Putting The Right Paw Forward

Since it’s the first day of the New Year, I thought I might share some goals for Happy Tails Books. Here are last year’s goals and how they relate to our plans for 2011:

1) Donate $10,000 back to animal welfare organizations: We wanted to donate at least $10,000 back to animal rescue causes. Early in the year, our customers helped us make a donation to the organizations helping animals through the crisis in Haiti. Then, this past month we donated another $9,800 back to our rescue partners and humane education causes, so over the year we did hit our goal. It was kind of fudged, though, to be honest. As we wanted so badly to reach this goal that we donated more than our expected percentage of net profits back to rescue. It was closer to 50% of net profits that the 25% we were looking for. Therefore, I’d like to try again for this year: At 25% of net profits, can we donate $10,000 back?

2) Publish at least five books about different dog breeds and a book about cats: We blew this goal out of the water! Last year we published Lost Souls: FOUND! books on Boxers, Chihuahuas, German Shepherd Dogs, Pugs, Beagles, Great Danes, Cocker Spaniels, Mixed-Breed Dogs, and Cats! We also published a very special book about mill dogs called Dog Blessed. This year we intend to reel in the number of books we are publishing to explore the idea of having them more widely distributed (our books are currently available through our website, Amazon.com for paperback and Kindle, and BN.com for the Nook). We are currently editing our Partners With Paws book about service dogs and the lives they change and our Lost Souls: FOUND! book on Basset Hounds. On our home page you can find a list of breeds we’re considering for this year and next year. The order of breeds we work on is dictated by rescuer and adopter enthusiasm, so if you’d like to see your breed up next, please send in your stories!

Note: We also have a few exciting books launching very soon from people who have asked us to help them publish their own pet-related books. Keep an eye out for Pit Bulls: Victims or Villains, a forensic study of violence in society and how it relates to the anti-pit bull craze, and Service Dogs: More Than Man’s Best Friend, a book for young people about service dogs.

3) Develop a 501(c)3 humane education organization to further fight puppy mills: I guess you could say that this was more of a personal initiative than a company initiative, but it bears mentioning anyway. Last year I decided I wanted to do even more to raise awareness about puppy mills and adoption, so I established Up For Pups, a humane education organization. The organization was granted our non-profit status a month-and-a-half ago, and we have since been working tirelessly to establish several effective programs to fight puppy mills. One of our first initiatives, a stage show called Don’t Kill Bill, will officially debut in Boulder, CO in February. You can get more info about it at the Up For Pups website.

Therefore, we expect 2011 to be full of some great books to promote service dogs and animal rescue. Up For Pups will be expanding on the work Happy Tails Books is doing with books to assist rescues to be even more successful and bring messages about rescue and adoption to the public through theater and other creative means.

Thank you so much to everyone for your support of our humane education efforts. We’ll need your support more than even this next year, as with the passage of Proposition B in MO and many cities banning the sale of companion animals in pet shops, important humane initiatives are beginning to gain momentum. Now is the time to continue that momentum and create a world full of love, happiness, and safety, which our furry friends truly deserve!

Abundant Rewards

I can’t think of a better time of year to count blessings. During the past 2.5 years, we’ve had 33 furry little blessings through our home. Each foster dog has left us with some great memories, like Jay Jay throwing his toy into our above-ground hot tub and then jumping in after it, Max overcoming his dysfunctional little body to reveal his giant heart, and Camille (now Lucy) with her unstoppable ass-attack. Even on the darkest days, these dogs have made us smile.

Bill and Lucy
Bill and Lucy playing - One of my favorite photos of 2010

I don’t have any foster dogs this week to make me smile, so would you share one of your favorite pet memories in the comments section to put that smile back on my face? By sharing you’ll be entered into a raffle for a free stationery set of your choice. We’ll randomly select the winner on Wednesday, Dec. 22nd. (Please submit by Tuesday, Dec. 21st)

Rescue of the Year Competition

Rescue of the YearHappy Tails Books is having our first ever Rescue of the Year competition! Through November 25th, you can vote for any rescue on our rescue partner list to help them win $500 in great raffle items. Blogpaws donated Bissell vacuums for the competition from their recent conference, Peekeeper donated doggie diapers, and Happy Tails Books is donating stationary and books.

Please tell others about why you love your favorite rescue by commenting on this post, and cast your vote here.

*If your favorite rescue is not on our rescue partner list, please encourage them to apply here.

HappyTailsBooks.com Facelift

My eyes are bloodshot, my wrists are killing me, the butt-dent in my couch has grown significantly deeper, but I’m content as can be because the new website is posted! You probably didn’t know I was building a new website. Uh, well, I didn’t know, either, until this past Tuesday.

It was like one of those break-ups where you just can’t stand the sight of the person you left any longer. In this case, it wasn’t because the old website was bad or did anything wrong (although, I must note that it never bought me flowers), I was just tired of the drab old look. I think the background color got to me most.

Anyway, on Tuesday, I was DONE. I couldn’t look at the old website any longer. Plus, the holidays are coming, and I wanted to be sure shoppers with big hearts who want to take advantage of our great new gifts with the added bonus of our usual donations can find what they are looking for. Here are my favorite features of the new website:

  • Shop by breed, item, or title using the convenient search lists to the right, or just click the shop button above to explore all of our products
  • Submit word documents as attachments when you want to send in a story about your adopted pets – much easier for most authors to use
  • No more spam! This one you surely don’t care about, but I’m thrilled that the new website had an easy-to-configure Capatcha application (the little number/letter box that you see at the bottom of many forms). I like this one especially because it’s easy to read.
  • Clearer navigation with some new page names that should make it easy to find what you’re looking for.
  • Stay up to date and comment more easily with this blog.

I hope these changes enhance your experience on our website. Please shoot me a comment and let me know what you think. I look forward to all feedback/constructive criticism and any notes about broken links if you find any. I know that sounds hokey, as of course, all our links should work great! However, I’m not a web designer. I’m just a chick with a dent in my couch who wants to make it easy for others to help animals in need. Woof! -Kyla

Alumni Update – Tahoe

From Sarah Guenther – author of a story in Lost Souls: Found! Inspiring Stories About Labrador Retrievers:

At the time of publishing, Tahoe had just recently turned 2. At the time of this writing today, Tahoe is now happy, contented, confident and quite the little ham at age 3 1/2. His biggest milestones have been first, learning not to bark at the innocent people walking by our house and second, he has learned to walk off leash with us when we go to the beach. He is the silliest boy we have ever seen. When he’s in the mood for some dog love, he jumps on the coffee table, blocking my view of the TV. Then he gives me a big tail wag and throws his body onto my lap where he rubs his nose into my armpits, snorting and emitting funny playful wookie sounds. He’s become extremely close with his big black lab brother, Bettis, who complies with his frequent requests for a good ear licking. His yellow lab sister, Huck, has become his mother figure and she has helped him master the art of free-style doggie wrestling and taught him how to unstuff a pillow in record time. Every moment that passes, we are continually amazed at Tahoe’s emotional growth. He’s definitely settled into life with us and he has made it quite clear to us that he loves his forever family.

Bill Saves the Car

Dogs really do hear and smell things before humans can. I experienced this firsthand yesterday. We had only made it about a mile from my house on our way to go hiking (yes, I drive so I can go walk, I know it’s weird) when I heard a sound like I had hit a pothole. I didn’t think much about it, as being the awful driver I am, it’s completely normal to hear those kinds of sounds. However, about five seconds later, Bill started acting crazy, like he couldn’t decide if he should be in the front seat or back seat. (I know where he is supposed to be, but in the car is the only time he really wants to be near me! Don’t try this at home!)

I thought, “Huh. Bill’s being weird. Oh well, he’s always weird.” We went to the next light, and as I started accelerating, I heard a new noise that sounded and felt like we were dragging something. I pulled into a parking lot to check out what was going on, but didn’t see anything. None of my check engine lights were on, and no, the e-brake wasn’t on either. Things were getting really weird, so I called my mom to come get me and check out my car. After all, she’s a motorhead. She would know what to do.

While I waited, I called Hoshi Motors, my favorite Boulder Japanese car repair shop. They thought maybe it was the brakes and suggested I try limping over to them since I was only a few blocks away. Well, I made it about a half a block before smelling burning. Again I pulled over and called Hoshi, who promptly sent this great buy Brandon out to see what was going on.

When Brandon arrived, he couldn’t believe what he saw. An engine mounting bolt had completely snapped in half and my engine had shifted back causing all sorts of things to burn and grind. It was bizarre because my car is fairly new, and you don’t expect that kind of stuff from Honda. Lucky I wasn’t on the highway!

(That big hole in the picture is where a bolt is supposed to be, and that belt is what was grinding through the metal where the bolts went.)

Anyway, we were able to get the car towed to Honda, where the repair was covered under my powertrain warranty. Disaster averted, mom and I headed off to the dogpark in her car with the dogs. Way to go, Bill! Thanks for saving my car!

The Stand-Off Ends

Foster #29, Buster, made quite a first impression. He was surrendered, along with his mom and dad, to our rescue yesterday. A woman who, to put it politely, seemed to be a little “off,” left him and his dad with one of our new fosters and left the female with another. The new foster then brought him to me.

During our phone conversation, the new foster told me that he took a while to get out of the car and introduce himself to her, but other than that he seemed fine. Uh…so I figured, he sounds okay, I guess I don’t need to bring a crate when I meet her to get him. I had Bill, my mom, and my husband in the car with me.

When the new foster pulled in, she opened the car door, and I saw a snarling, chattering, barking, growling Boston Terrier looking back at me. He didn’t yet have a harness or collar on, so I asked her if she could put it on him. I really didn’t think she could. He allowed her to, however, without ever taking his eyes off me. Boy, was I in for an adventure!

The new foster put my leash on him, and I was able to walk him over to the car. I put him in the car, and he seemed okay with Bill – not really noticing him. However, now I had a new problem. I couldn’t go near my car!

Luckily a nearby friend had a crate, and I had some thick garden gloves, so I put the gloves on, carefully got his leash, and pulled him out of the car. We sat on the ground for a while, and I tried to calm him, to no avail. I kept inching my way up the leash until I was at the back of his harness, and while he continued to growl, I got my hand around his chest and quickly shoved him into the crate. Door shut…success!

He growled and cried the whole way home. I had never seen such a distressed dog! At home, Dylan and I weren’t really sure what to do with him, but eventually we decided to try to let him sleep in the crate in our room. After hours of listening to him rustle around, I finally couldn’t take it anymore, and I put him in the yard. I left the crate door open so he could pee if he had to, but every time I checked on him, he was still cowering in there. He looked SO scared.

This morning, when I got up to let Bill out to pee, Buster was standing outside of his crate, shaking uncontrollably. I got some cheese, sat down, and somehow got brave enough to try and pet him. He just melted into my hands, and at that point, I knew our stand-off was over. Since then he hasn’t left my side, although he’s still very nervous and distressed.

I actually think he’s a great dog now – he even licked me, and now he’s sleeping with his head on my leg. Poor little guy, I have no idea what happened to him to make him so distressed, but I think there’s hope. Oh, and he’s adorable!

Cracking Jack’s Shell

We’re not always so lucky to turn around a puppy mill dog in a week, but boy, is Jack resilient! I may not be an animal expert, but after 28 foster dogs I feel like I’ve come up with a pretty good methodology for rehabilitating these guys (I know, a lot of you out there have me beat, but I still no longer consider myself a rookie). The trick?

a) Give them time to settle in and let them come to you
b) Keep their world small at first (thank you, Lisa from MLAR) and take every precaution that they don’t bolt
c) Slowly give them more and more freedom to make decisions
d) Set them up for success

As a practical example, Jack was very fearful when he came to us last week. I have a very difficult time putting his harness and leash on him, and he wouldn’t go outside if I was standing by the door. We had to do a little bit of “dancing” to herd him around the house, but it was okay – I knew he would come around. One thing Jack did want to do was sit next to me on the couch. He was terrified if I picked him up or went to him, but he would come to me. Great! We just went with that for a while.

To get him more comfortable with being approached, I always went to him with a treat. After a while, I think he saw me as one giant hot dog. Again, great! Now we can put the harness on him easily, and I can even pick him up.

As far as keeping his world small, I crate him when I’m not home, and for the most part he hangs out in two rooms in my house and my very small yard. He was definitely a flight risk when I first got him, so any time we went outside he was on leash, which I was constantly gripping tightly to make sure I didn’t lose him. He did try to bolt several times.

We went to the dogpark at times when it wasn’t very crowded to acclimate him to other dogs and work on recall. He caught on to “come” very quickly, and while he’s not bombproof yet, he is much less of a flight risk now and he does come when called. He’d much more comfortable with other dogs, too.

I’ve been slowly giving Jack more freedom, and it is working out well. Now, when I take him to my trapeze rig (yes, I said that), he gets to run around in the field with the other dogs. He spends his time between where we sit and running back into the car with Bill (it’s just a few feet away, and Bill loves to just sit on the floor of the car). If he starts wandering, we call him and he comes back. He’s doing great!

In terms of setting him up for success, I still crate him when I’m not home to reinforce that we don’t potty in the house. The potty training has been coming along well, but I see any accidents as major setbacks, so I try to avoid them at all costs. He doesn’t love being crated, but I think he likes it much better than getting yelled at. At night, as I mentioned, Bill cuddles in the crate with him (weirdo!).

Jack is an awesome dog who turns heads everywhere he goes with his cuteness. I hope he finds the perfect forever home soon. Anyone would be lucky to have him.


Living in Colorado, we don’t really see a lot of fleas. In fact, I had never seen one before yesterday! My new foster, Jack, had been scratching a lot, so I put some flea and tick medicine on him. The next day, when he hopped off the couch, I noticed a bunch of little brown things that looked like flaxseeds (how “Boulder” is that? I though fleas were flaxseeds!). Anyway, upon further inspection, I noticed they were fleas. How gross! But at least they were dead.

Then I saw a live one jumping off Bill! Aargh! I got the vaccuum, cleaned the couch and the floors, and washed my sheets in very hot water. Hopefully we’re done with that now. Jack is still scratching, but I haven’t seen any fleas since. Nevertheless, I’m scratching at imaginary fleas because I keep thinking they’re crawling on me!

Aside from the fleas, Jack is doing great. He’s got the biggest brown eyes and he’s very intelligent. He’s skittish if I approach him, but he always wants to be next to me if I’m sitting down. He’s snoring next to me right now; he’s got the sweetest little sigh when he snores. It’s as if he knows life is going to be good from here on out.

Jack and Bill are funny together. Jack tried to play, but Bill has been grumpy. He doesn’t even humor him, so then Jack comes and tries to play with me. I think he’ll get the hang of toys in no time. I don’t know what is up with Bill – he’s really got an affinity for crates when they belong to other dogs. He won’t sit in it when no other dogs are here, but when I want another dog to sleep in the crate, Bill crawls right in and makes himself comfortably. Twice this week I’ve just shoved Jack in there with him, and they sleep the night together in the crate. It’s very cute!

Today Jack and I are going to work some more on recall. He hasn’t had a potty accident in over 24 hours, so please cross your fingers that we’re done with that! I don’t think I can handle cleaning up fleas and pee on the same day. This is nothing new, though. The first few days with new fosters can be hard, but Bill does a great job getting them up to speed on home life. Jack is almost at the point where he knows to follow Bill around, which is a big improvement.

Last night Jack jumped onto the couch next to me, put his head on my shoulder, and stared up into my eyes. What a sweet boy! Those are the moments that make this all worthwhile.

Jack’s Catching On!

Jack came to us on Friday from a Missouri puppy mill. That’s the same place Bill had come from (don’t know if it was the same mill), so the two hit it off great. Jack is very skittish but he warms up quickly…although, he also forgets quickly that he just warmed up to you!

He’s been with us for two nights now. The first night he darted around the house all night long. We tried to let him sleep in bed with us (Harleigh was in the crate), but he just wouldn’t sit still, which really sucked because we had to fly Harleigh down to her new home the next morning, and we didn’t get a good night of sleep.

The next night we decided we would crate him, but before he could go in the crate, Bill did! Jack really likes being near Bill, so we did the most logical thing – we crated them together for the night! It was so cute, and they slept pretty quietly. Honestly, I missed having Bill cuddled up next to me, but it was really nice to actually get a good night of sleep. I’m sure Jack will settle down as he gets more comfortable.

Jack took what was probably his longest real walk yesterday, and he did great. He’s definitely not trustworthy not to bolt off-leash just yet, but he walked with us for the most part (he laid down to take a break once, poor guy – it was only a mile!).

Jack is a VERY cute dog. He’s kind of unique looking, like he’s a French Bulldog-mix or something. I don’t think he is, but his ears are GIGANTIC and he’s got squat, little legs. He’s got a great personality, but he definitely needs to be in a home with another dog to help show him the ropes.

Our rescue is actually so full that we’re not taking in any new foster dogs this month. I hope I can find Jack a home soon so I can open my doors to the next Boston Terrier in needs. In the meantime, Dylan, Bill, and I will do our best to get him potty-trained and more comfortably with humans.