NEW BOOK ABOUT ANIMALS!
This month, Silver Rescue presents an interview with author Debra L. Stang about her new book, Hospice Tails: The Animal Companions Who Journey With Hospice Patients and Their Families. Read an excerpt at Debra's website.
JM: Debra, thanks for speaking to Silver Rescue's readers. What made you decide to write Hospice Tails?
DS: Thank you so much for your interest in my book! I started writing Hospice Tails almost six years ago, just a few weeks after I went to work at a not-for-profit hospice as a social worker. I’ve always been an animal lover, and I was deeply touched to see how the bonds between human and animal endured to the very end. Whenever I came across an unusual or funny animal story, I would jot it down. Of course, I’ve changed the patients' names and any details that would identify them, but the stories themselves are true.
JM: What is your favorite story in the book and why?
DS: That’s a hard question. I think my favorite story is the one about a little white teacup poodle named “Fizzle.” Fizzle was “small as a rat, but mean as a rattlesnake” and he guarded his human companion so fiercely the nursing home couldn’t get in to remove the remains. I also like Fizzle’s story because it has an unexpectedly happy ending.
JM: That sounds like a good story. Do you think animals really know what is happening as someone approaches the end of his or her life?
DS: I think they know much more than we give them credit for. If a family I’m working with mentions that their pet’s behavior has changed suddenly, I always take that as a sign that the patient might die or make major changes over the next few days. Somehow, the animals know.
JM: That's amazing! How long did it take to write this book, and what do you hope to accomplish with Hospice Tails?
DS: I’ve been working on Hospice Tails off and on for about six years. I hope it shows people that our animal companions remain important through the very end of our lives. Too often, I’ve seen people who had to be separated from their pets at the end because they required care in a nursing home or in the home of a family member who couldn’t handle a pet. It’s sad enough when that happens, but it's even sadder when the dying person is not even able to grieve his or her loss. (“Good grief, Mom, it was just a cat!”) Two of the stories in my book, “I Was Supposed to Go First” and “The Man Who Loved Horses” address animal loss.
JM: Can you share a little about your other writing projects? What are your plans for future books?
My first book, published in 2003, was a young adult novel called Visiting Grandma
about a gay teen trying to escape his mother’s abusive boyfriend. My next project will be ghost-writing a book on providing home care after a patient comes home from the hospital. After that, I’d like to work on an e-book for beginning fiction writers so they won’t have to make the same mistakes I did. And of course, I’ll always write essays about the animals I encounter. If people respond to this book, there may even be a Hospice Tails II!
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NEWS YOU CAN USE!
SUMMER SUN ALERT! Your dog enjoys lying in the summer sun, but just as you need to protect your own skin from harmful rays, you can protect your dog's skin from burning. Find out how to do this in dog expert Julia Sazbo's column at Dogster.com. Read "7 Sun Safety Suggestions" for answers to questions like the following.
Should I shave my long-coated dog in summer?
Do dogs really need sunscreen...and where?
What sunscreen ingredient is toxic to pets?
What else can I do to protect my dog?
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By Mikko McPuppers
Last night, I went into Person’s office to invite her on a walk. She said, “I love you, Mikko,” without even looking up from the titanium box where she taps keys. I hate that box. I don’t know how to compete.
I rolled on the rug. Nothing. I sat in my cute pose. Nothing. So, I put my head between my paws and waited.
An hour later, she jumped up and said, “I’m late. I love you, Mikko. We’ll walk when I get back.”
Well I love her, too, but a dog has needs. So I sent her a mental telepathy message: “Walk, WALK, WALK!”
Before I knew it, she was back. What a wise woman. She remembered. I wanted to honor her.
For six weeks she’s been icing her right foot, walking slowly, and limping, so I favored my right paw too. She noticed immediately and checked it. “You have a callus,” she said.
“I’m walking like you,” I told her with my eyes. “We are simpatico.”
Then she asked, “Are you imitating me?” I sent another message: “Yes, YES, YES!” She said, “I love you, too, Hundle Bundle.”
She talked. I listened, sniffed the ivy, and ignored all big dogs. The titanium box was nowhere near us, and without it we were a perfect pair.
Mikko McPuppers likes snoozing, sniffing, and eating his person’s veggies.
His person, B. Lynn Goodwin, is the owner and editor of Writer Advice, and the author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers. She writes for StudySync.net and CaregiverVillage.com when she’s not walking, feeding, or petting Mikko.
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