Category Archives: Authors

Dog Squad Blog – Lovely Little Lexi

Today’s guest blogger is Charity Rowell-Stansbury. Charity has been a blogger for over ten years and an avid reader for as long as she can remember. She adores her 10-year-old rescue dog Lexi who isn’t part of the original Islan Dog Squad, but features in Book 3. Here’s their story, told by Charity. 

Lexi has been my constant companion and muse for two years. Our story almost ended before it even began. 

In April 2015, I was diagnosed with PTSD and I lost my job shortly after. A little over a year into a marriage with my now ex-husband, Kyle, we decided that it would be nice if I had a companion who could stay with me at home while Kyle was at work. We were both determined to adopt a dog; however, we also knew it would be difficult because I have asthma and allergies, which means I can only tolerate certain breeds. Since the dog was more for me than him, it was up to me to filter through the hundreds of dogs in our local rescue agencies to find one that might be a good match.

After a couple of weeks of searching and following local rescues on Facebook, one of the local agencies posted a picture of a dog named “Coconut.” Her story was incredibly sad because she had an owner who loved her very much, but he wasn’t able to continue to take care of her. Unfortunately, she had heartworm and the agency was trying to raise funds to cure her. I expressed our interest in her and even offered to pay a portion of the heartworm cure, plus the adoption fee, for the opportunity to meet her. Over the course of two weeks, the agency seemed receptive, but I started receiving private messages from complete strangers on Facebook telling me that the agency was just stringing me along to receive a donation. When I pressed the rescue agency for a specific date when Kyle and I could meet Coconut, I was told that she had been promised to someone else. I was crushed and was ready to put my search on hold for a few weeks because I didn’t think I could handle another rejection. 

Coconut

A couple of days after my horrible experience, I decided to look just one more time at another agency’s site before taking a break. During that search, I found this picture:

Lexi, pre-adoption 2016

Her name was “Lexi” and she was a Maltese; one of the breeds that several allergy and asthma foundations said I should be able to tolerate. I could see the wariness in her eyes but there was something else behind it, curiosity and a bit of playfulness. I imagined she was looking at the camera saying “Whatcha doin’?” I saw a couple of other dogs on the site that I also liked, so I sent an email expressing my interest. 

A little over a week later, I received a phone call from Nancy, a foster guardian with the rescue agency. She said that all of the other dogs were adopted, except for Lexi because she was shy and reserved during adoption events. I immediately empathized with Lexi because I can be shy and reserved around groups of people, and it takes me a while to warm up to new friends. I admitted to Nancy that Lexi was my first choice, but I was a bit wary of mentioning it in the email because of my experience with the other rescue agency. Nancy and I set up a date for when she and Lexi could come by the apartment. At the end of the meeting, Kyle and I had a new furry family member. 

Lexi, day after adoption

Since Lexi is the first dog I’ve ever had, I was overwhelmed at first. When we spent our first day at home alone together, we did a lot of staring at each other and thinking, “What am I supposed to do with you?” After a couple of days, I learned that she was timid about exploring her surroundings and I needed to be calm and confident to encourage her when we went outside. After a week, she was more confident about walking outside and decided that she wanted to introduce herself to some of the people in our apartment community. This forced me to come out of my shell and connect with neighbors. It didn’t take us too long to figure out our individual strengths and weaknesses, and we soon learned how to emotionally support each other.

Lexi, 2016

Today, Lexi is a completely different dog. We’ve been through a lot together, including a precipitous change of address and a divorce, but we have overcome these challenges together. I can’t imagine going through the past couple of years without her, and I’m looking forward to going through the next few years with her in my life.

Lexi, 2019

To read more about Charity and Lexi, check out Charity’s wonderful blog and book reviews here: https://www.onmykindle.net

Dog Squad Blog – Barking Mad Chip

Today my guest blogger is Dean Evans. Dean and Sarah are the proud people parents of Chip (AKA Aden in the books). If Chip were a person he would be called eccentric or a nutter (depending on your point of view). I’ll let Dean explain.

Chip’s story starts in a scrapyard in Barnsley. We saw this tri-colour Collie with pedigree papers, when he was six months old. He was skinny (weighing five kilos), covered in bite marks, with both eyes full of gunk. But he was such a happy little boy. He didn’t like walking on a lead at that age but was very obedient. 

I brought him home and he settled in well with our five year old Husky Thor. There was drama on our second walk out with both dogs. Chip confronted a Rhodesian Ridgeback that had a go at Thor who was forty-five kilos of non-confrontational Husky. He got in front of Thor to protect him – all five kilos of him. He soon started to gain weight and put on three kilos during the first week with us. 

Chip has developed some strange habits. The kids where we used to live nicknamed him the spinning dog, due to him spinning continuously up the road on walks. Not sure if this was because I was walking too slowly or if he is completely mad. He also used to chase cars. He’s now decided that’s too much hassle so when given the chance, he sprints up the roads in the opposite direction to the car, absolutely flat out, then comes back tail up, looking very pleased with himself. If Sarah or I stop to talk to someone during one of our walks or are chatting to the neighbours, Chip loves to make as much noise as possible. He is so jealous around other dogs and hates me stroking or giving them any attention. He shows his displeasure by eyeballing them and they learn to back off. 

Butter wouldn’t melt…

Chip could also be described as an all-in-one home entertainment system. When watching any sports he is very noisy and barks at the TV or makes other strange noises when he has a toy in his mouth. He is most excitable during football matches but also enjoys rugby, cricket and boxing. As long as spectators are making a noise he is quite happy and loves winding himself up during goal kicks, free kicks and corners.

Chip watching footie

Well known for being the fun police with other dogs, Chip will run for miles to stop other dogs enjoying themselves. He also goes berserk around the swimming pool when the grandkids are over making mad noises, picking up any toys in his mouth and running off with them.

Chip chastising Obie

Like most dogs, he is very enthusiastic about food and chases us around the kitchen near dinnertime keeping so close that he constantly bumps into whoever is feeding him. He is also a grazer at meal times; a few mouthfuls at a time then back five minutes later for a few more.

He absolutely hates the heavy rain, thunder and lightning, and shakes like a leaf. Any loud noises freak him out and at night he will jump up on the bed and if he’s really frightened will lie across my head. Only my head by the way and he only ever wakes me up if he needs to go out at night – he knows who the soft touch is in our house.

So he’s crazy, loud and a bit strange but he’s a massive personality and a whole lot of fun. Chip’s wonderful and he makes our world a better place.

Click here to discover more about The Island Dog Squad. http://smarturl.it/ru5uye

Dog Squad Blog – A Pug Named Lola

Lola and Obie belong to my friend Jo and Sandy hit it off with them both as soon as they met. When Sandy and Obie become too boisterous, Lola gives them a little warning and they always heed it. Lola seemed a natural for the role of ‘Dog Squad’ leader, mission name Bunty. 

The real Lola and Obie

Here’s Lola’s story, told by Jo.

For many years I wanted a pug, their unusual look and character appealed to me. One day I went into the pet shop with my daughter to buy fish food. I noticed a little pug puppy sitting in its cage looking at me. She was tiny and of course we picked her up, cooed over her and instantly fell in love. I handed over 700 Cypriot pounds – we left the pet shop with the pug and without the fish food we were supposed to buy. 

Lola took over the house with all her toys, bed, and feeding bowls. When I brought my son Zak home from nursery that day, he was ecstatic and went wild when he saw her. Lola and Zak quickly became best buddies and even go to bed together now at the same time in the same room.

As a puppy Lola was partial to my plant pots in the garden, quite often we found her running around the garden with one in her mouth and my lovely plants devastated, if I shouted at her for being a naughty girl she would huff and puff and turn her back on me. She doesn’t take well to discipline but I’ve since discovered this is a common trait amongst pugs.

For such a small dog she is a huge princess! Lola is extremely stubborn and if she doesn’t want to do something there is no making her do it. She will even throw a dirty look and turn her back on you. As for her snoring, it’s like an old-fashioned train. 

…And sleep

Lola must be the only dog that doesn’t like exercise. When the fancy takes her she can trot along with the rest of us but when she’s had enough or if she doesn’t like the route she goes on strike, sits down and refuses to move. Carrying her home is not an option; she is a solid 12 kilos. So we do tend to bow down to her and take the route her majesty dictates.

Just chilling

She follows me everywhere in the house. I can’t even go to the bathroom without Lola and Obie sitting guard at the side of me. 

Lola is a funny, unusual little girl adored by us all. For such a small dog she has a massive personality and none of us could imagine what our home would be like without her. 

Obie and Lola are like chalk and cheese and I’ll tell you Obie’s story next time.

To find our more about ‘The Island Dog Squad’ series, click here.http://smarturl.it/ru5uye

“I have nothing but the highest of praises to sing for this thought-provoking, tear-jerking tale of torture, death, hope and survival.” Rosie Malezer for Readers’ Favorite – 5 stars

The Island Dog Squad – Coming to Amazon on 20 July 2018

I’m excited to tell you that the first book in my new series of novellas will be live on Amazon on 20 July 2018. ‘The Island Dog Squad’ is inspired by Sandy, our lovely rescue dog. Sandy intends to write a blog about the series and her life, and will get around to it shortly.

Jessica Bell designed the cover and came up with these three after I submitted the questionnaire. They’re all fabulous so it was a really difficult decision. I asked some of my friends and readers on Facebook what they think, then decided to go for my favourite, with the dog standing on the rocks.

This is the winner!

 

Here’s the blurb and a few comments from the 5-star reviews:

I have nothing but the highest of praises to sing for this thought-provoking, tear-jerking tale of torture, death, hope and survival.” 

Rosie Malezer for Readers’ Favorite

 

“Anyone who’s had the privilege of sharing their lives with an animal companion will love Sandy’s story … most highly recommended.” 

Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite

 

In the depths of despair, she has no idea who, or where she is.

Dying of thirst and with her ribcage almost poking through her skin, she can barely put one paw in front of the other when she’s rescued from the street.

When Sandy’s people parents take her to her beautiful new home on the island, she tries to focus on her future, and return the love and kindness showered upon her.

Then she meets Lola, Obie and Chip, and the traumatic flashbacks begin.

As her past slowly unravels, and her memory returns, Sandy must make a choice that will determine her life and her future.

What will she decide?

‘The Island Dog Squad’, an animal action and adventure novella, told by Sandy the rescue dog.

Who’s the Top Dog?

Please welcome the multi-genre best-selling author Jean Gill. I love Jean’s historical novels, the Troubadours Quartet. But am excited to hear that her wonderful dog story ‘Someone To Look Up To: (a dog’s search for love and understanding)’ is currently the number one best seller in its category on Amazon. I’ve asked Jean to give us an insight into her life in France and how she became a best-seller.
Over to you Jean.

Tell us a bit about yourself?

Thank you, Deb! I’m a Welsh writer and photographer now living in the south of France with a big white dog, a scruffy black dog, a Nikon D750 and a man. We escaped the rain in 2003 when my husband retired. I wanted to write full-time after having taught English in Wales for many years. My claim to fame is that I was the first woman to be a secondary headteacher in Wales. I’m also mother or stepmother to five children so life was very hectic.

Have you always loved dogs?

I joined the P.D.S.A. (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) when I was seven. I knitted blankets for dogs and nagged my parents for one (with no luck, as we moved house and country too often). As an adult, the moment I was in a house with a garden, I adopted a dog advertised in the local paper as ‘deaf Pyrenean puppy needs re-homing’. So I think that’s a ‘yes’. 😊

How did you become a dog trainer?

When we moved to France, I joined French dog forums to meet other fans of the Great Pyrenees breed. We’d been owned by four of them and were discussing whether to start the great adventure once again. Training was often discussed on the forums and somebody recommended Michel Hasbrouck’s bestseller Dressage Tendresse so I read it and it all made sense to me.

Jean with Bétel learning to swim

I contacted Michel to ask whether he knew of a similar book in English for my friends, and he said, ‘Why don’t you translate it for me?’ So I did, and we found a publisher to bring out Gentle Dog Training. Michel and I became friends, and worked together to support dog-owners online, offering them his Dogmaster training.

When we welcomed two Great Pyrenees puppies into the family, I took the first one, Blanche, to Michel in Switzerland, for two days intensive training (of me, not of the dog). We always joked that she’d been to Swiss Finishing School.

A few years later, after we’d worked together online, I went back to train as a dog-trainer and passed the weekend’s challenges – like most experts, Michel is exacting. I wanted to continue but life threw me a curve ball. My husband needed an emergency appendectomy and I faced the fact that, in my fifties, I couldn’t take on all these new careers, or I’d explode.

I trained as a beekeeper instead and I did learn enough from Michel to feel confident in dealing with whatever problems my own dogs present. That has been a life-saver.

Is the book fiction or faction?

Faction. All the stories in the book are true, based on some of the thousands of true stories I came across on forums and in my work with Michel. They did not all happen to the same dog but I shaped them to make an adventure from the dog’s viewpoint, to show both the mistakes we humans make and the love we could find.

And your characters, are they based on real people/dogs?

The character of Sirius owes a lot to my own dog Bételgeuse, who had a sense of justice as big as his heart. His sister Snow is very like my Blanche-Neige, feisty and playful. Some of the anecdotes in the book are from my own life with dogs. Blanche really did steal a whole slab of Beaufort cheese and sat there with her cheeks hamsterful, jaws glued together, until I noticed and rescued her.

Unfortunately, the macho attitude to dog-training is also drawn from life and I well remember one man, a doctor by profession, bragging about how he disciplined his Great Pyrenees.

As for animal shelters: yes, there are indeed some like this, with these types of people working there. We have adopted three dogs from French shelters, since I wrote the book, and life matched fiction far too well.

Any advice for new dog owners? (My husband and I are looking to adopt our first dog from a rescue centre).

The great adventure begins! Advice is not a one-off as the more you learn, the more you’ll understand. Read Someone To Look Up To – of course! I’ve blogged about dog adoption too, with some advice here

And in my book One Sixth of a Gill http://smarturl.it/1sixth which is available free to those who sign up for my newsletter. www.jeangill.com

Top Tips

Choosing – talk to the shelter workers about what sort of life you are offering the dog and listen to their recommendations. Don’t let pity rule you. Don’t choose a dog with health problems. Don’t choose a scared dog. Especially if you are new to dog adoption, you want to lessen your chance of dealing with aggression. Don’t worry if the dog is more interested in rushing along the lane on a test walk than he/she is in you – shelter dogs have to make the most of the tiny amount of time they have outside a cage.

Travel

If you can, make the journey from shelter to your home a chance for you to talk to your dog, to stroke him, to give him some dog treats, (if he likes them). Let him have an old cardigan with your smell on it. This is where the relationship begins. You can use a dog crate with the cardigan and some treats in it, especially if travelling alone. Make sure you have a collar with your contact on it, to put on the dog – dogs get lost by escaping at this stage!

Jean’s current dogs – Sherlock and Watson

Jean with Betel

Homecoming

Make time to be with your dog for at least the first 2 days and ban all your friends and neighbours from the house. Your dog has enough to deal with! Establish a routine to make the dog feel secure; a place to sleep, a place for food and routine times for going outside. DON’T let the dog off-lead anywhere that’s not fenced, for at least 2 months and even then, test that the recall can be trusted. If not, DON’T take a risk. It is normal for a dog to try to escape, even to go back to a horrible shelter. Your dog has to learn that this is home.

When your dog is lying peacefully, doing nothing wrong, praise him in a purring voice. Tell him he’s beautiful. Love him with your voice. Ditto when he does something you want to encourage.

NEVER ask your dog to do something unless you can enforce it. You are teaching disobedience and disrespect.

THE TIP OF TIPS

Ask for help if you need it, from a trusted dog trainer who never recommends hitting or shouting.

I could write a book on it! But of course I have. As has Michel.

What other books do you write?

I’ve written nineteen books, including medieval historical fiction (the award-winning Troubadours Quartet), memoir, non-fiction, Young Adult and poetry.

What is your next project?

I don’t know! I have several photography projects, including a shoot in a smithy with a master craftsman who’s going to make me a Damascene steel knife. My bees will wake up in the next couple of months. I am working on Watson’s vélophobie – he goes bonkers when he sees a bicycle. I can only guess at what happened in his life before us – he was dumped twice at the shelter. But I don’t know what I’m going to write next. Input from my readers will influence my choice as I have drawerfuls of ideas and don’t know what to choose. What do you think I should write next?

Thanks for sharing Jean and for your top training tips. I’m popping over to Amazon now to check out your other books.

As for your next writing project. I know your readers would love another historical fiction series or how about some cozy mysteries involving a bee-keeping amateur detective?

Check out the links below if you want to contact Jean Gill or would like to know more about her books.

Jean.gill@wanadoo.fr

IPPY Award for Best Author Website www.jeangill.com

Blog www.jeangill.blogspot.com

https://twitter.com/writerjeangill

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/writerjeangill

The Troubadours Page https://www.facebook.com/jeangilltroubadours

Youtube book trailers https://www.youtube.com/user/beteljean

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/writerjeangill/