Pooping to Communicate


Pooping to Communicate

Traveling with your pet, no doubt, has its challenges and rewards – Stan does it, takes his Jack Russell terrier, Isis, around the world with him. But I have three dogs Baileyand a cat. So most of the time, when we travel, my husband and I need to hire someone to come hang out with them while we’re gone. We’ve been blessed to have a good friend nearby who loves dogs and is happy to be here when we’re away. She has her own dog, Bailey, who she brings with her when she stays with our dogs.

We just got back from a 5-day trip to Franklin, Tennessee, for the Tribe Conference. Things went a little more smoothly this time for Donna than they did when we went to Pacific Grove, California, in August. On day 3 of a 6-day trip, I received a phone call at 6:45 a.m. A neighbor back in Phoenix was calling because she had my dog, Sugar – meaning Sugar had escaped without Donna knowing about it! We’ve lived in our house for 2+ years at this point, and as far as we know, the fence around the backyard has been well dog-proofed. No incidents of escaping, to date. So maybe Sugar got out of the house when Donna left, and Donna didn’t notice? Possible, but unlikely. She’s similar in size and breed to Bailey (pictured).

I immediately called Donna, and she didn’t answer the phone. I sent a text message: no response. So I started to worry. The person who found Sugar was very nice. She had gone by our house and said everything appeared to be locked up – meaning Donna wasn’t there at the time. We went to breakfast, texted Donna again, and tried not to fret. About an hour later, Donna called us. She had been in a meeting and was rushing over to pick up Sugar and take her back to our house. She got there, looked around the yard, and didn’t see an obvious places for an escape, so how the dog got out remained a mystery.

Until the next morning, when Donna called me at 7:15. Sugar was missing, again. “I was just feeding the three dogs, and then I turned around and Sugar was gone!” She felt so bad about it, too – like somehow it was her fault. This time, however, Sugar came home on her own – within 20 minutes, Donna heard her scratching at the front door. Donna again headed out to the backyard and saw a spot she thought must be the place where Sugar was getting out. She shored it up with some trellis and brick, and we’ve had no further incidents. But what a scare – for both Donna and us!

No such episodes occurred during this most recent trip. Until last night. We’ve been home since Monday night (see my last post about that), and at about 10 p.m. on Wednesday night, I found a pile of poop in the hallway. Deliberate poop – not “almost made it to the dog door but missed” poop. These dogs are well trained. They have a dog door, which they use every day. There was no reason or excuse for poop in the hallway, except to tell us that someone was upset about all our recent galavanting.

When I asked, “Who did this?” I could tell immediately it was Molly because she ran into the bedroom and cowered in a corner. She’d never done this before, either. I felt bad – not at all angry with her – because I’m pretty sure I understand why she did what she did. Dogs don’t have human words – so they tell us how they feel with the tools at their disposal. And because they don’t have words, we can’t use them explain why we’re going to be away, that we’ll be back soon, that we’re leaving them in good hands, and that our travel doesn’t mean we don’t love them.

The third dog, Lucy, is very vocal when we come home – almost like words, but not quite. And then the cat … well, she’s a cat. She comes around when she feels like it, eats, and leaves again. Although she did sleep on top of me last night.

If I had just one small dog, like Isis, I think I’d be quite inclined to take her everywhere with me, too. Given that our pet family is quite a bit larger, we’ll make do, for now, with a pet sitter and trying to keep our trips further than 3 weeks apart.


Laura’s first novel, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World is forthcoming in early 2018. Watch here for updates – and prepurchase your signed copy here.


Packing Your Bags – and Packing on the Pounds


Packing Your Bags – and Packing on the Pounds

Stan, the main character in my novel, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the Woman exercising on steeper vector illustration.World, actually likes exercise. It’s easy for him and he feels better when he does it. He goes out of his way to find places to run and ways to keep in shape while he’s traveling.

I have more of a love-hate relationship with exercise. I’m not its biggest fan, yet I love its results. So I do it with some consistency. Fortunately, I have two big pluses going for me that help me keep going even when I don’t want to. One, I am blessed to have a fabulous trainer in Miles Beccia. Not only is he good at the physical fitness, but he knows his nutrition, too. His patent-pending ThermoMetabolic System really works.

The basics are things you already know:

  • Move more than you eat.
  • Paying attention to your daily caloric intake really does make a difference.
  • Doing a little bit every day is better than doing nothing.
  • Eating BREAKFAST every day is essential!

Then there are things you might not know:

  • Get moving early in the morning (or at the start of your day) to raise your metabolism for the day.
  • Eat a combo of both soluble and insoluble fiber at every meal to help you stay full and eat less throughout the day.

The second plus is that my husband is training with me – so we’re in it together. When one of us gets off track, the other keeps going, which eventually and inevitably encourages the one who took a pause – for whatever reason – to get started again and, more importantly, to keep going.

We just got back from the Tribe Conference – a relatively intimate motivational get-together for writers and other creative souls (hubby is a professional musician). The last speaker of the 3-day event was, for me, the most powerful. Jon Acuff is the author of a book called Start, which was published a few years ago. As is perhaps the case with you, I don’t have a problem starting. I do have a problem with finishing: Stan has been “forthcoming” for a long time, now. So Acuff heard that feedback from a lot of readers, which was the impetus for his most recent book – Finish – and the topic of his talk at the conference.

He said that most people’s reason for not finishing is perfectionism. That’s not really my issue. Mine, generally, is trying to do too much, or too many things at one time. With Stan, though, it’s a combination of factors. The great news is that I’m closer than ever to finishing this novel that I’ve been writing for far too many years. And I PROMISE I will tell you all about it the second the first full draft (there are many, many unfinished prior drafts) is done.

Acuff suggests that the only way to finish anything is to make it fun. And the only way to make it fun is to know what motivates you – fear or reward. In the case of motivation for exercise, you may fear having a heart attack and dying before your kids grow up and go out on their own. Or, like me, you may be motivated by reward. My reason goes something like this: I cannot wait to slim down enough to have the confidence to approach any ride (theme park, hot air balloon, zipline) knowing there won’t be any doubt or hesitation that I can just get on without first considering the weight limit. And to fit into cute jeans.

So according to Acuff, perfectionists make a habit of quitting the first day their plan derails. That’s how I know that’s not me. I get back to it right away, even when I miss a few days. Here’s the proof: I had great intentions of exercising while we were in Tennessee for this conference. And I did – the first two out of the five days we were traveling. We got home last night about 10 p.m., had some food – because (a) they don’t feed you on the plane anymore and (b) 10 p.m. is the perfect time to eat – and then we went to bed.

This morning, I got up, ate breakfast, put on my sneakers, got back on the treadmill, and walked 2 miles. Then I gave myself the gift of waiting till tomorrow to get on the scale.


Laura’s first novel, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World IS forthcoming in early 2018. Watch here for updates – and prepurchase your signed copy here.

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