What My Scaredy-Cat Dog teaches Me

Dog - Twist 1-28-13This is Twist.  As you can see even from his home-coming picture, he is a timid soul, poor baby.

He was left at a no-kill shelter as a pup with the rest of his litter and his mom.  Apparently, he didn’t get adopted and the shelter decided to go ahead and put his mom up for adoption.  Based on my experience with him, I wish they’d wait to adopt out the mom until ALL the pups are gone.  Maybe another month or two with her might have upped his confidence.

In any event, he ended up living there for nearly five years — stuck in a 4′ x 8′ chain link kennel day in and day out.  Don’t get me wrong.  This is an EXCELLENT no-kill shelter doing the best they can with the funds they have available.  But the reality is that unless a bunch of people go volunteer at these places to play with, walk and just generally socialize the animals there, the staff is limited to cleaning, feeding and doing what is needed to keep the pups and kitties alive and healthy, not much more.  You could liken the experience for most of the longer-term dogs and cats to prison without the possibility of parole.

Twist (short for Twister since he spent his days spinning in his little area) has been here for almost three years now.  He still can’t stand to be petted.  He will come up to lick your hand if he likes you, but runs away any time someone actively tries to touch or grab him.  Needless to say, getting a leash on him is a challenge.

But because Black Dog Sanctuary is located on 9 acres, during good weather we’ve been able let him out onto the land without a leash, and you’ve never seen a happier pup — running with the rest of the pack, sniffing and enjoying the earth.  And interestingly, when outside his wariness and constant vigil make him a truly excellent watch dog.

Twist doesn’t get the same snacks as the rest of the pack.  He’s just learning to come to enjoy special treats.  I’ve learned that we can often hold ourselves back from getting the best in life because of our own fears, and so I try to remember Twisty when I’m confronted with the possibility of stepping out into a new situation.

Twist also doesn’t get loved on the way the rest of the dogs do.  I’d love to, but he won’t let me.  For the five years he was in the shelter, humans meant being sprayed with water to clean-up, pushed from one side to the other and dosed with medicines in a variety of not-so-comfortable ways.  Even those days are over, he can’t seem to bring himself to try and feel any new touch.  I try to remember that sometimes love and good feelings may not come our way because we’re the ones pushing them away.

Twist sees the world as a scary place out to get him.  He thinks that every noise, dropped item and/or flashing light is an attack of some kind, and often runs in the opposite direction and far away, even when it had nothing to do with him and wouldn’t have hurt him.  I try to remember that maybe we put too much emphasis on what we’re feeling and so hold ourselves back in fear when there’s no need to.

Despite all of his problems, however, Twist has come a long way.  When he first came, he couldn’t play with another dog; couldn’t enjoy chewing a bone; would give up his food to just about anyone who even asked for it, let alone challenged him; and had his tail tucked between his legs 24-7.  Now he’ll stand up for himself more; plays with the rest of the pack; loves to throw bones in the air (whatever works for him is fine with me) and his tail is proudly wagging much of the time.  Twist teaches me that no matter how decimated and depressed we may feel, with time and the right attention and love, we can all move forward into a better place — maybe not the perfect place another might want for us (which teaches me to be patient and accept his limitations) — but at least into a place that feels a  lot more like wahoo than boo hoo.

Dog - Twist Oct 2015Twist enjoying his time outside in the sun.


1-Black & White Cat - LorriI’m a puzzle because I have different colors all over my body, and because although I’ll come and play with you when you have food, I’m also perfectly happy being an outside cat and on my own.

I’m male, have been neutered and am a few years old, and happy now sleeping in my mom’s garage.  But she has a number of cats already, and I need someone with patience to teach me to be an inside/outside cat.  I should get that quickly, because I learn easily and have a sweet temperament.

Time is Running Out!

We are so grateful for the support of all of you for our super Purses for Paws Prime Rib Dinner and Auction.  However, time is running out to get your tickets, since sales end Monday, and there will be none at the door.  We’re doing that so that we get an accurate count and make sure everyone can enjoy the succulent food Dick Rose is providing.  You still have time.  Get your tickets at:

  • Gynemia’s Floral and Gifts, Wheatland
  • Hickory County Library, Hermitage
  • Index, Hermitage
  • Terry’s Designs, Galmey
  • The Trading Post, Hermitage

And thank you to all of these locations for helping with the dinner!

Great New Auction prizes have been added

We are so lucky to have such wonderful support for our upcoming Purses for Paws Auction.  Tucked into some of the purses and tool box are wonderful, high-value prizes, including:

  • Antiqued Cast-Iron King-Size Headboard (see PhotPicture - Snowmenos below)
  • Custom Bird Feeder
  • Custom Snow Men with dogs & Cats
  • Dremel Moto Tool with over 30 bits
  • Dog Blankets (see samples on our Sales pages under our Donate / Shop Now page)
  • Dog Bed made of faux fur
  • Dremel Moto-tool with over 30 bits & tools
  • Grocery Gift cards
  • Hair cut
  • Hardware Gift Certificate
  • Jewelry (see samples on Lynn Leigh Design’s Web page and others
  • Massage Roller and Cream
  • Professional Photography Gift Card
  • Rare Sophie’s Choice Victorian Chintz Tea Set (see photos below)
  • Restaurant Gift Certificate
  • Shark Light ‘N Easy Steam Mop (see photos below)
  • Subscription
  • Warm Fleece Scarves (see samples under our Donate /Shop Now page)

And more donations are being offered every day, so check back to see the updated list!  Please do visit our sponsors page post and support them when shopping.  Having these donations helps to make the auction fun and rewarding!

Picture - Headboard 1







Picture - Headboard 4 Picture - Headboard 3


Picture - Tea Set 2







Picture - Shark Steam Mop 2Picture - Shark Steam Mop 1

Our Wonderful Sponsors

We want to thank all the wonderful sponsors and volunteers who made the fantastic First Annual Purses for Paws Dinner and Auction possibly by donating time, gifts, publicity & drop-off locations for donations!!!  If we have inadvertently forgotten someone, please DO let us know. (Posted in Alphabetical order)


  • 254 CAFE: Janice Waters & Craig Kohler, Wheatland, MO 65779
  • 5-STAR GROCERY: Sid Kingston, Hermitage, MO
  • ALPS GROCERY: (Always Low Prices!), Pittsburg, MO
    Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ALPS-Grocery-201367313218100/
  • COUNTRY COTTAGE HAIR CARE: Carol Butler, Wheatland, MO
  • DIAMOND S AUCTION COMPANY: Cody & Devon Stutenkemper & DaKotah Stutenkemper-Lear, Bolivar, MO –Website: http://www.diamond-s-auction.com/
  • FAITHGALORE: Sandy Rice, Pittsburg, MO — https://www.etsy.com/shop/FaithGalore
  • GYNEMIA’S FLOWER GARDEN: Gynemia Walker, Wheatland, MO
    Website: http://www.wheatlandflowers.com/
  • INDEX NEWSPAPER: Trevor Vernon and Tabitha Pursley, Hermitage, MO.  Website: https://www.vernonpublishing.com/Index/News
  • JACK & VIRGINIA’S RESTAURANT: D, Clark, Hermitage, MO — https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jack-and-Virginias-Restaurant/151763134885417
  • KREATIVE LIFE PHOTOGRAPHY: Kyla Hunzinger, Cross Timbers, MO
  • LIGHTFOOT HARDWARE: Terry and Anita Turner, Hermitage, MO — https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lightfoot-General-Hdw/119373108113446
  • LYNN LEIGH DESIGNS: Ginger Hammond, Wheatland, MO
    Website: http://www.lynnleighdesigns.com/
    MAPLES BED AND BREAKFAST, Ricka and Doc Bill Matthews, Humansville, MO  — Website: http://maplesbedandbreakfast.com/
  • MC CARTY SENIOR CENTER: Mark Swigert, Wheatland, MO — https://www.facebook.com/McCartyCenter/
  • PATRICIA FEIGLE & JEFF RYAN: Pittsburg, MO – guitarcat66@gmail.com
  • POLK SALAD ANNIE’S CAFE: Ricka and Doc Bill Matthews, Humansville, MO — Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Polk-Salad-Annies/116413125047549
  • POMME DE TERRE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH: Pastor Ellen Hoff, Carson’s Corner, MO — Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pdtumc
  • S & C ACE AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR: Steve and Carrie Brown, Wheatland, MO — https://www.facebook.com/SCs-Ace-Automotive-Repair-LLC-1512802162285471/
  • SNOW DAZE: Donna Bulmer, Wheatland, MO
  • TNT QUICK SHOP: Randy and Cindy Gilmore, Flemington, MO. Website: http://www.tntquickshop.com/
  • TERRY’S DESIGNS: Mabel Davis, Wheatland, MO
    Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Terrys-Designs-377973258948100
  • THE TRADING POST: Chip Shaddox, Hermitage, MO
    Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Trading-Post/148176511867470
  • WHITE TIGER TAEKWONDO: J.R. West, Hermitage, MO — Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/White-Tiger-Taekwondo-1517984628473817/


  • Mike and Pat Alexander
  • Mr. and Mrs. Bill Arnold
  • Mike and Liz Baumgarden
  • Kent and Linda Boettger
  • Traci Brown and Michael Brown, Hickory County Prosecuting Attorney
  • Berta Bryner
  • Julie Campbell
  • Pat Clinton
  • Dianna Donnelly
  • Tracie Faigenblat
  • Sarah Marie Fukula
  • Jan Gerstlauer
  • Ginnette Gunnels
  • Debbie Gordon
  • Brenda Gould
  • Jeanne Graves
  • Judge James Hackett
  • Margaret Hastings
  • Corrine and Carroll Johnson
  • Debbie Jones
  • Lori Keyes
  • Jason Kindred
  • Crystal Lang
  • Melinda Leslie
  • Mary McCoy
  • Linda McGinnis
  • Jeanne Menard
  • Jo and Dick Rose
  • John Smith
  • Donita Stanley
  • Kamia Taylor
  • Gene Thomas
  • David and Cheri Tippets
  • Connie Truelove
  • Amanda Walker
  • Deputy Barry and Madonna Walker
  • Dakota Williams
  • John and Linda Woodruff

My Shadow Box is Gone

Her name was Box, and her passing reminds me of the joy and the sadness that rescuing feral cats always brings.
I know you’re asking yourself why anyone would name their kitty Box and I’m not sure I can explain it fully, but I’ll try….Originally I called her Shadow. She was one of a litter of four kittens that Mama Cat, who resided in our neighborhood when my husband and I moved into our house, presented to us. Upon arriving home from a short trip back east, these four ceremoniously appeared, one by one, from under our nearest neighbor’s house, unoccupied at that time, and promptly moved into our home and our lives.
Our back screen door had a small hole in the bottom part of it, and these kitties soon learned they could come and go as they wanted from there; and so they did — cavorting about on the deck amidst the flower pots during the day, and wreaking havoc inside at night while we slept. Many the morning I woke to find curtains pulled down and lamps overturned. All survived this growing-up period, ourselves includedCat - Smart kitties enjoying a warm electric blanket, as you can see:
In the evening, when it was time to come in, I would call out “Bee Jay, Button’s Baby, Sophie, Shadooooo Box”, and in they’d come. Soon the Shadow part of her name was dropped and she became simply Box. And it really did seem to be a perfect name for her.
Even before these kitties moved in with us, I had seen Box once. Sitting in my small morning room, I looked out the window and there was Mama Cat walking down the road towards the neighbor’s house with a small dark bundle in her mouth. I’m sure it was Box. Each of the litter-mates is uniquely marked: Bee Jay is mostly gray with some white, Sophie is a calico, Button’s Baby mostly white with some dark gray markings, and Box has theRescue - Box dark tortoise shell coloring.
Of the four kittens she was the most timid and frightened. The day I took her to the vet in a neighboring city to be spayed, I had not even returned home when the vet’s office called to say she had gotten loose.  They had gone through one hard time corralling her, and would I please come right away and get her?  This was before we had a cell phone, so I didn’t know the situation until I’d already returned home. They had managed to catch Box and spay her, so I went back and brought her home and put her in a small room by herself to recover. Several times I would go in and speak softly to her and cuddle her – something I had not been able to do before (and probably only something she allowed because she was still groggy from the anesthetic) and this was, I’m sure, our bonding period.
Box was also quite stand-offish, not only from people, but even from her litter-mates. The other three often cuddle and play and sleep together, but not Box. But she cuddled with me and over time we became the best of friends.
At first the kitties were all inside/outside cats, free to come and go. Eventually the three girls became inside-always cats, and only Bee Jay comes and goes. Box had about three terrifying episodes outside:  once I had to go up the street and coax her out from under a porch; two other times she was either up a tree or on the roof, howling with fear, and it was only with great difficulty that we were able to get her down and inside to safety.  After the third time, it became clear she had decided that being inside safe and sound worked better for her.
She was, while my husband was alive, our bed partner, sleeping between us. After my husband’s death, she continued to sleep with me. It was a very rare night that we didn’t go to bed together.
And then she became ill with liver and kidney disease – and things changed, including some of her habits. She distanced herself and stopped coming to bed with me. She began to meow pitifully when she wanted to be fed, and she seemed, strangely, to be more accepting of someone else in the house.
Before becoming sick, she rarely appeared when I had company. My bedroom was her sanctuary where she spent most of her time. Occasionally, if one of my children was visiting for several days, she would come out briefly, but never to stay long. After getting ill, things were very different….
Wednesday, January 6th, I had to make the hard decision to let her go.  After I did so, I realized I had probably waited too long…She was so thin and so ill. Although she had distanced herself from me somewhat, during those last days she often came onto my lap and purred and stayed. Was she saying ‘goodbye’?
The very worst aspect of having a pet is knowing we may have to experience eventually what I experienced, which is making the awful decision to end a life and say ‘goodbye’ to a sweet being who has shared our lives over the years. But, when we take a pet into our lives, we are making a commitment to them …to care for them and be responsible for them until the end, and so, if they live long enough, the end may be very sad indeed.  I had more than ten years with Box, and wouldn’t trade a minute of that time. Nevertheless, I miss her.

Sparkling White Teeth

In the last ten years or so it’s become somewhat of a fad belief that pet owners need to brush their cat’s or dog’s teeth.  This is laughable to me.  These animals, and the wolves before them, survived perfectly fine with no one to brush their teeth for literally thousands of years!  And I know of no pet that enjoys having you manhandle their mouth regularly, no matter how livery the toothpaste may taste!

So why is it recommended now?  Because, in my humble opinion, it takes advantage of the trend to convert your cat or dog from an animal to a living doll and provides the pet-supply industry with yet another way to make you spend your hard-earned money foolishly.

What’s really the best way to get your pet’s teeth clean:  In most cases, uncooked bones.  I have had animals rescued from shelters and puppy mills with gum problems and black teeth.  After a few months of regularly giving them real bones to chew upon, their gums are good and their teeth end up white and clean. Not to mention that chewing and consuming these bones is exactly how nature intended for them to get enough calcium.

If you have hunter friends, ask them to save the leg bones for you.  Rib bones cut off the spine work well too.  Or contact a local butcher shop and ask the same thing.  Farm supply stores often have real bones, although they have been dried and flavored, and I’ve even found those at the local Walmart from time to time.  Avoid the greenies, kongs and other similar items.  They accomplish nothing close to what real bones will do.  And whatever you do, please, please, please! avoid the rawhide chews and/or pigs and cows ears, whether or not they are twisted into the shape of bones.  You’re simply asking for bowel obstructions, especially with larger animals that bite off huge pieces, as well as dirty, germ-filled slobbery messes after they have been chewed on for a while.

If you absolutely can’t find them anywhere local, then jefferspet.com is a great option for a wide variety of bones starting as low as $1 each for bones for small dogs.  Since I have so many pups at home, I like to take advantage of the option to buy multiple bone packs at a time at a lower per-bone cost.  At 24-pack of pork femurs, which all my dogs (even the little one) love, love, love is $44, so less than $2 each.

No matter where you get them, please do let your animals have the satisfaction of chewing on real bones.  They’ll thank you for it.