Category Archives: Nature

Dog Squad Blog – Lord Banjo The Royal Pooch

Kathy Manos Penn is a corporate retiree—or escapee—who taught English before embarking on her 32-year corporate career. There,  it seemed she was always the go-to person for writing speeches, presentations, blogs, you name it, no matter her actual job. Says Kathy, “Finally, in my last ten years, I landed in a job with the word ‘communications’ in the title.” 

On a whim, she submitted an article to a local paper and wound up with a side job as a columnist. And then . . . her dog started writing. 

This week, Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch shares the story of how he came to be a dog author, with just a little bit of help from his mum. 

 Craigslist PostFlat-coated retriever needs a new home NOW. Home in foreclosure. Must go today or go to ANIMAL SHELTER tomorrow–Saturday.

And so begins my story.  I was the two-year-old dog in dire straits.  What were the chances someone would see a Friday afternoon post and respond in time to save me from a trip to the shelter the next morning?  Even if some caring person responded, would they want me once they discovered I was an 80-lb two-year-old black dog?

Eighty pounds? Strike one.  Black? Strike two.  It’s common knowledge we black dogs are the ones who get left behind at the shelter because so many folks are scared of black dogs, especially big, black dogs.  Only two years old?  Strike three for those who envision chewed shoes and furniture and rambunctious behavior. 

By now, everyone knows that I’m not a flat-coated retriever and that I went to a good home, not a shelter. Lucky for me, my mum was checking Craigslist nonstop in search of a companion pup for Tinker, who really was a flat-coated retriever mix.  Me? I look a bit like one with my wavy black fur, but I’m a Royal Pooch—a celebrity Royal Pooch.


I didn’t set out to become a celebrity, but that’s what happened.  My mum surprised my dad one Christmas by giving me a DNA test. Though my shiny, fluffy fur is black, my DNA results revealed that one of my great-grandfathers was a Great Pyrenees—a descendant of the majestic white dogs who were once the Royal Dogs of France.  I was sure our family and friends would be thrilled to learn I had royal blood and would want to hear all about my royal life, so I asked Mum to help me share the news in a book.

Puddin’, my feline sister, likes to say she helped me tell my story because she offered encouragement as Mum and I worked.  If you consider reclining on the desk or curling up in the file drawer as encouragement, you may agree with the little thing. 

Still,‘twas I, the Royal Pooch, who did the lion’s . . . I mean dog’s . . . share of the work.  Day after day, I could be found lying beneath Mum’s desk dictating my tale, and what a tale it was. 

 I thought my story was enchanting with a saved in the nick of time beginning and a happy ending.

  • Dog is rescued by loving family
  • Dog discovers he’s descended from royalty
  • Dog writes book
  • Dog resumes quiet life with Mum, Dad, and the cat.

But it turns out there’s more, much more.  My story didn’t end with me returning to my previously quiet life as I thought it would.  

That’s the first draft of the opening for my next book. What do you think?

Mum and I have a grand time doing book signings and meeting all kinds of folks, who admire my royal purple robe and love giving me belly rubs.  We discovered that dog lovers of all ages enjoy my sense of humor, so adults read my book and middle schoolers read my book and plenty of people laugh at my antics. 

I find it odd that my book is considered to be fiction. I mean, it’s all absolutely true.  Really! Every bit of it happened to moi.  Mum says most adults have a hard time believingthat I, a dog, wrote a book!  She tried to explain that for grownups to think of my book as nonfiction, they must have a “willing suspension of disbelief,” whatever that means.  I think that may be something she heard ages ago when she was in school.

Nonetheless, I didwrite a book, and I’m almost finished with my second one. I’m such a generous and gracious guy that I’m allowing the cat, Princess Puddin’, to have her own chapter this time.  She’s a beauty of a calico cat and quite intelligent. She told me in no uncertain terms, “If you think you can call yourself Lord Banjo just because some silly French King back in the day declared Great Pyrenees to be Royal, then you can call me Princess! So there.”

I think she has diva tendencies, but I love her in spite of her tiny tantrums. Until our next book comes out—see, I even said our book—you may want to visit Mum’s blog  https://theinkpenn.blogspot.com/to read stories from the Princess and the Pooch.  Yes, Mum writes blogs about books and things, but we all know that it’s we four-legged writers who are the most interesting.

These days, both Lord Banjo and the Princess write columns for a local paper, and their mum graciously posts them on her blog at https://theinkpenn.blogspot.com/. You can sign up to receive their posts via email, and you can contact the whole family at inkpenn119@gmail.com. They love to hear from readers. Click here http://mybook.to/ViewbookonAmazonto find Book one, “Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch,” on Amazon  

mybook.to/ViewbookonAmazon

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Dog Squad Blog – Boydog and Lollopy

This week’s post is from Boydog’s point of view. His people parents (Tania and Simon) live down the road from us in Cyprus. Tania is currently fulfilling a longterm goal of hers by providing delicious and nutritious meals to the local community, via her catering company, Mish Mash. She also teaches cookery when time allows. So without further ado, over to Boydog.

Boydog

Let me introduce myself. My name is Boydog. I know you want to laugh, everyone does, but Mummy and Daddy told me that I am a dog and a boy so it seemed pretty obvious at the time. I put it down to a lack of imagination if the truth be told but I don’t hold it against them because for a few years after they rescued me, I was the happiest Boydog in the world. Then along came Lollopy. 

How cute am I?

Now I’m not saying it’s all bad but things did change for the worse. My dinner time definitely got worse. I’m not a greedy dog and sometimes I’d like to have a nibble then a wander and pop back later for a little bit more. Not any more I can’t, not since Lollopy came along. If I don’t gobble down every last morsel at the precise moment the kibble is poured in my dish, the second I take two steps in any direction, a huge nose dives into my bowl and devours every last crumb. This has certainly added a few kilos to my ever expanding figure as I now have to empty the bowl whether I am hungry or not! 

Walk time has definitely got worse. I always recognised the signs that a walk was coming up. Daddy (or at the weekend Mummy and Daddy) would put on their ‘special’ shoes and gather up my harness and lead. I would give the odd “woof” which I wouldn’t call bothersome to anyone, then off we’d go. Not any more! not since Lollopy came along! The ‘special’ shoes are recognised before they are even on feet and the fun begins. The frantic charging around the garden, barking at several hundred decibels and the yells from Daddy and Mummy to cease that awful noise almost makes me rather have a quick poop behind the tree in the garden. 

And we’re off!

Once out in the street, I used to enjoy a calm leisurely trot, sniffing all the wonderful aromas and then thoughtfully masking them with my own. I was forgiven if the dreaded black cat crossed my path as it was in my nature to protect my Mummy and Daddy from such a peril. Not any more! not since Lollopy came along! Lollopy seems to think it’s a race and tries to cover as many miles in the shortest space of time possible. Mummy complains that her shoulder will be pulled out of its socket. Daddy complains a bit but I’ve heard him whisper “black cat” close to her ear just to wind up Mummy even more. 

Family mealtimes used to be such a treat. I had managed the art of begging so Mummy and Daddy thought I was just laying innocently under the table but managed to sneak the odd morsel which Daddy fed me without Mummy seeing. Not any more he can’t! not since Lollopy came along!

Lollopy feeding

Lollopy is so tall that she can almost put her nose on the table and eat off Daddy’s plate much to Mummy’s disgust. Obviously Daddy doesn’t let her so she has to sit further back than I used to, which means Mummy always notices when Daddy sneaks us the odd morsel and all three of us get shouted at. There used to be the odd plate to finish off but now the plates are scraped and rushed into the dishwasher before Lollopy gives everything a pre-wash. 

And then we come to bedtime, the worst change of all. I had my own lovely little corner at the bottom of the bed. Occasionally, I would find myself trapped by feet as Mummy or Daddy stretched out, but generally I had a peaceful and comfortable night. Not any more I don’t, not since Lollopy came along! Lollopy takes up the whole bed. Mummy wakes up having a panic attack because she’s dreaming she’s trapped in a strait jacket, having woken up unable to move a single muscle. Mummy moans at Daddy about this massive lolloping dog sleeping in the middle of the bed and I have resorted to sleeping in my own bed on the floor – not my idea of a comfortable night. 

I don’t always sleep on the floor!

The worse time of my life was when Mummy and Daddy would bring down their big bags and carefully fill them with as many clothes as they could squeeze in. I would always try to sneak in but they would look at me with their sad actor’s eyes and tell me that, although they love me dearly, I couldn’t go with them. They would drive off with mock tears in their eyes and I would be on my own for a hundred years at least. A strange lady would come and give me food and a quick hug. I might get the odd walk but it wasn’t like a daddy walk. Day became night and night became day over and over. I felt sad and forgotten. Not any more I don’t, not since Lollopy came along! Now I have a friend. When the sad eyes say their goodbyes, Lollopy and I perform our best acting skills to make them feel mega guilty but then…….. we have a ball! Lollopy chews up all the cushions and I dig up the stones. Lollopy eats all the plants and I chase the cats. We both go mental when the postman or dustmen come. This is our home, this is our family and we are in it together…. forever.

Any chance of some treats, Mum?

Dog Squad Blog – Elementary My Dear Watson

Jean Gill is an award-winning Welsh writer and photographer living in the south of France with two big scruffy dogs, a Nikon D750 and a man. For many years, she taught English in Wales and was the first woman to be a secondary headteacher in Carmarthenshire. She is mother or stepmother to five children and despite having had such a hectic life so far, Jean is a successful author, photographer, dog trainer and beekeeper. With Scottish parents, an English birthplace and French residence, she can usually support the winning team on most sporting occasions.

Jean shares Sherlock’s story in this week’s post.

Every morning Sherlock does a little happy dance when he sees me or my husband, John. His partner in crime, Watson, raises one ear and demands a tummy tickle. Watson is not a morning person. The detectives enjoy breakfast and a walk in the woods, followed by bodyguard duties, during which they watch over me. Their previous lives were not so idyllic.

Sherlock with Watson

Five years ago, Sherlock was named Rudi by the animal shelter that took him in, here in northern Provence. He’s a Gascogny Blue Griffon, a scent hound, and if you look up the breed, you’ll see that all the owners are men with guns. They’re so prized as hunting dogs that I get asked whether I’m hunting, when I take him for a walk. Little female me, no gun – they only see the dog!

If you know dogs, and people’s habits with them, you can work out much of a shelter dog’s story from his behaviour. Rudi was undoubtedly dumped by a hunter, to be replaced by a younger dog, better suited to hunting. He’d been in the shelter six months and was unlikely to leave alive because he was too big, too old, male, too black – all unpopular characteristics – and received wisdom says that hunting dogs make bad pets because they are semi-wild and run away all the time. 

Luckily for Rudi, we wanted a big, beautiful (any colour), older male dog who could cope with our feisty female Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Blanche. I’ve worked with a top dog trainer, Michel Hasbrouck, so am confident that I can cope with dog problems but I don’t seek extra ones. When I adopt a dog with a past, I use my head, then give my heart. A forever home is just that. I hate shelters and Rudi’s was one of the worst. 

Blanche and Sherlock

When we met him, Rudi flinched when touched but showed no aggression. He ran away when called, typical of a dog who’s punished for previous disobedience when he does come to his human. He’d known only beatings. He was very chilled with Blanche when they were let off lead together in the enclosed wasteground that passed for an exercise yard at the shelter. And he looked me in the eyes, sad, passive and stubborn. I don’t expect love at first sight and didn’t get it but I knew I could create a bond. I’ve done it before.

When we went back to get him, I went to the pen and my heart broke. Rudi was lying beside a huge pile of restaurant waste in a dog-bowl and he’d given up. He saw me and gave just one bark. He knew I’d come back for him and he was up for it. 

So we now had a hunting-dog, who’d almost certainly never been in a house before. He was petrified at coming up the steps and through the front door. But he wanted to be with me so in he came. He lay down – great! Then John turned on the TV and Sherlock bolted out the door as if monsters were after him, which of course they were.

After two days of quiet television, Sherlock relaxed enough to watch the football and now one of his favourite places is in front of the TV. Blanche was a huge help in showing her new friend the ropes and of course jumped on him occasionally – that was her leadership style. He suffered terrible nightmares for months and on one occasion, Blanche and I both rushed to find him because of the terrible noises. He was asleep. Blanche and I looked at each other, shrugged and left him to it.

Step by step, Sherlock became the dog he’s always wanted to be. He comes when he’s called, after thinking about it. He takes treats. Like most hunting-dogs he’d probably been trained to refuse food by hand. He loves being stroked and, when the grandchildren visited, he ran up and down the garden with them, so gentle. When he found his voice, even Blanche was impressed. He has the deep bay of a hound, not at all suitable for suburbia but, luckily, we are on the border of a French village, with a huge garden and good neighbours.

He has grown more confident but still has fears. One of our training successes was with regard to his fear of sharp noises that sounded like gunshot. We think that’s probably why he was abandoned – a traumatic incident out hunting that left him too scared to work. He had an extreme reaction to us popping the cork on the local sparkling wine, Clairette. So, purely for the dog’s sake, we did this most days until he grew used to the sound. Now, we can pop away without him even lifting his head.

I doubt that he ever had a bed. He now uses all of those available, as the mood takes him, and he also turns two rugs into dens. He is the sweetest and most civilised dog I’ve ever known, with no desire to escape whatsoever. He used to be petrified at the sight or sound of hunters. Now, he ignores them. That life was a long time ago and more than his name has changed. When we lost Blanche and adopted Watson, it was Sherlock’s turn to show the ropes to the new dog. And he did. To show his advanced level of house-training, Sherlock even taught Watson his favourite domestic activity: hoovering – or rather Dysoning. And the video is here to prove it! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5Q4xPrKLO4&t=  

Watson looks sweet, doesn’t he? He is! But he was abandoned twice and spent most of 2017 in a shelter – a story for another day.

Great story, thanks Jean. If you would like read more of Jean’s true stories about dogs, you’ll find them in ‘One Sixth of a Gill’ (available free to members of her Special Readers’ Group http://eepurl.com/AGvy5) and in ‘Someone To Look Up To’. http://books2read.com/someone , on offer at $0.99/ £0.99.

Top Pick Award from Litpick Student Reviews. By IPPY and Global Ebook Award Winning author.
‘Jean Gill has captured the innermost thoughts of this magnificent animal.’
 Les Ingham, Pyr 

Jean’s publications are varied, including poetry and novels, military history, translated books on dog training, and a cookery book on goat cheese. My favourites are ‘Someone to Look Up To’ and the Troubadours series.

Book 1 of the multi-award-winning Historical Fiction series The Troubadours Quartet ‘Believable, page-turning and memorable.’ Lela Michael, S.P. Review 

If you want to know more, sign up for Jean’s newsletter at http://eepurl.com/AGvy5 for updates and a free book. If you review one of Jean’s books you can add a dog to Jean’s Readers Dogs Hall of Fame on her website. Contact Jean at jean.gill@wanadoo.fr with comments or questions. She loves to hear from readers.

Dog Squad Blog – Teddy Bear Teddi

This week’s blog is from my good friend and walking buddy Mandy, and her beautiful little dog Teddi.

Teddi is our 4 year old Pomeranian who looks just like a teddy bear. A little while after the loss of our 13 year old Siberian Husky, my husband and I started to feel we were ready for another dog. We wanted a smaller dog which wouldn’t require as much training or walking, so we visited a few dog shelters in Cyprus. Unfortunately, nothing quite captured our hearts. I continued searching through Facebook rehoming sites, and then I stumbled across Boo the cutest dog in the world Facebook page. I fell in love with Boo from the first moment I saw him. From then, my mission was to find a Boo for myself. This process took only a few months and finally in February 2016 I became the proud doggy mother to Teddi.

teddi with toy

From a pup, Teddi’s bed was always downstairs, as my husband didn’t want a dog in the bed. I totally understood and agreed. That was until I spent a night away on a girls’ night out. I returned home to discover my husband had allowed Teddi to sleep in our bed. From that day on she has never looked back and is in our bed every night.

Teddi is such a happy little dog with a lovely personality, who loves play time. Her play can range from helping me to take my socks off then ragging them or playing fetch with her many balls all scattered around the garden. She’s not bothered about walking, but most days we go, and this starts with her running off and hiding. Then I have to find her, pick her up and put her harness on, which she doesn’t like, but once on she is happy to go out. On our walk around the village when she has to pee pee this involves her raising her back legs off the ground and doing a handstand whilst walking and peeing – really comical to watch.

The whole ordeal about going out for walks doesn’t happen if I pick up my car keys. Teddi’s excitement is overwhelming. She’ll spin around and around whilst barking on route to the car. Once in she adopts her position in the front passenger seat with front paws on the door armrest waiting for the window to be opened so she can pop her head out, then off we go.

teddi in car

Teddi definitely has small dog syndrome and is quite active in her barking if there are any cars or people in the surrounding area around our house. This makes her a wonderful guard dog (despite her size) and alerts us to any activities outside, even crisp packets blowing in the wind! I remember once when I was upstairs in the bedroom, and I heard Teddi barking, but it wasn’t her usual bark. When I looked out of the window I noticed a wet patch on the patio slabs around the pool and one dripping Kitti Kat. The cat had slipped into the pool while having a drink so Teddi was notifying me, Lassie-style.

‘Come quickly, cat nearly drowning in pool, hurry up, mum!’

I rushed outside to discover Kitti Kat had a near miss that day.

Teddi and Kitti Kat

Teddi is most precious to me. I leave work most days at around lunchtime and even on my way home I think about her, and about the wonderful greeting I will receive. I can’t imagine life without her.

What a lovely post and a gorgeous dog. Thanks for sharing Mandy.

The characters in ‘The Island Dog Squad’ novellas are featured earlier in this blog series. Learn more about the books here.  http://smarturl.it/ru5uye

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“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”

Dog Squad Blog – Pip, A Giant Amongst Dogs

This week my good friend John Wolsey writes a moving tribute to Pip.

The Passing of a Friend. 

I feel quite uncomfortable writing about Pip, our beloved Parsons Russell Terrier, because he was very much part of our life and he passed away on 3 May 15, leaving a massive void. So, I thought about what I should write, and in doing so I welled up uncontrollably. Quite irrational really, but the act of remembering Pip was so profound and the memory of him still so raw. Emotions eh! Non-dog owners would tell you that is silly. But to those, who have been fortunate enough to have had the companionship of a dog in our life, well, it’s a whole different “ball game”, so to speak! They are family, in a way non-dog owners will not fully understand. You see, to me, Pip wasn’t just a dog, he was a giant amongst dogs. 

Pip came from a farm, in Dorset, and his Mum and Dad were working dogs. When we asked his name, the farmer said, in a broad West country accent, that he did not have a name, they just called him “the little sod” because he was so mischievous. And so it was. He was mischievous to a fault, and energetic, and playful, and happy. He loved digging (all terriers do) and when you tried to stop him, he would run around the garden in circles at high speed, with his bottom tucked up under his back legs, swerving and dodging and side-stepping. He also had that classic terrier trait of running on 3 legs, especially down stairs! 

And slowly our life changed, to accommodate Pip. The once tidy sitting room was semi littered with toys and his teddies. Blankets covered the sofa. Water and food bowls filled the kitchen, and assorted towels, brushes and leads hung in the hallway. 

Despite his size, Pip was as brave and fearless as a lion. Once, when attacked and bitten by a much larger dog, he would not give up the fight despite the odds stacked against him. But he had a soft side too, and would paw you for more, when you stopped stroking him. And at night, he would cuddle down (usually on my feet, under my duvet) with his favourite teddy. 

We moved to Austria in 2011. Pip took to the move like a duck to water and grinned at everybody (he had always “smiled” at people from early puppyhood). Indeed, Pip helped our integration into Village life, and we were often asked “Ist das der Hund, der grinst?” (Is that the dog that grins?). The move also coincided with one of the coldest winters, often minus 20, and Pip would return home covered in icicles and snow balls. What have I come to, he must have quietly thought as his garden was covered in snow for half the year. 

Just chilling

It was with some trepidation we adopted a kitten, given Pip’s penchant for chasing anything small that moved. But the kitten loved Pip, and Pip tolerated the kitten. In time they became the best of friends, and Pip gave up sleeping under my duvet in favour of snuggling down on the sofa with the kitten. They would often happily stare out of the window together, watching the world go by. And the kitten would practice her attack and pounce moves, on his head, when he was sleeping. 


Stop messing with my head!

Pip was always busy, and had a character that could melt your heart. He was loyal beyond question and loved our family unconditionally. He never judged us, but always met us, tail wagging and grinning from ear to ear. As time went by he did slow down and would sleep more and more. And then came the heart-wrenching day when, quite out of the blue, he had a stroke. It simply broke my heart. But that is what dogs do to you, don’t they? You don’t own them, but they fill your very heart and soul. And so it was with Pip. And I realised at that moment that I, too, had loved him unconditionally all along. I was there for him at the end, in the same way that he had always been there for me. 

The house is now very empty without Pip and his leads and towels and bowls lie redundant in the dusty attic. His teddies are there, too, in a box. And all his memories. But in some ways the process of writing this blog has been both cathartic and uplifting as we remembered him, and laughed and cried out loud, all at the same time. 

So, keep your dogs in a special corner of your heart, and love them dearly, for one day, too, they will be sadly gone. But never forgotten.

What a moving tale, thanks for sharing John.

The characters in ‘The Island Dog Squad’ novellas are featured earlier in this blog series. Click http://smarturl.it/ru5uye to learn more about the first book in the series.

“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

Dog Squad Blog – The Lady of the House

Today’s dog story is from Mandy. We met at netball training years ago and have been friends ever since. Mandy lives near Monchengladbach in Germany with her husband Richard and their dog.

Hi I’m Mandy and have a wonderful little Mini Schnauzer named Lady. She is my first dog. I never imagined I’d own a dog, as my husband Richard has never wanted one. We have four grown up boys and they decided to buy me a dog for my birthday. They checked with Richard first and he agreed the day after. I knew I wanted a Mini Schnauzer and two of the boys came to the farm to look at the dogs with me. This was supposed to be an initial visit with a view to picking a dog at a later date. There were three Minis there and I was drawn to Lady who was the smallest. As soon as I picked her up I knew she was the one so decided she was coming home with us. 

I think I need a haircut mum

Lady didn’t have a good start in life. I’m not sure where she was born but she was taken to the farm in the Netherlands and that’s where we picked her up. She already had a pet passport and all of her vaccinations were up to date. She was five and a half months old when she came home with us, and I believe whatever happened to her as a young puppy has caused her to be anxious. When we visited the vet to get Lady checked over, she had quite a bad ear infection. Luckily it cleared up within a few weeks with the treatment and she hasn’t had one since.

Hello Flower
Hello Flower


Lady is quite small even for a Mini. She is great with people but is quite anxious around other dogs. She’s never really played with them and even at puppy school she would hang around my legs. Saying that, she loves to play and also loves lots of cuddles with her human brothers and her people parents. Richard is smitten and has welcomed Lady as a big part of our family.

A Cuddle Break

She can be quite a stubborn little madam at times and refuses to go out when it’s raining, but she absolutely loves the snow. We enjoy the outdoors especially walking holidays and Lady travels well in the car so we take her with us. Thankfully, many hotels and guesthouses in Germany are dog friendly so I’ve never had to leave Lady in kennels – she’s a sensitive girl and I don’t think she would cope.

Yay, snow!

Lady sleeps in her crate at night in the front room but only goes in there when I go to bed. She’s usually sleeping on the sofa by then and I lay her in her bed like I would a baby, and of course I give her a kiss goodnight (but don’t tell anyone). 

Since Lady came into our lives I am much more confident with other dogs. I was always apprehensive of them as a dog bit me when I was a child. It’s also amazing how many people stop and speak when you’re with a dog; including people that I have lived near for years but have never noticed me. 

Lady is intelligent and learns quickly. She loves her food, which is a great incentive when teaching her anything new. Her favourite thing is tummy rubs and she always paws for more – just as she’s doing now. 

Like most dogs, Lady loves going for walks and this is good for me too. I take her out at least three times each day and try to make one of the walks an hour long. This has started to show on my waistline so it’s a win, win situation. 

Coming for a walk?

Lady is almost nineteen months old and has such a sweet nature. It doesn’t matter if I go out or even leave the room for five minutes or three hours, I get the same welcome and she goes bananas when I return. She’s my little shadow so maybe that’s what we should have named her. On second thoughts, no. Lady suits her because she’s our little Lady. She’s brought lots more love to our home and now we can’t imagine our lives without her. 

Lady is loveable, just like the main characters in ‘The Island Dog Squad’ who are based on real dogs featured earlier in this blog series. Click http://smarturl.it/ru5uye to check out book one.

“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

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