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“Rescue Dogs: Where They Come From, Why They Act the Way They Do, and How to Love Them Well” by Pete Paxton, Gene Stone

For years, my daughter has been asking for a dog. My husband and I have always thought about it, but would inevitably end up by turning her down on account of us not having enough time to devote to a pet. We both work full time outside of the home. Every Monday through Friday we’d leave the house by 7:30 am and wouldn’t return until around 5 pm. I knew it wouldn’t be fair to have a dog be alone in the house all day for five days a week without any companionship or exercise.

But the great pandemic of 2019/2020 hit and suddenly we were housebound for the unforeseeable future. We no longer had an excuse to not get a dog. And the more we thought about it, the more we actually realized that we really wanted a dog. So in August of 2020, we went to a shelter (we specifically went to Don’t Be a Bully, a rescue in York, PA) and adopted the newest member of our family, Cooper “Corona” Graham.

After adopting Cooper, I found that I was drawn to everything and anything dog related. I watched animal planet, I read doggie blogs, and started noticing all of the dogs in the neighborhood as they walked by my house. It was no surprise that I found the book “Rescue Dogs,” by Pete Paxton.

Paxton works as an undercover animal investigator and has experience revealing the hidden cruelties associated with puppy mills, slaughterhouses, and many organizations that exploit animals. In “Rescue Pups,” Paxton focuses on dogs that have been abandoned, abused, and sometimes stolen. It’s an important book to read if you want to get more in depth knowledge regarding dog adoption.

Before adopting Cooper, I really didn’t know very much about how most people get their dogs. I knew that I shouldn’t shop at a pet store because those were considered “bad.” But honestly, I didn’t really know why. Paxton explains how pet stores usually get their dogs from places called “puppy mills.” Basically, a puppy mill is a large scale dog breeder and is sometimes referred to as a “dog factory.” The dogs are often kept in horrendous conditions and are neglected and abused. The dogs who are used as the breeders are put down once they can no longer have puppies. 

In “Rescue Dogs,” Paxton also explains what to expect when you adopt a dog from a rescue shelter. Far too often, people believe that rescues have behavior and anxiety issues that can’t be resolved. As a result, rescue dogs are overlooked as good companion animals. However, that is far from the truth. Rescues can be amazing pets. In fact, it is more common for dogs who were adopted from puppy mills to have unresolved anxieties due to neglect and abuse they experienced before they were adopted. 

One of the things that pleasantly surprised me about this book was that Paxton provides valuable information regarding how to care for your rescue dog. He gives a list of items needed before you even bring your rescue home and gives ideas on how to make sure your rescue feels comfortable and safe. 

“Rescue Dogs” is a book I would recommend to anyone who loves dogs and is looking into adoption. It’s also an informative guide for anyone who wants to know the truth about the dog breeding industry. It’s important to know why dog lovers should choose to look at shelters for adoption and not pet stores or corrupt kennels. By adopting from a shelter, you are saving a life. 

When we adopted Cooper, our family became complete. I didn’t realize how much I would love my little cuddle monster. But I can’t imagine my life without him.

According to the website One Green Planet, there are about 6 to 8 million homeless dogs and cats that enter animal shelters every year. Nearly half of those animals are euthanized due to overpopulation and lack of space in the shelters. If you have room in your home and in your heart, please consider adopting a dog from a shelter. You won’t regret it. I certainly didn’t! 

For more information from Don’t Be a Bully (the rescue we used to adopt Cooper), please visit them at their Facebook page at: facebook.com/dontbeabully01

Giving The Romance Genre a Shot…

Over the past few months we’ve been inundated with terrible news on TV, radio, the internet, etc. Yet, I can’t seem to stop watching or scrolling through my social media feeds. I realize I am in desperate need of a break!

So with the world in utter turmoil, I’ve decided to turn my sights towards something lighter and more hopeful… romance! Anyone who knows me knows that I generally don’t do the romance genre. I prefer historical fiction, thrillers, or literary fiction. But lately, I’ve found those genres to be too heavy. And it’s too much for me right now. I need something different. Starting with…

Emma. This is the new movie based on the Jane Austen novel.

I know that many other versions of Emma have come out and I’ve never been interested in them. But for some reason, this one looked really good. I also remembered that I have a copy of the book on my bookshelf, just sitting there and collecting dust, never having been read. So I dove in, starting with Chapter 1.

The first thing that I realized is that Emma is a pompous snob who needs to stay out of other people’s business! Thank goodness there’s Mr. Knightley there to call her out on her shit. I’m only about 100 pages into this book but I already know how this is going to turn out. And maybe that’s why I’m so into this story. I know it’s going to have a happy ending and hopefully will remain comedic throughout.

 It’s not just books that are helping me to escape the madness of the world. I’ve also found a Korean rom-com on Netflix that I’ve completely fallen in love with! It’s called Crash Landing on You. It’s about a very rich South Korean woman (Yoon Se-ri) who accidentally lands in North Korea after a paragliding accident (hey, no one said this story had to be realistic).

There, she meets a handsome Captain in the North Korean Special Police Force (Ri Jeong-hyeok) who tries to help her escape. Crash Landing on You is now the third-highest-rated Korean drama in cable television history. I’m about half-way through the series and I completely understand the popularity. I like how it shows North Korea (though I’m not sure how accurately) and roughly what it’s like for people to live there. For example, there is a house inspector that will come into people’s homes without warning to check to make sure there is nothing illegal in the house (like a rice cooker). There’s another scene where all of the people in the community must go outside at a designated time to do government mandated group exercises that are led by a voice on the loudspeaker. Conversations are monitored and the people are micromanaged on how they live their lives. I read an article that said North Korean defectors helped to provide guidance to the writers of the show to get the scenes right.

Despite the harsh setting, the show is still upbeat and surprisingly funny. The focus is mostly on two star crossed lovers who meet against all odds. It’s sappy at times, but hey… sappy is what I’m looking for (don’t judge)! 

For now, those two romance stories are what I’m distracting myself with to get my mind off of pesky things like Covid19. So far it’s working!

What romance books/shows/movies would you recommend?

I Suggest You Buy The Book

It’s been approximately two and a half months since I’ve been at home in quarantine due to the Covid 19 pandemic. I live in Maryland, where our Governor has ordered all nonessential businesses to close. Unfortunately, this includes libraries. This has left some people scrambling to get books in other ways. 

I read many discussion forums where people were distraught that their local libraries were closed. The argument people had was that libraries ARE essential! I can see their point to an extent. Libraries are the pillar of many communities and it’s how so many people can read books for (almost) free. (I say “almost” because technically our tax dollars are paying for the libraries.)

Despite the fact that the libraries are closed, there are still several other ways to get books for free. There are still Little Free Libraries, free ebooks to read online, and there are even youtube videos with celebrities reading books to kids. 

And yet, even though there are ways to get books for free, I recommend a different idea. Don’t opt for a free book. Just buy the book. Of course, this is aimed more towards people who are in a comfortable position to buy books. I understand that books are a luxury item that not everyone can just purchase them whenever they want to. But for those of you who can, hear me out…

Our economy is in the dumpster. Unemployment is at an all time high and millions of people are out of work and having a hard time paying bills and feeding their families. We haven’t seen times like this since the great depression. 

On social media I keep seeing posts from people who suggest we buy local goods and help out small businesses. I completely agree. It’s a great way to help out those who are struggling. And another way to help out our community is by buying books. When you purchase a book your money goes to the author, the publisher and the bookstore (many of which are doing online orders). Writers are artists who are vital to our society and they are not pandemic proof. 

So my request is simple; just buy the book. You’ll be helping out the economy, your money will go towards something you care about, and honestly, you need a good excuse to buy more books anyway, right? 

Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis, by Ada Calhoun

Goodreads synopsis: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50387513-why-we-can-t-sleep

My thoughts: As an (almost) middle aged woman who has been battling insomnia, I felt like I had to read this book. Calhoun dives into the issues surrounding middle aged women who are part of Generation X, often the most overlooked generation. Although I was born in the early 1980s and therefore not technically considered part of Generation X (defined as those born in the 1960s and 1970s), I felt like I could still relate.

The main premise around this book is that women of this generation are told from a very early age that we can have it all; we can get married, go to college, and be whoever it is that we want to be. But when we actually go out into the real world, we realize that that is often an unrealistic standard. And when we try our best and work as hard as we can and still don’t get to live out our dream lives, it’s an incredible disappointment. We feel like losers and that there must be something wrong with us.

Calhoun does a wonderful job of dissecting the many different aspects of women’s lives. It really puts into perspective all of the different struggles that women of Generation X have to deal with. Reading this book didn’t make me necessarily feel better, but it made me feel less alone in knowing that I’m not the only one who feels like maybe this was all a little too much to live up to.

My 2020 Reading Challenge – A Little Less Challenging

For the past few years, I have done the Goodreads Challenge by pledging how many books I plan to read within the year. Usually, it’s around 50ish. I shoot for a book a week so 50 seems like a realistic number (with a couple of weeks cushion).

This year, however, I am setting my goal to be much lower… like, to 30. Why? Because a book a week is great when I’m having a typical, normal week. But far too often, my weeks have not been typical or normal. And on those weeks when I can’t finish the book I’ve been reading, I don’t want to feel guilty about it.

My Goodreads goal for 2019 was 55 books (originally). I’ve since had to change it to 53 because I knew by December that I wasn’t going to reach my goal. Life happened and suddenly reading didn’t become a priority anymore. In November, I ran into some health issues and suddenly my focus and desire for reading diminished significantly. As a result, I was spending my usual reading time binge watching Jane the Virgin on Netflix. (To be fair though, Jane the Virgin is an amazing show!)

There’s another reason why I set my goal a good bit lower. I want to be able to pick books without worrying so much about the page count. If there’s a book that is unusually long, I don’t want that to prevent me from reading it because I know I won’t be able to finish it within the week.

I also would like to feel less restricted with my books. I want to try out books that I wouldn’t normally read and have the freedom to put them down if they don’t work for me and I’m not interested. I don’t want to feel like I have to finish a book I don’t like simply because I’ve already started it.

So this year the pressure’s off. This doesn’t mean I love reading any less. If anything, it means I love reading more.