T-Shirt and Book Give-away!!

In honor of Frankie's induction into the Wisconsin Pet Hall of Fame today we will have a drawing for a free Frankie T-shirt and Frankie, the Walk 'N Roll Dog book (one winner for each item).  In order to qualify you must make a comment on any of the blog posts.  The contest will run through March 12th and I will pick the winner on Friday, March 13th.  See, good things do happen on Friday the 13th's!  GOOD LUCK!!

Third Printing of Books and News on Two other Frankie Books in the Works!

Whew, the big freight truck rolled down my little village street this morning and delivered another 1,000 books.  This is the 3rd print run of Frankie, the Walk 'N Roll Dog."  Never did I think I'd sell 1,000 copies, let alone two and now a third 1,000 sit in my garage.  Now my work is really set out for me, but I'm up for the challenge!

What is exciting about this shipment is the fact I was able to list the awards and honors it has received since I launched the book on Feb. 24, 2008.  I also added endorsements it has received.  What is really fun is that I was able to embed Frankie's paw print and name on the 2nd title page.  This means no more stamping her paw print on labels and sticking them into the book.  Whew, that will save time!  I figured I earned having that put into the 3rd print run after stamping 2,000 paw prints. GRIN.

Speaking of books I feel confident to officially announce that I am close to completion of Frankie, the Walk 'N Roll Dog Activity Book."  It is currently in the hands of my graphic designer.  This will be a workbook of crossword puzzles, word searches, coloring pages and mazes to further teach Frankie's message.  I hope to have that available by June 2009 in print and e-book format.  I will keep you posted!… and just may share a page our two on my blog as a sneak preview in the upcoming weeks.

Also, I am working on another Frankie book.  When I returned from vacation my goal was to submit what I had written to date to an editor.  I'm happy to say I did that and it is well under way into the editing process with the wonderful editor, Yvonne Perry of Writer's in the Sky.  I am not sure of a title yet, but I can tell you this book will be about Frankie's therapy dog work at a Senior Assisted Facility we visit once a month.  The book is of course inspired by Frankie, but also inspired by a wonderful, sweet gentleman we met when we began to visit.  His connection with Frankie is so heart-warming.  We have grown very fond of him and the many wonderful people we have met.  Stay tuned!

Why Would You Want to be a Hospice Volunteer?

The perception of being a volunteer in hospice is that it is depressing and why would you want to surround yourself with people who are dying? 

I was drawn to hospice workin part, because of reading about author, Jon Katz' experience with his dogs and hospice work in his book, "Izzy and Lenore, Two Dogs, an Unexpected Journey and Me."

I didn't think I would do hospice work with Frankie as soon as I have.  It was something I had planned on doing in the future after getting my feet wet in other volunteer work.  But in October 2008 a friend encouraged me to visit Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice (SSRCH).  She had been telling many of the residents about Frankie and many wanted to meet her.

I'll admit I was a bit apprehensive.  What would it be like?  Would it be depressing and could I handle it?  But everything I had read about Jon's experience made me want to be a part of giving back in this way.  After I visited SSRCH for the first time I was hooked. 

Yesterday I was able to take part in an all day training at SSRCH and listen to various people from the facility share their positions and experiences.  An RN, Social Workers, the Volunteer Coordinators, the Chaplain, the CEO and Home Team and Center Supervisors.  Each and everyone of them loves their job.  They love coming to work each day.  You could literally feel it in the room.  It was magical to be among all that positive, giving energy.

There were some amazing experiences shared about the dying process.  Many times I had to wipe away the tears.  But it was not always out of sadness.  It was a feeling of comfort that there is something bigger out there in the Universe and to embrace it and know it will all be ok.  We each have our own belief systems and that is what is so unique about making us who we are.  Listening to all the speakers yesterday I had such a sense of oneness, of none judgment, of wanting to be better people, of wanting to give back. 

Death is part of life.  Am I ready to die yet?  Heck no!  I've got so much I want to accomplish.  But I don't fear it asmuch as I used to.  And being a part of SSRCH as a volunteer reminds me each and every time that life is meant to be lived to the fullest… whether we have 6 months or 60 years left.

I love the challenge of walking through the front doors of SSRCH and putting me aside.  Being there is not about me, it is about doing what I can for the patients.  Whether it is to listen, to offer a hug, hold a hand, or to just be there.  Frankie gives me the confidence to do this.  She makes it easier for me to walk into the room of a patient I do not know and gives me hope we can make a difference…. and most importantly recognizing even though you may not hear back if you made a difference, but knowing in your heart you did.

Every time I volunteer I leave better than when I came in… even though it isnot about me.  Isn't that inter sting?  How can that be depressing?  It is uplifting, rewarding, magical, and fills my soul with a joy I never knew before. 

And yes, there are times it is sad that a person has passed that Frankie and I have come to grow fond of.  But my life has been enriched and better because of knowing that person.  To be a part of their last days and welcomed into their room to offer whatever support I can is a gift each and every time.