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, September 27, 2010

Unconditional Positive Regard

When I was around 12 years old, I flipped my bike trying to navigate a rocky narrow trail through the woods on my way to buy some grape gum from a nearby store. I crash landed in a thorn bush right on top of a wasp's nest. I guess you could say it wasn't a good day.

This all could've been avoided had I listened to my mother, who told me that very day - actually only minutes before the incident - not to take my bike on the trail and not to go to the store. Of course I knew best, being almost a teenager and all...and the result of my noncompliance was over 20 stings combined with multiple cuts and bruises.

What happened when I got home? How much trouble did I get into? You would think that I definitely deserved to be punished, especially because I blatantly disregarded both directives, but I didn't. Instead, my mother cleaned all my abrasions and stings and treated them with antibiotic ointment, removed several thorns and then made me pancakes. While eating the pancakes I asked her;

"Aren't you going to yell at me or something?"

To which she answered. "No."

"Why not?" I asked. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. I kept waiting, but nothing happened. She looked at me carefully and said. "The reason for a punishment is to get you to learn something. I think you learned today that there was a reason for my rules. I doubt you will ever do that again and the last thing you need right now, feeling as bad as you do, is for me to say "I told you so"."

She was right. I'd already punished myself worse than she would have. I learned that she had reasons behind her rules and that they weren't just designed to control me or to prevent me from having fun. I also felt that she had enough confidence in me so that in the end, I'd have the ability to learn from my mistakes. I felt sore, embarrassed, and guilty...but I also felt empowered. She trusted me, even though I didn't feel very trustworthy at the moment. I never forgot the incident, but what's clearest in my memory is not the pain of the cuts and stings, but the lessons I learned from it.

That's the kind of mother I've tried to be. It's the kind of teacher I strive to be. One who inspires confidence, tries to teach accountability, and focuses on what the famous Humanist Psychologist Carl Rogers called unconditional positive regard - acceptance of a person without negative judgment of their self worth. It's hard at times, and I find that sometimes I want to tell my children "I told you so!" when I've asked them to do something numerous times and they didn't listen to me. I want to remind my students of due dates on a daily basis, up until the actual date the paper is due...but I stop myself. At some point learning only takes place when it's internalized. In order to get there - sometimes you have to make a few mistakes. Knowing someone cares about you anyway is important at those times. It's important at all times.

Hold on tight to those people in your life who show you unconditional regard - they are precious. When they're gone - they're irreplaceable. Tomorrow it will be seven years since I sat next to her, held her hand and watched her go away to a place where hopefully everyone is treated with unconditional positive regard. I know she deserves it.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Day the World Changed

Nine years ago today I was in my classroom when I heard plane engines. Our school is near an airport and this is not an uncommon occurrence by any means. That day however; it was different. Louder. So loud that the windows started shaking in their frames. I stopped teaching for a moment - I couldn't talk over it. Then it was over.
Someone said "That plane was really low. Something must be wrong."

And it was.

Everyone who remembers knows where they were at the moment when they found out that the first tower was hit. My colleague came into my classroom and told me that terrorists had hijacked a plane and flew it into the World Trade Center. So close, she said. Only about 40 miles away. I remember what I said next.

"My husband works across the street from the World Trade Center."

She looked at me carefully and said quietly. "You might want to call him."

The next few hours were a blur. The phone lines weren't working. Cell phone service was down. All circuits were busy. I tried every phone I could; but to no avail. Parents started streaming into the school to pick up their children. I could understand that. There's something about holding your child close to you that makes you feel like you are in control - that in a small way you can keep your feet on solid ground when it's shifting beneath you. I remember trying to find a way for someone to go get my own children for me until I could figure out what to do. What to tell them? I wasn't sure how much they would be told, or if they would understand. I didn't want anyone else to tell them about this until I knew where he was. All the bridges were shut down and I was across the river from them. My mind was working on a different level as I helped console students and figure out what my next step was going to be. I went about each task with a sense of unreality. I remember wondering if this was going to be the day when my life changes forever.

Everyone's life changed that day. Some in a tragic, unimaginable way. The American Psyche shifted from a place where we thought we were safe - to the realization that what happens in other parts of the world was just as much a reality for us. No one is exempt from terrorism.

I recall how I felt when they paged me over the P.A. in school. I started walking from one end of the building towards the office, people looking at me without saying a word, some averting their eyes. I represented their fears. I could feel their empathy, their hope and even their relief that this wasn't happening to them. It's a natural emotion. It's why we go and look at our sleeping children when we hear on the news of the fire that killed a family in their sleep. We can cry for them, but need to make sure that tragedy hasn't somehow reached out to touch one of our own.

My heart was pounding in my throat. The last few yards I couldn't stand it anymore and started to run. "He called!" the secretaries told me. One was crying. "We hung up on him by accident, but he's fine. He's home!" They were so excited that they disconnected him. He called back. I heard his voice and he tried to tell me what he saw but he couldn't talk. There was too much to say. He'd already picked up the kids. They were all home waiting for me. My principal told me. "Go now, they opened the bridge." I left.

That night I saw his name on a missing person's list online. As I responded to tell them he was okay - I knew that we were lucky. Luck, that's all it was. He'd had to choose between two jobs when he interviewed in lower Manhattan months before. One was in the towers and the other nearby. We never know the repercussions of our choices until later.

On that Tuesday, a clear cloudless sky became blackened with fear. Lives changed, America changed. The world changed. Some of the choices people made that day were to sacrifice themselves to save others, knowing full well what they were walking into, but doing it all the same. Today I think of them and of those who simply got up and went to work like any other day, not realizing the repercussions of that simple choice. And I feel empathy, and relief, and guilt, and the collective grief of a nation that lost its innocence nine years ago today.
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