Playing it safe

Hurricane Florence photo provided by NOAA

Wildfires, floods, and other natural disasters can strike anywhere, anytime. Even if you’re currently high, dry, and safe, it’s important to have a clear action plan to get you and your pets to safety in times of trouble.

Have a plan! This 2-page checklist from the CDC is one of the best I’ve seen; print a copy and keep it with you. For more information about pet-focused disaster planning, check out this page.

RedRover has an updated list of resources you may find helpful. They include a disaster kit checklist and a list of US-specific and international pet-friendly accommodations. You’ll also find links for detailed information about dogs, cats, horses, and birds as well as reptiles and amphibians.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has information and helpful links worth reviewing. Check them out at FDA’s animal/veterinary resource page. And speaking of veterinarians, the not-for-profit  American Veterinary Medical Association has a wealth of information to help you develop a comprehensive plan to care for your pets before and after disasters. Here’s one video on their site:

Keep ID tags current. Microchips are one smart way to ID your pets. My Sasha and Buddy The Wonder Cat are both microchipped and registered with AKC Reunite. Make sure you complete your registration and keep your contact info current.

Take photos today of your pets. Photograph them standing, left and right profiles, and face-on head shots. Take additional photos showing you with your pets. If you can tag or add metadata to each photo, that’s even better. (To learn how, click here.) Save copies to Dropbox and/or email them to yourself and others. That way, if you lose your phone or computer, you can easily retrieve them.

Build your own “Go” bag.  Use a backpack or small tote to stash extra kibble, leashes, collars, and basic first-aid supplies. Collapsible bowls are a great addition and don’t take much space. Put paperwork in sealed waterproof bags, and make sure to include your name! Remember flashlights and batteries. Keep your bag handy so you can grab and go.

If you have space in your vehicle, add extra jugs of water–essential in all emergencies. Pack tarps, ropes, and bungees; if you have to evacuate on foot, roll up the tarp and fasten it to your backpack with those ropes or bungees. If you are stranded on the side of the road or have to camp outdoors, find the highest ground possible.

It seems ironic, but water is often the most difficult resource to acquire in flooded areas. The CDC offers a quick “how to” for making water safe for drinking here and here

Communicate. Let family, friends, and co-workers know your plans. Social media can be a great tool to help you stay in contact. Always have a back-up plan, to include alternate routes and destinations. And remember: cell towers and Internet providers may be impacted by disasters, so share info ahead of time and take print copies with you in waterproof bags.

Practice! If you had to leave home without advance notice, how long would it take you to grab your gear and herd people and pets into your vehicle?  Tip: keep travel crates, leashes, etc. where you can quickly grab them.  Keep your go-bag in your vehicle or at least in an easy-to-grab location. Make a habit of keeping your shoes, keys, laptop, phone, and chargers in one common location.

When you think you have everything ready, run a drill. (Remember those fire drills from your school days? Same concept.) Practice in the daytime. Practice in the dark. If your pets don’t like their crates or balk at the idea of the vehicle, turn this into a game and reward them for playing along. The more often you practice, the easier it will be when an emergency does occur.

Plan ahead. Practice. Be safe!

The Beautiful Ozarks

I love traveling the winding dirt roads through the Ozark hills where homesteads, farms, and woodlands passed down through the generations form the landscape for my Waterside Kennels series. When I can’t get out to explore on my own, I find inspiration in the tales and photos of people like Jim Warnock, author, photographer, and avid trail trekker. In addition to many articles on hiking and travel published in regional magazines, he also authored the book Five Star Trails: The Ozarks which is a “must have” resource for anyone interested in hiking.

I turned to Jim for advice while I was writing Dangerous Deeds and his thoughtful suggestions provided the details I needed when crafting trail scenes. I also drew inspiration from his photographs. Here are a few from one of Jim’s 2013 adventures; you can read the entire post here. I hope this inspires you to go out and explore, wherever you are!

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The trail passes the oldest known structure along the Buffalo River.  Built by Alvin and Greenberry Parker between 1847 and 1849, the structure is now known as the Parker-Hickman cabin because it was occupied by the Hickman family from 1912 to 1978.

Parker-Hickman Cabin

Jim shared this bit about the cabin from Ken Smith’s Buffalo River Handbook:

Newspapers and magazines were used to cover the inner walls and some print can still be read. Mud and wood pieces were used to fill between some of the large timbers.  The cabin was skillfully built with precisely cut half-dovetailed log corner joints.

As shown in these two photographs, the wall coverings still exist (click on image to enlarge the view):

 

 

Video lovers will appreciate this 7-minute virtual tour of the beautiful Ozarks:

When not hiking and writing about trails, Jim might be found maintaining his adopted 4-mile section of the Ozark Highlands Trail from Jack Creek to Dockery Gap. He shares many of his trail adventures with his black Lab, Hiker-dog. (I shared part of Hiker-dog’s rescue story here and here.)

Want more beautiful photographs and stories? Be sure to check out Jim’s blog at https://ozarkmountainhiker.com/.

Recommended Reads

A few weeks ago, I received a note from a reader who loves my book (thank you!) and was in search of the next in my series. Since life events have pushed back my publication date for Dangerous Deeds I shared a few of my own favorite writers with her. I also turned to social media to solicit more recommendations from readers and authors alike.

Long-time readers of this site will recognize some of these authors from earlier posts. Most (but not all) of the following suggestions fall in the “cozy” side of mystery fiction. I’ve included links so you can check these out for yourself!

Laurien Berenson Melanie Travis Canine Mysteries

Laura Childs Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries

Susan Conant Dog Lover’s Mysteries

Judith Cranswick Fiona Mason Mysteries

Diane Mott Davidson Goldy Shulz Mysteries

Leighann Dobbs Mystic Notch Mysteries and other series

Carola Dunn Daisy Dalrymple Mysteries

Doranna Durgin Dale Kinsall Mysteries and other series

Frances Evesham  Exham on Sea Mysteries

Charlaine Harris Aurora Teagarden Mysteries and other series

Miranda James Cat in the Stacks Mysteries

Susan J. Kroupa Doodlebugged Mysteries

Patti Larsen  Fiona Fleming Mysteries and other series

Jerry Last Roger and Suzanne Mystery Series

Graeme Simsion Don Tillman Books (romantic comedies)

If your reading preferences stretch beyond the books mentioned here, be sure to visit Susan Toy’s blog Reading Recommendations. Susan’s own work, by the way, has also been featured here on my site.

You can ask your local bookseller to order any of these authors for you. Find a list of independent local bookstores here.

You’re welcome to leave a comment and add your own suggestions. If you’re an author, please recommend the work of another writer in addition to your own books.

Ticks!

Like many parts of the world, summer in the Ozarks brings out the ticks. That’s why I keep my Sheltie on prescribed tick preventative and check her daily checks after walks. Still, nothing’s 100% effective when it comes to repelling these blood-sucking critters. That’s why, when Sasha showed signs of lethargy and her now-and-then limp became more pronounced, I had her tested for tick-borne disease. Sure enough, she tested positive for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. She’s begun a regime of antibiotics, which wreaks havoc with her digestive track. I’m happy to report we seem to be through the worst of it and she’s responding well to treatment.

This graphic, courtesy of Dogs Naturally magazine, shows the different ticks that transmit this disease: 

Ticks, flies, fleas, sand flies, and mosquitoes are all parasites that can transmit what’s known as “Companion Vector Borne Diseases.” Go here to see an interactive map that provides a global perspective of disease occurrence diseases by type of parasite. You can narrow your search by country or state, as well.  This site, by the way, also includes general information about ticks and preventative measures.

Here’s a graphic courtesy of The Dogington Post, which highlights places you’ll want to check. (Click on the image to enlarge.)

The AKC’s Canine Health Foundation is another helpful resource. Learn all you can, and be prepared!

Showcase: Dangerous Secrets

Dangerous Secrets

BY SUSAN HUNTER

On Tour July 2 – 13, 2018

Synopsis

A week that starts out with a woman’s dead body in the living room is not going to end well. Writer Leah Nash learns this truth when her friend Miguel arrives home on a Sunday night, only to discover that his weekend renter has failed to checkout—at least in the usual sense of the word. By Wednesday, Miguel’s uncle is arrested for murder.

The victim is the owner of SweetMeets, a website for sugar daddies in search of college-age sugar babies. Police investigators uncover an eye-witness who saw Miguel’s uncle at the scene. They find his fingerprints on the murder weapon, and they dig up a connection to the victim that he was anxious to keep buried.eek that starts out with a woman’s dead body in the living room is not going to end well. Writer Leah Nash learns this truth when her friend Miguel arrives home on a Sunday night, only to discover that his weekend renter has failed to checkout—at least in the usual sense of the word. By Wednesday, Miguel’s uncle is arrested for murder.

But Miguel’s uncle isn’t the only resident of small-town Himmel, Wisconsin with something to hide. As Leah and Miguel hunt for the real killer, they’re faced with half-truths and outright lies from local citizens desperate to keep their own secrets under wraps. In her most complex investigation to date, Leah must use all the smarts—and smart-assery—she has to find the killer’s true identity. When she does, everything comes together in a tense climax that tests her courage and reveals that she’s been keeping a few things secret from herself.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Himmel River Press
Publication Date: November 2017
Number of Pages: 362
ISBN: 1979009821 (ISBN13: 9781979009829)
Series: Leah Nash Mysteries #4 (Each is a Stand Alone Mystery)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Goodreads

Read an excerpt here.

(© 2018 by Susan Hunter. Reproduced with permission from Susan Hunter. All rights reserved.)

Author Bio

Susan Hunter is a charter member of Introverts International (which meets the 12th of Never at an undisclosed location). She has worked as a reporter and managing editor, during which time she received a first-place UPI award for investigative reporting and a Michigan Press Association first place award for enterprise/feature reporting.
Susan has also taught composition at the college level, written advertising copy, newsletters, press releases, speeches, web copy, academic papers, and memos. Lots and lots of memos. She lives in rural Michigan with her husband Gary, who is a man of action, not words.
During certain times of the day, she can be found wandering the mean streets of small-town Himmel, Wisconsin, dropping off a story lead at the Himmel Times Weekly, or meeting friends for a drink at McClain’s Bar and Grill.

 

Catch Up With Susan Hunter On:

WebsiteGoodreadsTwitter, & Facebook!

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!