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, January 20, 2013

Joy. Three Letters. Short Word...Huge Meaning

Joy. Three letters. short word. One often used during the Christmas Holidays. Joy to the World. Something uttered when a new life enters the world. Joy? Well, it's the word on my mind and in my heart  - and one that I feel requires a real effort that won't leave my mind these days.  It's not a small word. It's a huge word and it's connotations, legacy and overall arching effect it has on the lives of those who understand what it truly is - is probably at the core of meaning that all of us, in some way,  are searching for.

My brother-in-law Joe was someone who illustrated joy. Not just at holidays or at fun events, photo opps or family gatherings. He exhibited and understood and shared this joy with anyone he came into contact with. Someone with an impressive education and a brilliant mind. A prestigious career and an ability with the written word that puts mine to shame. And, you'd never hear him talk about it. He'd been published in multiple magazines and law journals. He was voted one of the top attorneys of 2012 by New York Magazine. But he never told anyone about it. I only found out after he was gone. He wouldn't of told me anyway and if I'd asked about it he would've poured me a glass of my favorite wine that he went out of his way to order anytime he knew I was coming. He was a busy man, but he always made time to make people feel special. When my book was published my friends and family were so happy for me...he, someone who had been published multiple times, a highly respected lawyer at a prestigious firm, a busy Dad who spent most weekends working with community youth groups, .well he went nuts! He got me this crazy orange scarf that looked like it came from Hollywood...and a large pair of expensive sunglasses "as to avoid the paparazzi" like that would ever happen. My relatives were happy, but he brought more to it. He brought his joy.

He fought a valiant battle against Pancreatic Cancer for almost 7 months. He went from healthy, fit, active, and fine to terminally ill in a blink of an eye. You looked at him and said "No. It can't be. This is some huge misunderstanding." His faith was amazing....I can't even begin to explain how awesome his faith was here because it belies understanding. I still can't stop thinking that God made some huge mistake....but those thoughts here would insult what he believed and I need to work on that. He was lying in bed after Hospice came on massive doses of pain killers while texting me while I was at a hospital the first rough night after reconstructive spinal surgery in October...almost 2 months to the day he would die. He made me laugh, he gave me advice. More than that...he thought of ME. Why? I would be fine. This in comparison to Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer is nothing...less than nothing, but it didn't matter. He wanted to connect with me to make me feel some relief. If he could he probably would've come over and poured me a glass of that rare red wine he searched for to have for me because I once made the comment that "I really like this wine." That's all you had to say to Joe and you can bet that the next time you were around him....he'd have it for you.

His daughters can write their memories of him, the importance of Christ in his life and in his death, his love for his family so much better than I can. He did an amazing job of describing his spiritual and physical journey in his own words on 

J. Joe Korpics Walking with God through Pancreatic Cancer

The last entry is December 15th 2012, written by his youngest daughter Mallory. It is extraordinary...just like her.  He was diagnosed in May of 2012...but he had had this for many years and it had never been diagnosed accurately. Pancreatic cancer is like that...once you have symptoms there isn't much anyone can do.

I can't adequately describe the 28 years of marriage to his college sweetheart who always remained the love of his life so many years later. You could see it in their faces, how they were with each other, how they always sat next to each other and cuddled and held hands and especially how respectful and in awe of each other they still were after three children and many years of marriage. They had so much fun together too. His daughters inherited his talent with words...I can not write his eulogy nor would I try. I just have to write something and since his death on December 14th, we've lost so much more than we imagined. My husband lost his only brother and his best friend, my mother in law sat and nursed and loved and watched her firstborn son pass away in front of her. She talked him through it, encouraging, calming, making him smile, easing his way out of this world and into the next. She is so much like him. One of the kindest and strongest people I've ever known. I am in awe of her and her strength and faith. I am so sad for his sister and his brother who are stunned and going through the motions of what we have to do when we are the ones who survive. I ache for his daughters and especially for his wife who spent the larger part of her entire life with him at her side. They grew up together. I worry about her everyday.

I could go on and write how much I love all of my family. My two sister in law's who are more like real sisters to me than anything an "in law" would stand for. My beautiful, smart and happy joyful nieces who will have a hard road ahead of them but they have his joy and his intense faith. That was one of the many gifts he gave them...the one that right now and in the months to follow will provide them with what they need most. Strength. Faith. Clarity. Love.

I see it in all the photos and videos. I saw it at the funeral when they got up and spoke so eloquently about what their Dad meant to them and what he taught them. Megan made me cry but not because of sadness but because she was so profound...exhibited depth and a profound grasp of something unfathomable that I am in awe of her too. I am only his sister in law, but that man taught me so much and continues to do so everyday. These are hard lessons though, one's I'm not doing too well at at the moment... but that would also be his way. He wanted you to work hard to understand God's love for us, even through sorrow and pain and doubt...that's what he wanted most. For all of us to know God's love. 

This is the first thing I've written since he died. I've gone through a lot the past year and the silence where he used to be... making everyone else laugh...is deafening to me. The phone doesn't ring anymore every time something happens during a football game. He won't be sitting on my deck this summer relaxing and listening to hours of his favorite music...him and his brother's favorite past time. No more meetings down in the city to see a play or go to Chinatown for soup dumplings....he won't be pulling up in our driveway in his convertible with a huge smile on his face. His absence is a black hole in our lives right now. 

But the message I got from all of this was to write. Write what I ask myself? 

I'm filled with emptiness right now....I can hardly write a post-it  or a text to my son or daughter. I haven't wanted to. I haven't cared enough to. I was angry at so many things and all I could think of were words of anger and that wouldn't have been what someone like Joe, a person who really understood joy, would want for me.  So, Joe...this blog entry as sad and humorless and probably not even incredibly interesting to anyone other than those of us who went through this the past year...is because of you. It's because I have to start  grasping hold of what you understood and I never did. I can't say I'm moving on ...but I'm moving ahead. For my husband and mother in law and sister in law, and your nephew and niece who are also struggling so much now.. They are searching for their own way to navigate their grief.  Especially for  Diane, Megan, Mallory and Cara. They will have to move on now that all the others surrounding them have moved on to their regular lives and own problems. That is the hardest part of loss. But,  I'm going to write. More as time goes one but I'm going to write again....maybe nothing about animals and I apologize to those who only want me to do that but I have to forge new roads and explore this gift that sometimes allows me to give others a bit of Joy. 

Small word, Big meaning. It doesn't come as a fact of life. It doesn't wait for you....it comes when you call it. I'm whispering it it right now and maybe someday I can at least possess a third of the amount of Joy that Joe had in his life. I think he knew something that the rest of didn't...the way he met his fate and how he was so concerned with not himself, but for those who would be left behind. He knew something...I just know it. Something he couldn't tell us and I'll just have to wait for him to tell me someday unless I figure it out myself. Right now it's beginning with this. A blog entry that has nothing to do with animals or to make you laugh or even feel something heartwarming. It's full of pain actually...but you have to walk through that to get to the joy. 

These are my first steps.


  1. Baby steps. One foot in front of the other. One keystroke leads to the next and soon you have a sentence. Nice too see you hitting the keyboard again. Soon wonderful paragraphs will be flowing from your mind.

  2. Dear Lisa: I just saw Megan liked this on fb. It gave me a good cry. This weekend in church we sang Holy, Holy, Holy ... and I pictured Joe down on one knee (as he often prayed) before the throne singing Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty... He was filled with joy and awe being at his Savior's feet and FINALLY singing in the throne room. Writing was his passion, one I never understood because it is torture for me, he would be so happy that you are returning to your gifted area. "Spread the Love" Praying for you. Greet Maryanne for me with my prayers for her. -MC

  3. Thank you MC...that is a beautiful visual. I will give Mary Ann your message.


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