Teleseminar Postponed; Tune in Friday for a radio show

Posted on by Mary Shafer

Hey, everyone –

I’m sorry to have to report that our upcoming teleseminar with Ingrid King and Barb Techel has had to be postponed. I’m especially sorry because it’s due to trouble that Ingrid’s having with her dear tortie cat, Amber. She’s been in the emergency room with her after days of trouble with her digestive tract (I think). So please hang in there with us and I’ll let you know when we’ve rescheduled.

Meanwhile, I will be interviewed about Almost Perfect this Friday (May 14) at 8:30 am CDT by Kathie Bundy on The Breakfast Club show on WCUB radio AM 980 in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Unfortunately, they don’t stream live on the Web, so unless you’re in eastern Wisconsin or western Michigan, you won’t be able to tune in.

Inspired and Inspiring

Posted on by Mary Shafer

Okay, Y’all – I’m excited!

In less than a week, I’ll be appearing (well, my voice will be, anyway) with Barb Techel, mom of Frankie, the Walk ‘n Roll Dog, on a FREE Teleseminar titled “Inspired and Inspiring: The Rewards and Challenges of Living With Disabled Pets.” Our host will be Ingrid King, author of “Buckley’s Story,” as part of her Conscious Cat Teleseminar Series.

Join us on Tuesday, May 11 at 8:00 PM EDT (7:00 PM Central). We’ll be talking about the joys and difficulties of choosing to share your life with a disabled pet, sharing what we’ve learned with each other, and taking your calls. The call is free, but your phone company may charge you for long distance. We’ll also be doing a drawing from all of those who register for the call for a copy of Almost Perfect and of Barb’s two books about Frankie, so what are you waiting for?

Check out all the details about how to participate in this free call at Ingrid’s blog, and hope to “see” you there!

Stamps to the Rescue!

Posted on by Mary Shafer

If you’re like most folks, you sigh every time you put a stamp on a letter. Forty-four cents, for pete’s sake, to mail a first-class envelope! You can’t even buy three stamps for a buck anymore. But today, you can feel a little better about spending your money on postage.

That’s right. This month, you get a little more for your money. Or, more accurately, you help another creature get a little more for your money: More food. More comfort. More security.

That’s because starting today, the United States Post Office begins selling their latest commemorative stamps, “Animal Rescue: Adopt A Shelter Pet.” During the launch of the stamps, the Post Office, HALO Purely for Pets and Ellen Degeneres (a longtime friend to animals) will be donating a million meals to animal shelters around the country. A first-class stamp for a first-class meal. Now, that’s a deal!

Any way you cut it, this is a neat thing the Post Office is doing. But as someone who’s been a stamp collector since I was 9 years old, I’m particularly proud of this campaign. We all bust on the P.O. for the relentless increases in postal rates, mangled mail and other annoyances. But this campaign points out something only our country’s Postal Service can boast of among its peers: a 50+ year tradition of raising awareness about serious social issues with special commemorative stamps.

The 44-cent stamps feature photos of five cats and five dogs who were all adopted from shelters. Photographer Sally Anderson-Bruce found these beautiful, adopted pets in her hometown of New Milford, Connecticut. Each of these animals was given a good home thanks to animal rescue shelters and the families who adopted them. Here, she tells the story of her involvement in this project:

On rare occasions, my dad talks about World War II and how he dreamed every day of coming back home to America. In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy clicks her ruby slippers together and chants, “There’s no place like home.”

I also look forward to coming home. The first thing I hear when I opent he door is a tail thumping against the floor. It’s Brenna, our newly adopted nine-year-old Irish Setter, saying hello. “I’m so glad you’re home,” she says with her wagging body. “You are the most wonderful person in the world!” Brenna’s energy is contagious. I forget about my work, grab her leash, and off we go on a new adventure. All the troubles of the world just magically float away.

When art director Derry Noyes called to discuss a new Postal Service stamp project that would promote the idea of adopting shelter pets, I jumped at the chance to work with her again. Derry knew that I had been photographind shelter and rescue pets and writing their stories since our collaboration on the 2002 Neuter & Spay stamps. This new project would be extra special to me.

I find it heartbreaking that millions of innocent animals are signed over to shelters and rescue groups every year—not because they’re problem pets; their families simply couldn’t keep them. The reasons are endless: job changes, illness, foreclosure, kids going away to school.

My local shelter now has a waiting list for pets to get in because the shelter is full. The lovable pets there are eagerly waiting for a new home to brighten their lives and yours. Adopting will also rovide a vacant cage for another homeless pet.

I hope you will enjoy using the Animal Rescue: Adopt A Shelter Pet stamps and will consider visiting a local shelter for your next pet, who might just be channeling Dorothy and thinking, “There’s no place like a ‘forever’ home.” (Excerpted from USA Philatelic: The Official Source for Stamp Enthusiasts, Vol. 15/Qtr. 2/2010)

And if you like the stamps, there are some other related products available at some post offices. Notecards, First Day Covers, Pet Adoption Certificates and an All About Your Best Friend record book are a few of the items also carrying Anderson-Bruce’s pet images. Learn more about all these things at USA Philatelic. And put a furry face on your next mailing. It’ll mean so much more than just another letter.

How Pets Rescue Us

Posted on by Mary Shafer

Winkie saves me from another boring day at the office.

I’ve just finished reading a very interesting blog post that discusses the scientific approach to gauging the interaction between rescued animals and people who are somehow in need of rescue themselves. It includes a really great passage about a prison program through which inmates work with animals who were rescued from overcrowded shelters, where they had been slated for euthanasia.

Juliette Reith, in her blog post True Animal Rescue: How Pets Save Us covers a lot of ground relevant to both physically challenged pets and emotionally challenged people. I strongly encourage you to take the few minutes required to read it. If nothing else, it will make you feel validated about things you’ve always believed about the healing power of critters.

Lemon Likes Us!

Posted on by Mary Shafer

Lemon the Duck

I can’t remember if I ever posted this review from Lemon the Duck and her mom, so sharing it with you now! Lemon also has her own book.

Almost Perfect would make good beach reading, so if you’re headed out for a vacation any time soon, pick up a copy and take these critters with you. I promise they’re all great traveling companions. Ruby even brings her own wheels!

Kudos to an "Almost Perfect" Author!

Posted on by Mary Shafer

Sharon’s friend Julia shows Sharon’s whippet, Scout,
to a championship at the Eurasia Dog Show in Moscow, Russia.

Taking this opportunity to congratulate Sharon Sakson, one of the authors who contributed to Almost Perfect, on her whippet’s win at the Moscow Dog Show. Sharon’s dog, Scout—also known as Champion Hitor Go Your Own Way in Paris—was named Champion of Eurasia for the whippet breed.

It’s a huge coup on the international scene for both dog and owner, and we’re very proud of Sharon, Scout and Julia. Sharon is a responsible breeder of Brussels Griffon dogs and enjoys showing and judging dogs, as well.

Check out the entire story to learn more about Sharon, Scout and the show. In addition to being a contributor to Almost Perfect, Sharon is also a columnist for Examiner.com, and a many-times-published author on the human-animal bond. Kudos, Sharon!

Spring’s Rebirth: Service Dogs Bring Hope for PTSD Vets, Inmate Trainers

Posted on by Mary Shafer

Photo courtesy of the New York Times

Mostly we talk here about disabled pets, but seeing as we’re in Spring and the Easter period — a time for new beginnings and rebirth — I thought it appropriate to share this video with you. It’s about how dogs being trained as service companions for military veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are healing not just the veterans, but the men behind bars who train them. I think it’s appropriate here because anyone who’s ever dealt with PTSD knows it’s a true disability, and animals have been diagnosed with it before.

These dogs — which appear from photos to be predominantly Labrador Retrievers — are trained by prison inmates in a program called Puppies Behind Bars. They’re entrusted to inmates who have proven they’re up to the responsibility of caring for an animal 24/7.

Photo courtesy of the New York Times

The inmates train the dogs to perform duties such as turning on light switches for vets who awaken from nightmares, frozen from fear; jumping on a vet who’s going into a flashback to bring him back to reality; or dialing 911 on a cell phone for a vet who’s in the throes of a flashback episode and can’t come out of it.

It’s a wonderful program, and the part I really like about it is that not only are the vets benefiting from it; so are the inmates who train the dogs. They have something productive and worthwhile to occupy the long hours behind bars, and this gives their lives meaning again. And for some, it even provides hope for a brighter future.

I’m not positive, but I remember watching a program about this on TV, and I believe they said that the animals also benefit, because they’re rescued from kill shelters and given a new lease on life. I just cannot imagine a better example of a situation where every single creature involved wins. It’s a truly hopeful and uplifting story, which as you know is our theme here at Almost Perfect. So, watch the video and give your own day a boost.

WOW! Almost Perfect has touched a chord!

Posted on by Mary Shafer

Almost Perfect’s Facebook Fan Page garnered 400 fans in its first two weeks!

I’m so thrilled to report that Almost Perfect‘s new Facebook Fan Page has garnered more than 400 fans in its first two weeks of life.

Wow.

That’s all I can say. I’ve mentioned it here and there, but not really pounded the promo, and four HUNDRED people found us and decided our discussion of the way almost perfect pets are treated in this world is worth joining. I don’t know about you, but I find that pretty humbling, and definitely worth celebrating! Here’s our little, 128-page anthology, published because 11 authors felt they had something worthwhile to say, and now more than 400 people have agreed with us. They’re joining in our conversation and — obviously — inviting their friends to join in, too!

As an author, this is such a thrill. But as a publisher, it is nothing short of intensely gratifying to know that a project I took a chance on is really beginning to get some traction with folks outside our ring of immediate friends and family. I’m so proud of all my fellow contributors to Almost Perfect for having helped me produce a book that’s truly worth reading on every level.

Based on the fact that the new fan page has generated all these new followers but only a few new orders for the book, I can only guess that our current economic malaise continues to affect people’s willingness to take a chance on a new book. Sure, they love the topic, but for thirteen hard-earned bucks, will they enjoy the read? With so few discretionary dollars these days, I understand this attitude: You need to really invest your entertainment dollars wisely. So I was thinking about how we could make that decision easier for our new friends, and I came up with an idea:

I KNOW folks want to read our book. But they need to be sure they’re getting value for their investment. So, I figure it’s time to celebrate our 400+ new friends with a special offer that will leave no doubt about value for our critter-loving readers:

The first 400 people who order a copy of Almost Perfect from our website will automatically receive a FREE copy (completely free, not even extra shipping charges) of Mission: Murder, the first in our new Hattie Farwell Mystery Series. All they have to do is type “Free Mission” in the Comments box on the order screen. How’s that for value?

Mission: Murder won a coveted IPPY Silver Medal for Best Regional Fiction, 2009.

Mission: Murder introduces Hattie Farwell, a feisty old broad in picturesque Bucks County, Pennsylvania, who becomes a sleuth by accident when her best friend is killed under suspect circumstances. She solves the case with the aid of her loyal sidekick Wolf, a huge Irish Wolfhound mix, whom she rescued from running wild in the forest that surrounds her home. Think of the setting as our area’s answer to Jessica Fletcher’s Cabot Cove, and you get the idea. And from there, Hattie and Wolf are off on an adventure that so far spans seven titles with another on the way.

Hattie Farwell and her dog, Wolf

These difficult economic times have been hard on Hattie and Wolf, since tight purse strings have kept many folks from taking a chance on a new series. But we’re so certain that they’ll fall in love with these endearing characters that we’re willing to give these copies away for free, just to get the books into readers’ hands. (And don’t just take our word for it: Mission: Murder was awarded the coveted IPPY Silver Medal for Best Regional Fiction in 2009! Congratulations to our author Betty Kerr Orlemann for that coup on her first book right out of the block!)

Mission: Murder author Betty Kerr Orlemann wearing her
Silver IPPY Medal for Best Regional Fiction 2009

So if you’ve been thinking about buying Almost Perfect but have been waiting for the right time, that time has arrived. Get the book you know you want, plus another one we’re sure you’ll love for yourself or a friend (or both!). Order today, because the offer’s good only for the first 400 copies or until April 15, whichever comes first!