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Thanks to a generous donation from my friend Anonymous, all those who sent pictures of their best pet friends are winners of a gift certificate for Null City books. But their gift is greater than a free book or even than the satisfaction of knowing each book represents a donation that will help homeless pets.

They get love. The real thing. NO holds-barred, unconditional, forever.

Their stories are my holiday gift to you. I thank all those who contributed, and wish everyone a joyous holiday season and a peaceful new year.


"It's only your first year as a reindeer," she said. "They'll never pick you for their Reindeer Games."

“It’s only your first year as a reindeer,” she said. “They’ll never pick you for their Reindeer Games.”

Finn is my pet pal. He follows me everywhere (only in a never decreasing hope of food ) He was brought over from Ireland when he was about 5 months old and fostered out from LurcherSOS. I saw him on their website and had to go and see him immediately….and it was a done deal. He has a lovely temperament (except towards cats, squirrels, rabbits or anything small and furry – well, he is a Lurcher!) and when the little dogs, who for some reason always bark at him, have a go he never barks back, just ignores them quite regally.

Here he is practising in case one of the reindeer can’t make it and Santa needs him. I told him his antlers need to grow a bit but he’s having none of it.( He forgot to remove the label too 😉 )


Channeling your inner-direwolf

Channel your inner-direwolf

My dog’s name is Ghost. (My daughter named him after the runt-of-the-litter direwolf in Game of Thrones. Our dog is also the runt.)

My daughter’s dad decided to sire their brown lab with another brown lab and a litter of seven resulted. My daughter begged and pleaded with me to take Ghost in because she formed a special attachment to him and her stepmom didn’t want to keep any of the offspring. Ghost sucked me in.

–from Kim Van Sickler


Kittens ChristmasI have always wanted to write down the story of how I came to share my life with Quinn and Ally.  I just never did.  Your prompt gave me the push I needed.  We have to go back in time just a little bit.

The year was 1998 and I was off work sick.  It was a multiple sclerosis attack.  I was bored and depressed and basically miserable.  I felt that I had no value in the world, no one needed me.  I needed to be needed.  I needed to be wanted.  I don’t know who first suggested it but the answer was a feline companion.

The year was still quite young and the timing was all wrong for kittens.  I was told to wait a few months.  I never did like to wait.  My sister found a notice at her vet’s office looking for homes for five kittens.  I called the number and was told a heart wrenching story.

A young man was walking late one night in Toronto and noticed a green garbage bag in an alley.  The reason he noticed it was because it was moving and making strange sounds.  Upon investigation he discovered five very small kittens.  He took them home to his mother and she set about raising them.

I called several weeks later and was told that three of the five had been adopted.  I was really only looking for one cat but the woman told me that the last two had bonded and she didn’t want to separate them.  I said I would think about it and call back the next day.

When I went to sleep that night I never expected to have my life turned upside down.  In the wee hours of the morning I woke up with a song ringing in my head, quite loudly.  I called for the cats first thing.  I would take them both.  The female would be called Ally and the male would be called Quinn.  Oh and the song?  It was just one line: “when Quinn the Eskimo gets here everybody’s going to jump for joy!”.

Shortly after that I was introduced to my two new companions.  Quinn was curious and assertive.  Ally was scared.  He took care of her, made sure she was safe.  She wouldn’t let me touch her.  He claimed me as his.  I cheerfully accepted.  In time Ally accepted me but I was not allowed to touch her head for almost two years and she didn’t purr for almost six months.  When she did start it was like listening to an outboard engine!

Cats ChristmasWe settled into a routine.  I was still working so I left every morning with an escort.  Quinn investigated the hallway outside my apartment while Ally hovered just outside my door anxiously awaiting our return.  Quinn walked the entire length of the hall and I followed on my scooter.  Once the end was reached he would back on to my scooter and I would drive us both home.  Once my cats were both safely ensconced in my apartment I went off to work.  When I returned they were always at the door to greet me.  They seemed to be content, even happy.  I learned a lot about them over the years.  I learned that they were Maine Coon cats, a very large breed.  I learned that Ally loved any cheese but Quinn only liked mild, unless it was feta.  I learned that two feline companions mean that I will never be bored and I will never be lonely.  For 11 years life was good.  Then Quinn got sick.  A few months later he was gone.

We mourned him together but we adapted.  We made changes and found a new rhythm that worked for us both.  Eventually life was good again. We enjoyed each other’s company as a duo, we bonded.  And then one day she too became ill.  It happened so suddenly.  She was gone.

For 16 years I shared my life.  They were with me when I was sick and when I was well.  They saw every side of me and still kept asking to sit in my lap.  They wanted to be near me, to touch me.  They needed me just as much as I needed them.  They were my furry four-legged children.  I will always miss them.

Thank you for listening.

–from quiall at Butterfly Sand (**Don’t miss her current series on Horace the young hippo!)


Ellie B aka Dogamous Pyle


What do you mean you don’t have a sleigh? You had ONE job…

My dear wife Karen and I were still sad from the passing of rescue mutt No. 1, Lissa, who lived a full and happy 15 years before the vet told us we all had to say the tearful goodbye two years prior to the day we spotted Ellie B in her orange adopt-me vest trotting around the Paws for a Cause charity event. Somebody had left her on the steps of the Rome (N.Y.) Humane society overnight. At least they were wise enough to know they couldn’t take care of this sweet and spirited girl and to take her to someplace where the kind folk would try hard to find somebody who could. Ellie B has made us happy, from her independent 6-month-old pup with the flee-gene days to now, as a 4-year-old who loves to romp in her snowy backyard.

–From Mark Bialczak of the literate and very funny What Will I Write About Next?


Worries you'll never figure out "Who's a good girl" because you keep asking...

Worries you’ll never figure out “Who’s a good girl” because you just keep asking…

This is my best pal, Suli. She is athletic and a couch potato in equal measure. Will play fetch with a ball or frisbee until she drops, but also loves to snuggle on the couch and sleep in on the weekends. She is also a great road tripper and polite hotel guest, so we take plenty of adventures together. Her second adoptiversary was just last week, and she spent it playing and cuddling with our little 14-lb Shih tzu foster dog, who has just been adopted and will go to his forever home this evening! Suli was a rescue dog herself, so it was great to see her return the favor by taking care of the new guy while he was with us. I adore her! –Karen Stephanie



Wait... Let me get this straight. You bring a tree into the house and NOBODY gets to pee on it? How is that even a thing?

Wait… Let me get this straight. You bring a tree into the house and NOBODY gets to pee on it? How is that even a thing?

After losing our Springer Spaniel, Cooper, in August, my husband went through a long grieving process. He was reluctant to give his heart again.

But I came into our relationship with a dog, my psychotic German shepherd, Goliath. I was –and am –a package deal.

After months of nagging and falling for one puppy after another, I realized that I didn’t want a short-haired dog. Nope, I wanted a dog with longish hair. Other than that, I didn’t have any ideas. I needed a dog. So Monday afternoon, I mentioned that to John’s sister, Becky, who works for a local shelter. A short while later, she emailed me a picture of an adorable blue Merle puppy she’d seen on pet finders.com. I immediately emailed the woman who had posted him, before even telling John. When I did, he said, yeah, you should inquire.

We were approved within an hour, pending a good recommendation from our vet. We knew that Dr C would I’ve us a great recommendation and then buy a new car, knowing that we would visit him often again.

We got Duncan that Saturday.

He is a sweet scamp, who is into everything (our Christmas tree is in the hall where he is not yet allowed). But he is fun and loving, and I don’t know where John or I’d be without him. And best of all, Duncan gives the most wonderful greetings when we get home!

–Elyse at FiftyFourAndAHalf


Well-played, human. If I hadn't caught that red ball (curse that canine DNA), you would never have found me cleverly camouflaged by Canada...

Well-played, human. If I hadn’t caught the red ball (curse my canine DNA), you would never have found me cleverly camouflaged by Canada…

This is Maple. She keeps me sane by tearing me away from my laptop and taking me for walks. And even though she is prettier than I am, and smarter, she lets me hang around with her. I feed her cookies whenever I want to, and apparently I want to for most of the day. As well as throw balls. Seems I like to do that all day as well. Pretty full day. –A.J. Capper at Writing Murderous Make-Believe


When I was a pup, I had to walk five miles in the snow, just to poop.

When I was a pup, I had to walk five miles in the snow, just to poop.

Our furry family member, Mocha, was adopted from Boxer Rescue Los Angeles on December 18, 2010. It’s been four years, but it seems like she’s been with us much longer. She’s a sweetheart and everyone that meets her tells us she’s so sweet. She’s a mellow girl.

She had cancer removed a few months after we brought her home and knee surgery for a ruptured cruciate ligament two years ago. She’s still hanging in there and having cataract removed from her left eye today.
She doesn’t move as quickly as she used to, but she’s at the door and happy to see us come home when we’ve been gone–even if it’s only been an hour. She gets excited when she knows she’s about to go for a walk.
–from Danielle Davis, who did a post on her writers blog about Mocha 18 months ago.



Because I’m the Goddess and I say so.

We first named our tabby Inana, after the Mesopotamian goddess of love and war, which turned out to be appropriate since she was such a passionate cat. Nevertheless, she acquired the nickname Banana within days, and remained Banana until we lost her to illness a few months ago. She was our constant companion for eight years, adored and adoring, and we are still in shock at her death.

She was not just a once-in-a-lifetime cat. That would have been enough of a loss. But even worse, she was the only actual domestic cat among the three felines who lived with us. She left us the two cats we had gotten as kittens to keep her company: littermates Dorian, the girl, and her brother Smoochie (guess which is the gray one). The rescue said these two were “very shy,” which meant they were feral, and might or might not become interested in humans, ever, in the slightest.

As it turned out, they want as little to do with us as possible even now, but we are grateful for any attention they deign to show us, since it took an entire year before we could even look at them without them running away.

The dog did it. For sure.

The dog did it. For sure.

What do you mean...we don't have a dog? Tiny details are the hallmark of tiny minds.

What do you mean…we don’t have a dog? Tiny details are the hallmark of tiny minds.

Yes, they’re gorgeous. Yes, we love them. Yes, they have charming quirks, like the way Smoochie sings to his fuzzy yellow ball in the bathroom late every night, and the way Dorian growls when she gets excited and runs madly around the room.

And yes, in their own noli-me-tangere way, they seem to love us . . . although it’s just as likely that they love the food and warm places to sleep that we provide.

To make sense of it all, we try to see them as our teachers; they’re helping us learn to love without expectation. And we imagine Banana smiling compassionately down upon us . . . goddess of love, indeed. –KarenF


dscn8134-2smBlatantly stolen from Jessie, who brings an artist’s eye and poet’s soul to life Behind the Willows

We still have a couple of gift certificates for Null City books. If you’d like to be eligible for one, just send a picture of your pet to barbtaub@gmail.com. Each certificate also means a donation to no-kill pet rescue. Thanks!