Why You Should Adopt Your Next Pet

I write a lot about shelter animals on this blog. They’ve been a passion of mine since I rescued my pit bull mix, Phil, from my local Animal Control facility seven years ago and started volunteering at my local humane society.  I advocate for people to get their pets from shelters, as opposed to pet stores or breeders, because I’ve seen first hand the many dogs in need of homes.

Human failure is usually the reason these innocent babies end up in shelters and the reason for these dogs’ pain, so humans should be the reason they are saved. We owe them that.

For every scared dog, there is a human who brought fear into its life.

For every dog needy for attention, there is a human who never showed it affection.

For every dog emaciated, there is a human who let it starve.

The place I got Phil is an open, public facility. They have room to house 300 dogs, and last week they sent out an SOS all over social media that they are full, and they put out a list of super urgent dogs–dogs that are days or even hours away from being killed.

Last month, this facility was in the same situation they’re in now. They were full and begging for people to adopt or foster their dogs. The public came through, and there was a record number of adoptions for January.

Lots of dogs were saved.

But then February crashed the party and adoptions slowed, while the line of people surrendering their dogs to the facility splayed out the door. If eleven dogs were adopted, twenty-nine were left at the shelter by their owner.

This is another way humans fail these dogs–they give them up. Shelters are filled with animals people no longer want. The most common reason is the dogs’ families no longer have time for them.

It’s heartbreaking because after a life of living in a home, these dogs are left in a stressful, crowded place, filled with barking dogs. These confused dogs have no idea what is happening or why they are there.

Some dogs simply shutdown.

I’ve been monitoring the Animal Control’s Facebook Page to keep up with the status of the most urgent dogs, and it seems I’m not the only one. There is an entire community of people networking for these dogs. It’s so inspiring to see and gives me so much hope that more people are seeing that dogs in shelters are not broken, and they are deserving of a home.

Millions of dogs are killed every year. Please adopt your next pet. If financial reason are keeping you from adopting, please consider fostering. Shelters and rescues pay all expenses. If you’re concerned about getting attached to a dog and then having to  say goodbye, I understand. I’ve considered that, too. But I decided my temporary heartbreak is worth saving a life.  If fostering isn’t an option for you, volunteer at your local shelter, or support them by donating.

Phil wants the rest of his furry friends to find their furever homes, too.





Excerpt from my YA book, A Penny on the Tracks

 Lyssa and her best friend Abbey discover a hideout near the train tracks and spend the summer before sixth grade hanging out and finding freedom from issues at home. Their childhood innocence is lost when the hideout becomes the scene of a tragic death.

As they’re about to graduate from high school, Abbey’s family life spirals out of control while Lyssa is feeling guilty for deceiving Abbey about her sexuality. After another tragic loss, Lyssa finds out that a penny on the tracks is sometimes a huge price to pay for the truth.

A Penny on the Tracks




I WAS MAKING our favorite sandwich—bologna, lettuce, and cheese smeared with mustard and mayo on white bread—when Abbey called for me from the living room.

 “Lyssa! Hurry up! Poison’s on!”

The sandwiches lay on the counter amid a mess of open condiment jars and scattered pieces of lettuce and lunch meat. I quickly smashed the top slices of bread onto both sandwiches against the piled-stack of a sloppy mess I had created and hurried into the next room, dropping bits of food as I ran.

Abbey was standing on the couch, shouting out the lyrics we both knew by heart as Brett Michaels’ voice filled the room.

I handed her a sandwich, jumped on the couch, and screamed out the chorus to “Talk Dirty to Me.” I took bites of my sandwich during the guitar solo, and Abbey held her sandwich high in her left hand, as though it were the end of a guitar, and strummed her right hand against the front of her shirt. We banged our heads in unison, hair (and food) flying everywhere.

Abbey’s house had a bigger TV and better food options than bologna and cheese sandwiches, but we never could have done what we were doing right then if we were at her house.

Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” came on next, and we both lost our minds. We dropped what was left of our food onto the table and yelled out the lyrics to our favorite song. Abbey sang the song with more conviction, as though she had a lot more that she didn’t want to take anymore.

The video ended, and we both collapsed onto the couch and finished our lunch. After, I went into the kitchen and grabbed a couple cans of pop from the fridge. Hanging on a magnet, on the side of the refrigerator, was a note from my mom reminding me she was working late that night and that there were frozen dinners in the freezer. At the end of the note she promised a home-cooked meal soon.

Abbey was often envious of the lack of parental supervision at my place, especially when it came to dinner. She was jealous I got to eat whatever I wanted. Even if my mom left dinner for me in the fridge, if I wanted to eat S’mores for supper, I ate S’mores.

“You eat dinner on the couch while watching TV?” Abbey had asked me one day.      

“If I feel like it,” I answered.

“You’re so lucky. My mom makes me eat with her at the table, even if my dad isn’t home yet. And I can’t even put my elbows on the table.”

I ate on the couch while watching TV because my friend didn’t know the loneliness that crept inside a person while eating dinner among empty chairs.

But I had forced a smile. “Yep. I am lucky.”

I walked back into the living room and handed one of the cans to Abbey.

Abbey didn’t take it. “My mom said I drink too much pop.”

“Your mom’s not fucking here.”

Abbey smiled and grabbed the can from my hand.About eight videos later and a sore neck from head banging, Abbey had to go home.

I walked her to the door. “Let’s ride our bikes tomorrow.”

“Where to?”

“I don’t know. Somewhere far.”

“Last time we did that we were almost too tired to ride back,” she reminded me.

“That was because of the wind,” I explained. “It was blowing against us on our way back.”

Abbey considered this. “Okay. If it’s not very windy tomorrow, we’ll ride our bikes far.”


You can purchase A Penny on the Tracks on the link below at Amazon.com.

Thanks for reading!

Rupert, A Shelter Dog

A week ago, I received the best news. One of the dogs that had been at my shelter for eight months was finally adopted. I was ecstatic. I cried a mixture of happy and sad tears.  Happy tears because this little guy, Rupert, was so deserving of a loving family (they all are), and sad tears because I had developed a special bond with Rupert.

I was his handler for over five months of training courses. He wasn’t a very good student and together we failed the first Basic Training class, but in the second go-round we were head of the class. 🙂

Rupert had come to the shelter as a rambunctious 7 month old boxer/pit mix whose previous family used drugs in lieu of proper training to keep this energetic puppy under control. This lazy approach wasn’t effective, but with a lot of work from all the shelter volunteers, Rupert learned his manners and became a very polite little boy.

Three days ago, Rupert’s new family returned him to the shelter. I was shocked because I couldn’t imagine anyone taking this sweet baby home only to have second thoughts. But despite the tremendous strides Rupert had taken in his behavior, a chaotic life with young kids may have been too much for him. When Rupert saw the children playing he most likely got overly-excited, and when he decided he wanted to play too he scared one of the kids.

That was all it took for Rupert to find himself back in the confines of his little kennel. I went to see him today. He doesn’t seem too phased by what happened. Maybe he thinks he was just away on a mini-vacation. I hope that’s the case. The last thing I want is for this little guy’s morale to break. I’ve seen dogs shut down in shelters and it’s an awful sight to witness.

Until the day some other lucky family discovers this gem of a dog, I’ll enjoy whatever time I have left with this sweet baby and give him all the love I can.

If you’re considering getting a pet, please visit your local shelter. So many wonderful animals, like Rupert, are waiting for their furever home.


2018 Couldn’t Come Fast Enough

It’s a week into the new year and gyms no doubt crowd with people making good on their ambitious fitness resolutions.  I do my (occasional) workouts at home, so I won’t be bothered by this sudden burst of energy from the masses.  But I have a friend who is a gym rat, and I asked him to be nice to the newbies and refrain from rolling his eyes while he waits for his favorite machines that just a couple weeks ago used to be empty.

I didn’t swear to any major resolutions this year. I’ll just piggyback on last year’s resolutions I failed to accomplish. At the start of every year, my goal is always to read more books than I had the year before. In 2017, I read eleven books. Pathetic, I know. The year before I clocked in at thirty-two books. Why the dramatic fall in books read this year? I’d like to say it was because I was too busy writing books, but that wasn’t the case. I did write some, but not as much as I had intended.

I got distracted. Distracted by politics. Distracted by the threat of healthcare being taking away from millions of people. Distracted by environmental protections being rolled back. Distracted by a crazy, unhinged president whose reckless tweets and idiotic speech damage the image of our country.

So far this year I have backed off my political breaking news obsession. The TV is turned off. No more stressing over Twitter and monitoring the moron’s feed. I’m backing off this year, but I won’t bury my head in the sand. I’ll keep up with the day to day news, and I’m sure there will be plenty to keep up with. But I won’t lose myself in the worry, the stress, in the “how much worse can it get” horrifying thoughts.

2018 is about writing. Reading. Yoga. Meditation. Shelter animals. My sanity. And Robert Mueller’s investigation that will end with Trump in handcuffs.

So looking forward to 2018.



Photo courtesy of freedigitalphoto.net

Everyone Deserves Health Insurance

There’s a video of a heartfelt exchange from The View going viral between former Vice-President Joe Biden and co-host Meghan McCain regarding her father’s, Senator John McCain, brain cancer diagnosis. McCain is suffering from the same cancer that took the life of Biden’s son.

Biden sat beside Meghan, took her hand, and reminded her what a fighter her father is and was hopeful about the new medical innovations that were too late to save his own son.

I felt for Meghan as she broke down because I know how devastating it is to watch a loved one go through a debilitating illness, while struggling to stay hopeful. But as I watched this emotional moment unfold between Biden and McCain I thought about the tax reform bill that Republicans are trying to ram through Congress.

A bill, if passed, will take health insurance away from 13 million people.* Those are not faceless people. Those are real people–people with lives and loved ones and purpose. Yet, Senator McCain voted two weeks ago for a Senate version of the bill that would take insurance away from millions.

With cancer and disease rates as high as they are, we have to assume a good portion of those 13 million people are suffering from something–maybe even the same cancer John McCain has. As McCain receives treatment for his own cancer, will he vote next week for a bill that takes insurance away from millions of people?

It seems so, because he already did, and I think there’s a special hell for people who think they deserve to live while others deserve to die. That’s what happens when sick people no longer have insurance and they can’t afford the treatment that keeps them living – – they die.

Meghan McCain isn’t the only daughter right now crying through sleepless nights while worrying about an ailing father, but at least she can rest assure that her father’s top-of-the-line insurance won’t be yanked from underneath him because of this tax bill. However, thirteen million people won’t be able to say the same thing if this bill passes.

I wish John McCain well. He’s a person with an illness, and I hope he votes to protect other people with illnesses. Please, Senator McCain, don’t be a “I got mine, screw you on getting yours” politician. We have too many of those in Congress as it is.


*Source – Congressional Budget Office


Health insurance


Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net









Trying to Stay Sane During Insane Times

I’ve been working on a story for a while, and for a while I’ve been making some good progress. But lately I’ve been distracted, and the usual culprits of previous distractions–Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram–are innocent in this go-around.

My writing time has been severely hampered because I can’t turn off my television to the everyday breaking news drama of this chaotic and dysfunctional administration that is the Donald Trump presidency.  But what really traps my attention are the constant revelations of the Russian investigation, run by special prosecutor Robert Mueller, that leaves me hopeful that someday (hopefully very soon) justice will prevail.

But until that time, my days are spent stressing over what will come of the country I love because the people in charge are trying to pass policies that will hurt the most vulnerable, while benefiting the most privileged.

A few months ago, the Republicans in Congress made me sweat-out a healthcare vote that would have kicked 30 million people off insurance, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Three Republican senators were the difference between life and death for a lot of sick people because the Republicans had no viable replacement plan to ensure their care.

This is sick, but luckily, they didn’t get the vote.

But late last Friday night, the Senate Republicans had me geeking out and watching CSPAN 2 as they got the votes to pass their tax reform bill that according to independent reports, including the CBO, will knock 13 million people off insurance, and raise taxes for everyone making less than $75,000. The tax plan will also add 1.5 trillion dollars to the deficit, which will segue into rhetoric by the Right to attack Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid (all programs they hate because non-rich people depend on them) to offset the deficit.

This is sick, too.

I’m not a perfect person. I’ve done things I regret, but I would never work to cripple programs that I know benefits children, the disabled, the elderly, veterans, and the working poor. This tax plan, designed to give relief to big corporations and wealthy individuals, at the expense of the middle and working-class, is devastating.


The Republicans are trying to play the ‘trickle-down’ theory game again. We saw this movie in 2000 under Bush. It ended badly. Seriously, only Rosemary’s Baby that ends with a woman finding out her newborn baby she thought was dead is actually the spawn of Satan, had a worse ending than the result of Bush economics.

I don’t want to hear Republicans lecture us about why the country’s most wealthy deserve tax breaks first, and why we, the peasants, deserve only what trickles down. Why not give the money to the middle and working-class people first, and then let whatever is left over trickle to the top 1%?

If you haven’t grabbed a poster and stood outside your representative’s office or made phone calls, then you are doing exactly what these incredulous politicians want – nothing.

This plan hasn’t passed yet, and it’s not too late to stop it. But action needs to be taken now. Grab a sign. Make a phone call or two…or fifteen…if that’s what it takes.

But note to self, turn off the TV for a little while and get back to writing. Your sanity and writing career depend on it.




Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net











Just Don’t Get Us Nuked

I recently got into a tiny argument with my mother about her Xanax prescription. I don’t have my own script. I used to have one and could easily get a new order from my doctor, but I stopped needing the medication daily a few years ago, so I let the prescription expire and never asked for a new one.

My mother used to get 90 pills a month, but now her refills are at 30 and she won’t call her doctor to ask for more. She thinks he will be upset if she tells him she needs more for the month. She also doesn’t want the pharmacist to think she’s taking all of these drugs (as if they care, and I’m sure they’ve seen harder drugs prescribed than .25 mg pills of Xanax).

Surely, if the doctor should ask her why she is feeling so anxious that she needs more pills and she simply responds, “Trump”, the doctor would understand, right? Even if he voted for Trump, the doctor would understand a person’s high anxiety during these fuckingly crazy and terrifying moments when a reckless wacko president taunts another reckless wacko leader of  a country with nuclear weapons.

Yesterday, North Korea shot another missile that is said to be capable of reaching the US. Wonderful. Yes, please, Mr. Trump, keep up your taunts of “Little Rocket Man” and all the other adolescent bullshit you tweet about. I’m sure it makes every American proud knowing that your Twitter feed, filled with calling people losers and American journalists liars, will be archived for all the world to see for many, many years.

The stress is nonstop with this guy. If he’s not making us sweat-out three horrible Republican healthcare bills that would have knocked 30 million people off insurance, he’s starting a nuclear war over Twitter or trying to pass a tax reform bill that the Congressional Budget Office reported would hurt poor Americans the most. Awesome. Let’s take from the poor and give to the rich. Nothing can possibly go wrong with that. (Big f*cking sigh.)

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.  I know. The stock market is up at record levels. Trump ran on deregulation and tax cuts for the rich and big corporations. Wall Street is responding with a lot of love, but how does it help the middle class — the true testament of a strong economy?

In my basement, there is a room we used to call “Jewel”, named after a local grocery store near my house, because it was the place we stored extra supplies of whatever wouldn’t fit in our pantry and cupboards. Recently, I’ve been buying canned foods and cases of water specifically for that room, and I’ve changed the name from “Jewel” to “Trump’s Gonna F*ck Us Room.” Because be prepared. Always be prepared.

I have yelled so many harsh words as Trump’s orange face glistened across my TV screen and have had many imaginary conversations with him that would get me arrested, but at this point I’m tired and if I were standing in front of him all I’d be able to muster would be, “Please don’t get us nuked.”

Wow. What a presidency, and it’s only been eleven months.




Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net