Daily Life

Charity Treat: Newflands Hoki Oil and AFARNYC

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Perhaps you are the magnanimous sort. “Dr. V,” you say, “I ordered the book but I don’t need the free Halo or Sleepypod stuff or PetHub tag or Dog + Bone collars or Groom Genie or any of those items you are giving away, not even the awesome little activity book with coloring pages and a word search featuring ANALGLANDS and DEMODEX.” You are an ascetic. You don’t have a pet. You’re decluttering. OK, I get that.

But surely you aren’t opposed to a donation in your name, right? I have a treat for you.

Newflands is a New Zealand company, started by a veterinary nurse (don’t give me a hard time, that is what they are called in New Zealand) who was looking for an ethically sourced, sustainable brand of fish oil for her dogs. With none to be found, Fiona started her own brand, and Newflands Hoki Oil was born.

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We all know that fish oil is a well-utilized and effective essential fatty acid supplement, with a high ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids. Hoki is a fish native to the waters off the coast of New Zealand, but starting this summer it will be available in the United States through Newflands.

Newflands founder Fiona Robertson wanted to support my book campaign with a donation that would also give back to the community, so she suggested a donation of Hoki oil products to a US Charity. We selected Vets’ Pets, a program run by Angels for Animal Rights NYC helping veterans with low cost pet food, supplies, medicine, and deployment support. For every preorder Charity Treat, Newflands will donate a bottle of Hoki Oil to Vets’ Pets to support this wonderful program.

See? Win-win. A book for you, a donation for them. What could be easier?

How to Claim a Charity Treat 

1. Preorder 2 copies of All Dogs Go to Kevin (if you want them signed, get them from Warwicks)

2. Head over to the Treats Page and select “Shiny Happy Charity Treat”

3. Follow the instructions, including proof of purchase for 2 books

4. We’ll follow up in the coming weeks to confirm the order!

treatme

Filed: Be The Change, Blog, Book News, Daily Life, Featured Posts, Health, Lifestyle, Pet Gear Tagged: , , , ,

Safe and styling travel: The Auto treat featuring Sleepypod Clickit and PeaceLovePaws!

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It’s summer- heck, the fourth of July is one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, and you know what that means. Traffic. Sitting on the road. Making sure your pet doesn’t get carsick. That sort of thing.

Carsickness aside, the biggest risk to pets with travel is the danger of an unsecured pet- for the pet himself, and for you. Unsecured, a pet is a projectile during an accident, and even in minor crashes there is a very high rate of injury when pets escape and run into traffic. Even a secured pet might not be as safe as you think: there is no standard safety requirement for pet harnesses in cars, and many of them offer little more than a false sense of security.

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I’ve often sung the praises of Sleepypod on the blog, and I do it because I believe in them. They don’t advertise here, they don’t pay me, and they don’t need to. Anyone who goes through the trouble of putting their harness through certified crash testing is aces in my book. The independent Center for Pet Safety has certified their products up to 75 pounds, which is a huge accomplishment.

The Auto Treat is a big one: A $50 off coupon towards the purchase of a Sleepypod harness or carrier, both of which I displayed to an entire school full of smokey hyperventilating parents when I had to evacuate the pets during the wildfires last year. I didn’t have time to stuff a freaked-out cat into a rigid carrier but this is a soft one you can plop the cat on top of and zip up around them, and THANK GOODNESS for that. Did I mention I love their products?

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If this weren’t scoring enough, the Auto Treat also comes with an adorable car magnet from  PeaceLovePaws!

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Peace. Love. Paws is a lifestyle and apparel company from Wisconsin founded by Alissa Gander. In addition to the super adorable selection of 5 inch car magnets, they carry apparel, bags, jewelry, and scarves.

All together the Auto Treat is valued at $57.99, which you get by purchasing a second copy of All Dogs Go to Kevin which costs a lot less than that. These treats are moving quickly, so jump on it now!

How to Claim an Auto Treat 

1. Preorder 2 copies of All Dogs Go to Kevin (if you want them signed, get them from Warwicks)

2. Head over to the Treats Page and select “Auto Treat”

3. Follow the instructions, including proof of purchase for 2 books

4. We’ll follow up in the coming weeks to confirm the order!

treatme

 

 

 

Filed: Blog, Book News, Daily Life, Featured Posts, Giveaways, Lifestyle, Pet Gear, Reviews Tagged: , , , ,

Bites for Books: Halo Pet Treat to Eat!

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We are almost to the end of our treat selections and they are going fast! All you need to do is order 2 copies of the book and you get a treat- it’s like free goodies from heaven!
halofoodToday’s treat comes to you courtesy of Halo Pet Food, a long-time friend of the blog. They are ingredient-focused, with an emphasis on no chicken meal, by-product meal, or rendered meat.

You may be familiar with the brand as a highly philanthropic company, with their freekibble.com site donating hundreds of thousands of meals to pets in shelters. These things make me very happy.

As a thank you for those who preorder All Dogs Go to Kevin and choose the Treat to Eat, you will get a coupon for a free bag of Halo dog food up to $18 in value! One present for a friend and one present for your dog or cat. What beats that? (Sorry, couldn’t get a meet and greet with Ellen, but that would probably beat this. Barely. 😀 )

How to Claim a Treat to Eat 

1. Preorder 2 copies of All Dogs Go to Kevin (if you want them signed, get them from Warwicks)

2. Head over to the Treats Page and select “Treats to Eat”

3. Follow the instructions, including proof of purchase for 2 books

4. We’ll follow up in the coming weeks to confirm the order!

treatme

Filed: Blog, Book News, Featured Posts, Giveaways, Lifestyle Tagged: , , ,

Tags for Tomes: PetHub and Lost Pet Prevention Month!

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July is Lost Pet Prevention Month, and that’s a huge deal. After all, the fifth of July is the single busiest day of the year for shelters, due to a cross-the-country habit of loud explosives sending panicked dogs and cats screaming out the door the night before.

If you think your pet is a flight risk, there’s still time! Talk to the vet about anxiety prevention measures before you need them. Acepromazine, that old stand-by sedative, is actually a terrible choice as it does nothing to alleviate the underlying anxiety; we have all sorts of better drugs in our arsenals now like clonidine and trazodone, but it’s best to have tried them out ahead of time and be aware of how your dog handles them before the explosions begin.

Should the unthinkable happen, here’s a few tips for getting your pet back asap:

  • Have a current picture readily available on your cell phone.
  • Use redundant identification measures. When your average person comes across a pet running down the street, they’re much more likely to make a quick phone call than take them to the local shelter to get identified with a microchip, so have both and make sure they are up to date. I can’t stress that one enough.

PetHub Premium Digital ID Tags

In addition to being microchipped and (sometimes) GPS tracked, Brody wears a digital Pet ID tag from PetHub and has done so for a few years now. The genius of this tag is the QR code, which links to a free online profile with multiple contact numbers (who doesn’t have 4 ways to get a hold of them these days?); the tollfree number allows people without readers to call and instantly get the same contact information and let the person know if the pet has a medical condition.

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I mustache you to help me get home, good sir.

PetHub has generously offered fifty Premium ID tags as part of our treat preorder campaign! In addition to the tag of your choice you get a year of the spiffy premium service, which includes extra bennies such as instant found pet alerts, scanned location information, and shelter alerts. It’s good stuff, and easy as pie to implement.

The Tagging Treat is still available for All Dogs Go to Kevin preorders! Are you ready?

How to Claim a Tagging Treat

1. Preorder 2 copies of All Dogs Go to Kevin (if you want them signed, get them from Warwicks)

2. Head over to the Treats Page and select “Tagging Treat”

3. Follow the instructions, including proof of purchase for 2 books

4. We’ll follow up in the coming weeks to confirm the order!

treatme

Filed: Blog, Book News, Featured Posts, Giveaways, Lifestyle, Pet Gear Tagged: , ,

Confessions of an Agnawstic

A few weeks ago, while my publicist was asking online dog lovers if they might be interested in reviewing my book, he came back with a question:

“Do you recommend Science Diet or raw?” he asked.

“It’s really not an either/or thing,” I said. “The book doesn’t talk about nutrition at all.”

“Well, one of the people we approached said they only write about things from a raw food perspective,” he said.

“Oh, then they don’t want my book,” I said. “It’s just from a dog lover’s perspective.” And that was that. Because here’s the truth, which is going to probably cause a few people’s heads to explode: when it comes to my belief about the omnipotent power of food, I’m an agnawstic.
 

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This belief started, as many things do, with my own experiences with food evangelism: Atkins, paleo, etc, wash, repeat. For one brief, terrifying month my husband dropped down the rabbit hole known as “extreme diets.” Now, I can’t blame him for trying- I’ve tried them too over the years, but he’s never been on board. After years of ignoring my attempts at zoodles, banana “ice cream” and other current food trends on the paleo circuit, he announced one day he was “going keto.”

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“Less that 20 net grams of carbs a day,” he said. “I heard it’s great for detoxing.”

“Did you find this on reddit?” I asked. He didn’t answer.

For the next 30 days, I learned what it is like for someone to be discovering enlightenment. He would follow the kids around the house asking them if they had any idea how much sugar was in their ketchup, pouring verboten salad dressings down the drain, and meaningfully wait until we were all in the room at the same time before turning on “Food Inc” on Netflix.

He preached fire and sugarstone, swallowing almonds with one hand while tossing pretzels in the trash with the other. He was flush with the light, or maybe just a little zany from ketotic acidosis, who knows. He says he felt great. He was online talking to people who gave up dairy, sugar, alcohol, gluten, fruit, potatoes, and on life in general and were now convinced their nuts were causing inflammation when he finally broke and had a fudgesicle. Now we are living a life of moderation together, and it is wonderful.

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Now, don’t get me wrong. I think the idea of knowing what you are eating, and preparing it yourself, is a mighty fine thing. I try to avoid bread and pasta and sugar in favor of veggies, water instead of soda, but the last two months it was ALL CHOCOLATE AND CHEESE AND WINE and I didn’t feel bad about it at all. I have permission to meander in my choices. Good nutrition matters, but it isn’t the only thing that matters.

Life is balance, right? I eat well mostly and exercise a lot and don’t smoke and try to get enough sleep. Know who else did that? My mom. All my grandparents lived to 90 and she got brain cancer when she was 67 and she did everything right. It doesn’t mean I’m going to start lighting up. The CFO of Rady Children’s Hospital was killed a mile from my house during my mother’s memorial service while he was out riding his bicycle, being healthy. Sometimes shizz happens, and while diet matters, it’s no more a guard against bad luck than any of those other multitude of things in your life like genetics and a careless woman in a Range Rover.

Which brings me to what I refer to as “blog chum,” the words I always hesitate to type lest it attract a group of angry club wielding acolytes the way blood draws a Great White: Dog Food. I don’t care what you do with it. There. I said it.

  • You can feed a crappy kibble and your dog might live to 20 or he might look like he got run through a wood chopper.
  • You can feed a high quality kibble and your dog might live to 20 or he might get cancer when he’s 2.
  • You can feed raw poorly done and your dog might live to 20 or he might look like Casper when he’s 4 months old because he got nutritional hyperparathyroidism.
  • You can feed raw that someone balanced for you and your dog might live to 20 or he might get kidney failure when he’s 7.

That’s the way it works. Food is one piece of a really complicated puzzle, and anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something. (Probably dog food, magazines, or coconut oil.)

Now clearly, my education (paid for without the aid of Big Pet Food, by the by) and my experience lead me to recommend that with which I am familiar- that would be commercial dog food- but if you want to feed your dog raw and you swear it’s the most amazeballs choice ever and your dog is the healthiest dog who ever walked the face of the earth, go forth and be happy, because I really don’t have the energy to fight over any of the following:

  • who taught me
  • who bought me
  • who sends me places
  • how much I make off selling food

If you want my opinion, I’ll give it, and I think it’s an educated one. I’ll listen to what you have to say, though I may not agree. If you have decided that my views on that one topic mean my years of experience and knowledge about all things animal health related are bunk, well, we might as well enjoy a lively discussion about the upcoming primaries while we’re at it because might as well go out with a bang.

And then I will go make a healthy chicken salad and wash it down with a glass of wine, because that’s what agnawstics do.

Filed: Blog, Book News, Daily Life, Featured Posts, Health, Lifestyle, Musings Tagged: , , ,

The vet will see you now- for entertainment purposes only

A year ago, my husband gave me a telephone number and said his insurance company now had phone consults available. 24/7, from the privacy of my own home, I could call in and get “seen” for ear infections, get a prescription for Ambien for travel, even get marriage counseling, should I desire it. I only used it once, but I was amazed that at 10 pm I could just call and talk to some random person and 15 minutes later pick up a prescription at the 24/7 Rite-Aid. I’m not going to lie, I think it was pretty cool.

For the past five years, I have said the same thing over and over to people in the veterinary profession: telemedicine is coming. How are we going to handle it? And over and over the response has been the same: no it’s not. This is only half true: it’s not coming from inside the vet profession.

But it is coming, as this piece from dvm360 goes into. And not just Vet on Demand. I’ve been approached about 10 times in the past year to sign up to be a telemedicine/internet consultation vet, and I always say the same thing: I am bound by my state practice act’s definition of valid client-patient relationship, which says that I must examine an animal in person to establish that. Anything outside of that and I’m breaking the practice act, which is why my FAQs are so clear on the topic.

Veterinarians make excellent points as to why telemedicine for us differs so much from telemedicine for people:

  • Doctors get a lot more out of history than we do. People can describe symptoms they are experiencing; pets cannot say, “I have chest pain radiating down my arm”. Veterinarians rely much more heavily on physical examinations.
  • Human medicine is incentivized to keep people out of the clinic to keep costs down, since general practitioners are already in short demand. Vets aren’t that slammed. Come on in.

And while we are perfectly content to say “This is a terrible idea,” others are not, and are trying to reap the benefits of it. People with background in restaurateurism see a chance to make a few bucks and throw an app together, paying a vet some pittance like $5 to put their license on the line. Why not? They don’t have anything to lose. They get around it by saying things like, “oh, we’re offering general advice, not specific diagnoses,” or take the old Miss Cleo approach:

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For entertainment purposes only. Riiiiight.

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This is from the VetonDemand website. I dunno guys, sure sounds like diagnosing to me. (By the way, my favorite saying is a lump is a lump is a lump. No biopsy, no diagnosis, unless the lump was a tick or a piece of sticky kibble.) That’s wasted $$ right there.

To sum up: individual veterinarians are bound by their state practice acts in terms of whether or not diagnosing over the net is legal, and it’s all over the place in terms of who can do what. This is reason enough for people to fold their hands together and say, “See, it’s not going to work.” I disagree.

My husband called the human telemedicine line to ask about a cough, and they refused him antibiotics and told him to get a chest x-ray. They were clear in their limitations. I think there are opportunities for veterinarians to use telemedicine to our advantage in responsible ways:

  • consults for pre-existing clients
  • Online ER consultations in coordination with local clinics for things like post-op questions: “My pet’s incision looks puffy, can it wait or should I come in?”
  • With clearly defined limitations and expectations, it has its place. Truth is, most of the time the answer is, “It could be x, y, z…you should be seen,” but that’s still better than what I see happening now.

I don’t have all the answers, certainly, but I think it’s a huge mistake and a missed opportunity for the veterinary profession to not take this on proactively. It’s not a matter of if, it’s when, and if we pass up our ability to drive the bus then two restaurant entrepreneurs from Nashville are going to take the wheel instead, and we probably won’t like where they take us.

I love technology. I think we can use it, we just need to be a little creative and stop digging in our heels like those old guys who still- STILL- insist on fax over email for sending records over. Give up, man, the world is moving on.

What do you think? Would you use a service like this if you could?

Filed: Ask Dr. V, Blog, Daily Life, Featured Posts, Health, Lifestyle Tagged: ,

Bowls for books: Sleepypod Yummy bowl Travel Treat!

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If you’re wondering if the entire blog has gone to the dogs lately, the answer is yes. This blog is All Dogs Go to Kevin, All the Time….through July 14th. That’s when the preorder part is over and I’m either kicking back with a bottle of champagne and planning the next book or crying inconsolably in a parking lot somewhere when I find out I sold less copies than William Hung’s newest single. I don’t want that, at all, which is why I spent so many hours staring over my husband’s shoulder while he did all the work arranging these lovely, amazing FREE preorder incentives. You should totally, absolutely take advantage of them. Today’s treat is a vintage pawcurious favorite:

If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you know I am huge fans of Sleepypod. I love everything they make, from the carriers to the bowls to the harnesses. Yup, I own them all, and I use them all. They have been really good to me and are offering not one but two treats for you guys- and today I’m thrilled to feature the Yummy bowl.

This has been my travel bowl of choice since I got one back in 2011, and it’s still in great shape.

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Blast from the past! Koa bomb!

This bowl has the unique All Dogs to Kevin feature of being the only incentive item that has been photographed with one of the dogs featured in the book. But aside from that, there are multiple reasons they rock:

  • It’s a three part bowl- water in the bottom, food in the middle, and a cup/lid on top. We used these extensively on our trip to Seattle and they worked wonderfully- and didn’t tip, which is nothing short of miraculous, which you would know if you ever saw Koa eat.
  • They are dishwasher and microwave safe
  • They come in a gorgeous range of colors
  • In the summer, I freeze water in the bottom before heading out for a hike, right in the bowl.

So say you’re going to order the book anyway. Just slap a second one in the cart- it’s something like $18 on Amazon- and get a FREE Yummy bowl (which normally goes for $40) and you still come out ahead! I’m thinking of ordering an extra few books myself because I want the bowl in green. Kidding! (not kidding.) Are you ready? You’re ready!

1. Preorder 2 copies of All Dogs Go to Kevin (if you want them signed, get them from Warwicks)

2. Head over to the Treats Page and select “Travel Treat”

3. Follow the instructions, including proof of purchase for 2 books

4. We’ll follow up in the coming weeks to confirm the order!

treatme

Filed: Blog, Book News, Daily Life, Lifestyle, Pet Gear Tagged: , , ,

Dog Plus Bone: The Stylin’ Treat Collar for posh pups

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The preorder incentive campaign for All Dogs Go to Kevin is swimming along, but because you all are so awesome I really wanted to share some extra special items as thank yous for all your support. Today I want to introduce you to the Stylin’ Treat: A snap or martingale collar from the wonderful team at Dog Plus Bone!

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Dog Plus Bone is the brainchild of owners Anne and Ivan, who set out with one goal: “to create simple, honest, classic products that enable you to enjoy more unforgettable adventures with your best friends.”

These are not collars for those of you who like your dog covered in bling that falls off into their dinner bowl, or unwieldy fashion items that might look cute for an Instagram picture but fall apart after one use.

Dog Plus Bone collars are the marriage of form and function: solid construction, quality materials, elegant design, and able to withstand all the kinds of adventures that come with summer and leave you picking dirt out of your socks for the next week.

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Aren’t they beautiful? I love the two tone in the Martingales.

 

The Dog Plus Bone line currently includes Martingale collars, snap collars, and adjustable leashes. All fully washable and ready for whatever journeys you have in mind. Such as, in our case, dog beach.

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Now if you simply must have one now, and I don’t blame you, you can go right on over to Dog Plus Bone and order one yourself. On the other hand, the first 15 who jump on the Treats for Tomes Preorder Incentive Campaign will get a snap collar or martingale of their choice (That’s $35 in your pocket!). This one is US only for now, but if you’re in Canada and really want one, send me an email and I will see what I can arrange. :) Here’s what you have to do:

1. Preorder 2 copies of All Dogs Go to Kevin (if you want them signed, get them from Warwicks)

2. Head over to the Treats Page and select “Stylin’ Treat”

3. Follow the instructions, including proof of purchase for 2 books

4. We’ll follow up in the coming weeks to confirm the order!

treatme

Filed: Blog, Book News, Daily Life, Lifestyle, Pet Gear Tagged: , , , , , ,

How Emmett helped save me from depression

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When people ask me what my book is about, I feel silly saying, “Dogs,” so I’ve been trying to refine it. I got a little further: “3 Dogs,” and then, “3 dogs who were really important to me and also it’s about my friend Kevin and a funny play on words,” and then I took a break.

It didn’t really hit me until my mom got sick: This is a book about the purpose dogs have in our lives, about how they are here for a discrete space and time and change us for the better in very specific ways. And the beauty of it is, you don’t even know what that is until after the fact. I always assumed Brody would be my kids’ dog…but that was Kekoa.

Brody was my mom and dad’s dog. What he did for them, and for us, during the worst two months of our lives was nothing short of transcendental. I didn’t know he had it in him.

As for the the dogs in the book, Emmett also had a very specific purpose. In the excerpt below, I speak about the isolating days of discovering you have postpartum depression, and how Emmett- through a very disgusting work of pica- helped me figure out I needed help. (Click the image to read the chapter for free on Medium.)

 

Everything Three Dogs Taught Me

If you enjoyed that and would like to preorder, don’t forget to zip over to my Preorder Incentive Page and help yourself to my massive array of treats! I’ll be featuring all those goodies over the next week but the quantities are limited!

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Filed: Blog, Book News, Daily Life, Lifestyle, Musings, Picks of the Litter Tagged:

Profound Things

I wrote my mother’s eulogy the day of the service, this Sunday. I was stuck. I wanted to share all the profound things we had said to one another over the years, but we just didn’t have that kind of relationship defined by meaningful, deep philosophical conversations. As I sat with Brody’s head in my lap, it occurred to me that we also did not share in deep conversations, but it never lessened our bond. As soon as I thought about that, it all started to come.

My mother was not one for profound conversations. Don’t get me wrong- she was a profound thinker, absolutely, but I think she found the idea of sitting around talking about philosophy either pretentious, or simply a distraction from the things that really mattered, like dessert. This was a hard thing for me to accept.

I spent my whole life waiting for us to have those deep, intense, heart to heart talks where we would bond over politics, being a woman, or a mother, or a wife. It was really important to me that my mother and I share that kind of moment, and I’ve been working at getting her to engage in one with me for as long as I can remember.

I started when I was eight, by attempting to start a Mom and Me Book Club discussion. I said, “Mom, what does the word ‘conceive’ mean?” I often asked her about words I didn’t quite understand.

She said, “What’s the context?”

So I opened up my Judy Bloom book from the library and read, “I was conceived under the Million Dollar Pier.”

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She pursed her lips, pointed to the Encyclopedia Britannica and told me to look it up. That was the end of Mom and Me Book Club, though to her credit, she never once banned me from reading Judy Blume- or anything else, really.

When I was in high school, my subversive reading habits led me to writing all sorts of editorials for the school newspaper about the availability of birth control for teens, the failures of the Oceanside Unified School District, Administrative Team, abortion. I spent a lot of time in the principal’s office. No one could figure out how I grew up to be such a diehard feminist. They all thought my sweet little mom would be mortified to know what I was saying. She knew. She’s the one who planted the seeds in my head in the first place.

Still, I was bound and determined for us to get our deep moment of profound conversation. I kept giving her chance after chance. When I went away to college, I was down for every holiday, and many weekends. She was there for every milestone event in my life. She was at the birth of both my children, the doctor’s appointments when I was worried about something scary, the triumphs and the defeats and the myriad tiny moments in between.

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When the kids got older, we’d meet for lunch every week. Brian hated those lunch meetings, because ‘lunch’ was always followed by ‘shopping.’ She’d always convince me that I needed a new pair of boots, a necklace, a pair of earrings. She did not believe in practical gifts. Gifts should be beautiful and shiny and able to be physically opened and lord help you if you used one of those little gift bags instead of wrapping it with actual paper and ten pounds of curling ribbon.

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Christmas, 1980-something ish.

Our interactions were a lot like those presents: plentiful, beautiful, and fun.

When she got sick, I panicked, because I was thinking, you know, all this time together, hours and hours and hours, and we still haven’t had those profound conversations that mothers and daughters are supposed to have.

I tried, once, to talk to her about what was going on, and she said, “That’s depressing. Pshaw. Turn on Harry Potter.”

I asked her if she could have anything, what would it be. Anything, Mom. And she said, “I want to go and watch the balloons in your backyard.” That was our life these last two months, Harry Potter and balloons and just being together.

I sat with her every day, Dad and I and the kids, making sure that when she was ready to impart her wisdom, I was not going to miss it. So when Dad was taking the kids to swim class, and I was sitting next to her on the bed, she held my hand, looked at me, and said in as earnest a tone as I have ever heard, ‘Can I ask you about something?’

I was thrilled. This was it. This was the moment I had been waiting for my whole life.

“Of course, mom.”

She took a deep breath, fixed me with her gaze, and said, “Do you know what Spotted Dick is?’

“It’s a spotted pudding, right? What made you think of that?”

“I don’t know. It sounds gross.”

“OK, Mom. I won’t make you eat one.” She giggled.

“That’s it?”

“That’s it.”

As the weeks wound down to days, I knew I had to figure this out if I was going to be able to move forward without regrets about wisdom left unshared. So I thought about what Mom would tell me to do- and I looked it up.

I found a book about dying, and it laid out the things that you’re supposed to say in order for someone you love to be able to die peacefully: I forgive you. I love you. We’re going to be ok.

I put the book down and shook my head. That’s all they had to say?

Forgive? There’s nothing to forgive. There were no unresolved hurts.

I love you? That’s nothing new. We said that every day.

We’re going to be ok? She knew that. We were always trusted to figure things out for ourselves, and though she was there for me if I needed her, I rarely did.

And that’s when I finally figured it out. There is no need to have profound conversations when you live a profound life. She truly did lead by example, with grace, kindness, toughness. For all those friends and family who are so upset that they didn’t get a chance to tell her something, don’t fret. She knew. And you knew her.

I will never have to wonder what advice she would give me in the long days ahead, where she would have stood on an issue. She has built a place in my heart minute by minute and day by day for decades now, and now that she’s disappeared inside its confines, I will never worry about whether or not she is there.

She is.

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Patricia Anne Marzec, the greatest woman I’ve known.

 

Filed: Blog, Cancer sucks, Daily Life, Musings Tagged: ,

Just keep swimming

Has it already been a week since my mother died? I feel like I’ve been in a haze, dropped in the middle of the ocean and swimming only because I have to, not because I actually know where I’m going. I’ve found a new appreciation for Dory, a different nuance in Finding Nemo.

I don’t know why life insists on dumping everything on us all at once instead of pacing things one month at a time, but it seems to be a rather consistent theme. What I’d like to be doing right now is sitting in bed with the sheet over my head, but there’s just too much to do.

When a death ends, the work just begins. Closets to go through and memorials to plan and family dynamics to breathe through. In this case, all these tasks are intermingled with the other responsibilities of being a mother as well as a daughter. I pick my mother’s casket, and on the way home pick out a birthday cake for my son. That sort of thing.

My daughter graduated fifth grade this week. I was not really aware fifth grade graduation was a big deal. I thought we might hear a song, clap politely, and get on with it. I was sorely mistaken. What we were in for was a two hour event with five speeches, two processions, music, slideshows, choreography. It was longer than my high school and college graduation combined.

The line for the auditorium starts an hour and a half early. I walk into the auditorium with the grandparents behind me, mentally counting off the number of seats I needed: 2, 2, 2….oh. 2, 2, and 1. It’s the little moments like this that catch you unaware. Mom would never have missed a graduation.

When the ceremony finally ended and the kids file into the lobby, I pull out the flower bouquet my father picked up for us on his way over. I hand it to my daughter, who stands surrounded by children wearing leis made of dollar bills. Mom would have brought a lei. She always did stuff like that. My daughter smiles politely, seeming vaguely disappointed, but she always seems vaguely disappointed. I am told this is part of being a tween. I am too tired to care.

I was supposed to volunteer at the promotion picnic today, but I leave early because I have to get Brody to the groomer in advance of the family arriving this weekend for the memorial. That, and order programs, write a eulogy, bring an end of the year gift to the teacher, bring a blanket to the funeral home, clean the house, find something to wear, pick up the kids from school, celebrate something, I guess. People offer to help, but these are all tasks I need to do myself.

I am exhausted, in a bone wearying way I didn’t know could exist.

Brody comes back from the groomer, and sits next to me on the couch. He is never disappointed with his lot in life. He just is. I put my head on his back and inhale, feeling the rising waves of grief intruding on my to-do list. He smells like one of those old Strawberry Shortcake dolls. When I cry, he doesn’t say anything or search for unhelpful platitudes or edge away uncertainly. He is surprisingly absorbent.

He is here, breathing with me. It is enough. For now, he is enough.

Ha

Filed: Blog, Cancer sucks, Musings Tagged:

Book updates, giveaways, and TREATS!

On we soldier, because that is what we must do. A few months ago, my mother asked to read the galley of All Dogs Go to Kevin, and I said, “No, you have to wait till the book comes out like everyone else.” Later that afternoon I felt terrible about that so I said, “OK, I changed my mind, here you go.”

She read it in a day then called to tell me how much she loved it. I am really, really glad I changed my mind. I imagine things are a bit chaotic for her right now but I have high hopes she’ll find Taffy in short order. All she has to do is follow the Meaty Bone crumbles and look for sticky pee spots.

In the meantime, my job right now is to convince you to pre-order my book 1. because I’d like to do another and I need to sell a few in order to do that and 2. I heard the Food Babe presold 15,000 copies of her treatise and it’s always good to have goals.

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Good News: The Saturday Evening Post listed All Dogs Go to Kevin as one of their Top 10 Summer Reads! I almost keeled over to see my name on the same page as Harper freakin Lee. And since you’ll already be online pre-ordering that, and my book comes out on the same day, why not just add it on? Booyah!
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Treats for Reads

Even more good news: I have so many awesome treats to offer people who preorder the book. I’ll be sending out an email to people on the All Dogs Go to Kevin mailing list with an official announcement this week and then following that up with a post here. The mailing list will have exclusive book giveaways and first go at all the goodies! First book giveaway is this week! Click below to sign up:

 

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Signed Copies

We’ve made an arrangement with Warwick’s La Jolla for signed books. All copies pre-ordered through them will automatically come signed. What I’ll sign it with I don’t know yet but I still have a month. :)

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If you ordered through another site, I can happily send a signed bookplate. Details to come.

Spot Eats Socks

As an additional preorder incentive, I’ve written an ebook for anyone who preorders at least one book. My agent suggested a nice prescriptive book along the lines of “How to Clean Ears at Home” but you know, you can get that anywhere.

What you cannot get anywhere else is a twisted children’s activity book, so that’s what I wrote instead. Spot Eats Socks is 13 pages of mazes, Mad Libs, word scrambles, and coloring activities. I guarantee this is the only place on the net you will find a word hunt featuring “ANALGLANDS” and “DEMODEX.” I’ll be telling you how to get it sent to you shortly.

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I am truly excited for this! Thank you all so much for being a part of this journey- I couldn’t do it without you!

Filed: Blog, Book News, Daily Life Tagged: , , ,
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