Great Dog Rescue of New England - Meet 'n Greet

Photo by Jessica Sinatra

Photo by Jessica Sinatra

The Great Dog Rescue of New England (GDRNE) is a non-profit that has adopted out over 10,000 dogs since its inception over a decade ago. Most of their adorable pups are saved from high-kill shelters or shuttled in from other rescues throughout Tennessee and other southern states. Some have experienced physical or psychological traumas from life as a stray to abuses by their previous owners. Other have simply been surrendered by families who could no longer care for their pet. The volunteers at GDRNE vet each potential family to make sure that every dog will fit into their new home.

This video portrays one of many meet and greets held across New England each year by the organization. GDRNE and several other local rescues congregated in the lobby of Tsongas Arena in Lowell to connect these disadvantaged puppies and adult dogs with new loving families. Many of the dogs in the video still need a home and applications can still be filled out.

To learn more about the Great Dog Rescue of New England, visit their website.

Got a Minute? Do Yoga!

I love my mother, so I may be a bit biased, but I'm very excited for the second edition of her book, Yogaminute, coming soon to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and her own site Yoga Anita. In this trailer for the book, Anita describes her experience as an instructor, who benefits from Yoga and the book, and how to use the book. I mean, it has to be worth checking out if you can benefit from just a minute of work!

Introducing Yogaminute, the Second Edition. Do you know someone who is stressed? Or needs to relax? Overwhelmed with errands, kids, or taking care of others? Busy people of all ages need yoga! But squeezing in time might not work for your schedule. What to do? Well now there is Yogaminute - got a minute, you can do yoga! This easy to follow guide is for anyone who needs to incorporate yoga into their daily lives, one minute at a time. Simple instruction, pictures of real people, and lots of ideas make this book the one to get! Authored by Anita Perry, owner of YogaAnita.

Book will be available for purchase soon so look out!

Remembering Scout the Cat


When my, now fiancée, Jessica moved in a little over a year ago, she naturally brought her clothes and toiletries and others things she had, but she also brought a very special friend: An old, deaf, little lady named Scout. Scout made herself at home right away, sleeping on my face, mewing with her gritty gargled voice day and night . . . In short, she was a tough animal to get used to and I think my initial thoughts were along the lines of "I'm glad she's so old, I'm not going to have to worry about her THAT long". But that quickly past. She endeared herself to me. Her presence, sleeping on my legs every night, became a comfort. She always wanted to be on our laps or at least touching us and she would often bring gifts to us - a pair of mittens or a little stuffed animal lamb - to prove her love and win affection. What started as a terrible cat roommate, became one of the most profound animal friendships I have ever had. Of course, Jessica had this type of relationship with Scout since her mother brought her home way back in 1997 and she had Scout perched next to her from the time she was 10 all the way through into high school, college, adulthood, relationships, different dogs and other cats and pets. Scout was a constant for her.

But there was a problem.

A few months prior to my meeting Jessica, she lost her beloved dog Bogart to cancer. She made the hard decision to end his life before his suffering was unbearable. Only and few days after that, Scout went into shock herself and Jessica was faced with putting a second family member to sleep in less than a month. Miraculously, on the advice of a coworker and vet of Jessica's, Mike, Scout recovered, but she had issues with her thyroid and possibly other issues. Jessica didn't know how long she would have with Scout after that. When she told me this when Scout first arrived in our little apartment, I was worried about the poor thing crashing again. What would be the cost, monetarily and emotionally? How could I prepare for the sadness that would encompass Jessica when her friend of 19 years finally expired?

I dealt with Scout's impending doom the same way I have been trained to deal with many of life's dilemmas: With dark humor. I would commonly Snapchat our friends pictures of Scout peacefully sleeping with the word "dead" nearby. I created some creative poses. Not everyone was amused all the time, but for Jess and I, it was a fun inside joke that we could share.

The problem was, the more time that went by, the more I cared and grew closer to Scout. She was there for every moment we had in our room, almost always on top of us or in our lap. She was there for my birthday party and Halloween and our roommate Christmas and our couch proposal . . . She was there for it all. So when we both noticed that she was losing weight, those thoughts of her crash the year before kept coming up in the backs of our minds. She began periodically throwing up her food after eating too quickly and drinking too quickly. It was a sign that her thyroid and perhaps other organs weren't working the right way. An inconvenient truth about cats is that they are programed to hide pain. Pain is weakness and the weak are often killed or at least marginalized. Scout hid her pain, but we could see it every so often. She was deaf, so we would surprise her more often than we would like. Sometimes she would be jostled from a deep sleep and not be able to get up. In another instance, she just fell over without provocation. It was funny, but sad. This was the end for this tiny, fuzzy cat.

After a little time, Jessica and I made the decision that I think all animal lovers should make: To make sure that the last moment of Scout's life was on our terms and not a situation where she was in pain and suffering. On top of that, she was suffering at least a bit even though she was able to hide it.

We called up our vet Mike and set an appointment. The week that followed was quietly torturous for both of us. For Jessica, she made some artwork using Scout's paws and ink. She also makes origami boxes for all her animals with special personalized notes and trinkets that are interred with the body. For me, I just tried to remember her touch and recorded her voice. I tried to spend as much quality time as I could with her. The night before, Jessica took Scout into her arms and told her what was going to happen the next morning. It's really hard to know if a cat understands you or not, but that night, Scout decided to sleep by each of our heads, Jessica's and then mine, for a few hours. She didn't eat all night and leave the bed to go do cat things. In that, I felt like she understood.

A few hours later, we were in the car to McGrath Animal Hospital. It was a sunny and warm day. birds were just returning after the harsh snow a few weekends before. It was hard, but we did it and saw it through and her suffering was over. Possibly the greatest friend and presence in Jessica's life and a creature that had crawled into my own heart was gone. Today, I think I still hear her sometimes, her awful smokers mew or see her in my periphery. We still mourn, but I can't help but think we did the right thing. I'll never forget Scout Sinatra, the greatest cat in the world.

Scout Sinatra was brought home to Jessica sometime in 1997. Named after Bruce Willis' daughter, Scout spent the next 20 years accompanying Jessica through all her ups and downs. Just this last year, Jessica found the love of her life, Evan, and the two of them made sure Scout was well loved up to her last breath. Many will debate the fact, but all who knew her have donned Scout the Most Greatest Cat Who Hath Ever Lived Lifetime Achievement Award!

The Adventures of Mr Norbert Waggles - Part 2

Mr Norbert Waggles Esquire came to us on a chilly day in March. This is an entry from his journal regarding his new life with the Perry Family

15 March 2017 - The cold white stuff that appeared yesterday outside the house has remained. The icy layer locks the odors of the world beneath and I find myself digging through it to find familiar earthy scents. Otherwise, the vast white landscape is quite enjoyable: It cools the paws and creates quite the sensation when in need of rear egress. New England is quite odd and this stuff is just another example.

Cont'd - Big news! My temporary people, fosters, sat me down on the big ugly couch today and told me something unexpected: They decided to hire me as their Dog of the House! I must say, it was very surprising but very welcome news. I hugged the lovely person in my first act as her best companion and friend. The experience seemed to thrill her thoroughly. As reward for my new position, my new people dropped my slave name, Jasper, for my birth name, Norbert Waggles Esquire. I'll have to check with the bar, but I may be able to practice Dog Law the the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Unlike my human equivalents, dogkind usually ignores state lines as they are manmade. Of course, there are exceptions, especially in more liberal areas of the country. The reptile was indifferent to my newfound permanent status, but the cat seemed slightly less aloof toward my presence. Victories all around!

Cont'd - Update: Nothing learned about practicing Dog Law here in my new home, but there are definitely many locals who could use great representation. I'll have to steal some time on the internet while my new people aren't around to find out more.

A Proposal for a lifetime

engagement ring

Well, there comes a time, boys and girls, when a man so loves a woman and she him that they mutually decide to spend the rest of their lives together. This moment is almost always a dramatic one, an inciting action in the plot of life. For Jessica and I, the drama would be there even as best laid plans collapsed behind us. This is the story of how I lost a girlfriend and gained a fiancée.

It was shortly after our second date. Jessica had effectively moved in with me. We were madly in love. I knew she was the girl. I wanted to propose right then, but I knew it was far too soon. She might say no. I didn't know her 100%. I hadn't met her family. She hadn't met mine. Despite all that, the thought was there and it was for her too.

Fast-forward nearly a year later and we had checked off our lists (so to speak). We had both met one another's parents. We know about one another's quirks, likes and dislikes. Most importantly, no deal breakers were discovered between us. It was time and I had a plan. My mother gave me her engagement ring (and before her, my Nana's) to propose to Jess months before. Our anniversary was coming up at the end of March (the 26th). I had a grand idea to deliver this ring that was ambitious and daring. My plan was to construct a scavenger hunt involving our mutual friends, family, and others. Jessica is one of those people that is all about anything and anyone but herself. She would never approve of the spotlight on her. She would never approve of a plan that 'inconvenienced' so many for her sake. It might even stress her out. Knowing this, I knew that, presented in the right way and with the right urging, she would know what was going on, but be okay with it and go along for the ride.

And so I planned. I had her best friend taking her shopping. Friends hiding in stores. Friends driving in from out west and family calling in from Skype in coffee shops. At the end, I had us alone on a rooftop, she and I, where I would pop the question. The plan was beautiful, but I was naive. People started texting Jess. People who normally don't text her. Somebody asked her if she were excited for the upcoming Sunday. My plan was blown. A women who cares about everything but herself came to me and told me how stressed she was about some plan I was hatching and how many people were involved. She told me she was afraid I didn't know her and asked me to cancel it. It was the worst possible thing to happen and even left her wondering if I knew her. What she didn't know was, I anticipated that this was going to be her reaction if she knew what was going on.

I was angry and sad. I had text everyone and cancel the plan. It's really hard to wrangle almost 30 people into such a ploy on a Sunday and it was all for naught. This was a plan that successfully put all the love for Jessica from all of her family and friends and me on display in a nice little game. I felt like she would say 'no' if I asked again so close to the disaster. I was wondering if I could propose at all.

Well, that Sunday came and Jessica came down with a pretty bad flu. I had a few symptoms myself, but it became clear that my plan would have had to be cancelled anyway if it were still happening. All the same I was depressed. The next day, I ran some errands while Jessica stayed home, trying to beat her illness. Along the way, Jessica asked me to pick up a package for her at Brittany's house. I did and headed home.

Once I was home, we stretched out on the couch and started watching Netflix with our cat Scout and our dog Norbert on our laps. Jessica then opened the package and handed it to me. It was a ring! She asked me to marry her and at first it didn't really feel real, but I said 'yes'. she had a plan of her own, the whole time. The depression and anger I had about my plan falling apart melted away as we relaxed in one another's arms. After a year, we were finally engaged. It was something we both knew would happen from the beginning, but here it was.

And THAT is definitely a proposal for a lifetime!