BLESS THE BEASTS…AND ARTISTS – SAD FAREWELLS

Lou and I are excited to tell you that we’ll be leading Malibu Methodist Church’s annual Blessing of the Animals on Saturday, August 16 from 10:00 – noon at There will be vendor booths, contests, and, of course, yours truly selling copies of GIMME SHELTER. So, if you have a cat, rat, horse, or warthog in need of some blessing, drop on by. (30128 Morning View Dr, Malibu, CA 90265, 310.457-7505). 

Later that day, my ‘mom’, Eugenie, will part of a gallery opening at Malibleu Gallery here in Malibu. She’ll have ten of her amazing stone sculptures on display and we’re rooting for every one of them to find a good, well-paying home. Again, we’d love to have you join us for some great art and a glass of vino (Malibu CA. 21201 Pacific Coast Hwy).

Sadly, not all this week’s news is festive. Yesterday we learned that Menahem Golan, a partner in Cannon Films and a legend in the movie biz, passed away suddenly near his home in Tel Aviv. Lou and his writing partner, Gary Horn, had a personal connection to Menahem, who optioned their sniper-on-the-loose thriller ‘Holiday Season’ several times and was promising to make the move this year. Just a few weeks back, Lou mailed him a copy of GIMME SHELTER as a gift and here’s what he had to say: “Brilliant book (GIMME SHELTER) with great insight into, not only dogs but yourself. Some excellent ‘laugh out loud’ moments. My question is “How did you find such an amazing and loyal woman to stand by you whilst you were learning to deal with your anger?” 🙂 🙂 🙂 She deserves a medal! Well done to you all (including Tanner) and I look forward to your next book!

Menahem Golan“. 

Menahem Golan on the set

Unlike Menahem, Malibu’s Diesel Bookstore recently fell victim to the ravages of runaway retail rents. Unable to afford the astronomical fees, they reluctantly shut their doors. It was an especially dark day for us. When we published GIMME SHELTER in early 2013, we had no idea if it would ever sell a single copy, let alone find its way to a real bookstore. On a nudge from, Eugenie, Lou introduced himself to Lynn and asked if Diesel might be willing to carry the book and maybe even host an author night. To our delight and surprise, she said ‘yes’ to both. On Thursday night, April 25, 2013, Lou read to a packed house at Diesel, and we made our initial charitable book donation to Malibu Pet Companions. It was our first live event, a fun, magical evening that we’ll always remember. A month later, Diesel boosted our profile yet again when Gimme Shelter placed #2 on the Malibu Times best selling books for May. In December, we landed at #16 on Diesel’s 2013 Top Seller list. Any indie author would be thrilled to get that much push from a bookstore but there was more.

The ‘fan’, outside Diesel
 Sometime after Christmas, Malibu resident and reporter Kim Devore stopped by to get a gift for her dog-loving mom, Erika Brunson. A Diesel employee – Lynn I think – urged her to skip the nationally known volumes in favor of a local book, Gimme Shelter. Kim took her advice. Erika loved the book so much that she proceeded to buy all the store’s copies not once but twice. Thanks to Lynn, Lou contacted Erika and we met for coffee. When Eugenie mentioned that I teach part time at the local probation schools at Camp Miller and Camp Gonzales, and that they were interested in using the book as an anger management tool for the juvenile offenders, Erika jumped in and bought 100 copies for the schools. This fall, Gimme Shelter will be part of their formal curriculum on the theme of ‘Discovery’. Inspired by the school connection, the Probation Department recently purchased copies for the dorm libraries in all of the county’s juvenile camps. Lou is currently speaking with school officials at New York City’s Riker’s Island about using the book with their juvenile inmates. None of this would have been possible without Diesel Malibu. Things change, and when one door closes another opens. Eugenie, Lou and I sincerely wish that all of the new doors for the Diesel Malibu family bring adventure, success, fun and peace. Thanks for enriching our lives, and the city we love. We’ll miss you.

Tanner @ Diesel, April 25, 2013

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HELP THE PEOPLE WHO SAVE OUR DOGS

As many of you know, Eugenie, Lou & I donate a portion of the proceeds from GIMME SHELTER to animal rescue groups. So many organizations do amazing work that we’d need another book to list them all. Instead, we’d like to give a well deserved shout out to some of our favs, like Karma Rescue, Downtown Dog Rescue, St. Martin’s Animal Foundation, Linda Blair’s Worldheart Foundation, Animals Advocates Alliance, Canine Adoption Rescue Leage (CARL) of Ventura, and Healthcare for Homeless Animals (formerly Malibu Pet Companions). If you have some spare Benjamins, they’d be happy to take them off your paws so that they can help more dogs like me, and Freckles, whose life was recently saved for a second time by the folks at Karma.

Freckles
In keeping with our rescue theme, if you live in the Los Angeles area and you’re thinking about a rescue dog, or cat, then be sure to check out the Best Friends/No Kill LA mega-adoption this weekend Saturday, May 3, and Sunday, May 4, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. The popular event has a mission of turning L.A. into the nation’s largest No-Kill City by 2017, will feature more than 1,000 adoptable pets from 50 rescue groups.  “Last fall, the NKLA Adoption Weekend found homes for close to 400 dogs and cats in 48 hours and we hope to beat that number this spring,” said Marc Peralta, executive director of Best Friends Animal Society – Los Angeles. “Any Angeleno who is looking to adopt should check out the NKLA Adoption Weekend, as it’s the perfect venue to find your new best friend. You can even bring your dog along for a meet and greet.”

Eugenie and Tanner @ last year’s event

GRAZIE, MERCI, DOMO ARIGATO, GRACIAS, DANKE…THANK YOU!

Each year, my 2-legged parents and the rest of their breed set aside a special day to be ‘Thankful’ which looks to me like an excuse to eat way too much yummy food that I don’t get to share. This year’s festa (Lou’s word) was at the home of Eugenie’s dad, Gene, and his wife, Sandra. Although they’re cat people, I like them very much and appreciate them letting me attend the party and steal the spotlight, as we pit bulls often do. Although I was denied a share of the goodies, I’d like to mention some of the many amazing things I’m thankful for

For Lou & Eugenie, who took me into their home and made me part of their family when no one else wanted me. They shower me with love, calm me when I’m frightened and make every day a fun adventure, even my baths and the car rides. Lou even wrote a book (with lots of help from Kathryn) and made me a local celebrity…For their friends and family (too many to mention) who treat me like a real person to be loved, respected and cherished…For my dog pals, Ceba, Otto, Dexter, Kona, Lola, Porter, Lucky, Coco, Charley, Buddha, Aldo, Harley, Magnus, Rocky, Rusty, Blur, Lady, Charger, Luna, Carl, Bobby, Roxie, the 3 Bellas and all of the gang from Malibu Villas and the Trancas Dog park. For the dog park, the beach, the farm, the meadow, and all of the other cool places were I get to run and explore. For squeaky toys, Skinnees, Kongas, tennis balls, Lou’s socks and the Malibu Villas cats. For chicken strips, Denta Bones, Check-ups, liver bits and the very occasional (hint, hint) table scrap. For the great SoCal weather. For my three comfy beds, and my parents’ Tempurpedic, where we get to cuddle and watch TV. For Dr. Lisa, Tony Rollins, Rob Lerner, and all of the staff and volunteers at the Agoura Hills Shelter where I started out. For Malibu Pet Companions, Karma Rescue, C.A.R.L., Linda Blair’s Worldheart Foundation, and all of the other amazing rescue groups that work to help dogs in need, especially pit bulls…For all the amazing humans who choose to share their lives and loves with dogs like me. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

Coming home from Trancas dog park 
Exploring ‘The Farm’


$$ FOR MUTTS, PASTA-EATING DOGS & OTHER NEWS

Between book events, working at Probation and workouts, things get hectic around our place. Maybe that’s why we’ve neglected to mention that the Gimme Shelter Campaign recently made our 2nd and 3rd official donations to the Linda Blair Worldheart Foundation and the St. Martin’s Animal Foundation. For new visitors, we’ve promised to donate 10% of the profits from GIMME SHELTER to various animal rescue groups. We’re at 3 and counting, so keep buying books and we’ll keep sharing the proceeds.

Pit-Lab pups being fostered by Sky Valencia of St. Martin’s Animals Foundation.
Interested? Contact: skyvalencia99@gmail.com

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With all of those cute kitty YouTube videos, it’s tough to keep current on dog news so here are two stories that might be of interest.
– An L.A. Times‘ piece from June 22 detailed the protests by China animals lovers upset with mistreatment of stranded dolphins and the traditional Yulin dog meat festival. In a country not noted for its human rights concerns, it’s heartening to hear that people are willing to speak up about perceived animal cruelty.
– The April issue of Scientific American ran a piece by Kate Wong outlining scientists’ theories that adaptation to humans starchy diet may have lead to the domestication of dogs and cats. I love Tanner but he is NOT getting my pizza!

‘THE PAW PROJECT’

On Saturday, June 8, we attended a local screening of The Paw Project, a documentary film about DVM Jennifer Conrad and her efforts to ban animal declawing. Like many people in the packed house at the Malibu Film Society, I had no idea just how brutal and inhumane the practice is. I’ve only had one cat, Blanche, whose story kicks off GIMME SHELTER. Ironically, she was a Scottish Fold that looked amazingly like the cat on The Paw Project poster. She had been declawed when we got her and her gait always seemed off, as if it hurt her to walk. Know I know why. If you’d like to learn more about the efforts to ban this sanctioned mutilation, visit The Paw Project website.

Blanche

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On a softer note, a friend recently sent me a terrific piece ‘What Shamu Taught Me About A Happy Marriage’ by Amy Sutherland, that appeared in the NY Times column ‘On Modern Love’. If you love animals, or just have a headstrong mate, here’s a taste.
AS I wash dishes at the kitchen sink, my husband paces behind me, irritated. “Have you seen my keys?” he snarls, then huffs out a loud sigh and stomps from the room with our dog, Dixie, at his heels, anxious over her favorite human’s upset. In the past I would have been right behind Dixie. I would have turned off the faucet and joined the hunt while trying to soothe my husband with bromides like, “Don’t worry, they’ll turn up.” But that only made him angrier, and a simple case of missing keys soon would become a full-blown angst-ridden drama starring the two of us and our poor nervous dog.
     Now, I focus on the wet dish in my hands. I don’t turn around. I don’t say a word. I’m using a technique I learned from a dolphin trainer. I love my husband. He’s well read, adventurous and does a hysterical rendition of a northern Vermont accent that still cracks me up after 12 years of marriage.
But he also tends to be forgetful, and is often tardy and mercurial. He hovers around me in the kitchen asking if I read this or that piece in The New Yorker when I’m trying to concentrate on the simmering pans. He leaves wadded tissues in his wake. He suffers from serious bouts of spousal deafness but never fails to hear me when I mutter to myself on the other side of the house. “What did you say?” he’ll shout. These minor annoyances are not the stuff of separation and divorce, but in sum they began to dull my love for Scott. I wanted — needed — to nudge him a little closer to perfect, to make him into a mate who might annoy me a little less, who wouldn’t keep me waiting at restaurants, a mate who would be easier to love.
     So, like many wives before me, I ignored a library of advice books and set about improving him. By nagging, of course, which only made his behavior worse: he’d drive faster instead of slower; shave less frequently, not more; and leave his reeking bike garb on the bedroom floor longer than ever.
We went to a counselor to smooth the edges off our marriage. She didn’t understand what we were doing there and complimented us repeatedly on how well we communicated. I gave up. I guessed she was right — our union was better than most — and resigned myself to stretches of slow-boil resentment and occasional sarcasm.
     Then something magical happened. For a book I was writing about a school for exotic animal trainers, I started commuting from Maine to California, where I spent my days watching students do the seemingly impossible: teaching hyenas to pirouette on command, cougars to offer their paws for a nail clipping, and baboons to skateboard. I listened, rapt, as professional trainers explained how they taught dolphins to flip and elephants to paint. Eventually it hit me that the same techniques might work on that stubborn but lovable species, the American husband. READ MORE

DON’T RUSH TO JUDGEMENT

By now many people know that a pack of roaming Pit Bulls is being blamed for the mauling death of an Antelope Valley woman who was attacked while jogging. Like many such stories, this one focussed on the breed of dog involved, neglecting to describe the owners, and the conditions in which the dogs were being kept. As details emerge, there’s talk that the dogs may have belonged to a drug dealer and were allowed to roam free, with no training or socialization. Like Rottweilers, Dobermans, and German Shepherds before them, Pits have been the ‘dangerous dog’ of the day, in large part because they appeal to creeps looking for a four-legged weapon to aid their mischief or boost their ‘cred’. It’s sad and tragic that an innocent woman paid the price. While the dogs in question will be found and pay the price, hopefully the local prosecutor will send a message and throw the book at the guilty owners.

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On a lighter note, if you’re looking for a fun time that will benefit animals in need, check out the MAD HATTER TEA PARTY to benefit Sky Valencia’s St. Martin’s Animal Foundation.