Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fido and Friend in Five: Tess Hilmo and Daisy!

I know you're probably sick of hearing me say this, but there's something about Utah and children's authors. We have more than our fair share in this high desert country: Shannon Hale, Matt Kirby, Anne Bowen, Rick Walton, Brandon Mull, Sara Zarr, Sydney Salter, Becky Hall, just to name a very few. Now we have a wonderful new member to the Utah pack, Tess Hilmo. Tess's debut novel, With a Name Like Love, has gently taken the reviewers by storm. Her book garnered not one, not two, but three starred reviews! Booklist, School Library Journal, and the notoriously hard-to-please Kirkus all gave stars to With a Name Like Love. The American Booksellers Association also named Tess's book a "New Voices" pick for 2011! And this is just her first book. Holy cow!
With a Name Like Love

When Tess was pregnant with her second daughter, she had to be put on bed rest. Bored to tears from watching TV, Tess started reading, reading, reading. Then, she started writing, writing, writing. Twelve years later, Tess has a pre-teen daughter and an absolutely lovely, charming book. With a Name Like Love introduces the reader to the loving yet rather unconventional Love family. The father, Everlasting Love, is a traveling preacher, carrying his message of grace and redemption to all. In tow are his wife and five daughters. To the main character, Ollie, it's a less than wonderful life until they arrive in the tiny town of Binder, Arkasas. With A Name Like Love is filled with many things I love: gospel music, rich characters, big hearts, and frogs. And a bit of a murder mystery too!

Tess lives right down the mountains from me in Salt Lake City. She's the mother of three, married to her college sweetheart, and the servant of the Great Daisy, Poodle Who Must Be Obeyed. Let's meet Tess and her Poodle, Daisy, in today's Fido and Friend in Five:

1. How did you and Daisy find each other?  We adopted Daisy eight years ago when our neighbors moved out of state.
Daisy and Her Girl, Tess

2. What makes Daisy's tail wag?  So much! She is the happiest dog you've ever met. But if I had to choose a few things, I'd have to say peanut butter, the door bell, and seeing my kiddos pull her red leash out, because that means adventure time!

3. What's your all time favorite dog story?  Because of Winn Dixie...though I just started reading A Dog's Way Home and am loving it! (blush blush)

The Daisy Endorsement
4. If Daisy could change just one thing about you, what would it be?  She'd have me quit my job and spend the whole day lounging in the sun with her.

5. In five words, tell us what Daisy means to you:  Unconditional acceptance, giggles, and cuddles.

Thanks so much to Tess and Daisy for stopping by! Be sure to check out Tess's website and blog to read the reviews of her wonderful book and to see what all she's up to. Who knows what she'll do next?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fido and Friend in Five: Sarah Prineas and Athena!

Sarah Prineas
As most of you know by now, I'm a sucker for beautiful shiny things. Just like a crow, I'm drawn to them. So when we received Sarah Prineas's new book, Winterling, in the library where I work, my eyes lit up. The cover is gorgeous, don't you think? I had to pick it up and hold it, peck at every part of it. And that's when I discovered in the author bio that Sarah has a dog. "Ha!" I said.

Of course, being that it's a book written by Sarah Prineas, what's on the inside of the book is even more gorgeous! Sarah is an author of extraordinary talent in world-creating. She also has some serious literary chops. Her first book for middle-graders, The Magic Thief, won just about every award and accolade there is, including our very own Beehive Award from the Children's Literature Association of Utah! Do you know how many children we have here in Utah? Lots! And that means lots of children read Sarah's book and voted it the best. Her subsequent books in the series, The Magic Thief: Lost, and The Magic Thief: Found, have delighted many other readers as well.

And now Sarah has a new book, Winterling, which I can't wait to read. Sarah also has a laptop named Pip, a mad scientist husband, two kids (I don't know if they're "mad" too), two cats (one of whom is reported to be rather cranky), and a "goddess among dogs" named Athena, all whom share her life in Iowa. It's a busy time for authors when a new book comes out, so I am particularly grateful to Sarah for taking time out to be in today's Fido and Friend spotlight!

I'm a GOOD girl!
1. How did you and Athena find each other?  Recently, I was reading a memoir about a woman who bonded with her first dog, and she writes about suddenly realizing that she needed a dog. She'd never had one before; there was no triggering event in her life, she just knew. That's how it was for me: suddenly I knew that I needed a dog.

Every couple of days I would check the local animal shelter website, and finally found a chocolate lab mix named Rusty, so my son and I went over to check him out. Of course, he'd already been adopted, so the shelter guy said, "Have a look through our book (a list of dogs at the shelter) and see if any catch your eye." So I get to the last page, and there's the listing for "Toranga," a 5-6 year old Rottweiler brought in as a stray. I'm like, "A Rottweiler? NO WAY!" A former neighbor had had a really horrible, untrained Rottweiler mix, and that had really set me against the breed. Plus you know Cujo was a Rottweiler. But the temperament evaluation for this dog was glowing, so I thought, "Okay, I'll try." The shelter guy went to fetch her, and said, "She's the nicest dog we've got here." I was like, "Oh sure she is." But then he brought her out, and it was love at first sight. I mean, I just knew--this was my dog. Athena.

Really, I am!
2. What makes Athena's tail wag?  As Rottie owners say, "If you don't have a tail, wag your butt!" Athena's tail was docked by her previous owners (whoever they were), but she's a pretty intense butt-wager. Rotties tend to bond strongly to their person; she's a bit of a velcro-dog, so she wags for me. She wags like crazy for food and treats, and when other family members come home.

3. What's your all-time favorite dog story?  It's hard to decide! My son is home-schooled, and in the fall we did a unit on dogs, and read a bunch of dog stories and books. Laura Ingalls Wilder's Jack has a place in out heart, but our favorite is probably James Herriot's stories about Tricky Woo, the over-fed, over-pampered lapdog.

4. If Athena could change just one thing about you, what would it be?  She wishes I would let her eat the mail carrier.

5. In five words, tell us what Athena means to you:  I can do it in two: Beloved companion.

Thanks to the wonderful Sarah and goddess Athena for visiting with us today! Be sure to check out Sarah's website to find out all about where she writes and what that crazy invention is her husband is building. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Life with Shelties Means...Healing

One of the very hardest things any person owned by a dog experiences is their death. I always say, the only bad thing you can say about dogs is they don't live long enough! But sometimes another little soul comes into our lives when we least expect it to heal our broken heart. Here's Amanda Oswalt's very special essay about losing her heart to one sheltie and then having it healed by another.

Early last December we suffered an unexpected loss.  Our 8 year old sheltie, Sammy, suddenly passed away.  We never found out why it happened, but it was a devastating shock.  However, while we were all grieving the loss of Sammy, our older sheltie, Kassie, mourned harder than any of us.  Kassie began to bark repeatedly and rhythmically from the time she would wake in the morning until she’d fall asleep in the evening.  It never stopped.  We tried treats, new toys, etc.  Finally, the vet told us that as the alpha dog, Kassie was calling back the lost member of her pack.  The only way to help her was to get another dog.
I certainly didn’t feel I was emotionally ready for another dog.  However, I knew it was necessary.  I searched for several weeks.  The new dog had to be perfect….not too big, not too old, not too young, and of course, a sheltie! 
It was the night before Christmas Eve.  I decided to call a childhood friend who was a vet over a hundred miles away.  To this day, I haven’t a clue what made me call her.  We hadn’t spoken in nearly 15 years.   I explained our situation and asked that if she ever came across a sheltie, could she please keep us in mind.  There was stunned silence on the other end of the phone.  She eventually said that a sheltie was just brought into the hospital.  He had been attacked by a Rottweiler and the owners wanted him put down.  His windpipe severed, lungs collapsed…chance of survival was minimal.  The vet assumed ownership and performed emergency surgery.  I called just as he was moved to recovery.  She immediately put a sign on his cage stating that he had a new owner and I picked him up a very LONG week later.
Adopting Rudy and helping him recover healed all of our broken hearts…even Kassie’s.  He was sent to us to help us heal after losing Sammy, and sadly, to help us through the loss of Kassie just 3 months later.  Rudy is truly our angel.

Amanda wrote in her email to me that this photo was taken the moment they put Rudy in her arms. She said, "I was so happy, I thought my face would break from smiling!"

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My Excellent Adventure in: New York City!

Me & Molly O'Neill
I'm just back from a whirl-wind trip to New York City to attend the Dog Writers Association of America's annual awards banquet where A Dog's Way Home was up for an award! I took my BFF, Charlene with me (unfortunately, hubby couldn't go) and we went out a couple days early to play.

Anything goes in NYC!
Now I know you may find this hard to believe, but I really love NYC--in small doses. This was just the right amount of time. Once we finally made our way from the airport to our hotel, we quickly changed clothes and hoofed it over to the Affinia Hotel where we met my lovely editor of A Dog's Way Home for drinks and a bite to eat. I even had a fancy martini which made me feel very grown up.

We walked all over mid-Manhatten on Saturday. I love, love, love people watching in that part of the world. It's like anything goes, yet people are so friendly! And who would think that about a whole big city full of yankees. But it's true! We saw the show, "Wicked", Saturday afternoon. It was worth every darned penny. So magical! Afterwards we had a shockingly scrumptious meal at Cara Mia.
DWAA Banquet

It turned bitterly cold and windy on Sunday. We hopped on and off buses to see as much as we could. Then back to the motel to get ready for the banquet! I am happy to report I neither over-dressed nor under-dressed for the event. And all of us at the banquet, no matter how grandly attired, had dog hair on their clothes.

I was beyond thrilled to receive two awards! I received the Maxwell Medal of Excellence and the coveted Merial Human-Animal Bond Award.

"I'm your biggest fan!"
Receiving award
Besides receiving the awards, the highlight of the evening was meeting one of my very, very favorite authors of all things dog, Patricia McConnell. I knew she was up for an award, so I brought a copy of my favorite book of hers, The Other End of the Leash, along so I could ask her to sign it. I know, I'm such a geek, but I was over the moon meeting her. She was very gracious and didn't call security on me. And she won an award too!
Patricia M. & me

So that's my Excellent Adventure in New York City! I was very happy to come home and walk my dogs along a stream and listen to the songs of the first red-wing black birds.
Maxwell Medal of Excellence

Monday, February 6, 2012

"Life with Shelties Means..." Special Friends

Back in December I ran an essay contest on life with shelties. I had some wonderful entries that I've been posting here from time to time.

One of the things we "sheltie people" love so much about the breed is their intelligence and curiosity. Here, Anne Funkhouser shares the special friend her sheltie, Sophie, has made. Enjoy!