Monthly Archives: March 2015

May God Rest Pipina’s Soul

The magician’s magic became impotent because of the inevitable ravages of time.

Sadly, Pipina’s nearly 16-year-old body could no longer process food.  She was exhausted, almost constantly pacing during her waking hours, looking for what exactly I’m not sure.  On Friday, March 20, she passed on to a land where she could rest and dream about all the things she loved–her canine companions Bodhi and Big Papi, human companions Emmett and Alice, eating tasty morsels, sniffing flowers in the weeds of our back yard, loping her crazy, looping laps in the basement, and simply living a dog’s life.

Pipina gave us so much love and asked for nothing in return except a home, which we gladly gave her nearly 16 years ago when someone found her, a four-month-old puppy, wandering around lonely in a field near Charlotte Motor Speedway.  I will forever be thankful to the kind soul at the Speedway who knew Emmett, knew he was moving to Concord with his wife and pets, and took a chance on calling him to see if we could take one more puppy into our new home.

Pipina, you have my endless appreciation and love for the joy you brought to our lives.  I miss you terribly and hope our paths converge again some day.


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My Old Dog Taught Me New Tricks!


Pipina, who will be 16 on April 1, 2015, has been with us since she was about four months old.  Okay, the date of her birth is fudged, as are the birthdays of our other two dogs, Bodhi and Big Papi, because they are all rescues and we can only estimate the actual dates of their births.  We try to pick holidays or memorable days so it’s easier.  So Pipina is April Fool’s Day, Bodhi is New Years Day 2007, and Big Papi is February 29, 2008 (Leap Year Day).

Pipina (also known as Pini and Pini-Pie) is a dachshund/beagle mix who was found wandering around in a field near Charlotte Motor Speedway.  My husband Emmett and I were just moving to Concord in 1999 when someone who worked at the Speedway called him to say they had found this little puppy and would he consider adopting her.  He said, “Tell you what, you call my wife and ask her, and if she says okay, then we’ll take her.”  When they called and told me the mixed breed they thought she was, I said, “Good Lord, a mix between and beagle and a dachshund?”  I could not image what she would look like.  But when they brought her over, just after we had moved into our new house with our three dogs and a cat, I fell in love with her immediately.  She looked like a baby fawn, and she had the sweetest demeanor of any dog I’ve ever known.  Most importantly, our inside dog Governor, a Yorkie-poo, loved her at first sight.

Pipina has been quite healthy and not much trouble at all her entire life.  We have always fed our dogs Science Diet in a mix that is about four parts dog food and one part people food–always quality people food, never fat trimmings or scraps.  We had not really shied away from giving them bites of cheese or pizza or spaghetti, though.  Not much, just a bit.  When Pipina was about 12 or 13, she developed a really bad case of pancreatitis. Her poop would be loose and wet, and at the worst, it had blood in it, which is very scary.  The vet advised a very plain, low-fat diet, like boiled chicken and rice.  We also around the same time came to realize the evils of rawhide bones, which had been a snack for our dogs for years.  Rawhide is extremely fatty and just plain bad for dogs, except for the teeth-cleaning quality.  We got rid of all the rawhide and switched to Nyla bones.

Pipina in the last couple of years has been very difficult to feed at times.  One day, she would be fine with chicken or turkey mixed in with her dog food, and the next day she wouldn’t touch it.  Nor would she eat just plain dog food.  She lost weight, which at first was intentional on our part, because the vet said she really should be around 25 pounds instead of the 31 or so she was at the time.  We got her down to 25 pounds but that coincided with her being more finicky and having more digestive problems.  She kept losing weight down to 22 and then 21 pounds.  We were faced with the tough balancing act of trying to get her weight up but not giving her foods that aggravated her pancreatitis (or whatever her specific ailment is).  What we found was that she really did not require a low-fat diet; her problem was dairy.  She could have no cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, or milk.  She can eat eggs.  She can also eat beef, pork, poultry, fish, and it does not necessarily need to be trimmed of all fat.  It was the dairy that was the big issue.

But the problem was still not solved because some days she simply was not interested in the meat I had to offer.  In part, I learned that I had to rotate her dog food mixer.  After a few days of ground beef, she was tired of that, but turkey was good.  Or low-fat, all-beef hot dogs.  She seemed to demand variety.  When you see your dog, who is supposed to be 25 pounds to be at a healthy weight, struggle to maintain 19 pounds, you really try anything you can.  So some days, I would try six things before I finally hit on salmon, which she wolfed down, after rejecting shrimp, tuna, beef, pork, chicken, ham, and eggs.  It’s crazy.  If you hit on the right thing, she eats heartily, which is what lets me know she still has quality of life and makes me determined to keep trying.

Another problem is just getting her to maintain focus on eating long enough to follow me, holding her food bowl, to her eating spot.  If my husband walks from his desk to the den at the wrong time, she starts to follow him instead of me, even though I have the food!  Or if the other dogs start barking because the UPS man is parked outside, she might walk away from food.  (She can’t hear well enough to hear the UPS man herself, she just gets excited when she sees the other dogs barking and running around.)  I might have good enough luck to get her to follow me to where I set the food bowl, but then she walks up, sniffs, and turns around.  I cannot explain this, but often when she does this, if I close the two of us in her room and hold the food bowl chest-high for her, she will eat.  I know this is crazy.  I’m squatting down, holding her dog bowl at a friendly 45-degree angle, about four inches off the ground, and somehow that makes her comfortable enough to eat most or all of the food.

Last but not least, I have found that instead of twice-a-day feedings that she was accustomed to for many years, I now have to feed her three or four smaller meals spaced throughout the day.  Sometimes one of those feedings might be at 3:00 a.m., when she has gotten awake and will do nothing but pace, click-click-clicking her nails on the floor until she gets something in her tummy.  Hand in hand with this habit change is the fact that I now take her outside about five times a day.  The dogs have a room with newspaper down that they know is their “go-to place” if they need to poop or pee and cannot get outside.  Pipina was a model at using that room for about 15 years.  She now seems to have forgotten it’s even there about 90 percent of the time.  She rarely pees in the house, but it is not uncommon for me to find poop in the hall, maddeningly near, but not in, the dog room on the paper provided.

I write all this in the event it helps someone else caring for an old dog.  I think it requires great flexibility and the knowledge that just because your dog had certain habits for many, many years, those habits and her needs may change drastically in old age.  It can be frustrating at times to try to learn your old dog’s eccentricities, but when I see Pipina finish a meal, come in from the back yard, and run in looping, crazy, happy laps around the basement, I know all the effort is still worth it.

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Publishing the book “SUMMERSVILLE” – Part Two

In early November 2014, the permissions for reprints and for the personal information I wrote about Dad and Caroline and others were accepted, and LifeRich’s Content Review people provided their final approval.

Next up was Editorial Assessment, which I learned was something far different than I had assumed.  I thought they were actually going to edit my entire book, show me their suggestions, and then let me accept or reject the edits as I wished.  As it turned out, they reviewed seven of my 170 pages in a “sample edit” and reported back that they recommended a line edit, which is the least intense form of editing they do (good news for me because that means they did not believe the book needed a heavy edit).  They complimented my book and plumped me up on how promising it could be with their magic touch.  Problem was, if I wanted their editing, their lightest brand of review and revision, it was going to cost me an estimated $2,200.  Before submitting my manuscript to LifeRich, I had already paid my personal professional editor, Neva, $1,800 to do a full substantive and line edit.  No way was I going to pay that extra to LifeRich.  Fortunately, their sample edit noted the few things that they found offensive – my manuscript needed hyphens in adjectival phrases, numbers spelled out, page breaks for new chapters, a table of contents, em dashes with no spaces for parenthetical phrases at the end of a sentence – some really pretty minor stuff, and so I edited it myself.  Shit, I can do that!  For free!

(Disclaimer:  The fact that LifeRich was willing to do only a sample edit actually was in my Author Services Contract.  The contract noted that full editorial services would come at an additional cost, so it was my oversight and not a subversive move by LifeRich.)

That was mid-November.  By the time I completed the full edit and got my final version back to LifeRich, it was the Friday before Thanksgiving.  It took me a couple of weeks because I literally re-read every word of my book, and the effort was worth it – I think I sent them something like 35-40 corrections.  I sent the revised manuscript to my check-in coordinator, Barb, which is what I was advised to do by the rep for Editorial Assessment.  I heard back from Barb on the day before Thanksgiving, and she told me she had to send the package back to Editorial Assessment to let them close it out first.  Barb was very professional and helpful, but I wish her Editorial colleagues had just taken the next step without me having to go back through Barb, which simply ate up more time.

Anyway, they closed it out, and the next time I heard from LifeRich was on Dec 2.  I got an email from Elizabeth in Cover Copy and Polish, which is where they review and edit, as necessary, the text I created for the cover – essentially, the title, subtitle, and the blurb and author bio for the back cover.  LifeRich cautions that the process takes them seven to ten business days because they don’t show the results of their cover review until they share the mock-ups for the cover and interior design.  Which is the next phase in the process.

So I give them the benefit of the doubt and wait the ten business days, but by the time that’s up, I’ve heard nothing but crickets.  On December 16, I emailed Barb to ask what the next step is.  They must have had me circling in a holding pattern because Barb came back the next day to say she needs several things to move my process forward – a waiver for low quality images (imagine that, photos from the ‘60s and ‘70s are imperfect compared to today’s digital wonders), an author photo should I choose to provide one, any ideas I have for the cover, and any specifications I might have for interior design like font and spacing.  I got back to her same day fulfilling all her requests.

Barb promptly got back to me on the 18th to congratulate me on completing the submission process, thus opening the door for me to enter the production process.  I would be handed over to the design team and my contact will be Mary Wegener.  Amazingly, Mary got back with me same day, and she would prove to be almost superhuman throughout the rest of the process in terms of responsiveness.  I’ve been scrambling around in a dark tunnel, but blackness has given way to the first stages of dawn, where I can actually see the barest outlines of things, and I know that the light at the end of the tunnel is soon going to shine bright as day.

I will recount the remainder of the process in my third and final blog post on this topic in the next few days.



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