Saturday, November 24, 2007

It’s a Dog’s Life

From some of my previous posts on this blog, you’ve probably figured out that I’m an animal lover, and a big supporter of animal rescue endeavors. So when I started to write With This Ring, my December Harlequin American Romance, it came as no surprise to me that the hero has a dog that he adopted from the SPCA. Max is an Old English Sheepdog, and he quickly became one of my favorite secondary characters in the book.

To be honest, I’d never actually met an Old English Sheepdog, but a little Internet research revealed an OES rescue facility in a town that’s about an hour’s drive from where I live. So I contacted them, and they invited me to come for a visit.

Ann Rambaud and Ray Salmon, the proprietors of Sheepie Hollow, are two of the most wonderful and amazing people you could hope to meet. They currently have one Old English Sheepdog and three Bearded Collies. Before I met the dogs I didn’t know the difference between an OES and a beardie—and there are differences—but they have a lot in common, too. Both breeds are very intelligent, extremely sociable, and require a lot of grooming!

Currently, three of Ann and Ray’s four dogs have been rescued. They have the perfect home and a lifestyle that’s laid back enough to allow four dogs to have the run of the house.

Summer is their only non-rescue dog. She’s a gorgeous championship-quality Bearded Collie, and Ann and Ray have had her since she was a puppy.

Penny, a twelve-year-old OES, has been with them for about nine years. Before that she’d been through four homes, and one previous owner even used a shock collar on her. After just a few minutes in Penny’s company, I was completely enchanted. She’s funny and affectionate, and it’s impossible to understand how anyone found it necessary to use extreme behavioral controls on such a beautiful girl.

Blue is a Bearded Collie who’d been found running the streets. He had only been at Sheepie Hollow for a few weeks when I met him, and he was already part of the family. Ann and Ray’s big fenced yard allows Blue plenty of room to run, but we’re happy to report his wild, wandering ways are a thing of the past.

Of all the dogs, Molly’s story touched me the most. Molly is an amputee—her left hind leg is missing. It’s well disguised by her long fur and tail, though, and because she has no problem keeping up with the other dogs, I didn’t even notice it right away. When I finally asked if she had a bit of a limp, Ann and Ray told me her story.

In 2003 she escaped from her previous owner on Halloween night and was found eleven days later on the side of a road. She had multiple injuries, the worst of which was a shattered hind leg. Her owner was contacted but refused to pay for her veterinary care, which included the amputation of that left hind leg. The vet performed all the necessary treatment anyway and within a couple of weeks, Molly was adopted by Ann and Ray.

To me, Molly seemed to have the sweetest disposition of the four dogs, and she’s the most patient, waiting her turn for pat on the head instead of insisting on it! And to say that Molly now has a full life would be a complete understatement. She has a wonderful, loving home, two devoted humans, and three lively companions.

You can follow the early weeks of Molly’s rehabilitation here, but I also want to share a couple of photos in this post.

Ann and Ray’s wonderful home is well equipped for large, energetic dogs. Within four months of being injured, Molly was leading an active life.

Ann and Ray provide lots of extracurricular adventures to keep their dogs mentally and physically stimulated.

I especially love the next two pictures and when I first saw them, I laughed until I had tears in my eyes! Molly’s herding instinct is not hampered by that missing leg . . .

. . . and I can actually imagine sound effects to go with this one. Engines revving, tires squealing, and they’re off. Go Molly!

And kudos to Ann and Ray for being such wonderful people.

And now I hope you’re as anxious to meet Max, the Old English Sheepdog in With This Ring, as I am to introduce him to you. Starting November 29 for six consecutive Thursdays, he’ll be guest blogging on my blog, The Writer Side of Life. Max and I will also have some fun prizes to give away, so we hope you’ll visit often!


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

All of the authors who write for Harlequin American Romance would like to wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving.

We are thankful you are here reading and blogging with us and enjoying our books. May your home and hearth be warm and filled with fun and family today, or if you are enjoying the day alone, know we are thinking of you and hope you enjoy peace and solace and have the time to curl up with a good book.

And may you shop well if you will be out on Black Friday enjoying the sales tomorrow.

Monday, November 19, 2007

My November Release

All I Want for Christmas, my November Harlequin American, has the cutest cover ever! (See the sidebar, or visit This is the first story that takes place on Halo Island, a fictitious island in the San Juans of the Pacific Northwest. The island takes its name from the halo-shaped fog that sometimes hovers over the sound.

Ryan Chase, the hero, is raising his young daughter, Maggie, alone. Thanks to a great deal of emotional turmoil, little Maggie suffers from nightly bad dreams. In an effort to help her, Ryan has given up his successful business in Los Angeles and moved to the island where life isn’t so hectic and he can focus on her.

Tina Morrell was raised on the island but has moved to Seattle. Her job means everything to her, and she is climbing the corporate ladder. She comes home to take care of the woman who raised her while she recuperates from hip surgery. This woman just happens to live across the street from Ryan.

I don’t want to give away the story, so that’s all I’m saying. ☺ Except to wish one and all a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Tomorrow I’ll be guest blogging at with a Thanksgiving message for everyone. Please stop by!

Until later,

Mitch Takes A Wife, August 2007
All I Want for Christmas, November 2007

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Beginning of Thanks

It's been a rather wild month for our family. My second oldest daughter called on the Sunday morning before Halloween to tell us their house had burned. Since then, it's been nothing but adjustments for all and especially for the five of them. But in all of the craziness, we found "thankful" things. No one was hurt. Only one room was destroyed, although the smoke and water damage to the house was extensive. Their insurance company has been wonderful throughout, and they have a lovely home to live in until theirs is restored. The school system has offered help, which included new clothing for the Pre-Ker from a thoughtful organization. This Thanksgiving has us giving thanks for many things.

Then I started thinking. We give thanks for so many major things at this time of year. Shouldn't we be thankful for all things, big or small, throughout the year? Shouldn't we get up in the morning, thankful that we can, then go on to think of all the small things we are blessed with each moment? A place to live, food to eat, people to love can begin our list, but for each of us, there are so many more.

A couple of months ago, I discovered an e-course designed to find the positives in life, instead of dwelling on the negatives. One of the basic tasks to be done is to keep a Gratitude Journal. Each morning before getting up and each night before going to sleep, the particpant is to write three things he/she is grateful for. I admit that sometimes this means digging deep inside, because it means six NEW things each day, but it can be done. It's wonderful to be aware of the small glories in life, the ones we so often ignore, while dealing with the big bad ickies.

So in honor of our American Thanksgiving this coming Thursday, I'm suggesting that each of us, beginning tomorrow, start the day thinking of just one small thing we're thankful for and ending the day with another. If nothing else, it will bring a smile to our faces and a small bit of joy into our hearts each day, not only on one day a year, but throughout.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!