Saturday, July 2, 2016

Shy Dog in the City

One dog that I fostered was an escape artist. It was an obsession; but she would return of her own accord in a day or two.

In her previous life, she lived semi-feral in a remote community in northern British Columbia. For eight years, she eluded periodic 'shoots' in her the community. It was the way they cleared out unwanted dogs. Her luck ran its course and she would have been done but for a local resident who scooped her up along with her pup and drove many miles to a rescue organization.

She was adopted into a loving home in Vancouver. However, living in a house with a fenced yard was not to be, and she escaped once again. This time she did not return.

The months went by and hope faded. I was sick about losing her.

Three years later, through serendipity, I discovered she was living as 'the golf course dog' at Musqueam Golf and Learning Academy in Vancouver. I was esctatic, and went to visit her and discover how this had come to be.

A golfer searching for a stray ball in the deep grass in a wooded area had found her. She was almost dead from starvation, but even in her weakened state, she would not let them catch her. One of the golfers took it as a challenge to befriend her. He left food for her everyday, and spent time talking to her while being careful not to intrude on her personal space.

It took about two months before she started following him. She waited for him in the parking lot in the morning and delighted in his company, following him as he played his round.  Her devotion to him grew into a love affair; he was her adopted human. However, she would not agree to get in his car and go home with him. He respected her choice.

Some golfers said 'a golf course is no place for a dog,' and wanted her gone. Eventually, they conceded that this relationship was destiny. Though they did not understand her pathological shyness, they allowed her sanctuary at the golf course.

She became the unofficial mascot. After golfing with her human in the morning, she was invited into the coffee shop to hang out with the guys. There was always a side of bacon for her.

Golfers brought their grandchildren to view her with the understanding that they were not to attempt to pet her or chase her. At Christmas, gifts were left for her. Various golfers regularly delivered 50 pound bags of dog food.

All the time, they wondered where had she come from, and why she was so shy.

Reuniting with her at Musqueam Golf, I exchanged stories with the golfers.  I explained where she came from, they explained how she came to be the golf course dog. 

"The Dog That Was Lost in Paradise" is the story of a dog that found the home she needed - one without a fence - and the community of golfers that gave refuge to a different kind of dog. 

Friday, April 29, 2016


Vacationers found them in a remote forest on the British Columbia coast. Three were young husky-looking dogs and the fourth was an older lab with a broken leg.

They were starving, and close to death. 

The vacationers tried to locate the owners (unsuccessfully), then spent many more hours searching for an animal shelter that would take the dogs.

Fortunately (for the dogs), these vacationers were savvy about crowded, underfunded animal shelters. They knew the older dog with the broken leg would have been terminated in a proverbial New York minute. 

They were able to find a safe haven for the dogs; it was also crowded and underfunded, but took the dogs anyway. Turtle Gardens Animal Rescue was 600 miles away, one-and-a-half-days' drive. 

The three younger dogs were re-homed within a few months. The old dog lingered for nine months until there was an application from the dream home. 

I published this story on Amazon: "The Bella Coola 4: Dogs in the Forest." Lou and Bonny Baird - the vacationers - recounted the details of their remarkable journey by phone and email. I never met them in person. 

In April, 2016, the old dog (appropriately named King) passed away after living in love for seven years with Del and Mark Aylett in their mountain home in Lillooet, BC. 

Around the same time, the vacationers (Lou and Bonny Baird) posted on Facebook that Lou was starting school in Vancouver and urgently needed 'a cheap room'.

'Cheap room in Vancouver' is an oxymoron. 

I live in the Vancouver burbs and I have a spare room that will work out fine for student Lou Baird, but isn't cheap.

It was paid forward by a 600-mile drive with four dogs.

Postscript: Yvette Labatte, manager of the rescue, has co-authored my short stories about amazing rescue dogs.

Monday, March 28, 2016

It's Jesus

He had been hanging around in the Santa Cruz wash, a big, brown dog, stick thin with black grease smeared around his neck and bib indicating he had been tethered on a chain likely salvaged from a wrecking yard. 

She was the fund-raiser for a project to build a new church and she was there for the entire day, attending each mass, talking to the parishioners about the project.

Between masses, she relaxed in a shaded area. The dog came to her and laid his head in her lap; heavy. You need to take me with you.

Sister Guadeloupe concurred; the dog needed to go with her. “It’s Jesus,” the Sister said; he was the manifestation of need.

At days end, he followed her to her car. He paused when she opened the door, riding in a car was not part of his life experience. This could be her out, but Sister’s eyes stabbed her in the back.

I can take him to the animal shelter in Tucson, she promised herself.

She had to use some body language to get him in the car, but once inside, he flopped on the seat and slept like a hobo who had been on the road too long.

At the immigration checkpoint on the highway, the sign sternly warned, ‘control any animals in your vehicle.’ This is it, she thought, a stray with no collar and no leash is not going to get past here.

He never lifted his head.

She phoned the humane society as soon as she got home, but they did not do intakes on Sundays. They did leave her with a plethora of ominous warnings about ‘a dog like that.’

On the after dinner walk, she ran into one of her neighbors.

What’s his name?

He doesn’t have one.

Despite her pleadings not to do it, the neighbor christened him. He was named Palmer, an un-dogly name. It was a spin-off from the name of their condo complex.

A dog with a name is hard to take to the shelter. She made a bargain with herself; she would keep him until …until he turned the garbage over, until he chewed the leg of the coffee table, until… 

He was the perfect gentleman in the house.

It was getting harder.

She took him to the vet for a check-up.  He was not neutered. In addition, the vet found some worms that were going to be expensive to eradicate. All in, with vaccinations and micro chipping, it was going to be about $1200, much more money than she had to spend on a dog she didn’t need.

Hearing her story about this dog formerly called Jesus, the vet enrolled her on his “Dogs in Need” program: free vet care for a whole year. Her vet was Catholic.

Palmer gained weight and his coat turned a glistening toffee color.  He friended everyone and delighted in children. He didn’t chase cats. At the dog park, he was accepted by the pack without the usual initiation swarm they put on newcomers. He found the biggest dog and laid a tackle on him. The other dog loved it.

Some months later, she had to return to the church by the Santa Cruz wash. It would be a full day so she took Palmer, but along the way, a thought struck her. Would Palmer feel pulled to his former life running free in the Santa Cruz wash?

Palmer stuck like glue all day. Was he attending to her anxiety, or did he have his own fears of this place?

He did not pause when she opened the car door to leave. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

New Models in Indie Publishing

The Tucson Festival of Books is the place to catch up on the latest trends in the world of publishing. The 2016 Festival showcased three unique new platforms for indie publishers.

1. Booktrope: This service preserves the value offered by traditional publishing but works through
autonomous creative teams. It provides a full publishing process with no up-front fees. Their streamlined service can take a book to press in as little as four weeks. Seventy percent of book revenues go back to the creative team and royalties are paid monthly.

Booktrope publishes all genres and currently have 1000 titles. Majority of sales are ebooks and their best selling series is a new genre called Regency Romance.

2. Inkshares is a publisher with a unique acquisition process: readers decide. Authors submit ideas in a tight 20-words-or-less format. If it is selected it is previewed on the website with the object of obtaining pre-sales.

Once the pre-order target is met, Inkshares edits, designs, prints, distributes and markets the book. They work with Girl Friday Productions to prepare the book. Time to press is six to nine months.

Their unexpected recent best seller: The Show: sex, drugs and tech.

3. She Writes is a community of women writers. She Writes Press is an independent publishing company founded to serve the members. Only manuscripts that are deemed publish-ready based on merits of the writing are accepted. The author invests up-front on their project and receives 60% royalties (on net profits) on print versions and 80% royalties (on net profits) on ebooks.

In 2014, She Writes Press became part of the SparkPoint Studio family and now has a powerful combination for a hybrid publisher with a strong editorial vision, traditional distribution and an in-house marketing and publicity team.