Sue & Lucy the Dog: Watching Life Unfold & Gettin' It On the Page

Category Archives: St. Francis of Assisi

What is it about the power of the paw that can unite a group of strangers? I found out at the 2017 BlogPaws Conference.

For anyone who may not know – and that included me until not that long ago – BlogPaws (YES – one word!) represents a social learning community of people who share a passion for pets and charitable pet causes, and who utilize blogs and social media to connect, communicate, and educate others. (You can check out the BlogPaws official mission statement and more on their website.)

As the Chief Editor for the Dogs on Deployment Military Tails blog,  (check it out!) I attended the BlogPaws conference to represent my non-profit organization.

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Since I had previously traveled on business and attended other conferences, here are 5 things I expected to find en route/at this conference:

  1. Friendly, courteous hotel staff at the Sheraton Myrtle Beach, SC – check.
  2. Less than friendly, but trying to be courteous airport staff – check.
  3. A super comfy bed at the Sheraton – all to myself (sure, sure, I missed my hubby and the dog in the bed too, but come on) – check.
  4. Unpacking my luggage to find dog hair on my freshly pressed clothes – check.
  5. People who enjoyed talking about their pets or pet-related causes/blogging about their own/their pets’ experiences – check.

Well, here are 5 more things I was not necessarily expecting to find en route to/at the BlogPaws conference:

  1. Running into very enthusiastic fellow pet lovers/bloggers heading towards the same conference, all covered in various pet hair, while still at the airport, en route – check. 
  2. Receiving my official “I Pet a Therapy Rat” pin, since, well I did – check.
  3. Being upstaged at dinner in the grand ballroom by a cat dressed in haute couture – check.
  4. Receiving an enormous bag of swag that Lucy, my Jack Russell Terrier will be boasting to her pals about at the dog-park (Actually we had that mother-daughter talk, and Lucy graciously agreed to donate most of the goods to a local shelter. You can see her delight in this decision in the pic I’ve posted above) – check.
  5. Meeting hundreds of people who enjoyed blogging/talking about their pets, pets’ experiences, pet-related causes, non-profits (like Dogs on Deployment), innovative / wholesome / savvy / nutritious-delicious / fun / educational pet products and services – check and double check.

Whew.

At the BlogPaws conference I met people from WA to ID to NY (yay, NY, my home town!), who represented different educational backgrounds, career interests, political parties, cultures and ideologies, but all of whom agreed that they connected deeply with animals and loved them in one way, shape or form. Whether they shared their pet’s daily adventures via a massive social media following, presented cutting-edge technologies and services that are revolutionizing the way we interact with and care for our pets, or enlightened us on the important work of animal rescue and rehab groups all across the U.S., every unique individual brought something to the table to be shared and appreciated.

We were all better served for having attended the BlogPaws conference. Many people didn’t know about Dogs on Deployment, for example, and how we help active duty military families remain together with their pets. I was fortunate enough to meet several vendors who are eager to hear more about this important cause and get on board somehow. I was also lucky enough to meet many attendees who will turn into advocates, partners, colleagues and I hope, friends.

Last but certainly not least, I found “Good Grief,” thanks to Wanda Kruse, aka @MaggieTKat. More on that in my next post.

This proud pet owner, animal advocate and dog-hair covered writer is so pleased to have been at this valuable conference. All that I’ve taken away from it I will in turn give back to my furry friends in the hopes of improving more lives.

Power to the paw-ple, I say.

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It was Mahatma Ghandi who once said:

The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

As the americanhumane.org website tells us, every year since 1915, millions of Americans come together during the first full week of May to show their compassion for animals.

It seems a shame that we should ever have to remind one another to be kind to animals. But when you look around and see that people have a hard time always being kind to one another, it’s not surprising.

As we rap up celebrations for “Be kind to Animals Week,” I notice that even when animals are put into bad situations and not met with kindness, they still offer kindness in return. This behavior is even evident in the worst of circumstances, when authorities are removing and rescuing animals from dog fighting rings, mills, and hoarding situations — they are often met with kisses and wagging tails by the animals who have been abused.

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I have tried to do my part over time to help in whatever way I can. One way I found to help animals who would otherwise find themselves in uncertain circumstances is to work with the non-profit organization, “Dogs on Deployment.” When our active United States military members travel on duty for the country, Dogs on Deployment uses a network of volunteers to temporarily foster their dogs (or other pets). Previously, active duty United States military members who left the country to travel on duty, worried that they might have to completely part with their beloved pets.

I have worked with many dogs and animals through the years, and have happily rescued several of them. One thing I can say for sure is that the animals I have rescued along the way have in turn rescued me, many times over. My furry kids mean the world to me!

Please support humane animal initiatives, love animals, and always, always #bekind


The Northeast landscape in the fall is an astounding array of colors so vibrant, they don’t seem real. From amber gold, to crimson red to bright, burnt orange, leaves on the trees beckon you to appreciate their magnificence, if only for a short while. On a beautiful Autumn day one week ago I drove through just such a scenic landscape on my way to Chatham, New York, where I visited Equine Advocates, a “Safe Home Equine Rescue & Sanctuary.”  I made the trip for two reasons.

For one thing, I needed the animal therapy. Earlier this year, I lost a sweet, beloved, long-time pet. More recently, my dear and kind mother passed away after a horrifying ordeal with cancer, during which time I served as her full-time caretaker. The scars from these losses will undoubtedly mark my body and mind like tattoos. (They are also why I haven’t been blogging.) For an animal lover and advocate like myself, ultimately there is no better medicine for the soul than the presence of and the love provided by a furry, feathered or finned creature. It’s the reason why I volunteered as a zoo docent, and ultimately adopted three pets in the wake of my last husband’s death, and in the aftermath of my experiences on 9/11.

The second reason I made the trip is because my friend who volunteers some of her time at Equine Advocates suggested I have a look around the farm. In life, I’ve found that when we’re asked to “look around” it pays to say yes. I know I’m better off when I’m asked to learn or consider something new and different, or to challenge myself in some way.

Generally, in life, I’ve found that when we’re asked to look around it pays to say “yes.”

Equines & Ethics

Other than admiring equines (which includes donkeys and ponies), and the absolute beauty of horses in particular, I previously only knew that horses have a typical life span of about 25-30 years. Clearly, caring for them can become a considerable expense. Some equines have the benefit, for whatever reason, of a lifetime of proper attention, diet, veterinary care, and safe shelter.

But I’ve now learned that the end game for many equines is not always a pretty or painless one. Regardless of their level of fame/notoriety, their working contributions to society, or their success in breeding, great numbers of equines are:

  • left abandoned (and only sometimes found and rescued) in unhygienic/unsanitary conditions,
  • rounded up for horse slaughter and sold to countries including Mexico and Canada for food,
  • made to continue in service without adequate veterinary, dental and hoof care, resulting in disease and degeneration,
  • made to spend years (female mares, in this case) in the Pregnant Mares’ Urine (PMU) industry. PMU is used by pharmaceutical and cosmetics companies to produce estrogen and hormone-replacement drugs and personal care products. PMU products are made by keeping mares constantly pregnant and confined to stalls where they may not turn around so as to collect their estrogen-rich urine.
  • and the list goes on and on.

Whether these animals have spent their careers as race horses, carriage horses, doing farm work or simply being made to serve as riding animals for amusement or enjoyment, and whether or not they were once wild mustangs roaming free or once-gifted thoroughbreds earnings millions in the racing industry, their long-term fate is always uncertain.

I’m trying to avoid getting on a righteous “soap-box.” I have been to petting zoos and have previously taken a horse-drawn carriage ride. I know two different people who own registered race horses. I may have even used a personal care product containing PMU in the past, without any concept of how PMU is sourced in the first place. Check out the disheartening statistics on the web for yourself. There may now be as many as 100,000 PMU mares currently on PMU lines in China. There is no long-term care plan for them when they have outlived their usefulness.

I am simply hoping to remind you that for every action there is a reaction, and a consequence. Please just do the right thing.

For every action there is a reaction, and a consequence — for thousands of horses, that may be slaughter.

As with all good causes, opportunities abound for our participation and involvement to help. We can volunteer our time, volunteer our skills (like writing, in my case), donate money or just spread the word. For example, this Sunday, November 8, 2015, there will be an Open House at Equine Advocates Rescue & Sanctuary. See http://www.equineadvocates.org and discover how you might be able to lend a hand to the rescued equines.

Become an advocate for these horses by learning about legislation that affects them. Make your concerns known and your voice heard. Arm yourself with the facts by visiting one of many valuable sites like the WWF, the HSUS, or the ASPCA.

Or, even consider small opportunities to make a difference like that found through the AMAZON SMILE Program. Now when I’m online shopping at Amazon, since I’ve selected Equine Advocates as my charity of choice, a portion of the purchases I make gets sent from Amazon to my fave charity. A win-win!!

Having just celebrated and acknowledged the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi (Patron Saint to animals) my wish and prayer is that someday we won’t have a need for any animal rescue haven, zoo, or sanctuary of any kind. Until then, the horses and all animals need us to do the right thing.