Celebrating Moms, Celebrating Women

Gayle & Mary outsideThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

During my presentation and book reading last Saturday at the Natrona County Library, they sat next to young children or held babies in their arms. On the drive a few short hours later to a different community’s bookstore, one sat in the back seat of my vehicle next to her little one buckled into a car seat. Of whom do I speak? Moms.

Mother’s Day, which began during the early 1900s, arrives on Sunday. I’ll be with my mom that day as I travel this weekend to my parents’ home in Denton, Montana. With every year that passes, I treasure each Mother’s Day I’m able to share with my mom. Although she views it as “just another day” in her nonchalant “don’t make a big deal of things” attitude, I view it as a day of blessing. I love my mother, I admire my mother, I respect her and I cherish her. She is not only the woman who raised Gayle and Mom_Little Snowy Rangeme (and did so with great love, encouragement, and selflessness), she is also my dear friend. I confide in her, I cry on her shoulder, and I celebrate positive things with her; she is always there for me. We may not agree on some things, including politics, but we respect one another and listen to each other. And, we dearly love and respect one another.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I not only give a shout-out to women who have the difficult yet loving job of raising children, but I also raise a glass in toast of all women, especially those I know — for we all “birth” and/or care for something in our own way. I have friends who have raised children as single moms, most no fault of their own (husbands committing adultery and widowed at a young age). I know women whose boyfriends/ fiancés decided to leave when the ladies became pregnant (I work part-time at a pregnancy center, and this happens frequently).  Many of my friends are “mom” to furry “kids” as well as to human children, and other women, like me, didn’t have babies from their womb but do have children of their heart (both furry ones and adopted human children). And, even those who never married and have no kids, but they run businesses, work at jobs, and volunteer for non-profits. Women do many things, and a lot of them balance several things, whether they are mothers to human or furry children or not.

Gayle with Stacy and CindyWomen are smart, they are talented, they have strong work ethics, and they are compassionate. Yet, it’s challenging to be a woman. From our sex-driven culture (movies, TV, magazines, prostitution, sex trafficking) to the lower wages women earn in the workplace, difficulties still prevail in our society and between the genders even after years of greater equality and justice. It’s no longer an Ozzie and Harriet world, some of which isn’t so bad (including increased numbers of women in management roles, as business owners, and serving as scientists, college presidents, and state governors); yet, there is still a road to travel to have men and women be seen, and treated, as equals.

Gayle_Lea_Casey_Leah_booksigningSo, this Mother’s Day, I celebrate my own mother and other women in my life who make an impact, not just upon me but upon other people. I celebrate my deceased grandmothers, especially Grandma Mardy who encouraged me to attend college and expressed her pride about my writing. I honor my many female friends, those who are moms to human children and to furry kids; those who are writers and other creatives and those who use their talents and skills in other productive ways; those who are facing health challenges and preserving through those situations; those who have lost their spouses and children; those who volunteer to help others in need; those who run their own businesses and those who work two or more jobs to make ends meet – all of my female friends and family make life more beautiful because of who they are and what they do. I love and admire every one of you, including my Writing Wranglers and Warrior friends!

Happy Mother’s Day to women everywhere!

 

Gayle_CHS booktable34Gayle M. Irwin is an award-winning Wyoming writer. She is the author of several inspirational pet books for children and adults, and she freelances for newspapers and magazines. Her most recent release is a children’s picture book titled A Kind Dog Named Mary, about her springer/cocker mix that is trained as a therapy dog. Gayle has contributed stories to many different Chicken Soup for the Soul books, including the 2014 release The Dog Did What? and last year’s release The Spirit of America, in which she writes about America’s national parks. She supports various pet rescue organizations as a volunteer and with contributions from her book sales. Learn more about Gayle and her writing and speaking endeavors at www.gaylemirwin.com.

 

Mary Book Cover   cody-cabin-cover2   bobcat-front-cover  bookcover_tail-tales_front-cover    Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014  Chicken Soup_DogDidWhat_Cover  Spirit of America book

Making an Impact – Part 2: Use Your Passions to Influence Positive Change

Gayle_Cheyenne bookstoreThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

I am a writer and a speaker. Through these endeavors, I can make an impact. But, I also make an impact by my deeds.

My passion is pets, and I help various rescue groups. One way I assist is by transporting adoptable animals for different organizations. The middle of October I drove a Great Dane to Sheridan, about 160 miles north of Casper (where I live), and met the couple who was adopting him. I helped make that adoption happen for Big Dogs Huge Paws in conjunction with other transporters who brought the dog out of his foster home in Colorado. While in Sheridan, I met up with a woman who was transporting and transferring a Newfoundland from a shelter in Montana to Big Ceclia transport_Big Dogs Huge PawsDogs Huge Paws for foster care and eventual adoption. Went north with one dog, returned south with another. I transport for various rescue groups when they have need for someone in central Wyoming and I’m available. I’ve helped English Springer Spaniel Rescue, Big Dogs Huge Paws, Boston Terrier Rescue, and others. I find great joy in knowing a dog’s life was saved through rescue and adoption and that I can have a part in that wonderful work.

I also support such organizations by donating a percentage of my book sales to them. Because pet rescue and adoption are my passions, and because I write inspirational dog stories for children and adults, I named my business, Waggin’ Tales. I therefore associate rescue endeavors with my writing and speaking business, so it’s only logical to “tithe” part of my earnings back to groups who do such great work – saving and helping companion animals.

Best Friends SignMy husband and I recently spent time at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, located in southwestern Utah. The organization began more than 30 years ago with a few couples who shared a common vision: ending the killing of healthy dogs and cats by saving lives through medical treatment and procedures and through adoption. To say these people had purpose, passion, and perseverance is an understatement! Now, more than 30 years later, they are growing, with offices and adoption centers in Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, and soon New York City. Best Friends impacts and empowers a movement. Through their endeavors and services, individuals and organizations can take part in conferences and educational workshops to grow or begin their own pet rescue groups, rippling the effect and mantra of “No More Homeless Pets” and “No Kill.” While at the site last weekend, I volunteered at Cat World – I spent time playing with and loving on several cats in need of new homes, and even walked a cat on a leash on the sanctuary grounds and took two others on strolls through the woods in baby/cat buggies! The day was filled with sunshine, blue sky, and twittering birds, appealing to both me and the cats! I definitely plan to return and volunteer again one day – and for a longer stretch than I was able to do last weekend!

Chet Cat in Buggy_smallerAs writers, we are able to make an impact, and coupled with our words, our actions and our deeds can influence positive change. Just as the founders of Best Friends, and the countless others who are involved in pet rescue have helped reduce the killing/euthanasia of healthy animals from 17 million during the 1970s to about 5 million today, we can all work together for the good of humanity and all of creation. Yet, as with that 5 million number, we can still do much better – and together, bonded by a common cause, purpose and passion, we will. But, to make that happen we need to inspire others: not yell, name-call, spit, and hate, but bind together in unity, as people who share a planet with each other and with animals.

Today I’m speaking with two groups of students at a private school. I’ll be talking about how humans interact with the environment and how we share things in common with nature and pets (the needs for food, water, and shelter, for example). I’m looking forward to hopefully positively influencing these kids because they are the tomorrow’s decision-makers … as well as influencers upon their peers and their families right now. I want these kids to know and appreciate the beauty of nature, the intelligence and sweet companionship of pets, and to appreciate both. I hope I can make that impact upon them… and on others in the future.

That impact can be upon strangers, our families, friends, even our pets. Our dog Cody became very ill the day prior to our scheduled leaving SW Utah. We rushed home (as rushing as one can do on a 13-hour drive) and got him into our vet the next morning. We’ve since learned CoCody at Best Friends_smallerdy has a mass on his spleen — not operable at age 17 1/2, so it’s just a matter of time. Cody has been our dog for nearly eight years, and though somewhat plagued with health issues, especially after about age 14, I believe Greg and I have made a positive impact on his life, especially to have lived this long — mCody_Porchany dogs don’t make it to 17+. We will continue to cherish and spoil him for as long as he is with us. Perhaps taking him to Best Friends and having this one last big adventure, will provide that big doggie smile til the very end.

How do you stir up and use your passions to influence positive change in your community, your state, your region, this country and/or around the world? Writers give voice through words on a page and from chapters in their own lives – add the written word to actions and you, too, can instigate a major movement for the common good!

Gayle and Chet Cat_Buggy_Best FriendsGayle M. Irwin is writer, author and speaker. She is the author of several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God. She is also a contributing writer to five editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, writes for WREN (Wyoming Rural Electric Network), Crossroads, Creation Illustrated, and Our Town Casper magazines, and for the Casper Journal and River Press newspapers. She’s also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. She has a passion for pets and volunteers for and donates a percentage of her writing revenues to several animal welfare organizations. Her speaking engagements include presentations for children and adults about the lessons people can learn from pets. Visit her website at www.gaylemirwin.com.

SageBigAdventureFront-small   Walking_FrontCover_small   Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014   Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final    Dog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice CoverCody Cabin_New Book CoverImage

Giving Back

Kathy - greenKate Wyland

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Earlier this week I saw a delightful video on Facebook about how Tom Mabe of Prank it FWD gave the Kentucky Humane Society a surprising donation. The workers were astonished when a truck pulled up and he and his helpers unloaded a mass of gifts and equipment. Then he brought in a group of dog groomers to bathe and clip and pretty up the animals so they would look more adoptable. A truly heart-warming story. (And one I’m sure our Gayle Irwin would approve of.)

http://www.pawmygosh.com/prank-it-fwd/

Afterwards I had an interesting reaction. “While what he did was really nice, maybe the time and money would have been better spent helping a homeless shelter.” I mentally slapped my hand at the thought. What right did I have to dictate someone’s generosity? And yet I have often evaluated my giving in the same way and denigrated myself for not doing more.

Like a lot of people I was quite idealistic when I was a young woman and wanted to “save the world.” I even chose my career as a teacher so I could “inspire” the next generation and help the disadvantaged. In my mind the helping professions—teaching, medicine—were on a higher plane than any other occupation. To my frustration, it soon became clear that with my sheltered background, general naivety, and inexperience I wouldn’t be terribly successful in a low-income area. So I had to settle for middle class suburbia. But those kids didn’t need as much “saving” and I felt a failure.

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It wasn’t until after my kids were mostly flown that I had the opportunity to do volunteer work, and I felt the same compulsion to do something “important.” I volunteered for the Red Cross, but there is very little call for their services in our semi-rural area. So little, in fact, that they closed our satellite office. I worked with an adult literacy program but that only lasted a couple of years. I couldn’t seem find a serious group that fit and made me feel I was accomplishing something.

Of course, at the same time I was doing publicity for a local theater group my husband and I belonged to. I served as newsletter editor for three different equestrian groups, usually two at a time, for over ten years. I also was a committee chair for a national organization. But in my mind these were semi-frivolous activities, not real volunteer work. “Real” or not, they took a lot of effort and I burned out about the same time as I got hurt. So I ended up withdrawing for a few years.

riding

I’m ready to take part again, though my leg problems prevent me from doing the one thing I’d really like. I found another literacy group I think I’d enjoy but last year they didn’t really need any more volunteers. Maybe things have changed. After I’ve recovered from my knee surgery and rehabilitation, I’m going to start seriously looking again. This time I’m going to look at frivolous activities too. I don’t have to save the world any more.

How about you? What are your favorite volunteer activities? Do you work with your church or hospital or schools?

 

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Forewarning Cover

FOREWARNING
Healing is her life. Will it be her death?

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Wyoming Cover - 4x6 - #2.

Wyoming Escape
Two dead bodies. One dirty cop.
Is she next?

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Cover - Images - 2.

 Images – A Love Story
She’s learned to hide from life.
Should she hide from him?

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Connect with Kate Wyland:
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Website : http://katewyland.com

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To the Rescue: Part 2 – How to Help Pets in Need

Gayle & Mary outsideThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

As far back as the mid-1800s, people in the United States rallied to the plight of animals. In 1866, Henry Bergh founded the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), the first North American-based humane society. Nearly 150 years later, the ASPCA remains a fighting force for helping animal victims of cruelty and assisting pets and pet parents through adoptions and animal shelter assistance.

The ASPCA estimates there are nearly 14,000 animal shelters in America, and there are innumerable pet rescue organizations as well. From Rez Dawg Rescue, which focuses on helping homeless dogs on Native American reservations, to Kitty Keepers, a cat rescue organization based in Havre, Montana, from large sanctuaries like Best Friends in Utah to smaller, all-volunteer-based rescues like Western Border Collie Rescue, these organizations help the mutts and the breeds as well as provide sanctuary for horses, goats, sheep, rabbits, and other creatures.

October is National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, a time in which rescues and animal shelters bring greater awareness to the number of homeless dogs (Adopt a Shelter Cat Month takes place in June, and Adopt a Senior Pet Month is next month – November: more on that in another post!). Pets benefit people in many ways. In addition to wonderful companionship, many hold jobs as service and therapy dogs as well as K9 and search and rescue dogs. Pets provide people with mental and physical health benefits as well: did you know that a pet can lower your blood pressure, possibly helping you live longer? Some studies show that pet owners, especially those with dogs, have a reduced risk of heart disease and therefore, live longer. Dogs help us exercise physically so blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels can be lowered by owning a dog. Pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression and to be calmer and more relaxed than people who don’t have pets.

Sage_Cody_PorchSit

So, how about adopting a dog this month? You’ll be healthier, mentally and physically! And, you may save a life. Approximately 3 to 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized every year because not enough people adopt them and because people don’t spay and neuter their own pets, creating an over-abundance of animals.

But, what if you can’t adopt? Perhaps your lifestyle or housing situation doesn’t allow for a dog (or cat) at this time … or someone in your household is allergic to animals. There are still many ways you can help pets in need, whether at your local shelter/rescue or even via one of the larger, national organizations.

  1. Volunteer/Transport/Foster.
  2. Support/Help at events.
  3. Donate money and/or supplies.
  4. Educate others/Be an advocate.
  5. Encourage spay/neuter.
  6. Report cruelty/neglect.

Volunteer:

loca and family1Foster families are needed by nearly every rescue and by many humane societies and shelters. This is a way you can bring an animal into your home temporarily as it waits its permanent home, helping it to not have to live in a cage while it awaits its forever family. Fosters are volunteers and are often reimbursed for food and vet care. Foster families make amazing impacts on pets in need!

If you can’t foster, there are many other volunteer opportunities. One that I particularly enjoy is transporting: bringing pets into foster care or taking them to their forever homes. I’ve been blessed to help transport dogs through the state of Wyoming, and sometimes into Montana, Colorado, and South Dakota. It usually means a trek of two to three hours, but sometimes much further, especially if I’m traveling to or from my parents’ in Montana. If you enjoy traveling, why not help a dog or cat get where it needs to go? This is one of my favorite ways to help and volunteer!

You can also volunteer with fundraising events or go to your local shelter to socialize the animals: walking and playing with dogs and/or brushing and playing with cats. Interacting with volunteers, perhaps even being obedience trained by volunteers, keeps the animals be more socialized and therefore be more adoptable.

Donate

Rescues and non—profit humane societies always need funds and they always need supplies, such as pet food, treats, cat litter, laundry soap, and other cleaning supplies. Contact your local rescue or shelter and see what their current needs are. Perhaps even run a supply donation drive in your neighborhood, church, school, or club and get more people in your community involved.

Educate

Sage_Gayle_Children_LibraryHelp bring awareness of pet overpopulation and pet ownership responsibility by learning more about the issues of puppy mills, spay/neuter, and pet ownership – then share what you’ve learned! Be an advocate for the animals who have no voice of their own but whose pictures are worth a thousand words. Work with your local rescue/shelter/humane society to help them educate children and adults in your community. You can also be an advocate on social media using hashtags on Twitter and Facebook #NoKill, #AdoptAPet, #SaveThemAll, #NoMoreHomelessPets, and other relevant monikers. You can also work with your state legislators to change and update laws that better protect animals and punish those who exploit and hurt them.

Report Animal Cruelty and Neglect

Remember the Michael Vick dog fighting case? That’s just one of thousands of abuse cases, and of course one of the most publicized. But, animal cruelty happens constantly, even in the smallest of towns and by the smallest of people. Children who abuse animals often grow up to hurt people; there is strong evidence to show that serial killers start off as animal abusers. We can nip both in the bud by stepping forward and reporting to the appropriate authorities any time we witness an animal neglected or being mistreated. This is also opportunity to change laws to better protect pets and hold those abusers accountable. Protecting pets often also protects people, maybe even children who also suffer at the hands of adult abusers.

Spay/Neuter

Pet overpopulation is a big problem. For every one puppy or kitten that finds a home, many others die because each litter adds 4 to 6 more to the population. Fixing the pet helps to fix the problem. Support low-cost spay/neuter clinics, encourage your friends and family to alter their animals, and if you have pets at home, get them spayed/neutered. Having that surgery done to your pets should be the responsible owner’s priority, to not add to the overwhelming number of animals that are killed in shelters every year.

Be A Hero!

inside carThere are innumerable ways we can make a difference in the lives of dogs, cats, horses, and other creatures. As a faith-filled person, I believe God’s word that says, “God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:25). If the Creator calls it good, how can we humans exploit, abuse, mis-use, mis-treat, and call that creation invalid and invaluable? It is our responsibility as people of this planet to care for it and the living things upon it, to rescue and help those who rely upon our care.

There are many great pet organizations who need and rely upon volunteers, donors, and other advocates; unless one wins the lottery or is in someway a multi-billionaire, it’s hard to donate funds to all of them. So, consider what I’m doing: choose a few in which you can help most. I’ve chosen one in my community (the Casper Humane Society), three regional (Black Dog Animal Rescue, English Springer Spaniel Rescue and Big Dogs Huge Paws – the two later have a national reach but have a Rocky Mountain base/chapter), and two national, which also happen to be regional (Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and National Mill Dog Rescue) … and I occasionally donate to the national ASPCA. Because my books are about dogs, I donate a percentage of proceeds to these groups throughout the year as well as consider additional donations part of my tithe to the Creator God. That’s how I do monetary donations, but then I also transport for whomever whenever I can, take part in special events as I can, and advocate/educate on behalf of them all as often as I can – such as now.

It doesn’t take much to make a difference, therefore, I encourage you to be a hero: become part of the pet rescue movement in whatever way you can.

#NoKill! #AdoptAPet! #NoMoreHomelessPets!

Greg and MaryAll of my pets, including our newest dog, Mary, have been adopted. Fortunately, my husband supports adoption and advocacy, too!

 

Gayle and Mary at KnowledgeNookGayle M. Irwin is writer, author and speaker. She is the author of several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God. She is also a contributing writer to five editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, including the latest dog book The Dog Did What?, released August 19, 2014. She also writes for WREN (Wyoming Rural Electric Network), Crossroads, Creation Illustrated, and Our Town Casper magazines, as well as for the Casper Journal, River Press, and Douglas Budget newspapers. She’s also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. She has a passion for pets and volunteers for and donates a percentage of her writing revenues to several animal welfare organizations. Her speaking engagements include presentations for children and adults about the lessons people can learn from pets. Visit her website at www.gaylemirwin.com.

 

SageBigAdventureFront-small     SageLearnsShareFront-small    Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final   Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014    Walking_FrontCover_small   Chicken Soup_DogDidWhat_Cover