Friday, September 30, 2016


As I was writing I Want to Have the Heart of a Dog and reflecting on my time with Max, I now see missed opportunities to learn and make different choices.

If I had been aware of the lessons Max was mirroring for me–situations in my own life that made me feel shame or were not allowed by my family culture–perhaps I could have released them and dropped the weight of those emotions.

Many years later, I still wonder if I'm missing opportunities to learn. However, I am very aware I can learn many lessons from my dogs. I hope you are also tuned in to what your pet might be trying to teach you.

Sunday, September 25, 2016


“It wasn’t my role to be cute and cuddly…” my Max told me when I was writing I Want to Have the Heart of a Dog.

Um, right. Max arrived at our house with a habit I didn’t appreciate: humping the legs of humans. 

This was back in the days when I was still learning about dog behaviors and their causes, as well as before I animals were talking to me, so I simply tried to prevent this activity by side-tracking Max before he zeroed in on his next victim. If he was faster than me, I corrected the behavior and distracted him to do something else while I apologized profusely to the human.

Since then, I’ve shared space with dogs who had other bad habits, such as chewing windowsills, fear biting, resource guarding, seemingly aimless barking in a shrieking pitch that literally makes your head hurt, sticking doggie noses into the private parts of humans--

Well, you get the picture. 

Max said I showed compassion for him and realized bad habits didn’t make him all bad. The lesson was to also show compassion for my own bad habits. It took many years to reach the point of not beating myself up, and I still need occasional reminders about this. However, this has been much more useful in changing habits than being harsh with myself. 

How about you? Is there a habit you would like to change? Have you tried loving acceptance of a bad habit while changing it or replacing it with something more beneficial? 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


September 18-24 is National Dog Week, celebrated the last full week in September—“and any time you like!” according to the official web site. Started in 1928 by Captain William Lewis Judy, National Dog Week was “established not to bring more dogs into the world but to create more responsible dog owners.”

This year’s theme is “Readers Unleashed: Promoting Literacy with K9s.” Very appropriate for a writer like me who loves dogs! Have you ever read to your dog? Give it a try, you might both like it!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


Some of my doggies--past and present

POSTED BY: Genie Gabriel

As I mentioned in Max’s introduction on September 1, “He taught me the joys of having more than one dog.”

Two dogs keep each other company, give twice as many cuddles, and don’t eat that much more than one. 

The danger is becoming addicted to rescuing dogs!

When I went to work at the local animal shelter, I couldn’t resist the lure of helping dogs by becoming a foster parent. The problem came when it was time to take my foster furbabies back to the shelter to be adopted. I loved them! Why wasn’t their new furever family waiting when this doggie walked in the door? I missed them so much!

Yep, my career as a doggie foster parent crumbled fast. I adopted my second foster dog. 

With my doggie count at three, I figured my fostering days were over. Then an outbreak of kennel cough swept through the shelter. Doggies were finishing up their medications and showing no signs of illness, but going crazy in the kennels until their time in isolation was up. To give them a sanity break, three foster doggies came home with me, bringing my doggie population to six. Not as overwhelming as I had once thought. 

This opened the door to adopting more doggies in addition to fostering. At one time my doggie count reached nine, and I decided it didn’t make sense to work at the shelter when I had a mini-shelter at home. 

Some challenges were obvious from the start, such as the cost of food and vet bills. Each dog also needed individual attention and grooming every day. Sometimes squabbles erupted into fights. 

Being an animal communicator, Reiki master, and life-long dog lover gave me several advantages in living with multiple dogs. However, I wasn’t prepared for the emotional challenge of multiple dogs growing older at the same time. Sometimes the day-to-day toll of caring for an aging doggie who might be incontinent or suffer seizures or have a tumor that wouldn’t heal seemed overwhelming. 

Yes, I know our canine companions live forever in our hearts, are always with us in spirit, and may even come back in a different furry body. However, I still deeply grieve the loss of their physical presence. Every. Single. One.

We lost one of our pack at the end of August, and an unusual quiet settled over our household—at least some of the time. The herd still grumbles about how slow I am fixing breakfast. They still chase the squirrels that taunt them by racing along the top of the fence. They still follow me outside when I work in the back yard or settle in my office when I’m at the computer. 

Yet late at night when I’m wrapping up “one more thing” before going to bed, that quiet settles over the house again and I wonder if the other dogs, like me, are offering up prayers and love for our Ebony Rose. 

If you’re going to have multiple dogs, you will have multiple losses. However, you will also discover multiple joys, blessings, and lessons. If you’re willing to take the multiple dog challenge, this will be an unforgettable experience!

Sunday, September 4, 2016


Sunday, September 4 is EAT AN EXTRA DESSERT DAY!

How to celebrate? Well, indulge in a double helping of your favorite dessert, of course!

Thursday, September 1, 2016


“Max was a cheerful little dog, rather like a silky-haired shepherd crossed with a Dachshund. He taught me the joys of having more than one dog…”