Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Blog... by MaxTheQuiltCat

Lou Belcher's latest release is The Zen of Max (a memoir of great wisdom and many naps). It's a memoir of an ordinary cat with extraordinary wisdom, love and compassion as well as a few quirks..

Lou started a blog for Max (her snowshoe point mix) to help her finish his book. Soon enough, Max's voice took over the blog. So, this post is from Max as it's only fitting that he post about pet blogging from his point of view.

Max here... I'm so glad to have this opportunity to talk to you about my experiences of pet blogging. I never dreamed I would have my own blog as a forum - especially after crossing the Rainbow Bridge. In a nutshell, here's how it all started:

You see, Lou Belcher is my food human. (As a point of reference, let me explain that I call her HH. That's short for Her Highness -- it's a term of endearment and it has stuck.)
HH started me on my path to becoming a pet blogger. I didn't have a clue what the blogosphere was about, but I soon found out when HH put up the blog and called it Before the blog, my mission was to sit on as many quilts as possible. Now, that is still a priority, but I have much loftier goals too.

The blog started because of the book (The Zen of Max). Before I crossed the Rainbow Bridge at the age of 18 1/2, HH started to write a book about me. When I died, she put it aside. She missed me so much, she just couldn't write about me anymore.

Almost two years later, she decided that she needed to finish it. To help her get over the block of writing about me, she decided to give me a blog. It worked... not only did she finish the book, but the blog thrives. (And....shhhhhhh.... I'll tell you a secret. HH doesn't like hearing it, but my blog receives more comments and attention than hers... hee hee... and I have over 2,000 followers on Twittter... just saying, with all modesty of course, that there's something happening here.)
So, the blog started about two years ago, and I do love writing it. At first, I was all paws and was a little stiff. But now, I look forward everyday to posting what's new in the cat world and commenting on the blogs of others.

I bet you're wondering how a cat can have so much to say. Well, I blog about all sorts of things. I've even written a short mystery novel on line (with me as the hero of the story, of course). I blog about Knuckles and Bugsy (those are my two nephews HH just rescued from the SPCA) and I throw in the occasional book review or product reviewB (about cat and dog products). And, once a week, I put up the picture of one of the pets from the SPCA of North Brevard who needs a forever home. We all need to do as much as possible to find homes for those who don't have them. That's for sure.

I must admit that when I started blogging, I didn't think it would grow into all of this. But HH and I have found it wonderful to have a platform to bring the fun of pets to the public as well as to bring the need of pets to the readers. Now, I'm just leading my life in cyberspace and loving it.

Thanks for listening to me... Let me leave you with one of my favorite Lessons Learned from The Zen of Max... It's about sticking to your guns... you may quote me.

"If you want to be carried, someone will eventually carry you. You just have to be willing to be left behind a few times until they realize that you mean business - you will not walk on a leash."That's my post and my story.... Have a super day everybody... Max loves ya!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Why Do We Love Them So? By Cheryl Malandrinos

*Once again I apologize for Bloggers poor formatting. I'm not sure what's going on. :( Our next guest post in our Readers Heart Animals month if from Cheryl! I've had the pleasure of "knowing" Cheryl since I've started blogging and if you have a chance you should check her out. ************************************************************************************* Cheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. A regular contributor for Writer2Writer, her articles focus on increasing productivity through time management and organization. A founding member of Musing Our Children, Ms. Malandrinos is also Editor in Chief of the group’s quarterly newsletter, Pages & Pens. ************************************************************************************* Cheryl is a Tour Coordinator for Pump Up Your Book, a book reviewer, and blogger. Little Shepherd is her first children’s book. Ms. Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two young daughters. She also has a son who is married. You can visit Cheryl online at or the Little Shepherd blog at ************************************************************************************* Why Do We Love Them So? By Cheryl Malandrinos **************************************************************************** I’m convinced cat owners are special. How else could we put up with pouring so much love into a relationship with four-legged creatures that don’t care about our existence unless we’re feeding them, brushing them, or cleaning out their litter boxes? I’ve owned cats most of my adult life, and I still can’t tell you why. I had a dog growing up. Fritz was a good companion; he learned a few tricks, and other than when he got mad at you and peed on your bed, he was fun to have around. But cats? I just don’t understand them. What’s worse, I don’t know why I love them so much. Take my first cat, Ashley. She hated people. Unless you were feeding her, she wanted nothing to do with you. I kept trying to encourage her to be playful, bought her toys and treats, but nothing ever worked. Then came Tito. Now, he was beautiful. A Siamese mix, he was my baby from day one. He was a fun kitten, though not many pairs of nylons survived. If you were looking for companionship, however, you needed to go elsewhere. He tolerated being petted, but if you kept at it too long, he would scratch your arm off. Here I was giving these cats more attention than I gave to brushing my hair in the morning, and they could barely bother to rub up against my legs and purr. Actually, Tito didn’t purr. He yowled. I guess Siamese cats are talkers. Anyone out there speak Siamese? I think our luck in choosing cats that have a greater compassion for our limited human intelligence is improving. Stubby, our Pixie-Bob with the stubby tail—hence the name—encourages us to pet her. She even looks us in the eye when we talk to her. I think she’s laughing at us. Killer, despite his name, couldn’t hurt a fly. That could be because he’s 18 pounds and can’t run after anything faster than a snail. He’s as close to a dog as a cat could get; though he’s much too dignified to admit it. He follows my husband around the house everywhere he goes, but if you look at him, he tries to make it appear like he was heading in a different direction. The kittens, Giggles and Boots, humor us lower life forms by playing with the numerous toys we buy, and engaging in playful kitten games running through the house and knocking things over. Lest we forget whose boss, they’ve also nibbled the life out of several silk flower arrangements, torn up a few carpets, and broken a lamp I bought for my husband fifteen years ago when we vacationed in North Carolina. They definitely don’t want us thinking they are getting too attached to us. Not everyone is cut out to be a cat owner. They aren’t the faithful companions that dogs are, and yet, they are more comforting to snuggle up with than a hamster or a ferret. I can’t understand why I speak baby talk to my cats or why I would rather take daily doses of asthma medication than have a cat-free house. I just know I love my furry little beasts and our house couldn’t possibly be a home without them. ************************************************************************************* Check her out online here:

Friday, April 15, 2011

Review: The Chimp Who Loved Me by

Since we are celebrating Animal Prevention Cruelty Month this month it was an ideal time for me to review this book. There are several stories of little mentioned animals in this one which made it for an enjoyable read.

I do believe that I laughed through 99% of the book. Now there were the serious moments but the majority of the stories had me laughing out loud. I must tell you that after reading this book I never want to buy a pig LOL!

I loved the stories and I loved the writing. I would certainly read more works by this pair since they seem to mesh so well together with storytelling.

I would say that if your looking for a LOL animal book then check this one out!

About The Book:

The Chimp Who Loved Me is a collection of true stories from the life and times of Annie Greer, a veterinary chiropractitioner, animal healer, radio host, speaker, farmer’s wife and all-around magnet for bizarre animal behavior. When Annie and Tim Vandehey, a professional writer, met in 2006 and began talking about Annie’s endless trove of strange and pants-wettingly funny tales about drill sergeant sheep and insane veterinary clinic customers, a book was born. Infused with Annie’s trademark dry English wit and Tim’s storytelling panache, The Chimp Who Loved Me is a sort of twisted love child of Dave Barry, David Sedaris and James Herriot ofAll Things Bright and Beautiful fame. If you’re sick of the treacly sweetness of animal books like Marley and Me or Dewey and crave twisted tales of sex, poop, pee and death, where apes throw donuts at chefs during dinner parties and stoned veterinary students dispense bizarre advice to puzzled dog show contestants, then you won’t be able to put The Chimp Who Loved Me down…until it hits you in the nose because you’re reading in bed, silly.

About Tim Vandehey & Annie Greer

Annie Greer is a certified veterinary chiropractioner, radio host, animal behaviorist, farmer’s wife and AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator who, with her veterinarian husband, Kent, runs three animal clinics and a 40-acre farm in Apopka, Florida. Tim Vandehey is a journalist, ghostwriter and book collaborator who has written more than 35 books since 2004 in the sports, self-help, memoir, spiritual, financial, business, and healthcare genres. His recent published co-authored works include Blindsided (with Jim Cole, St. Martin’s Press, 2010), Running on Faith (with Jason Lester, HarperOne, 2010), Produced by Faith (with DeVon Franklin, Simon & Schuster, 2011), and I’m Here to Win! (with Chris McCormack, Center Street, 2011). Tim lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington, with his wife and two daughters.

The Chimp Who Loved Me is Tim and Annie’s latest hilarious endeavor.

You can visit their website at

**Review copy provided by author. I received NO monetary compensation for this post and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Guest Post from Author and Pet Blogger Lou Belcher!

Pet Blogging: A Labor of Love

Lou Belcher is the author of The Zen of Max (a memoir of great wisdom and many naps). Her post today is about one of her passions: pet blogging. Lou is a blogger, writer, editor and photographer. She has four blogs that keep her busy.

She started blogging with two blogs designed to help artists and authors. It was only natural that she would give her cat Max a blog and Twitter site in hopes of breaking through the trouble she was having finishing a book about him. Now, Max's blog has taken on a life of its own. It's no longer Lou talking about Max, but Max has taken over in his own voice and his personality comes through loud and clear. Today's post is about her start as a pet blogger and the purpose she has found in this endeavor.

I have been a freelance writer and editor for many years. I happened into pet blogging incidentally. Initially, I started blogging to bring some attention to artists and writers in Florida. My first blogs were Brevard Art News (a blog about art in Brevard, Florida) and Florida Book News (a blog about Florida writers, their books, writing organizations and events). Immediately, I loved the process of blogging. I liked the connection with readers and the immediacy of it. Therefore, it was only natural when I reached a sticking point in a book I was writing that I put up a blog in an attempt to get un-stuck.

You see, before my cat Max died in 2008, I had started a book about him. After he died, I just couldn't work on it. One day, I decided I had to finish it. To ease back into writing about him, I gave Max his own blog. It did the trick. At first, my writing as Max was a bit stiff. I searched for other pet bloggers to get a feel for how they did it. I found a variety of approaches. I (or Max, that is) began to talk to other bloggers by commenting on their blogs and through chatting with them on Twitter (@MaxTheQuiltCat). Soon enough, Max found his voice.

Max's blog is diverse. He blogs about daily events, such as the time a fish fell from the sky near a local restaurant and the staff made Lucky (the fish) into their pet. That day, Max put out an alert to all cats to get out in their yards: "Fish are falling from the sky!" He also writes book reviews, blogs about pet products, and blogs about anything that has anything to do with dogs, cats, and pets of all varieties. He loves to write poetry, but he doesn't do it that often. And, he writes short stories in the first person where he is the hero, of course. There are pet blogs in many formats. At, Max blogs in the first person. That works well for him. Other bloggers blog about their pets in the third person, and still others blog by posting photos or drawings with captions or youtube videos.

No matter the format, pet blogs seem to have several common threads: to raise awareness on how valuable pets are, to inform others about the connectedness of all species, and to help raise funds and/or find forever homes for animals who need them. In addition, I've found one important common factor: pet bloggers really care about one another. They are quick to help each other, to send followers to one another, and to offer assistance when another blogger seems to be having a rough patch. I must admit... At times, I'm a little jealous of Max. His blog often gets a bigger response than my other blogs. I guess that's why I find his blog the easiest and most fun to write... of course, that might be because he practically writes it himself. Please feel free to visit Max and leave comments for him. He loves to hear what others think.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Review: Until Tuesday by Luis Carlos Montalvan

The next post in Readers Heart Animals Month is a review of an upcoming memoir featuring a brave soldier and his faithful service dog. I finished it in no time because I was so caught up in this story. I read about a lot of things that growing up with a veteran of Korea I had seen before. For me, I was able to connect with this book through the reading, the story of Luis, and of course Tuesday. I laughed and I cried and I was interested in reading this Luis's point of view on things. If you enjoy memoirs or dog stories then this may be one to check out. I thoroughly enjoyed it. About The Book: (From Amazon) A heartwarming true dog story like no other: Tuesday, a lovable golden retriever, transforms a former soldier's life forever Excerpt: "Tuesday combines a golden retriever's innate playfulness and bouncy exuberance with a noble bearing and seriousness of purpose. But it is not his beautiful coat, or even his regal attitude, that attract the stares. Tuesday has an extraordinarily expressive face. He has sensitive, almost sad eyes, but they are more than offset by his big goofy smile. He can't pass anyone without flashing them a sly look with those eyes, as if to say, sorry, I'd love to play, but I'm working. He just makes a connection; he has a personality that shines. I am not kidding when I say it is common for people to pull out their cell phones and take pictures of and with him. Tuesday is that kind of dog. And then, in passing, they notice me, the big man with the tight haircut. There is nothing about me--even the straight, stiff way I carry myself--that signals disabled. Until people notice the cane in my left hand, that is, and the way I lean on it every few steps. Then they realize my stiff walk and straight posture aren't just pride, and that Tuesday isn't just an ordinary dog. He walks directly beside me, for instance, so that my right leg always bisects his body. He nuzzles me when my breathing changes, and he moves immediately between me and the object--a cat, an overeager child, a suspiciously closed door--any time I feel apprehensive. Because beautiful, happy-go-lucky, favorite-of-the-neighborhood Tuesday isn't my pet; he's my service dog." **Review copy provided by publisher. I received no monetary compensation for this post.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Guest Post and Blog Tour: Rocsanne Shield "Save Magic City"

Joining us today is Roscanne Shield with a guest post about the story behind her book. Grab your coffee and sit with us for a moment! (I apologize for the format since blogger seems to be acting wacky.) ********************************************* The Story Behind "Save Magic City" ********************************************* After retiring, I got lots of time to look around me and take stock of the changes that had taken place while I worked. The world is dominated by corporations who conduct their business in a globalized way. They change work forces the way we, plain humans, change clothes. As soon as a new poorer country offers better conditions, the factories and offices move and the old work force is "let go". That means that men and women are left without the means to continue life as they knew it. The process of finding new jobs entails such stress that families split and children suffer. I believe firmly that people should help each other when misfortune strikes; the need to put something on paper became an obsession. While writing, I changed from Romance to Children's Fiction. Save Magic City was born. I was watching an animated movie when I realized that Edmund, who lived in 13th century England, had to come to our times. In the movie, a child finds a huge robot. In my novel, the child finds armour, with somebody inside! After the first three chapters, it became clear that he was brought to the year 2007 by Leona, who needed someone to help her help the city. My book focused on how to help people in a small community, where the major work supplier left and has taken their living means away. Leo, eight, needs a father figure, to love and grow to resemble. Edmund fills the role to perfection. Leo is the glue; he unites all the characters around their common goal -- to save their town from death. Squirrel can act as a perfect PA as she can hear people's thoughts as well as tell them things without words. She keeps the leaders informed, and helps Edmund to listen to the needs of the different teams who are working over the city, performing repairs and asking for help to find specific materials for their work. She also named the teams "Ganny/grampy teams". Raccoon is the resident Internet wizard and he sets up the lists of needs, volunteers and ideas, and them helps Leona find the most pressing needs. He also finds a lawyer willing to volunteer his work for the good of the city. He is the one who keeps his calm in moments of danger and need. The town becomes a unit and they might as well adopt the Musketeers' logo -- one for all and all for one. The children surely live by that. To read their story, go to my website You will find an excerpt of "Save Magic City"; if you are intrigued to hear more, you can purchase my book there as well. Save Magic City is also available for purchase at and Barnes and Noble "Save Magic City" is an excellent book for adults who want to teach their children the importance of caring for each other and the environment they live in. My book makes great reading and you will, I hope, tell others about it too. ************************************************************** About The Book: ************************************************************** Hurled into the time flow by a banishing spell, 13th Century Edmund lands in the USA, in 2007, in answer to Leona's fervent prayers for help to save her town. The corporation employing the townspeople has left, the bank’s foreclosures have created whole streets of empty houses, people are leaving in droves... the town is slowly dying. A black magician in his own time, Edmund is forbidden to do any magic if it is not for helping other people. He discovers and is fascinated by the magical powers of the Internet and wants to bring instant relief to the townspeople. But Leona, who does not trust their dependency on magic, forbids him to do so. Leo, Leona's adoptive son, and his friends, Squirrel and Raccoon, accept the magic with enthusiasm and do their best to help the town survive. When misfortune strikes, Leona gives her blessing for Edmund to use his magic.S

Monday, April 4, 2011

Review: Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee

Post 2 for Readers Heart Animals month is a review of a new book by Linda Francis Lee. I received this one a little while ago and it didn't take long for me to whiz through it. The story was exceptional and the characters are great. While there is a lot of sadness there is also a lot of hope. It's all about living your life, standing up for what's right, and second chances. I'll admit to having shed some tears while reading it but that's what makes a good book. One that can make you emotional is usually a winner in my eyes. If you enjoy dog stories then I'd say to check this one out. It's certainly and enjoyable and entertaining read! ************************************************************************************************ About The Book: (From Author's Website) Emily and her husband Sandy Portman seemed to live a gracious if busy life in an old-world, Upper West Side apartment in the famous Dakota building. But one night on the way to meet Emily, Sandy dies in a tragic accident. The funeral isn't even over before Emily learns she is on the verge of being evicted from their apartment. But worse than the possibility of losing her home, Emily is stunned when she discovers that her marriage was made up of lies. Suddenly Emily is forced on a journey to find out who her husband really was . . . all the while feeling that somehow he isn't really gone. Angry, hurt, and sometimes betrayed by loving memories of the man she lost, Emily finds comfort in a scruffy dog named Einstein. But is Einstein's seemingly odd determination that she save herself enough to make Emily confront her own past? Can he help her find a future—even after she meets a new man? **Review copy provided by publisher. All opinions are my own. I was given NO monetary compensation for this post.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Review and Blog Tour : Reunion by Jeff Bennington

I'll tell you that I love horror in all shapes and forms...books. movies, etc. When Jeff contacted me about Reunion I was excited because it's not very often that I get horror requests and these are actually my favorites. ************************* I jumped on the chance after reading the blurb because it sounded like a great storyline with subject matter that isn't touched on a lot. ************************* The characters in this one were very relatable and the storyline itself was scary even without the supernatural elements. I enjoyed reading about the characters after they left school and finding out what had become of them. It made for an interesting read and gave some great background for when they came back together. ************************************************* The book certainly gave me the willies and got my heart pumping at times. I would say that if your a fan of the genre then this might be one to check out. I thoroughly enjoyed it and know that I'll be keeping my eye on this author in the future. ************************************************* About The Book: ************************************************* David Ray killed eight students and then turned the gun on himself. He thought the shooting and suicide would fix his world. It didn't. The massacre threw Tanner Khan and the other survivors into chaos. ************************************************ Twenty years later, Tanner and his fellow classmates reluctantly agree to hold a reunion to lay the past to rest. Although they suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, they come back to their hometown and reunite in the defunct school building. *********************************************** Old flames are rekindled, fears are ignited, and their lives are about to explode in a whirlwind of memories, haunted by the spirit of David Ray. Once they're inside the school, they discover that a dark entity has joined them. It has come to collect a debt, long overdue, and someone has to pay. Will Tanner and his classmates overcome their fears, putting the pieces of their lives back together, or will they be consumed by their worst nightmare? ********************************************** Find out more at Jeff's website here.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Guest Post and Giveaway Info from Author Jeff Bennington

Hi Kris…I mean, Cajun Book Lady.

Thank you for having me. I’m looking forward to sharing a few details about the characters in REUNION with you and your readers. But before I start, I want to remind everyone that I’m giving away 2 FREE Kindles on May 15th – one will go to a REUNION Blog Tour follower and one will go to a REUNION Blog Tour host. For details about the book, the Kindle giveaway rules, blog tour dates, and blog topics, go to (or have a look at the end of this post.) Meet the Survivors Now, let me get to the business of telling you about REUNION and the characters that bring it to life. To begin with, REUNION is a supernatural thriller that begins the morning that David Ray, a troubled teen, shoots and kills a teacher and seven of his classmates. The first three chapters are comprised of a two and a half hour period where the students live out a typical morning as the school year comes to a close. David Ray, however, is lurking in the shadows of his bedroom, listening to his demons, and preparing to fix his world - hoping to finally seize control of his life by controlling the lives around him.

In these chapters, you’ll meet seventeen-year old David Ray. You’ll see life through his eyes, feel what he feels, and dream his horrific nightmares. You’ll also meet Tanner Khan, an underdeveloped, happy-go-lucky, smarty-pants who has a crush on Lana Jones, the most beautiful girl that has ever graced the senior hallway of Crescent Falls High. Then there’s Noah Berkley - the star-studded foreign exchange student, Maria Vasquez – the hip valedictorian, Bryan Jacobs - the pre-med hopeful, all around great guy, Kate Schmidt – the dressed in black, hair over her eyes, goth, who has dreams of art school, and Nick Tooley – the jerk who just loves making life miserable for “nerds” of every kind. They’re a typical group of kids… until David enters the school. REUNION is about a ricochet in time where one moment, one decision, one dark and sinful choice changed everything. Trauma will do that, you know.

When you first meet the kids from Crescent Falls, you’ll get to know who they are before they go through one of the most traumatic experiences…a school shooting. Unfortunately, by the time the last bullet shell hits the floor these characters change forever. All of their hopes, their plans, and their dreams come to a crashing halt. Traumatized and unable to handle the life they’ve been given, Tanner, Kate, Nick, Bryan, Maria, Lana, and Noah are suddenly forced down a new path, unknown and unwanted. They suffer from various degrees of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; in some cases, worse than a soldier who’s been in military combat. As the creator of these brave individuals, the challenge was to not only form believable and interesting teenagers; I had to turn around and grow them up into traumatized adults and create a new life that is realistic and representative of the original person. But I’m amazed at how much I learned from them. They inspired me by their wisdom, insight and honesty into subjects that without them, I would never have explored on my own. I guess that’s why I love writing. I think I get more from the book than anyone else, because to me, writing is as much a healing and learning process, as it is a creative process.

That sounds strange doesn’t it, an author learning from his characters? Makes me laugh just thinking about it. I guess I always thought writers knew everything about the characters because he or she created the story, like a god spinning his all-powerful web of life and death and destruction. But in fact, I think the opposite is true. I think I dream up my characters to answer my own unanswered questions - questions about love and life and death and the horrific realities of a fallen world. Thanks for reading. Be sure to “follow” The Cajun Book Lady and then go to to learn more about the book and the tour. And most importantly, be sure to show your support by purchasing REUNION on April 15th so it can shoot up the rankings through buying en masse.

REUNION ISBN: 9780615450865

Release Date: April 15th. I'm trying to merge the digital and print release on the same day. If your readers would like to buy a copy, I'd love it if they'd buy it on April 15th so that my rating goes up, giving the book more exposure.

Goodreads link: (Reviews are coming in!)

Also available on Apple ibook, Nook, and in Print.

Kindle Giveaway Rules: I am giving away 2 Kindles: 1 to a lucky blog follower, and 1 to a luck blog tour host. I will post a video on May 15th (last day of the tour) and have my children pick a winner from each group (followers/hosts).

There are only two (2) simple rules:

#1. Buy REUNION and email your receipt to by May 13th.

#2. Comment on one or more blogs on the REUNION Blog Tour.

Goodreads Giveaway: I will also host a 2 book Goodreads giveaway during the course of my blog tour (April 1 through May13th). Goodreads will contact winners. I will mail a signed copy to each of the winners.

To see the full tour schedule and topics, go to

**Make sure to stop in tommorrow to see my review of Reunion!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Guest Post and Giveaway from Author Ingrid King

For our first guest post during Readers Love Animals month we have author Ingrid King!

Ingrid King is the Author of "Buckley’s Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher"Winner of the 2010 Merial Human-Animal Bond She is the Founder and Publisher, The Conscious CatConscious Living, Health and Happiness for Cats and their

Meet Virginia, the office cat who came before Buckley

Buckley, the star of Buckley’s Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher, was my office cat at the animal hospital I managed for eight years before she came home to live with Amber and I. She wasn’t the first one, though. Not the first tortie, and not the first office cat. Before Buckley, and even before Amber, there was Virginia.

I first met Virginia when I went for my first interview for the hospital manager position at the animal hospital. The hospital was owned by a husband and wife team. I had spoken to Janet on the phone briefly before my interview, but really didn’t know what to expect. This was in the days before every animal hospital had a website, so it was a lot harder to get information ahead of time. While I didn’t know much about them, I knew what I was looking for in a potential employer as far as practice philosophy, and in addition, I was looking for a clinic that had that intangible right “feel.”

As soon as I walked into the waiting room of the hospital, I knew I had found the right place. There was an old-fashioned wooden bench, a rocking chair, and the walls were covered with photos of dogs and cats. A large free-standing cage held several kittens. When Janet came up to greet me, I was even more sure. I instantly liked her. She took me back to her office and began the interview.

After a few minutes, a beautiful tortoiseshell cat walked into the office. “That’s Virginia,” explained Janet. “She’s one of our two hospital cats.” Virginia proceeded to walk over to me, looked up at me, and then dug her claws into my legs and used them as a scratching post. I wondered whether that was part of the interview – a test, perhaps, to see how I would react? In hindsight, I realized that, of course, this was the moment she marked me as her own. I had dressed up for the interview and was wearing a skirt and pantihose – I can honestly say it was the first and only time in my life I left an interview with runs in my pantihose caused by kitty claws! The interview went well, and I left feeling hopeful that I would be offered the job. A couple of weeks later, Janet called to invite me to go out to dinner with her and her husband Jack. We sealed the deal over dinner, and I spent the next eight years managing the animal hospital. And the fact that Virginia was part of the deal only increased my happiness. She was estimated to be about ten years old. She was FIV positive. FIV is the feline version of the aids virus. It is contagious, but is primarily spread through bite wounds. Casual, non-aggressive contact does not spread the virus, and it is not zoonotic, which means it cannot be spread from cat to humans. However, Virginia’s owners were not comfortable keeping an FIV positive cat and had left her at the animal hospital for euthanasia. Somehow, the hospital staff never got around to it, and by the time someone remembered, she had wormed her way into too many hearts for them to go through with it.

Virginia was the poster child for “tortitude” – that unique personality of tortoiseshell cats. She had definitely read the manual. She was feisty, independent, and set in her ways. The only other animal she liked was Marmy, our other hospital cat, a sweet, wise, old medium-haired orange cat. You could often find Marmy in his cat bed, with Virginia curled around him, squeezed into the small bed with him. She liked most of the staff members, but this was not always mutual. She thought nothing of using her claws if she felt like someone wasn’t doing her bidding (ie, petting her properly, feeding her on her schedule, or committing any number of transgressions only she knew about). None of these were exactly the kinds of qualities you’d look for in a hospital cat. At one point, early on during my time as manager, there was talk of sending her to a nearby sanctuary for FIV positive cats. I was nervous about doing so, but I set an ultimatum: if Virginia went, so would I. Thankfully, by then Janet and Jack had come to rely on me, and took my “threat” seriously. Virginia got to stay.

She loved me fiercely. She was at the door to greet me each morning. When I took a few days off, the staff would tell me that she’d been looking for me, and when I returned to work, the look on her face made it clear that she did not appreciate being abandoned like that.

She had her routine, and it didn’t vary much from day to day. In the morning, she would sleep in a cat bed I had placed in front of a sunny window on my desk, next to my computer. Even though she was napping, she still woke up frequently enough to make sure that I paid attention to her, often clawing at my “mouse hand” to get my attention. As lunch time got closer, she would park herself on the bench in the exam room adjacent to my office, which is where most of the staff gathered for lunch each day. She loved to mooch off of peoples’ lunches, with morsels of meat or cold cuts and yogurt, especially peach flavored, being favorites. For four years, she made my office my home away from home. She showed no symptoms of her disease. Then, in the spring of 2002, she started to decline rapidly. She seemed to lose energy, and her always healthy appetite started to wane. She couldn’t make it to the litter box in time and had frequent accidents outside the box. She wouldn’t come to greet me at the door in the mornings.

An ultrasound showed that her heart and liver were in bad shape. So on a sunny April morning, we decided that it was time. I spent her last morning in the office with her in her bed by my side. When I wasn’t crying, I was calling staff members who were not on duty that day to let them know, in case they wanted to be present for her final moments. I held her on my lap in the office, surrounded by all the people who had been a part of her world, as she took her last breath. I don’t think there are many cats who got the kind of send off she did.

I still miss her. She was my introduction to and beginning of my love affair with torties. She still has a piece of my heart.

About Buckley's Story:

Buckley’s Story is the story of how one small cat changed the author’s life in ways she never could have imagined. In this warm-hearted memoir, Ingrid King shares the story of Buckley, a joyful, enthusiastic and affectionate tortoiseshell cat she meets while managing a veterinary hospital. When Ingrid leaves her job at the veterinary hospital to start her own business, Buckley comes home to live with her and Amber, another tortoiseshell cat who had adopted the author several years earlier.

Buckley is diagnosed with heart disease after only two years of living with Ingrid, and caring for Buckley through her illness only deepens the bond between cat and human. Interspersed with well-researched information about cat health in general, and heart disease in particular, the author describes the challenges and rewards of managing illness in a feline companion, and ultimately helping her through the final transition. Ingrid shares both the day-to-day joys of living with a special cat as well as the profound grief that comes with losing a beloved animal companion.

Buckley’s Story is a celebration of the soul connection between animals and humans, a connection that is eternal and transcends the physical dimension.

Where to Find Ingrid Online:

Connect with me onFacebook


Thanks to Ingrid I have one copy of Buckley's Story to give to one lucky US Winner.

To enter please leave a question or comment for Ingrid.

+1 if you spread the word about the giveaway or the Readers Heart Animals Month!