A Love Story

My dog Susie says

Who’s the ‘lucky’ one in this story?”

With the trying and terrible events of the past few months, I thought an uplifting story about a woman and her beloved dog would bring a smile to your face. This is a positive but absolutely true story!


Lucky Dog….                       

Anyone with pets will really like this loving”tail”, but you should enjoy it even if you don’t have any. After reading this, you may even decide that you need to get a pet in the near future!


Mary and her husband Jim had a dog named ‘Lucky.’ Lucky was a real character as dogs can sometimes be. Whenever Mary and Jim had company come for a weekend visit, they would warn their friends to not leave their luggage open because Lucky would help himself to whatever struck his fancy.  Inevitably, the guests would forget and their things would come up missing.                            


Mary or Jim would go to Lucky’s toy box in the basement and there the treasure would be, amid all of Lucky’s other  favorite toys.  Lucky always stashed his finds in his toy box and he was very particular that his toys stay in the box.


Eventually, it happened that Mary found out she had developed breast  cancer. Something told her she was going  to die of this disease …… in fact, she was absolutely sure it was fatal.


She scheduled the double mastectomy, fear weighting down her shoulders. The night before she was to go to the hospital she cuddled with Lucky.  A thought suddenly struck her …. what would happen to Lucky?  Although the three-year-old dog liked Jim, he was Mary’s dog through and through.                                 


If I die, Lucky will feel abandoned, Mary thought.  He won’t understand that I didn’t want to leave him!  That thought made her sadder than thinking of her own death.


The double mastectomy was harder on Mary than her doctors had anticipated and she was hospitalized for over two weeks.  Jim took Lucky for his evening walk faithfully, but the little dog just constantly drooped, whined and acted totally miserable.


Finally the day came for Mary to leave the hospital.  When she arrived home, Mary was so exhausted she couldn’t even walk up the steps to her bedroom.  Jim made his wife comfortable on the couch and then left her to nap.                                


Lucky stood watching Mary but he didn’t come to her when she called. It made Mary sad but a deep sleep soon overcame her and she completely passed out.


When Mary first awoke from her slumber, she felt something was medically wrong. She couldn’t move her head and her body felt heavy and very hot.  But her panic soon gave way to uninhibited laughter when Mary quickly realized the problem.  She was covered, literally blanketed, with every treasure Lucky owned!


While she had slept, her sorrowful dog had made trip after trip to the basement bringing his beloved mistress all of his favorite things in life.


He had covered her with his love.


Mary forgot about dying.  Instead she and Lucky began living again, walking further and further together every day.  It’s been 12 years now and Mary is still cancer-free. Lucky still steals treasures and stashes them in his toy box but Mary remains his greatest treasure of all.


Remember: live every day to the fullest.  Each minute on Earth is a blessing from God.  And never forget …. the people who make a difference in our lives are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care for us.


If you see someone without a smile give them one of  yours!  Live simply. Love seriously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.



Catch you later; and a big thanks to Mary and Lucky!!!


Susie and Sandy,


P.S. When Ulysses returned to Greece after a 20 year absence during “The Odyssey,” his faithful dog Argos recognized him immediately before anyone else did…. including his wife and children.


For more barks from Susie go to:  http://sandy-steele.blogspot.com


Information on Sandy Steele:  http://sandysteele.com   


When you want a new pet, do you buy or rent?

My dog Susie says

To reduce stress: rent a pet?

I’ve been hearing a lot about how owning a pet can reduce life’s daily stress levels. I saw a university study recently that said if you take your dog to work, it will lower your stress level by at least 11%. I don’t know how exactly they measure it, but it makes sense to me. How many co-workers show uninhibited love and respect for you at your job? How many listen to your every word and follow most of your commands? How many dogs have asked you for a loan or to “go get their coffee”? I rest my case.

Now for those people who aren’t sure about adding a pet to your lifestyle, there is another option to consider. When you buy a car you can either “own” or “lease” it. Well, now you can lease a pet. I kid you not. These Rent-A-Pet services are available throughout the nation via new companies that target dog and cat lovers. My advice is don’t rent one of each at the same time or your stress level will go up!

Because of the lousy economy many owners have had to give up their pets because they can’t afford them. Sad. The benefits of these rental programs are that the dogs, which mostly come from animal shelters, get a chance to spend time running and walking outside in parks or the countryside. To keep these rented dogs from becoming lost, they are outfitted with a GPS location device from the Rent-A-Pet companies. Great idea even for permanent pets… so owners, you should look into this as well. One important point: The fees for renting the cats and dogs are zero. Free!

A couple of months ago I first “barked” about the military dogs who have served overseas and how much they meant to the troops they served with. These extraordinary dogs’ primary job is bomb sniffing. Talk about stress! Anyway, I mentioned a particular German Shepherd named Sergeant Rex who served three combat tours in Iraq. His Marine handler was a lady soldier named Megan Leavey. Wow, I didn’t realize there are women Marines fighting for all of us over there. Good for us girls!

Corporal Leavey was injured when a bomb went off hurting her and Rex. She was eventually returned to the U.S. after recuperating , but Rex was left in Iraq to continue his dangerous job. That was over six years ago. Megan tried for years to adopt Rex but to no avail. She went on TV and other media, but nothing happened until New York Senator Charles Schumer started a petition to allow Rex and Megan to rejoin each other. After 22,000 people signed the petition, the Marines relented and allowed Sergeant Rex and Corporal Megan Leavey to reunite for good at home in America. One veteran Marine said about Rex, “He’s a combat-wounded marine and the person who’ll understand him the best is another combat-wounded marine.”

So stress is everywhere and it makes sense to try and reduce it by adopting, nurturing and loving animals like dogs and cats. It seems to be mutually beneficial for humans and animals. Who could ask for more?

Catch you later,

Susie and Sandy

P.S. Dogs and cats may be better than many children. They don’t ask for money, eat less, much easier to raise, don’t drive, come home when called, don’t do drugs, don’t drink, don’t wear your clothes, don’t go to expensive colleges, and if they get pregnant, and if you chose…. you can always give the results to your friends.

For more “Susie says” barks go to: http://sandy-steele.blogspot.com

For additional information on Sandy Steele : http://sandysteele.com

What do divorces and pet detectives have in common?

My dog Susie says

Fighting like cats and dogs.

A long-time friend of my mom and dad from L.A. recently got divorced. Unfortunately, since the divorce the ex-couple has fought much more over their beagle Sammy than their kids. In fact, divorce issues over pets has become big business. Two brand new occupations now exist, in part, because of these human breakups: “Pet Consultant” and “Pet Detectives.” And I’m not talking about Jim Carrey!

It seems that in most divorce cases, the pet goes with the child. However, what’s a judge to rule when the pet is the child? There are attorneys who specialize just in pet custody cases. Leave it to the lawyers to get ahead of the pack. Also, the pet consultant can be utilized as an expert to help everyone settle their disagreements. People are not embarrassed anymore, as in the past, to fight for custody of a pet. Couples are actually writing in their pre-nups what to do with their pets if they break-up. I wonder if that applies to goldfish?

So a divorced couple usually means shared custody of their animals. In the case of dogs, I wonder if the sharing means more treats! For couples now living in separate cities, it sure means more travel including airplanes. I sure hope my big mommy and daddy don’t get divorced because I’d really hate to fly in that airplane dungeon. Maybe they would agree to fly me first-class? Just kidding…. I’m going to make sure that I entertain both of them so much, they’ll never leave each other. Now what exactly is a pet detective and how did it start?

The pet detective occupation started with finding lost dogs and cats. With the advent of the rising divorce rate, it’s grown exponentially to help lawyers and ex-spouses determine how a pet is being treated by the other person when they have custody. It seems that a few years ago, an estranged wife decided to have her husband’s German Shepherds euthanized while he was out of town. That should be illegal! Hopefully, that won’t happen again.

The pet detective business has become so popular around the country that professional people like nurses, accountants, and businessmen and businesswomen are doing it full-time. Some pet detectives have actually trained their own dogs to find missing or lost pets. One woman in Maine, Liza Nazarenko, has a 90% success rate for finding lost animals. She became a professional pet detective because she had lost her beloved Yellow Lab, Cappuccino. She looked everywhere, posted pictures, and asked for assistance from countless people, but to no avail. Cappuccino was eventually discovered deceased two months later and less than a mile away from her home. Very sad, but Liza turned a negative into a positive experience by helping others find their beloved pets.

Hey, I think I could get the neighborhood dogs to form a group to help find missing pets. We’ve got a Boxer, Dachshund, Border Collie, Irish Setter, Black Lab, Golden Retriever, Bulldog, Cocker Spaniel, and two German Shepherds. How about naming our dog detective group, the “Sherlock Shepherds”? What do you think?

Catch you later,

Susie and Sandy

P.S. Author Tom Clancy once told me, “A trial lawyer is exactly like an attack dog, only without a conscience.”

For more barks from Susie go to:  http://sandy-steele.blogspot.com

For info on Sandy Steele: http://sandysteele.com

Are pets worth the trouble?

My dog Susie says…

Are pets more “pain” than pleasure?

Since I’m just a dog and the writer of this blog, I probably seem slightly prejudiced on this question. However, I’m going to keep my analysis as unbiased and based on facts…as I can. A few months ago I wrote a ‘bark’ about the health benefits of owning a dog from the prospective of Americans. Let’s look at some of the comments from other places around the globe. 

England’s young royals, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton were recently photographed walking with their black Cocker Spaniel puppy named Lupo. Doctors and medical experts around Europe immediately forecast an increase in longevity for the couple. Dog owners enjoy longer and more positive lifespans because of reduced blood pressure and obesity resulting in robust cardiovascular fitness.  Score one point for pet pleasure.

Let’s talk about the mental side of all of this. It seems that owning a pet, like a dog, also greatly enhances one’s self-esteem while reducing depression. So while walking a dog helps in the physical side, owning a pet can facilitate the development of social contacts leading to a more optimistic view of your personal life and where it’s heading. This is way better than Zanex. Score another point for pets. 

German’s studies showed that pet owners spent 32% less time in hospitals than non-pet owners and saved over $5 billion in health care costs. Australian studies proved that pet owners went to the doctor 12% less and saved over $3 billion annually in health care expenditures. Even in China studies have shown that having a pet in the home greatly reduced doctor visits and sick days at work. Chinese women even refer to their dogs as son or daughter… a surrogate for their missing children who have moved out. Taking care of their pets helps alleviate their loneliness. “And pets don’t talk back and are nonjudgmental listeners” according to many Chinese mothers. Score point three for pets in the pleasure column.

I asked my Big Mommy, Sandy, if she could help with the negative side of the question. I wondered how much the average pet owner spent on their pets. It seems that the “average” owner spends about $300- $500/year for medical expenses like checkups at the Vet, vaccinations, pills etc. Food and treats costs another $250-$500 a year for a dog. She doesn’t have any idea what a cat or goldfish might cost. So it looks like an average pet-owner (dog) probably spends up to $1,000 more per year than a non-owner. So score one point for “pain”. If your pet has to have an operation then score two more point for “pain” both mentally and monetarily. 

It looks like a tie between pain and pleasure. However, studies for children with autism showed dramatic improvement when a dog was present in their home. Military dogs have not only saved soldiers during war for generations, but also aided returning warriors who have been physically disabled or mentally traumatized. Canines are also being used to reduce pain and suffering for humans at hospitals, psychiatric venues, prisons, schools and nursing homes. I could go on and on but it seems to me that the benefits of owning pets are overwhelmingly positive. Whatever a pet may cost in money, it’s returned a hundred fold in health and happiness.

Catch you later, 

Susie & Sandy

P.S. “Whoever coined the phrase you can’t buy happiness with money, never owned a puppy or kitten.”

For more “Susie says” barks go to:  http://sandy-steele.blogspot.com 

For info on Sandy Steele go to:  http://sandysteele.com

Great Advice for your Loved ones


        “Take care of your pets and they’ll take care of you”

The list below by Dr. Kay is so complete I asked Sandy to pass it along…

   10 Things Responsible Pet Owners Do.

By Dr. Nancy Kay, via Vetstreet
February has been proclaimed “Responsible Pet Owners Month,” but what does the word responsible mean when applied to how we care for our beloved pets? No doubt, there are as many definitions as there are breeds of dogs and colors of cats.
Here is my personal top 10 list of “essential responsibilities,” all of which have been gleaned from three decades of work as a small-animal veterinarian.
1) Believe in “Till Death Do Us Part” When you adopt a pet, you are committing to care for the animal for its entire life. Now, we all know that life has a way of changing unexpectedly. Should your ability to care for your pet change, or if your pet has the potential to live for many decades (such as a parrot or tortoise), your responsibility should be to carefully plan who will be the next care provider for your pet.
2) Know It’s “For Better or Worse” Just as in human relationships, commitment to a pet is to provide love and care “for better or for worse.” Undoubtedly, there will be struggles – delayed house training, separation anxiety, destroyed furniture, chronic health issues (no doubt, you can add to this list). When opening your home and your heart to an animal, be willing and prepared to invest the time, energy and financial resources necessary to successfully manage any rough spots. Such challenges are a normal part of life. The silver lining is that they help us appreciate and enjoy the smooth times so much more.
3) Guarantee Food and Shelter Perhaps the most obvious responsibility on this list, provision of the basic necessities of life, is an important one. Water and nutritious food are a must, as is protection from the elements. Here is where I will present my plug for providing shelter within the home. Given the choice, I firmly believe that the vast majority of dogs and cats would prefer to be housed indoors, living side-by-side with their favorite humans. From their perspective, a bed in the garage or a doghouse in the backyard is invariably a second choice.
4) Provide Emotional Nutrition The kitty who persistently meows at an unanswered door and the dog who is chained to a tree in the yard are both in heartbreaking inhumane situations. The need for emotional nourishment is just as great (if not greater) than the need for what is in the food bowl. Every animal’s emotional needs are different, but every animal deserves to have their emotional needs fulfilled. Your responsibility is to recognize and fill such needs (overfilling is perfectly acceptable!).
5) Commit to Preventive Health Care There is a rather long “to do” list when it comes to proactively preserving your pet’s health. Protection from harm, balanced nutrition, exercise and annual checkups are a good start to any list. I encourage you to work with your veterinarian to create your own “to do” list for your pets.
6) Practice Responsible Parenting If I possessed a magic wand, I would personally like to see all the homeless animals in this country placed in loving homes before any more dogs or cats are bred. Without that magic wand in hand, my best bet is to appeal to you to do whatever it takes to prevent your pet from reproducing. If you are not convinced this is an important issue, I encourage you to visit your local animal shelter or Petfinder.com to see for yourself how many pets are currently homeless.
7) Ensure Your Pet’s Safe Return Should the unthinkable happen and your pet becomes lost, the likelihood of a happy ending is greatly enhanced if he or she has been micro-chipped (and the microchip registry has your current contact information). Another critical safeguard is a collar sporting a current identification tag.
8) Create a Model Citizen Behavioral issues are the number-one reason dogs and cats are relinquished to shelters and other humane organizations. Re-homing such animals is a huge challenge, and the unfortunate end result is often euthanasia. Do the work early on to create a model citizen by participating in training classes or one-on-one work with a trainer. You and your pet will both benefit.
9) Advocate for Your Pet’s Health Whether selecting a vaccination protocol or making a life-or-death decision, your active involvement as a medical advocate for your pet is imperative. You may not have realized it, but at the time of adoption, you accepted “power of attorney” to make medical decisions on your pet’s behalf. Yes, your veterinarian’s recommendations are important, and he or she is an important member of your pet’s health care team, but you are “team captain” because no one knows your pet as well as you do.
10) Plan for End-of-Life Care Unfortunately, sick or aged animals rarely simply pass away peacefully and comfortably in their sleep. In most cases, it is incumbent upon their human family members to decide upon and create an end of life for the pet (whether via euthanasia or hospice care) that is managed humanely. If you share your life with pets, you will undoubtedly find yourself faced with this all-important responsibility, and it is up to you to make sure your animal is as comfortable, free of pain, and well-loved as possible.
This is Dr. Kay’s top 10 list of essential pet care responsibilities. What would you add to the list?

Catch you later,

Susie and Sandy

P.S. Susie says these are a few things we can learn from our dogs:    1. Never pass up a fun joy ride.  2. When your loved one comes home, run and jump up in pure joy, every single time. 3. When you’re happy, show it by dancing around and wagging your entire body. 4. When your loved one is sad, be silent, sit close by and kiss and nuzzle them gently. 5. Enjoy the wind in your face and the simple pleasure of a long walk with a loved one. 

To see more of  “My dog Susie says” go to: http://sandy-steele.blogspot.com

For more info on Sandy Steele go to:  http://sandysteele.com