Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Everything's Just Ducky!

Here's a great "up" ending to the year: the story of Lemon the Duck. Lemon is a crested Pekin. He was born with neurological issues which affect his coordination and balance. He is unable to stand or walk on his own, but he has a sling, a scooter, and other ways to get around. He grew up in a classroom and with his teacher friend, Laura, so he's an imprinted duck. He just loves people, especially children.

Don't feel sorry for this duck, though -- he has a great life! He goes for rides in his baby carriage, to work every day with Laura and home with her every night. He receives lots of love and attention.

Lemon has had loads of adventures---and consequently so has Laura. He's been to the mall (many times), outdoor concerts, a powwow, camping, to the dentist, the grocery store (shhh), to New Hampshire to swim in the Saco river, canoe trips, and so many other places.

You can learn lots more about Lemon, and the book Laura wrote about him, at his website.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The TIMES, They Are A-Changin'

That's right, folks: The L.A. Times, to be exact! Almost Perfect got a real nice write-up on "L.A. Unleashed," the blog from LA Times editor Alice Short. Thanks, Alice!

And that bit of exposure got our little book noticed by the people at Purina, where it was mentioned on their Purina Pet Charts. We made the #1 spot on their Top Stories column at what Purina calls "The Definitive Guide to the Best Pet Stuff Online."

Did somebody say, "Happy Holidays?" And speaking of:

Props to Sarah McLachlan, who is currently appearing in TV spots supporting the SPCA in America and Canada (British Columbia version shown here).

More than ever this year, with the economy kicking people out of their homes, many pets are also being made homeless and are ending up in already-overcrowded shelters. With everyone tightening their belts now, potential adopting families are harder to find than ever, so it's a grim outlook for many of these dear animals who have landed -- alone, afraid and confused -- at these places of last resort through no misdeed of their own.

Please encourage your friends, family and co-workers to consider adopting a shelter pet, or at least donating to this very worthwhile organization. Without the people who run and work at the SPCA, far fewer "almost perfect" pets would live to find loving homes as ours did. Bless the beasts and the children.

Meowy Christmas and Happy Mew Year, everyone - Woof!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

California Dreamin'

What IS it about California that attracts so many wonderful people who love and care for injured, abused, neglected and disabled animals? Must be something in the water, but I think this is a great place to give a few of these special places their props.

One of the most miraculous stories to share is that of Brighthaven in Sebastopol, where Gail and Richard Pope have dedicated their lives -- and their home -- to caring for animals no one else wants. And they do it in a unique way: Over the years BrightHaven has evolved to become a completely unique holistic retirement retreat and hospice for senior (16+) sick or disabled animals.

Once animals are "adopted" by BrightHaven, they live out their lives in a beautiful, well-balanced environment as part of a loving family. All are free to roam indoors or out in the enclosed gardens. BrightHaven is becoming well known as a healing arts center for animals through its seminar and workshop programs, designed to help people better care for their animals. Well-known practitioners from many walks of natural health join with Brighthaven to offer their knowledge to the community.

Another great California group is BONES - Better Options for NEglected Strays. BONES is named after an early rescue dog. These photos show him before and after being rescued:
There are many, MANY more organizations in the sunny state of California that treat animals they way they should be treated. There's a great list of these at the Puppy Love Rescue site - another great group. Check them all out!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Saving Face

Here's a story my brother told me about, which just proves how easy it is for any critter -- or person, for that matter -- to find themselves "almost perfect" in the blink of an eye. Check out Edgar's story about almost losing her (yes, her) face in this video.

Diva Dog!

"There is an emotional connection where animals and human beings have created exactly what the universe wants, which is a bonding that saves each others' lives." Debra Wilson gets it right in "Diva Dog," a Chris Cory film now running on YouTube. It's a brief introduction to Coral, a spunky, lively and altogether charming pitbull who's teaching the real meaning of getting on with life despite one's limitations.

"That's what makes her story and legacy so important, because she touches you and moves you, and you become transformed," Wilson says, describing her experience with Coral.

It's a story familiar to our own Vicki Tiernan, whose beautiful Dobie-Lab mix Ruby did the diva thing in San Francisco, inspiring people for years in her own inimitable way. Ruby graces the cover of Almost Perfect: Disabled Pets and the People Who Love Them.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bounce on over to Rebound Hounds!

Okay, here's another blog that's right up our alley: Rebound Hounds. It's devoted to disabled dogs, and has some great info on dachshunds, especially. You just gotta love Greta, the elder stateswoman dachsie, modeling the fashions worn by all the hip senior pups this season. You'll also find some links to other related websites, and a great list of disabled pet-friendly holiday gift suggestions, so truck on over and give it a look!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Altruism - This is what it's all about.

Okay, it may be a stretch, but I just HAD to include this one here. Actually, perhaps it's not a stretch at all, but actually the most pointed example of how animals can inspire us. This vid is about one dog disabled in a most profound way -- being run over by a car on the freeway -- and another coming to his rescue. Amazing. Don't miss it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

How Comet Got His Groove Back

Here's a heartwarming story on YouTube about Comet, a golden retriever that lost the use of his back legs, but regained his mobility through a unique partnership between his vet, students from a local school, and the generosity of HandicappedPets.com.

Just another example of what can happen when people care enough to do something, and not unlike Inspiration In Our Midst: Ruby, the fabulous cover story in Almost Perfect. Ruby's unflagging spirit and undeniable joy in living inspired many who knew her, and the unique LabraDobe stars in a true story you'll not soon forget.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Yet more good news!

Sadly, animals can and do become "less than perfect" through their treatment at the hands of human beings. Though nothing can ever really restore an animal's full trust once damaged, there are happily programs to help make up for it. Here's one to read about.

Finally! Some Good News from the Gulf

Back on Nov. 5, I posted about the American military's policy of leaving behind "adopted" pets in war zones. Now, thanks to one of the contributors to Almost Perfect, I can pass on this wonderful followup to this story. Very heartening, indeed.

It's just the way he rolls...

See, y'all -- kewl karts aren't just for dogs! Check out this great vid of Woolly the Rabbit and his homemade wheels. I'm guessing this would get the Flyin' Ruby Stamp of Approval!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Two of my fellow contributors to Almost Perfect were interviewed this week, and I want to share these great audiocasts with you!

Cheryl Caruolo, who wrote about a friend's special relationship with Krieg, a special German Shepherd, appeared on November 14th's episode of "The Booth." This unique show describes itself as ""Imagine sitting in bar next to a booth with 4-5 guys chatting away about anything & everything, and once in a while a friend or two stops by to hang out." The show features Keith "Sinista1" Hayes, Czman and Ken "Diesel" Diesenhof, and is heard on WXBR 1460 AM out of their Brockton studios 20 miles south of Boston, Mass.

Yeah, you have to get through a bit of frat boy-type stuff first, but the hosts are gracious and interested, and it's worth the wait to hear Cheryl talk about her involvement in our little project. Check it out!

Vicki Tiernan wrote about her life with Ruby, an irrepressible LabraDobe mix who lost the use of her back legs to a degenerative muscle disease. She was interviewed on Nov. 18th by host Joanne Greene on the Good Dog! podcast. Scroll down to the Nov. 18 entry, and click on "Inspirational Dogs with Disabilities" for almost 13 minutes of interesting and informative entertainment.

Both authors give good ear: They're poised, eloquent, and passionate about their subjects.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Almost Perfect: The book

Okay, time for a little shameless self-promotion. After all, my new book was the reason I started this blog, and I want to make sure you all know about it.

Almost Perfect: Disabled Pets and the People Who Love Them just came out in October from Enspirio House, an imprint of Word Forge Books. This publisher has several different imprints covering many different subject areas, but Enspirio House covers mind/body/spirit topics -- the perfect place for this fantastic collection of 11 essays by veteran authors and fresh new voices from three countries.

The book's doing well -- even got picked up by Target stores online -- and I can't say I'm surprised. These stories have a power all their own, and once you read one, you'll be hooked, because you'll recognize the truth behind every moving tale.

In a world that reveres perfection and disdains anything less, most of us realize that nothing—and no one—can truly measure up. Yet, when it comes to choosing companion animals, most folks won’t settle for less.

These stories are about those animals who—through birth or injury—have been rendered less than perfect, and the humans who found love enough to welcome them into their hearts and homes. Almost Perfect allows you to share the immeasurable rewards those people have found.

Learn what courage really is from Colbi, a blind Alaskan Husky, as he trades a hellish life in a puppy mill for the challenges of farm living. Be inspired by Ruby, the irrepressible Labrador-Doberman mix who adapts to a devastating muscle-eating disease by learning to truly “roll with the punches.” Follow Cagney, the paraplegic rat, who struggles along with his human “mom” through her Master’s thesis. Be inspired by the joy and grace with which Tux, a handsome black-and-white cat, navigates a life of almost complete paralysis. Root for tiny, blind Idgie to beat the mean streets of Philadelphia and the death sentence of feline leukemia.

Allow yourself to believe once again in the power of the positive, as you read about how loving and caring for "less-than-perfect" pets helps their human counterparts appreciate what it means to be fully alive.

This 128-page book is manageable even in today's hectic schedules, allowing you to read a bit at a time as you find a few moments here and there. It's a refreshing dip into what really matters in life when you feel surrounded--and maybe overwhelmed--by everything else. At $12.95, it makes an affordable gift for the animal lover in your life (even if it's you!).

Sometimes you find the purr, sometimes she finds you!

Following my last post, this one seems appropriate: a very different kind of story about war in the Gulf, and a tiny purr that just wouldn't die. Take one hot desert, mix in one new family and a litter of abandoned kittens, and...well, you'll see.

Bless Ginger for posting Susan Dart's story, Heart of a Lion.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ideas About Companion Animals

Since the published goal of this blog is to explore how we view companion animals (specifically, disabled ones), I feel this post is germane:

Are you aware that it is the policy of the American military to leave behind any and all animals that have been "adopted" by fighting forces in an occupied region? Despite the fact that these animals provide sometimes the only emotional solace our troops can find, when it's time for the troops to ship out, dogs, cats and other critters are left behind like so much debris, to fend for themselves.
Anyone who shares their lives with companion animals know how much suffering this must cause, for both the animals and those who have grown to love and depend on them. Maybe in the past, this harsh policy was required. But today, with modern vaccines and modern transportation modes, it's a barbaric hangover from another time.

As proven by the shift in policy of the American Red Cross to FINALLY provide shelter for companion animals after the thousands of needless deaths caused when pet owners wouldn't abandon their beloved critters to evacuate for Hurricane Katrina, it's time for a new vision of what decency and humanity mean.

Please take a few moments to let the American military know how you feel about this issue by signing the Care2 petition. You'll be glad you did.

On a related note, there's a great organization whose sole mission is caring for the pets of soldiers who get shipped out. While they're away doing their duty, Guardian Angels become foster caregivers for their companion animals until Mom or Dad come home.

You gotta love Homer!

Gwen Cooper blogs about her blind cat, Homer, at opensalon.com. What a fantastic little guy, what a great story, and what a great mom he has!

Gwen reports she's just sold her story of Homer to Bantam Dell, so let's all watch for that book when it comes out. She's got us on her list, so when she lets me know, I'll let you know it's available.

Meanwhile, why not check out her blog yourself and get to know Gwen and Homer a little better?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Not Completely Disabled...

...but fun and interesting! It's all about Dr. Dick's kittehs at his blog, "Thoughts on a Train."

For those of you who don't know about kittehs, you need to visit I Can Has Cheezburger! No self-respecting cat lover can claim the title without at least an introduction to ICHC and LOLspeak. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Such a small effort to make such a big difference!

Susan Bertrand, one of the contributors to "Almost Perfect," is a volunteer with Angels With Paws, a no-kill shelter. They're in need of funding to continue their important and much-needed work. Please take a moment to vote for them in a contest that could award them $10,000. It'll only take a few minutes, and can do so much good. Thanks!

Monday, October 13, 2008

How cool is this?

Yeah, I found this cool website that sells a very creative set of adjustable wheels for pets that have lost the use of their legs.

Check it out and see how different it is from the carts you may or may not have seen before. Bless the hearts of everyone who works on stuff like this. And here's a story about a pup that's using this wonderful contraption!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

You Can DO Something!

If you find some of the things you read about on this blog somewhat disturbing, don't despair: Despite the seemingly limitless cruelty this world has to offer, you don't have to feel helpless. Do something!

One of the things you can do is so easy, it's almost unbelievable. You can help the charity of your choice -- including those that benefit pets with disabilities or the groups that rescue and care for them -- by doing something you do anyway: shopping on the Web!

Just go to GoodShop and enter the charity you wish to designate. Then do your shopping through that portal, and a percentage of your purchases will accrue to your charity! What's not to love about that arrangement? So shop, shop, shop til you help. Better yet, send all your friends, too.

Friday, October 3, 2008

A related organization

Tonight's post is about a fantastic organization, Pets With Disabilities.

Pets with Disabilities is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the adoption of dogs and cats with disabilities. The organization serves as a shelter and an adoption placement aid for animals that have been injured through trauma or disabled by illness. Pets with Disabilities provides invaluable support and resources for the families of disabled pets and for shelters attempting to place special-needs animals into loving homes. For the animals it helps place, Pets With Disabilities is a bridge to a better life; for the few that it cannot place, Pets With Disabilities is a lifelong home.

Check 'em out, and remember to leave a little note of thanks for all the good they do for our beloved critters.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Stylin' Stella!

Well, apparently the world's full of critters who are "less than perfect," and they're all welcome here! This week's featured LTPP (Less Than Perfect Pet) is Ms. Stella Stiletto.

You just gotta love her if only for the name! But you will love her...and her daddy, who's an artist, and takes WAY good care of our orange girl. You gotta love an orange chick whose MySpace page says, "I have no feet and I don't care!"

Cattitude, folks. We know what it looks like, and we love it. Welcome to the land of Who Cares, Stella! You're the unofficial mayor!

Monday, September 29, 2008

A neat related blog

Go on over and check out "The Lehners In France," a wonderfully critter-ridden blog of the most fantastic kind. Here's part of the official description:

"Lehners in France - Nain de la Ville, Dordogne, France
Born in Liverpool, worked in Sales all of my working life. I am now at last happily married (after one very brief disaster) and living in rural France with my husband Bob, a vet, born in Kenya. We live here with our menagerie of mentally or physically deformed pets. This is a diary of our trials and tribulations and the wierd and wonderful experiences we enjoy"
How can ya not want to check this out?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Of Like Minds

Here's a great post from Chris Davis, who shares a wonderful story about a differently abled pet whose visage was just a little too much for some people to take. Ginger, a one-eyed dog who survived awful abuse, nevertheless managed to come to her new mom, Fran, as a service dog.

How could the image of this loving pup be so disturbing to anyone? What's the threat?

This is why we need to have this discussion. Thanks, Chris, for putting this information out there!

Vive la difference!

Looks matter. We'd like to think it's not true, but if that were so, there would be no bazillion-dollar fashion industry, no cosmetics or acne medications industry, no weight-loss industry, fewer re-designs of automobiles every year, and covers wouldn't be what sell books. But there are, and they do.

Our higher selves would like to believe that what's inside is what matters, whether we're talking about people or products...or pets. We want to be people who can see past the surface to inner beauty. But the fact is, we care—deeply—how things look. And that can keep us from connecting with a lot of good things in life.

This blog examines one facet of that reality: the tendency of most people to shy away from choosing animals that have been damaged in some way to be our pets, and what happens to those who manage to get past the fear of the different to welcome these critters into their lives.

I've edited and have an essay in a new book about this subject, titled Almost Perfect: Disabled Pets and the People Who Love Them.

The book celebrates the joy and inspiration "less-than-perfect" animals have brought into the lives of eleven authors in three countries. I'm hoping these stories spark honest discussion—and maybe even change—about prevailing attitudes concerning what makes a perfect pet, and the intrinsic value of these animals. I'm providing this blog as a place for people who care to connect and discuss these ideas. Welcome, and thanks for taking the time to consider this issue.