Category Archives: dogs

Visiting the Scene of the Crime

Happy Labor Day, everyone!  As promised last week, below are some photos of Marc, Ana’s and my recent trip to Cannon Beach, Oregon.  The trip was doubly special because we both got to see the full eclipse and spend some time at the location of my upcoming mystery, Pre-Meditated Murder!

We got into town early enough to settle in to our tiny beach house and do an early romp on the beach.

Ana inaugurated the beach with her first paw print.

Then we rested up to leave at six the next morning to drive to the path of totality.  Ana practiced wearing her eclipse glasses.

But seemed relatively unimpressed.  (Do you see the mini-eclipses in her fur?)

Still, totality was pretty amazing, at least for us humans.

We made it up to Ana by taking her to the beach and letting her run.

Day…

And night.

She was a very happy girl.

The humans saw starfish.

And got a little exercise themselves.

We even visited our favorite sailor statue.

Man how Ana has grown!  (This photo was taken ten months ago.)

Alas, it was finally time to say goodbye.

But we had a fabulous surprise shortly after we returned home!

We’re already planning our next trip to this very special place.  In the meantime, I’ll share it with you this January in Pre-Meditated Murder!

Hope you all had a wonderful summer filled with love, laughter, and vacation adventures.

Tracy

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

What’s in a Name?

 

Unending joy through the eyes of a puppy.

Today’s my day to blog at Inkspot, the blog for authors of Midnight Ink.  I’m discussing the power of names, both in fictional characters and our loved ones.

http://midnightwriters.blogspot.com/2017/05/whats-in-name.html

Enjoy!

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

Food, Friendship, and Fun!

We had such a great time (as always) at VegFest this year that I wanted to share some photos with you.  Enjoy, and come see us there next year!

I started the first day staffing the booth with the fabulous Katie West.  Here we are, before sixteen hours of crowd surfing stole all of my beauty.

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Soon the masses descended, filling the space with people ready for food and fun!

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Of course no day would be complete without a visit from Ana Pup.  I couldn’t convince anyone to let her come inside as my service dog, so we took a break and explored the rest of Seattle Center.  Ana enjoyed playing with her stick.  I enjoyed hanging out by the fountain.

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Then I came back and split my time between talking about my mystery series and chatting with potential new yoga students.

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By the second day, I was looking a little more weathered, so you’ll have to take my word for it that I was there.  The fabulous Rene de los Santos can vouch for me.

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Ana Pup came to visit again. This time she took me to the Space Needle. This is her saying, “Hurry up human!  What are you waiting for?”

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I finished the day by checking out the goat rescue booth. I will someday soon own goats myself. The husband unit disagrees.

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After we’d packed up for the weekend, hubby and I went to the season finale of The Walking Dead at the Edmonds Theater.  No photos included, as I resembled a few of the cast members too much for my comfort.

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That’s all for now, but I hope you join us at VegFest next year.  It’s always exhausting, lots of fun, and it offers all of the tasty vegetarian treats you can ask for!

See you next time!

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

Lessons from Tasha

Last week I wrote about the loss of one of the greatest loves of my life, my German shepherd, Tasha, who was the inspiration for my Downward Dog Mystery Series.  Specifically, I wrote about how through her bravery, I learned how to love again.  Today I’d like to share some of the lessons she taught me. I actually wrote this to Tasha as we lay in bed together on one of her last nights, but I waited to post it until now.  Wherever she is, I hope she doesn’t mind my sharing.

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Tasha Dog–still happy ten days before she passed. There’s a lesson in that, too.

Lessons You Taught Me.

As we lay here together, we both know our time left together is short.  Being with you now is a privilege, and it reminds me of all of the lessons you’ve taught me over our past twelve years together.

  1. I am able to love–and be loved–without condition. I know, it seems like this should be a given, and it probably is.  But somehow I needed your presence in my life to prove it to me. This will always be your greatest gift.
  2. Love is hard–but so very worth it. I feel sorry for people who experience loss and then give up on love. Nothing is more powerful. Nothing is more worth doing. Over and over and over again.
  3. We all make mistakes. Lord knows, I’ve made plenty, especially in your earlier years. Frankly, my sweet, you made some doozies. It never changed my commitment to you, or yours to me.  Not once. There’s incredible beauty in that.
  4. When you make a friend, you love them for life. You didn’t trust many people, but when you bonded with someone, you did so completely. You never forgot their names, and you recognized them years later. In your last days, those same friends came to see you, some after having not been with you for a very long time.  You see, they loved you for life, too.
  5. It’s never to late to make new lifelong friends. As you aged, you grew sweeter. Your circle of friends broadened. I met some of the best people in my life in the last two years of yours–and all because of you.  In those friendships you live on for me.
  6. You can live with chronic illness and pain and be happy. Both of us have imperfect bodies, but you never complained about yours.  You accepted it and were happy in spite of it. I’m still working on that one.
  7. The mailman is not to be trusted.  OK, Sweetie.  If you say so.  I promise, I’ll keep an eye on him. You can relax now.  Your guard dog days are over. You did your job well.

I have a few requests for you as you move on to your next journey.

  1. Don’t wait for me. I don’t know if there’s a life beyond this one, but if there is, live it. Without regret, without reservation. Enjoy it. Relish it. I will join you when it’s my time. Come get me then, but feel free to forget about me in the meantime.
  2. That said, if you want to visit, I’ll be here. Writing about you. Thinking about you. Loving you. I am here for you. Always.
  3. I will be OK without you. That doesn’t at all reduce my love for you. In fact, it shows how very strong that love is. You don’t have to worry about me anymore. You made me strong enough to survive on my own.

Goodbye Puppy Girl, my sweetheart, my love. Thank you for gifting me with almost twelve years of your presence. I will always love you; always miss you. But I am forever grateful for the gift of you in my life.

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

Uncertainty, Loss, and Learning to Love Again

I recently asked my Facebook followers what they’d like to read about on my blog. Not surprisingly, they wanted to hear about Ana.  She’s been a huge part of my life since I adopted her in August, and of course people want to hear more about her and her antics.  Her penchant for eating $20 bills. Her Houdini-like escape maneuvers. Her ability to outsmart me (and her trainers) at literally every turn.

A couple of people asked me to write about something that surprised me, though. They wanted me to share how I got over the death of my heart-dog, Tasha, so that I could so fully commit to Ana.

13603638_10154556966443268_8986993429120975080_o1Tasha, you see, was my life for twelve years, and anyone who spoke to me for more than ten seconds knew it. I adored her. I lived for her. I built my life around her. I didn’t think I could survive without her. Literally. I told my husband that when Tasha passed, he’d have to take time off from work to put me on a suicide watch. He believed me. He even warned his boss.

But when Tasha passed, life went on.

I spoke about it with Marc over dinner tonight, and I honestly don’t know how I healed from Tasha’s death. Maybe I didn’t. Or maybe I grieved early. I worried so much about Tasha’s passing—lived it in my head for the last years of her life—that when it actually happened, I was devastated, but not lost, at least not permanently. I fought and fought and fought and fought to keep her with me.  So hard, that when the battle was over …

It was just over.

Maybe I was saved because her death was so beautiful. At home, with those she loved, without intervention, without suffering.  The most important people in her life came to visit during her last week to say their goodbyes. She ate a meal three hours before her death and jumped up to bark at her vet—who made a weekend house call to check on her—a half hour after that. In her final ten minutes, my husband held her head while I rubbed her feet and assured her.  No one could hope for a better goodbye.

Then again, maybe it’s because I knew that I’d have to go on without Tasha someday. In spite of a savings account worth of tests, we never found out what was wrong with Tasha during those final months. But as I examined and re-examined all of those “normal” test results, I couldn’t feel reassured. I knew deep in my heart that something was wrong with my love. Absent a diagnosis, the only thing I could control was what I’d do if she left me.

So I planned for the future. I spoke with about a dozen German shepherd breeders, not feeling any more reassured than I did from Tasha’s medical tests. I had lingering concerns about all of them.

14632999_10154857647418268_4750400350699038905_n1Two days before Tasha passed, I was referred to a breeder who was perfect. Miraculously so. She normally had a long waiting list, but given my circumstances, she agreed to hold a four-week-old puppy for me, even though we knew I might not be able to take her. I sat down with Tasha that same day and told her, “I don’t want you to leave. I want you to stay with me forever. But if you’re tired—if you’re ready to go now—I’ll be OK.”

I think Tasha had held on for me until that moment. In fact, I know she did.

A few people—one quite unkindly—have told me that I didn’t adequately grieve before I got a new puppy.

They’re wrong.

After all, Tasha sacrificed so much for me. How could I not honor her? How could I not fall in love with the puppy she’d waited so long for me to find?

I hope this post doesn’t sound dismal, because I certainly don’t feel that way. I feel content. Next week, I’ll post  some of the lessons Tasha taught me. For now, let me say this: The greatest lesson of all is that love is worthwhile, in spite of the inevitability of loss. And the best way to honor the one that you’ve loved is to do it all over again.

And maybe, just maybe, you don’t have a single heart dog. Maybe you have two.

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

Ana Ear Watch 2016!

Unless this is the first time you’ve visited my blog, you probably know that my husband and I adopted an all-black German shepherd pup named Ana this past August.  One of the many joys of puppy ownership is watching how fast they mature and grow.  In Ana’s case, it’s all about the ears.   Below I share a 3-month timeline.

To make it a little more fun, let’s make it a contest!  Comment on the blog with your favorite by midnight on Midnight on December 25.  Santa will send one lucky winner their choice of any of the four books in my Downward Dog Mystery series, including A Fatal Twist, which launches on January 8!

Good luck!

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Ana ears 1: August 4th–almost six weeks old!

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Ana ears 2: August 15–the day she arrived at our home. The carpet hasn’t been clean since!

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Ana ears 3: August 29. Starting to look perky!

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Ana ears 4: September 6th. Maybe I should have named her Ivy!

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Ana ears 5: September 18. One up, one at half mast.

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Ana ears 6: September 28. The crossed-ears days.

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Ana ears 7: October 5. More like a steeple now.

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Ana ears 8: October 16. One up, one leaning.

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Ana ears 9: October 26. It’s hard to hide when your ears are so big!

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Ana ears 10: November 6. Right ear straight up, left a little floppy.

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Ana ears 11: November 20: Kind of like windshield wipers, don’t you think?

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Ana ears 12: December 4th. Ah, perfection. And just in time for the holidays!

Isn’t the speed of her development amazing?  Don’t forget to vote on your favorite in the comments.  Include your e-mail address (i.e. Tracy(at)WholeLifeYoga(dot)com) so I can contact you if you win.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

Mystery Goes to the Dogs

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Hey all!  This week I’m blogging at Inkspot (the blog for the writers of Midnight Ink)  about an event I recently attended called DogFest!  Check out the photos of some of my newest four-legged fans.

http://midnightwriters.blogspot.com/2016/08/mystery-goes-to-dogs.html

Tracy Weber

PS–all three books in my Downward Dog mystery series are now available!  Learn more at http://tracyweberauthor.com.  Thanks for reading!

Where the Healing Begins

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As many of you know, I’ve lived through challenging times over the past ten months. Last October, my mother died of breast cancer that spread to her brain, less than two weeks after I learned of the metastasis.

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Mom and me, with our spouses

My beloved dog Tasha passed away in July, likely also of cancer that spread to her brain, though we’ll never know for sure. Like my mom, Tasha died a couple of weeks after becoming ill.

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Tasha and me, three weeks before she passed.

In ten months, I’d provided hospice care to two of the most important souls of my life.  I felt sad. Depleted.  Exhausted. No longer able to fulfill my roles as boss, teacher, and business owner.  I couldn’t stand any more losses.

A few days later. I learned that my childhood best friend died the same day as Tasha.

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Michelle and me, age 15.

My story isn’t unique. We all suffer losses.  This article isn’t about loss, anyway.  This article is about healing.

The day Tasha died, I only knew two things for certain. She had made my life better, and she would have hated for me to suffer.  I owed it to her to find a new love.  I started researching German shepherd breeders and found one I both respected and trusted.  They often have a two-year waiting list, but oddly, they had a female available.

My puppy would be ready to come home in three weeks, but I didn’t want to wait. I couldn’t explain why, but I felt strongly that I needed to meet her first.  Unfortunately, the visit would involve an 800-mile flight and a four-hour drive each way, all to spend a couple of hours with my soon-to-be best friend—at seven in the morning, no less! The visit would take place six days before we brought her home.

I told the idea to my engineer husband, who said what he always says when I announce that I’m about to act on an expensive, completely illogical impulse.

“If you want.”

I abandoned my business, my significantly-behind-schedule writing, and my overworked spouse and took off for the three-day adventure.

It was one of the best irrational impulses I ever indulged. Everything about the trip seemed to be blessed.  From unanticipated first class flight upgrades, to a stay at a wonderful eco-spa for less than $100 a night.

I had two days of dead time around my two-hour puppy meeting, so I indulged in massages, ate waffles and dark chocolate cake, and worked on my novel from a patio overlooking the resort’s koi pond. On Sunday morning, I fell in love with my new pup, Ana. I spent time with the lovely Penni Elaine, her fiancé, and her best friend, who are doing a fabulous job of raising her. I have no doubt: Ana and I are a match made in heaven.  Tasha arranged it.

Tracy and Ana

Tracy and Ana meet!

Later that night, I spent forty-five mesmerizing minutes watching the resort’s koi ease smoothly back and forth through the water. I named the five largest: Spot, Dalmation, Stripe, Silver, and Ghost. A sense of deep peace overcame me.

This is it, I thought. This is where the healing begins.

The process of healing is long, filled with ups and downs, and I don’t know how long it will take. But I can mark its beginning. And for that I am eternally grateful.

Tracy Weber

Tasha’s Tips for a Successful Dog Walk

Silhouette of a German Shepherd holding a leash and ready to go for a walk

As many of my readers know, Bella, the German shepherd hero in my Downward Dog Mystery series, is based on my own German shepherd, Tasha.  Both are huge, often unruly (at least in Tasha’s younger days) and smarter than most people I know, myself included.  They are also both reactive.  A reactive dog isn’t aggressive—it’s frightened. It sometimes barks, lunges, and makes a scene, not because it’s mean, but because it wants to make the scary thing go away.

As Kate learned early in Murder Strikes a Pose, walking a reactive dog is far from easy, especially in a populated city like Seattle.  So when the folks at Rover.com asked if I’d be willing to share some tips for a successful dog walk, I jumped at the chance, with one exception:  A blog this important had to be written by an expert. So, for your enjoyment (and hopefully education!) below are Tasha’s Tips for a Successful Dog Walk.  Take it away, Tasha!

Tasha’s Tips for a Successful Dog Walk

  1. Keep your pup on lead!  Like most of my canine buddies, I love to run off leash.  Even though I have an amazingly good recall, sometimes my brain shuts off.  Like when I see bunnies. Or squirrels. Or balls bouncing into the street. When I’m in the middle of an attack of the zoomies, I could easily get hurt.  So could someone else, like the driver of that car swerving to miss me.  Where’s the fun in that?
  2. Ask before you let your dog approach another dog, even if your dog is friendly.  Especially if your dog is “friendly.”  You might not know this, but “friendly” in human-speak often translates to “rude and obnoxious” in dog land.  I once had a “friendly” dog wrap its retractable leash around my leg. Then it ran away and yanked it.  That HURT!  When I was younger, stranger-dogs sometimes jumped on me and hurt my bad hip. Now that I’m older and more frail, I could easily be permanently hurt. I like my vet, but I really don’t want knee or back surgery.
  3. The same goes for you and your children.  If the human walking a dog says the dog is nervous around strangers, don’t argue with them. Even if you think I will love you. Even if dogs always love you. You don’t know my history.  Maybe a person who looked like you kicked me when I was a pup.  Maybe kids pulled on my ears.  Maybe I’m in pain and your touch hurts me.
  4. Don’t jerk your dog’s neck.  Next to their humans, treats are a dog’s best friend, though I hear some dogs love toys even more. So why jerk your dog’s leash or grump at him?    If you want your pup’s attention, talk to her in a happy voice or offer her a treat instead. Believe me, your dog will still respect you.  I know you want to be alpha (whatever that means). Treating your dog with kindness won’t prevent that. You can easily be alpha without acting like a bully.
  5. Don’t stare in my eyes and show me your teeth.  My human says that in human-speak, this is called eye contact and a smile, and it means that you’re friendly.  But did you know that in dog-speak the same expression means “I’m a big jerk who’s threatening to bite you?” Instead, look to the side, crouch low to the ground, and let me approach you if I’m comfortable. Remember, always ask my human first!
  6. Ask before you feed me treats. I love treats! I’d eat anything you fed me. And then I might get really sick later. I have food allergies, and I’m not alone. Food sensitivities are common in dogs these days. Some foods make my skin break out in sores. Others give me diarrhea. That tiny piece of cheese you give me will make me sick for days afterwards.

So that’s about it! Six simple tips that will make your dog walks happy, safe, and fun for you, your pup, your dog walker, and for other dogs like me.

Thanks for reading! And if you’re interested in reading my human’s mysteries, check out the link below.

Tasha

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PS–all three books in Tracy Weber’s Downward Dog mystery series are now available!  Learn more at http://tracyweberauthor.com.  Thanks for reading!