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Animal-loving writers are invited to submit their pet-related short stories with a connection to Halloween to the Petlitzer Prize Contest by October 15, 2012. Winners will be announced live on the air on the Dog Works Radio Show on Halloween Eve.

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PRLog (Press Release)Sep 26, 2012
Love animals? Love to write? Love Halloween? Animal-loving writers are invited to submit their pet-related, Halloween-themed short stories to the Petlitzer Prize Contest. “The name ‘Petlitzer Prize’ just came to me one day, as a kind of play on words, a sort of Pulitzer for animal-related works,” said multiple-award-

winning author/animal chaplain, Sid Korpi, (“Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss,” http://www.goodgriefpetloss.com, named “Best Book of the Year in the Self-Help Category” by Premier Book Awards) who came up with this contest to recognize quality efforts in writing regarding animals and celebrating the human-animal bond.

Winners will receive certificates of recognition and will have their stories read by Korpi on “Dog Works” Blog Talk Radio (http://dogworksradio.com) in early June. The first-place winner also will receive a handsome medallion.

This round of the Petlitzer Prize contest is devoted to pet-related short stories of a Halloween-themed nature. Stories may be fiction or creative nonfiction, 400–700 words in length. The deadline for submission is October 15, 2012 with winners announced live on the Dog Works Radio show on or around Halloween Eve. There is no fee for entering, but only one submission per category is allowed.

Here are some basic ground rules for Petlitzer Prize entries in any or all categories:

1. You must be the author of the piece. Plagiarism is an absolute no no!

2. Entries should not have been previously published in book form (on your own blog is fine) as of the date you submitted it. Meaning that if you get it snatched up by Random House the week after you send it to me, you’re still qualified for this prestigious contest—and congratulations! 🙂

3. Entries must be received by October 15, 2012. A winner will be chosen, aired and posted by no later than Oct. 30. (I and a panel of pet experts, including but not limited to Dr. Robert and Michelle Forto, dog trainers and co-hosts of popular “Dog Works” Blog Talk Radio show, will be judging the submissions.)

4. Please be sure to have a second pair of eyes proofread your entries well. Grievous typos/grammar gaffs will most likely disqualify you.

5. You may only enter one piece in any given round, but you may enter a different single piece in every subsequent category throughout the year. New categories will be posted shortly after the after the deadline is reached.

6. Winners (First, Second, Third  and/or Honorable Mention, depending on the number and quality of submissions) will receive a certificate of achievement for their efforts and have their work posted on my blog, Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc. (As well as on the Dog Works sites.) First place winners also will receive a handsome medallion. If you have a website, please be sure to submit your URL to be directly linked from my blog in case you win.

7. Winners will also have their works (or excerpts from them) read live on Dr. Robert Forto’s very popular Blog Talk Radio show “Dog Works.” (Air dates will be announced in advance, and the show will be available thereafter in archived form.)

8. No pornography whatsoever will be allowed. Nor will pieces depicting gratuitous violence toward animals (except for the purpose of decrying such acts or as truly salient parts of a story’s plot). I have the final say as to whether entries will be accepted. People of all ages and walks of life may be seeing or hearing these, so the work must be acceptable for a general audience.

9. Send your submission in a Word doc or pasted directly into an email with “Petlitzer Prize Entry” in the subject line, along with your full name, email address, mailing address, phone number, and a short (sentence or two) bio about yourself if you wish, to me at goodgriefpetloss@gmail.com. I will forward only your actual submitted story with your name to my fellow judges. None of your contact information will be shared without your express permission. They’re only so I can notify you of who won the contest and/or to mail you your certificate.

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Saturday, June 9 at 6:30 p.m. Central time, Dr. Robert and Michele Forto and author Sid Korpi will be announcing the winners of the latest Petlitzer Prize pet-related poetry contest. To listen to the live readings of the winning poems that day, visit http://www.blogtalkradio.com/dogworks/2012/06/10/dog-works-radio-presents-the-petlitzer-prize-contest-round-6

Or go to that site after that show airs to listen to the archived version.

The next round of the Petlitzer Prize contest will be for pet-related short stories, 400–700 words in length. For all the rules for submission, click on Petlitzer Prize Contest Rules above this posting. The deadline for submission is Oct. 15, 2012, and there is only one entry allowed per person per round.

Applause, applause for all the entrants of this round of the Petlitzer Prize contest! You put us judges through our paces and made decision-making quite difficult, which is a tribute to the quality of the poems entered. But, alas, such is the nature of these contests, and not everyone can win.

Below, please see the 3rd-, 2nd-, and 1st-place winners’ poems. These will be read live on Dog Works radio on Wednesday, Nov. 16 between 9 and 10 p.m. Central time, and the show will be re-aired on Sunday, Nov. 19, time TBA; thereafter, I will post the archived recording on this blog for all eternity (or thereabouts) so all your friends and family members can have a chance to listen in.

Congratulations, winners!

Third Place: “Shilo’s ku” by Ron Palmer

A husky,
Second of three dogs.
On a walk,

she howls
acknowledgment to
all we pass.

Red and white,
she hopes all she greets
provide treats.

When back home
blue eyes, mouth laughing
stolen bone

Second Place: “A Conversation with My Cat” by Victoria Raphael

Oh cat, soft and beautiful,

you are so graceful…..

poised and alert, your dainty footsteps

tiptoe around my chair.

Your playful side emerges

as you chase the catnip mouse

until it slides under the cabinet,

then forlorn, yet utterly charming

your begging eyes plead for assistance.

I set my book down to retrieve your toy

just because I love you,

yet knowing you’ll reward me

 with some stolen moments on my lap

when we can perform our duet and meow at each other.

Dear cat, so full of mischief

you make me laugh as you run about

intent on cat business,

jumping into my suitcase when I am trying to pack it,

tapping me softly with your paw when you want attention,

or sitting by the table and eying my dinner…..

You always understand the importance of being “cat-ly.

Heavenly creature, so dignified and self assured….

I wonder what you think

as you sprawl across my quilt

keeping me from pulling up the covers.

Don’t worry. I won’t disturb your slumber,

even though I know you will wake me in the morning

with the tickle of your whiskers.

Instead, I will reflect on you, the beauty of your perfection.

and the purpose of your being.

You are friend and companion,

chair warmer, entertainer,

alarm clock, door keeper and often therapist.

Dear pet, the presence of your energy is mood altering.

In a difficult moment I can always manage a smile

just thinking about your cat antics

as I go about my day and the business of being human.

First Place: “Rescue Dog” by Lisa Sellman

I completely loathe the hours that I spend at work;

I file papers and type all day and my boss is a jerk.

My life was destined to be exciting, unique & thrilling;

Instead I spend my day longing for a job that is fulfilling.

I was a Fullbright scholar in my youth;

I was envied by all, if you want the truth.

My parents demanded that I attend law school;

Instead I became a mime and thought it was cool.

I adored Mercel Marceau and planned to be a star;

I stopped going to classes and told my teachers, au revoir.

My days were spent doing the art that I so adored;

Instead of reality, I lived via my vision board.

I only am now happy when I leave my desk at the DMV;

I rush home as fast as I can like a just released parolee.

My home is shared with someone who finds me perfect;

Instead of co-workers ready to judge my intellect.

I used to come home and my only friend was Judge Judy;

I now am languished by kisses from my dog Rudy.

My wit is amazing and my sense of humor divine;

Instead of a boss that hates me, I am loved by this canine.

I found him by accident while looking on Craig’s List;

I was taken with his beautiful eyes and could not resist.

My heart was so broken and needed repair;

Instead of me rescuing him, he was the answer to my prayer.

Submissions for round six of the Petlitzer Prize Poetry Contest can be emailed to me at any time, but the deadline will be May 15, 2012. See Petlitzer Prize Rules for more information.—Sid

Congratulations to our talented writers who can proudly claim the following Petlitzer Prizes for their submissions to our Dark and Stormy Night short story prompt:

First Place: Elaine Garley, of Minneapolis, MN

Second Place: Liz Hartman, of Merritt Island, FL

Third Place: Kathi DuTilly, of Jeffersonton, VA

And here are those entries in their entirety:

First Place Winner by Elaine Garley 

It was a dark and stormy night, and my puppy was on his first camping trip in northern Minnesota. Just hours ago my husband, Teddy Bare the 10-week old Wheaten Terrier puppy, and I settled in our tent to enjoy the great sleeping weather. After a day of officiating at a white water kayak race, we were ready for some great outdoor sleeping. A slight breeze caused the tent to make flapping noises. Since it was the 1980’s, we didn’t have access to Doppler radar and had no idea what was headed our way!

Around midnight the tent started rocking from the winds and whipping the flaps. A loud clash of close thunder woke me.  The dark and stormy night was at our camp site! The sky lit up with lightening dancing across the sky. Well, I hoped it was dancing across the sky and not touching the ground near us. Since we camped in rain before, I knew we could handle it. Both John and Teddy Bare didn’t react and kept sleeping.  Crack! Flashing lightening and the rain came down in sheets. Oh no — reality started to settle in. Hmmm, a huge tent with a metal dog crate in a lightning storm. How wise was that?  Yikes, it was time to move!

I grabbed the metal crate with Teddy who was still sound asleep, my pillow and a blanket. I unzipped the huge door and stepped out under the awning. Then zipped the door shut. Was the van unlocked?  Crash, bang, clash, lighting flashing! The lightening provided wonderful lighting so I could see the fire pit. The rain came down in sheets and we got soaked in the 15 feet to the van. Fortunately the doors were unlocked and we settled in for the stormy night. Teddy Bare was calm and cuddly as he slept with his puppy breathe in my face. For a 10-week old puppy, he took everything in stride. This was normal to him.  I fell asleep on the hard rubber mat curled under the blanket.

Several hours later, I woke up to quiet. The rain stopped. It was a beautiful night with stars shining. I decided to go back to the comfort of a sleeping bag and the tent. I took Teddy Bare out for a quick visit to the woods and went to the tent. I quietly unzipped the door and stepped in. John said quietly, “What are you doing here?” I said I wanted to sleep in the sleeping bag. John laughed! “I’m on the only dry spot in the tent. Go back to the van!” So Teddy Bare and I went back to the van and slept until the sun rose. What a great way to spend a “dark and stormy night!”

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Second Place Winner by Liz Hartman

The Thug and the Cat Carrier

It was a dark and stormy night, and my cat was hunkered down in the windowsill watching the thunder and lightening through eyes as big as the tops of tuna cans. How, I wondered, would my pampered house cat react to his first airplane ride and being ushered into the body of a large winged thing.

My cat is not your ordinary cat. His name is Thug. Why? He has been pushy and arrogant since he was a kitten, and he has not mellowed with the passage of time. However, he does have his moments of love and affection for me when he hears the can opener. I have learned to live with Thug’s likes and dislikes, because he has learned to live with mine. We live harmoniously in a home with various hiding places to accommodate Thug’s disappearing act when he hears the words vet and annual visit.

Close friends invited both of us to visit their new home in the country. To ensure an easy transition from house cat to airline passenger, I first spoke with Thug’s veterinarian and contacted the airlines.

My veterinarian laughed as we discussed Thug encountering an airplane. He was aware of Thug’s examining room antics, which consisted of puffed up fur, flattened ears, low guttural growls, and an overall bad-cat behavior. He said I could ease the transition by using perseverance and patience, and Thug must have time to adapt to the carrier. Under no circumstances should any pushing, shoving or screaming be allowed by either of us.

The airline representative explained a valid shot record, boarding fee, and airline approved cat carrier would be required. I purchased an approved carrier that could be hand-carried into the airplane and fit comfortably under my seat.

I arrived home with the carrier, and Thug greeted me at the door. I patted his head, scratched his ears, and placed the carrier in the living room. Thug began to check out this new addition to his domain. He carefully walked around the carrier stopping and sniffing every inch of it. He saw me watching and immediately walked away from the carrier, flopped down in his favorite chair (formerly mine), curled up, and went to sleep.

Thug totally ignored the cat carrier for the next several days, and I was becoming nervous and apprehensive about the upcoming trip. After day five, Thug and the cat carrier were resting in their respective places—Thug in his chair, the cat carrier still on the floor. I envisioned my well-planned trip disappearing like Thug’s favorite cat food.

I waited patiently for Thug’s curiosity to override his independent attitude. My patience was rewarded as I watched him place one paw into the carrier and slowly inch his body inside. He sniffed and shuffled around, walked out, ignored me, plopped in his chair and went to sleep.

The following day, Thug was noticeably absent. I checked most of his favorite hiding places, but I could not find him. I gave up looking for him, knowing he would grace my presence when he heard the can opener. As a last resort, I looked into the carrier. Thug was sleeping peacefully inside. I reached down and gently scratched his ears and spoke softly to him.

My patience and perseverance paid off, and Thug spent the next few days either sleeping in his favorite chair or inside the carrier. Trip preparations began. I finished packing, including Thug’s favorite cat toys and food, and went to collect my wonderful cat. I walked to the carrier. It was empty. I called for him, but there was no response. I looked for him, but he was gone, and I knew I would not find him in time to make our flight.

I stayed home with Thug who showed up after I had put the cat carrier away. My friends were disappointed Thug and I would not be visiting; however, I insisted they come and visit with me. I can hardly wait to tell Thug we are having visitors and they are bringing their cat, Spike. Thug may want to look for some new hiding places.

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Third Place Winner by Kathi DuTilly

It was a dark and stormy night, and my humans looked just a bit silly crouched down on their knees peering under the bed trying to comfort me, obviously thinking that I was afraid and hiding out because of the storm.

I think sometimes they forget that I am feral born and quite accustomed to the elements.  I know that not only will the rain nourish the earth but it also provides quite nice puddles of water for ferals less fortunate than I have been.  It is nights such as these that take me back to the old building I lived in with my mom and siblings; we would huddle together for warmth and my mom would wash the dirt of the day off of us one by one.  She taught us how to find the best spots to stay warm and dry; and when the rain would stop and the sun would shine we would tumble outside for a little roughhousing in the tall grass.  Life seemed good and I am forever grateful to have had the experiences that I did because now I know how much better it can be with humans who have made me a part of their family and have washed the dirt of the day off of me for good.  I only wish that we could have all gotten out, but only the young are taken and brought to loving homes like this one.  For the older cats, like my mom, it is too late in their development to be socialized to people.  But thanks to humans like mine, I know that my mom and others like her in my colony are well cared for and that there will be no more babies born into the feral existence.  Now she and the colony are free to enjoy their lives knowing there will be a meal at the end of the day from people who will not hurt them, hay is provided in the winter time to ensure their warmth and if anyone needs special care, there will be help for them as well.

Sometimes, after they have gone to visit and feed my mom and the colony, they will come home and tell me how she is, they have even brought me a picture of her from time to time.  Sounds silly to you I am sure, but my humans are more evolved than most and believe that I understand what they are telling me….which of course I do.  I understand so much more than they could ever guess – we all do you know.  I am forever grateful to them for loving me enough to love my colony family, for making me feel as important to them as I was to my own mom and most of all for understanding that it is people who have caused the sad existence of feral colonies and it is people who must be responsible for stopping the birth of hundreds and thousands more.

Ahhh, such digression from the point of my story.  For some reason these dark and stormy nights do cause me to become quite maudlin.  Perhaps it is because my humans love me so much they are willing to risk looking quite silly just to make me feel better.  Hmmm, they now seem to be performing some type of stupid human tricks thinking it will entice me to leave my very warm nest.  But I think we all know how absolutely cozy the slippers of someone we love can be on such a night; it is one of my most favorite things ever to snuggle in with something that smells like the humans I love best.  Snuggling deeper….zzzzz….hmmm??  A different scent has just wafted past my keen feline sniffer.  Waaaait a minute…. is it….can it be??  Yep, TREATS!!!   Oh….fine….languidly I open my eyes, I stretch, I yawn….and ….out I go so they can “comfort” me.   Did I mention that life really IS good?

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Hear the stories by the winners of the Petlitzer Prize writing contest read live on Dog Works radio Friday, June 17 at 3 p.m. Central time.

My friends and Petlitzer Prize colleagues, Robert and Michelle Forto, traveled from far and wide to share the singular experience that is a Christopher R. Mihm movie premiere. Read what Robert had to say about the gala event.—Sid

Attack of the Moon Zombies World Premiere!

All of us like good entertainment. But would you fly 3000 miles and have your wife drive 15 hours and almost 1000 miles to meet you for a secret rendezvous in the Twin Cities just to go to a movie?

We did.

To be fair it was part of a meeting with an editor friend for a book project that I am working on and a road trip to Deadwood, South Dakota and then home to Denver for a couple weeks before I head back to Alaska.

The movie was the world premiere of Christopher R. Mihm’s Attack of the Moon Zombies!

Moon Zombies premiered at the Heights theater in Columbia Heights, MN. The Heights is one of those cool old school-type theaters that our great country is losing at alarming rate, giving way to I-Max, 3-D and twenty screen stadium seating multiplexes. What a shame.

There was a line around the block waiting to get into the sold out performance and even included reporters Bob and Rob asking us what we were wearing and asking goofy questions. They weren’t Joan and Melissa Rivers but close…

Before the show Dr. Ivan Cryptosis emceed introducing the film and the man behind the madness, Christopher R. Mihm.

[Listen to Attack of the Moon Zombies Interview on Dog Works Radio]

The movie was everything that we would expect from Mihm. True to form bringing back some of his characters from previous films and that quirky 50s drive-in horror/sci-fi style that kept the sold out audience on the edge of their seats.

Moon Zombie’s peppered humor with some serious acting from Sid Korpi (Administrator Ripley), Mike Cook as Dr. Vincent Edwards and the fan favorite, Michael Kaiser as Glen Hayes.

What would a 50s-style B-Movie be without a damsel in distress? Of course Moon Zombies covers this with a brilliant performance my Shannon McDonough and her screams!

Of course we have to have a monster. In Moon Zombies we have plenty of cabbage-headed zombies lurking around that scoop up their victims as quick as you can toss a salad. With Mihm’s trademark bug eye’s the monsters paid a great homage to those creatures from the films of yesteryear. While the effects are cheesy and low budget (they are supposed to be) they work!

After the film they gave out schwag and a meet and greet with the stars and a reception followed with cupcakes and an ultra-cool Moon Zombie’s themed cake that would give Food Network’s Ace of Cake’s a run for their money.

Even though I was going on 24 hours without sleep at the time of the movie I would have to say that this movie kept my attention and was some of Mihm’s best work.

This type of filmmaking is what the world needs these days. It is just plain fun. Fun for the whole family in fact. Yes, the effects are corny and the million dollar sets and CGI of today’s big budget features are in a far off land, but that doesn’t discourage Mihm. Moon Zombie’s was filmed almost entirely in Mihm’s basement.

The Mihmiverse is deliberate and out of this world. You have to check this guy out. You can buy all of his work on his website for less than 10 bucks a piece. Few independent filmmakers have put out a movie a year like Mihm has since his first effort in 2006 with The Monster from Phantom Lake. I would venture to guess that few have been as successful as Mihm in his passion and it shows.

Just four days left to get your submissions in to the Petlitzer Prize writing contest. Start your story with “It was a dark and stormy night, and my [pet]…” to possibly win accolades, a medallion, and a live reading on Dog Works Radio. May 31 is the deadline! Click on the Petlitzer Prize Round 4 link above for all the info.

How hard can it be? Write a short pet-related story starting with “It was a dark and stormy night, and my [pet]…” Win and get it read on the air on Dog Works radio, get a certificate and possibly a medallion, and secure bragging rights! Click the Petlitzer Prize Round 4 link above for info.

Stop procrastinating, pet writers! We need your entries to the current round of the Petlitzer Prize contest by May 31st. Start out your short story with “It was a dark and stormy night, and my [pet]…” Click on the link above for all the rules and further info. This is a really fun prompt, so stop holding back on your creativity. If you win, your work will be read live on DogWorks radio and you will receive a certificate of award and possibly a handsome medal. A win can look good on a résumé, too. Submit SOON!

Remember to submit your short story, starting with the prompt: “It was a dark and stormy night, and my [dog, cat, horse, etc.]…” to the Petlitzer Prize contest! The deadline is May 31. FFI click on the Round 4 Petlitzer Prize link above!

Hello Writers,

First of all, let me thank each and every one of you for your fine efforts on our persuasive essay round of the Petlitzer Prize contest. Judging was difficult, as usual, and this time all the judges were in a dead heat, albeit evenly divided between two pieces. So, we’re calling it a tie and awarding two first-place certificates to Ingrid King and Sara Henderson. Congratulations, ladies! Their essays follow below this introduction.

Their essays will be read aloud by me on Dr. Robert and Michelle Forto’s show, DogWorks radio, Friday, April 1 at 1 p.m. Central. Listen live or access the show online anytime after that from its blog talk radio website. Tell all your friends to listen in.

The next round of the Petlitzer Prize contest will be to write 400–700-word stories starting with the following prompt: “It was a dark and stormy night and my [dog/cat/horse, etc.]…” Have fun creating suspense, humor, whatever moves you. The deadline for submissions on this will be May 31, 2011. For more info and all the Petlitzer Prize rules, click on the link above.

And again, a million thanks to all the talented folks who submitted to this round.—Sid

Petlitzer Prize Round 3 Winners—Persuasive Essays (Two-way tie for first place)

The Truth About Dry Cat Food

by Ingrid King

Grocery and pet store shelves abound with a dizzying array of cat food.   For decades, dry kibble has been the preferred choice for most cat owners.  After all, the bags say it’s “complete and balanced,” it’s easy to feed, and most cats seem to like it.  Unfortunately, dry pet foods, even the high-priced premium and veterinary brands, are the equivalent of junk food for pets.  Feeding dry food to cats is no different than feeding sugared cereals to kids.

Cats are obligate carnivores.  This means they need meat to survive.  They cannot get enough nutritional support from plant-based proteins such as grains and vegetables, because, unlike humans and dogs, they lack the specific enzyme that processes plant-based proteins metabolically.   They need little or no carbohydrates in their diet.  Feeding foods high in carbohydrates leads to any number of degenerative diseases, including diabetes, kidney disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Many pet owners feed dry food because it can be left out during the day without spoiling while the cat is left at home alone.  This method of free choice feeding is one of the leading contributors to obesity in cats.  Cats, by nature, are hunters, and it does not make sense that they should need access to food 24 hours a day.  Meal feeding twice a day mimicks their natural hunting behavior much closer, and by feeding controlled portion sizes twice  a day rather than leaving food out all day long, calorie intake, and weight, can be controlled without the cat going hungry.

Dry food is the leading cause behind most urinary tract problems in cats.  While cats who eat only dry food will generally drink more water, they still don’t get enough moisture to support all their bodily functions and essentially live in a constant state of low level dehydration, which can lead to bladder and kidney problems.

Due to the high carbohydrate content, dry food dumps unnaturally high levels of sugar into the cat’s bloodstream, which can lead to an imbalance of its natural metabolic process.  In extreme cases, this can, and often does, lead to diabetes.

Dry food does not clean pet’s teeth.  Contrary to popular belief, most cats don’t chew their kibble long enough for any of the scraping action that is the theory behind this myth to kick in.  What little they do chew shatters into small pieces.  Some pet food manufacturers offer a “dental diet” that is made up of larger than normal sized kibble to encourage chewing, but in my years at veterinary practices, I’ve seen many cats swallow even those larger size pieces whole.  Additionally, dry food leaves a carbohydrate residue in the cat’s mouth that actually encourages growth of tartar and plaque.

You may find that some cats are very difficult to switch from their dry food, further supporting the junk food analogy.  They’re literally addicted to the carbs and additives used in these diets – not much different from a sugar or carb addiction in humans.  During the manufacturing process, substances called “digests” (fermented by-products of meat processing with no nutritional value) are sprayed on the outside of the kibble to make it more palatable to the cat.  Most cats wouldn’t touch dry food if it wasn’t for these flavor enhancers.  For these hard-core addicts, you will need to transition them to a healthier diet somewhat slowly.  Never let a cat go without food for more than 24 hours.

The one best thing you can do for your cat’s health is eliminate all dry food from his diet and feed a meat based, grain-free canned or raw diet which is consistent with the needs of a carnivore.

Ingrid King

Ingrid King is the award winning author of Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher.  She is a former veterinary hospital manager turned writer. Her online magazine News for You and Your Pet goes out to subscribers around the world. Her blog, The Conscious Cat, has been called “educational cat nip for the cat lover” and is a comprehensive resource for conscious living, health and happiness for cats and their humans.  For more information about Ingrid and Buckley’s Story, please visit http://www.ingridking.com.

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Untitled

By Sara Henderson

It is not the same as our love for and from a partner, a parent, a friend or a child. It is a love all its own. This love is a steel cord between two hearts, a cord that ties us to each other, us and our dog.

They live for us.

When we’re lazy, they wake us.

When we need exercise, they remind us of their leash.

When the bills come, they bark at the mailman and shred the evidence (it’s not their fault an invoice and a birthday card smell the same!).

When we go to work, they give us sad eyes so all day long we know we’ll be missed.

When we come home, they act like we’re Obama, Lady Gaga and Prince William rolled into one.

When we sit in our favorite chair, they’re right beside us, making sure we can easily scratch their head or belly without too much effort.

When we sleep, they drape themselves across us to be sure we’re warm through the night (even if it’s the middle of summer).

When we prepare their favorite meal of kibble or canned, they worship us as the best hunter and chef on the Food Network.

When we have a bad day, they rub their furry selves against us and lick away our tears.

When we snap or growl because they want to worship us at an inconvenient time, they don’t pout or sulk; they wait until a better time and try again.

Their love knows no bounds of age or income or bra size or sports ability.

We are their person and they are our dog and that is how it is and how it should be and how it will be until the day it isn’t. That day will be hellishly painful and that pain will last long into the future until it softens to a gentle ache that brings laughter and tears all at once when memories come unbidden at awkward times and sleepy times and happy times and other times.

But there’s a problem.  Too many adored pets are being released to the care of others because their beloved people find themselves struggling. The economy is tough and jobs are scarce and gas prices and food prices and all other prices are climbing while incomes are falling.

Pet pantries are rising up to help avoid this crisis of separation.  Think about that unconditional love. Think about what you would do to keep your own best friend at home with you. Then find a pet pantry near you and donate your time or your money or both.

And try not to judge. Remember that steel cord.

Sara pays the bills writing for corporate clients, and fills the rest of her time at her unpaid full-time job as a founding board member of The Pet Project Midwest, whose mission is to keep pets in the homes they love and out of our over-burdened shelters. She’s easy to laugh and easy to cry and finds that the love of a furkid can make any day brighter.

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