Ani’s Advent 2020! Elijah Moon, Garfield and Noelle Granger…

Dear Santa, I’ll confess right now,

I don’t like many cats.

The way they crouch and stare at me…

S’enough to drive me bats.


They sit upon the garden fence

And always out of reach,

And some of them will spit and snarl

And sometimes even screech.


I don’t like many cats at all,

It’s something in their eyes…

As if they’re planning stealth attacks

To take you by surprise…


But not all cats have fur and teeth,

Just painted eyes, you see…

But honest, Santa this wild ‘cat’

Is big enough for me!


Elijah Moon, though, he was a cool cat. Almost doglike in his attitude, I recall. I think I would have got on well with him… and his two-legs seems to be bringing up Garfield quite nicely too…

Much love,

Ani xxx

P.S. If you would like to join the fun and be part of my Advent Calendar, just send me your Christmas stories, poems and memories… or even share your letters to Santa Paws.

I’d love to hear from anyone with fur or feathers, four-legs or even two!

(Email my two-legs at

Elijah Moon was discovered living in the crawl space of our former home with his brother Ezekial aka Zeke. We didn’t know to whom they belonged and they were clearly in need of good food. So we had them vaccinated and adopted them.

They stayed living outside, first on our side deck, then on our back deck on a cat tree under an umbrella. We had three cats already inside and they didn’t mix well. Finally we got them little cat houses to live in during the winter.

Zeke died of cancer several years later (we had to have him put down) and with the death of our three inside cats, Elijah became an indoor outdoor cat. Outdoors during the day (but always in the yard) and indoors at night. Especially after the coyotes arrived.

While Zeke was wiry and adventuresome (friends told us they ran into him on the local hiking trails), Elijah was round and happy and never left the yard. Elijah also liked to swim and would float around in our pool on a mat while I was swimming! He also loved sleeping under the Christmas tree and was partial to the smell of fresh wreaths. He lived to be 16 when he died of heart failure. I missed his loving face so much that my husband was persuaded to adopt a cat from the shelter. I wanted an orange cat, like Elijah, and I spotted Garfield on the shelter website. It was love at first sight.

Garfield, for all his being a Maine coon (at least in part) is very timid. I think because he was born in the shelter and lived there for three months before we adopted him. He is very athletic and loved to run up and down stairs and the upstairs hallway at our old house. Here he contents himself with running down the hall and turning the corner, driving the hallway area rugs up against the wall. And finding little objects on the floor to play with. He also sleeps with me at night, standing on my shoulder and bleating in my ear if I am not turned to face him!

He’s not shown much interest in our Christmas trees yet but maybe this year?

About the author

Noelle Granger

Noelle A. Granger grew up in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in a rambling, 125-year-old house with a view of the sea. Summers were spent sailing and swimming. She was also one of the first tour guides at Plimoth Plantation. Granger graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a bachelor’s degree in Zoology and from Case Western Reserve University with a Ph.D. in anatomy. Following a career of research in developmental biology and teaching human anatomy to medical students and residents, the last 28 years of which were spent at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, she decided to try her hand at writing fiction. The Rhe Brewster Mystery Series was born.

The series features Rhe Brewster, an emergency room nurse, as the protagonist. Rhe lives in the fictional coastal town of Pequod, Maine, (similar to Plymouth) and Granger uses her knowledge of such a small town, her experiences sailing along the Maine coast, and her medical background to enrich each book in the series. In the first book, Death in a Red Canvas Chair, the discovery of a wet, decaying body of a young woman, sitting in a red canvas chair at the far end of a soccer field, leads Rhe on a trail that heads to a high-end brothel and a dodgy mortuary operation.

The second novel in the Rhe Brewster Mystery Series, Death in a Dacron Sail, was released in 2015, and finds Rhe responding to a discovery by one of the local lobstermen: a finger caught in one of his traps. The third book, Death By Pumpkin, begins with the sighting of the remains of a man’s body in a car smashed by a giant pumpkin at the Pequod Pumpkin Festival.

In addition to the Rhe Brewster Mystery Series, Granger has had short stories, both fiction and non-fiction, published in Deep South Magazine, Sea Level Magazine, the Bella Online Literary Review, and Coastal Style Magazine, and has been featured in Chapel Hill Magazine, The News & Observer, The Boothbay Register, and other local press. Granger lives with her husband, a cat who blogs, and a hyperactive dog in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She spends a portion of every summer in Maine.

Noelle blogs at Sayling Away and you can find her on Twitter @rhebrewster, Goodreads and Facebook. Follow Noelle on Amazon for the latest updates and new books.

Click titles to go to Amazon

The Last Pilgrim: The Life of Mary Allerton Cushman

N. A. Granger

The Last Pilgrim: The Life of Mary Allerton Cushman captures and celebrates the grit and struggle of the Pilgrim women, who stepped off the Mayflower in the winter of 1620 to an unknown world – one filled with hardship, danger and death.  The Plymouth Colony would not have survived without them.

Mary Allerton Cushman was the last surviving passenger of the Mayflower, dying at age 88 in 1699. Her unusually long life and her relationships with important men – her father, Isaac Allerton and her husband, Thomas Cushman – gave her a front row seat to the history of the Plymouth Colony from its beginnings as the first permanent settlement in New England to when it became part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1691.

Mary’s life is set against the real background of that time. The Last Pilgrim begins from her father’s point of view – she was, after all, only four when she descended into the small living space below deck on the Mayflower – but gradually assumes Mary’s voice, as the colony achieves a foothold in the New England’s rocky soil. Hers is a story of survival – the daily, back-breaking work to ensure food on the table, the unsettled interactions with local native tribes, the dangers of wild animals, and the endless challenges of injury, disease and death.

What was a woman’s life like in the Plymouth Colony? The Last Pilgrim will tell you.

13194341_9781630030339_coverDeath in a Red Canvas Chair

On a warm fall afternoon, the sweet odor of decay distracts Rhe Brewster from the noise and fury of her son’s soccer game. She’s a tall, attractive emergency room nurse with a type A personality, a nose for investigation and a yen for adrenalin. This time her nose leads her to the wet, decaying body of a young woman, sitting in a red canvas chair at the far end of the soccer field. Her first call is to her brother-in-law, Sam Brewster, who is Sheriff of Pequod, the coastal Maine town where she lives. Sam and Rhe’s best friend Paulette, Pequod’s answer to Betty Crocker, are her biggest sources of encouragement when Rhe decides to help the police find the killer. Her discovery that the victim is a student at the local college is initially thwarted by an old frenemy, Bitsy Wellington, the Dean of Students. Will, Rhe’s husband and a professor at the same college, resents her involvement in anything other than being a wife and mother and must be manipulated by Rhe so that she can follow her instincts. Rhe’s interviews of college students leads her to a young woman who had been recruited the previous year to be an escort on a Caribbean cruise ship, and Rhe trails her to a high class brothel at a local seaside estate. The man behind the cruise ship escort service and the brothel is the owner of a chain of mortuaries and is related to the dead student. When Rhe happens on the murder of a young hospital employee who also works for the mortuary chain, she becomes too much of a threat to the owner’s multiple enterprises. She is kidnapped by two of his thugs and is left to die in a mortuary freezer. In the freezer she finds frozen body parts, which are linked to a transplantation program at her hospital. Despite all the twists and turns in her investigation, Rhe ultimately understands why the student was killed and who did it. And she solves the riddle of why the body was placed in the red canvas chair on the soccer field.

Read a review by Irene A. Waters

Death in a Dacron Sail high-resolution-front-cover-4957203

On an icy February morning, Rhe Brewster, an emergency room nurse with a nose for investigation, is called to a dock in the harbor of the small coastal town of Pequod, Maine. A consultant to the Pequod Police Department, Rhe is responding to a discovery by one of the local lobstermen: a finger caught in one of his traps. The subsequent finding of the body of a young girl, wrapped in a sail and without a finger, sends the investigation into high gear and reveals the existence of three other missing girls, as well as a childhood friend of Rhe’s. Battered by vitriolic objections from her husband about her work, the pregnant Rhe continues her search, dealing with unexpected obstacles and ultimately facing the challenge of crossing an enormous frozen bog to save herself. Will she survive? Is the kidnapper someone she knows? In Death in a Dacron Sail, the second book in the Rhe Brewster mystery series, Rhe’s nerves and endurance are put to the test as the kidnapper’s action hits close to home.

Read a review by author Luccia Gray

49266584_high-resolution-front-cover_6292375Death by Pumpkin

At the annual Pumpkin Festival in the coastal town of Pequod, Maine, Rhe Brewster, an ER nurse and Police Department consultant, responds to screams at the site of the Pumpkin Drop. Racing to the scene, where a one-ton pumpkin was dropped from a crane to crush an old car, Rhe and her brother-in-law, Sam, Pequod’s Chief of Police, discover the car contains the smashed remains of a man’s body. After the police confirm the death as a homicide, Rhe embarks on a statewide search to identify the victim and find the killer. During the course of the emotional investigation, she survives an attempt on her life at 10,000 feet, endures the trauma of witnessing the murder of an old flame, and escapes an arson attack on her family’s home. There is clearly a sociopath on the loose who is gunning for Rhe and leaving bodies behind. With Sam unable to offer his usual support due to an election recall and a needy new girlfriend, Rhe realizes that the only way to stop the insanity is to risk it all and play the killer’s game.

Maine’s most tenacious sleuth is back, this time to confront a menace that threatens to destroy her life and those closest to her. The latest installment of the Rhe Brewster Mystery Series, Death by Pumpkin, is a murder mystery and thriller that tests the limits of Rhe’s strength and resolve like never before.

Read a review by Kate Loveton

Death in a Mudflat

Fearless detective, ER nurse, devoted mother, and Pequod, Maine’s, answer to Kinsey Milhone, Rhe Brewster is back on the case. When an idyllic seaside wedding is suddenly interrupted by the grotesque sight of a decaying human arm poking out of the tidal mud, Rhe is thrown head first into a treacherous world of duplicity, drugs, and murder. With her best friend Paulette and her main man Sam, the Chief of Police, Rhe seeks to solve the puzzle of the body found in the muck while also working with the FBI to identify the source of shipments of tainted heroin flooding the local campus and community. Maine’s opioid crisis has hit the town hard, with an escalating number of overdoses. More murders are uncovered, testing Rhe’s detective skills and steely resolve. While she follows the clues, Rhe encounters some sinister inhabitants of Pequod’s underbelly, including a practitioner of the Dark Arts, a hydra-headed crime gang, and an embittered, unhinged lobsterman with an axe to grind and nothing to lose. In her relentless drive to solve the crimes, Rhe narrowly escapes a watery grave, trades blows with Russian goons, and unknowingly prompts Paulette to put her life on the line in an attempt to catch a murderer in the act.

Read a review by Olga Nunez Miret

Ani’s Advent 2020! Rex the Hero and Jennie Fitzkee.

Dear Santa,

Sometimes, you have to wonder at people… I mean, last time Rex told us one of his stories, he just told us about the things he sort of got in trouble for. It turns out, though, that he’s pretty much a hero and never mentioned it…

Mind you, there are lots of people who are real heroes and never say a word. The quiet ones who look out for everyone else… the ones who work behind the scenes who no-one notices… the ones who never blow their own trumpet and don’t even think they are remarkable in any way.

And many of them have been especially busy this year, looking after the people this horrible bug has kept indoors and made lonely.  If there is room in your sack for a bit extra this years, Santa… maybe you could sprinkle a bit of magic for them…

Much love,

Ani xxx

If you would like to join the fun and be part of my Advent Calendar, just send me your Christmas stories, poems and memories… or even share your letters to Santa Paws.

I’d love to hear from anyone with fur or feathers, four-legs or even two!

(Email my two-legs at

Dear Ani,

It’s your old friend, Rex.  If you remember, I caught the flying turkey at Thanksgiving dinner.  It was delicious, and I was in trouble.  Some trouble is worth the risk.  I know you like to chase and catch balls.  I do too!  I also like to chase and catch ducks.  I’m a black lab, after all.

One day my two-legged took me duck hunting.  This was our favorite sport most weekends.  We rode in a canoe.  I was good at keeping a sharp eye out for any ducks nearby.  Well, that day something happened in the canoe and it tipped over.  My two-legged was wearing rubber waders that fit like overalls.  Oh, he was an excellent swimmer, but when he fell into the water as the canoe tipped over, water poured into his waders.  He was sinking pretty fast.  I did what any good lab would do- I took hold of his wader with my teeth and swam to shore.  Boy, that was hard work.

I remember lots of cheering from fellow duck hunters nearby.  My two-legged’s son wrote the whole story and sent it to Field and Stream magazine.  All I know is that it was really hard to pull him to shore, even for me.  I’d rather be chasing ducks, or balls with you.

Your friend,


About Rex’s two-legs:

Jennie Fitzkee has been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is her passion. She believes that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It’s the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That’s what she writes about.

She is highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease’s bestselling book, “The Read-Aloud Handbook” because of her reading to children. Her class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.

Follow Jennie on her blog, A Teacher’s Reflections.

Ani’s Advent 2020! Dot (and Darlene Foster) on The Year of the Pandemic

Dear Santa,

I have my friend from Spain over today. We haven’t actually met, but then, she lives a long way away and although the two-legses usually get to gallivant all over the place, they don’t seem to like it if we wander off on our own…

But, this year, even the two-legses have been kept on a short leash, so we’ve had them at home a lot more, which is good for us, even if they’ve not been too happy about it.

They do seem to be getting a bit peaky though. I’m sure mine is starting with kennel cough from not getting out enough. And she is definitely in need of more exercise… I think maybe we should all just ask you for an end to all this staying at home malarkey…

Mind you, I have to wonder about you, Santa. You get out and about plenty… a whole world in a night is a fair amount of exercise… so how come you are still cuddly? I reckon it must be the mince pies and cookies…ani-015-2

I won’t forget to leave ours out for you.

Much love,

Ani xxx

If you would like to join the fun and be part of my Advent Calendar, just send me your Christmas stories, poems and memories… or even share your letters to Santa Paws.

I’d love to hear from anyone with fur or feathers, four-legs or even two!

(Email my two-legs at

Meet Dot (and Darlene Foster)…

Wow! I can´t believe it´s been a whole year since Ani´s last Advent Calendar. And what a year it´s been. My human parents have been moaning about something called a pandemic and a lockdown they didn´t like, but I´ve had a great year.

Humans couldn´t travel and for a while they couldn´t go far from their home at all. Like that´s a bad thing? Mom couldn´t go back to Canada to see her human family. She was bummed out about that but it meant I got to have her here with me in Spain all year.

They were allowed to walk me though, because even the government knows dogs are special and need walks. So I got four walks a day! It was great.

We all stayed in our house and yard the rest of the time. I was never left alone. I missed the car rides and the beach but loved all the attention. I got loads of cuddles and snacks. Mom did a lot of baking and she always shares. I just don´t understand why they were so upset. I thought it was the best year ever!

Wishing Ani and everyone a very Merry Christmas and a super 2021.

Dot the dog. xo

About the (real) author

Dot is a 5-year-old Bodeguero who was rescued by two people who needed rescuing themselves. She lives with Darlene Foster, who writes children´s books when she isn´t feeding, walking or playing with Dot. You can learn more about Darlene and her books on her website, or through the links below.

Find and follow Darlene

Website: Darlene Foster    Facebook   Amazon author page

WordPress Blog     Goodreads      Twitter@supermegawoman

_mg_0158-edit-smAbout Dot’s Two-legs…

Brought up on a ranch in southern Alberta, Darlene Foster dreamt of writing, travelling the world and meeting interesting people. She also believes everyone is capable of making their dreams come true. It’s no surprise that she’s now an award-winning author of children’s adventure books who divides her time between the west coast of Canada and Orihuela Costa, in Spain.

Click the titles or images to go to Amazon

Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action

Alongside her best friend Leah, Amanda is in Holland to see the all the sights: tulips, canals, Anne Frank House, windmills, and even a wooden shoe factory. She is also keen to find out what happened to her great uncle, who never returned from World War II. What she doesn’t expect is to find and fall in love with an abandoned puppy named Joey. While trying to find a home for him, she meets Jan, a Dutch boy who offers to help, a suspicious gardener, a strange woman on a bicycle, and an overprotective goose named Gerald. Follow intrepid traveler Amanda around Holland as she encounters danger and intrigue while trying to solve another mystery in a foreign country.

Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind

Amanda Ross is on a school trip to Taos, New Mexico with several of her fellow creative students. Join Amanda, Cleo and their funny friend, Caleb, as they visit an ancient and beautiful landscape where a traditional hacienda, an ancient pueblo, and a haunted and spooky hotel all hold secrets to a wild and violent past. Does Cleo really see ghosts? Can Amanda escape the eerie wind that follows her everywhere? Perhaps the Day of the Dead will reveal the mysteries of Taos in this latest adventure of Amanda’s travels.

51s5-ybaql-_uy250_Amanda in Spain

Amanda Jane Ross is certainly becoming a world traveller; she’s now in sunny Spain on vacation with her friend Leah. While there, she encounters a mysterious young girl who looks eerily like the girl in a famous painting she saw in a Madrid museum. Even weirder, the girl keeps showing up wherever Amanda finds herself – Madrid, the remote mountains of rural Spain, the beaches on the Mediterranean Sea, a lively fiesta and the busy streets of Barcelona. Amanda wants to help this sweet, young girl and her beloved pony escape the clutches of a mean horse-dealer. Come with Amanda on her next adventure as she attempts to unravel the mystery behind the Girl in the Painting while she treks across Spain – always one step ahead of danger!

Amanda in Alberta

51qqrgchsxl-_uy250_Amanda is delighted to show Leah around Alberta during her visit from England. They take in the Calgary Stampede, go on a cattle drive, visit Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, spend time with the dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum and explore the crazy Hoodoos. When Amanda finds a stone with a unique mark on it, she doesn’t think it’s important until everyone seems to want it – including a very ornery cowboy. Is this stone worth ruining Leah’s holiday and placing them both in danger? Spend time with Amanda as she explores her own country while attempting to decipher the mysterious writing on the stone and keep it from those determined to take it from her.

51v70ddl03l-_uy250_Amanda on the Danube

Twelve year old Amanda Ross finds herself on an elegant riverboat with her bestie, Leah, cruising down the beautiful Danube, passing medieval castles, luscious green valleys and charming villages. When she is entrusted with a valuable violin by a young, homeless musician during a stop in Germany, a mean boy immediately attempts to take it from her. Back on their cruise, Amanda struggles to keep the precious violin safe for the poor prodigy. Along the way, she encounters a mysterious monk, a Santa Claus look-alike, and the same nasty boy.  Follow Amanda down the Danube, through Germany, Austria and Hungary, as she enjoys the enchanting sounds of music everywhere she goes. She remains on the lookout though, wondering just who she can trust.

Amanda in Arabia5150g0flfrl-_uy250_

Amanda Ross is an average twelve year old Canadian girl. So what is she doing thousands of kilometres from home in the United Arab Emirates? It’s her own fault really, she wished for adventure and travel when she blew out those candles on her last birthday cake. Little did she know that a whole different world awaited her on the other side of the globe, one full of intrigue, mystery and folklore. A world with a beautiful princess, a dangerous desert and wonderful friends. Join Amanda on her first adventure as she discovers the secrets behind The Perfume Flask.

Amanda in England51wdzbucljl-_uy250_

Amanda Ross is visiting England and taking in all the sights. She gets lost in the maze at Hampton Court, does some shopping at Harrods, meets the ravens in the Tower of London, explores Windsor Castle, and rides the London Eye. When she discovers a vintage book is missing from a collection, she is determined to find out who stole it. Amanda befriends a pair of tough teenagers from the streets of London, an elderly bookshop owner, and a big, friendly, clever, Maine Coon cat named Rupert. Follow Amanda through cobblestone streets, medieval castles, and underground tunnels in her quest to find the missing novel!


Ani’s Advent 2020! Sally Cronin’s Advice on Christmas Treats

Dear Santa, I cannot live down

My little peccadillos…

Like maybe, stealing whole ham hocks

Or de-stuffing her pillows.

I only stole the turkey once,

The salmon once as well…

The chocolate, I soon learned was bad,

And out of bounds as well.

But there is always lots of cheese,

She wouldn’t miss at all…

Unless I give myself away

And leave my tennis ball…

But Christmas is a time for treats

To make the season bright…

But listen to the experts here…

We have to get it right!

And for that expert advice, please listen to my friend, Sally Cronin as she shares what’s best for us four legses at Christmastime…

I am delighted to be a guest of the wonderful Ani and her friend Sue in the lead up to Christmas… Ani is well known for her epicurean tendencies and I thought that I might share some of the treats for pets that have been created in our household at this time of year.

It is that time of year when we tend to throw caution out of the window along with any slimming books and fitness apps we might have (well some of us anyway).

Unfortunately, our pets are also treated to our sense of liberation and they end up eating many things they are not used to. Also their eating patterns might be thrown out the window, and in my experience their inner body clock is more accurate than a Rolex. This does not make for happy pets.

They are also likely be stressed by all the coming and goings, being handled by other family members and friends and being unable to take power naps at their appointed time.

This adds up to stomach upsets and it is not conducive to a convivial family Christmas dinner for the dog to upchuck just as you reach for the bread sauce!

On a serious note, in the case of certain foods such as chocolate, there can be both unfortunate side effects and in some cases the risk of death.

The rule of thumb is that if it is industrially produced food (and this included the majority of dry dog and cat foods) it is not good for your pet.

There are however, some fresh foods that we eat that are safe for your dog or cat and after the ones definitely to avoid, I will give you a list of those you can give to your pet as a treat.

N.B. If you are planning to change your dog’s current food be it dry or canned, do it gradually over a few days to ensure there is no adverse reactions. Later I will give you some options for your dog or cat should you choose to prepare their meals yourself.

Here is a list of some food additives and ingredients that can cause your pet harm and applies to cats as well as dogs

Top of the list, particularly at this time of year is Chocolate. It contains theobromine which is a stimulant which can affect several of the dog’s major organs and systems including the heart and kidneys… certainly the guts. Poisoning occurs fast and if your pet has a stomach upset, is vomiting and over active then you need to see a vet.

Grapes are often served on cheese boards and raisins are in a lot of baked goods at Christmas everywhere. They are not good for a pet’s kidneys and whilst I have known beer drinking dogs, anything alcoholic or containing caffeine is not good for animals.

Onions and garlic in small doses (I used garlic in moderation topically for our dogs in mosquito season) will probably not harm your pet but if they are exposed to them on a regular basis it can destroy their red blood cells resulting in anaemia.


Xylitol is a sweetener which found in many items around the home and in the store cupboard including sweets, chewing gum, many store bought cakes and biscuits and even in your toothpaste. Quite a few diet foods are laced with the stuff and it is not only toxic to our pets but is not really fit for human consumption either. In dogs it can result in vomiting and dizziness and even after only a few days of being given foods containing xylitol it can lead to liver failure.

Now for the good news…foods that both humans and pets (dogs and cats – your python might not be that interested) can enjoy.

  1. Plain boiled chicken cubes.
  2. Cooked pieces of offal such as chicken livers, pigs liver, heart (don’t overdo them just one or two at a time. Once cooked keep some in the fridge and freeze the others. Great for training as well as good for them.
  3. A hard boiled egg (they tend to like that warm)
  4. Homemade peanut butter (unsalted) and banana ice cubes.
  5. Dogs and cats are partial to sweet potato and if you cook in chunks until tender and pop in the fridge they will keep for three or four days. Sweet potato is also very good if they are suffering from a stomach upset.
  6. Other fruits include pieces of watermelon (I do tend to take the pips out) and small chunks of banana.
  7. Small amounts (postage stamp sized and only 3 pieces) cheese.
  8. Turkey sausages cut into chunks make a good training treat.
  9. Cottage Cheese placed in a small cup and held for the dog to eat…keeps them busy for ages whilst they it all out.
  10. Cats are partial to fish and plain canned sardines in water and give small bites sized pieces, and they also love raw prawns but make sure they are cleaned. I have used frozen shrimp and taken out a portion at a time and let them defrost for a few minutes.
  11. Homemade natural baked treats such as these oat, banana, coconut oil and peanut butter bones.Courtesy of Quaker

Moving your dog to home cooked food.

There are several reasons why I would not use dry pet food and here is an article that might clarify that opinion: 10 Reasons why dry food is bad for cats and dogs

Sam and his adopted babies

As I mentioned earlier, this is not something to be undertaken lightly as it is important that your pet receives a balanced and nutritious diet. If you cannot face making your pets food at home then I do recommend that you buy a good quality canned food.. I recommend Butcher’s Canned dog food which I used to keep in the larder in case I ran out of fresh meals.

Also with younger animals it is a good idea to puree the food until they are able to chew and digest chunks of meat or fish easily.

I always cooked in bulk and although dogs are carnivores, if you are going to use a grain in their diet then I suggest rice.

On the subject of rice and dogs.

There are two main standards of rice – Human grade and feed grade which is what is usually put in commercial dog food. The feed grade is what is left over after human rice products are manufactured and usually has picked up chemicals and toxins during the process. Arsenic being one of the toxins that can be found it this grade.

If you use a high quality rice, and Basmati is actually more flavoursome than normal rice and has a distinctive aroma (attractive to dogs) due to 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline in amounts around 12 times more than normal white rice. Rice and chicken is used also for dogs who have suffered stomach upsets as it helps absorb the moisture in the intestine.

All things meat including offal.

Provided it has not been salted, any meat that you consume is fine for your pet. And some fat is not going to cause them a problem. I usually used minced beef or chicken for Sam, with the addition of some bits of offal such as cooked chicken liver or pork liver, or chicken giblets. I also would cook off a whole beef heart and then slice and freeze in portions as this is excellent organ meat full of nutrients. All meats were cooked in plain water without any seasoning and I would use the stock from the meat to pour over his dinner to ensure he got all the goodness from the meat.

For cats the same applies although in smaller amounts (especially the rice), with the addition of fish (carefully deboned). I used to buy frozen cheap white fillets and cook in water, flake to check for bones and one fillet would last three meals for about 50p.


Sweet potatoes are rich in nutrients and make a very welcome addition to a dog or cat’s meal. It is great for after a stomach upset but they seem to prefer to carrots and you can buy pre-cut frozen chunks and cook then mash, particularly for smaller breeds. If they will eat carrot then alternate with the sweet potato.

Hard boiled Eggs.

All the things that make eggs a healthy food for us applies to pets too. Eggs are an excellent source of choline and selenium, and a good source of high-quality protein, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin B12, phosphorus and riboflavin.

I started up chopping finely and adding to Sam’s meal, but as he got older we discovered her preferred, just hard boiled, peeled and still warm. He would hold between his two front paws and delicately remove the top and nibble around until he released the yolk which he ate before finishing the white of the egg. Kept him busy for ten minutes.. any other food on the floor and he had it hoovered up in seconds.

Cottage Cheese

Although dogs in particular should not overdo the dairy, cottage cheese has been fermented and contains less lactose. It adds another low fat source of protein and flavour to a meal and small spoonful mixed through the meal is fine. With older dogs who might be prone to arthritis you can mix a teaspoon of flax oil to the cottage cheese.

Dairy and cats.

Most cats are lactose intolerant despite them heading rapidly towards a saucer of milk or cream. It results in stomach upsets so you need to test any new cat you might give a home to with a tablespoon of milk and watch for 24 hours to see if there is a reaction. If not then repeat with a little more in a saucer and again wait 24 hours. Even then I would suggest only using occasionally for a treat. Plain water should always be down next to a food bowl.

I used to mix the different foods through to make a blend but then discovered that the secret to a food dinner for dogs and cats was the same as humans… rice, then the ground meat with some pieces of offal with sweet potato on the side and topped off by cottage cheese and flax oil.

Counting the Cost

You might think that all this works out very expensively. And whilst not as convenient as buying canned food, it worked out cheaper in the end, and I knew exactly what Sam was eating each day. I would get off cuts from the butcher at half the price, buy mince and chicken reduced on their sell by date and freeze then cook, hearts are no longer a popular family dinner (mock goose) and butchers will usually let you have cheaply… Check you local frozen food outlet for their specials on meat and chicken.

Time wise I only cooked the protein and the eggs once a week and the rice every three days. I also cooked portions and froze in portion sized containers enough to last a week if needed.

Health wise.. I had the satisfaction of knowing that he passed his medicals with flying colours, his coat was glossy and his eyes bright. He never needed to scavenge or beg for food because he was getting enough food of the right kind to satisfy his hunger and his body’s nutritional needs.

Don’t forget to do your own research before moving your dog to home cooked food (raw is a different subject for another day). Do phase any food changes in slowly, and experiment to find out what your pet’s favourites are. They have much keener smell receptors and taste buds than we do and deserve to enjoy their food.

They give far more back than they receive.

Thank you to Ani and Sue for inviting me over and I wish you a very happy December and holidays.. and as they say over here.. A very Happy Christmas.

I have been a storyteller most of my life (my mother called them fibs!). Poetry, song lyrics and short stories were left behind when work and life intruded, but that all changed in 1996. My first book Size Matters was a health and weight loss book based on my own experiences of losing 70kilo. I have written another twelve books since then on health and also fiction, including four collections of short stories. My most recent book is a collection of verse, micro fiction and speculative short stories titled Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in Words

I am an indie author and proud to be one. My greatest pleasure comes from those readers who enjoy my take on health, characters and twisted endings… and of course come back for more.

As a writer I know how important it is to have help in marketing books.. as important as my own promotion is, I believe it is important to support others. I offer a number of FREE promotional opportunities on my blog and linked to my social media.

My new release, a collection of short stories and poetry will be available in December 2020.

A Selection of my books

If you would like to browse by health books and fiction you can find them here:

Social Media Links

Ani’s Advent 2020! Meet Ruff, Smidgeon and Cathy Cade!

Dear Santa,

Yay! We are finally counting down to Christmas! It seems to have taken ages to come around this year! But it hasn’t been a great year for anyone, two-legses or four. I mean, there is this bug thing going round and I know it is worrying people and stopping them from meeting and hugging… and that is never good! Even flea treatments don’t stop me getting hugged, so it must be a really big bug… She tells me that you don’t have to worry about it though and that the reindeer are safe from it… so that’s one bit of good news!

There is othernews, though, not so good. They’ve dug up my fields to plant a high speed train line across them… which means I can’t walk where I usually go any more. All my lovely green has gone… And to make matters worse, my two-legs is broken and getting her out for a walk is not easy any more. She says it is because I get too excited… but what’s a girl to do when outside beckons? She gets excited too when they get to go out to play, so I know she understands!

So, there may have been a bit of comfort eating going on. Although, so far, I haven’t gone quite as far as Lucky… well… not this year. Yet.  After the last time I pinched the turkey… and the ham… and the salmon… I don’t fancy having to diet at Christmas… or spend it in the doghouse!

Looking forward to introducing you to some new friends and sharing time with older ones… we have lost to tell you through this Advent season, Santa!

And I am hoping that even more friends will send me their Christmas stories, poems and memories… or even share their letters to Santa Paws. (Email my two-legs at

Much love,

Ani xxx

P. S. If anyone is looking for a stocking filler…

Pass the Turkey- Doggerel – Laughter Lines – Notes from a Small Dog

Available in Paperback and for Kindle via Amazon

Meet Ruff and Smidgeon

and say Happy Birthday to their two-legs, Cathy Cade!

Christmas Past

My birthday is 1st December. We would put up our Christmas tree then when the children were small – always a real one that smelled Christmas-y. By the New Year’s Eve party, it was little more than twigs supporting baubles, lights and chocolate Santas. These had to be hung near the top, out of reach of whatever of dogs we had then.

Lucky and friends

There were always dogs. There was the Christmas morning I came downstairs to find our adopted whippet, Lucky, had brought down the dressed turkey from its high perch. Lucky’s liver was failing and her appetite was insatiable; the turkey was half-eaten. The other dogs avoided her, as if to distance themselves from the crime, as she lay on the floor like an overstuffed haggis and feebly thumped her tail at me. The children were in their teens by then and Christmas dinners had shifted to late afternoon (since breakfast lasted all morning). Younger son had defrosted too many turkey crowns for his pub’s Christmas dinners. He went off to work with a leg of lamb from my freezer to exchange for turkey for our Christmas dinner for fourteen. (Two families and Gran.)

Offsprings’ dogs

Through December there would be a growing mound of parcels under the Tree. My second husband came with a West Highland terrier who believed any parcel in gift-wrap must be for her. The first year, she unwrapped them all, but by then our children had their own homes and Christmas customs could be flexible.

Old Friends

This summer, our old Staffie died; Pickle would have been sixteen if she’d made it through lockdown. Young Smidgeon missed her, in spite of having the mastiff next door to play with, so we found her a companion. This will be Ruff’s first Christmas and Smidgeon’s second.

New Friends

Smidgeon spent last Christmas with the other family dogs, being overfed by the grandchildren. This year… who knows?

The boy next door

About Cathy Cade

Following a career in libraries Cathy began writing in retirement. Her writing has been published in ‘Scribble’, ‘Best of British’, ‘Flash Fiction Magazine’, ‘Tales From the Forest’, and ‘To Hull and Back Short Story Anthology 2018’. Her stories and rhymes also appear in the Whittlesey Wordsmiths’ anthologies ‘Where the Wild Winds Blow’ and ‘A Following Wind’ (also available from Amazon).
A novella, ‘The Pond People’, has been serialised on her blog at, where you will also find occasional short stories, flash fiction and verse.
Cathy lives with her husband and dogs, mostly in the Cambridgeshire Fens and sometimes in the shadow of London’s Epping Forest.
Look out for a rewrite of ‘The Pond People’ coming soon. ‘The Mirlings’ will be available in ebook and paperback.

Find and follow Cathy

Website/blog    Facebook    Amazon Author Page    Smashwords    Goodreads

Books by Cathy Cade

Click links to buy on Smashwords, Amazon UK and

A Year Before Christmas

Emmie the Elf works hard, running errands and sweeping out reindeer stalls, but Santa’s newest helper still finds herself grounded on the biggest night of the year. Can Emmie get airborne in time for next Christmas Eve?
‘A lovely story’, Amazon review. ‘Would make a great stocking-stuffer gift,’ John Spiers.

The Godmother

Euphemia Ffinch, godmother to Lucinda Eleanor, has been travelling since she retired as nanny to the Regalian royal family.
Buttons the dog has lived in the basement with Cindy since his master died, while her stepmother and stepsisters live upstairs and treat her as a servant.
Prince Alfred of Regalia is dreading his birthday ball; his stutter gets worse in company and the daughters of the nobility look down on him. They are all taller than he is. He’d rather invite the girl he met online.
Euphemia learns that Cindy’s father has died. Her intuition tells her she is needed back in Regalia, but someone is trying to stop her.

Pond People

Mirlings live in the garden fishpond.When Molly meets newcomer Flash, their dislike is mutual. But it becomes difficult to avoid each other after they and Molly’s friends are netted with goldfish destined for an indoor tank.Can the mirlings stay hidden from the humans while surrounded by glass?

Will river-born Grandad end his days in a fish-tank? Will Flash’s recklessness endanger them all? Will the humans ever master fish-tank maintenance?

Witch Way: and Other Ambiguous Stories

Sixteen stories, some of which have been placed or shortlisted in competitions.

Add a flash or two and some verses, and you get a motley collection of characters who aren’t all they seem – or are they? You decide.

Meet mirlings and brownies, a citizen of Pompeii, an unsettled soul, a misguided confidante,an unlikely Samaritan, a trainee mortician, and a witch… or not.

“A little gem of a collection”, “had me on the edge of my seat … Definitely worth a read.” Amazon reviews.

“An eclectic collection … varied and entertaining”, Sally Cronin. “Have reread it several times”, Goodreads review.

Meet mirlings and brownies, a citizen of Pompeii, an unsettled soul, a misguided confidante, an unlikely Samaritan, a trainee mortician, and a witch…
or not.


Cold Nose ….and an Advent Invitation

To all my friends, furred, feathered, scaled… or even two-legses! Don’t forget to send me your stories, poems and pics… or your letters to Santa… for this year’s ADVENT CALENDAR… there are still spaces left to fill!


Dear Santa, don’t believe her

When she says that I’ve been nosey

When she comes in from the cold outside

Her cheeks all pink  and rosy.


Of course I have to have a sniff

Whenever I must greet her…

I feel that is incumbent

On a small dog of my metre.


She says my nose gets everywhere

In places that it shouldn’t…

Perhaps if she would keep her fur on

Then my cold nose wouldn’t.


But if she has to change her fur

Or get in steamy water,

Then I, a dog, will wield my nose

Just as a Small Dog ought to!


The Great Dog in the sky

Gave me a nose that I should use it…

You can’t ignore a gift like that…

That would be to abuse it.


The gifts bestowed upon us

We should use to make us shine.

(And Santa, as we’re talking gifts…

Can I have cheese with mine?)

Pass the Turkey!

The Small Dog’s Christmas

Sue Vincent

It is almost Christmas and things are not looking good for the Small Dog. There are too many Santas, too few tennis balls and not enough snow. To make matters worse, her two-legs says there is no room for a Christmas Tree in their new home and there isn’t even a chimney!

In a bid to save Christmas, the Small Dog decides to write to Santa. Every day.

Join Ani as she tells Santa about her days, explores what Christmas means to her and asks him some very awkward questions…

A seasonal collection of verse, humour and anecdotes from the inimitable Small Dog.

Note from a Small Dog: Loved to Death

It was in July 2017 that my two-legses committed the unthinkable sin of losing The Ball. Not just any ball… I have many in my toy box… but The Ball. The One. The Special Ball. I’d had that ball a long time and knew its every scent, curve and puncture. Granted, they searched for it diligently. They called in the cavalry so my boy came to help too… they even climbed the fence into the cow field and moved all the undergrowth… they found it not.

I went into mourning while she wrote about it… we all cope with loss in our own way.

It took me a week to have the heart to even look at another ball, but she was starting to panic a bit when I wouldn’t play and all I could do was mope. Not that I really wanted her to feel too much better about the situation… I was still hoping my ball would come back. But there is only so much of ‘worried two-legs’ I can stand, you know? Not that it stopped there. She thought I’d relented and accepted a new Ball when I caught one… but it was just a ball after all… nothing special.

‘Special’ takes time, love and togetherness.

It was another month before I felt able to actually choose another one of the many balls everyone offered. The one that would, eventually, become The Ball. It would take months, lots of grooming, games and cuddles, but one day it would feel right, smell right… be The Ball.

Because, The Ball isn’t just a ball… as they wrote in one of their books, it is Love… and although Love is right at the heart of what we are, ‘specially dogs, you have to give yourself to it before it comes back to you.

I have that Ball still… three and a half years later…

Or, what is left of it.

And that’s the problem. There isn’t much. The fluffy green outside opened its heart long ago. The rubbery bit inside fractured into pieces, held together only by the fluff. It has not rolled or bounced for over a year and it looks more like flattened roadkill than a ball.

She tried putting a new ball inside it, to give it shape, make it throwable and pick up the scent of The Ball… It didn’t really work and she can’t think of anything she can do to stop the inevitable.

She is worried that I will mourn for even longer. That I’ll go into a decline and not eat or play or smile again, like last time. Because it is The Ball… and I’ve never had one quite this long… and when it finally dies of being loved, what am I going to do?!

I mean, I know I’ll get plenty of cuddles and sympathy… but that won’t bring the ball back, will it? And if I get all upset, so will my two-lesges. And then that will upset me even more…

I suppose this is what she is means when she starts talking about non-attachment… not being dependant on anything to define us or to ‘make us happy’. But… it is The Ball!

So, if anyone can think of a way to magically mend my ball before it disintegrates, that would be cool.

Much love,

Ani xxx

P. S. To all my friends, furred, feathered, scaled… or even two-legses! Don’t forget to send me your stories, poems and pics… or your letters to Santa… for this year’s ADVENT CALENDAR.





Help! He–

GitOrrf! mein hund, stop yapping and get over here

Wotz the plan, then? GitOrrf! bounds over to Gunther.

Fours…lots of fours

Nothing happens. No fours trotting in from anywheres. Both fourlegs eyeball up and down both ends of the High Road. Not one muttwit in sight.


And then, out of nowhere, muttwits are popping up from everywhere – trotting straight towards Gunther. He stands foursquare outside Colonial Saunders. Fourlegs of all shapes and sizes, some dragging along their hindlegs packmates, the streetlegs dragging along their plum bobs, only. All panting and wagging tails and stubs, ready for a rumble. More muttwits than toes on four paws, lyk.

Snif yuz all Gunther barks, standing tall before thems earflaps up and listen, fall in behind me andmake some solid legs between KFC and zat Norscot Caterpillar 320D Hydraulic Excavator

That wotz? a load of fourlegs bark back.

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Ani’s Advent 2020! Who wants to come and play?

What with covid, lockdowns and everything else that has gone on this year…we don’t know what we will be able to do about Christmas or however else we celebrate the midwinter.

One thing we can do is have a countdown and a PARTY… socially distanced, of course!

So I will be running my Advent Calendar again this year…

Starting on December 1st, I would like to post a guest post every day from one of my friends. You can have fur, feathers or scales, two legs, four or none… all are welcome! Even humans… as long as you are writing about your animal friends…

Just email Her at with your post, a bit about yourself, your links and up to six attached pictures. She’ll do the rest…

What are you waiting for?

Notes from a Small Dog: Scaredy Cats?

We’ve had a bit of sunshine but lots of fog and frost this week… winter’s on its way. I quite like winter, as long as it doesn’t rain. I quite like the heating and the cuddles… though just at the moment, even when I let her close the doors, she keeps opening them again to cool down. Normally she’d be the one complaining about me wanting them open all the time… but they stand open half the night now, what with her being weirder than her normal weird and hardly ever seeming to stay in bed for long.

I’m missing my beauty sleep.

It has not been the best of weeks, I have to say. They were out for ages one day… much longer than they should have been… and she came back all punctured and smelling of the two-legs Vet and weird chemically stuff again. I didn’t like it. I don’t think she did either, ’cause she was a funny colour.

Myself, I think she needs a new vet if she’s going to come back looking like that…

She can always have mine 😉

She’s needed me to look after her too, what with all the bangs and pops over the past few days. Every time she has sat down in the evening. I’ve had to hold on tight to her feet to protect her. I just don’t get why you two-legses like being frightened? And yet you seem to! I mean, with the fireworky things, I can understand the smell… that’s quite interesting, floating on the breeze, and the lights are pretty enough… but do they really have to go bang so much or so loudly?

And before that, it was the ghosties and ghoulies… and you seem to enjoy watching and listening to all sorts of things just designed to be scary… I don’t get it.

And why do we talk about scaredy cats when cats are NEVER scared..?

I don’t like being scared. It makes everything feel wrong. So what is it with two-legses?

She says it is good practice… that you play at being scared so that when something real happens, you know what to do. I watched her grandpuppies playing and she might have a point. They ask to get chased and scared and have to hide… just so the ‘monster’ can catch them and eat them up. And they think it is fun… and always want to do it again. They must like it.

They used to be scared of me too, the grandpups… although, I have to wonder now whether they were really scared… or just playing at being scared so they could stop being scared eventually.

We are best friends now. They sneak me loads of treats, but I like getting caught just for the cuddles.

Much love, Ani xxx




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