Cozy mystery, dogs, elderly and dogs, old dogs, Rescue dog, Senior dog owners, Therapy Dog

Priorities: Sorrow and Sucess

I published Stalled, the third book in the Truman Blue, Cozy Mystery Series. Publishing is always mixed blessing. This book is a success for a fledgling Cozy writer. I am well into the next book, Staked Out.

The sorrow was that I unhooked a virtual leash for Leala trot over the rainbow bridge. She was 14 years old. Leala was my first therapy dog. We started together in 2009. She was a stray, terrified of people, but gave them a second chance. She ended up as a premiere therapy dog. She is now in the “memory kennel” with the rest of her buddies.

Leala, right, top, carved box. Clockwise starting under Leala, Stormy, Sunny, Daisy, Tiger, Timber.
Cozy mystery, dog play, dogs, Labrador Retriever, Mixed breed, puppy, Therapy Dog, Truman Blue Mysteries

A Mystery Bear – A Rescue Story

Truman Blue has a new little brother, Bear. Like all the other critter’s in Truman’s household, Bear is a rescue. Adopted from the local shelter, Bear is a “Labradog”, mostly Labrador and maybe something else thrown in. Or maybe not, it’s hard to tell. Do I see a DNA test in Bear’s future?

Why Bear? A year ago, Truman’s adopted mom, 14-year-old Labrador Sunny, trotted over the Rainbow Bridge. The Hu-Man missed having a busy, affectionate dog. For several months, the family tried to find a special Labrador who needed a home. The dog had to get along with cats, and other dogs, and had to be happy being fenced in an acre yard.

Bear had been in the local non-kill shelter for nearly two months. Being a sensitive pupper, he was stressed by the raucous atmosphere filled with barking pits and pit mixes. Bear sat at the back of his sparkling clean kennel run, head hung, stress panting. But he came right up to say hello when Truman’s Hu-mom called him. He wanted to be petted.

Bear has been Truman’s little brother for 10 days and still has some minor adjusting to do. He is happy to be the Hu-man’s special dog because the Hu-man pets Bear, and throws toys for Bear to chase. Truman loves to run and play with Bear. Bear is mostly respectful when he plays but when he’s not, Truman only needs to woof in Bear’s face, and Bear gets the message. Truman is boss-dog.

Yesterday, Bear, Truman, Hu-mom & Hu-man, went on their first family outing to a plant nursery, and then the pet store. Bear did great for any 9-month old pupper. His worst offense was tugging on the leash a little. After the breezy atmosphere of the plant nursery, the sensory overload of pet store was a little overwhelming, and Bear stress panted a little. The family didn’t stay long. At the checkout counter, Truman showed Bear how to put his paws on the counter to get a treat. Bear is learning quickly.

How such a sweet dog as Bear ended up as a stray, is a mystery. The question is, will Bear make and appearance as Truman’s buddy in a future Truman Blue Mystery?

Bear with Dexter and Truman keeping an eye on the new guy.

Cozy mystery, dogs, Therapy Dog, Truman Blue Mysteries, Uncategorized

Truman Blue Double Blue Muffins

Truman Blue Double Blue Muffins are super easy and to die for if you like blueberry muffins. If you add the blue cheese filling, they are to double die for.

Blueberry Muffin Recipe

  • 1 cup flour (I use gluten free, but it’s your choice)
  • 1 cup frozen mini blueberries (Available in grocery stores. As a kid, we called them huckleberries when we picked them at the forest edge).
  • 1/3 heaping cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 melted butter (vegan option coconut oil)
  • 1/4 cup yogurt (or some kinda plant or animal milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg (vegans know how to sub!)

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl ad stir until completely blended. In another bowl, melt the butter, add the yogurt, vanilla, and egg, and stir until completely blended. Mix together well, the dry stuff, wet stuff and blueberries. Put globs into silicon muffin cups, filling about 1/2 full. (You will make about 16 mini muffins)

Cook in air fryer at 360 degrees for 10 minutes. Let them cool a bit so you don’t burn your mouth. If you slather with butter, or fill with the ingredients below you will be in heaven.

“Blue” Filling

  • 2 oz cream cheese slightly warmed so it spreads easily
  • blue cheese to taste

Split the muffin, spread with the soft cream cheese, and add as much blue cheese crumbles and you want. You can probably mix the cream cheese and blue cheese, but I like the uneven bites, some thick some sprinkles of blue cheese.

A tan and black hound dog with one blue eye/
Margie Vonn, Sjogrens, Therapy Dog, Truman Blue Mysteries

Truman Speaks For Sjogrens Mom

Margie Vonn, Truman Blue’s fictional mom in Truman Blue Mysteries, has Sjogrens (show-grins) Disease. Unfortunately, Sjogrens Disease is not fictional. Author Jane McAllen, the writer of this blog, has Sjogrens.

When you are out and about, you won’t notice people with Sjogrens Disease. It is an invisible autoimmune disability. You won’t generally notice people who have Sjogrens because we try too hard to appear “normal,” which is a conundrum. We desperately need your understanding, but we don’t want to ask for it, and we don’t want to appear we are in need. The truth is we want to be someone who doesn’t have Sjogrens Disease.

One time, that’s all I want to have to say it to someone. One time. “I have Sjogrens Disease.” Period…nothing else. I don’t want to say anything else.

And with that, I want that person to have complete understanding of why I do what I do, and how I do it. Irrational, I know. The usual reaction I get upon telling someone that I have Sjogrens, is seeing their face turn quizzical, and they say, “You have what?” I can’t blame them. I had never heard of Sjogrens before I got it. I would like to give it back!

Not everyone remembers that in 2011 Venus Williams dropped out of the US Open Tennis championship because she was ill. I do. She was subsequently diagnosed with Sjogrens.

If Sjogrens can knock down a giant like Venus, how does it affect a person? If you ask the 1-5 million people, who have it, you will get 1-5 million different answers. Autoimmune diseases are individually unique. Lucky us. And of course, Sjogrens is incurable. Medications can help a lot, or not at all. Symptoms vary in intensity and vary from day to day. We have flares, which means the symptoms intensify. Flares can last for half a day to months. The one thing we can all agree to is that stress to the body, mind, or soul, makes it worse.

The symptoms may or may not affect every system in the body. The first symptoms are almost always dry eyes and dry mouth. Fatigue, brain fog, and joint pain are common symptoms that fluctuate. For me, having a bad flare feels like a bad flu without the hurling.

Being such a variable disease, it comes with the burden of sometimes having to explain a weakness. I hate to have to tell someone I can’t do something because it will cause a flare. I don’t want to live as a victim. I abhor people who beg sympathy and those whose goal in life is to make others feel guilty for not providing for a supposed victim. On the other hand, people who I have interactions with need to understand why I ask for accommodations. It’s tough to balance.

My promise to my friends, family and co-workers is that I will push myself as hard as I can. But I have learned my limits and the signs of when I am pushing too hard. All I ask is that folks roll with me. The promise I need from them is, if rolling with me is causing an inconvenience to them, they let me know and we talk about it like people who care about each other. No blaming, no criticism. If we care about each other, then we can work it out. It is somewhat depressing that my body cannot always do what my mind wants to do, and the one salve that heals is the compassion and flexibility of another human…or a dog.

Truman Blue always rolls with my flow. He’s a good dog, and that’s what good dogs do. (And I need to add, that my friends, family and co-workers are wonderful, too.)

Cozy mystery, dogs, elderly and dogs, Labrador Retriever, Margie Vonn, Mixed breed, Nose work, Therapy Dog, Truman Blue Mysteries

Celebrating a New Book Release – Naturally

Celebrating can be disastrous. There’s the prep, the expense, and the stress of performance. Since it was sunny and 62 degrees, Truman and I went on a walk about on our few acres. I didn’t even put on a bra, and Truman didn’t even put on a harness. We celebrated the day, just as it was.

Truman ran, following what delighted his nose. When we walk, he keeps an eye on me most of the time. Occasionally his quarter-bloodhound DNA has him so engrossed in following his nose, I tease him by hiding. A few seconds later, when his one-third-Labrador DNA reminds him of his need to be with his mom, he starts casting his nose for my scent. It never takes more than a couple of seconds before he catches the scent of my trail and heads toward my hiding place. His less than 10% middle-eastern-hound DNA kicks into high speed, and he finds me.

Truman romped while I surveyed my micro-kingdom. Truman followed his nose and I followed my eyes, evaluating the state of living off the land. Waiting for the chance to spice up a salad, mint surrounds my still green blueberries and figs. I snapped off a few green daylily buds and snacked on them. I love eating off the bush. We stopped by one of the beehives, the girls were just waking up and sunned themselves on the deck before they took flight. The pear trees planted in January were too you ng to bloom this year, but might produce some Bartletts next year.

Nature provides something to look forward to, and the celebration was peaceful and easy. (books are free on Kindle Unlimited and don’t cost much on Kindle)

A multicolored hound dog sniffing a dark object in a jar.
Cozy mystery, dogs, Mixed breed, Nose work, Therapy Dog, Truman Blue Mysteries

Following a New Scent

Truman and I have approximately the same level of engagement curiosity. That means we like to do things together that are fun, but don’t drain too much energy and are not too risky.

So what does that mean for a dog who is a quarter bloodhound and a third Labrador? You guessed it, nose work. Using instincts, Truman can find his tug toy in a three acre pasture. He doesn’t need to be trained to use his nose, because he sees with it. The problem in doing structured nose work activities, is that we need to learn learn to read each signals so we can work together as a team.

Once again, my relationship with my dog reminds me of my marriage. I appreciate my dog’s skills and abilities (my husband’s too). In order to accomplish a task with the ultimate sum being more than the parts, we need to communicate compassionately and clearly, taking into consideration and using our different perspectives of the world.

dogs, Therapy Dog, Uncategorized

Comforting Still

A tragic accident took the life of a elementary school student. COVID had everyone scared. Truman Blue and I responded anyway, in hopes of bringing smiles back to the child’s classmates. He did. The kids loved Truman.

Truman visited seventy something children and teachers. He was more quiet than usual, but I thought it was because we had not been able to visit in almost a year. He did his job and the kids smiled. What I didn’t know was that Truman had a painful ear infection. I found out when teacher rubbed him under his ear and he yelped. Fortunately it was near the end of our visiting. We only had a handful of very special children left to visit.

Although he did not show any of the regular signs of dog ear infection, only an occasional shake of the head. Of course Truman went to the vet and was put on medications for two weeks and recovered well.

I can’t help but love this dog more and more. He willingly endured pain while small children surrounded him. I don’t think I could have done that. He’s a good, good soul.

Cozy mystery, dogs, Labrador Retriever, Margie Vonn, Mixed breed, Therapy Dog, Truman Blue Mysteries

Truman Blue Mystery Book 2 Launching Soon

Margie, Truman and their friends head to the beach for a vacation, but Margie doesn’t want to go. Will vindicating a wrongly accused person make the vacation more fun?

Margie and Truman discover that not all the residents of Dexitine Beach, an affluent Gulf of Mexico beach town, are as upstanding as the town leaders would like visitors to believe. Dexitine is downright pleasant on the outside but some of the pillars of the community are a bit shaky.

Join Margie and Truman Blue as they negotiate the perils of a summer “vacation.”

Book Cover for Cozy Therapy Dog, Connecting the Dots, A Truman Blue Mystery Book 1, Jane McAllen
Cozy mystery, dogs, elderly and dogs, Labrador Retriever, Margie Vonn, Mixed breed, old dogs, Senior dog owners, Therapy Dog, Truman Blue Mysteries, Uncategorized

Book Launch! It’s Here! The first Truman Blue Mystery is out

The first book in the series is now available digitally for free from August 15 through August 19, 2020. Enjoy reading about the real life dog Truman Blue who is fictionalized Cozy Therapy Dog, Truman Blue Mysteries. Is fun, with a splash of education! Click here to order.

Book Cover for Cozy Therapy Dog, Connecting the Dots, A Truman Blue Mystery Book 1, Jane McAllen
Cozy Therapy Dog, Connecting the Dots, A Truman Blue Mystery Book 1
dogs, Labrador Retriever, Mixed breed, puppy, Therapy Dog, Truman Blue Mysteries

Dog Friends at Home

Truman Blue lives with three other dogs.

Leala is a quiet dog who has little interactions with the other dogs. It’s not that she’s unfriendly. She is an giving introvert. She was a therapy dog until she got older and it was too much work to walk around and visit a lot of people. She’s the same way with the rest of the dogs in the house. To her, interactions require a lot of energy. She’s willing to share the love-seat, but she doesn’t seek out company. Truman respects her need for solitude.

Stormy is a loud dog. For nine years, she has used her vocalizations to instigate chaos. Part German Shepherd, she loves to bark and make comments about everything around her. She wants to be involved with whatever is going on, not to participate, but to offer her opinion. Sometimes Truman enjoys jumping in to her world of chaos. Other times, he keeps his distance.

Sunny is an ancient Labrador who, at 14 is oldest and most hyper dog in the house. She is still a fish in the pool, but on land, gravity has taken its toll. Truman loves Sunny. He tries to get her to play the way a three year old male dog plays, rough and tumble. When Truman tumbles Sunny, she has a bit of trouble getting up, but she never complains. Her heart is as gold as her coat. Sunny is the only dog Truman cuddles with. He will miss her when she is gone.

Truman enjoys each dog friend. Each has different qualities that add to the quality of Truman’s life.

Sunny, Stormy, and Leala