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

Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Cat Who Came to Thanksgiving in 2015

I have a story - it's happy and then tragic -then it was okay for a while - but because of some amazing people at the Woman's job - it's now a great story. My name is T-Kitty (that name was chosen by the Man here - I didn't choose it nor did the Woman but it does sound sort of like a cool rap name so I'll keep it).

I have my own Facebook Page and 54 friends - some of whom live in other countries because I'm that intriguing. I also have human friends in my neighborhood who don't even know the names of the  Woman and Man who own this house. They should get out more.  I have very particular opinions about most everything and I love everyone. Really.

I was a much loved kitten. I had a Mom - she was an older  human but she was great and we were happy. Then one day a white truck with flashing lights came to take her away and she never came back. So I waited. And waited. Then the house became cold- there was nobody to let me in so I moved into the basement since there was a hole in the foundation and I could come and go as needed. The neighborhood humans fed me a lot but they all had dogs who didn't like me so I just stayed in my home waiting for my Mom to come home. I waited for 4 years.  One day this other woman comes by in a big car and calls over to me in a snowstorm. I came running over because she looked like she might have snacks and she scooped me up and took me away to another home, but this one was warm and the lights were on and there were a lot of people there who were petting me and feeding me some great food and I fell asleep on some fuzzy blankets. The next morning I had my own bowls filled to the brim and I thought - maybe my Mom wasn't coming home but she somehow sent these people to take care of me. I waited for my Mom for years living in a condemned house in the cold. Now I've lived here in this warm house for 4 years and I have a wonderful new family.

I will always love her - but because she loved me so much I am very affectionate and happy and adaptable. I sometimes give the Man and Woman here a hard time because they need the exercise, but to be honest - I think of them as my new Mom and Dad and Sister and Brother and even a tiny human who is my best friend.

It's great to meet you. I have to go have a snack and take a nap. I may go out a bit and run around in my yard for a while since the sun is shining, but I'll be back to chat now and again.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Support legislation to keep dialysis patients insured. Tell Congress to pass H. R. 3976

This is not a dog story.

Kathleen with about 15% kidney function 1960's
This is not witty or heartwarming - but it has a happy ending. A happy ending the President of the United States Richard Nixon gave to our family in the form of signing H.R.1 in 1973.

He gave me my mother back. And right now there is a risk that Medicare covering people with End Stage Renal Failure could be impacted by our existing administration. So what can I do, a simple writer and teacher. Here is what I can do. I have a platform. A small platform, but nonetheless a platform. And just like celebrities who use theirs for political causes on award shows I'm using mine for the millions of people who are only alive because they have access to dialysis.

My Mother told me hours before she died "Make sure they know Lisa - you write it and make sure everyone knows." and I never really knew what she meant by that. What she would want "them" to know? There is so much. And maybe someday I will understand and do what she asked  - and in a way maybe this is it? However right now I'm going to use this platform to tell you about my Mother. The short version is posted on facebook to generate support for passing H.R. 3976. The longer version - the story of my Mom and our family and how we almost lost her is here. I will send this link to the House in hopes that a story of pain and death and loss was changed for a story of life by another H.R. Bill in 1973. That they can act with compassion as well and the best parts of their humanity may be affected somehow by my story. A story they can also be the heroes of that voted for my Mom's life 45 years ago.

In 1972 my Mom's kidneys finally began to fail. She was 28 years old. The doctor sent her home to prepare to die, but she'd known they were failing since she was a young teenager and was able to adjust her diet and liquid intake and live on 10% less kidney function for years. She'd make it last again. In the following months it became clear that she was running out of options.  In 1973 at the age of 29 she ran out of time.

They prepared my Dad for her death, how he would know it was imminent, what he could do, how it would look, how long it would take, how he should keep me away from her in the last stages because it would frighten me,  (she would seize, it could be months or days, she'd hallucinate, she'd swell from uremia, she'd no longer recognize me, she'd gasp for breath, she could become combative - death from kidney failure is not a peaceful death unless you're medicated into unconsciousness which didn't seem like an option in the 1970s).

Let me reinforce one thing here. She was a  29 year old beautiful talented young woman, wife and mother, healthy in all other ways. Dialysis existed. It would save her. It was too expensive.

She starting furtively writing me urgent notes with handwriting that looked like scribble, hiding them for fun and telling me I could read them later "like a scavenger hunt in the future" she said.  She finished sewing costumes for my school play because my teacher said "She doesn't look sick and you promised". They did not want my teacher to know the entire story since she could speak out-loud about it in front of me and I'd hear things they didn't want me to know -  and they didn't trust her. There is a special place in hell for that teacher. 

My Mom taught me all about things that Moms usually wait to talk to their daughter's about when they're young teens.

She left tiny notes in my dollhouse for me to discover over time, supposedly written by the characters from "The Borrowers", my favorite book at the time, that would explain that they were going to be there to watch over me for my Mom as long as I needed them. She made my Dad stock up on books - all the James Herriot's - made him promise to get the Stephen King's when they came out. They'd read them together on Friday nights at our house. I had joined in moving up from children's to adult books. It was sometimes silent in my apartment on Friday nights - all of us quietly reading. Those are my favorite memories.

They tried to help prepare my Dad to discuss it with me but he couldn't. He thought he'd be able to fix this somehow. Our extended family tried to help but they both pushed them away. This was something they both agreed on - that this experience was going to be private, that everything be as normal as it could be until it no longer was. I'm sure they were frustrated because everyone knew something was wrong and wanted to help - I know they were but it was intentional on their part. I  only learned that a few years ago as an adult when my father told me this. They deliberately isolated us from friends and family as best they could. They didn't want me to hear anyone who might accidentally speak about it. They were going to hang onto normal as long as possible. One night it no longer was normal. An ambulance came. A day later my father brought my mother home and she went into her bedroom and didn't come out anymore. My father paced back and forth and kept calling people. I begged him to let me go in the bedroom and I'd hear her shout no from down the hall. 
I heard moaning and crying and talking that made no sense. My Dad told me she was having a nightmare and sent me outside to play. I sat in the hallway in the building and listened. I listened to him trying to comfort her and and her screaming out and then crying. I listened to my father cry.


I found out later they'd sent her home to die. My father was panicking and called my grandfather's doctor who had started to regularly call him after a visit with my Grandfather and had been very insistent on knowing more about my mother. He knew that we needed help now that the reality of it was upon him. He called, relatives came for me. That doctor came right away to our house in the middle of the night and called several people at Westchester Medical Center. (formerly known as Grasslands in Valhalla, NY), The ambulance was taking too long, He picked her up and drove her in his own car to Westchester County Medical Center.

H.R.1 had just passed and it was 1973. A miracle had happened. The President had signed into law that kidney failure at any age requiring dialysis be covered under Medicare. It was almost too late for her, but she was a survivor. It should've been too late at that point in uremic poisoning. She was in systemic organ failure by the time she was in the ICU. There was more than one miracle in those chaotic weeks. 

Kathleen with me before my 8th Grade Concert
For this to be turned back at this day and age - or limited in some way so that the government can save money on dialysis patients is beyond reprehensible to me. 

You may ask if we had insurance? Yes, we did. Good insurance from my Dad's job at a bank but my mother had a "pre-existing condition". They wouldn't pay. It covered him and it covered me. It would not cover her in anyway. So we never bought a house or went on a vacation or did many things families did because my parents chose life. And life is expensive for a person with kidney failure. So they knew that this was a waiting game, to live in the moment and hope for a miracle. Life is hard for many people - living under a toxic cloud of fear impacted them both irreparably - all of us I believe.  As much as I was deliberately kept from the information as much as possible,  I was a smart child. I knew something was wrong and I pretended for them that I didn't. I overheard things I never shared with them. They needed that.
Kathleen at 40 Getting ready to go to dialysis

Dialysis costs are more than the treatment. There are the medications, the tests, the equipment, the transportation. Life changes - and all of it costs. If you are fortunate enough to get a transplant the drugs are not always covered under Medicare. If you actually own a home or have any assets then be prepared to liquidate. Things may have changed in years since under Obama's no longer allowing pre-existing conditions clauses in insurance.  I do not believe that is something we can rely on anymore. Things you expect to keep you safe, alive - are being attacked daily. And we all sit here and wait thinking "Well they can't do that". I'm sure in Germany in 1935 many people sat in their homes feeling safe thinking "Well surely they can't do that."

This is long. You may not share my politics. That doesn't matter. What matters here is that these are our families through no fault of their own relying on dialysis to continue living, being parents, children, employees, spouses, friends. I apologize for the length of this but felt compelled to share this. This is my small platform - and I'm using it. I do this for anyone and everyone who has been down the road my family has - some of us know each other in real life and on FB. 

I share this in support of my Mother. Kathleen Rita Finnell Duffy 1941-2003. 

Those numbers cause me a great deal of pain -  but it's the dash between them that makes the difference. The dash that included wonderful memories, elementary school graduation, middle school dances and concerts, much needed motherly advice, having my friends know and confide in her, my cousins hanging out with their Aunt Kathy - the cool Aunt who tried to keep them out of trouble, (and sometimes got them in trouble),  high school and college graduations, holidays and laughter, tears and long discussions,  advice on raising her two grandchildren and never to wear lilac and moisturize more , the opportunity for my children to have a memory of their grandmother...and I had a Mom. Too much to write here Because We. Had. More. Time.
Kathleen with her first grandchild 1994. Her second would arrive
in 1996. They got to know each other.

But without H.R.1 the numbers would've said 

Kathleen Rita Finnell Duffy 1941-1974. 

The dash made all the difference.

In support of everyone living with ESRD and in memory of all who lived courageously for as long as they could with it. In Memory of my Mother Kathleen - the longest surviving continuous dialysis patient in New York State.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

9 Reasons to Tolerate your Mom When you are Returning from or Leaving for College

     You had a year of firsts! You lived on your own for almost a year, bought your own food, (sorta), came and went as you pleased whether it was in a town not far from home, a bustling urban mecca or a rural campus in another state where most of the students used words like “Pop” for soda or “Grinder” for a sub – your Mom was with you every second you were away, wondering if you were okay during the day, eating enough, being safe, trusting the right people, meeting new people she hasn’t known since they were 8 years old, rebounding from the inevitable hurt that comes with being a young woman and stepping into the world of relationships, getting enough sleep, feeling sick or sad. Everything you felt, your Mom felt too but was powerless to intervene, help or console you. Maybe for the first time you felt powerful; but your Mom felt powerless.

2 2. Even if you were an independent sort; your Mom still knew where you were, could slip into your room to watch you sleep (only for a second, okay two seconds; it’s not creepy – it’s sweet and you’ll get it someday when you have your own kids). Your Mom was still a Mother who had her children living in her home. Even though she knows you’ll always love her; she was sort of demoted from MOM to mom. Evidently that’s the goal of parenting; but it still hurts no matter how proud you are.

3 3. It’s a year of new beginnings for you, but your Mom likely focused on the year before – a year of endings that were exciting and memorable and bittersweet. They were even more so for you –but for you they signaled a door closing only for another more exciting door to open. In a way your Mom felt the closing of the door in an entirely different way; yet cheered you on, allayed your anxiety and tried to make the transition as smooth as possible. She knew that this was the last door you would walk through together as a pair. You were too busy and excited to realize it, as it should be. It was hard to not think about the first time you walked into a school holding hands when you were so resistant to let go. The ease at which you were eager to let go now was a sign of success….job well done….the creation of a self assured confident young woman such as you. It was still bittersweet.

4. A lot of the fun, the friends, the laughter, the noise and even the drama that followed you made life interesting and exciting – if at times a bit exhausting. It was a cloud of joy that followed you wherever you went and when you left; the silence was deafening.

5 5. She may not understand there are new boundaries right away…she will. Give her time and confide in her when you feel comfortable doing so because she will carry your secrets to her grave which is a promise all best friends make and keep – you’ve moved into an additional category - daughter/best friend. Respect that. It’s sacred. Give her some slack because she understands that there are some secrets that are yours alone – because she was your age once too. It is essential that every woman should have some great secrets to look back on when she’s 80. Your mother does, as did hers, and hers before – these are the times when you make them.

6 6. She’s learning too. Just like you are growing from a girl to a woman and then sometimes want to crawl back into the comfort of just being a girl, your Mom understands that and doesn’t see it as a weakness. If you need to, and you probably will, have to push her away at times to become who you are; she may need to be reminded of this. Don’t worry about offending her because she understands but it may take a while for her to accept it. She gets it because she remembers what it’s like to be 19, 20, 21 and the risks, dangers, incredible joy and excitement that waits behind every corner. She gets it because as old as she is; she sometimes feels that way too. It’s the inherent nature of being a woman – you are never too old to need your Mom.

7 7. You Mother loves you more than herself. That never changes. It may be annoying but as you get older you will understand and appreciate it more because when you’re young you just accept it as fact. Unfortunately, you may only understand it once she’s no longer here – but realize that she knew you would. There is a saying that having a daughter, (or a son), is like wearing your heart outside your body for the rest of your life. It’s a terrifying beautiful feeling that you will understand one day all too well and if life smiles upon you; you may get to share that together.  Give her a hug, a Starbucks drink and promise not to text and drive and she’ll leave you alone for a while.

8 8. So, if your Mom is driving you a bit crazy right now, realize it’s because she’s feeling a bit crazy right now. Actually; she is a bit crazy right now but try and remember when you were 6 and made up a story and told your whole school your family was going on a 10 day cruise for 50 dollars a person and everyone’s parents and teachers called her to find out how she got this great deal and she covered for you. She had your back then.  

S 9. She’ll have it forever.

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Summer I Grew Up; Living With Your Eyes Open - Guest Author Emma Korpics

Emma in 2009
Years ago I featured my daughter as a guest blogger on this site. Tales from a Dog Catcher had just been published and I think she may have been going into 5 grade. We were on vacation in North Carolina and I interviewed her as my guest celebrity. It was then that I realized how funny she was...not in that cute little kid kind of way, but edgy, witty, tongue in cheek funny. 
Here's the blog post from 2009.

Emma in 2016
Emma doesn't let people in until she's very comfortable with you. It's an honor really - harder to achieve than the Pulitzer. But when she does; it's totally worth the wait. As time went on she started to let others know she was funny - and then onto high school where she gained a reputation for being hysterical, quick and witty. She also could sing and dance like she'd had years of training - something else she'd mostly been keeping to herself. She was in select choir in elementary and middle school - she didn't even tell us she was auditioning. She was in the high school choirs, select, chamber, show choir...she was in the Musicals. We were lucky if she even told us when these concerts were. She was amazing. and even though it has been a number of years now since she's begun to allow the world to see this side of herself; I'm still constantly surprised. 

SO...Just when you thought that was it; there was more. I'm finding that she can express herself as well on paper as she can on a stage. I had an idea she could do this - but I didn't know to what extent. That she could cause me, a 53  year old cynical seasoned (better than old) adult to stop and pause and really reevaluate my thinking....my perception of life.

"You don't realize how fast life is going until you really look into how much time has passed between each memory. I think about when I was sitting in the car as my mom drove me around because I didn't have a license. It feels like that was simultaneously yesterday and a lifetime ago.

...Obviously once you leave home and you fave to fend for yourself (for the most part), you start to grow as an individual. However, I'm not talking about individuality or relying on yourself - but growing up in the context of perception....time is precious and every minute has to be taken advantage of -and in this I have found a way to make an experience out of everything."


July 25, 2016
The Summer I Grew Up
Living with your eyes open.

Emma Korpics
WWW.THEODYSSEYONLINE.COM Photo Credits: Emma Korpics


Sunday, May 8, 2016

Tea Party in Heaven

Laila:"Janie, Janie..Jane Elizabeth Morgan are you eating enough vegetables? Coffee is not a food group. What's wrong with these girls...don't you think by now they would be able to handle these things themselves. I bet they don't know we can see from up here."

Kathleen "I know. I just saw Lisa eat cake for dinner with cool whip, like she thinks I couldn't see that. At least she finally bought moisturizer and it only took her 20 years to do it. They both need to slow down and take care of themselves. At least she's neater now, except her closet....I can't even begin to tell you....."

Laila: "Oh. I remember that closet.”

Man, (newer arrival) appears with Scottish Cap: "Oh, you have no idea how bad that closet really was." Both those girls thought they got a lot by me....sneaking cats into the apartment. Hey, did you know that there are no calories in cake here?

(Passes entire pepperidge farm cake over to Laila and Kathleen.)

Laila: Oh, I can't. I'm diabetic

Kathleen: Oh, I can't, too much potassium and magnesium "

Man with cap: "Ladies, I've only been here a short time but I know something you don’t....you can eat whatever you want now. It's okay."

All sit down and start eating cake. Blueberry Hill plays in the background.

 Laila: "Thanks Fats!"

Kathleen: "Nice of Fats Domino to stop by".

Another man with a Scottish cap comes over, with each step he leans towards the right, walking sort of sideways. He’s kicking a soccer ball. Sits down.

2nd Man with Scottish Cap: "Aye, you'll be having the kettle on won't you.?"

Kathleen: Oh I’m so glad to see you! And you brought your soccer ball.”

2nd Man in Scottish Cap: “It’s a football”.

Kathleen: “OH!” I’m sorry, I forgot for a minute”

Two lovely lassies come over and join the group. They’re wearing pretty dresses and linking arms.

Kathleen: "Tea?"

Ladies: Aye, a wee bit. Some cake too. There's no calories here. Do you have any scones?’

2nd Man in Scottish Cap pulls a bag out of his pocket. “Of course girls….I wouldn’t forget that. I brought these just for you."

The Lovely Lassies start giggling and chatting, and laughing harder at their private jokes. They’re quite the riot together.

2nd Man in Scottish Cap Looks around. "Have you a piano around here, preferably one with just black keys"

Fats Domino: "Absolutely...after we finish lunch I'll bring you over there. Just want one more slice of cake, you know...since there's no calories here."

Laila and Kathleen: Yes, we just found that out.

Tall Polish looking man walks over, he's about 6 feet 3. "Got enough for me. I brought a three foot sandwich. Sorry there's not enough to share...Are you watching those two?”.

All: Yes.....that's what we were talking about.

Tall Polish Man: Those two...thick as thieves as usual.

They all begin to have lunch, cake, tea and Polish man decides to share sandwich.

First man with Scottish cap: "They're going to be okay, aren't they?"

Laila: "Yes. They will, we all did a good job.”

Kathleen: "They'll be okay, they just don't know it yet. It's hard."

Polish Man:Yeah, we did good with them.

Second man with Scottish Cap: "Aye, we did didn't we?"

The Two Lovely Lassies nod their heads. "It takes time, you remember?"

Everyone nods. A man in purple arrives, he's young to be there.

Laila: "Tea?"

Man in purple:Yes, that would be nice. Thank you.” Looks at Laila "Your daughter really liked my music, she wore the album out."

Laila:Yes, she did. She played it all the time. You’re very talented.”

Fats Domino takes a seat: Yes you are…I think you got some of your ideas from me!

Man in Purple: “Yes, as a matter of fact I did….there’s a lot of people I’m seeing around her that influenced me.”

Gets up to go see them.

Laila: Finish your cake first, then you may go visit your friends. Just be back by the time the streetlights come on.

Man in Purple:Yes Ma’am.”

Tall African American with amazing voice arrives; "Oh cake....now I can have as much as I want!"

Polish Man: "Yes, you can eat as much as you want now….no worries about Diabetes or a stroke. Have a big slice."

Cuts a piece.

Polish Man: "Is that too much?"

Tall African American man with amazing voice:No, it's never too much, never too much, never too much."

The ladies offer the man in Purple some more cake. He nods and smiles.

Man in Purple: "Sure" he says. "Let's go Crazy."
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