MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life

MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life
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Friday, May 24, 2013

Decline and Death of a Parent: Stories From Those Who Have Been There

We are moved by what we love. First, it was my dog, my constant companion, Maggie, who inspired my first book, MAGGIE the dog who changed my life. Then caring for my declining parents moved me to write once again, and to talk with others to explore and share their experiences in caring for their aging and dying parents. We all lose our parents. I always knew I'd lose my parents, but was not prepared for how overwhelming and life-changing it was. Perhaps you've been there, too, or are now experiencing this challenging time in your lives.

For those of you who are interested, I describe my book below. I am also asking for your help. I have 3 working titles listed below. Will you please take a moment and respond with a comment on my blog to let me know which one speaks to you the most?  

Coming in 2013 ...

Working Titles:
Decline and Death of a Parent: Stories From Those Who Have Been There

Caring for Aging Parents: Tough Choices, Changed Lives

 Parent Loss: Choices Made, Tears Cried, and Lives Changed

Dad and me around 2000

In my book, I interview others who have lost their parents and share my story, too. We delve into:

  • Family of origin interactions, and relationship with our parents.
  • How the declining health of aging parents impacted us emotionally and in our day to day life.
  • Whether or not siblings worked together to help declining parents. Was there conflict and if so, how did we resolve it?
  • How parent decline and loss changes us and the choices we make in our lives.
  • What decisions we have to make about parent care.
  • Were we at peace with our parents before they became ill; if not, how we made peace with our parents before or after they died. Or not.
  • What happens to family dysfunctional patterns (if present) during parent illness?
  • What coping skills and resources people called on when dealing with declining parents and their eventual deaths.
  • How we who lost parents found support from friends in our grief, or did we?
  • What experiences with health care professionals were like and whether they were helpful or hindering in any way
  • What was clearing out the "stuff" in our parents’ home like?
  • Feelings that were hard to come to terms with surrounding our parents' decline and death; feelings that still haunt us or that we finally came to terms with.
  • Whether any emotions like guilt or anger, or any events interfered with or prolonged our grieving process.
  • How we resolved our grief.
  • How our culture is with grief.
  • Unusual or unexplainable experiences after we lost our parents – what some people might call “paranormal.”
  • Advice for those of you just coming into the care of declining parents or dying parents.
My hope is that this book will help those of you coming into the care of your aging, declining, and dying parents, and that you will find yourself in the stories shared by others in my book. In so doing, may you find comfort, answers, kindred spirits, and support as you go through this unavoidable milestone in your life ...

Please click here and fill out the contact form if you are interested in being on a notification list for when my book on parent aging and loss is available.

Again, I will so appreciate it if you can please take a moment to comment on your preference of title listed above. Thank you very much.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Colorado First State to Mandate Training for Law Enforcement Officers in Dog Behavior

Too many innocent dogs have been shot by police officers out of fear and a lack of knowledge on their part of canine behavior.  It has broken the hearts of dog guardians and unnecessarily ended the lives of good dogs.  A petition circulated to sign a bill into law requiring law enforcement officers to be trained in dog behavior and how to handle dog encounters so that innocent dogs are protected and understood rather than shot when barking at an officer.

I just received a notice from the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary Senior Legislative attorney that Colorado Governor Hickenlooper signed the Dog Protection Act bill into law this week, making Colorado the first state to mandate training in dog behavior for law enforcement officers. It will require each local law enforcement agency to provide its officers with training in how to handle encounters with dogs in the course of duty. Their training must cover how to assess a dog’s posture, barking, vocalizations and facial expressions; what options can be used to distract, escape from and safely capture a dog; and what defensive options are available in dealing with a dog.

Thank you, Colorado, for standing up to protect our canines!  And thank you, Governor Hickenlooper!  May the other 49 states soon follow!

Click title below if you want to order my book(s):

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Reading Program Therapy Dogs Help Child Overcome Black Dog Fear

Maddie has been a therapy dog reading dog at Columbine Elementary in Boulder, CO for over 2 years.  She's part of a team of five Reading Therapy dogs who come to the school every Thursday for children from first to fifth grade to read to. It's a fun, joyous time. 

During that entire two years we have all watched Jackie, a young child terrified of dogs due to a bite, slowly warm up to the dogs one by one--except for Maddie. Why?  We learned that she was bit by a black dog, and my Maddie is black.

"Do you have her?" Jackie would ask me anxiously. She always made a wide circle when she passed Maddie and kept her eyes on my hand on the leash. But Jackie also watched Maddie with interest from a distance when she was reading with the other dogs. Maddie licked the faces of the other children, rolled over on her back to be rubbed, lay her head in the their laps,and never stopped wagging her tail. Jackie's face told me that she longed to be part of that, part of the joy that Maddie had to give.

I often ask Jackie if she wanted to come read to Maddie very briefly.  The answer was always "no."  Then a couple of weeks ago I noticed Jackie watching.  Again I asked her if she wanted to read to Maddie, and to my surprise she replied, "will you hold her leash really tight?"  Of course I told her I would and she walked over tentatively with her friend in tow for support. After reading a couple of lines she delighted and surprised all of us once again by asking, "will you hold her head?"

"Yes," I told her.  Jackie reached over and patted Maddie on the head.  We all broke into applause-- teacher and volunteers alike. It was a great day, a great milestone, and a great moment not only for Jackie, but for black dogs everywhere. It is well-known that "black dog syndrome"exists, where some people tend to fear black dogs for no reason and that black dogs are passed over in the shelter over other colors, again for no good reason.

Congratulations Jackie!