Category Archives: dogs

Where the Healing Begins

20160808_092930_resized

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.

12188098_10154291665843572_2355977639083995649_o[1]

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.

Tracy and Tasha

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.

Tracy and Michelle

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

books available

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

Compassion in a Fractured World

Two hands holding a broken globe, illustration for a damaged planet

I met my dog-mom doppleganger today. A woman about my age with long dark hair who was crying outside of my vet clinic. She was very upset about her 12-year-old German shepherd, who has many of the same neurological symptoms as my German shepherd, Tasha.

I told her to wait for me, put Tasha in the car, and chatted with her for about 30 minutes. I described the therapies we’ve been doing with Tasha. I confided my own fears for the future. I explained as best I could what the neurologist had just told her, which is basically the same thing they told me. “We don’t know.” She said I used the same words the vet had just used in describing the potential diagnoses, but she felt like she could hear them from me. Frankly, I think she simply felt heard.

Why am I writing about this? I worry about our world lately, especially now that the political rhetoric keeps getting louder. We spend much more time talking at each other than communicating with each other. Listening has become a lost art. I’m not taking sides here. I see the same problem on all sides of the political spectrum—and there are way more than two. Our political candidates are simply a reflection of the rest of our world. None of us is innocent.

I don’t know how we change it, but perhaps opportunities like the one I had today are a start. Rather than walk past someone who is a struggling, why not walk toward them? Human connection comes in so many forms, and it has infinite benefits. We’re just out of practice.

Remember what the yoga teachings say about communication:

  • Speak less
  • Speak only the truth
  • When the truth will cause harm, say nothing.

As for the stranger I met today, I don’t know what the future holds for either of us, and the end is inevitable for both of our dogs. (For all of us, really.) But I feel like talking to me helped her. At least I hope it did.

May we all find a kind ear when we need it the most. More importantly, may we be willing to offer that same kindness to others.

Tracy Weber

books available

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

The Final Press Push!

Mobile media devices concept: office laptop, tablet PC computer and black glossy touchscreen smartphone with internet web business news on screen isolated on white background with reflection effect

Hi all!  Today’s my blogging day at Inkspot, the blog for writers of Midnight Ink, and I’m using it to highlight some of my favorite articles and interviews from the final press push for my third Downward Dog Mystery, Karma’s a Killer.  From insider tips on writing and the path to publication, to photographic tours of pivotal settings in the book, to a character interview with Kate, the yoga teacher/sleuth in the series.  I’ve had a blast connecting with all of these bloggers and editors!

Check them out at http://midnightwriters.blogspot.com/2016/02/wrapping-up-press-push.html  and conduct your own interview by asking questions in the comments!  I love chatting with readers!

See you next Monday!

Tracy Weber

books available

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

Murder and Mayhem Animal Style

My favorite childhood cow, Beauty. One of the many animals that have had a profound influence on my life.

Hey all!  This week I’m blogging at Inkspot (the blog for the writers of Midnight Ink)  about the many animals in my life and how they’ve informed my mysteries.  Check it out and leave a comment about the important animals in your life.  Who knows?  I might include them in one of my future books!

http://midnightwriters.blogspot.com/2016/01/mystery-and-mayhemanimal-style.html

See you there!

Tracy Weber

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

Take your dog to a book store!

Hi all!  This week’s blog article is all about a fabulous event I’m doing at the end of this month with a group of four other authors called the Dog Squad!  Grab your best furry friend and hustle on down to Phinney Books for an afternoon of fun!  Support your local book store, chat with several local authors, and show off your best canine buddy at the same time! (Humans without canine buddies welcome too!)  😉

dog squad

Join Dog Squad authors Laura T. Coffey, Waverly Curtis, David R. Gross, and Tracy Weber for an afternoon of Fido fun! All four authors will read from their books, answer questions, and accept dog kisses. Come prepared to share your dog’s special talents. Who knows?  Maybe your pup will be featured in one of our future books.

Readings, signings, prizes, and dog treats!  What more could you ask for?

Well-behaved dogs welcome.

Saturday, January 30, 2:00 – 3:00 PM
Phinney Books

7405 Greenwood Ave N
Seattle, WA 98103
206-297-2665
info@PhinneyBooks.com

About the Authors:

Laura T. Coffey: My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts

Laura T. Coffey is a writer, editor and producer for TODAY.com, the website of NBC’s TODAY show, and the author of the non-fiction book “My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts.” An award-winning journalist with more than two decades of experience, Laura has written and edited hundreds of high-profile human-interest stories. She lives in Seattle. Her author website is http://www.myolddogbook.com/.

Waverly Fitzgerald and Curt Colbert (Waverly Curtis): Silence of the Chihuahuas

Waverly Fitzgerald and Curt Colbert make up the writing team known as Waverly Curtis. In 2011 when Curt showed up for one of their weekly meetings with the start of a novel within a novel featuring a talking Chihuahua. Waverly said she would like to help him write that novel (especially since it was loosely based on her daughter’s Chihuahua, Pepe) and the collaboration was born. Five years later they’ve written five novels and one novella in the Barking Detective series for Kensington books; the most recent is called The Silence of the Chihuahuas.

David R Gross: Travels with Charlize

David R. Gross graduated from Colorado State University’s veterinary school in 1960. Following private practice for ten years he enrolled in graduate school and earned a M.Sc. degree and a PhD degree from the Ohio State University. He taught and did research at Texas A & M University for sixteen years then became Director of the Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery Research Labs at the University of Kentucky Medical School for five years. Dr. Gross retired in 2006 after twelve years as Professor and Head of Veterinary Biosciences, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Since retirement, he published: ANIMALS DON’T BLUSH (Book Publishers Network), MAN HUNT (Whiskey Creek Press), SUCCEEDING AS A STUDENT (Book Publishers Network), and TRAVELS WITH CHARLIZE (Book Publishers Network). He blogs at http://www.docdavesvoice.com.

Tracy Weber: Karma’s a Killer

Tracy Weber is the author of the award-winning Downward Dog Mysteries series. The first book in the series, Murder Strikes a Pose, won the Maxwell Award for Fiction and was nominated for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Karma’s a Killer is her third novel. Tracy is the owner of Whole Life Yoga in Seattle. She and her husband Marc live in Phinney Ridge with their challenging yet amazing German shepherd, Tasha. When she’s not writing, Tracy spends her time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at her favorite ale house.  For more information on Tracy and the Downward Dog Mysteries, visit her author website: http://TracyWeberAuthor.com/

Tours Both Virtual and Live

DSC_3049_edited_3

I’m having a fabulous time on my virtual and in-person book tours!  Seattleites, come see me this week at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park on Thursday at 7 PM or at Whole Life Yoga this Saturday at 2:30!  Readings, prizes, signings, and all the hugs you’ll give me!  Both events are open to all ages, so bring the whole family!  The awesome Rene de los Santos will be present at the Third Place Books event to teach a short chair yoga class to prepare your bodies for sitting and your minds for reading!

In the meantime, I’ve been all over the net writing about yoga, writing, and Karma’s a Killer.  Check out some of my favorite articles below:

  • The Story Behind the Book About how a pigeon I rescued at Whole Life Yoga made an impact on this book. “There are so many stories behind Karma’s a Killer. The story of the neighborhood crows that have befriended my German shepherd, Tasha. The story of fractured family relationships. And of course, story of solving a murder. But the story closest to my heart is that of a pigeon I saved over three years ago…”
  • Cozy up with Kathy: Yoga for Dogs? “The practice of Doga actually has many benefits. Yoga practice in the presence of dogs is calming to both man and beast. Dogs are sensitive creatures—highly attuned to human energy. Anything that makes humans more peaceful also brings calm to their canine companions.”
  • Great Escapes Book Tours:  A fabulous review by a reader who doesn’t even like yoga!  Two of my favorite quotes… “With a big dose of humor Tracy Weber takes us on quite an adventure. ” and “This series is going in a fantastic direction. Animal lovers, you must read this story!! “
  • The Dark Phantom Review: An interview in which I discuss the craft of writing:  How to create compelling characters and settings:  “I use all five senses when describing a setting: smell, sight, taste, sound, and touch. I also use a sixth sense that I can only describe as energy: Some places feel light; others heavy; still others, prickly. And the energy of a space changes based on the perspective and mood of the character inside it.”
  • A Blue Million Books: A Great interview about writing, reading and social media.  And the all important question of who I’d most like to have at a dinner party.  “Stephen King, Mary Daheim, Doctor Seuss, Edgar Allan Poe, and Santa Clause. I mean seriously. Wouldn’t that be a hoot?”
  • As the Page Turns: Yoga, writing, and persevering practice. “Slogging through a first draft often feels less like making love, more like walking through hardening cement. When things get tough, I remind myself of one of yoga’s most important principles: persevering practice.”
  • The Writers Life: Writing, reviews, and author egos.  “Being a writer is a lot like being a Hollywood movie star. There are a few that make it big. The rest wait tables at your local Applebee’s. If making money is your goal, try something easier. Like brain surgery.”

Tracy Weber

books available

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

Every Day’s a Gift

mri2

Today is my weekly posting for Inkspot, the blog for authors of Midnight Ink.  I’ve thought about writing this blog post for years. I finally did it the other day while I was sitting at the vet with Tasha (the inspiration for my mystery series) and waiting for her to go in for an MRI.  The lesson was powerful for me, and I hope it someday helps you, too. Then again, perhaps you’re smarter than I am and don’t need it.  😉

http://midnightwriters.blogspot.com/2015/10/every-days-gift.html

Namaste

Tracy Weber

Karmas a Killer (4)And if you want to show me some love, you can preorder my newest mystery, KARMA’S A KILLER, now at Amazon Barnes and Noble.

Yee haw, yippee, and yahooey!

Check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT and MURDER STRIKES A POSE are available at book sellers everywhere

 

 

Sunsets, Suffering, and Finding Peace

blog (2)

Why is it that every time I write about life’s suffering, I’m thinking about my dog? I adopted Tasha-dog eleven years ago this week. I was missing something in my life, though I wasn’t sure what, exactly.  I had a lovely husband, a fulfilling career, four (yes four!) cats, and lots of friends.

But I was still lonely. I had been pining for a German shepherd for approximately thirty years, since my family rehomed the German shepherd of my childhood. My visions of Tasha were laughable, in hindsight.  Perfectly behaved, she’s not. Healthy, she’s not. Cat loving…well, let’s not even go there. She was everything I thought I didn’t want, but ended up being exactly what I needed, and more.

She is the biggest source of joy in my life.

And the source of my most debilitating anxiety.

The other night, I was thinking about how many times Marc and I have almost lost her, due to the many diseases she’s had to live with or overcome.  Her imminent death has been predicted countless times, by vets I usually ended up firing.

But now that she’s eleven years old in a breed whose average lifespan is ten to twelve, even I have to admit, she’s approaching the sunset time of her life.  In the past three weeks, she’s been plagued by a neurological issue of unknown origin.  It may resolve; it may not. It may stay the same as it is now, or it may decline until we have no choice but to end her suffering.  We continue to do tests, but as of this writing, all is one big unknown.

Oddly enough, the most challenging part of this for me is that her neurological status cycles, and my mental health seems to cycle with it.  One day she seems better, the next worse. One day I’m optimistic and happy, the next, devastated.

The Yoga Sutras clearly predict my suffering. You see, I’m attached to this girl. I hesitate to say she’s like my child, because that’s not how I think of her.  But she is as important to me as any living being has ever been.  And I will inevitably have to say goodbye. I knew that the day I adopted her.  As crazy as it seems, I signed up for this.

My work now, as Tasha and I walk down this sunset path together, is to not be attached to the good days, because the good days won’t last forever.  If I can somehow learn to be present without gripping the good, perhaps I’ll have more peace during the inevitable challenges.

Then again, maybe I won’t.

Maybe grief is simply part of life’s process. Another obstacle to overcome that helps us appreciate the blessings of life while we have them.

Regardless, the Sutras say that meditation helps overcome suffering, so it’s time for me to reignite my practice.  If you care to join me, this is one of my favorites.

If you’re willing, please send Tasha happiness, her doctors wisdom, and me peace.

Namaste

Tracy Weber

Karmas a Killer (4)And if you want to show me some love, you can preorder my newest mystery, KARMA’S A KILLER, now at Amazon Barnes and Noble.

Yee haw, yippee, and yahooey!

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT and MURDER STRIKES A POSE are available at book sellers everywhere

What Color is Your Filter?

Smoky Quartz Crystal in Sun

A little over a year ago, my husband took some videos of me walking my dog to send to her hip surgeon, who practices in Idaho. Tasha, although limping, looked like her normal gorgeous self. I never looked worse. My voice sounded like two pieces of Styrofoam rubbing together, and my “rear view” was considerably more panoramic than I would have preferred. My Facebook friends assured me that the camera added ten pounds (I hoped it was twenty) and that my perception of my appearance was distorted.

Of course, they were right. Distorted perceptions are part of the human condition. Before we are born, the filters of our minds are clear. Unclouded, if you will. But as we mature and experience life, our minds become conditioned. The yoga teachings equate that conditioning to seeing the world through one of three quartz crystals.

The Smoky Quartz Crystal. The mind that sees through a smoky quartz crystal perceives the world as darker than reality. The Debbie Downer of minds, for all of you Saturday Night Live fans. In my smoky quartz crystal mind, my rear end grows larger; my voice, more screechy; my dog’s limp, more pronounced. The smoky quartz mind is prone to depression, anxiety, and negative thinking.

The Rose Quartz Crystal. The mind that sees through a rose quartz crystal, on the other hand, sees the world as more optimistic, colorful, and charmed than reality. The Pollyanna of minds. Seeing through a rose quartz crystal inevitably results in disappointment. We ignore risk and postpone appropriate action. If I saw that same video through a rose quartz filter, I might missed my dog’s obvious pain and not taken action to help her.

The Clear Quartz Crystal. The mind that sees the world through a clear quartz crystal sees things as they are. No better, no worse; no attachment, no fear. When we experience life through a clear quartz crystal, we are grounded enough to see the truth without being derailed by it. We experience life as it is, in this moment, free from the conditioning of our past.

Most people think yoga is about stretching your body.  Yoga’s true purpose is clarifying your mind. What color is your filter? If your answer is anything other than looking-glass clear, yoga can help.

Namaste

Tracy Weber

Karmas a Killer (4)And if you want to show me some love, you can preorder my newest mystery, KARMA’S A KILLER, now at Amazon Barnes and Noble.

Yee haw, yippee, and yahooey!

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT and MURDER STRIKES A POSE are available at book sellers everywhere