Books

Book Review: “Alive Day” by Tom Sullivan

alive day

This book was sent to me for review by the publisher. They thought I might enjoy it because I loved The Art of Racing in the Rain  by Garth Stein.   It’s not a book I might have otherwise picked up, and I enjoyed the opportunity to read it.

Based in part on a true story, Alive Day is about blind psychiatrist Brenden McCarthy and his guide dog Nelson, a big-hearted and courageous black Lab.  It’s also the story of Antwone Carver, a Marine who is injured in Iraq and is struggling with coming to terms with the physical limitations caused by his injury.  McCarthy volunteers his services at a veterans’ hospital, is assigned to Carver and attempts to help the young Marine build a new life.  Nelson becomes an important contributor to the therapeutic process by his gentle and comforting presence.  This is a story about dealing with tragedy and life’s challenges, and it’s told in a straight-forward  and uplifting way.   While the solutions to the magnitude of the problems at hand may be a bit oversimplified at times, the overall message of the book is positive and inspirational, and dog lovers will enjoy the passages about Nelson. 

The author presents a convincing case of the need for better programs for veterans returning home from the war without being preachy or political.  However, I would have liked to have seen the bond between Nelson and McCarthy conveyed in greater depth.  While McCarthy’s love for and reliance on Nelson is very apparent, the story doesn’t delve deeply enough into the spiritual aspects of the human animal bond for this reviewer’s taste.

The book is a heartwarming and life-affirming testament to how the exuberant spirit and love of a dog can heal wounded hearts.

Book Review: Shades of Grey by Clea Simon

shades_of_grey_145

The first book in the brand new series by Clea Simon, Shades of Grey features Harvard grad student Dulcie Schwartz, who is fascinated by 18th century Gothic novels.  Dulcie is not having a good summer.  She recently lost her beloved pet cat Mr. Grey, her best friend and room-mate has gone away for the summer, and she has sublet her apartment to an unpleasant business school student.   One day, Dulcie comes home from her boring temp job at an insurance agency and is about to enter her apartment when she sees a cat that looks just like her beloved Mr. Grey, and she clearly hears a voice in her head warning her “I wouldn’t go in just now, if I were you.”  Is it he spirit of her pet?  Dulcie ignores the warning, and finds her room-mate murdered with her own kitchen knife. 

This sets up a multi-layered plot in which our heroine deals with murder, someone hacking into computers at the insurance agency she temps at and at Harvard, and research for her thesis on Gothic novels.  Throughout all of this, the ghost of her cat continues to appear, offering his cryptic advice.  Is it a ghost, or a spirit guide?  You’ll have to read this extremely well-crafted and enjoyable mystery to find out for yourself.  This book has everything a mystery (and cat) lover could want:  a great story, a likeable heroine, a spirit cat, a little bit of romance, exceptional story telling and multi-dimensional secondary characters.  I can’t wait for the next book in this series.

For more information about Clea Simon and her other books, visit her website at http://www.cleasimon.com.

Book Review: “8 State Hurricane Kate” by Jenny Pavlovic

8statekate

From the publisher:  “On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina roared into New Orleans, Louisiana, unleashing a torrent of wind and water that forever altered the landscape. In the ensuing weeks, countless people and animals were rescued from the flood-ravaged city. 8 State Hurricane Kate is the unforgettable story of the powerful bond between a cattle dog rescued from a rooftop and the woman who wouldn’t give up on her.

The heartwarming story of Kate’s post-Katrina journey is a testament to the will and perseverance of the dog and human spirit! As they make that courageous journey together, new worlds open up for Jenny and Kate, an amazing survivor and teacher. Kate’s remarkable journey, a tale of love, courage, and compassion, has inspired many others. Her legacy is a rescue network that continues to help dogs across the country today.”

I found this book to be very moving.  The accounts of the author’s experience helping with rescue work  immediately following Katrina were gut-wrenching and difficult for me to read, but at the same time, inspirational.  Thank goodness for people like Jenny and so many others, who dropped everything to assist the animals in need after this catastrophic event.   The book is also the story about how one dog can change a person in ways they never expected.   As Jenny becomes more and more involved in rescue works, she forges bonds with others, both dogs and humans, that change her at a core level.  I always enjoy reading books about how animal affect the life of the humans they come into contact with – this book is a gripping and touching contribution to this genre.

For more information about the book, and about Jenny Pavlovic, visit http://www.8statekate.net/

An Interview with Nadine M. Rosin, Author of “The Healing Art of Pet Parenthood”

Healing Art of Pet Parenthood cover

It is my pleasure today to introduce you to Nadine M. Rosin, the author of The Healing Art of Pet Parenthood.

The Healing Art of Pet Parenthood is the moving story of a nineteen year journey of the author and her dog Buttons – a story about how the unconditional love of one dog can transform and heal a wounded human heart. The author, who has been studying alternative healing for over thirty years, also shares her experience with holistic pet care. When Buttons is diagnosed with cancer at age eight, the author decides against conventional treatment and instead seeks out various holistic and alternative treatment modalities for Buttons, who recovers and thrives for another eleven years. Reading this book is a deeply emotional journey for anyone who has ever loved and lost a pet. Unlike many other books that attempt to address the issue of pet loss, this book truly acknowledges the often devastating grief that comes with losing a beloved animal companion as well as the spiritual connection we share with our animals even after they die. The story of Nadine and Buttons is a celebration of the love we share with our animal companions – a must read for all pet parents.

Please join me in welcoming Nadine to The Conscious Cat!

Nadine, The Healing Art of Pet Parenthood is your first book. How did you become a writer?

Although I’ve never had any formal writing training, I’ve always considered myself a decent storyteller. According to the reactions of readers and reviewers of this book, it seems I have a knack for telling a story on paper, too.
   But I also have many years of experience writing and performing nondenominational wedding ceremonies and memorial services (over 600 to date). In that process, the goal is identical: to both touch people’s hearts and keep their interest- making it perfect practice for writing this book.

What was the process of writing about Buttons like for you?

For the first time in my life, I felt I was doing what I was truly meant to do. I felt energized, in the flow, at one with Source, and deeply connected to Buttons’ spirit. Her paws were all over that manuscript 🙂

What do you hope your readers will take away from the book?

My wish is that that every reader’s heart is touched and opened- that they can relate to many of the things I experienced and described and that in turn, they find themselves empowered from the read. I also like to say the book has a 3-fold mission:

  • Helping pet parents realize we may be unconsciously contributing to the skyrocketing increase of cancer in our pets by unknowingly creating highly toxic environments in our homes.
  • Providing comfort, camaraderie, and validation for pet parents experiencing the devastating loss of a beloved pet
  • Helping to remove the words, “It’s just a dog/cat” from the lips of non pet parents everywhere

A core part of your book is the story of Buttons’ cancer diagnosis and how you choose to deal with it. What was most difficult for you during that time?

The thought of losing her was terrifying. As you know from having read the book, when the diagnosis came, I was in the midst of dealing with my fiancé ending our relationship and my heart was already shattered. I was forced to reach down even deeper into myself to find strength I didn’t believe I had.
How did you deal with the many challenges such a diagnosis brings?
Initially, like most people, I took a very logical approach, but that only led me to more frustration and confusion. A short excerpt from the book will illustrate:

“I lay awake all that night. If the cancer was in my body, I would absolutely forgo the surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. It wouldn’t be my choice to cut, burn, and poison. My beliefs, based on all the years of reading I’d done and exposure to alternative methods I’d experienced since childhood, were that one needed to boost the immune system in the presence of disease and not destroy it. Western medicine’s focus was on treating or suppressing the symptoms. A holistic approach called for focusing on the cause in mind and spirit, clearing it, and then strengthening the body so it could heal itself.
   If it were in my body, I’d go to Mexico and cleanse and detoxify, meditate, visualize, and drink massive amounts of raw vegetable juice at one of the alternative cancer clinics there. But it wasn’t in my body. I tried to imagine Buttons without her tail. It would be like amputating her personality. I thought about what it might be like for her to go through radiation treatments and doses of chemotherapy. Horrendous. Demons wrestled violently in my mind. Who was I to force my beliefs on this innocent soul whose well-being I was responsible for? Who was I to risk her life for the sake of my preferences? How big a risk was it? The entire allopathic, Western perspective was screaming for me to follow the vet’s advice. He was a trained professional, and I was a self-taught, quasi-hippie health nut.”

After 2 days of listening to my mind, I finally began listening instead, to what my heart was telling me (also described in the book). Once I had THAT guidance, there was never any question or doubt as to what my next steps would be.

Do you have any tips for others who are faced with a cancer diagnosis for their pet?

Everyone must take the path that feels right for them. I WOULD, however, encourage all pet parents to start doing some research about pet food, the chemicals in household products, etc. BEFORE ever getting a cancer diagnosis (a good place to start is my blog).
   I believe if all pet parents simply followed the approach I talk about in my book and my blog, many would be spared having to deal with any form of cancer or other forms of disease.
   Fifty years ago, it wasn’t unusual for a dog or a cat to live to be in their 20’s. Today, vets consider a 12-year old cat to be old and a 12-year old dog to be ancient. I cannot help but believe that environment and food have nearly everything to do with that.

Who or what inspires you?

I greatly admire people who are humble, open-minded, and authentic. I have tremendous respect for those who are willing to look inside themselves and take responsibility for their own feelings and experiences, rather than blaming others. I’m inspired by those who are genuinely kind and forgiving to everyone, even (and especially) to the ones who bug them the most. My current “heroes” are Byron Katie, Colin Tipping, and Caroline Myss. All of their work can be found online.

What is one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had at a book signing or event?

One sweet memory is from my very first book signing at the Latrobe Country Club in Pennsylvania, where I was keynote speaker for the annual fundraiser for The Action for Animals Humane Society. I was sitting at the table at the end of the event signing books when a woman handed me 2 to sign. The first she wanted made out to her. The second she wanted made out to Arnold Palmer and his dog, Mulligan! It turned out that Mr. Palmer owns the country club, but was in Florida at the time of the event. He had wanted to make sure he got an autographed copy of my book even though he was unable to attend. FYI- in golf terminology, a mulligan is a “do-over” shot.

Are you planning on writing another book?

Most definitely, but for now, I am spending every spare moment getting the word out about this book. When it takes on a life of its own, I will begin writing its sequel, which will be a more technical, fact-filled text on holistic pet care.

What are you reading at the moment?

I am thoroughly enjoying The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski.

Thank you so much for this opportunity, Nadine!

It has been my pleasure, Ingrid. Thank you for reading and loving my book. I gratefully embrace every opportunity to spread the word about it in order to help pets and pet parents have longer, healthier lives together. Thank you so much for your help and your own work in that arena!

Nadine Rosin    

For more information about Nadine and her book, visit her website at http://thehealingartofpetparenthood.com/Home.html and her blog at http://petparenthood.blogspot.com/

NOTE: Excerpt from The Healing Art of Pet Parenthood ©2008 Nadine M. Rosin used by permission of the author.

Book Review: “The Daily Coyote” by Shreve Stockton

dailycoyote

The Daily Coyote – A Story of Love, Survival and Turst in the Wilds of Wyoming is the story of a young city woman who trades the busy streets of New York City for the wilds of Wyoming, where she raises a ten-day-old coyote pup whose parents had been shot for killing sheep. 

When writer and photographer Shreve Stockton moves back to New York City from San Francisco, she makes the trip across the country on her Vespa.  Along the way, she stops in the hamlet of Ten Sleep, Wyoming, population 300, and the wide-open spaces of the land and the beauty of the Bighorn Mountains capture her spirit.  After a few weeks of trying to settle back into her old city life, she listens to her heart, packs up her belongings and moves to Wyoming.

She develops a friendship that eventually turns to romance with a Wildlife Services employee whose job it is to protect lifestock by killing coyotes.  When he finds an orphaned coyote pup, he brings it to Stockton, who now has to make a decision.  She can either have the death of this pup on her conscience, since he is too young to survive on his own, or she can raise this wild animal in her twelve foot by twelve foot cabin, were she lives with her cat Eli.  With no experience raising and training a domestic dog, this fiercely independent city woman and the coyote she names Charlie forge an incredible bond, which is tested by Charlie’s sometimes unpredictable and even frightening behavior and his inherent wildness.  Despite some setbacks, the relationship between Shreve and Charlie deepens and evolves through mutual respect and becomes a testament to the strength of the bond between human and animal. 

The author turned her diary of the daily challenges of raising Charlie, along with her breathtaking photographs illustrating the account of Charlie’s first year, into a successful blog, which became the basis for this book.  The book is a combination frontier adventure, love story, and a unique celebration of the bond between human and animal.  It is also a reflection on the nature of wildness versus domestication, as the author teaches the coyote to live with humans (and a cat) while Charlie settles Shreve’s wandering spirit. 

And if you can’t get enough of Shreve and Charlie after reading this wonderful book, you can find daily photos of Charlie on the author’s wildly popular blog at http://www.dailycoyote.net .

An Interview with Dawn Kairns, Author of “Maggie: The Dog Who Changed My Life”

maggie

It is my pleasure today to introduce you to Dawn Kairns, the author of Maggie:  The Dog Who Changed My Life.

This book is a deeply moving story of the powerful connection between the author and her soulmate dog Maggie. This kind of a relationship tends to happen only once in a lifetime, and those of us who have been fortunate enough to share such a special relationship with an animal will find ourselves going down our own memory lane as we savor this book. Maggie enriched the author’s life in ways she never could have imagined when she took that little black Lab puppy home with her. Maggie’s joyful exuberant spirit touches all who come into contact with her. Maggie opens the author’s heart and teaches her about trusting her intuition and listening with her heart. Interspersed with well-researched information about pet health care and advice on how to deal with the grieving process following the loss of a pet, this book shows us that animals are so much more than just pets. They are spiritual beings who are on this planet to teach us about joy.

Please join me in welcoming Dawn Kairns to The Conscious Cat!

Dawn, “Maggie” is your first book.  How did you become a writer?

Writing was always a natural way for me to express myself, really, even as a child.  When I felt my parents didn’t understand me, I wrote letters to express my feelings in ways I couldn’t always do verbally. I had a diary, of course! I have written informally in journals for years, more as a spiritual and personal growth practice. In my 30s I began the practice of writing all of my dreams in notebooks.
   I did write and have published several articles in nursing and health journals when I was an R.N. and as a family nurse practitioner. After Maggie died, I began writing articles about dog behavior, and of course began my book in her honor, even though in those first days after Maggie died, I didn’t realize I was starting a book. I was merely writing everything I could remember about her as a way to cope with my grief. It was only over the next several months that I decided to turn my writings about my life with Maggie into a book.  It was in that time that I knew my writing needed some work, and I took a course through the Institute for Children’s Literature. But I think it was in the writing, editing, and re-editing of Maggie that I found my voice as a writer.

What was the process of writing about Maggie like for you?

Writing about Maggie was a Godsend after she died. It was the way I stayed most connected with her; it is what got me through those first excruciating days. I loved the writing of it, and the editing of it less so because I had to be more objective.

What do you hope your readers will take away from the book?

I have several hopes for readers. I hope readers will begin to look at dogs/animals as equal or different beings, not lesser than or below humans, to see them as the incredible spiritual beings of light that they are; I hope readers will open themselves to the sixth sense communication our animals are capable of if they don’t already recognize that their animals are capable of reading their thoughts.
   My hope is for readers to trust their intuition with their pets even if their inner voice is in disagreement with an expert’s diagnoses. No one knows our pets like we do and I want readers to trust themselves enough to advocate for their pets with their veterinarians.
    I really want readers to question commercial pet food and recognize its potential role in the health problems many of our pets develop; I want them to explore alternative diets such as balanced home-cooked foods and healthier, holistic pet foods with meat ( not meat byproducts) as the primary ingredient, and with minimal or no carbohydrates.
   I want readers to become aware of the messages their dreams can hold for them; and to recognize that they, too, probably have clairvoyant dreams but may just not be aware of it.
   Finally, I want those suffering from that deep pain of losing a cherished pet to feel understood and supported in their grief, and that yes, it can be as bad as or even worse than losing a loved human. I want them to know that intense pain will ease in time and they will love again.

In your book, you share the emotional toll Maggie’s diagnosis took on you.  What was most difficult for you during that time? 

The most difficult part for me after learning Maggie’s diagnosis was that I simply couldn’t begin to imagine her not being in my life – we were so much a part of each of our souls. (Even as I speak these words, tears come from the memory of that deep connection, even though it’s been 8 years since she passed!) What made it harder was that I felt some part of me had known she had cancer and I hadn’t honored my intuition, and that I was losing Maggie several years earlier than I otherwise may have.

How did you deal with the many challenges such a diagnosis brings? 

Maggie’s cancer was pretty advanced by the time she was correctly diagnosed. She was a dog so full of life that doing anything at this point to compromise her aliveness, such as radiation and its side effects, was not a choice we were comfortable with. What seemed most important to both my husband and I were making Maggie’s remaining days as loving and quality as possible, and spending as much fun time together as possible.

Do you have any tips for others who are faced with a cancer diagnosis for their pet? 

First, I want to talk prevention. So many things about whether or not our pet gets cancer are out of our hands, like genetic and environmental causes, but the diet we feed our pets is one element we can control. My first tip is to really educate yourself about pet nutrition and feed a diet of whole, quality foods (this can include a high-quality pet food) to support your pet’s immune system and overall health, rather than feed a highly processed, even veterinary recommended commercial brand.
   Once a cancer diagnosis is given for your pet, I would definitely research and explore all of your “traditional’ treatment options, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation depending on the age of your pet. Know who you are and who your dog is and what choices you can and can’t live with. Occasionally, a surgery can be “curative” (three years without recurrence is common with thyroid cancer if caught in the nodular stage) as it very possibly would have been in Maggie’s case had she been diagnosed correctly. Some of my reading has suggested that chemotherapy in animals does not have the negative effects that it often does in humans. Talk to cancer experts, including an animal oncologist and organizations like the Morris Animal Foundation and Canine Cancer Research who devote themselves to finding cures for cancer.
    If you choose to do surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation with your pet, I encourage alternative treatment modalities to support your animal’s natural healing abilities. These can include Reiki therapy, acupuncture, Tellington Touch, and massage therapy. I recommend these complementary modalities even if you choose not to do surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy, as they support your animals’ overall sense of well-being and health. At this point I’d seek out a vet or practitioner with a vibrational medicine approach to work with the energy frequencies of the health issue.
   Finally, be sure you get the support you need because the grief process can begin the moment your pet is diagnosed with cancer. Nurture yourself with the type of body and energy therapies I recommended for your pet. Turn to loving, supportive friends and family.  Create quiet and alone time to feel what’s going on in to listen within. Spend as much quality time as you can with your pet.

Who or what inspires you?

Oh, so many things inspire me!  Animals inspire me in their glorious presence and unconditional love. Nature is one of my greatest inspirations: hiking through the heart of the mountains and hearing and seeing her streams, meadows of wildflowers, hummingbirds, songbirds, the breathing in and out of the ocean, a sunrise, a sunset! Synchronicity  and messages from the other side inspire me. People helping people, people helping animals, animals helping people, animals helping animals – these all inspire me.
   I know I can’t possibly name all the people who have inspired me in my life, but to name a few, I’ll start with my father, Oprah Winfrey, Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, & Wayne Dyer.

What is one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had at a book signing or event?

At my library presentation earlier this month in Parker, Colorado, it was the way the audience came into their hearts and opened up with their own stories during my book presentation of Maggie: the dog who changed my life; and the way most of them stayed seated even when my presentation was finished. I experienced once again how speaking of our animals magically brings people to a level of genuine being with themselves and each other, a place no one is in a hurry to walk away from.

Are you planning on writing another book?

I do have an idea for a next book, but no immediate plans to start it as I am still pretty busy with MAGGIE!

What are you reading at the moment?

It’s always been hard for me to read just one book at a time, so I have several going: Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, Handbook for the Soul edited by Richard Carlson & Benjamin Shield, & The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle awaits me on my nightstand, but I don’t dare start it yet!

Thank you so much for this opportunity, Dawn!

Thank you, Ingrid, for your time and interest in my journey with MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life!

dawn
You can learn more about Dawn and her book on her website and on her blog, Dawn Kairns and Maggie the Dog .

Book Review: “Probable Claws” by Clea Simon

probable_claws_145I love reading murder mysteries that feature cats, and this series is one of my favorites.  “Probable Claws” is the fourth in the series, the other three are “Mew is for Murder“, “Cattery Row” and “Cries and Whiskers“.  All feature cat and rock and roll loving freelance writer Theda Krakow and her black and white tuxedo cat Musetta.

In “Probable Claws”, Theda finds herself the prime suspect for the murder of a shelter veterinarian, with Musetta as the only witness to what really happened.  Theda is released on bail thanks to the connections of her former cop boyfriend Bill.  Now she has to find the real killer before she and Musetta become the next victims.

The plot is exceptionally well-crafted, the characters are multi-dimensional and likeable, and you find yourself wanting to savor the story while at the same time wanting to race to the finish to find out who did it. 

You might want to consider reading the entire series from start to finish.  One of the things I enjoyed about all four books, almost more than the actual plot lines, was the character development.  By the time you’re into the second book, you feel like you’re reconnecting with old friends.  I sure hope that “Probable Claws” won’t be the last in this series.

Book Review: “Merle’s Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog” by Ted Kerasote

Today’s book review is about one of the best dog books I ever read, “Merle’s Door:  Lessons from a Freethinking Dog” by Ted Kerasote.  I think cat lovers will enjoy this book just as much as dog lovers – and there is a cat in the book as well!

merles-door

Books about dogs are everywhere – from understanding and training them to stories about them.  But no other book presents the unique blend of being both a moving love story between a dog and his human, and fascinating and well-researched information about how dogs think, communicate, and interact with their world.

The story begins when Merle, a big, reddish dog, appears out of nowhere near the San Juan River, where Ted Kerasote, a well-known nature writer, is on a rafting trip.  Merle chooses Ted as his human, and Ted takes Merle home to Wyoming.  Thus begins a 13-year relationship built on that initial freedom of choice for both dog and man – a choice that enriched both their lives in ways neither of them could have imagined. 

What follows is the story of a deep and balanced human-animal bond.  This is a relationship based on equality and freedom – Kerasote never subjects Merle to his wishes, but always offers him choices.  The door, a real dog door that Kerasote installs for Merle, becomes a metaphor for the opening of a whole new way of looking at how dogs view the world.  It shows how dogs, if given the opportunity to utilize their innate intelligence, can become fully realized beings with their own emotions, interests and thoughts, rather than the eternal puppies so many pet dogs turn into.

The door metaphor also extends to what the book really is – a love story.  It symbolizes the opening to loving fully.  Heart-touching, funny, moving and absorbing, it takes the reader on the 13-year journey of Merle and Ted’s relationship.  If you’re not weeping by the end of the journey, your heart is made of stone.  No matter how many times I’ve read the book, I still cry at the end. 

The book is packed full of interesting facts about dogs, from the latest research on wolves to explaining how sharing leadership with your dog, rather than treating him as your subordinate, can help create happier and healthier canine companions.  It is a must read for any animal lover – it will change the way you look at how animals communicate and deepen the bond with your own canine companion.

An Interview with Linda Mohr, Author of “Tatianna – Tales and Teachings of My Feline Friend” (Win an Autographed Copy of the Book!)

***Find out how to enter the drawing for an autographed copy of the book at the end of this post***

It is my pleasure today to introduce you to Linda Mohr, the author of “Tatianna – Tales and Teachings of My Feline Friend”.

 
tatianna

This is one of the most moving and heartfelt books about the bond between a cat and her person that I have read in a long time. The relationship between the author and Tatianna is one of those soulmate relationships with an animal that come once in a lifetime. Tatianna, through her joyful spirit and unwavering courage, teaches the author about love, devotion and spiritual expansion. In addition to sharing her journey with Tatianna, the author provides well-researched information on how to live with and care for a cat with kidney disease. The book is a triumph of the spirit, both feline and human, and a testament to the truth that we are all eternal beings.

 

Please join me in welcoming Linda Mohr to The Conscious Cat!

Linda, “Tatianna” is your first book.  How did you become a writer?

When I was in high school, I entered an essay contest sponsored by Rural Electric Area Cooperative. Winning writers won an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C.  I still have the essay and a photo album full of memories! In my mid-twenties, I worked on a college text on the psychology of clothing, but the publisher decided against it. I taught microwave cooking classes in Palm Beach County, and I have unpublished chapters of a microwave cookbook. I wrote Bobbin’ Along sewing column for a local newspaper during that decade as well.

 So I have dabbled in writing for a long time. My mother recalls me announcing when I was younger that someday I would write a book. Decades later, Tatianna was placed in my life to finally help me accomplish that goal. The best part is that my mother sat next to me at my book signings!

What was the process of writing about Tatianna like for you?

I did not make a conscious decision to write this book. A Higher Being decided for me. The day after Tatianna passed away I was compelled to sit down with a spiral notebook and write. The pen was flying across the pages. I did not know where the thoughts were coming from. But I stayed with it. A few days later I realized I had a message to get out to people and their pets. 

What do you hope your readers will take away from the book?

Animals are a sacred gift, and they deserve our love and respect. We are all connected. Miracles can be accomplished by love and an enduring belief in God. My hope is that the timing is right for this book and that it contains all the best ingredients for learning, laughing, grieving, and growing that makes us better people—to counteract animal cruelty and disregard for animal life that permeates part of our society. Ultimately, I want to make a difference in the lives of people and pets.

In your book, you share what it was like for you to live with and care for a cat with kidney disease.  What was most challenging for you during those years, and what was most rewarding?  Do you have any tips for others whose cats are dealing with this disease?

The most challenging aspect was dealing with a disease that does not have a cure. Managing the progression of the disease was tiring, and there were ups and downs, good days and bad days—for Tatianna and me. However, the most rewarding part was seeing the disease could be kept at bay for several years—if I was willing to make a commitment. For Tatianna, that commitment was daily fluid therapy, herbal therapy, customized meals, vet visits for periodic blood work, and acupuncture. But the payoff was immense because our bond deepened day by day.

The best tip I have is to catch the disease early. That is tricky since more than two-thirds of the kidney function can be destroyed before a cat shows physical symptoms. But if you have regular diagnostic work done starting when the animal is 6 or 7 years old, that will give you a baseline to compare from year to year. If you notice any changes such as drinking more water, losing weight, vomiting, or not eating, immediately go to the veterinarian. Sometimes, we think the cat will get back to normal in a few days and do nothing. But in a few days, the cat could be in a critical state.

Who or what inspires you?

Three things: My cats (past and present), my home office, and restaurants. Tatianna’s spiritual presence continues to inspire me along with the spirits of all her other fur buddies including Noelle, Taittinger, Marnie, and Katarina. My constant companion is Lexie Lee, a beautiful Norwegian Forest cat mix who blew into my yard after a hurricane. My special writing space is on the third story with tropical breezes blowing through light-spilling windows. I had extra wide window sills made for Lexie Lee, and she loves them! When she’s not on the window sill, she stretches out on the glass top desk, right up against my laptop. Every once in a while she hits a key! When I want a change of pace, I head off to Greek, French, or Italian restaurants all within five minutes of my house!

What is one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had at a book signing or event?

My eighth grade teacher, Mrs. Kice, came to my hometown book signing in Kahoka, Missouri. She had something for me and pulled a glass out of her handbag.

“You gave this to me for Christmas when you were an eighth grader. It’s been on my desk all these years! I think it’s time I returned it to you.”

 I was astounded she had saved the gift. I recognized it as one of my craft projects. The six inch clear goblet on a short footed pedestal was decorated with pink and white hearts around the rim along with three sets of pink and white cloverleaves above the pedestal.

One of my favorite teacher quotes is by Henry Brooks Adams–A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. It occurred to me when I saw Mrs.Kice that her effect on the world will continue to ripple with each person that reads the book.

Are you planning on writing another book?

That is a popular question! My focus right now is marketing and getting Tatianna’s message into as many paws as possible! I also write weekly Catnip Connection blogs for my Web site and Seattle Post-Intelligencer.com and enter little writing contests. So these activities keep me busy. Last summer my sister and I compiled a cookbook for our mother’s 90th birthday. I also was involved in another cookbook project this past year. My profile and a family recipe, Apple Crisp, appear in Literary Feast—The Famous Authors Cookbook that was just released this spring. It is a beautiful cookbook featuring 90 authors and stories about their recipes. Sales benefit the King County Library System in Washington.

I am interested in the topic of the loss of our fur friends and the grief process. So I could see doing a book like that in the future. I am also interested in writing shorter booklets on different cat topics. I would also love to see Tatianna in a children’s book!

What are you reading at the moment?

Middlemarch by George Eliot (807 pages!), Perfect Cupcakes (can’t wait to try Pineapple Upside-Down Cupcakes), Dog Years by Mark Doty (did I really say dog?—just have to keep the book hidden from Lexie Lee!). I just revisited Deepak Chopra’s The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success—I love that little gem.

Thank you so much for this opportunity, Linda!

Thank you for inviting me to The Conscious Cat, Ingrid. I appreciate the time with you. Warm Purrs!

linda_mohr_photoYou can learn more about Linda and her book on her website  and on her blog, The Catnip Connection.

***Linda has generously offered to give an autographed copy of her book to one lucky winner!  To enter the drawing, offer your comments and thoughts on this post.  All who participate will be automatically entered in the drawing.  The deadline to enter the drawing is June 9 at 11:59pm EDT.  The winner will be notified via e-mail.

Book Review: “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein

Amber has an open mind and thankfully, she allows me to read books about dogs.  I would have hated to have missed “The Art of Racing in the Rain.”  I highly recommend this wonderful book.

Synopsis:  Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.

Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn’t simply about going fast. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life’s ordeals.

On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through: the sacrifices Denny has made to succeed professionally; the unexpected loss of Eve, Denny’s wife; the three-year battle over their daughter, Zoë, whose maternal grandparents pulled every string to gain custody. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family, holding in his heart the dream that Denny will become a racing champion with Zoë at his side. Having learned what it takes to be a compassionate and successful person, the wise canine can barely wait until his next lifetime, when he is sure he will return as a man.

A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life . . . as only a dog could tell it.

But don’t take these words for it  – watch Enzo tell you himself:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZ0CTcU0Fd0

I actually think that both the synopsis and the trailer sell this book short.  In addition to being heartwarming, gut-wrenching, and ultimately uplifting, there is also a deeply spiritual component to this book.   For me, the most memorable part of the book (and there are so many of them)  was Enzo’s mantra “That which you manifest is before you.”  We all create our own reality, and I particulary enjoyed having this concept presented from a dog’s point of view.

For more good reading, check out my Reading List.

The Feline Mystique: On the Mysterious Connection Between Women and Cats

This post contains affiliate links*

As those of you who’ve been following me for a while know, reading is as essential as breathing to me.  When I read a book that I find educational, inspirational, helpful, moving, interesting, or just plain fun, I want to share it with everyone.  I thought it might be fun to periodically  introduce and review some of my favorites here.

Today’s  book is The Feline Mystique: On the Mysterious Connection Between Women and Cats by Clea Simon.

This is one of my favorite cat books.  It’s a book for cat lovers.  It’s a book for women who love their cats.  And it’s a book for men who love women who love their cats.

Author Clea Simon examines the bond between cats and women from all angles – from history and mythology to interviews with cat women from all walks of life, the book is a compelling mix of facts about cats and the women who love them.  It’s also a memoir of the seventeen years Simon spent with Cyrus, the kitten she adopted as a young single woman.

This is a joyful book, celebrating the role cats play in womens’ lives.   If you are a woman who loves cats, or if you want to better understand a woman who loves cats, you will enjoy this book.

For more information about the book, click here.  For more information about the author, go to http://www.cleasimon.com

books banner for posts

*The Conscious Cat is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to products on Amazon and affiliated sites. This means that if you decide to purchase through any of our links, we get a small commission. We only spread the word about products and services we’ve either used or would use ourselves.