Allison's Book Bag

With almost 80 million households in the United States owning a pet as of 2015, it should come as no surprise that our calendar year is filled with holidays celebrating our animal companions. These holidays might be a little too obscure to grant anyone a day off from work, but they still might give ideas about how to have fun with or honor pets. Last year to help Lincoln Animal Ambassadors visitors keep track of those very special dates, I began posting information about them. Here are links to all of the events you might have missed in August.

Pet Obesity Day: You may be aware that almost 70% of adult Americans are overweight, but you may not know that an estimated 54% of dogs and 58% of cats in the United States also have a weight issue. Pet Obesity Awareness Day, celebrated on the second Wednesday of October, brings awareness to this health issue and promotes more balanced diets and active lifestyles for our pets.

Feral Cat Day: A pet calendar date dear to my heart is National Feral Cat Day. Celebrated on October 16, the goal is to raise awareness of community cats and to promote Trap Neuter Release (TNR) as the best method for stabilizing cat populations. Alley Cat Allies initiated this day on 2001 on the group’s 10th anniversary.

In 2017, this day was renamed Global Cat Day: Just in time for Global Cat Day (previously known as Feral Cat Day) on October 16, I’d like to present you with a tale of two cats. The first tale is about Gypsy, an eight-week-old kitten, whose mother brought her to the right place. Little Mama brought her kitten to the home of Donna Kavanagh and Ron Stow, who both knew that Gypsy would have a better life with them.

National Pit Bull Awareness Day: As reports continue to air of dog attacks attributed to pit bulls (even when the breed of the attacker has not been proven), there is no better time to honor National Pit Bull Awareness Day (NPBAD). Now more now than ever, we need to educate the public about faulty stereotypes and bring positive attention to the pit bull.

National Cat Day: Cat lovers of the world, unite! National Cat Day, held annually on October 29, was created in 2005 to pay tribute to our wonderful feline companions. It’s also intended to draw attention to the plight of over 2 million homeless cats that are euthanized every year. Shortly after Colleen Paige created National Cat Day, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals embraced it for the above reasons and to highlight also the growing problem of and possible solutions to feral cat colonies.

Missing from my roundup are: ASPCA’s Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, National Service Dog Month, National Animal Safety and Protection Month, World Animal Day, National Walk Your Dog Week, National Veterinary Technician Week, and Reptile Awareness Day

To read more, check out Pet Calendar Dates. There you’ll find details not only about the above, but about pet-related dates that fall throughout the rest of the year.

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Saturday Snapshot invites bloggers to share photos.This past month, I had the pleasure of my parents coming to visit me for the first time since my wedding. As an added perk, they got to stay with my husband and I in our new house. In addition, although they had met our dog before, all our cats were new to them. My parents visited for eleven days.

The first weekend was a lazy one. They were tired from their trip; we were tired from a month of packing, moving, and unpacking. We did take then shopping for food for their stay and for our pets. As part of the latter, we took them to a pet store and they saw their first ferret. My step-mom even held one! We also took them to a service at my church and to a local book store. Ironically, I was the one who ended up buying a book. Otherwise, most of the rest of the first weekend, we took naps and played games. My parents got to see the Crokinole board that they had bought for us a few years ago, because Crokinole was a favorite game of my childhood.

Then there were a few rainy days. Limited in the places we could go, we visited my workplace. My boss got to meet my parents AND three of our pets. We also showed my parents the main branch of our library. My dad and I both found books to read! And we introduced them to more stores. At one of them, we bought fixings for a cheese and cracker night. When one can’t go out, it’s great to do stuff indoors. We invited former neighbors over to play board games. They gave us a housewarming gift. We also visited my mother-in-law to play games and our parents met my in-laws energetic puppy.

Once the sunshine returned, the outdoor adventures could begin. One day we took my parents to see the local university, which is also where Andy works. They also attended a dog agility class with us and got to see Barnaby perform. Another day we took my parents to our local wildlife safari park AND to an outlet mall. We were exhausted that day! But we also had lots of photos, clothes, and memories. A third day we took my parents to a local city garden AND to a local children’s zoo. At the latter, they got to ride a train around the zoo. A bird in the aviary fancied my step-mom and sat in her lap. In the evening, we had more friends over to play games.

All too soon, it was the weekend before my parents had to leave. On Saturday, we visited our local Farmers’ Market and a souvenir shop. On the drive back, we stop to pick up ingredients for a meal that my step-mom wants to prepare for us. That same day, we attended an outdoor celebration at my church, went for a walk around the neighborhood, and watched a movie. On our walk, we met children who wanted to pet our dog and cats. During the movie, our pets all snuggled close and coaxed for food. On Sunday, we attended a service at the church where I work. Then in the afternoon, we toured our local no-kill cat shelter and asked many questions. Wrapping up the evening, my in-laws visited and we played more games.

On our last day together, we play games, walked around a park, and tried not to think off what lay ahead. The visit was a memorable one. After my parents left, our lives and house felt empty and quiet. But we’ve already made plans to visit them next summer!

In The Tent of Abraham, three leaders from different faiths find a common ground in the Biblical story of Abraham. By listening to one another’s interpretation of a shared tradition, they model how to create unity amid diversity. In addition, they offer a way to use stories to remind us of God’s call for peace and reconciliation.

The Tent of Abraham is divided into three parts. The first part presents the classic version of Abraham’s journey as presented in the Torah which became foundation for the story in Judaism and Christianity, and the story as presented in the Quran which is the central religious text of Islam. The second part offers three sections of essays that interpret the story from the perspective of those in three different faiths: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim. The last section includes resources created by a small group of scholars from these three faiths who met to pray, study, and together.

One thing I appreciate about The Tent of Abraham is the opportunity to hear how those of other faiths recount the Biblical story of Abraham. We share some common ground. All three leaders recognize that Abraham lies about his relationship with his wife Sarah to keep an Egyptian pharaoh from taking her. They all recognize that Sarah becomes jealous after her handmaiden, Hagar, bears a son to Abraham. And each tells of God’s call to Abraham to sacrifice his son. There are also ways in which the leaders varied greatly in their interpretations. But none of them attempted to condemn or even convert. They simply shared their viewpoints, as people might tell stories around a campfire. And so, I discover new ways to see old stories: I learned how essential wells were, how important safety was to travelers, and how often struggle, anger, withdrawal, and reconciliation happen within families in Biblical stories. There are numerous situations today where people are at odds with each other, not just over religion, and choose to react with hate. What if instead we took time to listen and learn? We still might agree to disagree. But we might also better understand each other’s viewpoints, and thereby become a more compassionate people.

Another thing I appreciate about The Tent of Abraham is the opportunity to learn how the Israli-Palestinian conflict is viewed by those who live it. Is the struggle about the blending of opposites or about uniting Abraham’s offspring, which includes Isaac and Ishmael? And if it’s about uniting two factions, how can this even happen when each thinks the other is in the wrong? Is the loss of children on both side worth the conflict? Each leader varied in the stories they shared. But each also shared the desire for peace and reconciliation. For without these, violence would continue, and bloodshed and destruction would remain the norm. There are no easy answers to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, nor are there any easy answers to America’s strife. Can we find unity in the fact we’re all part of humanity? Can we listen to the cries of people who say that we are victimizing them when we feel that they are victimizing us? Can we find a way past our differences to build a bridge of love?

It’s not often that I step out of my comfort zone to read books that I know upfront will not mesh with my own beliefs. And I’m not encouraging anyone to read this book with the idea that it might change their faith. The Tent of Abraham reminded me of the importance of listening, talking, and sharing. Three things that we all should do more of, to make the world a better place.

From the Cat Trio and the Solitary Dog….

We had barely moved into our new house, when our owners told us to prepare for another change. Guests were coming! Our owners brought a new bed into what they kept calling “the guest room.” They went out almost every evening and returned with bags of stuff for the guests. There was constant movement and change, and that made us nervous. But we were excited too. Our owners kept telling us how much fun we were going to have when the guests came. There would be special meals, which of course made our tummies growl. And we heard tricks mentioned a few times and we knew that involved us.

The guests turned out to be Allison’s parents. When they arrived, each of us had our own way of greeting them. Barnaby ran up to them and jumped on them. He tried to kiss them too! They could barely get in the door. Our owners had to pick Barnaby up and urge him to relax. Cinder sniffed the parents and then waited for them to pet her. She does this every time there’s a visitor. After that, Cinder went about her regular routine. Rainy hung back at first, but by the evening she was following the parents and coaxing for food. She also tried to visit them in the guest room more than once while they were sleeping. Bootsie stayed in the shadows for the first, second, third day…. But then she started to warm up to the parents. She wasn’t about to pass up the chance for a lap.

Our owner’s friends came over to meet Allison’s parents and play games. More guests meant more food and attention. Our owners don’t feed us from the table, but sometimes crumbs will fall to the floor. One time, the visitors brought a dog, and both dogs got treats to chew. When it’s just Barnaby with a treat, Rainy will often try to steal it, but she decided to be polite and let the dogs keep their snacks. Instead Rainy cuddled with her sisters on the bench by the bay window, and they all enjoyed having their owners at home.

Our owners were happy to show us off. One day they took Barnaby and Rainy to a club to do agility. First Rainy ran a course, then Barnaby. One of the parents even got to run Barnaby through a series of obstacles. After that, Barnaby didn’t want to watch from the side. He ran out onto the course while Rainy was taking another turn. The two of them flew over a jump at the same time. Dog-and-cat agility teams should be a sport! Our owners also tried to get Cinder to do a show. They took her into our basement where Allison has set up some agility equipment. But Cinder didn’t want to be a star and ran back upstairs.

Then it was time for the parents to return home. Barnaby shadowed them throughout their last morning, not wanting them to leave. The rest of us hung back. We’d just gotten used to guests and weren’t ready for them to leave.

Want to start your week off with a smile? Visit Comedy Plus or Burnt Food Dude and see what others are sharing today.

 

In the spring of 2015, Rebecca Grose of SoCal Public Relations contacted me about reviewing a children’s book. I don’t know if this was her first request, but it’s the first I have saved. Since then, she’s contacted me about several other books including Seashell Day by Dianne Ochiltree, which won the “Gwen P. Reichert Gold Medal for Children’s Literature”. Over the few years that we’ve corresponded, Rebecca has become familiar with my reading tastes. These days I might even receive a book in my mail that she’s sent on the hunch that I’d enjoy it. In fact, I received one today! Thus, I thought it fitting for my readers to know a little more about Rebecca Grose herself.

ALLISON: Looking back at your childhood, what kind of character would you be in a book?

REBECCA: Definitely inquisitive, precocious, and maybe just a little bossy. 😉 I’d want to help the other characters in the book in one way or another, but also be their friend. And I’d be very talkative!

ALLISON: As an adult, what do you most like to do? (Your photos suggest sports?)

REBECCA: I’m definitely not into sports—although I used to play tennis regularly in college—and enjoy bocce ball, ping pong, and occasionally go boating.

Mostly, I like to spend time with friends and take advantage of all the wonderful activities that San Diego has to offer. We dine out, meet for drinks, or attend various events around town (there’s always something fun going on) like trolley tours, new venue openings, etc. Just recently my friend and I went to the inaugural San Diego Festival of Books (modeled after the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books). It was a great turnout for being its first year, and I was able to say hello to old friends, including a few San Diego authors.

ALLISON: Why did you get into promoting authors?

REBECCA: It wasn’t something I went after at the start (I wanted to be in advertising!), but serendipity led me to my first job in publishing (a small publisher in San Diego—Oak Tree Publications—no longer in business). And once I got a taste of working within the publishing industry, and specifically, the privilege of working with authors and helping spread the word about their wonderful books… I was hooked!

ALLISON: What advice would you give to newcomers to public relations/marketing?

REBECCA: Explore different aspects of the business and find your niche—something you’re interested in that you’ll want to pursue as your career for many years to come. In doing so, you’ll build relationships within your field and a strong reputation that will continue to carry you as far as you’d like to go.

ALLISON: How did you land positions with publishing companies?

REBECCA: I had experience from previously working at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (now Harcourt, part of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) in San Diego, and asked friends for a few New York publishing contacts. When I moved to New York to pursue more opportunities in publishing, I was able to interview for an entry-level position with Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. I worked my way up over four years, and then from there, it was easier to leverage my experience to climb the ladder at other publishers (HarperCollins and DK Publishing).

ALLISON: What’s something authors should know about agents?

REBECCA: They receive a lot of inquiries from authors seeking representation that isn’t right for them. It’s important to research the agents to whom you’re submitting material, and only send to those that handle your genre/age levels. You’ll be much more successful that way!

ALLISON: Do you prefer print or electronic books? Why?

REBECCA: Always print! It feels great holding the book in your hands, and actually turning the pages yourself. Everyone should try it if they haven’t yet!!

ALLISON: How do you find a balance between having quiet time and being on social media?

REBECCA: Actually, I only use social media for work. I’d rather see my friends in person or talk with them on the phone.

ALLISON: If you could live anywhere, what place would you choose? Why?

REBECCA: That’s easy! I would live in Hawaii. For many years, it was a dream of mine to visit Hawaii and I finally had an opportunity to vacation there in 2010. It’s extremely beautiful, so lush, and the ocean temperature is very warm. Plus, the people are all so friendly. Simply heaven! I never wanted to leave. But reality set in, and I came to the conclusion that it just wouldn’t work for me.

ALLISON: What’s something on your bucket list? Why?

REBECCA: I’ve never made a bucket list, but since I was in my teens I had always dreamed of going to Italy and Hawaii. I went to Italy in 2001, and it was fantastic—everything I had hoped it would be and more! Then I went to Hawaii in 2010, as previously mentioned. So, I’ve been lucky enough to fulfill my dreams!

Rebecca Grose has been a freelance publicist since she started her own literary p.r. firm, SoCal Public Relations in San Diego in 2003. Prior to that, Rebecca worked in New York at several major publishing houses—Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, HarperCollins Children’s Books, DK Publishing—and with many distinguished authors including Alice Walker, Patricia and Fredrick McKissack, E.L. Konigsburg, Walter Dean Myers, and more. She began her career with Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (now Harcourt, part of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) when they had an office in San Diego.

Specializing in Children’s and Young Adult books, she’s launched successful media campaigns with author/illustrator appearances on national and local television/radio, interviews and features in national magazines/major newspapers across the country, and blog/online media coverage.

She also schedules author tours, trade show/festival appearances, and local bookstore events. Rebecca works closely with each author or illustrator to create and strategize an effective, personalized publicity campaign.

Links/Contact Info:
https://socalpr.net/
https://www.facebook.com/rebecca.grose.9
Email: socalpublicrelations@yahoo.com

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Fall 2017: Focus on Cats!

All things cats ahead! I will post roundups of cat training books, cat Trap-Neuter-Release books, cat coloring books, and cat cozies. For all other animal lovers, I will also post roundups of dog cozies and zoo books.

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