Artistic Expression

Recently, my niece drew her own version of my little man, Pilot, as he was lying on our living room rug facing away from us as we sat on the couch as you can see he provides perfect inspiration for artistic impression.

Art is one way to help kids find an outlet for their imagination and it is also a way to help them be able to express what it is that they might be feeling when they may not be able to find the words to do so. So, don’t be afraid to let your kids get a little creative! You might be surprised to find out what they can come up with.

Keep your tail waggin’!

Gail

CafePress Store: http://www.cafepress.com/natureswonder1 (Be sure to check out the Pilot Wear section of the store!)
Follow Pilot on Instagram @pilottheflyingace!
The Tail of Scarlett FB Page: http://www.facebook.com/TheTailofScarlett
Follow me on Twitter @gorillaphile

Mourning The Loss of a Pet

When a human family member passes away, our loss is generally shared or at least we are given support by those are sincerely sympathetic. We are allowed to grieve, to show and experience our emotions more openly.

But talk to a pet owner who has ever lost a pet and you might hear a completely different story. To those of us who have ever lost a furry, feathery, or scaly friend, the loss is just as heavily felt as if it would be if a human family member had passed away and yet others might not see it that way. They don’t understand to what depths a person may be hurting. Some of them may even go so far to make insensitive comments such as, “it was just a pet” or “why don’t you just get another one?”

What Do Pets Provide Us With?

When someone loses a pet, thy don’t just lose one thing, they lose many things at once. For one thing, our pets provide us with unconditional love. They provide us with responses that are uninhibited by concerns by what others may think. When you wake up in the morning your dog is happy to see you, when  you leave for work and return your dog is happy to see you, when you leave the room for five seconds and come back your dog is so happy to see you she acts like she hasn’t seen you in five years. When you leave the house to go out with your human friends it may not be that simple. Human relationships can be riddled with negative things like anxiety, being rejected because you’re not meeting someone’s expectations or some other fear that may dictate how you behave or things that you share with others. Animals are not like that. They do not judge on imperfections and insecurities. Not only that, but pets are basically our “life witnesses”. You might do things in front of your animal companions that you would NEVER do in front of anyone else. They are there in times of weakness and in times of strength. And in during times of the former, they are often providers of security, stability, and comfort.

If you’re like me, your pets are or were your primary social companions for a variety of reasons and what those reasons are vary between person to person. For me, my Scarlett (and now Pilot) was my best friend in the entire world. I knew that if no one else in the world understood, Scarlett somehow would. I could talk to her about anything in the world and I knew that she would never pass judgement upon me. I like to say that Scarlett knew more things about me than anyone else did and when she passed in 2015 the loss of that was hard to deal with. Not only that but there was also a significant loss of something else too.

For many pet owners, not only are their animal companions their friends but their pets might also be something else. Having a pet means that you are entirely responsible for another living, breathing, being. We often go to extreme lengths to ensure our pets’ emotional and physical comfort. We may schedule specific activities just for our pets that revolve around them which can include anything from providing them with pet sitters and dog walkers to provide them with company and exercise, taking them to the doctor and providing them with medicine to make sure they are healthy, taking them to places like the dog park to provide them with social activity, or even taking them traveling with us. For a pet owner, losing their pet is right up there with losing a child.

So, what can a person do to help themselves through such a difficult time?

1.) Be kind and patient with yourself. The loss is real and very painful evoking intense emotions and memories. The grieving process has no set “finish line”. Remind yourself of that any time you find yourself wishing that you were better or that you should be past it by now. Putting pressure on yourself to “get over it” only makes things worse.

2.) Find a support system. Try to find an ally, someone that you know you are comfortable sharing with. If you can’t find anyone there are plenty of resources online that may help. Both the Pet Loss Grief Support and Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement have online chat rooms and memorial services.

3.) Engage in a ritual. We humans have several prescribed ways that we mourn our losses. We have funerals, we erect memorials, we have anniversaries where our loved ones are acknowledged. You could have one of your own by having a service in a spot favored by you and your pet, or maybe you could hold a small service at home.

4.) When it comes to figuring out what to do with your pet’s things you might want to do it gradually. Gradually transition their things to other locations from where they usually were kept and this may help with the transition before you remove them. When you are ready you may donate them to an organization that helps animals in need, seal them in a trunk, whichever you choose. When my Scarlett passed, I took her dog tag off of her collar and placed it on my keychain.

5.) Memorialize your pet. I chose to memorialize my pet through writing my book, which I also found was a great way of helping me process my feelings on what happened. You may choose to do something else, like planting a tree or sowing a garden. These living memorials can continue to be reminders for years to come.

While we may not all of the answers, it is important to remind ourselves that there is no definitive “right answer” on how may deal with our losses and that everyone deals with their losses differently. BUT it is also important to remember that while it may feel like it times you are not alone.

“Happiness can be found in the darkness of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.” – Albus Dumbledore

-Gail

Marketplace 120

Recently, Pilot and I had the opportunity to visit Marketplace 120. The For Pets Sake event was held there to support several local nonprofit organizations: Paws-sitive Supporters (spay/neuter), Fancy Feline Rescue of the South (fancy cat rescue), Trinity Horse Rescue (miniature horse rescue), and Act2Pups (senior dog rescue). We had a great time meeting everyone that came around to our table. 


Pilot even got gussied up for the occasion and was ready and willing to meet everyone. Unfortunately, we didn’t sell too many books, but it was a great event all the same and we would love to come back soon! 
Keep your tail waggin’!
Gail and Pilot

Road Trip!

pilotdinerpicRecently, Pilot and I took a day trip to the town of Blue Ridge. If you’re looking for a dog friendly place to be, Blue Ridge is it. Many of the stores allow well behaved dogs inside their doors and Pilot had fun meeting all of the new people that were coming and going.

The first stop on the trip was the Trailer Drive-in. It was our first time visiting there, but my parents had been wanting to try it for awhile now. The food was extremely good (I recommend the chicken club) and I think we will definitely back again. Note before you go: the only payment methods they accept are cash and check (not debit or credit cards).

An essential stop for us on a trip to Blue Ridge is a little store in town called the Owl’s Nest. It’s a unique store that holds items that you’ll never be able to find anywhere else. A lot of places in Blue Ridge are dog friendly and will allow well behaved dogs on leashes to accompany there owners inside. Pilot even got to get down and walk around a little and he had a lot of fun meeting and greeting the other customers that walked in (and I think they had some fun meeting him too). It certainly made for a unique socialization experience for both me and Pilot. Other unique locals in Blue Ridge include The Sweet Shoppe (a winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars) and The Swan Drive-in movie theater which has been in operation since 1955! Well behaved pups on leashes can kick back and relax while enjoying the latest movies with their families.

All in all, Blue Ridge, GA is a great spot to go if you’re looking for a weekend getaway in the mountains but don’t want to leave your furry friend at home, or if you’re like my family (it’s about an hour’s drive for us) and you’re looking for somewhere to go for a staycation and want to take your pup with you, Blue Ridge is definitely a place to go! Check out http://www.bringfido.com if you’re looking for dog friendly places to stay and eat, just make sure you put the right location in the search bar.

The Owl’s Nest in Blue Ridge, Ga: https://www.facebook.com/Owls-Nest-of-Blue-Ridge-115971348534733/

The Sweet Shoppe: http://www.thesweetsouth.com

The Swan Drive-in: http://www.swan-drive-in.com

Until next time! Always keep your tail waggin’!

Gail (and Pilot too!)

Rainbow Bridge Online

Scarlett, the inspiration behind the book, now has her own spot at Rainbow Bridge Online, a growing online pet loss support community. I am reposting the story on her profile here, but you may follow the link which will be posted below and check out her little section of Rainbow Bridge. Please feel free to leave your thoughts and comments, but also remember that it is supposed to be a respectful space.

Scarlett was….different. My mother and I visited the animal shelter probably about 7-8 times looking for a dog to adopt. We took my sister once.

We went into the small dog/puppy room and in the corner was a pile of black puppies….except for the one at the very top who was very red. She was right on top of the pile as if she owned it (and she did rest assured). My sister picked her. We were on our way home trying to figure out what to name her and after looking at her reddish fur, Scarlett was what we came up with. My mother said, “your dog, your responsibility.”: I was about 14 years of age.

As Scarlett grew her personality became that of a dog that, unlike all of the other dogs I knew, was not a people pleaser. She didn’t do anything that didn’t have anything in it for her. I did everything I could for her, including taking on her training. The obedience trainer could not believe that I had decided to do it either. I was the youngest one in the obedience class (amongst the humans at least). As Scarlett grew she grew to also be a dog that did not like strangers, as much as we tried to socialize her. I used to joke, “if my dog don’t like you, I don’t like you. And she don’t like anybody!”

She was my best friend.

On January 3, 2015 she left for Rainbow Bridge and I fulfilled a promise. For when I brought her home I made a promise that I would be there, and I was. And she was there for me as well, in the way that all of our animal friends are. When she passed I didn’t know what to do. All of a sudden, there was an empty space…a Scarlett sized space where she normally would have been. I had no outlet for my grief really, although I do admit that I had as a great of a support system as anyone could ask for. All of my friends were animal lovers and of course my family was right there too and so there was no one there to judge. But I still didn’t know what to do. Finally, a friend of mine who is very talented published her first children’s book. I had always heard that writing and art were great for helping with finding an outlet for your feelings and so I decided to give it a try as well. I ended up self-publishing a little book called The Tail of Scarlett which can be purchased through Amazon and was published through an online publishing platform called CreateSpace. It helped TREMENDOUSLY, and I have been so glad that it has also helped a few others as well.

In June of 2016, I headed to the animal shelter again, finally deciding that I was ready and now I have a new man in my life. His name is Pilot (he’s @pilottheflyingace on Instagram by the way. Please give him a follow). And as I was carrying him out of the shelter wrapped up in a blanket that he still sleeps with almost every night, I made a promise:

I’ll be there for ya buddy.

You may find the link to Scarlett’s Rainbow Bridge profile here.

You may purchase a copy of The Tail of Scarlett here. Proceeds made from purchases of the book will be donated to the Douglas Co., GA. Animal Shelter.

300 and counting.

Today, I am proud to announce that Pilot’s instagram account hit the 300 follower mark. Thank you to everyone who has been following my little man! 

Also, “Project P” is coming along very well and I am hoping to get it published sometime by February, although an official date has not been set up yet. In the meantime, I am planning on donating all of the proceeds from The Tail of Scarlett as well as Pilot’s Pilot Wear line to help the Douglas County Animal Shelter make their resident dogs and cats lives better until they find their furever homes or are rescued. 
Remember, The Tail of Scarlett may be purchased on Amazon and Pilot Wear products can be purchased at cafepress.com/natureswonder1, just select the Pilot Wear section of the store. 
Thank you for your support! Also, if you would like to follow Pilot, his instagram handle is @pilottheflyingace
Always keep your tail waggin’!
Gail

Santa Paws

Hi everyone!

So, the holidays are fast approaching (only ten more sleeps until Christmas!) and in the last week or so things have been extremely busy.

So, some time ago my niece was promised that this year we would take her to Walt Disney World at the beginning of Dec. Unfortunately, Pilot could not come with us (I would have brought him in a heartbeat if I could have, but unfortunately that was a no go).

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My prince has four legs and a tail.

Fortunately for me, the wonderful staff at Bullard Animal Hospital here in GA were able to care for him while I was gone and I was able to check on him often. He was a little excitable when he came back home, as was expected from being boarded all week, BUT the Saturday after I picked him up he took his final exam for the intermediate level classes at Petsmart and he passed! Unfortunately, for some reason I could not get the actual photo posted in here, so if you would like to see the little guy (sorta) wearing his graduation cap, you’ll have to click here.

Last night, I looked through a box that I happened to have in my bedroom, and I saw that I just happened to have 15 copies of The Tail of Scarlett. So, today I took them all down to my local Toys for Tots donation location. Hopefully, whichever child is fortunate enough to receive a copy of the book will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Which reminds me….

I HAVE AN ANNOUNCEMENT!

Today my niece, Pilot,and I stopped by Douglas Co. Animal Shelter in Douglasville, GA. which is the shelter that rescued Pilot and his brothers and sisters back in June. The dogs there are looking to fill their stockings for Christmas! In their main kennels each dog has a stocking. The dogs will take the stockings home with them when they are adopted. My niece and I filled the stocking of a sweet, SWEET husky named Blitzen and and the stockings of all of the puppies. They are accepting donations from now until at least Christmas. Such a great idea! You can check out the video here. If you wish to know which one is Blitzen, he makes an appearance around the 3:40 mark. But wait…where is the announcement? My announcement is that if you decide to purchase a copy of my book, The Tail of Scarlett, EVERY bit of your purchase will go to help fill more stockings at the Douglas County Animal shelter so that all of the animals will be able to go home with brand new toys and treats for Christmas.wp-1467348862718.jpgIF you would like to make a purchase, the link can be found right here. I am also going to be attempting to raise money through Pilot’s Pilot Wear line on Cafepress. Same thing applies: any profits made from purchases will be donated to helping to fill the stockings of all of the dogs. If you would like to take a glance at the selection (and Pilot would be very glad if you did), you can find the link here at the Nature’s Wonder Cafepress store. Just click on the Pilot Wear section. Will ya’ll help me make sure that every dog has a full stocking for Christmas? I hope so!

Wanna keep up with more of Pilot’s antics? Follow him on Instagram (@pilottheflyingace)!

Keep your tail waggin!

Gail (and Pilot too!)

 

 

 

Project P

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“I was nice enough to wait five whole minutes after this picture was taken before tearing the stem off of this pumpkin toy.” – Pilot

COMING SOON!

So, I have an announcement to make. Pilot and I have been “working together” on a project that we can’t quite reveal the name of yet,  BUT if anyone is interested, rest assured that it should be coming out soon (I will announce an official date once it’s completely finished). So far, it’s been a fairly exciting process and I can guarantee that both Pilot and I are having a hard time waiting for it to be finished so that we can unleash (see what I did there?) onto the world. mission-top-secret-stamp-clipart-1

For right now, we’re just calling it “Project P”, but as soon as it is completely finished and ready to be released it will, hopefully, have a different name. But for now, you’ll just have to wait!

In other news….

Pilot has moved on from the Puppy Level classes at Petsmart and has now moved onto the Intermediate Level training classes and he seems to be doing fairly okay. He is learning how to heel (where he stays right by my leg as we are walking), to wait at doors without rushing outside (helpful if I’m trying to do fifty other things as well as try to take care of him), and he should be working on his sitting/down/stay. We haven’t been doing much training this week because there have been some personal things going on that I don’t think I should reveal here as that story really is not my story to tell.

Also, as a reminder if you would like to follow me and Pilot elsewhere but don’t know where to go here is a list of links:

The Official The Tail of Scarlett FB Page.

Pilot’s Instagram (Yes, Pilot has his own Instagram because he’s such a diva. Click the link to follow his antics!) Interested in becoming a member of the “Pilot Posse?” Click here to check out the Pilot Wear section of the Nature’s Wonder CafePress store. You can also pick up some other really cool things there as well (such as The Tail of Scarlett merch) if you are interested. Proceeds from all Pilot Wear purchases will be donated to reputable animal rescue organizations and shelters. I’m thinking of featuring different ones on a regular basis.

My Twitter

Goodreads

To purchase a copy of The Tail of Scarlett book click here.

That’s all for now! Remember, always keep your tail waggin’!

Gail (and Pilot too!)

Sweater Weather

We’re in south here, so oftentimes cold weather alludes us. I know I’ve talked to people who live up in the northern part of the U.S. and they are grabbing their coats while I’m still in shorts. However, when I took Pilot out a few days ago for our morning routine and noticed him trembling, I knew it was time for a sweater.

“Ain’t I cute?”

Now, I’m not the kind of person that dresses their dog up on a regular basis because HE’S A DOG, but I didn’t like seeing him cold, so this was bought out of more of a necessity than anything else. At first it wasn’t fun and Pilot HATED IT. He ran, he hid, he did everything he could to avoid this evil monster that his human had brought home and was currently trying to attack him. BUT, I learned that by slowly introducing the sweater and showing him that it was harmless and won’t hurt him, he’s been able to accept it.

I have never been one for dressing up my pets in any kind of costume or anything like that because they’re…well their dogs, they aren’t humans. But I also know that if I’m cold, it’s more than likely my dog is too, and so I wanted to make sure I did everything I could to keep Pilot warm (Scarlett on the other hand was a much bigger, furrier dog and could take the cold a bit better, but even then she was always kept inside if it was lower or higher than a certain temperature outside). Always be sure that your pets have a nice warm place to sleep at night, provide proper heating, make sure you keep up a good grooming routine (no trimming or shaving as your pet will need their full coat weight in order to stay warm and insulated) to keep out the mats as matted fur does not insulate well. Make sure you bathe your dog indoors. Make sure they are completely dried off before letting them outside. Give fewer baths during cold snaps, or consider skipping baths altogether. In cold weather, it’s going to take your animal friends a lot longer to dry off and make sure the water is a proper temperature when you do, because if the water is too cold it could make your dog sick. Pilot and I do not live in an area where there is lots of ice and snow, but if you do it might be a good idea to keep the hair around your animal friend’s paw pads trimmed. This should keep ice and snow, as well as the chemicals used to treat iced over areas out of our dog’s hair. And if you’re friend is willing, see if they will wear booties. Lastly, avoid overfeeding. It is important for pets to eat well during the colder months in order to provide themselves with energy and warmth, however if your pet happens to be an indoor one, increasing their food over the winter might not be a good idea as it could cause obesity. The best thing to do is to have a conversation with your veterinarian about your pets energy and food intake needs. And also, make sure they have access to clean, unfrozen water both indoors and outside.

I do not consider myself an expert on dogs, cats, or any other animals, so always make sure that you have a conversation with your veterinarian about anything you are concerned about.

 

Keep your tail waggin’!

Gail

Pilot Wear

Hey ya’ll!

Pilot and I have been busy these last few weeks, which is why you haven’t been seeing any posts lately if you’ve been looking for updates. Let me give you a little rundown (or basically my list of excuses for not posting, lol):

1.) Pilot has been taking puppy training classes at Petsmart and is now an official graduate! img_1307

 

2.) Pilot actually went on his first big trip! Blue Ridge, Ga is a very dog friendly town and many of the stores will actually allow you to bring your dogs in (depending on their size), and your dog can even join you as you’re dining out on many of the town’s restaurant patios. Also, should you decide to spend the night, Blue Ridge has plenty of choices to bring your pet companions along. If you’re interested, check out the website, http://www.bringfido.com and just search Blue Ridge, GA for a full list of places.

welcome

3.) Instagram! I Pilot has been trying (*wink wink*) to ramp  up his antics on Instagram in the last few days. If you want to follow him and see everything that we’ve both been up to, give Pilot a follow! His handle is: @pilottheflyingace. No seriously, go follow him!

 

4.) August 23rd book signing event at the Book Exchange went really well I think. Got to meet a great many people who also love books and I also managed to get my hands on a copy of Harry Potter and The Cursed Child. So that was a win win! I also made purchases from some of the other authors that were there. #Shoplocal #Supportindependentbookstores

 

5.) Pilot Wear! Little known fact, I also have a little store on CafePress called Nature’s Wonder and it was decided a few weeks ago that I should pay homage to my tiny friend. Therefore Pilot Wear was created! Pilot Wear is a unique line of clothing (and a few other things) that pays tribute to pets and the human’s they befriend. So head on over there and check it out if you like! More designs should be coming soon.

6.) Oh…and this happened: Pilot made his YouTube debut! This is what Pilot does when he’s no longer interested in his food, lol. He tries to save it for later! Let’s see how many views the little guy can get! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwP2frGP5o4

 

So far, those are the only things. I will do my best to post more regularly in the future. In the meantime please follow Pilot on Instagram if you would like more regular updates on his antics (let’s see how many follows he can get! Please share).

 

Keep your tail waggin’!

Gail