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Archive for August, 2012

"Paw It Forward" to Give Jobs to Individuals with Special Needs

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“Paw It Forward” to Give Jobs to Individuals with Special Needs

The Barkers Dozen seeks crowdsourced funding to hire three special needs individuals.
Aug. 9, 2012 — CHICOPEE, Mass. — The Barkers Dozen, an organic and eco-friendly dog treat company based here, launched “Paw It Forward”, a 30-day campaign to raise $10,000 in crowdsourced funding, in efforts to give a steady paycheck and vital career skills to three special needs individuals.
If the goal is reached, the pet treat company will use the investment to hire three individuals through its partner, Aditus, Inc., an organization that provides community-based employment and other services to Intellectually Disabled Individuals.
Social responsibility and giving back to its community is central to The Barkers Dozen’s mission. It has partnered with Aditus to bake and package its treats since 2011, and currently, all treats made by The Barkers Dozen are handmade by Aditus participants.
“Seeing the joy on one employee’s face when he got to open his first bank account, or another’s excitement when she bought her favorite recliner to watch television, are experiences that I can’t even begin to explain,” said President/CEO and Founder of The Barkers Dozen, Shawn Sherry. “Now it’s up to everyone to help me make this happen for more individuals in our community who want to be out there working, if they could only be given a chance!”
With the new employees’ help, the company will also be able to create three new flavors of organic dog treats. After the Paw It Forward campaign closes, The Barkers Dozen will collaborate with Paw It Forward investors to determine the three future varieties.
In addition, those who make a pledge to support the Paw It Forward project will receive a gift based on their level of support – from 50% off any order, to a year of free organic dog treats from The Barkers Dozen.
The Barkers Dozen is managing the Paw It Forward project through, a social crowdsourcing website. The campaign runs through Sept. 9, 2012, and is accessible here:
Available in select pet boutiques, upscale retailers and grocery stores — as well as online through The Barkers Dozen Virtual Bakery and Online Store — the current lineup of organic pet treats includes: Barkers Family Chicken Treats, Barkers Carrot Treats, Barkers Dozen Barkscotti, Peanut Butter Cups, Peanut Butter Treats, Cookie Cakes and The Big Dipper. Also available are a variety of Sampler and Seasonal Gift Boxes, and custom-made cookie jars and gift baskets.
About The Barkers Dozen:
With the goal of providing Homemade Organic Pet Treats that everyone could afford, The Barkers Dozen was founded in 2009. In the midst of the 2008 pet food scare, company founders Shawn Sherry and Anthony Newman saw an opportunity to start an organic dog treat business where customers could feel safe and secure about what they fed to that loyal member of their family.
The Barkers Dozen treats use the highest-quality, human-grade organic ingredients and are made in a variety of shapes and sizes to satisfy any furry friend. The gourmet dog treats are made on demand and in small batches to ensure the freshest product possible for customers, without artificial preservatives. Feeling a responsibility to the world in which we all live, its packaging is renewable or recyclable.
In 2011, Sherry assumed sole ownership of The Barkers Dozen, following a year of historic growth. Later that year, continuing its belief in social responsibility, The Barkers Dozen began utilizing staff from the Aditus group, a non-profit which helps those with special needs to be able to enter the work force. In addition, The Barkers Dozen donates a portion of its profits from every sale to two animal shelters in its local market.
Press contact:Mehgan Recker


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We are having a howling good time here at our house since last Thursday when Cooper joined our pack.

In January, we adopted Charlie Brown, the last puppy in a litter of eight that was rescued in Tennessee with their mama.  The brood was nicknamed “Kate Plus Eight” by the rescue agency,  and a wonderful foster mom took in all nine dogs just three days before Christmas, 2011.  The puppies were born on 11/11/11 which makes them special already.  Charlie Brown was the last to go, we can’t figure out why nobody chose him before we came along, except that he was meant to be ours, thank Dog.

After many months of puppy-ness (we dubbed Charlie with the nickname “Devil Dog”!), I received an email on July 2nd from the foster mom, who I had remained in touch with, along with the other 8 adoptive families.  [I should mention that even Kate, the puppies’ mother, was adopted before Charlie was!].  The email said that the runt of the litter, “mini-Cooper” was being returned to rescue because the family who adopted him originally was moving overseas and was unable to take Cooper with them, and did any of us want a second dog from the same litter?  If not, would we help spread the word, maybe a close friend or family member would want to adopt him.  And “oh by the way” he has an injured leg.

To this day, we do not know how he injured his leg, and it has become painfully clear that we will not ever know.  But dogs live in the moment, and the concern about what happened in the first place is only a human concern.  Take a look at any dog, and you’ll see that they don’t dwell on, or try to figure out, what happened in the past.  We should learn from them.

On top of their moving overseas, the family was unable to afford treatment for the leg which had multiple fractures and separation at the shoulder.  Cooper had been confined to a crate in lieu of treatment, we do not know for how long.

It was at this point that I began to become embroiled in the situation, and was on the phone and email with the foster mom and adoption coordinator from that day on, and throughout the rest of July and August.  At least ten of my friends, when I both emailed and posted on Facebook “anyone interested in adopting Cooper?”, replied “YOU have to adopt him!  He belongs with you.”  These were separate, distinct replies, with no one person talking to the other, conspiring to convince us to adopt him!  I tentatively told rescue we were interested.

The foster mom drove three hours to retrieve Cooper from his original adoptive family, and then spent several weeks running back and forth to multiple vet appointments at various locations.  It was eventually determined that the leg was useless, and any restorative surgery would be “experimental” at best.  To use the words of the senior surgeon who operated on the dog, “I wouldn’t put my own dog through that.”  And so, it was decided that Cooper would become a Tripawd.

A couple friends and I visited Cooper at the foster home, before the operation.  He was so relaxed, for a 9-month-old pup, it was hard to believe.

We brought Charlie Brown and Cooper together for one last play date, and to get reacquainted before he turned up with only three legs.  They had a blast.  I found out that the two of them had been the last two puppies, along with their mama, to be adopted out — so, they had gotten the unique opportunity, of all the littermates, to play one-on-one together as little puppies.

In mid-August, Cooper’s right front leg was amputated.  The hospital set up a post-op web cam and the foster mom was able to look in on him throughout most of the night while he was in recovery.  He was sent home with her two days later, and began a two-week recovery and readjustment period.  From the moment he got home, he seemed relieved that the dangling leg was gone, and did not miss a beat.  People began to say we humans should all take a lesson from him.  The word “special” was over-used, and substituted with the word “inspirational”.

About 14 days later, the staples came out, and we were given the go-ahead to sign the papers, pay the adoption fee, and come pick up Cooper.  Admittedly, we were nervous.  We’ve never had 3 dogs before.  After raising Hector and Hobie, who were just a year apart in age, I said “never again” would I have two dogs so close in age.  Hector passed away very suddenly exactly a year ago, August 28, 2011.  Hobie, nearly 13 years old, is slow and arthritic, and sleeps 23 hours a day.  Charlie Brown is the devil dog!  We feared Hobie would be “mad” at us.  My husband feared it would be too much stress on me, the primary caregiver.  But I said no, the animals are my stress-buster, they make me feel better.  I have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, so I have to be very careful not to overdo “it” — whatever “it” might be.  We were concerned that our house is all stairways, and would he be able to manage stairs?  Where would he sleep?  Our house is tiny.

On August 23rd, 2012, almost exactly a year since we lost our beloved hound dog, Hector, I took the afternoon off from work and went to pick up Cooper.   The introduction to Hobie went off without a hitch.  What, exactly, were we worried about?  Cooper joining our pack was like someone waving a magic wand and pronouncing, “Abra cadabra!  Your home will now be quiet, peaceful and tranquil.”  It was as if Cooper said to us, “I’m here now.  Everyone can calm down.”  His presence restored order to chaos.  He balanced out the pack, instead of adding to it.  He takes up hardly any room, despite the fact that both he and Charlie (and Hobie) are big dogs.   He found his place to sleep, on the couch, thank you very much.  He zooms up the stairs three steps at a time… it’s easier for him that way.  If I throw a ball for Charlie, Cooper runs just as fast after it as Charlie does.  Hobie said “Thank Dog!”  Charlie doesn’t beat up on him anymore!  The first day or two, going DOWN the stairs was a bit scary, and a couple times Cooper simply did not come down.  I had to fashion a sling and use cookies to assist and coax him.  Now he goes down the stairs quite well.  I think he took a cue from arthritic Hobie, who sidles up to the wall and leans on it to guide himself down.  Who knew that Hobie’s new-found fear of stairs (which began about four years ago) would be the precursor to us having a three-legged dog?  There are no coincidences.

While none of us are thrilled with what happened (mysteriously) to Cooper’s leg, we are so grateful that he has come into our lives.  In less than a week, he has changed everything, for the good.

Black Cat Appreciation Day, August 17th

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In honor of Black Cat Appreciation Day, here are just a few of the black cats we’ve known and loved.  Especially Mr. Kitty, our “favorite” if there can be such a thing.

Black cats are often overlooked in shelters and rescues (so are black dogs), and have been given a bad rap with all that “crossing your path” baloney.

Give a black cat a chance!  If you’re thinking of adopting, don’t skip over them at the shelter.  If you see a black cat cross YOUR path, maybe, just maybe it’s a sign of good luck.

Here are our black beauties:

Mr. Kitty (ok, yeah, he was allowed on the table!)

Mr. Kitty, we loved you so, and still do

Love Kitty at Long View Farm

Love Kitty at Long View Farm 

The famous “Ratsky”  Princeton, Mass. On top of my Ford Galaxie 500 oh yeah

Slippers (aka Hendrix), Framingham, Mass.

Slippers on my childhood bed at my parents’ house

Tux, the Electric Bullet, our latest blackie

Bullet poses for what will become the cover of my book MTAITW

A more recent pic of Tux/Bullet

1944 WWII memorabilia for Vol 2 of "More Than Anything in the World"

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Teaser/spoiler!  Here are some of the cool documents and keepsakes my parents kept from 1944.  These scans will be part of Volume 2 of their journal “More Than Anything In The World” which should be available soon on Amazon, B&N and for Kindle and Nook shortly thereafter.  The journal/memoir is being self-published by yours truly via’s “createspace” self-publishing module.  Volume 2 will consist of letters written by my parents during 1944 and the beginning of 1945.

Volume 1 is already available on, B&N and for Kindle and Nook if you haven’t read it yet.–mueller?keyword=more+than+anything+in+the+world+k.s.+mueller&store=allproducts

Where Volume 1 was romantic and heart-rending, Volume 2 deals more with WWII and some very cool stuff happens such as my parents getting the chance to live together in San Antonio, Texas after many months of separation. Unbeknownst to them at the time, my dad would be deployed to Europe at the very end of 1944, so those months in San Antonio turned out to be precious time spent together which would be followed by over a year of separation.

My father was fortunate to not be in a combat position; he worked in an intelligence outfit instead and was a stenographer and typist.  The outfit moves through England, France, Belgium, and finally Germany, where they ended up staying for several months after the war ended.  In fact, they were the only outfit to have that assignment in Germany, much to my parents’ disappointment — everyone else got to go home, except for the 15th Army.

On the way to France from England, the ship carrying the men was torpedoed, and sank.  Everyone on the ship survived except for a couple of men.  I have had the fantastic experience of “meeting” one of my father’s comrades (now 89 years old) who was one of the very last soldiers to jump ship as the hull disappeared beneath the waters of the English Channel.  This guy searched for my dad for nearly 70 years, and finally “found him” (me) thanks to the internet.  We’ve struck up a great pen-pal relationship and have enjoyed getting to know each other and reminiscing about my dad and other things.  How cool is that?  We have not talked by phone because he lost over 60% of his hearing when the ship was torpedoed and has a very hard time talking on the phone.  Which is all right with me, because I am “so not a phone person”.  It works out great for both of us!

I am beyond grateful to my mother for never throwing anything away!  Here are some scans of  some treasured memorabilia from 1944 that will be viewable in Volume 2 of MTAITW:

Hula girl stationery used by my mother’s cousin Bob who was stationed in Hawaii

Dependency benefits form

Birth announcement of one of my cousins

V-mail from my father announcing his mailing address to be used while he is overseas

Announcement of death of my great aunt, Elsie Walsh

Western Union telegram announcing the passing of Elsie Walsh.  
Sent to my parents while they were in San Antonio, Texas

The first of August

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August 1st has special meaning in our little five-mile world.  We opened the doors of Passports, the student travel company on August 1st, 1992 — 20 years ago today.  It is still hard to believe, I was only 32 years old at the time and now I’m in my 50s.  What?!  I had Timba the dog, who went to work with me every day, long before “Take Your Dog To Work Day”, the internet, and Dog Whisperer.  Hobie and Hector were not even a twinkle in their daddy’s eyes yet, and I never would have guessed what significance DOGS would have in my future.

Headquarters of Passports Educational Travel

We had 6 cats at the time, having just left Long View with however many feline friends (out of the 20+ who lived there) we could stuff into a large crate in the back of my Subaru station wagon (which believe me, is NOT easy).  My three cats Love Kitty, Filkin and Charlie made the trek all the way BACK to our rented house in Spencer, along with three Long View cats: our beloved Mr. Kitty, Louise (who was a feral cat and should never have come with us!), and dear, sweet Maggie. We now own that house, but don’t live in it anymore.  So much has changed… things I never dreamed of have happened, some good, some not so good.  Life.



Mr. Kitty
Love Kitty (black), and her daughter, Filkin (tabby)
Charlie the cat (tabby) and Mr. Kitty (black)
Timba and Charlie the cat

The anniversary continues! Three years ago today, I brought home two cats (by this time we had been living two years with NO cats, the last of the above-mentioned, Maggie, had died in the summer of 2007).  On August 1, 2009, I brought home Cali (aka Lady Kitty) and Tux (aka Bullet).  They are not from the same litter, but both were motherless, abandoned kittens that a friend raised but could not keep.  A third kitten, Newman (aka Hairball) would come three weeks later after a flea infestation was brought under control — he also was from a separate mother.  So, three kittens joined our family, all at once, basically, and guess what?  There were no problems at all.  Everyone got along just fine.

Cali and Tux, in their crate, August 1, 2009
Newman, with a close shave, August 26, 2009

We find ourselves here, on the 20th anniversary of Passports, and the third anniversary of the cats joining our pack, contemplating adopting a third dog.  This would be something we’ve never done before.  Cooper (that’s his name) is Charlie Brown’s brother and littermate.  Cooper’s leg has something wrong with it, and may need to be either operated on, or amputated.  We await that news today, on this important anniversary. It will not make any difference if he has 3 legs, or 4 — that will not enter into our decision to adopt.  I must admit, I’m already getting a tad attached to the little bugger.

Cooper, on top of his litter mates… Charlie Brown is to his immediate left just beside his head.
Cooper, July 29, 2012 — with 4 legs

A dog named mini-Cooper is brought to you by Tripawds.