Have You Hugged Your Hound Today?

September 8 is National Hug Your Hound Day.

The past month has been a challenge for us. Our beagle, Buddy, started limping on three legs. His lameness required a visit to a vet neurologist. At first we wondered if he might be having another episode with degenerative disk disease, but an MRI showed he did not have a significant level of spinal pressure to warrant another surgery. Whew! We were glad to hear that information.

The neurologist prescribed prednisone and crate rest for four weeks. Buddy likes his bed, which we’ve placed in a small pen in our family room. So that’s where he’s been confined for the past three weeks. The treatment is working. Lately, when we’ve taken him out to do his “business” he hasn’t limped anymore.

During this time of strict rest, I really missed petting and hugging Buddy. I missed having him under foot whenever I cooked a meal. I missed long walks with him around the neighborhood. I can watch him sleep and hear him breathing over there in his pen, but life just isn’t the same. One more week to go.

I’ve learned how much I need my dog. Did you know owning a dog has lots of benefits for people? Here are a few:

  • Improved heart health (studies have linked owning a dog with lower blood pressure and reduced cholesterol)
  • Increased exercise
  • Weight loss
  • Improved social life (talking to neighbors who walk their dogs)
  • Reduced stress (spending a few minutes with your dog lowers anxiety)
  • Greater meaning and purpose to life.
  • Less depression
  • Prevention of allergies in children
  • Reduce doctor visits (especially among senior citizens)

Wow! Doesn’t this list inspire you to give your four legged friend a hug? Or if you don’t have the pleasure of owning a dog, you might consider the idea.

National Hug Your Hound Day is about observing the world from your dog’s point of view.

I share Buddy’s point of view in my book, Buddy the Beagle on Blueberry Street. The story follows his recovery from paralysis caused by a herniated disk in 2013. I appreciate this endorsement from our veterinarian, who helped us get through Buddy’s medical challenges.

“Buddy teaches us how to keep perspective and maintain a positive outlook on life no matter what the situation may be.” —Enrique G. Duprey, DVM

This post is for all of you dog lovers who continue to invest in the health of your pets. If they could speak human and thank you, they would! Dogs love unconditionally and inspire us to be better people. How has your dog enriched your life? Leave a comment.

Buddy the Beagle on Blueberry Street

A heartwarming story about an injured dog and his road to recovery.

I am delighted to announce the publication of my first children’s book. Buddy the Beagle on Blueberry Street (Elk Lake Publishing) is now available in paperback. I displayed a copy for Buddy to see but he seemed to be more interested in a belly rub. During the first year he lived with us, our little beagle would have chewed on the book’s cover. At age eight, Buddy is much more mature.

Although this little chapter book is written for children ages six to nine, the whole family will enjoy the inspiration it delivers. Buddy’s life story starts when Henry and Jen adopt him from a beagle rescue. Written from a dog’s point of view, Buddy shares his opinions about people, food, and the house rules. When a tragic accident paralyzes his hind legs, he finds he needs everyone’s help and months of therapy to recover. Buddy doesn’t give up trying to walk, even when Blitz, the neighborhood bully dog laughs at him.

Jenny Laskowski captures Buddy’s adorable personality in her illustrations.

My journey to become an author has been a lot like Buddy’s story. There were times I wanted to give up. As every writer knows, it takes perseverance to keep going when your manuscript is rejected. It was only through the encouragement of my friend Sherri Stewart, that I resumed working on this project after a long sabbatical. My next pitch to Deb Haggerty of Elk Lake resulted in a contract for publication. I am so thankful for Deb and my literary agent, Michelle Lazurek who made this book possible. Of course I want to give special thanks to my illustrator, Jenny Laskowski.

When Derinda, an Elk Lake designer, was assigned to my book I began a crash course in editing I will never forget. By working with Derinda I discovered I use too many exclamation marks when I write. (I tend to get excited.) I think it’s a habit I developed from writing comments on facebook. In all seriousness, Derinda helped me take my manuscript to the next level. The whole process gave me a new appreciation of the amount of work involved in producing a book.

To purchase Buddy the Beagle on Blueberry Street click here. I invite your honest and helpful reviews. I welcome you to help me launch my book by sharing this post on your social media sites.

“Any dog lover, young or old, will be able to relate to this heartwarming story about an injured dog and his road to recovery. Debbie Burton shares this real-life adventure with passion and humor.” —Dr. Randall Hart, Principal, Dover Shores Elementary.

What My Dog Has Taught Me About Writing

I’ve learned a lot from following my dog around. Whenever Buddy picks up an interesting scent… he walks faster and faster with his nose to the ground. Buddy will not stop until he tracks the scent to its source. It might be as small as one goldfish cracker, but he will not give up until he gets what he’s after. I must admit I admire his persistance.

I’ve discovered I need to apply a few of Buddy’s good qualities to my writing life. Although Buddy is directed by his sense of smell, I’m directed by what I see. My focus determines the direction I will go. I’m trying to direct my focus and be more productive by thinking like a dog.

Keep Looking Forward

Buddy never looks back, but continues to forge strait ahead when he’s on a mission. Sometimes I think fondly of the past and wish I could go back. That happens a lot when I look in the mirror and see how I’ve aged. Allowing my age to stop me from pursuing my dreams as a writer is a non-starter and robs me of my motivation. I need to remember and be thankful I’m retired. My age gives me more time to spend on my craft.

Look Beyond The Obstacles

Buddy never lets anything get in his way. When his back legs were paralyzed, he used his front paws to pull himself forward while dragging his back feet behind him. Wherever he wanted to go, he went. If I had focused on my inexperience as a writer, I would have never moved forward. My husband believed I could write a children’s book before I did. With his support, the fact that I’d never written a book, didn’t stop me.

Stay Alert for Opportunities

Buddy can be on the other side of the room but the sound of chopping vegetables or rustling cellophane signals his attention. He trots over to assume his position at my feet, keeping watch for any crumbs I drop on the floor.

Ideas for writing pop up on my radar just like those noises in the kitchen. Good ideas can fall to floor as quick as kernel of popcorn. I need to keep a notebook, or my phone handy to capture them. If I’m stuck without an idea for a blog, poem, or plot, I can always consult my notes.

Take Time To Rest

I’ll admit I’m somewhat of a workaholic. It’s important to realize whether I’m being productive, or spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. Busy work saps creativity. As I write this, Buddy is curled up sleeping. He doesn’t have a care in the world. He knows he can trust me to meet his needs. In the same way I need to remember everything doesn’t depend on me. Rest can be achieved in many ways, physically and spiritually. I rest physically when I stop hitting the keys. I rest spiritually by remembering that ultimately God is in control.

On that note, I’m thrilled to announce the release of my first children’s book, Buddy the Beagle on Blueberry Street  March 21, 2019! Click on the link to read more on the specifics of my book at Elk Lake Publishing.