This breed of dog is generally sicklier than most.  It is a balancing act to make sure that their immune system is protected.  Janet’s faith and her love prevailed.  Ginger grew stronger and stronger with each passing day.  However, she had a major setback when an infection occurred.  Ginger faced several rounds with a vet who really did not want to help, but my friend triumphed, and Ginger once again became healthy.

Ginger has lived with my friend for over a year. During this time, she has drawn closer to this amazing dog.  Janet has grown children with lives of their own, and no husband. So, a void has been filled and Ginger provided the love that was needed.

How true it is that our pets are part of our families.  Ginger has become part of my friend’s family. Janet has never given up on Ginger and has been rewarded with a love that will never die.

Writing Prompt:  Imagine how your pet enhances your family…

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Pets: A Connection of Reader to the Story

By Fay Lamb

cat-71494_1280When I sit down to start a work in progress, I rarely have secondary characters in mind. My focus stays on the main characters and building their plots. As the story grows, the secondary characters come onto stage and show me their roles in the lives of the characters. Sometimes those secondary characters are pets or animals that parallel a character’s strength or weakness.

The way a character relates with the animals in their environment tells a lot about them. To date, I have included two cows, some chickens, a dog named Cletus, and a wild bear tagged Bumblebee.

In Better Than Revenge, the heroine owns a small farm. The care she and her son give to the animals shows much about the heroine’s character. She is a hard worker who’s brought up her son, teaching him not to slack his duty. She is caring, and when she is focused on keeping her son safe, he is much in tune with the care of the livestock, showing that his mother’s love has not been lost on him—and that’s a very important part of the story.

In my romance, Charisse, Cletus is a golden retriever. He is responsible for literally having the hero, Gideon, run into Charisse. Cletus’s unconditional love mirrores that of the love that the hero has for his heroine. In attempting to keep her secrets hid and to hold to her anger with regard to her husband’s death, Charisse is not easy to love, but like a dog with a bone, Gideon doesn’t surrender easily. Cletus also becomes a bridge that ties the hero to the heroine’s young son, a boy who, in his sadness, has forgotten how to laugh. At least, until Cletus mowed him over with wet sloppy kisses and a game of catch.dog-1082307_960_720

In my latest novel, Everybody’s Broken, Shane Browne has inherited a valuable piece of untamed mountain. He guards it and the wildlife with vigilance. When Shane begins to include the heroine’s young, twin sons on the hikes he and his daughter take up the mountain, they encounter Bumblebee.

Teaching the boys how to respect nature, Shane shares with the boys what to do in case the old lumbering Ms. Bumblebee advances toward them.

Yet Shane has a sense that Bumblebee is drawn to the boys. She deliberately steps into the clearing, always staying a respectful distance from them. If possible, he believes that she performs for them, but she never seems a danger to them. At least not until …

Bumblebees reaction to and her actions toward the boy mirror the feelings of protectiveness growing in Shane, and when Bumblebee does the unthinkable, Shane must trust that the bear knows what’s best for her adopted “cubs.”

In the two series that are written now, unless they come onto stage of my imagination and surprise me, I do not expect to have another animal. While I used Bumblebee to heighten the suspense for my readers, I can state that the one thing I will never do is to bring an animal into a story simply to play upon the emotions of a reader. An animal must always connect to the lead characters and advance the story forward. It is only then that they can become an emotional attachment.

A cheap shot for me, as an author, would be to take the rug out from under the reader and allow that connection to sever. Like it or not, most people will become attached to a four-legged character more readily than they will a two-legged one. As a reader, when a pet or another animal dies in a book, that’s all for me. Even if I continue to read, the message of the story is lost on me. My heart is broken. I feel I have been played, and I’m not delving too deeply into that story to have the author rip out the remaining pieces. Therefore, a reader might experience a suspenseful moment or two, but they can take a breath and relax. The animals in my stories aren’t going to die.

Now, the two-legged creatures …?


Fay LambFay Lamb is an editor, writing coach, and author, whose emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Fay has contracted three series. With the release of Everybody’s Broken, three of the four books in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series, which also includes Stalking Willow and Better than Revenge, are currently available for purchase. Charisse and Libby the first two novels in her The Ties That Bind contemporary romance series have been released.

Fay has also collaborated on two Christmas novella projects: The Christmas Three Treasure Hunt, and A Ruby Christmas, and the Write Integrity Press romance novella series, which includes A Dozen Apologies, The Love Boat Bachelor, and Unlikely Merger. Her adventurous spirit has taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.

Future releases from Fay are: Frozen Notes, Book 4 of the Amazing Grace series and Hope and Delilah, Books 3 and 4 from The Ties that Bind series.

Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook. She’s also active on Twitter. Then there are her blogs: On the Ledge, Inner Source, and the Tactical Editor. And, yes, there’s one more: Goodreads.

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Precious Pup

by Harriet E. Michael

They say a really great dog may only come around once in a lifetime. In my life, Buckles was that dog. He was a brown English Field Cocker. My husband drove to Chicago to get him when he was just a pup. He was the runt of the liter, the leftover puppy, the one nobody else wanted. The first time I laid eyes on him, I thought he was either the most beautiful pup I had ever seen or the ugliest—and I wasn’t sure which. He looked a little like a baby cow. But soon it became clear to me that he was indeed beautiful! So much so, that in the years that followed, people always commented on how striking he was.

But the best thing about him was his personality. He was gentle, loving, obedient, and completely non aggressive with children or anyone. But when he got out in a field hunting with my husband, he was a great retriever—aggressive, obedient, faithful and worked tirelessly.

My husband’s high school friend and hunting buddy, Jim, liked Buckles so much he made the trip to Chicago to get an English Field Cocker for himself. She’s solid black and named Ziggy. One of Jim’s reasons for getting a female was to someday get a puppy out of Buckles.

That is where we ran into trouble. For reasons unknown to us, Ziggy and Buckles were not able to conceive. Over a period of four years, at every possible opportunity the dogs were put together hoping Ziggy would get pregnant–but to no avail.

Ziggy was getting older and Buckles was quite old, so in desperation, Jim took the dogs to a vet and had Ziggy artificially inseminated by Buckles. And that is how at eleven years old, Buckles became a father and we were given our pick of the liter. buckles-and-colt

Buckles and Colt (father and son)

Each time we went to Jim’s house to look at the pups, I was, of course, hoping to find one just like Buckles. There were no brown pups–only solid black ones and white with black spots, so I had to judge by their personalities. The personality was more important to me anyway. My husband wanted a male and there were four possibilities. The first time we were there, when the pups were only a few weeks old, one little solid black male kept wagging his tail. I picked him up and he immediately stretched his little neck to try and nuzzle against me–something Buckles did!

“Look!” I exclaimed pointing to the mannerism we both knew so well. My husband took the pup out of my arms and held him up, placing the pup’s nose against his nose. The little guy’s tail wagged a mile a minute. I laughed and took him back. Holding him to my nose, I told my husband to look at his tail. Then we held each of the other male pups and none had either mannerism–none tried to nuzzle and none wagged their tails when held up to our noses.

On the next visit, this same little black male came running to us, wagging his whole body. Again, I laughed. Because, again, this was a Buckles’ characteristic. Buckles was double jointed and when he wagged his tail, which he did most of the time, it looked like his back legs had come unhooked from his body and the whole back part of him would move back and forth vigorously.

It only took two visits to know which pup was most like his father in personality, and that’s the one we wanted! We have not been disappointed. He is laid back, sweet-natured, gentle, and loving–just like the old man.

A couple of Christmases ago, we had one very old, very sweet, brown dog who we have loved completely for going on twelve years and one small, active, happy, precious pup running circles around his dad. On Christmas Eve when I saw that adorable puppy running to my husband with a chewed string of lights in his mouth, bringing it to him and proudly dropping it at his master’s feet, like a faithful retriever should, I didn’t even get annoyed with him. Instead, I laughed and thought how blessed we were to have one of Buckles’ pups running around our house, chewing up our Christmas lights.

They say a really great dog may only come around once in life … but then again, they may be wrong!

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Writing Prompt: What was your favorite pet in your lifetime? What made him or her special?

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A Conversation With a Foster Mom

Just look at these adorable faces.

Oh, how we love our pets. They’re family. As a person who cares about animals, I am so grateful to all of those who give of their time, money, and energy to rescue. I have a beautiful friend who has recently fostered several adorable dogs, including the ones in these pictures. She took them into her home, gave them a safe place and plenty of love, then passed them on to their forever homes–well, except for Ellie and Scooter (bottom photos). Those two are now part of Robin’s family.

How did Robin Amundsen Swartzwelder become involved in pet fostering? She works in a local law office that has dealings with another office in Maryland, which is how she met Peggy. Through frequent phone conversations, she and Peggy developed a close friendship and shared their love of animals. Of course, Robin talked about her former pets and how she missed them.

Peggy was a single mom, and an animal advocate who mainly rescued pit bulls. One day, Peggy asked if Robin planned to get another dog. Robin definitely wanted to, but knew she’d need to discuss it with her husband, Alan. Their decision made, Robin told Peggy “yes”, and was very specific—she wanted a Yorkie. Before long, Peggy called with good news. She’d found a Yorkie, if Robin was still interested.

If so, she could have the dog free of charge, with only one catch—well, really two catches—take a couple more dogs and try to find good homes for them. Robin’s husband wasn’t sure about it. He’d agreed to taking one dog, not three. But they finally decided to give it a try. They brought back Ellie, the Yorkie, a tri-color pup named Sarge, and Daisy–a pit bull.

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Sarge, lately…

Daisy went to a policeman, and Sarge (pictured left, and in top photo) went to Robin’s nephew, Nick (who is also my nephew) and his family.

After this promising beginning, Robin felt comfortable enough to try again. When she received a call that a woman was gravely ill, and couldn’t keep her four dogs, she and her husband Alan drove halfway to Maryland to meet Peggy. This led to one of her funniest moments as a foster mom.

They had the five dogs in the car, including Ellie the Yorkie. It was pouring down rain, but the dogs needed a pit stop. Alan gallantly volunteered to get out in the soaking rain to walk the dogs. Five dogs on five leashes. He quickly became entangled in all the leads, while Robin sat in the car . . . laughing. She soon realized she’d need to get out and untangle her soaking wet husband if she hoped to leave anytime soon. Actually, I think I’ve watched a similar very funny scene in a dog-walking movie. 🙂

One poignant fact Robin pointed out: rescues know they’re being rescued. They don’t usually sleep well in kennels, or wherever they’re kept temporarily, so when you bring them home, they get the first good sleep in a while, sometimes in their entire life. It’s very touching.14708281_1273912019315029_4344428347496789636_n

Have you ever considered fostering a pet (or pets)? It’s a wonderful calling. But what about practicality? Is there a cost? Don’t you need training? What else is involved?

Robin’s friend Peggy is a rescuer (not an agency), so Robin and her husband were responsible for the animals’ needs. What are we talking about? Many of the rescued animals need the most basic veterinary care, such as shots, worming, and of course, neutering. Some of the basic necessities can be acquired at a lower cost through veterinary clinics. If they know you’re fostering, sometimes your vet will help by lowering costs, or you can start a GoFundMe page (include pictures!) for assistance in caring for a needy pet.

Besides the basic necessities of feeding and housing, your pets will need exercise. A fenced backyard is a plus, but if you don’t have that, you’ll need to walk the dogs.

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Robin: Lecturing my foster child on why she should stop pulling tissues out of the trash (looks like it snowed in the house) and this is the look I get — KIDS!!!

Be aware that you may become attached. This could be considered the “downside” of fostering. Giving them up may be difficult for you. If you’re working with an individual rescuer, you will need to seek forever homes for the animals. This requires discernment and care. Some of the pets may “bounce back” if a new owner doesn’t bond with the pet, or isn’t satisfied.

There was basically no training required, but Robin had been talking to her friend for years, and knew the ins and outs. And of course, she could always call Peggy, if she had any questions or concerns. A friend or mentor who also fosters is a blessing.

Do your research before you commit to pet-fostering.  For instance, if you apply through an animal shelter, a local or state agency, you may be able to recoup some of your costs by listing them as contributions. When you foster for an agency or organization, they typically place the animals. And what if you fall in love with the pet? If you can’t bear to part with a pet you’ve fostered, you can apply for ownership.

fosteringRobin’s most touching moment as a foster parent came when she placed a dog named Rocky with a terminally-ill woman. Robin says she wouldn’t usually do this, but the woman’s prognosis was good. Robin thought it might help her feel better, give her a purpose. Dog and patient fell in love immediately. Sadly, the woman only lived a few more months, but the last photos of her always included Rocky, curled up next to her in bed. He was very devoted.

From Robin’s Facebook post: Well, Rocky is all settled in his new home with new mom, Joetta, and Joetta’s two daughters. He stole their hearts from the moment they met. Joetta’s daughters felt she would greatly benefit from a loving companion by her side as she successfully battles her cancer. Joetta wanted a dog with all her heart, and when her daughter saw my post, she knew it was meant to be. Rocky has a big yard to run as he pleases, but he is just as happy by her side. They took him on a shopping spree to Feeders Supply today and he loved it! God speed, Joetta. Something tells me you’re going to be just fine!

Chloe the poodle (above pics) has officially become a southern belle! She now lives in Georgia with her new mom, Vicky. She has a beautiful fenced yard and a garden house, and a doggy door to the big house so she can come and go as she pleases. I hope they have many happy years together. Cheers!

And Scooter? Well, Robin couldn’t part with the little sweetie in these before and after pics:


A Special Note from Robin:

Please get your pets neutered!

From the ASPCA‘s website: By spaying or neutering your pet, you’ll help control the pet homelessness crisis, which results in millions of healthy dogs and cats being euthanized in the United States each year simply because there aren’t enough homes to go around.

For more information about pet fostering, check out these two sites:

Kentucky Humane Society

Pet Fostering


Writing Prompt: [Finish this sentence in the comment section below]

New dog-owner, Dave, woke to a peculiar sound. . .

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Cats Vs. Dogs: The Debate Begins

By Jennifer Hallmark

Grumpy cat on Facebook.

Cutest Dogs pins on Pinterest.

Pet Videos on You Tube.

In today’s social media driven world, the debate of cat vs. dog has only intensified. Are you a dog person, a cat person, or both?

During the month of February, we’ll take a look at our favorite pets, how writers can incorporate pets in their work, how to be a foster parent to a pet, and much more. So whether Grumpy cat makes you giggle or you prefer babies & puppies, you’ll find fun articles and photos every Monday and Friday. Maybe even a possum…

A possum?

0426161731Yep. It all began when Mom moved next door to my daughter. Granddaughter Sadie loves cats so mom adopted two outdoor cats who Sadie christened Smokey and Kissy Kat.

Mom made the new pets a nice, warm home beside the steps at the back of the house, complete with cushioned bed and heat lamp for those cold days.

She also set up a feeding area for the cats on top of a table so the dog couldn’t reach it. But she soon found out a local possum could, so she would give the cats just enough time to eat before retrieving their food dish.

One bitterly cold night, she placed the cat food in their little home and went back inside to give them time to eat. Shortly, she returned, reached in the house and grabbed the bowl, encountering a fur-less tail.

The possum had chased the cats away and was enjoying his supper in a heated home. Sadie thought he was cute and wanted to keep him. 🙂

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Writing Prompt: A possum in her cat’s home? She backed away and reached inside the shed for…

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