Posts Tagged With: Dogs and cats

Jack, Annabella and Me

I’d like to welcome Patricia Yager as my guest blogger. She’s a fellow horsewoman and animal lover.  And the author of MOON OVER ALCATRAZ, the moving story of loss, love and moving on. Read more about that below.
Today she talks about the challenges faced by another mother and one of her offspring.  Patti originally entitled her post: “What a Mom!! Annabella, That Is. Not Me.”  I think you’ll see why I changed the title when you read it. Take it away Patti!



PattiYSix years ago we mated our chocolate lab, Annabella, with a black lab. I wanted our children to have the experience of watching a live puppy birth, as well as caring for the puppies afterward. We made all the preparations for the pups. My husband built a birthing box so that Annabella would have a safe, clean and sizable area to give birth, we notified our vet, and we fed Annabella all the appropriate food and vitamins to keep her healthy and treated her like a queen.

Two weeks shy of her due date I found her in our bedroom in the dark –  hiding. I knew immediately something was wrong. This was just not normal Annabella behavior. Two weeks is nothing in human terms, but in a dog’s pregnancy, it shouts “premature”.

I phoned our vet, who is a mobile vet and doesn’t have all the accoutrements of a normal veterinarian’s office. He told me to take her temperature. It measured way over “normal” so he advised me to get her to any vet who could take x-rays. I phoned around for someone, anyone, who could take us on such short notice then drove her to a vet about fifteen minutes from our home. The x-rays showed pups but the vet couldn’t tell if all of them were alive. She urged me to go to an animal hospital that was prepared to deal with infant puppies and pregnancies.

I phoned a well-known veterinary emergency hospital over thirty minutes away with 24-hour care and brought her in immediately. They advised me to go home while they tried to reduce her fever and take x-rays to see what was wrong.

I’ll never forget the phone call I received at 11 p.m. that evening. The doctor (a specialist in canine pups) informed me one of the pups was dead and poisoning Annabella. If she didn’t operate Annabella would die. She wanted to know if we were prepared to: pay for the cost of exploratory surgery, and if so, should she try to save the uterus and Annabella or save the pups.

I told her to save Annabella, perform a hysterectomy, and if the pups died then so be it.

She phoned me two hours later. There had been eight male puppies (very unusual): one dead puppy, two others who couldn’t be revived, and five live puppies. BUT…the pups were premature and would have to be fed every two hours by hand in order for them to survive.

We picked up Annabella and her five puppies the next day. It seemed “I” was the only human who could figure out how to feed the puppies a bottle of special formula, by hand. My husband and two kids (11 and 7 at the time) couldn’t get the hang of it.

Enter one very dedicated surrogate mom – me.  By the time I force-fed one puppy the one ounce of formula they needed which took about twenty minutes, I’d go on to the next then the next.  By then it was almost time to start on the first puppy again. And so it went.  For about two weeks.  They learned to suckle after that time and Annabella was a good mommy.

Four or so weeks later we noticed one of the pups (actually the biggest and fattest of the crowd) wasn’t eating as much and his one eyelid was drooping and the bones at the top of his head looked more pointy and changed shape. I took him to the vet and they took x-rays.


We named him Jack – after One-Eyed Jack. I came home with pain medication and no diagnosis and one very sick puppy. He began to hide under the table near my area where I sat on the couch. He was in pain and the bones in the top of his head kept changing size. Back and forth and back and forth I went with phone calls to the vet and they had no clue what was wrong.

Mind you, by this time we’d spent thousands of dollars for Annabella’s exploratory surgery, stay at the hospital, and Jack’s x-ray’s and vet visits. My husband mentioned putting Jack to sleep since he was obviously in pain and not getting any better and the bills were piling up.

I refused. Until I got a diagnosis I was not going to let that pupster die.

Several days later I got a call from the vet – one of the radiologists took another look at the x-rays of Jack’s head. All twelve of the vets had studied this at the university but not one of them had actually seen it for real.Jack

Jack had Cranial Mandibular Osteopathy. The bones in the top of Jack’s head were expanding and contracting (hence the horrible pain he was in) BUT, it was not a death sentence. It was a self-limiting condition that should heal on its own within several weeks.

The bones in Jack’s head (hence cranial) are a bit more pronounced than normal and nothing anyone would notice, BUT, he also grew a golf-ball sized bone (hence osteopathy) structure under his chin (hence mandibular) that you can feel but not see due to the excess skin in a labrador’s chin area. We decided not to take him to see a plastic surgeon for that.

We have our Jack with us six years later, along with his mum Annabella. He doesn’t mind being made fun of by other dogs for his chin lump. He’s a bit socially challenged due to his life when he was a baby, i.e. he gets upset if anyone in the family hugs each other, he likes to nibble delicately on my neck when he’s excited to see me, he barks the entire time you take him for a walk. I chalk up all these “oddities” to Jack’s lack of social interaction when he was a pup and in so much pain and so very ill.

He and I are inseparable.


moonoveralcatraz-200Brandy Chambers is looking forward to the birth of her first child.  She and Weston move from San Francisco to the small town of Alameda to start a family, she’s writing her second book, and Weston has a fantastic job working on the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge project.  Having this baby would make her already-wonderful life perfect.

But when the baby dies after a difficult birth, Brandy’s perfect life blows up in her face.  Stricken with grief, she and Weston pull apart.  This new distance leads them both to disaster.  Not until a chance encounter with her high school friend, Edward Barnes, does Brandy pull herself together.  Brandy and Weston agree to recommit to each other, striving to forgive infidelity and recreate their previous existence.

Everything is once again going according to plan–until Brandy discovers she’s pregnant.  While she struggles to cope with this new obstacle, Edward Barnes returns to town and discovers she’s having a baby, while Weston is torn between his love for his wife and his anger at her betrayal.  Can Brandy manage to keep her marriage to Weston together?  Will Edward be a part of Brandy’s life if she and Weston separate?





You can contact Patti at:

Twitter: @Patti Yager




Categories: Dogs and cats, Labs, Love, Puppies, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 15 Comments

Animals as Characters

Like most writers when working on a novel, I usually create detailed character sketches of the main actors in my stories. These will feature physical descriptions, often including pictures of people who look like the image in my mind. I also create family background, education, likes, dislikes, traumas, good times, and lots more. While most of this information never appears on the page, it is vital to envisioning a fully-fleshed character.

Since animalIMAG0335s often play parts in my stories, I also create histories for them, but most often I simply think of ones I have known. This is particularly true in my novel FOREWARNING. I modeled several of the animal characters on my own. In fact, in my first drafts I used their real names to keep their pictures in mind while I wrote. Only later did I change the names to protect the guilty. J

Even though the first horse we meet in Forewarning is named after my childhood buddy Star, she’s actually modeled after my husband’s horse. Like Koko, Star is a sweet, laid-back, bay Quarter Horse, who anyone can ride. Kasey uses her as an all-purpose horse, available to students and friends. In contrast, Paris, the escape artist, is a smart, high strung, energetic character, similar to my Portia. Her antics reflect how I would expect Portia to behave in a similar situation.

Goliath, Kasey’s faithful friend, is very similar to a dog we used to have. Tippy was a Border Collie cross and one of the smartest dogs I’ve ever encountered. Not very big, she nevertheless had the protective instincts (and bark) of a much larger dog. One time she even took on a Great Dane, who had to be three times her size, because she thought he was threatening one of the kids. We suspect her desire to protect may have caused her death. We came home one day to find the gate open and her gone. Later we discovered she had been hit by a car. Perhaps chasing an intruder?large__8489462528

The last animal directly modeled on one of ours is the cat Tiny. He’s a reflection of BK (barn kitty) who we acquired as a five week old bit of fluff. Like Kasey, I had been injured (by a friend’s horse kicking at mine and getting me instead) and was spending two weeks in a recliner with my leg elevated. My daughter brought home this tiny, scrawny kitten and he spent the first few weeks nestled against my neck. To our amazement, he grew into a monster of a cat with absolutely no fear of anything. Among other things, he loved to wrestle and play with our Siberian, Oreo. When BK was a kitten, the dog would let him crawl all over him, attack his tail, and even gnaw on a leg. As the cat got older and bigger, Oreo began to retaliate and the fun would begin. They really enjoyed playing with each other, although sometimes they got a little too rough for the house and I would have to kick them out.

If you were writing a story, do you have any animals that you’d include? Have any made a big impact on your life?



Cat photo credit: <a href=””>N’Grid</a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

Categories: Books, Dogs and cats, horse personalities, Horses, Romantic suspense, Uncategorized, writing characters | Tags: , , , , , , , | 21 Comments


We all want and need friends to share the ups and downs of our lives. Some may be family, some may be people we encounter along the way and some may even be animals. We treasure good friends and mourn their loss. Animals are the same way. They develop close friendships with their own species and with others. And they mourn when their friends go away too.

My family always small_6853393375had dogs and cats when I was a kid and they got along just fine. But it wasn’t until I was in high school that I saw a really close relationship between the different species. My mom had a little “dust mop” dog named Sandy and a big gray cat called Tom. (So, she wasn’t very inventive with names.J) The two of them got along great and loved to play. Tom would lie in the sun snoozing and suddenly Sandy would race across the lawn and run right over him. Of course, Tom jumped up and the melee began. They’d chase each other all over the yard, wrestle for a while, then run again until they were both exhausted. Then they stretched out, nose to nose and recouped. The next time it might be Tom who’d sneak up and pounce on a dozing Sandy. Watch out anyone who got in the way.

One day Tom didn’t come home after his night out and Sandy, who never left the yard, went looking for him. He found his friend in one of the new houses down the street where he’d been accidentally locked in overnight. Unfortunately, the next time Tom went missing we never found out what happened to him. Sandy mourned and moped around for weeks until Mom brought home a new cat to keep him company. But it wasn’t the same and they never wrestled and chased.

A few years back I saw a similar friendship develop between our dog and our two horses. Oreo was a typical Siberian Husky—loved everybody (worthless as a wsmall_389394090 cropatch dog) and always wanted to play. He spent most of his day down with the horses, where it was fenced, (he also loved to roam.) and they became good friends. He would become ecstatic whenever they ran and played. He’d run behind chasing them, then run ahead as they chased him back. The only problem was they didn’t want to play as often as he did, so he’d try to entice them into it. He’d dash up to them, yapping, and then crouch down with his butt in the air and bounce around in front of them, making an awful racket. If that didn’t work, he’d jump up and poke one of them in the nose or go around back and leap up to pull a tail. Eventually, he’d get a response. My horse Portia would come at him, striking out with her front feet. My daughter’s mare Duchess was much more dramatic. She’d flatten her ears and open her mouth and chase after him, looking like she wanted to kill him. He’d run away, looking over his shoulder with an idiot grin on his face. And of course, she never “quite” caught him.

They’d been together for three years when Oreo died in a freak incident. I wasn’t aware of how much the horses missed him until I brought home another Siberian a few months later. The first time I brought Trina down to see the horses, they raced up to us whinnying and nickering. Then they started sniffing poor Trina who had never seen a horse before. After a minute they stopped and got very puzzled expressions on their faces. It wasn’t Oreo. They hung around for a little bit, sniffing occasionally and then wandered off, totally uninterested in this new dog. The next day when I brought Trina down, they walked up to see us, took one sniff and left immediately. Even though she eventually lived with them far longer than Oreo, Trina never became their buddy. She couldn’t replace their friend.

Have you seen different animal pairing too? What’s the most unusual friend you’ve had?


Dog and cat photo credit: <a href=””>dugspr — Home for Good</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

Husky photo credit: <a href=””>randihausken</a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;


Categories: Dogs and cats, Horses, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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