Most Insane Holiday Ever

Alert: This blog is a rant (not my usual tone.)

Maybe this wasn’t the worst holiday EVER, but it was brutal.

I’ve traditionally enjoyed July 4th– especially a good fireworks show. Parades and parties and a little bit of patriotism.  For the most part, I’m a fun loving gal (and we did go to a block party for a bit that was fun), but having dogs has changed my outlook on the holiday- or at least the way it is celebrated. And this year sent me into a tailspin.

There are dozens of blogs and safety sheets about keeping your pets safe during the fireworks. But what about keeping them sane?

I live in Los Angeles where the fireworks begin DAYS before July 4th. If the noise just lasted for the 20 minutes during a fireworks show, it would all be manageable. But it doesn’t end there. Individuals obtain fireworks and light them off ALL NIGHT LONG. And each time they do, my big dog, Ninja goes bananas.

This year, on July 4th, we could hear explosions all over the city for hours and hours and hours beyond the end of the fireworks display. And I mean explosions. At 12:30 am my son came into my room and said, “I think we’re getting bombed.” In my semi-coma I replied, “It sure does sound like it, but I think it’s just fireworks. Try to go back to bed.” Ninja was barking the entire time- from 9 pm until 12:30 am.  Hence the semi-coma.

My husband gallantly hugged Ninja at the foot of the bed to act like a human Thundershirt for the remainder of the night. Well, whatever remainder there was. The explosions started up again at 4:30 am.

And now, days after July 4th, I suppose people still had a few fireworks left, so why not set them off… Ugh.  It’s not as bad anymore, but it’s still happening.

I remember a few years ago, we walked up the street to watch our local fireworks. The dogs were safely in crates for the 30 minutes we’d be out. When the first fireworks boomed into the sky, the birds all scattered and were silent. They must have been terrified. It made me sad.

And then this year, I noticed no birds singing all night long. (Remember, I was up for most of it). There was so much tension. Everyone I spoke with this week, especially pet parents had a similar experience and felt it was way worse than years past. It was all just over the top.

So for next year, we are going to a pet-friendly resort in a town that has fireworks that end at a decent hour. I’ve already scoped it out. A pet-friendly hotel, at a dog-friendly beach, away from the fray. Sounds much better to me. My dogs love the beach and never get to go because it’s illegal in my part of Los Angeles, so it will be a win-win for everyone and maybe we’ll all get some sleep too.

Going to alert my dog sitter now that next year she will be house sitting. No doggies, just a house!

The Dog Days of Summer Camp

Don’t you just love summer?

Are you the kind of family that loves the long warm summer days at home… kids sleeping late, or at camp during the day? Maybe a few trips to the lake or beach?  Or do you love getting far away from it all? Do you prefer a relaxing sitting by the pool kind of vacation? Or are you more of the adventure seeking type? Or a mix?

And- have you ever been on a vacation or even a staycation (the vacation where you stay at home) that gives back to the community or to our planet?

Here are some great ideas for you animal-loving families.

Let’s start with the staycation. School is out, kids need something to do for at least part of the time. They love animals, you love the idea of them getting a humane education year round. But of course, we want it to be fun, right?

Did you know that many animal shelters offer summer camp weeks?

If you are staying close to home, it’s a fabulous option.

Shelters offer kids camps with activities ranging from arts and crafts projects, to reading, guest speakers,  scavenger hunts, puzzles, and some offer hands-on work with shelter animals. Perhaps they do a little dog training, some outdoor activities, and socializing with shelter animals.  I just learned that some groups either have a veterinarian on staff or bring one in to camp to show kids how to suture after a spay and neuter procedure (using a banana!) and in some instances, kids can even watch a real procedure (having a signed waiver from their parents of course and age appropriate).

The kids are having fun while learning!

Next, what if you are going for an extended stay somewhere and want to get to know the area. Let’s say you are visiting Kauai, Hawaii (lucky you!). Your children can join the Kauai Humane Society Critter Camps and do all of this in Hawaii. At Kauai Humane, the kids get to do a mock surgery with a stuffed dog and the “Critters” put on gloves and cute animal masks and pretend to be the Vet and the Vet techs. They usually find a toy that the dog has swallowed or chocolate. Their imaginations go beyond!

The kids are engaged, having fun all while learning.

This frees you up to have a little bit of adult time exploring, AND, if you are itching to give back while traveling (yay you!) one of the most popular programs at Kauai Humane is the “Take A Dog Out For A Day ” or Field Trip program. People come in and pick out a dog to take out for the day. They can take them on hikes or the beach, or even just for a ride to the mall or their home for a few hours.

The dogs get more exposure because they wear an “adopt me” vest and many tourists end up adopting and taking the dogs home to the mainland!

What a great way to be on vacation and get to be a part of the local humane experience. You get your “doggie fix” while exploring the local area while giving back to the dogs and ultimately the community.

Sign me up!

If you recall my visit to Best Friends Animal Society two years ago, I was able to have a sleepover with a dog.

I love learning that other organizations are also allowing dogs to go out on hikes, get some socialization and who knows, might become your newest family member.

A few organizations that I know of running summer camps this summer are:

New Hampshire SPCA

Humane Society of Charles County Maryland

Humane Society of Truckee- Tahoe California

Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando, Florida

Potter League for Animals- Middletown, RI

Lollypop Farm Summer Camp- Rochester, NY

Valley Humane Critter Camp- Pleasanton, CA

Let me know how you plan to spend your dog days of summer!

START Your Day with Heroic Dog Rescuers

You know how sometimes we see cute images of animals online and then click to see the photo, or watch a video. And other times, especially for those of us involved in animal rescue, we see images that are harder to look at. Sometimes those images are graphic and gratuitous.

But they are telling a story.

The truth is, day in and day out there are thousands upon thousands of animals in various situations ranging from “Geez, I could use a good home” to dire.

I work with many rescue groups and shelters that help all those cases and many more in between.

One of my favorite groups is called Shelter Transport Animal Rescue Team (S.T.A.R.T). START does two things: 1) Animals are rescued from high kill shelters in Southern and Central California and transported to Pacific Northwest rescue organizations where they are rehomed.

2) START funds veterinary clinics in local communities to facilitate no/low-cost spay/neuter services in the hopes of reducing unwanted births and fewer intakes at the already overcrowded animal shelters.

Pretty cool, huh? AND… as of this writing, 8359 animals have been transported by START!

What I specifically love about START is how they interact with their supporters.

They regularly send out beautiful emails sharing photos of a dog or dogs at the shelter (the “before” photos), letting us know a bit about their backstory.  Seeing an animal suffering is hard. And yes, some stories are sadder than others. But all the dogs need good homes.

Supporters know that START does great work and they make donations so that START can rescue the dogs from the shelter situation. Once the dogs are safe, they go stay at Aunty Sandy’s- a boarding facility run by a woman with the biggest of big hearts.

Aunty Sandy showers them with love and affection and assists in tending to any veterinary needs.

When the dogs are ready, they are either lovingly placed on transport or some are adopted locally.

Sometimes, dogs are pulled from the shelter because they only have a few days or weeks left to live and START and Aunty Sandy make sure they know they are loved for at least that time.

Then comes my favorite part. START sends out a follow-up email with the “after” photos. We see smiling dogs, dogs with treats and balls and friends and families. START is clever and writes a wonderful and entertaining follow up note, often in the voice of the happy-to-be-safe dog.

I cheer and smile and cry happy tears for the dogs and give thanks for all of START’s efforts.

This month, START was kind enough to share What to Expect When Adopting a Dog in their fabulous newsletter. As a thank you, I’m making an extra donation to them at the end of May. (So if you haven’t purchased a copy yet, doing so now will help them out!)

There is so much more good stuff to share about START, so why don’t you head over to their website and check it out. You can subscribe to their newsletter and watch the beautiful stories of dogs they save week in and week out.  And while you are there, consider making a donation- big or small- they all help.

Thank you START for the amazing work you do to help animals, and sharing it with us in such a constructive and loving way.



My Book is Helping Rescued Beagles in Nevada


A few weeks ago I received a note from a company that had discovered my website and wanted to know how they might be able to participate in helping dogs find homes.

The company is called Royal Ramps and as you might guess, they make ramps for pets. (Not any old ramp. They are really well made. And they look nice too!)

I told them that I have dozens of animal shelters and rescue groups around the country that love “What to Expect When Adopting a Dog” and were itching to be able to give them to new dog parents.

The owner’s response? My dog is a rescue and we love supporting rescue and would love to donate a bunch! How do we get started?

Royal Ramps is located in Nevada and it made sense that they donate to an amazing organization in Nevada called Southern Nevada Beagle Rescue Foundation (SNBRF).

“Whatever puppies need, we want them to get it. Being a great pet parent is the most crucial thing to an animal’s well-being and Royal Ramps is proud to be able to donate What To Expect When Adopting a Dog to local Las Vegas rescues.” – Matthew Delaney, Royal Ramps

I told SNBRF that they would be receiving a shipment of books and they are super excited too.

I created a little sticker for the front of the book so that the new doggie parents get to see the Royal Ramps logo and know that the books were generously donated.

Here’s what SNBRF had to say:

“Everyone should read this book, it’s so packed with information that adoption is sure to lead to long term success with this in hand.”– Regina Harman, Southern Nevada Beagle Rescue Foundation

Here’s a little more about Royal Ramps: Our products tower in quality above our competitors thanks to our use of Industrial-Grade High-Density Extra Firm Foam which, although lightweight and easy to lift and move, is 50% denser than our competitors for the ultimate in durability and stability. The washable zip-on covers are made from 100% polyester micro-filament furniture-grade upholstery fabric which is impervious to stain. Our products are protected by US patent and all made in the USA.

And more about SNBRF: The mission of Southern Nevada Beagle Rescue Foundation is to rescue, foster, rehabilitate and place as many distressed beagles as possible.

You can, of course, learn more on their websites.

Thanks Matthew at Royal Ramps for your dedication to the wellbeing of dogs. And thank you, Regina at SNBRF for your giant heart and all the dogs whose lives you save.

A Puppy Party?


My Team Kindness website has an all stars page highlighting individuals or groups who have read the JJ books or participated in a Team Kindness program. While all of the photos are special, here’s why the one of Zoey reading to a service dog at the Boulder Library’s “Pages and Paws” program is special to me.

Zoey is the daughter of my college buddy, Rich, and we reconnected a few years ago via Facebook. We saw each other at a concert last year and again last week when my daughter and I were visiting colleges (wow, that went fast!) in Colorado.

Rich and his wife Nancy have been involved in animal rescue for years including working and volunteering at the SPCA in upstate New York. They have passed down their love of animals to Zoey as well as compassion toward all animals- not just pets.

While in Colorado, I got to meet Zoey in person! We had dinner together (nope- I totally forgot to get a photo) and she told me all about the birthday party she has planned.

She is turning 8 in a couple of weeks and is hosting a puppy party! But instead of having live puppies, each one of her attending friends will get their own stuffed doggy upon arrival. Each friend will go to “stations” where they will make a collar, an article of clothing and then decorate a carrier. When they leave, she will sign an adoption paper. How sweet!

Plus, as an added bonus, they will all go home with a copy of JJ The American Street Dog and How He Came to Live in Our House.

Thanks, Rich and Nancy for being great examples for the next generation. Zoey has a huge heart and you are helping to instill humane values in her and her friends. Sounds like an awesome party too. Have fun and Happy Birthday Zoey!

For more information about the JJ the American Street Dog books, click HERE. These books appeal to children five to nine years old with their colorful illustrations and engaging story. They follow the story of JJ, a dog who went from living on the street to living a happy life with a new family. The books teach that adopting a rescue animal is a win-win for everyone involved and help pet loving families teach their children about patience, consistency, kindness, responsibility and unconditional love – just some of the important values parents and educators endeavor to impart in school age children.

Baa Baa White Sheep Have you Any Wool?


I just celebrated a big birthday and my sister and brother wanted to find the perfect gift for me. What to get though? They know I love animals and they wanted to be creative, so they got me a sheep.

Wait, what? They got you a what? Yep- you read that correctly, a SHEEP!

No, she’s not grazing in my backyard- I live in Los Angeles with a postage stamp sized backyard and I have a drought tolerant garden. Hardly a proper grazing meadow for a sheep.

Rather, there is a co-op for farmers that supplement care of their flock through an organization called Rent Mother Nature. So I now am leasing a sheep for the spring. She will be sheared in April and I will receive a beautiful wool blanket in August!

I was a little concerned about the sheep’s welfare and I’m happy to report that Rent Mother Nature shared a little about how they care for their flock and how they carefully shear them.  They sent me the first of my three progress reports and I learned that my sheep lives in Oregon! The photo below is of a sheep from my flock (ok- I only have one sheep but still. This city girl is loving this!).

This breed of sheep is called Poll (hornless) Rambouillets and they are the finest merino. They originated in Spain, then France’s Louis XVI purchased 359 sheep from King Charles III of Spain in 1786 and they were first imported to the US in 1840. Interesting stuff! (If you want to learn more, email me and I’ll copy the letter they sent to me and share it with you.) I learned about their wool, their lambs and how well trained the folks are who do the shearing so that they don’t nick the delicate skin.

Around the same time that my sibs got me my very own sheep, my sister posted that she had helped out with some new lambs at a friend’s farm (photo above). How lucky is she! She lives in Vermont where there really is grass to graze so there’s no sheep rental for her. They get to have actual sheep.

And check out this incredible aerial video that was shared with me of sheep being herded in New Zealand.

If you look carefully, you can see the dogs doing the herding. They’re doing the job they are meant to do. Gorgeous on so many levels.

I’m thrilled and delighted about my sheep and can’t wait to get my next progress report.

Rent Mother Nature also offers cow leases, Date Palm tree leases, Peach tree leases and other options too. So if you are looking for a unique gift, check it out. Obviously, I’m excited about it and I’ll show you my blanket when I get it in August.

My Son, My Hero

My kids are quite often my heroes. This week it’s my son.

He started the week doing a service learning day with school. There were five
choices- working with kids at a nearby  school in a few different capacities, working with the elderly, and helping take care of dogs in a shelter environment.

Guess which one he chose? He thought they all sounded cool, but the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

The group is called Found Animals Adopt and Shop and there are a few very cool things about this organization. First, they allow teenagers to help out when supervised. Second, the “shop” part in their name is because they sell items to not only help raise funds for their animal rescue services, but the items are helpful for new pet parents as well.

As an aside, they also have a Catty Wagon which is a tricked out truck that brings kitten adoptions to you! Watch the video below. It’s clever.

He really became my hero though on Monday after I picked him up from school. Driving home, in the middle of a busy intersection we saw a scared little dog. His mom was trying to catch him but he kept running out into the street. Somehow, after enough horns beeped and enough people corralled him, he ran back up onto the grass. Zander jumped out of the car and said “I’m going to help” before I could protest. I pulled the car over and by the time I got to the bush where the pup was cornered, his mom was able to grab his collar.

Zander was wise enough to ask the mom “if I pick him up, will he bite me?” This way, he would know whether it was safe for him to be the one to pick him up or not.

Our hearts were all pounding in our chests. It was touch and go there for a moment when that little dog was in the middle of the intersection. Zander didn’t hesitate for a moment. He saw that dog and knew he needed to help.  I reminded him that in this case, it was fine, but always to consider the situation and make sure that he stay safe too.

It’s usually me that comes home and says “guess what I did today? I helped a dog find his or her way home.” But that week, it was my son. Yes, he’s my hero.


Roll Out the Carpet for the Academy Awards!

I’ve been doing super fun stuff lately. This week I was invited to attend the Academy Awards Red Carpet Celebrity Style Lounge! The invitees are award nominees and other actors, musicians, fashion and wardrobe designers, producers and directors of current films and television.

Ingo Rademacher

Sonia Rockwell

Each year the event is held in part to encourage donations to a charity. This year the charity recipient was Best Friends Animal Society and I was asked to represent pet rescue products! The photo above is one of the Best Friends Ambassador dogs, Ziba. He was once homeless but was adopted by a Best Friends employee and got to come to the event! OMG- love that dog. Look at those ears!

The majority of the products and services are beauty related, but some are tech, travel and even condos! It sure is an eclectic mix. Three of my favorite items were VivaJENNZ hidden wine purse (you’ve got to check this out), Dorey Aromatherapy,  and a gorgeous coffee table photo book about native California gardens called “The Gottlieb Native Garden… a California Love Story.”

Felix Solis – Red Carpet Style

Maria Conchita Alonso

The attendees perused each booth and were gifted a small gift. I was excited about the number of people who love animals and support rescue either a little bit (they would if they were getting a pet) or a lot (they have rescued a pet!).  These folks all stopped by my booth and were excited about the books I was showcasing. I loved sharing my books and stories with people I wouldn’t normally connect with. Thanks to everyone who shared their animal and rescue stories with me.

Bonnie Morgan

Gabriel Bateman – Benji

It was fun posing with the talent and snapping photos with them. They were so gracious to hold my books and many have already shared on their social media. I love taking photos but I’m a terrible selfie photographer (as if you couldn’t tell). Here’s a few shots. Do you recognize any of these beautiful faces from your favorite tv shows and films? (Check out 12 year old Gabriel Bateman. So poised. He is set to star in the upcoming remake of Benji!)

Massi Furlan

Find even more on my Instagram @DianerSolomon and Facebook!

Thanks Ziba for the smooch. It made my day!


2017 Dog Writers Association Awards: And The Winner Is…


I recently attended the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) awards this year as a nominee for What to Expect When Adopting a Dog. I felt very fortunate. While I was there, I got to meet the other great nominees- people who write about rescue, military dogs, service dogs and many many other dog related topics.

Before I tell you about the DWAA awards, I want to tell you a little about the Westminster Dog Show. They may seem unrelated, but it turns out, the two events were held concurrently.

Many of the Westminster show dogs were staying in the event hotel. While I love all dogs, dog shows have never been my thing, Of course, it’s great to see the different breeds. And I saw a few incredibly gorgeous, well-groomed dogs in the lobby. Most were running past me so I couldn’t get a proper shot, but I did get the big guy above. (He doesn’t look like he moves too fast when he moves. But fortunately he was laying down.)

Some of my dog-loving writer colleagues did get to attend part of the dog show and festivities and I encourage you to check out Fidose of Reality on Facebook and Instagram and Bark & Swagger on Instagram for more photos and videos of the show (and pet fashion too!).

But enough about the Westminster dogs. I’m sure you are anxious to hear more about the writing conference and who won in the category I which I was nominated – books about rescue or adoption.

The day started out with presentations from professional bloggers Carol Bryant of Fidose of Reality and Maggie Marton of Oh My Dog Blog who spoke about The Digital Revolution. Next, Amy Tokic, the editor of discussed Joining the Online Pet Community and author Lisa Begin-Kruysman taught us about Creating Engaging Proposals.

During the afternoon session, the winners for each book nomination category were announced. My book did not win the books about rescue and adoption category. However, the book that did win titled My Old Dog is really fabulous and rather deserving.  The other three books nominated in my category are gorgeous and show different aspects of humane treatment of animals. They are all worthy of the prize and here is more about each of them:

My Old Dog by Laura Teresa Coffey                                            

 “No Dog Should Die Alone” was the attention-grabbing — and heart-stirring — headline of journalist Laura T. Coffey’s TODAY show website story about photographer Lori Fusaro’s work with senior shelter pets. While generally calm, easy, and already house-trained, these animals often represent the highest-risk population at shelters.

Goodbye Bad Guys by Kate J Kuligowski

By joining together to form an animal cruelty task force in their community, Bernalillo County law enforcement and animal control officers have reduced reported animal cruelty by more than forty percent. This step-by-step training manual presents all the organizational and training information communities would need to easily form their own animal cruelty task force, without additional cost to the taxpayers. It’s a win-win situation.

Beyond Fight or Flight by Sunny Weber

Photo courtesy of Rhonda Cassidy

Fearful dogs can be saved and have quality lives, free of anxiety. This book will help 1) you grow in compassion, 2) your pup find peace, and 3) bring both of you to a warm appreciation for each other.

I’m so glad I was able to attend the DWAA event. There were numerous categories represented for magazine, newspaper and online articles and blogs as well as books, graphics, and other media along with special prizes and awards. Having the Westminster show right nearby was a bonus and I loved meeting two photographers who came to photograph the Westminster dogs! The photo to the right is of “Angus the Clumber Spaniel” and rumor has it everyone loves him. This photo is courtesy of Rhonda Cassidy one of the photographers I met at DWAA and you can check out her website.

Congratulations to all of the nominees and winners of the 2017 Dog Writers Association of America awards!

Team Kindness – Compassionate Kids Changing the World


What is Team Kindness?

I realized that not everyone in my Pets People Planet Connection world is familiar with Team Kindness. In my opinion, kindness is more important today than ever. So here’s a bit about it:

After I became a Certified Humane Education Specialist (CHES), I began writing the JJ the American Street Dog children’s book series. You may be familiar with JJ the American Street Dog and How He Came to Live in Our House, and JJ Goes to Puppy Class.

My friend and colleague, Virginia Hamilton who is also a CHES, a teacher and founder of Canine Commandos and Aim Humane created a lesson plan to accompany JJ The American Street Dog. The lesson plan satisfies required standards for all public schools offering MANY compassion and humane based activities.

I then started Team Kindness so that groups or classrooms can optionally receive a certificate of completion (among other goodies) once any of the activities in the lesson plan are completed. The benefit is that the children are acknowledged for their budding compassionate leadership, plus bringing home a certificate connects the family with the humane lessons learned during the school day.

Classrooms, groups like boy or girl scouts, or even home school programs play a huge role in educating kids about empathy, kindness, volunteerism and making a difference in your community.

Team Kindness offers free downloads of coloring pages, word searches and crossword puzzles plus many other resources.

And I love reading my books to children in person locally, or via Skype anywhere in the country (or around the world for that matter!) Here’s a photo of the group of kids at Camp Kindness (coincidence!) in Michigan after our Skype author visit program.

Would your school or group like to participate in a Team Kindness activity or an author visit? Learn more by visiting the website, or contacting me directly!