For the Love of a Dog

Meet 14-year-old Brooke Martin. She’s creative, compassionate, and clever!  She invented a device to help alleviate her rescue dog’s separation anxiety and is now one of ten finalists for the Microsoft 2015 Small Business Contest. I’ve excerpted this post courtesy of A Mighty Girl’s Facebook page, and it’s worth sharing with people of all ages.

Brooke Martin

Brooke Martin with Kayla (photo © Barb Chase)

When she couldn’t find an easy way to remotely interact with her dog, Brooke decided to build a system of her own. After designing the prototype in her garage, Brooke enlisted a group of software pros, designers, and other specialists to help her create the finished product.  Last fall, she won the first-ever “Inventions We Love” challenge at the 2014 GeekWire Summit.

I really wanted a way to connect with her while we were gone and let her know that it was OK and calm her down during the day….I always video chat with my family and friends, so I figured why not my dog?

With iCPooch, you connect a tablet or smartphone to the dispenser, load it up with treats, and then contact the device from anywhere to video chat or give your dog a treat.

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To watch a demo of the product, check out the Press Room of Brooke’s website. To vote for Brooke and ICPooch in the Microsoft 2015 Small Business Contest, visit their Facebook voting page. There’s a $20,000 prize for the winner to invest in her business.

Read more about this Mighty Girl and her invention on her website. You can also find her iCPooch on Amazon.

So what are you waiting for? Go vote!

Celebrate Life!

I can’t think of a better way to start the year than with an update on Hiker, the dog who wouldn’t quit.

If you missed my earlier posts about Hiker, you can start here and read the update here. Short version: Jim Warnock and his hiking partner were traversing the rugged Ozark Highlands Trail back in January, 2014 when they were joined by an emaciated black lab who followed them to the end of the trail. (Read the entire story in Jim’s words here.) Here’s what she looked like back then:

Hiker January 20th 2014

A year later, Hiker is one healthy, happy dog who loves getting out on the trail in search of new adventures. Here’s her latest photo, courtesy of Jim:

Hiker 2

To keep up with the adventures of Hiker and her trail partner Jim, be sure to visit Jim’s blog at http://ozarkmountainhiker.com/.  Here’s hoping our paths cross soon on the Ozarks trails!

Let’s go to the (virtual) book fair!

mystery suspense hall header

If you’re following me on Facebook and Twitter, you know I’ve spent the last two weekends in full “Shop Local” mode at our local independent bookstore, Nightbird Books. It was great to meet new readers, visit with mystery fans, and answer questions about Deadly Ties and the forthcoming Dangerous Deeds.

This weekend, I’m celebrating readers and visiting with mystery fans attending the Virtual Ebook Fair hosted by bestselling author Tammie Clarke Gibbs and Reader’s Rock Lifestyle Magazine. (Find me on pp. 74-75 of the current issue.) I hope you’ll drop by the Fair, enter the drawings for cool gifts, and ask all the questions you like about the series, the setting, and the characters. And I promise–no spoilers!

Throughout this weekend, I’ll be adding new content to the website here, so please check back often.

Giving Thanks for our Pets

My beloved Alix

My beloved Alix

Buddy

Buddy Boy

 

 

 

 

 

Dogs and cats are a delightful addition to any family. And when families and friends gather to celebrate the holidays, there’s usually somebody who just can’t resist slipping a few tidbits from the dinner table to them.

Writer Susan Bird reminds us of reasons why we shouldn’t:

Every year, food-related pet illnesses spike during the long Thanksgiving weekend….That’s because holiday meals can present a minefield of problems for your animal friends. There’s a lot of things they need to avoid, and some of them aren’t obvious.

Keep your furry friends safely away from canned cranberries (they’re loaded with sugar). Ditto for green bean casseroles (mushroom soup and the fried onion topping can cause problems) and fruit salads with grapes or raisins. And store those delicious pumpkin pies out of reach, too. Why? Because even though raw pumpkin can be a great choice for pets’ digestive systems, a baked pie contains nutmeg and cinnamon which can cause serious health problems for your beloved pets.

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The American Kennel Club offers these great reminders to keep your dog safe during the holiday:

Always keep an eye on the dinner table during your Thanksgiving meal and secure all leftovers. You wouldn’t want your dog jumping up and making off with a turkey leg!

Do not give turkey bones to your dog. They pose a serious choking hazard for your dog and can lead to an emergency trip to the veterinarian.

Make sure that the garbage is secure so your dog doesn’t go through it looking for some Thanksgiving food, especially turkey fat that you have thrown out. Turkey fat can cause pancreatitis in dogs, which can be deadly.

As much as you may want to, don’t give your dog scraps from your holiday dinner. Stuffing, pies, cookies, and other fancy foods are inappropriate for dogs and will most likely make them sick.

If you’re hosting a big Thanksgiving dinner at your home, remember that some people may be afraid of your dog, and your dog may be uncomfortable around a large group of people. Moreover, guests that are coming and going may accidentally leave the door open, allowing your dog to run out of the house. To keep everyone – including your dog – comfortable and safe, you may want to keep your dog in his crate or confined to a room that won’t be used by your guests.

For more information and tips to keep your dog healthy, visit the AKC website. Have a safe and peaceful holiday!

And the winners are …

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Three cheers for Patty Allen and Morgen Bailey! You’re the lucky winners of our most recent giveaway. Marja McGraw (hello@marjamcgraw dot com) is waiting to hear from you so she can deliver your audiobook to your inbox.

I’m a big fan of Marja’s books, and hope you enjoy them too!

 

Thanksgiving Safety Tips for your Dog

Susan Holmes:

So much to be thankful for…and that includes our beloved pets!

Originally posted on :

Time has flown by and it’s almost Thanksgiving already!  Since the holiday feast is rapidly approaching, here are some tips to remember for keeping your dog safe and healthy during your Turkey Day festivities.

  • Never give turkey bones to your dog — they pose a serious choking hazard.
  • Always keep an eye on the Thanksgiving table and secure leftovers and garbage to prevent your dog from going through the holiday food.
  • Don’t give your dog scraps from the holiday buffet.  Stuffing, pies, cookies, and fancy hors d’oeuvres are inappropriate for dogs and may make them sick.
  • Keep burning candles on high tables or mantels that are out of the way of your dog’s wagging tail.
  • Alcohol is toxic to dogs, even in small amounts.
  • Stick as closely as possible to your normal routine, and try not to vary your dog’s feeding, walking, and playtime schedule.

Do you have any other…

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If You Were a Private Investigator…

Earlier this year, I featured the talented writer Marja McGraw on this website. You might remember that Marja and I have both written novels that include the tangled web of family, friends, treasure, and (of course!) murder.

Read our work and you’ll see we’ve taken a different approach to our tales. My series is set in the Ozarks, for example, while Marja’s work is rooted in Arizona, California, and other points west. I have an amateur sleuth who runs a boarding kennel and dog training business, while Marja’s Sandi Webster mysteries features a private investigator.

Marja Author Photo New_edited-1That brings us to this week’s guest post, written by my colleague, Marja McGraw. To celebrate the recent release of the audio edition of  A Well-Kept Family Secret we’re giving away copies to two lucky winners! All you have to do is leave a comment for a chance to win.

There are two ways to leave a comment here. The easiest way is to click on the title of this post and then scroll all the way to the bottom of the page that opens. You’ll see the comments already posted, and below that you can add your own. The second way is to click on “Comments” in the line below the “Posted in” section at the very end of the post.  If you run into difficulty posting a comment here, please drop by my Facebook Author page or Marja’s Facebook Author page and leave a comment. We’ll keep track of all the entries–wherever they’re posted–and draw the winners on November 24th. Be sure to bookmark this page and check back!

If You Were a Private Investigator, Would You Take This Case?

For just a few minutes, let your imagination run away with you. What type of case might pique your interest if you were a private investigator? Imagine it involved a situation that occurred a very long time ago. I mean so long ago that there are no survivors from that era.

What if someone came to you and asked you to solve a mystery that took place over one hundred years ago? Let’s say it’s a crime that took place in the late 1800s and you have no idea how to solve it.

Now I want you to add a degree of difficulty. What if the person who wanted you to solve the crime was your menopausal mother? Let’s say your mother could be unrelenting because the incident involved an ancestor. Would you take the case? Don’t forget, you’ve got other clients to take care of no matter how much your mother pushes you.

I grew up hearing stories about a great-great-grandfather, who along with another man, ran the Red Light District in Old Los Angeles and who was notorious throughout the Southwest. These weren’t your typical Grandpa stories. He wasn’t a nice man.

Curiosity made me do a little research about him and Old Los Angeles. I found some interesting information which made me dig a little deeper. Then I read an article in the newspaper about the old District being dug up when a new parking lot was to be installed at Union Station in Los Angeles in the 1990s.

Aha! I contacted Adrian Praetzellis of Sonoma College, the lead archaeologist involved in the research of this area. He turned out to be a fountain of information and sent me a CD that included both information about the Red Light District and Old Los Angeles in general.

Things fell into place for me and I knew I had to write a mystery about the past and include a man with little conscience. A Well-Kept Family Secret found its way into my imagination.

A Well Kept Family Secret Audio

There were so many possibilities, and I was able to include little snippets of history. In 1903 the infamous Carrie Nation led a march of reformers into the Red Light District. She lectured women in the area, and several even seemed to listen to her. She’d been arrested a few days earlier during one of her marches for “parading without a license”, and left shortly after her visit to the Red Light District. Who knew? My image of her was one of her holding an axe and marching on saloons. The District was located in the old Chinatown area. Little things help set the scene.

Back to using your imagination, how could you possibly solve a murder that took place so many years ago? Could you positively prove your relative didn’t commit the murder? You never know where research might lead you.

Oh, and there’s the added element of hidden riches in the story, which was loosely based on a family legend. Word has it that my great-great-grandfather hid gold and silver coins worth a lot of money somewhere in Los Angeles. I found a newspaper article about people still searching for it as late as the 1940s.

Have I piqued your interest or imagination yet? Read about it in A Well-Kept Family Secret, or better yet, listen to the story in audio book format. With people’s busy lives today, an audio book can be a treasure.

Leave a comment for a chance to win an audio book!

Visit Marja’s Website: http://www.marjamcgraw.com/

Check out her blog: http://www.marjamcgraw.blogspot.com/

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