Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Book Review and A New Friend

Hi everyone.  What kind of week are you having?  My week is going to be busy; I still have a lot to do before next Friday (graduation day), but I want to keep up with my blog, even if I just write a few things over the next week and a half.

Writing this blog has been such a good thing for me; it has challenged and motivated me to learn new things, and it's definitely broadened my horizons.  One of the best things I've experienced is meeting so many nice people with similar interests, and I've even gotten to meet a few of you in person.

The most recent example of that is my new friend, Judy McFadden.  Meeting Judy was definitely one of those serendipitous occasions that happen to us from time to time in life.

Those of you who read my blog regularly know that we have a Scottish Terrorist Terrier named MacDuff, whose picture is on my sidebar.  MacDuff is the third Scottie I've had in my lifetime and the second one for my husband and I.  Some time back, I started a board on my Pinterest account called "Love Scotties."  I honestly can't remember where I saw this book now, but I came across it online back in the winter and pinned it to my board.  The book is called, "Life With McDuff -- Lessons Learned from a Therapy Dog."  

Of course, the name caught my eye (even though we spell our MacDuff's name differently), and so did the cute picture on the cover.  I read a description of the book on the back cover, and even read an excerpt from the book; but things were busy around here, and I forgot about it.

A few weeks later, I received an e-mail from the author of "Life With McDuff," and she enquired about how my Scottie was doing, because I had posted some months earlier that he was sick and we were really worried about him.  I was so surprised that she had discovered my Pinterest account and blog and was very pleased that she communicated with me.  I replied to her e-mail, and we began a correspondence.  She kindly offered to send me a complimentary copy of the book.  I gave her my mailing address, and the book arrived just a few days later.

One reason the book interested me is because I'd never heard of a Scottish Terrier being a therapy dog.  To be honest, I never thought it was possible.  :-D  I have loved all of my Scotties, but truthfully, they are a stubborn and willful breed.  They're also quite feisty, not to be confused with mean, by the way.  I just couldn't imagine a Scottish Terrier being obedient enough to serve as a therapy dog, but I'm glad to know I was mistaken.

Mr. Forest Manor and I like to watch the Westminster Kennel Club show every February, and it's always amusing to hear what the announcers have to say about the Terrier group.  I've heard it said more than once in regard to terriers that "...It's their world, and we just live in it."  :)

 If you conclude from this remark that terriers have lots of attitude, you would be correct, and Scotties have more than their fair share.  They're a big dog in a small package, and they have lots of courage and big hearts.  They're as smart as they choose to be; they don't necessarily learn or act out of a desire to please us.  They do so because they want to.  We have found that if you are firm but fair with them, show them love and treat them well, they will reward you with a lifetime of loyal companionship.

I thoroughly enjoyed Judy's book, "Life With McDuff."  Judy grew up in a small coal-mining town in Pennsylvania, where she (and her family and neighbors) discovered early on that Judy had a special way with animals, and dogs in particular.  When she purchased McDuff as an eight-week-old puppy from a local breeder, she and McDuff formed an instant bond with one another.  This bond became a friendship that lasted all nine years of McDuff's life.

I love our Scottie, and I fell for Judy's McDuff in the very first chapter.  Judy and I communicated via e-mail while I was reading the book, and I told her that her McDuff seemed to be a combination of the personalities of our MacDuff and Bonnie, the Scottie we got the first year we were married.  As with any dog, the specific breeds share common traits, but each individual dog has its own distinct personality.

Bonnie used to ride in the car with us, and when we were stopped, she loved to get in my husband's lap.  She kind of looks like she's driving, huh?  :)

This is an old picture and it's very faded.  Bonnie was so pitch black it was hard to see her eyes sometimes.  It would have been very easy to lose her outside in the dark.

Bonnie had just been to the groomer when this picture was made.  My smile was definitely forced that day, because we had just learned that Bonnie was very sick; we found out the next day that she had liver cancer, a terminal condition in dogs as well as humans.  My heart was breaking that day.  The white blob with the gray tail next to me was our cat, Tucker, also a sweetie.

Judy's McDuff also died from cancer, and it was hard for me to read that part of her book.  It may sound silly, but our MacDuff is definitely in his twilight years now.  He just turned 13 last month, and he's actually pretty healthy, to the best of our knowledge.  But we know at some point we'll be facing what every pet owner eventually deals with -- the loss of a beloved friend.

Judy McFadden's book is a very inspiring story in more than one way.  McDuff was an inspiration in the way he brought unswerving devotion, understanding, and a dog's intuition to the severely handicapped patients he saw several times a week in his capacity as a therapy dog.  Judy was very dedicated to helping McDuff help others, and they made a good team.

McDuff also participated in a Reading With Rover program at Judy's local library, where he made a huge difference in the life of one young boy who was struggling in school.  After McDuff died, the library dedicated a plaque in McDuff's honor; and Judy, along with the young boy and his family all attended the ceremony honoring McDuff's contribution to the reading program.

In addition, her book was inspiring because McDuff shared some very difficult times with Judy, particularly as she dealt with the painful blow of losing her mother.  I don't want to tell too much, for fear of spoiling the story for those of you who might wish to read it for yourselves.  Suffice it to say that McDuff was a true blue friend to Judy when she most needed one.

A politician once said, "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog."  My husband loves that quote, as much for what it says about dogs as for what it says about Washington.  I'm not trying to be political; I make a point to keep that out of my blog posts, but Mr. Forest Manor and I really liked the former First Dog, Barney Bush.  We used to look at his website, and his "Barney-Cam" antics were always entertaining.  When Barney died this past winter, George Bush wrote, "Barney was by my side during our eight years in the White House.  He never discussed politics and was always a faithful friend.  Laura and I will miss our pal."

Judy's book about life with McDuff the therapy dog can be purchased online from her website Here.  It's also available through Amazon, online bookstores, and Barnes and Noble.  I didn't receive financial compensation for sharing Judy's book with you; I wanted to write about it because I love dogs, especially Scotties.

This book had some tearful moments, but it also made me laugh out loud. The chapter in which Judy writes about trying to get McDuff to take a pill was just hilarious.  I could so relate to this experience, and I bet a lot of other folks could too.  Judy really conveyed what an independent spirit these little lads and lassies possess.


Judy called me last week to check on MacDuff; I wasn't expecting her call, and it was such a pleasure to talk to her.  I hope we can meet in person someday.  Thank you, Judy, for gifting me with your book and for sharing your story with us.  I wish you much success in the future and look forward to staying in touch with you!

Thanks to all of you who read my blog; I'm so glad you continue to visit House at Forest Manor.  I haven't gotten a chance to visit many folks lately because I'm trying to get ready for our son's college graduation; but be assured that I'll be back to visiting you and commenting very soon.  I can't wait to see what you've been doing now that spring is finally here.  Have a wonderful week!



  1. How sweet, just loved this post!
    Hope you can meet in person one day, that would be perfect!

  2. what a wonderful and interesting post Denise,, full of great photos.
    I enjoyed it very much..
    God Bless all our furbabies. They are surely friends and deeply loved..


  3. Judy is a friend of mine and we are both authors. We have sat side by side selling our books. She has always encouraged me, and other authors, as she shares her life with McDuff. When you do meet, you will be blessed with a good friend, like I have been.

  4. What a neat story of what brought you 2 together. Isn't the internet and social media the neatest thing? I hope you both can meet in person one day.

  5. I loved this post, Denise, and that is such a beautiful photo of you and Bonnie. I love that you met another McDuff through Blogland! I love therapy dogs, all therapy pets. Authors are a wonderful group of people. They are always open to meeting fans and corresponding (duh, they write!! lol). I also hope you two can meet, and the cute Scotties too! xo

    1. Thank you, Barbara. I love therapy dogs, too -- all kinds of service dogs, really. I think their contributions to our society are invaluable.



  6. What a sweet post Denise, and what a perfect gift for you to receive and enjoy!
    Rose H

  7. Hi Denise,
    I can totally relate to your thoughts about blogging. It has enriched my life in so many little ways. How did we get by without it? :).
    What an exciting time for you to be preparing for your son's graduation. Enjoy every step of the way.
    I am always fascinated by the different ways that connections are made in blogland. You have shared such a nice and touching example of this. As I read about your connection through your sweet scottie doggies I couln't help but wonder if you have visited the blog Sweet Cottage Dreams. Whenever I see a scottie I think of her.

  8. I certainly have enjoyed "meeting you" through blogging ... and I admit I don't always read every word of a long post but this one took me in and I read and enjoyed every word, even shared some with my husband. It was so heart warming. I always thought if we got another dog it would be a scotty. Thanks for writing all this! Hope you have a wonderful graduation weekend.

  9. What a wonderful post to read, Denise! I loved seeing the pics of your Scottie dogs and the one one of you. Its great knowing of all the love you have for them. Isn't it wonderful to have a new friend through Judy and a signed copy of her book??
    Enjoy your son's graduation...I know you're so very proud of him. xo

  10. Yes, indeed, a wonderful post. Praying for limited stress this week and wonderful memories!!! God Bless! Cathy

  11. This is my last blog of the night before I head up to bed. It was a wonderful way to finish my day. I loved your photos (I have always loved that breed of dog though we have never had one.) I think the book would be a great read for anyone, but I particularly think my uncle would like it.

    And I loved the Barney Cam videos too!

  12. I just love this post. Those pictures of sweet little Bonnie brought back memories and made me cry. MacDuff is so precious too. They are special little dogs with so much personality. This is a sweet post. Love you, Mom



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