Tales from a Dog Catcher

Tales from a Dog Catcher

"In the tradition of James Herriot's All Creatures Great and Small and John Grogan's Marley & Me, Tales from a Dog Catcher is a humorous and heartwarming collection about love, laughter, loss, acceptance, and fate, in the world of an animal control officer."
- Publishers Marketplace"

...Writing in a style reminiscent of James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small, she recalls her experiences in 22 vignettes that dispel and replace stereotypes with an image of a compassionate individual concerned with animals and people alike. Like Herriot, she is a gifted storyteller and an astute observer.... At times amusing and heart-wrenching, this memorable book deserves wide readership. Highly recommended for public libraries. "
- Library Journal (starred review)

... In Tales from a Dog Catcher, she brings together these experiences in a magical book that is funny, touching, and heartrending by turns." - Amazon.com

"This is a wonderful book. I had a hard time putting it down. I was laughing and tearing up, sometimes at the same time! I didn't want it to end..."-Nina Killham, Bestselling Author of Believe Me, How to Cook a Tart, and Mounting Desire

"Having good writing skills isn't a prerequisite for getting a job as a dog catcher, but the two certainly make a good combination for the author of Tales from a Dog Catcher...Some stories are funny - some may move you to tears. I may be barking up the wrong tree, but I think they will appeal to animal lover's and even those who don't care for pets will enjoy reading about the eccentric people involved in these tales from a dog catcher." ...Phyliss Davidson - INFO Metropolitan Library System Magazine. Oklahoma

"Summer reading! Enjoy tales about hero hounds, crazy cats. Great dog books just made for Summer Reading! ... Here's a list of some of our favorite books ... Tales from a Dog Catcher by Lisa Duffy-Korpics is a collection of real stories about people and the animals they encounter...this book is in the tradition of "All Creatures Great and Small" by James Herriot. The stories are funny, sad, uplifting and even silly." ...Laurie Denger - Dayton Daily News. Ohio

"...In Tales from a Dog Catcher," author Lisa Duffy-Korpics recounts her years as an animal control officer in a series of fascinating and engaging stories...the stories can be funny and heartbreaking, often simultaneously...However, there is no shortage of entertaining encounters. Animal lovers will appreciate the candid tales, and enjoy a new perspective on an often unexamined profession."...Dog Channel.com

"Lisa's numerous on-the-job adventures are compiled in this collection of sad, charming, delightful and humorous short stories. ...Animal lovers of all ages will appreciate Lisa’s recollections of her memorable encounters with domestic animals and injured wildlife in the beautiful Hudson Valley." ...Rachelle Nones - Tri County WOMAN magazine. New York

Monday, January 20, 2020

One Good Day: Sharing the Moments that Illuminate Our Lives

Image result for grass growing up between sidewalk"
Andrew Paterson/Getty Images
  One Good Day

You never know when it's coming. It just happens. 
When a teacher in high school once asked our class what kind of flower we would be if we could choose, I said "I want to be the grass that grows up out of the sidewalk. It gets walked on. Nobody nurtures it or grows it on purpose. People want to get rid of it, but it keeps on growing because it's strong. It's resilient and always grows back. "It was silent in class for a moment and she seemed to be a little taken aback by my answer, but then she said "That's a good choice." It was an important day for me because it was a day where I'd made a huge discovery. I didn't have to be a victim. I could take charge of my own life. I could stop being angry. It was an important moment Those are the good moments you remember. The ones that will carry you when you're tired or want to give up. It was a good day

You think you learn everything when you're in your twenties, well at least you think you've learned everything when you're in your twenties. You start to shred unnecessary childhood burdens. Then you reach 30 and you realize that all you thought you knew when you were in your 20's might not be as important as you thought it was then. Some of it could be triggered when you have the responsibility of raising children for the first time. For me, that was 30. For others it may be earlier or later. It doesn't matter how they appear, whether in the delivery room, by marriage or adoption. To use a word I don't like because it's trendy  - maybe you're "woke". You realize a lot of what you thought you did on your own was actually in concert with a team of people from different times and places that opened doors and supported your goals and faded away once their job was done and never said anything to you about it. And you feel humbled but appreciative. You begin to realize that you've done that for others as well and it may not have occurred to you. That's a good day.

Then of course there's 40 but the time before and after that decade is when the many tasks of life makes everything a blur without much time to ponder what you've learned. It's quite literally, a race.


Then people get sick. Sometimes you get sick.  Your pets die. A parent dies. A brother-in-law. Another brother-in-law. A nephew. Aunts. Uncles. Students you taught. A few friends from childhood. Your child's friends to a tragic overdose. 

Then your last parent dies. 

Then everything is different. Who will love you unconditionally? You're the oldest generation in your family. You were the baby of the family. Now you don't know where you fit. Suddenly the grass sticking up out of the sidewalk is brown and cold and dry, covered with snow, made weak from too much being piled upon it. There's nobody standing in front of you anymore. It's not a good day. Probably not for a quite a while. But in time they'll return if you keep yourself open to them -knowing it's what your parents already knew and hoped to be around to see you learn and the grass will start to appear again in the Spring, and so will you.

You begin to become closer to those around you who are still here. You find more time and appreciation for your spouse who's been through the same and now there's less tasks that distracted you both before. You remember who they are outside of husband/wife/parent and wish you had been able to spend more time together and less time always having to work. You cling to your children at the same time they are attempting to spread their wings and begin their non-punctuated journey above - much the same as yours was. 

And then you're in your 50's and new words creep into your life- words like retirement, pension, grandparent, AARP (actually AARP has been unrelenting in their effort to creep in on your life what with all the mail, postcards, and ID cards, their very simply written magazine where each sentence has the fewest amount of syllables possible and interviews with celebrities who are at least 20 years older than you but "give interviews" to the magazine where actual quotes from them are limited to about 3 with much paraphrasing from the writer since there must only be 8 syllables a sentence  - because they believe their intended demographic is already in the beginning stages of dementia). 

Then Facebook sends you an ad to create your Legacy Page - for someone to control it when you pass away and you wonder: Why did Facebook send me this now? Is there something Facebook knows that I don't? I'm younger than Brad Pitt and I wonder if he's getting Legacy Set Up requests on Facebook? You start to buy more fruit and avocados because avocados will save your life according to the most recent edition of the AARP magazine. Brad Pitt probably eats a lot of avocados.

And then you start to get rid of things you once wanted that aren't so important anymore. You Marie Kondo the hell out of your closet and then have nothing to wear to work when Winter comes. You sometimes mistake the new teachers at your job as students. Many were. You have a student in your class who's parent you had in your class. Yesterday you were the energetic creative teacher who always knew the newest tech and practices -  and then realize at 56 you are now the senior member of your department.  Your children work at serious jobs with important responsibilities. That was the goal, right. Of course it was but yesterday you were at the park swinging them higher and higher as they squealed for more. A trip to the ice cream place was the ultimate treat. Now they don't eat sweets unless you count lattes and protein smoothies. You wish you could've stopped time to enjoy the ride more and not be forced to make it on time to the next item on your list of responsibilities. Then you remember regret is stupid. You spend time with your grandchildren and watch their every move with a sacred type of attention. Every moment you wished you'd had more of to fully enjoy with your own children- you have now. It's a bittersweet do-over. 

And then one good day a wave of wisdom washes over you. So much seems to make sense that didn't before. You wonder if it's the avocados but you realize it's exactly what your parents and grandparents told you. With age comes wisdom  -along with some unpleasant stuff but hey - wisdom.

You don't understand why younger people can't understand that regret is a waste of good time. That everyone struggles to get somewhere and it's the getting somewhere that matters and not so much whether the journey was straight and easy or zig-zag and difficult - but that you reach that goal and the journey to get there is unique to everyone and probably for a good reason you'll never really understand until the future. 

And if it was straight and easy- it doesn't make you better than someone's whose was crooked and hard. It's what you do to make a good life for yourself and the people you love that matters. If yours was straight and easier than you were probably enjoying the journey as well as making good choices. You were happy and secure. You were rewarded for your efforts. You felt accomplished. If it was crooked and hard then you likely struggled and didn't make all the best choices. You were probably unhappy and had struggles other's didn't understand. You were likely constantly reminded of your flaws  and felt like a failure. Ideally everyone would have a straight and easy journey, making all the right choices with a team of encouragement, hard work, motivation and rewards, but it doesn't make one right and the other wrong.  If everyone could choose - they'd choose straight and easier and happier but it doesn't work that way. Take if from someone who traveled through a dark twisting road to get to a place where the sun shines - with no applauding audience at the end of that road except for my silent intrinsic celebration of getting there in spite of many obstacles  -some from what life gave me and some of which I created for myself. 

If you think you made too many mistakes; look hard at them, learn not to repeat them and forgive yourself for things you can't change, recognize and overcome future obstacles with this knowledge and applaud your success as you go on with your life with optimism and joy. If you think you made none, look hard at yourself and recognize that you made mistakes as well and maybe some good luck, lack of obstacles and support helped you not make them again. Applaud your success and  and go on with your life with optimism and joy.  Each is the truth. Everyone makes mistakes. Most everyone can learn from them. Getting to that finish line means you have.  Judging people for any reason is a waste of mojo. 

Realize that what people post on social media and what their real lives are like is often entirely different than what they want you to see - and the energy that goes into that is so so sad and bad for everyone.  However I believe that keeping those connections with people from different periods of your life is good for you in so many ways - it reminds you of all the things you were and are still part of who you are and not just of who you often have to be now - but comparing your life to other's is counterproductive. The most important thing to look back on is whether or not people's lives were made better or easier by you. That you were kind. That you noticed when someone really needed a hand and you offered it with no thought of yourself even if it was inconvenient or you were tired. That you gave without any expectations. That you've earned the love and trust of others -of children and animals. 

One good day you realize it's pretty easy to be unhappy, and it's a lot of work to be happy.   Recognizing your loved ones as individuals and not just offshoots of yourself. Cutting everyone some slack because this is a finite game and so many negative things we fixate and bind ourselves with is just preventing happiness. 

Having regrets is human, but dwelling on them is throwing time away with both hands. That resentment is the antithesis to happiness. That happiness doesn't happen to you - you happen to it. 

People will hurt you, unintentionally or on purpose. Learn to recognize the difference.  Give yourself time to recover from heartbreak. Then go forth wiser and healthier.  Don't  sacrifice your identity for love because then that's not love - but compromise is good.  Forgiveness is good if it's authentic and goes both ways. Sometimes it's easy and sometimes it's hard. It's not a song lyric. It should never seek to hurt or control. It's always with the best interest of the other at heart. Love is not a word. It's an action.

And one good day you start learning again. You learn new things. You learn you're not always right. You learn to say less and listen more. You learn people who say mean spirited things about others reflects more on their character than the people they're talking about. You realize that people who do that are often looking to feel better about something inside themselves they can't fix and you can love them, but you don't have to join them. You realize that you're all in this together but maybe nobody understands this until they get to where you are. You realize that people older than you know more than you do and that they're letting you talk and listening more because they get that already. Listen.

One good day you'll recognize that most of the people who loved you as a child are precious and as time goes by their numbers decrease.  People show you who they are if you watch with clear eyes. Nobody is ever all one way. Expecting that from someone else is unrealistic. Try expecting that from yourself first. See. Not a thing.

And you watch the younger generation struggle with all that and hope they take it easy on themselves and others because all that mess is hard. And you hope they'll be okay - but they have to stumble through this regardless. It's just how it is. They have to find their good days themselves. You'll be here if they need you as you always have and as long as possible -at least as long as you keep eating avocados 

And we wish we could show you  - those who are younger who we care about - Maybe even those who are older but haven't figured it out yet. Often, even if most of the time we realize all of this - we still have to show ourselves sometimes. We know you'll have to figure that out on your own the same way we did.  It just happens on one good day. Actually multiple good days that come throughout the years often separated by great spans of time. Maybe that day comes to everyone when they can recognize it.

One good day. It can be sooner or later- but the sooner the better because why not. Why not?

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Summer Reading Themes - Try Something Less Human

photo courtesy of climigration.org
I'm a real sucker for those "Best Summer Reads" ads you see proliferating everywhere - on Amazon, Facebook Ads - magazine articles. Of course what represents a desirable Summer Read is entirely subjective.

For those going on vacation - easy, simple romance. "I hate him - he is awful but has an incredible looking (fill in the blank)." Followed by the well meaning friends who see what the character cannot see even though it's obvious because she/he - okay- just she. I'm sticking to she because it's always she no matter how politically correct you're attempting to be. It's just a thing. I think perhaps a "he" would notice those " heated glances", "random meetings","nuanced phrases with subtle innuendo","goosebump resulting accidental physical contact" while passing through the doorway on the way to the kitchen to get the home-made lemonade everyone seems to have on hand for these situations.  

This is followed by the inevitable miscommunication - followed by some conflict which elongates the realization that they are in love (after the requisite 3 days.)  It's a proven recipe as evidenced by all the romance movies set in Southern beach towns my daughter made me binge-watch last week when she was home visiting.

For others it's time to settle down with a good mystery. For a few years Psychological Thriller was my Summer Read. Nothing says  summer read like psychopaths with razors but who still have an "incredible looking (fill in the blank)". For a few years I realized that I needed some help after I gave all my post-vacation paperbacks to my friend at work after the summer and she said "Can you stop this Grief/Death Genre thing - it's starting to get to me." It had been a good thing for a while otherwise I wouldn't have gravitated to it - but her comments really woke me up. It was time for a change.

So if you happen upon this blog - which I hope you do - why not try an uplifting, heartwarming, heart-wrenching, thought provoking yet still at the same time hysterical Summer Read. Instead of physical exercise  - you can raise your heart rate running the emotional gamut while still lounging by the pool. Then you can go  and spoil and appreciate your pet - or perhaps even rescue one when you're back home. In this particular book, (maybe the sequel will improve upon this missing part - let me know what you suggest -really - I'd like to hear what you think), there are really no "incredible looking (fill in the blanks) like in the above examples of Best Summer Reads; unless you're admiring a shiny coat of fur, perky ears, spunky personality, bright eyes, healthy teeth or lovely new collar.

I promise though - all the emotions expressed in Tales from a Dog Catcher which is a narrative non-fiction book -  based on my real-life experiences as a young female Animal Control Officer for a Police Department in the Hudson Valley in New York State in the mid 1980's - are real.

And you won't need a well meaning friend who always has home-made lemonade on hand to help you notice them.

Although that never hurts.

As always - I wish you all the best. Have a great summer anywhere and anyway possible. -LDK

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Finding a Home for You and Your Four-Legged Buddy

By Cindy Aldridge

Photo by Pixabay
Sometimes life throws us curveballs, and we have to move — whether it’s to be closer to family or for a new job in a new city - when it comes to buying a house, you need to find the best fit for you and also your pooch. If you add just a little bit of extra thought and planning, you’ll soon find yourself enjoying your new home with your four-legged friend.

Selling Your Home

First, you have to sell your house. Find a trusted real estate agent and communicate your needs with him or her. An important step in selling your house is to stage your home. Clean up clutter, brighten up dark corners, get rid of personal decor, and hide all signs that your pet lives there (as much as you can, anyway). Staging your home makes it easier for buyers to envision themselves there, and it could help the home sell faster and for more money.

Keep Your Dog in Mind When Finding a New Home

While shopping for a home, keep your dog in mind. Look for a fenced yard, or if there isn’t one, find out if you can add one. Just keep the cost of adding one in mind when putting together your household budget. For example, the average price of a wood fence installation in Bowie, MD, is between $1,850 and $3,766.

A nice, big backyard is preferable, but it isn’t necessary. It all depends on you and your four-legged friend. Check out the flooring, too. Some flooring is better when it comes to pets. Carpet might seem ideal, but if you’ve ever house-trained a puppy or cleaned up after an elderly dog, you know that carpets can add complications — and hold on to smells. It’s better to look for hard floors such as hardwood, tile, or concrete. If you have an elderly dog, pay attention to the stairs. Sometimes it’s difficult for older dogs to climb them, so if there are steps, consider whether you can add ramps for your aging, arthritic pup. For example, you can pick up a portable ramp from Amazon for around $90.

Pay Attention to the Neighborhood

Keep an eye on the neighborhood, too. A dog-friendly neighborhood will have lots of people out enjoying time with their animals. You’ll see sidewalks, parks, pet supply stores, vets, and dog parks. If you can, ask the neighbors about dogs in the area. You also want to consider how far your home will be from work. If you can’t get home during the day, you may have to hire a dog walker to give your pup a potty break (a half-hour walk usually costs $18 - $22).

Moving with Your Dog

If your move is local, take your dog to the new house along with some of his favorite toys and treats. This way, he can sniff around and get familiar with the home, and the treats and play will help him associate the house with good times. If your move is long distance and an early visit isn’t possible, take your dog for a brisk walk before you take him inside. Then take him in on his leash and show him around the home. He’ll want to sniff everywhere, and that’s OK. He’s learning his surroundings.

When moving day arrives, you should consider sending your pup to a dog sitter to get him out of the way. This is also good for your dog because seeing all his beloved belongings and furniture taken away can be stressful. Having people coming and going from your home can result in open doors and other dangerous situations for your pup. And if your moving date is flexible, consider scheduling your move on a slow weekday. By doing so, you will be less stressed, and so will your pet.

Pack his things last and unpack them first. The sooner he is in his new spot the better, so he can be near the things that are familiar to him and start to adjust. Don’t wash his toys, beds, or blankets. The familiar scents will calm him. Don’t forget to take breaks from unpacking to play with your dog. He’s under a lot of stress, so reassurance that he isn’t losing his loving family is key. Plus, spending time with him helps him get the idea that this is his new home.

Start his regular walking routine as soon as possible. While walking, allow him some extra time to sniff around so he can get the lay of the land. He’ll be experiencing all-new smells in his new home, so it’s both exciting and scary for him.

Once you’re settled, your pooch will curl up next to you and be just as happy as he was before the move. After all, he’s still got you, and that’s what matters most.

About the Author: 
Cindy Aldridge is a freelance writer and dog loverShe started Ourdogfriends.org as a fun side project for herself and to educate pet owners and potential pet owners about how dogs can enrich our livesShe enjoys writing about dogs and pet ownership.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

The Lyon Press, Guilford,Connecticut
The Lyons Press is an imprint of The Globe Pequot Press
Cover design by Georgiana Goodwin
Cover photographs © Shutterstock

Printed in the United States of America
US $16.95 / CAN $19.95
Tales from a Dog CatcherDuffy-Korpics © 2009
Dewey: 636.7
Dogs — New York (State) — New York — Anecdotes. Dog rescue — New York (State) — New York — Anecdotes. Duffy-Korpics, Lisa