Category Archives: Cats and Dogs

Catching up…

I’ve got a lot of that to do, now that I’m back from the land of the not-quite-dead. When you go from busy and active to semi-comatose, everything in life falls behind. Writing, the boat, the house, the yard…you name it.  It doesn’t take long everything to pile up, and the deeper it gets, the more intimidating it can be. And while I’d like to just jump right back in, full-throttle, I’m still operating with a heart that barely breaks an idle. But now at least I can take the crew for walks again, so we’re working on getting that blood flowing a bit faster, one step at a time.

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After Sandy, what remained of the boatyard was rebuilt on the south end, while the north end of the yard is all but abandoned, save a few surviving but forgotten boats and twisted traces of wreckage. It makes a wonderful place for the dogs to explore and leave their mark, so to speak.

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Leading the way, Emma is yet to earn full ‘off-leash’ privileges, though she’s close. Laid-back Loki is ‘good example dog’, and he’s teaching Emma the ropes, quite literally.

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And trailing at the back is Rex, aka: ‘bad example dog’. Rex is prone to distraction and selective hearing, so he’s stuck on the leash most times, even if he’s only trailing it as a reminder.

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Once the north yard has been fully sniffed and inspected, it’s off to the south side, where there’s a bit of a beach. And that’s another reason I keep Rex on a leash; even with those stubby basset hound legs, he’s a superb swimmer, and his listening skills decline even further once he’s buoyant and doggy-paddling to Albany.

And now, back to catching up on finishing that book!


It’s been a sad time here and everything feels so much emptier since Moxie passed away on Tuesday night. She’d had a good, long life, and at sixteen she was still going strong, if somewhat unsteady on her feet, but still determined to take on full flights of stairs and short walks. We knew things were failing internally, but her spirit was still strong, along with her attitude and appetite… until the other night. Thankfully it all happened within a short time; that morning she’d been perfectly fine, and we’d been told things would be sudden and fast. We could see she was shutting down, letting go, and while that was probably the best way for things to end. Still, it doesn’t hurt any less and it will take time to come to terms with her passing.


Our gratitude goes out to the staff at Oradell Animal Hospital for their compassionate understanding and gentle help, letting her pass away with her family at her side, and even for placing her in a pet sized sturdy cardboard ‘casket’ for us rather than a black plastic trash bag. The clay paw print someone there made for us was unexpected and will be treasured. I’m also grateful to Anthony Erekat at Faithful Companion in Clifton, NJ, who handled Moxie’s cremation. Located in a separate portion of a tasteful funeral home, Faithful Companion offers the same services for pets with the same dignity you would expect for any family member, and that brought us more comfort we truly needed.

I know in my heart Moxie had a good life, long and happy, and she was loved dearly. I know in time this will sting less, but right now our home feels like something essential is missing. Loki and Rex still keep looking for her, they don’t understand where their leader has gone and they have a bit of a lost look as they come to understand they don’t have her lead to follow anymore. We’ll all adjust, but it will take time.

Rex, Post-shearing…

And here we have the much lighter, much sleeker, now sheared Rex. The groomer says it’s a shame I couldn’t sell his fur by the pound.

And for anyone wondering, our vet’s best guess is he’s half German Shepherd, half Basset Hound. He weighs in at over 50 pounds, can run like a rocket on those short little legs, jumps over 3 foot obstacles with ease and swims like a duck. An odd dog indeed.

Rex – pre-Spring shearing…

It’s March. Mud season. Shedding season. And warm enough for Rex to swim in the pond season. Which is why March is also Annual ‘Shear the Dog’ month.

Here we have a collection of hair with a dog somewhere underneath. This photo does not do justice to just how plush and dense this fur is. During the winter this dog is in heaven and lounges in snow drifts. But as the temperature rises he is less comfortable and begins to drop tumble-weeds of fur that roll across the kitchen floor. Daily brushings do nothing to aid the situation… so it’s time for it to come off.

Next post… Rex after shearing!

Ask not for whom the bell tolls…

It’s 3 a.m. and once again I’m up, just as I am nearly every night. No, it’s not insomnia, at least not any more.  It’s Moxy.

Years ago we found a puppy on the streets of Queens, tied by a rope leash to a fence in an industrial area, clearly abandoned. She was an unruly little monster, sassy, stubborn and smart as hell. She has a dominant personality and immediately tried to call the shots with Luna and Nova, our two very well-mannered older dogs. And among the puppy challenges was housebreaking, so to help the new addition alert us when she needed to go out I hung a cord with bells from the back door in the kitchen. Moxy quickly learned that nosing those bells would result in the nearest human letting her out; once she grew tall enough she also discovered the doorbell button on the outside would get her back in.

Nearly 14 years later and those bells still remain. Luna and Nova both passed away after long lives and now it’s Moxy who is the old-timer, pestered by Rex and Loki, who quickly learned the ‘bell =  yard’ system.  And in her geriatric state, Moxy tends to like an early morning visit to the yard… very early. Every night, somewhere between midnight and 3 a.m., I’m woken to the incessant ringing of the bells on the back door. I can yell for her to go lay down but she won’t listen, she’s deaf as a brick these days. So I get up, let her out, and sit checking my email while she does her business. Sometimes I start writing… and sometimes I’m still writing even after she comes in.

Not tonight though. I’m going back to sleep now.

Mysteries for Mutts NJSPCA Fundraiser totals for January 2011…

Three Jersey mutts say “THANKS!”

So here’s the score:

Eight snow storms.
Seemingly endless snow-shoveling.
One week of severe bronchitis.
Even more shoveling.
One very sprained back.
Two rounds of raking snow off the roof.
Yet more shoveling.
And $341 raised for the NJSPCA.

Okay, let’s back up a bit. When I first began this fundraiser I headed in with boundless energy and the intention of spending every waking minute of every day getting the word out. Needless to say, I’ve just survived the most exhausting January in memory, much of it spent either sick, aching and injured or recovering.  Unfortunately that severely impacted my promotional efforts and my sales had not met my expectations. I wanted to make a donation that would make a difference; I had a number in my mind that I’d hoped to reach or surpass and that didn’t seem to be happening. By midway through I’d begun to wish I’d simply said I’d donate ALL sales and the more I thought about it the more I decided that was precisely what I would do. So that’s precisely what I am doing – donating all my sales from 171 books sold through December and January. (The odd dollar is from an overseas sale; the royalty rates are lower.) And I’ve also decided this won’t stop here. I will continue with my original pledge for the foreseeable future: each month for each book sold I will donate $1 to the NJSPCA.

I’d like to thank everyone who bought a copy of Last Exit In New Jersey, whether it was for the fundraiser or just to read a new book. I’d like to think that this donation of $341 will help make a difference to animals in need.

A call to all animal and/or mystery lovers…

Starting January 1st TODAY I’m asking mystery readers to come together in raising money for a worthwhile cause — to benefit New Jersey’s abandoned, abused and neglected animals. I’m pledging for each copy of Last Exit In New Jersey sold through the month of January $1.00 will be donated to the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (

The officers at the NJSPCA work hard to make life better for animals, but according to Major Steve Shatkin of the New Jersey SPCA Humane Police, they face an ever-present challenge which makes their task more difficult: an identity crisis. Many people are more familiar with the ASPCA, but tend to overlook the NJSPCA, believing it is part of the same organization (and funding) though this is not the case. The NJSPCA, which was created in 1868, operates 24/7, 365 days a year. The not-for-profit organization receives no government aid or tax dollars, but is funded solely by donations, grants, bequests and fines levied. It is dependent upon donations from caring individuals and organizations in its efforts to protect New Jersey’s animals from abuse, cruelty and neglect.

My goal is to raise not only funds, but public awareness for the NJSPCA as they aid the welfare of animals throughout the state. Last Exit In New Jersey, which was published earlier this year, has met with critical acclaim and steadily rising sales. Priced at $2.99, the book is available online through for the Kindle and through for all other ereaders. Donations can also be made directly to the NJSPCA through their website:

Being that I’ve decided to kick this off a bit early, I’ll be donating $1.00 for each book I sell through December 2010 as well. Let’s see how much money we can all raise!