Book Review: One Unforgettable Journey

I was recently honored with the request to write a book review! My friend, K.B. Lacoste, co-authored “One Unforgettable Journey” with Dan Stallings, and my obvious interest in all doggies meant I had the privilege of reading and commenting on their story. Pregnancy made reading the book take longer than I had hoped, but better late than never, right?

The first few pages of “One Unforgettable Journey” reminded me of many stories I have read over the past few years. They introduced a man whose life was changed by a dog. Some may think that dogs are just pets, or just animals, or simply companions that keep us from being lonely. But then there are men like Dan, who prove that just one dog can start a chain reaction that will completely change your life. He met a Weimaraner puppy who tugged on his heart’s strings, and the rest, as they say, “is history.”

Meeting this puppy turned into adopting the puppy, which turned into owning two puppies so the first puppy wouldn’t be lonely. (It’s funny how that happens – *cough-Fred&Angel-cough*)

Eventually, Dan abandoned his “real” job and became a certified dog trainer and opened a rescue for Weimaraners. Any man who opens a rescue for dogs gets the seal of approval, in my book.

Although it was hard to read about Dan’s first meeting with Maverick, I consoled myself with the fact that the story had a happy ending. What started as simple interest in a Weimaraner listed for sale turned into the rescue of a lifetime. The ad described the dog as a show dog, and that sparked Dan’s interest, since dog shows were a foreign idea at the time.

But the “show dog” he met was far from show-worthy. He was thin to the point of being emaciated, and every bone showed through his neglected frame. His nails were overgrown, his body showed wounds and sores, and it was clear he was terrified of his owners, especially the child who should have been his best friend.

I have grown to look at dogs as more than just pets, and the idea of poor little Maverick in this condition was heart-breaking. I have seen too many dogs and read too many stories of the disgraceful condition that’s a direct result of abuse and neglect. Have you ever met or seen a Weimaraner?

Such a handsome man!

They are athletic and proud, and are truly a beautiful creature. The mental picture painted in this story still makes me angry, for no pet should ever get to this point. But that mental picture proved that Maverick needed an intervention, and thank God Dan answered that ad.

The next few months were challenging and difficult, but Dan powered through. He made Mav his number one priority and pretty much neglected his “real life” in order to nurse the poor guy back to health. But he didn’t stop at just seeing Mav healthy again; he wanted his new buddy to thrive.

Dan knew that Maverick had originally been a show dog, and he wanted to give him a chance to compete again. I couldn’t help but admire him for taking on such a mysterious world, just because he wanted to see Maverick in his element. The stories of the dog shows are heart warming and humorous. There is just something about a dog’s happy ending that makes my heart smile, and Mav’s is no exception.

I strongly encourage you to read Dan and Maverick’s story. You can head over to Maverick’s Facebook page and give him a good “like.” The pictures alone will make you smile! You can also read more about where Mav is today, and see how far he has come on his journey.

That journey truly was unforgettable, and I hope you will read more. Who doesn’t love a good doggie story?


Love ~ Hate ~ Summer

It’s no secret that summer is my favorite holiday. Summer means trips to the beach, but it also means flip-flops and tank tops. Now that I’m 6 months pregnant, I’m getting a lot of sympathetic comments like, “Oh, I’m so sorry that you’re pregnant all summer!” I usually laugh and respond that I have handled the heat well, mostly because I can walk around in leggings, tanks and flip-flops and not be judged. I actually sympathize with those who are pregnant all winter, because their life consists of long pants, sweaters, coats (*shudders*) and closed-toed “real” shoes.

Bonus ~ only in summer can you can dress like a giant blueberry and accent it with a white cardigan and white pants!

Because, let’s be honest! I’m going to be sleep deprived, and if you’ve ever met me, you realize just how scary the beginning of this sentence really is.

Plus, my handsome Fred is definitely done with the itchies. As much as I love the warm weather, this dry season has made him quite miserable. I already spoil him rotten, but the added maternal instincts and hormones make me want to shake my fist at what causes his pain. Unfortunately that means summer has to leave us eventually.


“Nooooooo more itchies!”

For now, I’m going to enjoy the end of summer but actually look forward to the changing seasons. The end of summer, which usually brings sadness, is bringing the hope of something new…


…the joy of finishing a baby room…

…and the anticipation for our own little monkey.

And my husband is ready for football.

He’s a Redskins fan, shhhh….

Love and a Six-Foot Leash

Give a little bit of your love to Catalina Stirling.

Co-Founder and Director of Jasmine’s House Rescue in Maryland, Catalina’s name entered countless American living rooms through Jim Gorant’s bestselling book about the Michael Vick dog fighting case, Lost Dogs. Catalina’s patient, loving work with Sweet Jasmine — the most shut down of the Vick dogs released to rescue — was neither the beginning nor the end of her involvement in dog rescue, but rather a pivot point.

Catalina spent six months on the enormous-yet-tiny task of coaxing Jasmine out of a hole in her back yard, and many more months celebrating baby steps together — always moving forward. It was a precious, rare, patient, selfless love. After Jasmine died unexpectedly in 2009, Catalina filled part of the hole in her heart by opening Jasmine’s House Rescue with partner Kate Callahan. They envisioned a safe and gentle place for…

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Dogs Aren’t “Just” Anything


I wrote a post about Lennox a few weeks ago. Since then, I have prayed and hoped that somehow, he would be saved. Americans offered their homes, celebrities and politicians got involved, and hundreds of thousands signed petitions.

Lennox was killed today. He wasn’t put to sleep. He wasn’t euthanized. He was killed. All because he looks like a breed he isn’t, and because a council dug themselves into a hole too deep.

I went to bed with tears in my eyes because we read that he would be killed today. I remember waking in the middle of the night, suddenly, jolting out of sleep. I noticed my husband was awake too. I almost reached for the clock to see if it was that dreaded hour, but knew it would turn my already-hormonal self into a weeping disaster. Instead, I cuddled closer to Fred, felt comforted by the feel of Angel on my feet, and let sleep blissfully take over.

But this morning, I cried. I cried for Lennox’s family, the one who has fought for over two years for their darling pet. I cried for their little girl, who called him her world, her best friend. I cried for my own little girl who isn’t here yet, because the world I am bringing her into is one I am ashamed of right now.

Mostly, I cried for Lennox, who spent two years alone in a cell, with no human comfort and no reason to wag his tail. He died on a cold table without his family, and no one could ever explain to him why, even if they tried.

If you have ever referred to someone’s pet as “just a ____,” you haven’t felt the unconditional love of an animal. I used to be like that. I remember having a dog when I was younger, but I didn’t let myself become attached. The day my mom took him to the shelter, I cried like a baby. She wondered why I was so upset over an animal I didn’t seem to care much about.

I think even then, I knew that I could become “too” attached. When animals were hurt in movies, I cried. When other people’s pets died, I cried. I didn’t want to become attached because at one point, you always have to say good-bye.

A lot changed before I met Fred, but the day I met him, I was lost forever. Lost in his eyes and wagging tail, completely overcome with the love I felt from him and for him. My view of all animals changed, and I felt like my already-too-big heart grew three sizes. If it’s possible, it grew even more with the addition of Angel.

Pets, especially dogs, aren’t “just” pets. My dogs will never just be dogs. I have felt more love from them than from a lot of humans I know, and no matter how many times I yell or let them down, they are always there to cuddle me and lie on my feet. Always there to lick away the tears and give me a reason to smile and laugh.

RIP Lennox. I’m sorry we failed you. Humanity should be ashamed of itself today. We would live better and happier lives if we could learn to be “just” like our dogs.

Breezes, Beaches and Baby H

One of the advantages to getting married in the summer is you have a fantastic excuse to be at the beach for your anniversary. We were married on the Chesapeake Bay June 20th, 2009 and quickly jetted off to Turks & Caicos for our honeymoon. Every summer since then, we were in Bethany Beach, DE over our anniversary.

This summer, we had a nine-day adventure planned, and the husband kept saying, “This is our last summer to go nuts before the baby is here!”

Hmph. Perhaps he can go nuts, but I can’t drink, go in the water if it’s too rocky, or manage to stay up past 9pm.

Our first few days were very windy and chilly. I sat in my almost-too-low-to-get-out-of beach chair, wrapped in two towels and shivering, and thought about how I would still rather spend a cold day on the beach than a nice day anywhere else. It has always been my happy place.

Still better than being at work!

Once the weather started to get nicer, I was excited to go in the water. It’s not a complete beach day if I haven’t been in the ocean. But I quickly realized, being at the beach pregnant is a very different experience (along with the rest of life).

  • Your balance is compromised, and one strong wave can knock you on your butt, or worse, your belly! Paranoia won most days over the desire to get wet.
  • Tanning = dry, blotchy, gross skin. You need 100x more sunscreen, you burn in splotches, and you can develop brown spots anywhere. Sexy.
  • Everything is exhausting! You’re supposed to drink a ton of water, but when you are already peeing every half hour, the very thought of schlepping to the bathroom means you end up dehydrated.
  • Sitting under an umbrella for most of the day made me feel like a sell-out. But when the 100-degree-day hit, I was thankful for that shade. (And when I finally made it into the water, it was AMAZING!)
  • When all else fails, eat. Everything always tastes better at the beach, and despite feeling tired, sweaty, huge and hot (and not the good kind of hot), I did not shy away from stuffing my face.

Oh, the food! We ate at our favorite joints in Bethany, had our anniversary dinner at our favorite restaurant, Blue Coast, and managed to make two trips to Rehoboth Beach for Louie’s subs and Royal Treat ice cream. Salt air + beach days + Baby H = Yummy in the Tummy.

Alex even made a new friend on the boardwalk!

His name is Rex

And speaking of Baby H, right before we headed to the beach, we found out that it’s a . . .


Only the finest monkeys for our little monkey

I spent a chunk of vacation time dreaming about what color to finally paint her room. Nine paint samples later, we had a very blotchy wall but no decision. Think, think, think.

Alex had chosen a beautiful blue, but I only wanted it if Baby was a boy. I have never been a fan of all-pink rooms, and blue is my favorite color. I knew we could do blue, but felt limited with shades. We chose a few light, elegant, girly blues, but the last few days at the beach, I couldn’t get that original blue out of my head. After deciding to compromise with bright pink curtains (I don’t want this child thinking “Man, my parents wanted a boy”) we bought the paint, the job was done, and voila!

Pretty colors for a pretty little girl

















With a more-than-successful vacation under my belt, I’m starting to get really stoked about finishing her room. We are picking up the glider and ottoman soon, and hopefully the rest of the furniture will be in any day. My goal is to have this room done before our final weekend at the beach in August, if not much sooner.

And this time next year, I’ll hopefully have my new baby daughter on the beach, celebrating her parents’ anniversary, and getting her first taste of the Atlantic.

Life is good.



Fred and Angel joined me for our normal around-the-block walk this morning. I noticed a few people out and about, and passed a woman on the sidewalk. Now that I’m finally showing, I wondered if I was imagining her funny look or if it was really there.

I wondered if she was confused as to how I was walking these big, mean, vicious dogs, while pregnant, all by myself. I wondered if she was thinking the same thing people have flat-out said to me, “I hope you don’t have any children around those dogs!” I wondered if I was imagining her thoughts because I instantly take a defensive stance when I encounter other people while with my dogs. If someone smiles or (shock!) wants to pet them, I literally feel myself unclench and let that guard down.

It made me think of Lennox, a pit-bull-looking-dog in Northern Ireland. He was seized from his family two years ago. I imagine you are thinking, “Did he attack someone?” He didn’t. He didn’t lunge, growl, bite or pounce on anyone. He was seized because he looks like a pit bull.

Photo courtesy of “The Patrick Miracle”

He has been living, for two years, in a less-than-adequate shelter, surrounded by his own feces, while his family launched appeal after appeal. Their little girl wrote a letter to Santa, saying the only thing she wanted was for her best friend to come home.

Photo courtesy of Lennox’s family

But every judge ordered the same thing: that Lennox be put to death. For looking like a pit bull.

The best part? Lennox is not a pit bull. He is part American bulldog, part Lab. Do you know who else is part American bulldog?

“Lennox is my brother. :-(“

That’s right, our own handsome Fred. I shudder when I think of what I would be capable of if someone took him from me because of the way he looks. And I pray every day that no one has to find out.

If I could leave this world with one thing, it would be the image of me, pregnant, walking my two big, mean, vicious dogs. I want people to wonder how I can even do it, and then hopefully that small voice of logic will creep into their brains, telling them, “Because they are just dogs.”

The best dogs in the world.

Lennox as a puppy, in happier times. His sweet smile makes me cry.

Just . . . Stop

I am a self-proclaimed-crappy-journal-writer. When friends post blogs and pull lines or pages from previous journals, it makes me sad. Sometimes I can’t even read the blog. I have a few journals with scattered thoughts, tucked away in a box somewhere. But I do not possess notebook upon notebook. I have more than one, but only one or two that has actually been filled. Instead, all my thoughts are crammed into my head, and it’s no wonder I have a hard time shutting off my brain.

For background, I started out at a young age, writing anything I could write. I copied definitions from the dictionary, just to feel the pen or pencil glide across the paper. I started silly stories, wrote down the things that made me angry, and scribbled other nonsense that only an eight-year-old can dream up.

My scribbles were found, read and scrutinized. My stories were mistaken as a reflection of my real life, my angry ramblings were criticized, and my nonsense was taken out of context and almost ridiculed.

It was hard for me to write again, for a long time. And even though I have worked through a lot of the issues (although, not with the person who gave me the issues), I hesitate to journal.

I know my husband won’t go through my things or read my words, but someone else might, someday. What if I am brutally honest and write the things I am feeling while being pregnant, and my child reads it one day? What if I’m gone, and my words are found, but I can no longer defend my feelings or choices?

I was 14 when my aunt passed away, and her parents read her journals. I remember my mom telling me how upset everyone was by her words. That only increased my fear and anxiety.

I carry my journal in my purse but rarely try to fill its pages. I ache to write more, and the more I write little nothings, the more I want to write blogs, or dabble with the two main books in my head, or try to find a “real job” where I can write (in addition to, not instead of, my current job).

Yesterday I started to write more. It was glorious. I had started lugging my laptop to work again, but I know this will not be feasible when my stomach prevents me from seeing my feet. Sometimes I’ll send myself an email, filled with blog ideas, book excerpts or quotes I want to expand.

Maybe I should email myself my journal. Maybe that will help squash the fear until it’s completely gone. Will it ever be gone?

I won’t know until I stop being afraid. If I wake up every day and tell myself, “You are not afraid of your words being read,” perhaps I will start to believe it. Maybe it’s the same principle as “Choose to be happy, and you will be happy.” My inner snarky self is already laughing at me, knowing it’s hard for me to change.

I’m going to try anyway. I want to write about everything. The beach, working in bridal, basketball, being pregnant, my dogs, my loves, my life. The things I want read and the things I want to keep hidden. The good and the bad, the issues and the triumphs, the family who stayed and the family who flew away.

So I will. If someone reads it and gets offended, oh well. I will never be truly happy with all these thoughts in my head.

And maybe these darn headaches will finally give me some peace.