Author: Jasmine Cabanaw (page 1 of 2)

Jillian the Miniature Schnauzer Wants You to Express Yourself!

Jillian is one of the animals featured in the children’s book High Paw, Super Sebastian! The story follows the journey of a foster puppy as he moves from home to home. The characters in the book are based on real animals.

“When I’m feeling confused,” said Jillian, “I dress up in colorful costumes and remind myself that I can be whoever I want to be!”

Jillian the Miniature Schnauzer came from an award-winning lineage, but as the runt of the litter she was destined to be a different kind of show dog. Sadly, her breeders couldn’t see her intrinsic value and since she was deemed “unfit for show” they just wanted to get rid of her.

Fortunately for Jillian, one person’s underdog was another person’s superdog, and she soon found a loving home with Amy Jane Von Purr, a performance artist living in Peterborough, Ontario. Amy grew up with lots of animals in her family home, including Schnauzers, and she had always wanted a Schnauzer of her own as an adult. She researched the best way to find a Schnauzer and discovered that the dogs were mostly bred for show. She happened upon Jillian by chance — who was a show dog reject and unwanted — but when Amy saw her photo it was love at first sight. She thought, “Yep, that is the dog for me!”

Jillian performs tarot readings over Instagram.

Amy got Jillian for her birthday and the day after she graduated from her MA program, so it was a special time in her life. She drove with her mother all the way to Ottawa in a blizzard to get this little dog. Amy’s mother held Jillian the whole way home to Peterborough in the snow storm and luckily they all made it back safe. Jillian sure was worth it, though, and the pair quickly became a dynamic duo. That same week Jillian put on her first costume and it’s been a love affair with dressing up ever since.

Jillian had a flare for the eccentric, just like Amy. She immediately loved wearing costumes because she was a total ham for the camera. When she went out in her costumes, everyone loved to stop and compliment her, which Jillian was thrilled about because she loved meeting new people to whom she could show off her sense of style.  A cute pup in a fun outfit is always a great conversation starter!

The costumes she likes the best are t-shirt type outfits. Her absolute favourite costume is her Pride ensemble, which consists of a rainbow wig and rainbow tutu. She gets tons of attention and trots around like a superstar. Clearly, nothing was going to stop Jillian from being a show dog after all! She just had to do it in her own unique way.

A Dog Who Understands Self-Expression


Illustration by Lisa McKaskell

Jillian is not only a costume-loving, purebred Miniature Schnauzer, but a powerful clairvoyant who offers specialized tarot readings over the Internet. Amy shuffles the cards and lays them out on the table. Jillian then chooses the tarot cards with her paw. Amy flips them over and finishes the tarot reading. Jillian’s tarot fans on Instagram love that she’s so involved with the process.

This creative approach to self-expression is why Jillian was chosen as a character in the newly released children’s book High Paw, Super Sebastian. Costumes can make you feel like who you really are and allow you to play and discover your identity. This aligned well with one of the main messages in the book, that you can be whoever you want to be and that it’s a beautiful thing to express yourself.

Jillian Miniature SchnauzerFor the online launch of the children’s book, Jillian and Amy attended dressed in Marilyn Monroe outfits from the movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes — complete with blonde wigs and all! Since the launch felt like a movie premiere, they wanted to attend in style. Amy introduced Jillian as wearing “Poochie by Gucci” and everyone laughed in delight.

Jillian is a Special Kind of Miniature Schnauzer

Jillian is small even for her Miniature Schnauzer breed, but her personality is large and fabulous. She enjoys long trips to the pet store (she loves to browse), collars with lots of bling, chasing birds (to maintain her figure), and leisurely walks through the park. She dislikes windy days, loud noises, and cranky old cats. She has had several songs written about her including Michael Barkson’s hit “Jilly Bean” and “Hold Me Schnau” by The Terrier Twins. She is often mistaken for Danny Glover. She has her own Instagram account in order to showcase her diverse array of skills and talent.

She is named Jillian for three reasons: after a character in Amy’s favourite novel Practical Magic, after the pianist Jill Tracy, and because Amy’s mom had a dog named Jack (so they had Jack and Jill!).

Jillian turned seven this past August. Amy says, “She makes every single day of my life better. She’s my best friend, my familiar, my constant companion. From the time we wake up together for our morning walk to when we fall asleep cuddling each night, she enriches my life in every way in every moment of every day!”

Jillian is clearly the star of Amy’s life. She is also a constant reminder to “express yourself”. You never know the positive impact you may have on the world simply by being you.

Want to see Jillian’s children’s book debut? Get a copy of High Paw, Super Sebastian HERE.

The No Name Bunny Is A Story that Charms

The sweet little tale of The No Name Bunny begins with a seed of hope. This is a good introduction for the book since the rest of the story’s beginning has a sadder note. Of course, this is to be expected given that the book is about an orphaned bunny that doesn’t have a name.

The creative description of humans as “bigs” is charming and adds a touch of whimsy right from the start. The book’s author, Ali Tibbetts, does a good job explaining the downsides to pet ownership in a way that children will understand. It’s also an important reminder for adults to be thoughtful when choosing animal companions for kids.

Rhonda Van, the book’s illustrator, also does a good job with making the story narrative come to life in the illustrations. The bunny is particularly adorable and readers will instantly fall in love with her charming details.

no name bunny children's bookThe next part of the story follows what not to do if you realize a pet isn’t the right fit for your family. Perhaps the the family in the story had well-intentions, but the reader quickly learns that setting a domestic animal free in the wild is not the right choice.

Luckily, the No Name Bunny has the grit and perseverance she needs to make it through the night. She maintains hope and focuses on keeping herself safe, which is always a good message for kids and adults alike.

The story has a happy middle — an animal rescuer finds the bunny and brings her to an animal shelter where she meets other bunnies like herself. Her newfound friends encourage her to not lose hope and that it’s still okay to trust in people.

The sweetness at the end of the story is expressed in the character Honey — a little girl who adopts the No Name Bunny. The little girl is as sweet as her namesake. Readers see an example of responsible pet ownership in the way that Honey treats her new pet.

At the very end, the bunny receives her new name — but you’ll have to read it to find out!

The No Name Bunny is published through Who Chains You Books and is available for purchase online.

Tutu Is a Pigeon Who Will Capture Your Heart

Animal rescue advocate Yazmin Feliz has a soft spot for the underdog… or should we say underbird? While most people simply pass by the pigeons that flock to the streets of New York City, Yazmin couldn’t help but notice the playfully social nature of these misunderstood birds.

Many people see pigeons as pests, but up until the past few decades pigeons were beloved pets and even assisted veterans on the frontlines. Pigeons carried our mail, helped us find soldiers wounded in battle (their capacity for picking patterns and people out of a crowd is astounding), and assisted on all sorts of missions. Though many people don’t realize it, even today pigeons provide support as therapy animals to children and adults. (The pigeon that is trained to “slap” products that contain gluten, as a way to alert a young boy with celiac disease, is a beloved example.)

Pigeon Love At First Sight

It was one pigeon in particular that truly tugged on Yazmin’s heartstrings and changed her life’s path. The bird was injured, afraid, and unable to fly. Yazmin decided to rescue the poor thing and instantly gained a soulmate. Tutu (as the pigeon is affectionately named) and Yazmin have been inseparable ever since.

When Yazmin first brought Tutu home, she was nervous because she had never before cared for a pigeon, but she learned fast. A veterinarian advised that Tutu was not releasable, which meant that Yazmin’s newfound friend would become a permanent member of her household. The two bonded so well that Tutu beat the odds and, after much love and care, has regained the ability to fly.

The dynamic duo quickly got the attention of the media and were featured on The Dodo as part of the Soulmates series. They have a story that certainly captures a lot of hearts!

Birds of a Feather Flock Together

Tutu loves being an indoor pigeon and enjoys playing with stuffed toys, bathtime in the shower, and taking naps in the cat bed. Tutu also likes to build nests and is often seen “borrowing” household items such as q-tips, earrings, and car keys. Pigeons get a bad rap but Tutu is proof that they are clean, intelligent, and outgoing animals who love human affection.

A goofy pigeon with a big personality, Tutu gets along well with the other housemates. Yazmin felt inspired after her success with Tutu’s rehabilitation and often has other pigeons she is nursing back to health. Turtles are also a feature in Yazmin’s home — she’s rescued more than 15 turtles over the years.

Yazmin’s goals continue to grow. She recently received official non-profit status for her animal rescue charity, called Rescue Friends Inc. Her  goals are to increase public awareness about domestic turtles and pigeons, to reduce illegal turtle sales, and to create laws that would protect pigeons (pigeons, sparrows, and starlings are the only birds not protected by law in the United States). One of the first things her organization is doing is meeting with NYC’s mayor’s office to discuss turtle sale legislation and how to better enforce these measures.

Rescuing animals is not strictly business, though — a lot of it is playful and fun. On the lighter side of things, both Tutu and Tani (Yazmin’s main turtle) have gained quite a following on social media. People love to see the animals playing and just enjoying life.

pigeon rescue

Illustration by Lisa McKaskell

The playful antics of Tani and Tutu are also evident in their roles in the new children’s book High Paw, Super Sebastian. Tutu is in the first section of the story, as a way to highlight the message that all creatures have value, no matter what their station in life.

That’s certainly the message that Tutu lives everyday — love is sometimes found in the places we least expect it. We just have to take a closer look.

About Yazmin Feliz

Yazmin grew up in Bronx, NY to a single mother. She recently earned her PhD in mechanical engineering from Columbia University. While it was challenging to manage school and animal rescue, she took pride in her positivity, hard work, and care, and she extends her life philosophies to others who are pursuing their own goals. In her own words, “Everyone deserves a second chance and someone to give them a voice.”

Transformed By Love — Meet Kevin the Fluffy Wonder Corgi

Kevin is one of the animals featured in the children’s book High Paw, Super Sebastian! The story follows the journey of a foster puppy as he moves from home to home. The characters in the book are based on real animals.

“Everyone can make a difference, no matter how small.”

Some people say that love is a four-legged word. This was certainly the experience for Monica and Eric Hedman, when a fluffy Corgi named Kevin entered their lives in 2018. Kevin didn’t seem so lovable at first, since he suffered from deep anxiety and fear due to years of bullying from other dogs, but Monica and Eric knew that some extra love and care would give Kevin a chance to shine.

It was a close call for Kevin, too, since the recommendation his previous owners received was to euthanize him. Luckily for Kevin, his owners turned to a rescue organization instead called Paws Crossed Small Dog Rescue. It was at Paws Crossed in Oakland where Monica and Eric met Kevin and knew that they had found love in the form of a Corgi.

A Walking Advertisement for the Power of Love

The funny thing about love, and about dogs especially, is that it doesn’t always show up the way we expect it, but instead appears in ways that teach us important lessons. The big lesson with Kevin was the gift of patience and perseverance. In the beginning, Kevin did not even want to be touched by humans and even fear-bit Eric. The poor Corgi was terrified. But Monica and Eric did not give up.

After three months of compassionate, patient attempts, Kevin started to overcome his fear and brought a ball over to Monica so they could play fetch. This was the first time Kevin had brought a toy over to her and she knew it meant they were on the right track.

Two years later, after much rehab and love, Kevin the Fluffy Wonder Corgi (as he has come to be called) is now a happy, go-lucky pup. He loves people, loves his beach ball toy, loves playing at the dog park, and charms everyone he meets.

Paying the Love Forward

When Kevin shows up somewhere, it becomes an event where he is surrounded by fans. People can’t get enough of this Fluffy Wonder Corgi. There’s just something about him that inspires kindness. And Kevin is all too happy to accept the pets, affection, and treats.

This is the same ethos Kevin brings to his role in the new children’s book High Paw, Super Sebastian. In the book, Kevin is encountered by a group of animal friends who are inspired to perform an act of kindness by giving Kevin a stick. Their message is that anyone can make a difference, no matter how small, even if it’s just by brightening someone’s day.

Kevin can certainly testify to that — he brightens people’s lives on a daily basis with photos of his antics on his Instagram account. Whether it’s playing tug-of-war, playfully destroying toys (he is the master of performing squeaker-ectomies), chasing water out of the garden hose, or just romping around the garden, Kevin’s adventures add a little cheer and whimsy for his fans.

As Monica puts it, “He is a magnet to humans, has brought wonderful people into our life, and has added magic and comedy to experiences with existing friends.”

high paw super sebastian

Illustration by Lisa McKaskell

She also wants people to understand the importance of breed-specific animal rescue. People will sometimes get Corgi puppies from a breeder because they are cute, then not treat them properly as dogs, so Corgis in rescue will usually have behavioral problems from lack of training, and also weight or health problems.

Monica explains, “Eric and I look for middle-aged males because they are calmer, and also because people usually want a puppy. We love the intelligence and fun of the breed. It is harder to find a Corgi in rescue than other breeds, as they are extremely popular and will often be in and out of a shelter within 24 hours. Still, we have developed a reputation in the NorCA Corgi community and the NorCA Corgi breed association as rescuers/rehabilitators of males with certain behavioral problems, so people will sometimes send us links. That is how we got Kevin.”

Kevin is a walking advertisement for the power of love. Every time he demonstrates a new action of trust or peace around Monica and Eric, it means the world.

Meet Kevin the Fluffy Wonder Corgi

Want to learn more about Kevin? Join in the celebration of his progress on his Instagram account @kevinthefluffywondercorgi.

Kevin’s children’s book debut is now available! High Paw, Super Sebastian is designed to help children learn about difficult emotions in a safe and gentle way. The book is available on Amazon and online retailers.

25% of the proceeds from book sales are donated to Braid Mission, an organization that provides team-based mentoring to foster youth.

Canadian Government to Destroy Books Meant for Indigenous Children


A shipment of children’s books translated into Inuktitut are scheduled to be destroyed by the Canada Border Services Agency just days after Orange Shirt Day.

EDMONTON, AB, October 03, 2020 — In partnership with the Northwest Territories SPCA (NWT SPCA), the Canadian company Green Bamboo Publishing released two translated versions of the children’s book Kindness Is on National Indigenous Peoples Day earlier this year. Now the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) in Edmonton, Alberta have announced they will be destroying a shipment of the books — all due to a simple paperwork error.

The shipment of the Kindness Is books were meant for Indigenous children in the Northwest Territories and to support the NWT SPCA. Since the announcement comes just days after Orange Shirt Day, the impending destruction of the books is exceptionally heartbreaking. The Canadian government preaches reconciliation but they are going to destroy books meant for Indigenous children?

In July, the CBSA sent a letter to the destination address of the shipment, asking for a payment of $5000 for the books to be released. Jasmine Cabanaw, the founder of Green Bamboo Publishing, realized there had been an error, since the books were valued at no where near that amount. She has since been trying to reach the customs office for months but with no success. There is simply no method provided for rectifying the situation — the office does not even have an email address. The phone number provided simply rings and rings when called. Between Cabanaw and the NWT SPCA, they have called almost 100 times.

The only option is to go to the customs office in person, which is risky during COVID-19 and also not possible for Cabanaw, who lives in a different province. As the owner of a small business, Cabanaw will have to absorb costs she cannot afford in order to send a new shipment. She wonders how many other small businesses have been through this same situation.

Launching the Inuktitut and Tłı̨chǫ versions of Kindness Is… on National Indigenous Peoples Day was a way to celebrate Indigenous youth. The book launch also encouraged children of all backgrounds to honor Indigenous cultures and participate in kind and responsible pet ownership. Unfortunately, since the Inuktitut books were being held at the customs office, only the Tłı̨chǫ speakers were able to participate in the book readings for the launch.

We are looking for people to help us get the word out about this story and hopefully amend some of this injustice. Since the original writing of this press release, two people have agreed to go to the customs office on Cabanaw’s behalf for Monday, October 5th.

Mary Adele Mackenzie was adopted to her parents who only spoke the Tłı̨chǫ language so Tłı̨chǫ is her first language. She is revitalizing the Tłı̨chǫ language in her home.

About Kindness Is

Kindness Is… teaches children and adults alike the importance of compassion, kindness, and empathy through a series of common but important examples of responsible pet ownership. Green Bamboo Publishing founder, Jasmine Cabanaw, believes that all children should have the joy of reading stories in their traditional languages and was eager to help when she learned about the project.

Dana Martin of the NWT SPCA explains that the purpose of translating Kindness Is… “is important to help teach kindness, compassion, and empathy to children and adults in Indigenous languages of the NWT. Our northern animals and our northern peoples are important to the NWT SPCA. It brings great joy to help kids learn about kindness while also helping to strengthen and preserve the traditional languages. Kindness Is… becomes a bridge that joins together the different peoples of the North, giving rise to a stronger community with common goals.”

Kindness Is… is best suited for ages 0-5 and is written in a cheerful style that is relatable and fun. The illustrations are bright and colourful, using high contrast imagery, and have a unique feature — the fur for each illustrated dog is from a photograph of a real dog from the NWT SPCA. Children can view the gallery of doggy models at the beginning of the book.

Of the two currently translated books one is an Inuit language (Inuktitut) and one is a Dene language (Tłı̨chǫ). The remaining seven will be released over the course of the next year. Included in every book is the English version of the original poem, information about the Indigenous language, and a map of the Official Languages of the NWT.

The books are available for purchase online:

Inuktitut Version

Tłı̨chǫ Version

Media Contact

Jasmine Cabanaw

Bowie the Cockatoo Dances His Way through Life

Bowie is one of the animals featured in the children’s book High Paw, Super Sebastian! The story follows the journey of a foster puppy as he moves from home to home. The characters in the book are based on real animals.

“When I’m feeling sad,” said Bowie, “I do something fun to cheer myself up. I ruffle my feathers, strut my stuff, and dance!”

Let’s dance! Bowie is a Major Mitchell’s cockatoo who takes his namesake to heart. Despite damage to his wings as a baby bird, he doesn’t let anything stop him from dancing his way through life.

Bowie’s story is one of love and perseverance. After his wings were damaged during an attempt to clip him for hand rearing, he was put up for adoption. It was uncertain if he would ever be rehabilitated and returned to the wild, but his adoptive guardian Isabelle could tell he had a tenacious spirit. She provided Bowie with four years of strenuous rehabilitation and in March 2020 he finally took his first flight.

Since Bowie had to learn at a young age that there was more to life than flying, he became an avid participant in other activities. He enjoys playing in the sunlight, whistling, bonding with his rescue bird friends, dancing (of course), and screaming PEEKABOO at 4am.

When he gets excited, he bobs around and struts his stuff. He’s often found dancing up a storm on his perch or hanging upside down in some kind of cockatoo acrobatics.

Birds of a Feather Flock Together

Bowie currently lives with four other rescue birds — Smokey and Ducky the cockatiels, Billina the chicken, and Winston the budgie. He loves his bird companions and leads a good example even if he is mischievous at times. He tries to be a bird of many talents, singing along with the cockatiels and crowing along with Billina. After all, who says a cockatoo can’t be friends with a chicken? Bowie’s motto is that friends flock together, even if we look different from one another.

The antics of these feathered friends have gathered a following on Instagram, where fans check in to see what kind of adventures the birds are up to. Bowie captures hearts with his exotic charisma and clever personality. As one fan describes him, “Bowie is so majestic and yet so silly.”

Other fans leave comments like “love your moves!” and “yeeehaw!” One thing is for certain, Bowie sure knows how to get a party started!

A Magnificent Cockatoo Companion

Bowie loves interacting with his human companions, too, although this isn’t without some adjustments. Isabelle explains, “Since he came into our lives we have truly lived as if we have a toddler. We’ve had to adapt our lifestyle to give him the best possible life we can together.”

Adapting to life with a cockatoo has been well worth it for Isabelle and her family. Bowie has learned to say many words and phrases from his near-constant interaction with his human companions. His favourite thing of all is to dance with his adoptive dad while he whistles to him. How adorable is that?

“Our house is filled with giggles, whistling, peekaboos, and other goofy happy noises,” Isabelle shares. “Bowie is also very emotionally intuitive. His companionship when life gets difficult is invaluable to us.”

Illustration by Lisa McKaskell

Bowie’s gravitation towards mentoring  — whether it be his human companions, fans on Instagram, or fellow birds — makes him perfect for his role in the upcoming children’s book High Paw, Super Sebastian. In the book he mentors a foster puppy and inspires the puppy to dance, just like Bowie would in real life. It’s this kind of can-do attitude that Green Bamboo Publishing hopes will help children in foster care, and children from all walks of life, when they read this story.

Tips for Rescuing a Cockatoo

Isabelle wants people to know that cockatoos are SMART. Bowie has the intelligence and emotional capabilities of a three year old. Isabelle’s rescue birds have taught her that regardless of species or age, each bird is an individual. Every bird has their own personality, and anyone looking to bring one home should be able to love them as they are.

Many birds suffer horribly within the pet trade. The very least we can do for the ones in our care is to give them the best life they can possibly have. The layers and attributes of a bird’s personality far exceed what we see at first glance. Regardless if you’re looking at a cockatoo, cockatiel, or a chicken; they all have their likes, dislikes and wants. Above anything else, they are more than deserving of your time, love, and attention.

Even something like diet preferences can differ from bird to bird. Bowie, for instance, loves chickpeas, sweet potato, chamomile flowers, whole grain toast…  and shoes! It’s just one more fun and silly thing about Bowie that makes him the best kind of friend to have around.

If you want to learn more about this cockatoo’s life, follow Bowie and his friends at @cockatiel.too on Instagram.

High Paw, Super Sebastian will be available for purchase in October 2020. Proceeds from the book will help support Braid Mission, an organization that provides team-based mentorship to children in foster care.

Moonshadow Teaches Us that Reading Is Magic

Moonshadow is one of the animals featured in the children’s book High Paw, Super Sebastian! The story follows the journey of a foster puppy as he moves from home to home. The characters in the book are based on real animals.

“When I’m feeling restless,” said Moonshadow, “I like to move my body. I jump up and down, kick out my hooves, and run with the wind. ”

There’s a legend that the Moon loved the Earth so much that it gifted her a tiny star. Moonshadow might just be that star brought to life. Born on the Spring Equinox under a supermoon, Moonshadow is a miniature therapy horse whose pattern looks like the milky way galaxy. She also has the shape of a perfect star on her left shoulder.

Children were immediately drawn to this special horse, so the organization she belonged to reached out to a children’s hospital to help give her a name. The children at the hospital decided on Moonshadow because of her dark, dappled coloring and because of the supermoon that was so bright in the sky on the night of her birth.

Moonshadow is part of Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses, which is one of the largest equine therapy programs in the world. “The first Gentle Carousel horses worked with young children who had backgrounds of neglect or abuse,” says Debbie Garcia-Bengochea, the organization’s Education Director. “A large horse can be intimidating to a small child, but the miniature horses were easier for the children to trust and befriend.”

That was over 20 years ago, when Gentle Carousel was founded by a single family. The team of tiny equines now visits over 25,000 children and adults each year, providing therapeutic services in hospitals, hospice care, programs for veterans, orphanages, senior centers, and more.

At only 26 inches high, Moonshadow is small even for her American miniature horse breed. Of course, she thinks she’s huge. Moonshadow is a bundle of energy. Her wildness surfaces in her outdoor play time where she loves to run, buck, jump, and gallop until she is nearly wiped out! She’ll run so fast that she’ll fall right asleep on the sofa after, sometimes with a book on her lap.

A Little Horse Power Produces Big Effects

There’s a time to be wild, and a time to be calm. Moonshadow seems to intuitively know this and kids are mesmerized by her. Children love that she’s so unusual looking, with her bright blue eyes, and when they interact with her they feel like something magical is engaging with them. Moonshadow offers them a safe way to experience a touch of the wild, since she knows how to maintain that balance between being magically wild and yet so gentle.

Outdoor play is part of Moonshadow’s training. The horses go through at least a two year basic therapy training program. The basic training includes indoor hospital practice and safely interacting with adults and children. The horses gain experience overtime, too, and are constantly becoming even better versions of themselves. Even during COVID-19, Gentle Carousel horses have quickly learned to adapt. Story times that usually would be done live at a library are now done through video. The horses have facetime sessions with children in hospitals. Visits with seniors now take place through windows.

Despite the physical distancing measures, Moonshadow is still having a profound effect on people’s lives. One woman at a senior home had not spoken in months, but when she saw Moonshadow through the window she started waving and exclaiming, “We love you!” This is the kind of magical effect Moonshadow has with everyone she meets.

Moonshadow Teaches Children that Reading Is Magic

It is also the kind of magic she brings to the children’s book High Paw, Super Sebastian. In the book, foster puppy Sebastian struggles with various emotions. Moonshadow’s character helps him overcome feeling restless by running through the wind together in the tall grass. They also kick and jump and play, mimicking Moonshadow’s outdoor playtime in real life.

Illustration by Lisa McKaskell

Moonshadow is a perfect fit for the book for another special reason — she and her Gentle Carousel companions facilitate an award-winning literacy program called Reading Is Magic, that inspires young readers and “brings books to life”. The goal is to help children improve their literacy skills and help them fall in love with reading. Reading is Magic has a focus on at-risk kids and hosts sessions through libraries, schools, mentoring programs, and education resource centers.

Moonshadow teaches us that big magic can appear in small forms. Perhaps the most important lesson she offers is that even the smallest among us can have a profound effect on the world. Like her namesake, Moonshadow reminds us all to keep shining our lights — you never know the difference you might make.

Surf Therapy Dog Ricochet Sends Out Waves of Empowerment

Surf Dog Ricochet is one of the animals featured in the children’s book High Paw, Super Sebastian! The story follows the journey of a foster puppy as he moves from home to home. The characters in the book are based on real animals.

“When I’m feeling scared,” said Ricochet, “I get on my surfboard. Facing the big waves helps me feel brave and empowered.”

Ricochet takes her role as a therapy dog to the next level — quite literally. When she braves the waves with her unique brand of surf dog therapy, she allows people to feel as if they’re on top of the world.

Ricochet is a Golden Retriever and the first-ever dog to surf with kids and veterans as a form of surf therapy, assistance, healing, and empowerment. She pioneered the concept of dogs surfing with kids, when in 2009, she made an independent decision to jump on a surfboard with a boy who was quadriplegic. She clearly showed the world what her life’s purpose was and embraced it with all four paws!

12 years later and she’s become world famous. With numerous awards under her collar, such as the ASPCA Dog of the Year and the AKC Award for Canine Excellence, Ricochet has reached a level of mastery for her surfing and healing capabilities. She even recently made it all the way to Hollywood with her spotlight in the Superpower Dogs documentary, available to watch on Hulu.

Ricochet’s Healing Power of Surf Dog Therapy

Although surfing has been at the forefront of her work, it’s not just the act of surfing that makes Ricochet’s interactions so life changing. It’s her compelling, one-of-a-kind ability to make immediate, heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul connections with strangers both in and out of the water. When she meets a person it’s like they’re a book and she reads the whole book in a matter of seconds. She intuitively and empathically attunes to their emotional and physical changes, which allows for profound paws-on healing interventions. She balances boards, and lives!

Ricochet has surfed with hundreds of kids with special needs, people with disabilities, wounded warriors and veterans with PTSD. She instinctively counter-balances the board and adapts her surfing style based on each individual’s disability — healing hearts and souls on every wave.

Riding the Waves of COVID-19

Ricochet usually offers her paws-on healing through canine-assisted surfing, paddling, swimming, playing, therapy, and other programs. Due to recent COVID-19 social distancing measures, Ricochet has adapted how she provides her therapeutic services. Although, not to worry — Ricochet is used to riding the waves and she’s getting through the pandemic just like any other challenge.

Illustration by Lisa McKaskell

Her services have mostly switched from in-person sessions to virtual canine therapy and video conferencing. Ricochet and her guardian Judy Fridono are focusing on supporting doctors, nurses, other healthcare professionals and first responders in an effort to reduce anxiety and the risk of suicide. Ricochet is also providing comfort and healing to families who experienced the unfathomable reality of not being there when a loved one passed from COVID-19, as well as essential workers, seniors in nursing homes and school children affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Fridono explains, “At a time when dogs could be truly valuable resources, we’re thinking outside the box in an effort to offer some form of canine therapy to the millions of people around the world who need it.”

As things transition, Ricochet is also offering 1-on-1 visits and house calls as part of a curbside comfort program. As always, safety and well-being are at the forefront. The program was established with safety protocols as the number one priority for Ricochet, her handler, and everyone she interacts with. People and Ricochet, too, can receive some much-needed affection during this time of social distancing.

Everyone’s Best Friend

Ricochet is a shining example that dogs really are humankind’s best friend. She has raised over $600 000 for human and animal causes and touches the lives of everyone she meets. She has improved the quality of life for so many individuals with physical, cognitive, or emotional disabilities, and she’s still got a whole lot more love to give!

With her feature in the upcoming children’s book High Paw, Super Sebastian, Ricochet will extend her healing powers to support children in foster care. Her section of the children’s book deals with helping kids (and adults!) process the emotion of fear. Through her example, children will learn how to not only brave the waves but also how to courageously face the many difficulties they encounter in life. Her message in the book is ultimately about empowerment and how to be your best self.

Ricochet is certainly busy being her best self and living her best possible life!

To learn more about Ricochet and her team, visit

You can also follow Ricochet on social media at @surfdogricochet

Watermelon Party is the Sweet and Juicy Book of the Summer!

The beloved children’s book, based on a true story, recently surpassed 100 5-star reviews on Amazon, and raised funds for an animal charity in the process.

Everyone loves a party… a watermelon party! It’s even better if your party goers include names like Barcode, Bazinga, and Auntie Cheesecake. These adorable characters join together with other fascinating critters to share a juicy treat in the children’s picture book Watermelon Party. The book has been steadily climbing towards success and passed over 100 positive reviews on Amazon this July.

Based on a true event that occurred at the animal sanctuary Rocky Ridge Refuge, Watermelon Party ties in themes of friendship and diversity. As one reviewer put it, “This sweet book highlights how everyone and every creature can get along and be peaceful, which the world needs more of right now!”

A Message of Diversity and Inclusion

The key message throughout Watermelon Party is that love is so powerful it transcends species — and that there is more than enough room for everyone to exist in harmony.

Modern Dog Magazine expressed, “Through charming words and illustrations, Watermelon Party tells the story of how, one day, all the animals came together, despite their vast differences, to enjoy a watermelon. The sweet lesson? Maybe we’re not so different after all.”

The writing style is light and fun and is designed to help children learn how to read. Author Jasmine Cabanaw spent twenty years working with children, including children with special needs, and her goal was to make the book accessible to children of all learning abilities. She filled the book with rhyming onomatopoeia words — which describe sounds — to help children process phonetics when reading aloud.

Cabanaw learned she achieved her goal when a mother told her that Watermelon Party was the first book her son, who has hearing loss, was able to read. “It was amazing for my kids to learn the ‘sound words’ and when we got to the end I couldn’t believe how hard my kids were giggling.”

Cabanaw worked closely with the illustrator, John Moriarty, to turn the series of watermelon photos into a picture book that would resonate with children in many different ways. For instance, they included Bazinga — a miniature horse with dwarfism and a broken leg — so that children with disabilities could relate to the illustrations. There is also a bonus game of “Duck, duck, goose!” designed for the youngest readers. A tiny duckling rides in on the first animal. In each illustration, the duckling is sitting on a different animal, until the very end, when the duck lands on Ryan the Goose (formerly known as Ryan Gosling). These illustrative details make Watermelon Party a book that keeps on giving.

A Sweet Book for An Even Sweeter Cause

Proceeds from book sales are donated to Rocky Ridge Refuge and go directly to helping the animals. Rocky Ridge Refuge is an animal sanctuary located in Arkansas and is home to animals of all kinds. Run by Janice Wolf, with the help of people who transport animals for rescue and adoption, Rocky Ridge takes in the toughest cases even when it seems like all hope has been lost.

Rocky Ridge also provides sanctuary for exotic animals, who are usually turned away at shelters due to unsuitable facilities for exotic species. The beautiful thing about the animals is that they all get along harmoniously despite their differences. There is Auntie Cheesecake the capybara (who acts as a foster mom to abandoned puppies), Crouton the tortoise, Squatch the wallaby, Barcode the zebra and a whole host of other interesting critters! Wolf saw her refuge rise to fame when her African Watusi steer, Lurch, claimed the Guinness Record holder for the largest circumference of horns of any animal in the world. This gained her a sizable following on social media, which is still loyal today.

While the book has raised several thousand dollars for the refuge so far, it is Cabanaw’s hope that book sales will become exponential and can support Rocky Ridge well into the future.

The book is available through Green Bamboo Publishing and can be found online at all of the large bookseller sites, such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The hardcover version retails online at $18 and the softcover at $10. There is also an e-book version available for $2.99.

Want to join the cause? Help us spread the word by writing a book review, covering this story, or sharing to social media!

What People Are Saying

“My kids love this story, and as my oldest has gotten older, he loves knowing that it’s a true story about a real place and group of animals.”

“I bought this book for a friend’s child and she said it soon became his favorite book. They read it over and over again. She said he loved the animals and giggled the whole way through!”

“This beautiful children’s book has become my go-to baby shower gift. Love it!”

“A very cute book with an awesome storyline. My daughters first birthday was watermelon themed. We got this book to have guests sign and leave her a note instead of bringing cards.”

“The Paws to Read therapy dog took his copy to the Hartford Public Library where the staff was so enchanted by the story that they ordered a copy for every branch in the system. The message of friendship and sharing between very different animals is universal and beautifully done.”

See more reviews at



Green Bamboo publishes quality children’s books about animal rescue and animal tales. Jasmine Cabanaw founded Green Bamboo Publishing in 2014 as a way to raise funds for animal charities. She also wanted to provide education to children about caring for animals in a way that children could understand. She chose “Green Bamboo” as the name for the publishing company because this versatile grass enables hope, growth, and healing throughout the world.

Adopting An Older Cat: Gracie’s Second Chance

Gracie is one of the animals included in the upcoming children’s book High Paw, Super Sebastian. This will be her picture-book debut and she will be helping children all over the world learn about rescue animals and the foster care system.

Adopting Gracie was one of the best decision’s Keila MacPherson has ever made. Keila wasn’t actively looking to adopt when she saw Gracie — she was just browsing — but when she saw this gorgeous calico cat she just knew they were meant to be in each other’s lives.

Keila adopted Gracie as an adult cat from the Humane Society, knowing very little of her past life with the previous owner. All she knew was that Gracie was surrendered because she needed surgery that the previous owners couldn’t afford. Gracie had contracted an infection in her urinary tract due to not being spayed or allowed to breed, which is not an uncommon occurrence in unspayed cats.

After bringing Gracie home, Keila immediately felt happier and that so much new joy was added to her everyday life. Gracie provides calmness when Keila has stress or anxiety. It’s like Gracie knows when Keila needs support and always comes over to lay on her lap when Keila needs it the most. Keila just feels happier with Gracie around.

This sentiment is definitely shared by Gracie, too. She’s a complete diva because she is a very spoiled and happy cat! She’s missing her bottom baby teeth, which causes her to have a little protruding bottom lip at times that looks like she’s pouting, which adds to her diva personality. Everyone who meets her loves this adorable look and points out how cute it is. Gracie takes full advantage of the attention and will purr like a monster truck instantly on receiving it.

Missing her bottom teeth doesn’t prevent Gracie from being playful — quite the contrary. She is a very chatty cat and loves being social. Her favourite kind of toys are sticks. Anything stick-shaped she loves to chase and bite. This includes her comb, nail files, pens and pencils, you name it! She also loves to snack and goes nuts when Keila opens a bag of chips. She specifically likes all-dressed flavoured chips, Goldfish crackers, and cookies. Certainly, her personality is as colorful as the markings of her calico coat.

Adopting An Older Cat

Keila always thought it was very important in her search for a furry companion to adopt adult animals. She feels like she is getting just as much joy from Gracie as she would have if she’d adopted a kitten, and there’s no doubt that Gracie is very happy now, too. Keila believes that everyone deserves a second chance at a happy life, including animals. Adopting rescue animals will give you a second chance at happiness, too, even if you didn’t know you needed it. There can be adjustment periods, you just have to be patient with them. Keila has found that it’s more than worth it.

Follow Gracie on Instagram at @_graceface_prrr

A Kindness Is… Interview with Simone Tielesh and Aidan Cartwright

By Jasmine Cabanaw

Kindness Is… teaches children and adults alike the importance of compassion, kindness, and empathy through a series of common but important examples of responsible pet ownership. The English version of Kindness Is… launched in 2017 and was a donation to the NWT SPCA from volunteers Simone Tielesh (the author) and her husband Aidan Cartwright (the illustrator). Now the beloved children’s book is being published in the nine official Indigenous languages of the Northwest Territories.

An Interview with Simone Tielesh and Aidan Cartwright

Simone is a lawyer by trade who enjoys writing and has a lifelong love of animals. She first got involved with the SPCA through a summer camp at just 10 years old. Aidan is a lifelong Northerner who was born in Yellowknife and spent much of his childhood in Fort Good Hope, NWT. He is an artist and teacher and 2nd degree black belt in karate. Simone and Aidan have two young children and a very spoiled dog.

How long have you been volunteering/involved with the SPCA?

We started volunteering with the NWT SPCA in 2013 as dog walkers, and then started fostering dogs later that year. Our second foster dog, Norman, became a foster-fail and forever-love for us and since then we fostered around 20 dogs and puppies from 6 weeks old to 12 years old. We always say that they foster the best in us.

Where did you get the idea for Kindness Is…?

After years of dog walking and fostering we noticed some consistent and persistent issues with the dogs coming into the shelter — dogs that were skinny and hungry, not socialized, scared, who lived mainly on chains; disproportionately older dogs or dogs recently out of the cute puppy stage — and we wanted to help stop some of these issues from arising in the future. Providing early childhood education with information about responsible and kind pet ownership would be a possible way to do that in the long run. We also wanted to help raise funds for the NWT SPCA to continue it’s excellent work.

What was it like managing the translation process? Did you gain any insights about the languages or learn something new?

Helping to manage the translation process was a real learning curve. The ideas and sentence structure of the book didn’t always translate directly so each book ended up with an individual take on the original work. For example, when we wrote “Kindness is a gentle touch” the North Slavey translation was “”He pets it tenderly”.

What are your hopes for the translated versions of the book?

We are excited to reach more of the territory’s youth, and not only spread the message of the book, but also support Indigenous youth reading and speaking in their traditional languages, which is so important.

Have you written or illustrated other projects?

This is both of our first times working on a children’s book, but Aidan has had several gallery showings for his work over the years. Aidan is a painter who specializes in Northern landscapes and also works in traditional video animation and other multimedia projects.

The Kindness Is… Books Are Available for Sale!

rescue animals

Kindness Is… books retail at $10 CDN on the Green Bamboo Publishing website and will be available for purchase online at sites such as Amazon, Indigo, and Walmart.

Click here for the English version

Click here for the Tłı̨chǫ version

Click here for the Inuktitut version

Animals Unite to Help Children in Foster Care

Feathered friends, therapy animals, and beloved pets are banding together to raise awareness about children in foster care. The upcoming children’s book High Paw, Super Sebastian! follows the journey of a foster puppy as he moves from home to home. Sebastian encounters various animals along the way who help him as he struggles with difficult emotions, such as fear and sadness. The goal of the book is to help children learn how to process emotions and to raise awareness about the experience of foster care for both children and rescue animals.

And there’s a twist — the characters in the book are based on real animals, many of whom help children in real life. From providing therapeutic surfing lessons to visits with miniature horses, these animals are on a mission to bring love and healing into people’s lives. Uniting as illustrated characters in a children’s book will help amplify this mission and bring joy to the children who need it the most.

Meet the Characters of High Paw, Super Sebastian!

Children in foster care often move several times a year, with nothing more than a garbage bag for their belongings. With each move, children experience emotions that become increasingly difficult to process. By telling their story through the narrative of a foster puppy, High Paw, Super Sebastian! provides a safe and gentle way for children to learn about an otherwise difficult topic. The story is heartwarming and fun, with colorful characters introduced along the way.


Pigment is a Vietnamese Potbellied pig who needed a new home after the farm he was living at was being sold. In November of 2013 when he was one year old, he found himself moving to Ruby Ranch Pig Sanctuary. He had quite a few health issues, which were soon cleared up with vet care and he became a healthy, confident, kind leader of his very own herd. He is now 8 years old, loves his life, and is the official greeter of Ruby Ranch. His very favorite things are eating (he is a pig, after all), sleeping snuggled in his blankets with his friends, warming himself in front of a roaring fire, and exploring the farm with his friends.



This 18-year-old turtle was rescued as a newborn. He was being sold illegally and was being kept in horrible conditions. He now lives a happy life and enjoys taking naps with mom and eating salmon for dinner. He loves neck rubs and when mommy comes from work, he runs up to greet her. He also knows his name and is quite the charming turtle. On his Instagram page, he helps other people see that turtles can be cute and inquisitive animals, with unique personalities and emotions. @tani.rescue



This horse is tiny but she has a big personality.  Moonshadow is sweet, fearless and a little wild when she is off duty… she marches to a different drummer.  She was born during a supermoon on the first day of spring and was named by children at a hospital. Moonshadow is one of several horses at Gentle Carousel Miniature Horse Therapy. Teams of these tiny horses visit over 25,000 adults and children each year inside hospitals, hospice programs, and with families, veterans and first responders who have experienced traumatic events. @gentlecarousel



This charming boy has been on quite the journey. He and his brother started out as street kittens. They were rescued by an eclectic and sweet gay couple in West Oakland. One day, Greyskull got hit by a car and lost his leg as a result. His guardians did not have the funds to cover his surgery, but a kind friend came to the rescue and paid for everything, even though she had never even met Greyskull. When the couple had to move away, belly dancer Zoe Jakes offered to adopt him and he’s had a home with her ever since!



Always a lovable snuggler, Pudge is a long-haired, black and white cat who was rescued from Lakefield Animal Welfare Society. He was so depressed while he was orphaned that he would barely eat, but now he is social and curious. His favorite thing to do is give affectionate head butts to his owner and visitors. He also likes to stand guard over his rescue buddy, Odin the rat.



Ricochet is the first-ever dog to surf with kids and veterans as a form of surf therapy, assistance, healing, and empowerment. She pioneered the concept of dogs surfing with kids, when in 2009, she made an independent decision to jump on a surfboard with a boy who is quadriplegic. She clearly showed the world what her life purpose is!

Since then, She has surfed with hundreds of kids with special needs, people with disabilities, wounded warriors and veterans with PTSD. @surfdogricochet



Bowie is a Major Mitchell’s cockatoo who loves to dance. Due to damage to his wings a baby, he was put up for adoption as it was uncertain if he would rehabilitated and returned to the wild. In March of 2020, he took his first flight. He enjoys playing in the sunshine, bonding with his cockatiel friends, dancing, and whistling. The birds work together to raise awareness about rescues and adoption in Australia by showcasing their antics on Instagram. His favorite thing is to scream “PEEKABOO” at 4am. @cockatiel.too



This costume-wearing Miniature Schnauzer loves to play dressup and offers specialized tarot readings over the Internet. Jillian enjoys long trips to the pet store (she loves to browse), collars with lots of bling, playfully chasing birds (to maintain her figure), and leisurely walks through the park. She dislikes windy days, loud noises, and cranky old cats. She has had several songs written about her including Michael Barkson’s hit “Jilly Bean” and “Hold Me Schnau” by The Terrier Twins.



A goofy pigeon with a big personality. He was found injured, afraid, and unable to fly, but luckily was rescued from the streets of NYC. He loves being an indoor pigeon and enjoys playing with stuffed toys, joining his mommy in the shower for his bird bath, and taking naps in the cat bed. He also likes to build nests and is often seen “borrowing” household items such as q-tips, earrings, and car keys. Pigeons get a bad rap but they are clean, intelligent, and outgoing animals who love human affection. @tutu.pigeon



Gracie is a calico cat who was adopted as an adult cat from the humane society.

She’s a complete diva, and a very spoiled, chatty, and happy cat. She’s missing her bottom baby teeth, which causes her to have a little protruding bottom lip at times that looks like she’s pouting!



Poppy is just a year old and is the only girl in a house full of boys…besides her furmom that is. Poppy’s heart is as big as her ears, and her voice is even BIGGER. She’ll make sure to tell you all about it…she LOVEs to talk. She’s a bit of a trouble maker, but is still a baby, so it makes sense that she likes to get into mischief!



This curious feline spent the first part of his life as a stray, but found a forever home and is now living the sweet life. He loves to take long walks on his cat leash and spend time with his human family.




Inky was rescued as a baby and is now 8 years old, full of life, and has a strong personality. When she expresses herself she has different types of meows. A low raspy meow means she would like to snuggle and be affectionate, a screechy loud meow means she would like to eat her meal, a long mahhhwoooowww means she is looking for her toy.



Kevin came from a situation where he was abused by his sister dog for six years and lived in a busy household where he was not given enough attention. He suffered from deep anxiety and did not want to be touched by humans. However, after being rescued and with much rehab and love, he now loves people, loves his beach ball toy, loves chasing and play-wrestling at the dog park, and charms everyone he sees. @kevinthefluffywondercorgi

Together We Can Make a Difference

There is power in working together and we hope that this project will be a huge success. Stay tuned for the release of High Paw, Super Sebastian! in October 2020. The book will help children and adults alike learn about emotions and will also be a fundraiser for children in foster care and in children’s hospitals. 25% of the proceeds will be donated to Braid Mission, a non-profit organization that offers team-based mentorship to children in foster care.

Watch the project unfold and get a behind-the-scenes look at the process of creating a book by following @lisa.mckaskell.artist and @greenbamboopublishing.

Children’s Book Gets Translated into Nine Indigenous Languages

“Kindness Is…” will be the first book of its kind to be translated into all nine official Indigenous languages of the Northwest Territories.

In partnership with the Northwest Territories SPCA (NWT SPCA), the Canadian company Green Bamboo Publishing is releasing nine translated versions of the children’s book Kindness Is… The plan is to launch the first two books in Inuktitut and Tłı̨chǫ translation on June 21, 2020 in honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day, with the next seven translations to follow within the next year.

This is potentially the first time in Canadian history that a book of this nature will be available in the nine official Indigenous languages of the NWT. The English version of Kindness Is… launched in 2017 and was a donation to the NWT SPCA from volunteers Simone Tielesh (the author) and her husband Aidan Cartwright (the illustrator). They combined a love of animals, their creative minds, and a desire to help animals and people through education by providing a fundraising product for the NWT SPCA. Kindness Is… has become a beloved book in the NWT and can now be enjoyed by Indigenous children NWT-wide in their traditional languages.

A Story of Kindness

Kindness Is… teaches children and adults alike the importance of compassion, kindness, and empathy through a series of common but important examples of responsible pet ownership. Green Bamboo Publishing founder, Jasmine Cabanaw, believes that all children should have the joy of reading stories in their traditional languages and was eager to help when she learned about the project.

Dana Martin of the NWT SPCA explains that the purpose of translating Kindness Is… “is important to help teach kindness, compassion, and empathy to children and adults in Indigenous languages of the NWT. Our northern animals and our northern peoples are important to the NWT SPCA. It brings great joy to help kids learn about kindness while also helping to strengthen and preserve the traditional languages. Kindness Is… becomes a bridge that joins together the different peoples of the North, giving rise to a stronger community with common goals.”

Kindness Is… is best suited for ages 0-5 and is written in a cheerful style that is relatable and fun. The illustrations are bright and colourful, using high contrast imagery, and have a unique feature — the fur for each illustrated dog is from a photograph of a real dog from the NWT SPCA. Children can view the gallery of doggy models at the beginning of the book.

Get Involved! Activities Planned for the Launch

National Indigenous Peoples Day is a time for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures, and contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Launching the Inuktitut and Tłı̨chǫ versions of Kindness Is… on this day is a way to celebrate Indigenous youth. The book launch will also encourage children of all backgrounds to honor Indigenous cultures and participate in kind and responsible pet ownership.

Storytelling has long played an important role in Indigenous cultures and will be the main activity for the book launch. There will be virtual readings that parents and children all across Canada can access on June 21. There will also be a coloring contest and books available to purchase online. More activities for the launch will be announced on the Green Bamboo Publishing Facebook page leading up to the event.

Of the two currently translated books one is an Inuit language (Inuktitut) and one is a Dene language (Tłı̨chǫ). The remaining seven will be released over the course of the next year. Included in every book is the English version of the original poem, information about the Indigenous language, and a map of the Official Languages of the NWT.

Kindness Is… books retail at $10 CDN on the Green Bamboo Publishing website and will be available for purchase online at sites such as Amazon, Indigo, and Walmart.



NWT SPCA is a grassroots animal welfare organization dedicated to improving life for Northern companion animals and the people who love them. In addition to providing life saving animal health programs in partnership with community governments across the NWT and Nunavut, NWT SPCA operates the largest animal shelter in the NWT.  Working collaboratively with community members to provide options for unwanted animals, support for animal control initiatives, education for pet owners of all ages and a safe haven for companion animals in between homes.


Green Bamboo Publishing is a philanthropic social enterprise that publishes quality children’s books about animal rescues and animal tales. The stories Green Bamboo publishes are light and fun, but touch on the important subjects of friendship, sharing, overcoming challenges, and loving one another despite our differences. Proceeds from book sales are donated to animal rescue organizations and children’s charities.

We Want to Feature Your Pet in a Book!

Call for Submissions: Green Bamboo Publishing is looking for real pets to feature in an upcoming children’s book.

The book follows the journey of a foster puppy named Super Sebastian, who encounters various pets who help him as he moves from home to home.

Green Bamboo Publishing is seeking submissions for the children’s picture book High Paw, Super Sebastian! People are invited to submit their pet for a chance to be included in the book. All chosen submissions will have a character based on their pet, will receive a free copy of the book and a thank you in the dedications.

This is a chance for people to participate in raising awareness about the foster care system. High Paw, Super Sebastian! is designed to teach children how to process their emotions while providing education on a relatable level on what it is like to experience foster care. The book also has the secondary purpose of raising awareness about rescue animals.

Raising Awareness About Foster Care

Children in foster care often move several times a year, with nothing more than a garbage bag for their belongings. With each move, children experience emotions that become increasingly difficult to process. By telling their story through the narrative of a foster puppy, High Paw, Super Sebastian! provides a safe and gentle way for children to learn about an otherwise difficult topic. The story is heartwarming and fun, with colorful characters introduced along the way.

25% of the proceeds from High Paw, Super Sebastian! will be donated to Braid Mission, an organization that provides team-based mentorship to children in foster care.

How To Submit

People can submit their pets by sending an email with a photo and information about their pet to OR they can submit by making a post about their pet on social media and tagging @greenbamboopublishing.

All submissions must include a photo of the pet, the pet’s name and age, and information about the pet’s personality or any unique traits.

Deadline for submissions is May 15, 2020.

About Green Bamboo Publishing

High Paw, Super Sebastian! is written by Jasmine Cabanaw and illustrated by Lisa McKaskell.

Green Bamboo publishes quality children’s books about animal rescue and animal tales. Jasmine Cabanaw founded Green Bamboo in 2014 as a way to raise funds for animal charities. She also wanted to provide education to children about caring for animals in a way that children could understand. The stories Green Bamboo publishes are light and fun, but touch on the important subjects of friendship, sharing, overcoming challenges, and loving one another despite our differences.

Pets and COVID-19: What You Need to Know

By Jasmine Cabanaw

If your dog has ever tried to lick your face after licking its own butt, you’ve probably had a moment when you questioned how sanitary your fur baby is. Fortunately, dog butt to human face isn’t a known transmission of the coronavirus COVID-19. The ability for the virus to directly transmit from a dog or cat to a human appears to be not possible. However, due to the ability of the virus to live on surfaces, people who have animal companions still need to take extra precautions to prevent the virus from spreading.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests pet owners restrict contact with pets and other animals if the owner is infected with COVID-19. That includes “petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food.”

Can Your Pets Get COVID-19?

As of March 17th, two dogs have tested positive for COVID-19 in Hong Kong. This is not concrete evidence that humans can pass the virus to their pets and experts caution that more tests and studies need to be done. The current consensus is that pets are highly unlikely to get COVID-19 from humans.

Sadly, the first dog — a 17 year old Pomeranian — died after returning home from quarantine. The dog belonged to a 60-year-old woman who recovered from COVID-19 herself.  At the time of the dog’s release, blood tests came back negative. The negative results could mean that the original positive was from traces of the virus around the dog’s mouth. The other possibility is that the dog was infected — The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department cautioned that, “It is known in some asymptomatic or mild cases of human infections with other types of coronavirus that antibodies may not always develop.” However, it is more likely that the dog passed away from stress and health complications compounded by the quarantine and old age.

The second dog to test positive is a German Shepherd living in the Pok Fu Lam area on Hong Kong Island. The dog’s 30-year-old owner also tested positive for COVID-19. Health officials are now strongly advising people to take extra precautions with their pets. While it is unlikely that cats and dogs can directly infect humans with the virus, these cases show that the jury is still out on whether dogs can catch the virus from people. While the likelihood of your dog or cat getting COVID-19 is slim, in these uncertain times, it is best to err on the side of caution and to check with sources such as the World Health Organization for updates.

How to Protect Your Pets (And Yourself) During COVID-19

How do we protect ourselves and our fur babies? With many countries already struggling with a shortage of COVID-19 tests for humans, it is unlikely that these countries will begin testing on domestic animals. The best thing a pet owner can do for their animal companions is to take matters into their own hands (mainly, by washing them). The main thing to consider is how coronavirus can survive on surfaces, which includes pet collars, leashes, etc. The information below contains suggestions on how to keep your pets, yourself, and your family protected from COVID-19.

1. Stop Kissing Your Pets

Now is not the time for smooching. With lockdown, social distancing, self-quarantine, and shelter in place orders being implemented in various countries, humans are craving physical affection. A natural solution is to snuggle with the fur babies, but humans need to keep the health of their animal companions in mind as well as their own.

Does this mean that you can’t touch your pets? No. In fact, health officials are urging people not to abandon their pets. Treat your pets as if they were your babies, because in a way they are. Which means you simply follow the same protocols you would for other humans. COVID-19 transmits through droplets, so your pets are most at risk in getting covered in the virus when you are giving them kisses or letting them lick your face. In other words, it’s time to friend-zone your pets.

2. Limit Doggy Playdates

Humans aren’t the only ones who need to practice social distancing. Since the virus can live on surfaces, including animal fur, it is best to keep your pets away from other animals. All that romping around in the dog park gets your dog covered in grass, mud, saliva from other dogs, and potentially, COVID-19. With shelter in place orders in effect, it is also wise to reduce risks to your dog’s health in general so that you can avoid taking a trip to the veterinarian’s office. This goes for other animal companions as well. It’s time to be extra cautious with their health. Save the playdates for another time.

3. Hands Off My Pet!

Taking your dog, cat, bird, rat, goldfish etc. out for a walk is a good way for both you and your pet to get some exercise. As long as you practice social distancing, both of you should be safe from the virus. But remember to treat your animal companion like any other member of your household. People should not be petting your dog right now, even though that was considered normal behavior just a few weeks ago. If someone wants to interact with your pet while you are out, keep a distance of at least six feet away and politely explain that your pet is practicing social distancing, too.

3. Wash Your Hands — And Your Pets

Since droplets containing the virus can land on objects and surfaces, it is important to wash your hands the second you get home from an outing. Consider using hand sanitizer before you even open your door. Depending on where you went with your pet, it would be a good idea to give your pet a bath upon returning home, too. All that hand washing isn’t going to count for much if your dog or cat is spreading the virus throughout your house.

4. Keep Outdoor Cats In

This may be a tough one, but outdoor cats need to remain indoors. Yes, your cat may adopt Garfield-type behaviors and mope about and maybe demand lasagna. This is better than your cat bringing the virus inside and infecting your household. Have lots of toys and games on hand for your newly indoor kitty and be sure to give your cat extra attention to keep them from getting too bored. Just remember — no smooching, scritches and pats only. And wash your hands first.

5. Have a Reasonable Supply of Food, Treats, and Supplies

Pet stores are not considered essential businesses and will be closed in areas that are in lockdown or have mandated shelter in place. Stock up on your pets’ favorite toys, food, and treats while there is time. What is a reasonable supply? Don’t become the pet owner version of a toilet paper hoarder — a month’s supply is considered enough. Also make sure that any pet medication is refilled and that you have a pet emergency kit in the house.

6. What If You Have COVID-19?

The CDC recommends that people infected with COVID-19 should restrict contact with their animal companions, just like they would do with other humans. This doesn’t mean having no contact, but having limited and cautious contact. So, wash your hands before you take the dog for a walk, don’t let your pets sleep in the same bed as you, keep pets off furniture (or you can avoid certain pieces of furniture… we know that with certain pets this will be a standoff), and no smooching.

7. Help a Shelter Animal

People in self-isolation are prone to increased depression, anxiety, and loneliness. This is how shelter animals feel all the time. Consider adopting or fostering a shelter animal during this period to help reduce the blues. You would be saving a life while gaining a companion. Even if you have COVID-19, the grim reality is that animals at kill shelters are more likely to die if they aren’t adopted than they would be from getting coronavirus. So take precautions, and opt for animal snuggles while you wait out your home quarantine.

Pets and COVID-19 — We Are All Connected

If the recent cases of dogs contracting the COVID-19 virus show us anything, it’s that we are more connected to our animal companions than many of us realize. In a rapidly changing world, it is important now more than ever to realize that we are all connected. Every action we take has a cause and effect and sends a ripple out into the world. Take advantage of this time to pause and reflect, with your animal companions safely by your side.

Green Bamboo publishes stories of animal rescue, friendship, and kindness. Check out our selection here and support animal rescue organizations.

Teaching Children the Art of Failure

I once had quite the fun life lesson while trying to make an origami corgi. The evidence is below. One of these photos is how the corgi was supposed to look. The other is how ours turned out.

I was babysitting an eight-year old girl, and we were 15 minutes into the 37 minute tutorial (clearly, an ambitious origami project for us) and feeling so proud of ourselves before it started falling apart. All of a sudden we couldn’t keep up. And after all the work we had been putting into it, too.

We could have gotten upset, frustrated, or disappointed, but instead total hilarity ensued. We could not stop laughing. We kept going for a while, in fits of laughter, until we were satisfied with our creations, which of course looked nothing like corgis.

We did not succeed with our project, but failing was the better experience. If we had mastered the tutorial and created perfect origami corgis instead of our wrinkled-elephant-sort-of-dog-definitely-not-a-corgi creations, I’m sure we would have felt happy and proud. But we would have missed out on all that silliness. And that silliness was the highlight of our day. Plus, it makes a far better story than “we watched a video and made a perfect corgi”.

Sometimes being a failure is better than being a master at something. I’m sure that had occurred to me before, but something about the experience with the origami corgis made this lesson really sink in for me — in a way that had immense gratitude attached to it. I was just so thankful that we failed. The experience of failing, under these conditions, was awesome.

In Western society, we place so much pressure on ourselves to “be the best” at things. And there are usually huge penalties for failing or not being good enough. But by having that attitude, we’re missing out on joyful moments. Our children are missing out on joyful moments. Because despite what we’ve been taught, failure is not always bad. It can even be better than succeeding, depending on the circumstances.

Of course, it is worthy to strive towards success, but if the scales are not balanced and the value of failure is overlooked or disregarded, then this kind of mentality becomes unhealthy and toxic.

It can even be deadly.

Research from the Interamerican Journal of Psychology found that many suicides are the result of a same day crisis, usually from the loss of or failure at something. Let that resonate. The despair and feelings of rejection from failing are so powerful that it can drive people to take their own lives. This is the effect of an unhealthy relationship with failure, usually due to no fault of the person’s own, but rather to years of toxic conditioning that teaches us to be ashamed of failing instead of embracing the value of it.

How to Teach Children the Art of Failure

It is so important that we give children the tools to master the art of failure from a very young age. We often say to our children that it is okay to make mistakes. Meanwhile, they struggle through a Western education system that places huge value on over-achieving and enacts severe penalties on failing. Outside of the education system, there is a constant emphasis through television, sports, advertisements, peers, and entertainment that success is good and failure is bad. I’m sure that most people reading this can think of several times in their lives where they felt defeated because of their failures.

As parents and educators, how do we teach children the art of failure so that they can reduce the risks of having an unhealthy relationship with failure and success?

The answer is not an easy one and will be relative to the unique personality of each child. I wish there could be easy shortcuts but this is not the world in which we live. That said, the tips below are based on 30+ years of working with a variety of children in several countries, including children with special needs and children in foster care. When faced with a daunting task, I like to remember a bit of wisdom I received years ago: doing even one thing to improve is better than doing nothing. So if even one of these tips is something you can add to your experience with children, then you are already one step further ahead than you were before.

1. Start with yourself. Children (and people in general) learn from showing, not just telling. If you have a complicated relationship with failure, your child will mimic your behaviors even if you are telling them to do the opposite.

2. Create joyful opportunities for failure. In order to learn the art of failure, children need to have opportunities to fail, but it is important for them to not associate failure with punishment. Create situations, such as a difficult craft (want to give origami corgis a try?) to give children a chance to experience failure in a safe environment.

3. Talk through emotions. Once a child experiences failure, the adult needs to lead by example by setting a positive tone, but also needs to not force these emotions on the child. Help children process the emotions that arise from failure. Have them name their feelings, ask them why they think these feelings are present. This processing helps them to understand the complexities of failure and of emotions in general, so that they can feel less confused and more grounded.

4. Learn through play. A Washington Post article that went viral in 2016 unveiled that research undoubtedly proves that humans learn faster through play than by any other method.

5. Practice tough love. We don’t like to see our children suffer. When they get sad because they are losing or have failed, instinctively we often want to “let them win”. This will not help your child master the art of failure and can even leave them unprepared for being in the real world, where they are very much going to have moments of failure. It’s okay for your child to be sad. This is part of the art of failure — honoring the difficult emotions as well as the positive ones.

6. Find a balance. Of course, we also do not want to create a situation where we never allow a child to succeed. Balance lessons of failure with lessons of success.

7. Teach the big three. As an educator and a mentor, I’ve found that the three main skills that will most likely help a child succeed in life are critical thinking, discernment, and self-worth. The experience of failure is an opportunity to teach all three. Help children identify and strengthen these traits during the process.

8. Reward children for trying. An ‘A’ for effort can be well-deserved. Are there little rewards you can offer when a child doesn’t quite succeed but has truly tried their best?

9. Tell stories. Someone I know once broke his arm from winning an arm-wrestling match. He succeeded in winning, but it would have been much better if he had failed. This story has stuck with me ever since I heard it and I use it to remind myself that success is not always worth the cost. There is power in stories; they stick with us, they resonate with us. If there are stories you can share about yourself or from people in your family — ones to which your child will relate — use them for teaching lessons about failure.

10. Make it a practice. It takes several repetitions to learn a new behavior and it is theorized that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. Embrace the journey and make the art of failure a regular practice. If your child can start the hours required for this practice early in life, they will have an advantage and be further ahead than most by the time they reach adulthood.

I am certain that there are points in this article where I have failed. Perhaps failed to communicate effectively or not elaborated enough on a piece of advice. There are definitely way more than ten tips I could provide. That’s okay. This is a blog post, not a book or peer-reviewed essay. I welcome you to build upon the information I have outlined here. Tailor it to your experience and even correct me if you think I’ve got any parts of it wrong. It’s all just part of the process.

And I hope you enjoy the photo of our wrinkled-elephant-sort-of-dog-definitely-not-a-corgi creations. I think they’re pretty awesome.

5 Inspiring Children’s Books About Animals by Black Authors & Illustrators

Representation is an important element for a healthy childhood. Children who see people who are similar to themselves succeeding are more likely to believe that they, too, can be successful. Representation in children’s books and literature — both of the authors and of the characters featured in stories — provides a sense of inclusion and belonging. Diversity is an accurate reflection of reality, which is why the children’s books at Green Bamboo Publishing feature stories about many different types of animals. The books we publish also feature a diverse range of authors and illustrators. In honor of Black History Month, we are recognizing five children’s books by black authors and illustrators, including one of our own, the Canadian author Candace Amarante.

5 Inspiring Children’s Books About Animals by Black Authors & Illustrators

The Pheasant’s Tale… or was it its Tail?
Candace Amarante/Veronika Gruntovskaya
A young pheasant explores the themes of self-expression when she desires something more for herself… a tail as beautiful and vibrant as a peacock’s. She gets by with a little help from some unexpected friends and lets her true colors fly. We love the quirky humor and comedy in the book — qualities that often pop up during journeys of self-discovery.

Rice & Rocks
Sandra L. Richards/Megan Kayleigh Sullivan
A little boy named Giovanni goes and a world-wide adventure with his aunt and pet parrot, Jasper, to discover the many places that serve the traditional dish of his country. He soon learns that rice and beans is a dish to be celebrated and that he can be proud of his heritage. We love the diversity, and positive message of self-love that permeates the book.

Anna Carries Water
Olive Senior/Laura James
The character Anna struggles with sibling rivalry, the struggle to be more grown up than she is, and a unique phobia of cows. She is tasked with fetching water every day, but is unable to carry it on her head like her older siblings. As Anna overcomes her fear and learns how to persevere, young readers are taught the lesson of determination and trusting in one’s self. We love the creative characters and the sense of empowerment this book instills in its readers.

How the Leopard Got His Claws
Chinua Achebe
Told in the tradition of fables, this story examines the potency and dangers of power taken by force. The theme of justice is seen in the journey the leopard king takes to become a leader, gain his claws, and restore harmony to the jungle. We love the concepts of friendship that appear between the animal characters and in the message that we can all live together in harmony and peace.

Whose Knees Are These?
Jabari Asim
The cast of cute animals in this book entertain and delight as young readers discover the silliness of knees. The text is designed to be playful and simple, but the message of body positivity is strong. We love the easy flow of the book and nurturing quality of love that is present throughout.

Themes of Love in Children’s Books

At their core, what all these children’s books by black authors and illustrators share is a unifying theme of love. Whether it is love for oneself, love for animals, love for your family, love for the world, or love for friends, the reminder to be loving is always a good one to embrace.

Browse through our collection and choose a book that supports making the world a better place.

Exploring the Themes in the Children’s Picture Book The Pheasant’s Tale

Do you ever long to be different, to embrace the many colors of who you are? Author Candace Amarante explores this theme of self-expression in the children’s picture book The Pheasant’s Tale or … was it its Tail?

When did you realize that you were a writer?

I realized I was a writer when all I could think about was getting my other duties and obligations out of the way, so I could write creatively. I discovered my love of writing children’s books while working on my dissertation in political science. Upon completion of a chapter, I would treat myself by writing a story. By the time I finished my thesis, I had six children’s book manuscripts under my belt, three of which have been published.

What inspired you to write a children’s picture book?

A rather amusing misunderstanding that occurred with my daughter. She was and still is a clear and articulate chatterbox. A few years ago, she came home from daycare speaking incomprehensible words. I thought something had gone awry with her verbal ability and was about to call the doctor, when my husband stopped me and suggested that I talk to our daughter more and tell her stories. I did just that, making up stories on our metro rides to and from daycare.

Shortly thereafter, my husband and I found out that there was absolutely nothing wrong with our daughter’s verbal ability; she had been repeating words and phrases from a little girl in her class from Hong Kong and was actually speaking to us in Cantonese! From this serendipitous experience, the seed for storytelling was planted in me and has been growing ever since.

What are your favorite things about children’s picture books?

Imaginative stories with vivid illustrations from author/illustrators like Phoebe Gilman, Camille Garoche (Princesse Camcam), and Brian Selznick; stories with lots of lyrical descriptions like those by L.M. Montgomery and E. B. White as well as stories that touch on social subject matters and are written in an uncompromising and honest manner by authors such as Harper Lee, Virginia Hamilton, Zilpha Keatly Snyder, and Jacqueline Woodson.

Historical fiction is another one of my favorite genres in children’s books, and I’m partial to authors like Mildred D. Taylor, Paula Fox, Jack Gantos, and Avi, to name a few. I also like quirky and wacky stories from authors like Roald Dahl and David Walliams. I’m a sucker for charming and endearing stories by writers like Katherine Applegate and Rob Buyea. Another thing I truly appreciate in children’s books is originality, which I’ve found mostly in the tales of my all-time favorite children’s book author, Gianni Rodari.

In your opinion, what are the benefits of reading?

Aside from improving writing skills, I’m hardly ever bored when I read. I carry a book with me everywhere I go, so when I’m on the verge of boredom, I preempt it by reading.

Did you have a concept for the illustrations in The Pheasant’s Tale or … was it its Tail?, or did your illustrator come up with the concept on her own?

Veronika Gruntovskaya, my illustrator, came up with the concept on her own. She had me choose from two styles: one that was more artistically elaborate and detailed, and another that was more comical with vibrant colors. I opted for the latter as I felt that it would be more appealing to children.

What is the main message you are communicating with your book?

I really didn’t have a message in mind when I wrote the book. My sole intention was to tell a story that would delight children. However, if a message could be derived from The Pheasant’s Tale or … was it its Tail? it would be one that encourages cooperation, teamwork, and friends making sacrifices to help each other, along with the pursuit of self-expression.

Do you have aspirations to write another book?

Yes, I do! In fact, I have several manuscripts for which I am currently seeking publication. They include a short chapter book, a historical fiction novel, a project in the medical humanities — which consists of writing stories that incorporate the voice of children with chronic illnesses — and a picture book series for reluctant readers.

Interested in reading something by Candace Amarante? Get a copy of The Pheasant’s Tale or … was it its Tail? here!

A Commission Portrait Artist Goes Wild for Animals

Guest post by Calvin Lai

When Jojo first came into my life he was small enough to fit in my hands. He couldn’t make a sound when he meowed, and he was a little frail, but he was full of love. I adored the little grey patch on his chin and the fur behind his ears. He was actually one of the softest kittens I had ever petted, and he was my buddy from day one. Eventually, he found his voice, and his health started to improve. I taught him how to come to me when I called his name. I played fetch with him with a toy mouse. He liked to cuddle. But not all the time. Though Jojo was a very friendly kitten, he also had a wild side to him, and he let it out whenever he was in an ornery mood. I’m not sure what set him off, but there were times when you could see the look in his eyes and you had to tread carefully. He was an energetic kitten, and kittens go crazy sometimes. Or at least this one did.

Seven years later, Jojo has been my constant companion. I’ve seen him grow, change, and become one of the most unique little creatures I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. I’m always amazed by how much personality he has and how different he is from other cats I’ve known. So it made sense to me why I decided to do an oil painting of him even though he wasn’t my typical subject matter. But as a commission portrait artist, I’m always looking for a challenge, and I was surprised by how much the rules of painting changed and stayed the same even in the wild world of animals.

Jojo’s Time to Shine

jojo banner (1)

Earlier this year I was asked to participate in a group show called Cats Vs. Dogs. This exhibit, which will be on display through December 2017, is sponsored by The Vendue in association with Robert Lange Studios. The Vendue is a historic hotel in Charleston, South Carolina. It is the city’s premiere art hotel featuring high end pieces set within a first class establishment. I was honored to be asked, and I naturally thought of Jojo to be the subject of my painting.

I immediately wanted the piece to have two components; to show a glimmer of Jojo’s character, and to make it more than just a portrait painting of my special friend. I decided to expand upon the fine art genre of still life oil painting. This subject matter has been a longtime favorite of artists throughout history. Adding my cat into the composition gave this time honored form a twist. Still life with life! With all the objects placed on my desk, Jojo’s curiosity got the better of him, and he checked out everything. He especially liked to push the lemon and paw underneath the dish. Jojo played a lot with my setup as he was excited by the new change in his environment. Eventually, he became tired and decided to curl up and nap.

I took a lot of photos that evening, but most either came out too blurry, because Jojo kept moving around, or too boring, because Jojo was sleeping. I eventually settled on a reference photo of him looking intently at the fruit. I felt the shot exposed Jojo’s mischievous and sweet sides all mixed up within this one contemplative moment. What was he observing? What was he planning on doing? Was he just spacing out after being so playful? I gave a viewer the ability to come up with a narrative by creating a scene around Jojo. It’s fun to imagine what’s going on within his mind. It makes the painting more interactive.

The Difference Between Animals and People… Fur!

One of the amazing things about oil painting is its ability to create textures. As a commission portrait artist, I am constantly working to make what I paint feel like what it is. When I render skin, depending on who the subject matter is, my goal is to make it seem smooth or rough to the touch. Hair needs to feel bristly or silky. Metal needs to feel cold. Jojo is a cat who has the softest fur I’ve ever felt (except after he roles in the dirt). To make something appear soft is tricky to say the least.

When I paint I don’t like to smooth out my brushstrokes too much. Blending is one of oil paint’s great assets, but I find it needs to be done sparingly in order to be effective. In fact when it is done minimally it becomes more effective. So the solution for fur like Jojo’s is not to blend out all the rough lines. It is necessary for some parts, but blending out all the fur in order to make it appear soft makes the piece look flat.

In the beginning of the painting I started with large sections of color. I blocked out Jojo’s form and made sure to sketch out the objects within the composition. I then started to add more detail to areas I wanted as focal points, and I developed the background. It was important to make sure that Jojo, the objects around him, and the background all had a consistent sense of lighting. As the painting progressed I laid brush marks that would simulate fur. The combination of large areas of color and select brushstrokes on top made it appear as if the fur had volume and layers. The most blending I did was on some of the edges around the body in order to work well with the background. All this created the illusion of fur that was soft to the touch.

But the softness of Jojo’s fur is also enhanced by the way the objects are painted around him. The bottle, vases, dish, lemon, and apple are all hard. Of course there is variation among their textures, (glass and porcelain are smooth, lemons and apples generally have a waxy surface to them), but when you touch them they are solid. It is the contrast between these objects and Jojo that helps to bring out the softness of his fur. The contrast helps with the effect.

As I write this Jojo is lying on top of the blanket draped over my legs and curled up in a U. It’s a cold early afternoon, but my cat keeps my legs warm. He does this often, and I’m surprised he’s not pawing underneath my computer. He’s a diverse and complex little creature, and he’s been a good friend. I’m lucky to have him in my life.

A Commission Portrait Artist for Your Pet

If you are looking for a commission portrait artist in order to paint your own, or a loved one’s, cat, dog, bird, fish, hamster, or any animal, click here to find out more.

Calvin Lai’s art is a mixture of medicine, meditation, and personal growth. He found early on that drawing was something he loved, and to make a picture appear lifelike became his goal.

Things to Consider Before Getting a Pet for Your Child

Guest post written by Kevin Davies from

Children and pets just naturally go together, right? That may be true in some instances but certainly not in all. There are many things to consider when deciding whether to adopt a pet for a child. First and foremost, realize that, as the adult, the ultimate responsibility for the pet lies with you, not your child. It’s perfectly fine to ask your child to help with pet chores as appropriate but don’t assume that your child will not need help and/or supervision in these tasks. If you wouldn’t entrust the care of your child to another child, and the same goes for an animal companion.

When choosing a pet, dogs and cats are often the first species considered. However, there are many other species of animals that make also make good animal companions. It was with interest that I read a post detailing ten pets that are not suitable when you have children featured on Babysitting Jobs. The list brings up some great points. It’s well worth the time to read through it if you have children. I would like to add a few more thoughts regarding the list.

●       I agree that primates and big cats (i.e. lions, tigers, etc.) are not appropriate pets for children. In fact, these animals are not suitable as pets even in a household without children.

●       Turtles certainly can and frequently do carry salmonella. If a turtle is chosen as a pet, attention to hygiene is essential. However, the same is true with any pet. Even with dogs and cats in the household, proper hygiene protocols should always be followed (frequent hand washing, etc.). Even without pets in the picture, these procedures are warranted to prevent influenza and other infections.

●       Like many other species of animals, each hamster has its own personality traits. Some are more friendly by nature. The issue of their nocturnal activity having the potential to affect a child’s sleep is well-taken. As a child, my brother had hamsters as pets and this was an issue in our home also. Moving the cage into another area of the home is a potential solution to this problem that is pretty simple to implement though.

●       The post mentions snakes as unsuitable pets for children also. I agree that the feeding habits of many snakes may be traumatic for some children to witness. The concerns mentioned about the ultimate size of some species is valid as well.

●       Birds are not listed in the post. However, birds do not always make appropriate pets for children either. Larger bird species can cause severe injuries. Their beaks are designed for cracking nuts and seeds. Imagine the damage that beak could do an unsuspecting child that wanders too close. Smaller species of birds can be fragile and must be handled with care. Birds also have special care and diet requirements that must be met .

●       Special environmental and care needs are mentioned as drawbacks for several animals on the list. However, it is important to remember that, whatever the species, parents must be able and willing to provide for that animal’s care and well-being for the entirety of the animal’s life. It’s true that some species are more difficult to care for than others. But it is never acceptable to ignore the needs of any pet. For instance, cats require environmental enrichment in the form of perches, scratching posts, toys, and more. Ignoring these needs can result in a pet that becomes bored and destructive. In some cases, the pet may even become ill and suffer as a result. Always do your homework before you bring a pet home and make sure you can meet that pet’s needs, regardless of species.

●       Another important point to remember is that all young children need to be supervised by an adult when interacting with a pet, regardless of species. This is for the protection of both child and pet.

When children are involved, choosing an appropriate pet is an important consideration. There are some species that are not suitable as pets under any circumstances. However, in many cases, parents will need to take into consideration the likes and dislikes of the individual child as well as the family’s ability to care for the pet in question and the compatibility of the pet with the child.

Lastly, we always recommend to adopt, not shop, when considering an animal companion.


6 Fun and Healthy Activities to Do with Your Dog in the City

Do you or your dog need a quick mental boost? Then spend some time outside doing activities together. You’ll both benefit from being active outside, feeling healthy, and interacting with other people.

You don’t need to live in the countryside to feel active outside and do healthy exercises together. City dwellers and their pooches have many options available to them.

  1. Dog Parks

Many cities have dog parks which allow dogs to either roam free or ramble around on-leash. With many interesting smells to explore, your pet will love to walk, run, or play in the park with you.

Off-leash parks are perfect for playing ball or Frisbee. Before you buy a disk, though, make sure your dog is fit enough to play Frisbee. Since it involves a lot of jumping, this activity may not be ideal for older dogs. Should you opt for running or playing Frisbee, always increase the exercise level gradually for newly active dogs.

  1. Urban Hiking

There are many sights to see in the city, whether you choose the concrete or green areas, and what better way to enjoy it than with man’s best friend. Grab a local map and mark off a path you’ve never traveled before. Go on a fun adventure with your dog!

  1. Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails

Many cities have hiking trails or wooded areas that allow four-legged hikers. Connect with your pup and nature at the same time, soaking in the beautiful views, fresh air, and lush green beauty. Hiking with your dog is like food for the soul.

  1. Dog Beaches

If you live in a city next to the ocean or a lake, make sure you find out whether there are any doggie beaches nearby. Some beaches will camp off a specific area for dog lovers and their pets to play, either on- or off-leash.

On warm days, swimming is an ideal pastime. Swimming is a fun and low-impact exercise – perfect for dogs with arthritis or recovering from injuries. Make sure you pack sunscreen, for yourself, and a life jacket for your dog, and stay hydrated.

Not all dogs like swimming. Don’t force your dog to swim and always go into the water with him. It’s more fun swimming together.

  1. Running or Cycling with Your Dog

If your dog is fit enough, you can teach him or her to run alongside you or your bike. There are special leash hooks available that can be attached to the bicycle frame, allowing your pup to keep close without the leash getting entangled in the spokes or pedals.

  1. Winter Activities

Don’t let winter slow you down. Go for a walk outside if the weather permits – most larger dogs love the snow. Indoor options include:

  • Running on a treadmill. Go at a slow pace at first to help your dog get familiar with the strange machine. Before long, he’ll love to run with you.
  • Indoor games, such as playing hide and seek, can keep your furry friend busy and active for a while.
  • Running up your building’s stairway is a great way to stay in shape. First, start at a slow pace and increase your speed over time. Don’t run down the stairs as it can be heavy on the knees and easy for dogs to slip and fall.

Safety Measures When Taking Your Dog on an Urban Excursion

Make sure you take the necessary precautions to protect your pup and the people and animals you get in contact with when going out:

  • Make sure you know how to control your dog. If he gets into a fight, will you be able to break up the fight with your voice commands? If not, make sure you and your dog go for training to learn the essential skills.
  • Always clean up after your dog. There’s nothing worse than stepping into poo unsuspectingly when walking in the park.
  • Make sure you always have a leash handy, even if you’re at a park that allows free roaming. You never know when you might need it.
  • Keep you and your dog hydrated and remember that you may need to drink more water than usual on hot days and when you’re active.
  • Research the dog-friendly area before you visit and make sure you understand the rules of the urban area. Always follow the regulations – that way we can keep dog-friendly areas open.

Who said being healthy and active can’t be fun? Scout out your local dog-friendly areas so you and your pet can get some fun, active time together.

About the Author

Payal Bhandari M.D. is a holistic family physician at her practice, Advanced Health. She provides personalized, comprehensive primary care to families and individuals of all ages in San Francisco since 2005. Her integrative style blends the best in western and eastern medicine to effectively transform health.

Cycling Safely with Kids and Pets

Guest Post By Bay Area Bicycle Law

Autumn is a wonderful time for cyclists. In many places, the oppressive summer heat is letting up, giving way to a crispness and clarity in the air, and the paths and trails are emptier, save for the gentle dusting of leaves. For many cyclists, this is the best time of year. Add to that the children starting school one grade higher, and the pets (like their owners) busying themselves answering an evolutionary memory of the preparations for the coming winter, and many cyclists will find themselves biking with dogs leashed around their waists, or children towed in wagons, or even learning to ride alongside their parents.

Cycling is freedom, a blending of man with machine, and sharing that experience with a child or a pet is an unparalleled bonding experience.

However, all of that freedom must be matched by cognizance and responsibility on the part of the experienced cyclist. Sharing the road with cars (bicycles are vehicles, remember, and obey all traffic codes) can be a dangerous compromise, and a responsible cyclist will be able to ride safely, confidently, and proactively in order to participate smoothly in traffic.

While many cities have begun to develop bicycle lanes (with varying degrees of success), or even bicycle-first streets or districts, a cyclist will almost undoubtedly have to negotiate traffic with drivers as well. For instance, even with a dedicated cycling lane, drivers will have to block that lane to turn right. Similarly, cyclists will have to lane-change to the left, perhaps more than once, to make a left-hand turn. Even if every party is driving or cycling in good faith, it can be a tricky system. Consider the chaos that would ensue if drivers were able to turn right from a center lane, blocking traffic on their right. This is the daily reality for cyclists. Still, a dedicated bicycle lane is well worth the trade-off, since it keeps a clear path for cyclists who might otherwise have to weave in and out of the flow of traffic to avoid parked cars.

Ultimately, it’s every party’s responsibility to be watchful, methodical, and aware of his surroundings, but, since cyclists will be approaching the car’s flank in the case of a right-hand turn, it’s incumbent upon the cyclist to slow down, or yield the lane to the car if the car has already entered into the turn. Simply put, respectful cycling is about knowing where, when, and how to position oneself to ease traffic flow – just as it is for cars.

It’s the “how” that gets tricky. Cyclists should have a bell or horn, to announce themselves as appropriate, and to signal their moves with gestures (as was common for drivers prior to the advent of the illuminated turn signal.) For a right turn or lane change, the left arm is to be extended, bent at the elbow with the fist straight up, while a left-hand move is signaled by the left arm extended, unbent, perpendicular to the cyclist and to the bike. An unsignaled turn or lane change is an illegal turn or lane change, and a cyclist is as responsible as a motorist for obeying all applicable traffic laws.

But enough about roads. Traffic laws are dry and procedural, and, in this fine autumn weather, you’d much rather get out on the trails and paths, with your dog at your side, and your children in tow. Still, a cyclist is responsible for more than just obeying traffic laws. Cycling with pets brings on a whole host of unexpected complications and risks, and it’s up to the cyclist to anticipate them.

Cycling Safely with Dogs

Dogs love to run, but many cyclists do not consider the turf or terrain that they will be leading their dog to run on. Cement, concrete, asphalt, gravel, and so on can be seriously harmful to the pads of a dog’s paws, especially at cycling speeds. If your dog is allowed to run freely, this may be less of an issue, especially if there is grass alongside the bike path, but a leashed dog may not be given sufficient scope to avoid road hazards and may be unintentionally suscepted to injury. Further, a dog on a leash, if the cyclist is unmindful, may be overrun and overexerted, which can cause cardiovascular or respiratory distress. A responsible cyclist will attend the environment, the conditions, and the state of the animal in his care.

Conversely, an animal may unintentionally unseat a cyclist, if the proper precautions are not taken. An ill-trained dog, leashed to a cyclist’s waist but suddenly chasing a wayward squirrel, can topple even the most seasoned rider with ease. Leashes are sold with embedded springs for exactly this sort of purpose, to limit the suddenness of the dog’s pull. It’s kinder to the dog, who is granted a limited scope to pull, and to the cyclist, who is less likely to be suddenly and unexpectedly destabilized.

Cycling Safely with Children

As for children, while many parents make certain allowances when it comes to bicycle etiquette, like letting children cycle on sidewalks, any cyclist, even on training wheels, should employ the full suite of safety features. That means bells, reflectors, functioning brakes, safety-certified helmets, and a clear understanding of traffic rules.

For parents, children, or both, or just cyclists in general, it’s often best to plan a route that bypasses major streets, or takes into account difficult intersections. On smaller streets, the traffic etiquette is considerably less intensive, and there is much more leeway for pets, slower cyclists, wagons, children, and so on.

Still, despite the best of precautions, accidents do happen. A proactive cyclist is aware of his legal responsibilities, and his legal recourse in case of crash, mishap, accident, collision, or other damages. For those in California, Bay Area Bicycle Law is the leading bicycle –crash law firm, exclusively specializing in bicycle crash cases. If you have any questions about laws governing traffic, bicycles, or cyclists with pets and children, give us a call, and if you’ve been involved in a bicycle crash, our team of bicycle lawyers, with extensive experience working bicycle accident cases, can get you the help you need. Give us a call today, at (415)-466-8717, or look us up on the web at

How Pets Can Be Reading Buddies

Guest Post By: Emma Lawson

Recently, many people and constitutions have implemented reading clubs, in which children read books to animals, as a way of promoting literacy among youngsters and creating a valuable bond between children and their pets. This is the general idea:

The Goal

The programs are designed as a two-way idea that would help both children and animals simultaneously. The idea began a couple of years ago in different locations and with a different purpose. Certain programs were made as therapy sessions in schools for children who are mentally undeveloped, because the furry companions managed to create a relaxing and stress-free environment where children could practice learning. There have also been other programs focused solely on reading to abandoned animals in shelter homes, as a way of helping these furry friends get accustomed to people, their new environment and helping them get ready for a new home. The general idea is to encourage children to improve their literacy skills in a safe, non-threatening environment, all the while helping animals become more sociable.

What Are the Benefits?

There have been a lot of speculations about whether these programs are actually effective or not, and in what way can they benefit children and their pets. In a recent study, children were asked to read in front of three groups: adults, other children and, lastly, animals. Researchers have shown that stress levels of these children were significantly lower when reading to animals, presumably because pets make great listeners and actually provide excellent interactive feedback. This results in higher confidence levels in children, helps them develop their communication skills, motivation, and creativity but also the will to learn and develop further. Animals, on the other hand, can benefit from the mutual acceptance, feel encouraged to interact with their human buddies, and learn about the value of companionship.

Who Is It Intended for?

While these programs are not strictly limited to a specific group, they are generally designed for children aged 6 to 15. This is the period when children grow the most, not only physically, but emotionally and mentally as well. That is why this experience can greatly help them in their future development process, especially during this age period. On the other side, most people believe that these reading clubs are focused solely on dogs and cats. While there are a lot of initiatives for reading in dog and cat animal shelters, studies have shown that other animals (such as birds, hamsters and rabbits) can also be great reading buddies.

So Far So Good

A study conducted at the University of California has showed remarkable results – in terms of improving children’s literacy skills, confidence levels and class participation – in children who have spent 2 months reading to animals at least once a week. These programs are gaining global recognition and many people have been inspired to take the initiative in their own surroundings. Of course, if you are willing to start something on your own, Stefmar offers a wide array of pet supplies and advice about animals, that you could find useful in your new venture.

For centuries now, people have been spending their lives in the company of these furry friends, whose presence has made significant impact on our lifestyle. Dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits and birds have become an integral part of our lives for a number of reasons. Not only do these animals count as loyal companions, but they are known to provide excellent comfort during hardship, protection in times of need and now they are even praised as amazing reading buddies.

Benefits of Coconut Oil for Your Dog and Cat

Guest Post By Payal Bhandari M.D.

There’s been a lot of buzz about the health benefits of coconut oil lately. It’s not just a marketing stunt; over 1,500 studies support this trend. But as a pet owner you may wonder: is it really healthy for my pet, too? Absolutely! As long as you don’t overdo it, your pets can also reap the benefits of this amazing fruit.

Coconut oil contains more than 85% Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) which are easy for the body to burn and convert into energy. This plant-based oil doesn’t contain any cholesterol, and helps us maintain a healthy weight.

Coconut Oil Benefits

Here is a list of some of the benefits your pet can gain from eating coconut oil:

  • Coconut oil is good for the digestive system. It’s easy to digest, increases the absorption of nutrients, promotes the growth of healthy bugs, successfully treats inflammatory bowel disease, and even improves bad breath.
  • Coconut oil successfully treats skin allergies and irritations while it soothes wounds and helps them heal quickly. We all know pets like to lick their wounds, which can be a problem when ingesting some salves, but with coconut oil, there is no risk.
  • If your pet suffers from arthritis or ligament problems, coconut oil can help soothe the pain.
  • Coconut oil can give your pet a healthy skin and coat. Apply coconut oil directly to the coat and skin, let it absorb for five minutes, and then rinse. This will leave the coat sleek, soft, and glossy. This treatment also minimizes odor.
  • The MCTs in coconut oil support weight loss, improve metabolism, and help to burn fat. MCTs also balance insulin levels which can prevent and control diabetes.
  • Coconut oil is a natural energy booster. The quick acting MCFA fats in coconut oil increase a pet’s energy level.
  • Coconut oil can prevent infections by fighting against parasites, bacteria, and fungi.

How Much Coconut Oil Does My Pet Need?

It will take some time for your pet’s body to adjust to coconut oil, so start slowly and build the dosage up over two to three weeks. If you give your pet too much coconut oil, it will cause diarrhea and a greasy stool. If you see that happen, cut back on the dosage.

Suggested dosage for your dog: Start your small dog or puppy off with ¼ teaspoon per day, and 1 teaspoon for larger dogs. The optimal dose is 1 teaspoon of coconut oil daily for every 10 pounds of weight.

Suggested dosage for your cat: To start with, feed your kitten ¼ teaspoon of coconut oil per day. An adult cat can start with a ½ teaspoon. The optimal dosage is 1 teaspoon for a kitten, and between 1 and 3 teaspoons for an adult cat.

Why not try coconut oil out for your pets? Your pets will thank you when they feel more energetic and have the sleekest coats on the block.

About the Author
Payal Bhandari M.D. is a holistic family physician at her practice, Advanced Health. She provides personalized, comprehensive primary care to families and individuals of all ages in San Francisco since 2005. Her integrative style blends the best in western and eastern medicine to effectively transform health.

Health Benefits of Cinnamon for You and Dog

Guest Post By Payal Bhandari M.D.

Don’t you just love the smell of cinnamon? Whether you add it to your cappuccino, sprinkle on top of rice pudding, or devour a cinnamon bun, the fragrance and taste of cinnamon are irresistible. Not only does it smell and taste great, but there are also many health benefits to eating cinnamon for both you and your pet. Sprinkle some cinnamon on top of your dog’s food so he can enjoy the perks too.

Cinnamon comes from a variety of evergreen trees that are part of the Cinnamomum family, of which the Cinnamomum verum (Ceylon) and Cinnamomum cassia (Cassia) are the most common. The inner layer of the bark is dried and rolled into sticks from where it can further be grounded into a powder. Cinnamon trees are grown in Sri Lanka (where 80-90% of the world’s cinnamon is produced), Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Burma, Brazil, and India.

Health Benefits of Cinnamon

Cinnamon has been used as a spice, as well as for medicinal purposes, for thousands of years. The best part is that it does not taste like medicine! Here is what it can do for you and your pet if consumed on a daily basis:

  1. Cinnamon regulates the blood sugar and reduces the body’s insulin resistance. This is particularly beneficial to people with diabetes and overweight dogs.
  2. Cinnamon has antifungal properties. It treats respiratory tract infections that are caused by fungi, and can combat Candida Albicans, the fungus that causes yeast infection. You may not know this, but dogs with allergies are prone to yeast infections.
  3. The antibacterial properties of cinnamon slow down spoilage of food and inhibit the growth of certain dangerous bacteria like E.Coli, Listeria, and Salmonella.
  4. Cinnamon is anti-inflammatory, fights infection, and repair tissue damage. Half a teaspoon cinnamon and one tablespoon of honey mixed with warm water can do wonders for senior dogs and older people, as well as individuals suffering from conditions such as arthritis.
  5. Cinnamon can reduce the risk of heart disease. It lowers the blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, which are some of the factors causing heart disease. Recent studies have shown it can also slow the growth of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells.
  6. Cinnamon is extremely helpful in fighting gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, flatulence, and diarrhea.
  7. The abundance of antioxidants found in cinnamon, such as polyphenols, can protect the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
  8. Early studies have shown that cinnamon protects neurons, normalize neurotransmitter levels, and improves motor function. This is especially good news for people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

The Two Types of Cinnamon

There are two types of cinnamon: Ceylon and Cassia. Ceylon is often called “true” cinnamon and is lighter, healthier, and more expensive. Cassia cinnamon is the most common variety found in supermarkets and is also cheaper. Cassia contains a compound called “coumarin,” which can be harmful in large doses.

How Much Is Enough?

A study carried out in Norway suggests the maximum Tolerable Daily Intake of coumarin is 0.07mg per kg of body weight, which translates to about 5-6mg for an adult person, 0.4mg for a small dog, and 2mg for a big dog per day. In their 2006 publication, The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BFR) estimated that 1kg of cassia cinnamon contains between 2.1g-4.4g of coumarin. If converted to a single teaspoon of cassia cinnamon powder, it could contain between 5.8-12.1mg of coumarin. This is much higher than the Tolerable Daily Intake for a smaller individual, as well as dogs.

If you can, stick to Ceylon cinnamon; otherwise, make sure you don’t overdo it.

About the Author
Payal Bhandari M.D. is a holistic family physician at her practice, Advanced Health. She provides personalized, comprehensive primary care to families and individuals of all ages in San Francisco since 2005. Her integrative style blends the best in western and eastern medicine to effectively transform health.

Kids and Pets: 5 Creative Ways to Organize Your Home

Guest Post By: Danielle Lazier, Founder, SFhotlist Team, Top-producing San Francisco real estate agent.

Organizing and decorating your home when you’re single is one thing, but throw pets and kids into the mix and the state of your home can quickly unravel. Of course we love them to pieces, but when pets and kids are underfoot, it seems as soon as you clean one mess, another one is waiting. Yet with just a few creative ideas, your home can be organized in pet-friendly, kid-friendly ways that will have the whole household organized and content. Try these five creative ways to organize your home for pets and kids to create just a little bit more order in your life:

1. Start with the entrance

Let’s face it, pets and kids are messy. So start at the beginning and optimize your entrance. A shelf and hooks on the wall is an easy solution to discarded coats, clothes, toys, collars, and leashes. Rather than these items ending up on the floor, you can hang them tidily and within handy reach. Use the shelf for storing towels that can be used to clean dirty paws, hands, and feet. By dealing with the messiness right at the start, you’ll prevent it from getting trekked into the rest of your home. It’s a good idea to have a laundry hamper by the entrance, too, so that dirty clothes can be immediately put where they belong instead of strewn across your floor. Additional ideas for the entrance include having a place for hand sanitizer and/or baby wipes, to prevent sticky hands from staining walls and dirtying door knobs.

2. Invest in stain resistant furniture

There’s no use crying over spilled milk, but it would be nice if it didn’t leave a stain. Four types of stain resistant fabrics are leather, vinyl, pleather (if you can find some high quality versions, so that it still looks classy), and Crypton, a nearly indestructible, synthetic fabric that’s resistant to stains and smells. While some of these may still suffer scratches and tears from paws and fingernails, at least you can minimize the mess left from spilled liquids and muddy paws. Another alternative, if you want to stick with other types of fabrics, is to choose darker colored material, so that stains are less likely to show.

3. Embrace the power of bins

If you have pets and kids in your home and you haven’t yet discovered the joy of plastic bins, it’s time to embrace the convenience they afford. Since they come in all shapes, sizes, and materials, you can place bins in every room in your house if you’d like to. They’ll keep your rooms looking neat and organized, even if the contents of the bins are a haphazard mess. Bins are a convenient and easy way to store clothes, toys, games, and more. Just be sure to label them so that you don’t get the kid toys confused with the ones meant for Fido.

4. Create a kitchen play space

Most households spend the majority of their time in the kitchen, but this is especially true for households that contain kids and pets. While it can be amusing to let your kids tear apart your tupperware drawer, this can get old after a while. Plus, where are the pets supposed to play? Teeth marks on your tupperware are not exactly a desired feature, either. The solution is to create a play space in the kitchen, complete with toys, pillows for lounging on, and room to get messy. Tuck the play space under a counter island, convert a pantry into a play nook, or designate a corner for the critters and munchkins.

5. Design a reading nook

Reading nooks are a delightful way to organize some of your children’s books and toys, and pet toys, too. Studies have shown improved social skills in kids who read to animals. By designing a reading nook, you’ll give your kids a quiet little enclave where they can read to and bond with their favorite animal companions. Line the shelves with children’s picture books and include a jar of pet treats so that the kids can reward the pets for good behavior. Reading nooks can be so inviting, you may even want to cozy up in there yourself!

It’s important to consider both your kids’ and pets’ lifestyles when organizing the layout of your house. The above ideas are just five creative ways you can organize your home for kids and pets. What other creative organizing ideas can you think of? Reach out to me on Twitter at @sfhotlist… I’d love to hear your thoughts!

About Danielle Lazier

Since 2002, I have been a leading San Francisco Real Estate Agent. With hundreds of past transactions, I am a well-regarded Realtor and an industry innovator. In addition to my deep connections throughout the San Francisco real estate community, I am the founder of one of San Francisco’s first real estate teams, At the SFhotlist Team, we aim to deliver top results and an enjoyable experience every time!

I attribute my success not only to my passion for real estate, but also to my intuition regarding the psychology of buying and selling. My clientele works in diverse industries with an emphasis on technology, finance, medicine, law, business and the arts. My business has grown successfully and consistently thanks to the repeat business of happy clients and their introductions to friends, family and neighbors. This track record is only possible because I deliver both results AND an enjoyable experience.

Learn How to Do Yoga with Your Cat

Guest Post By: Payal Bhandari M.D.

Yoga is all about discovery and self-awareness while reducing stress and anxiety. What better way to do this than with your feline friend?

Cats are wonderful companions, and according to studies their purring has a therapeutic effect on humans. For instance, the risk of heart attacks is 40% lower in cat owners. Their calming effect helps to lower your blood pressure.

It is a different and wonderful experience to de-stress, breathe, and move together. Here are a few yoga poses you can do with your cat that will bring you closer together and enable you to communicate deeper. While doing these poses, be mindful of your cat’s needs. Don’t stress if your companion doesn’t want to sit still with you. It will get easier over time.

1. Breath Awareness

Start off with a gentle breath awareness exercise. This exercise will quiet and calm your nervous system, reduce anxiety and stress, and improve self-awareness.

Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and the knees bent. Your feet should be hip-distance apart. Breathe comfortably while listening to your breath. Try to make your breathing as smooth and relaxed as possible with slight pauses between breathing in and out. Continue this for about 12 breaths.

Your cat is a natural at breath exercises, so listen to the breathing of your cat to guide you. Take these moments to let go of distractions and focus on your time together.

2. Warm Up

In a seated position, bring the soles of your feet together while enfolding your cat with your legs. Place your left hand on your right knee and your right hand behind your back. Look over your right shoulder behind you while keeping your shoulders down and your spine long. Repeat this on the other side. Next drop your chin towards your chest to release tension on your neck. For an added stretch you can interlace your hands behind your neck and let the weight of your arms give you a deeper stretch.

Let go of all tension and anxiety and focus on the calmness of your cat.

3. Warrior Pose

Stand with your legs 3 to 4 feet apart. Turn your right foot 90˚ out while turning your left foot slightly in. Bend your right knee 90˚ to come into a side lunge. Make sure your knee doesn’t extend over the ankle. Gaze over your right shoulder while holding your cat in your arms. Hold for a minute while feeling the strength you garner from each other. Repeat on the other side.

4. Downward Dog

Start on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Walk your hands a few inches forward and spread your fingers. Slowly press your hips towards the ceiling until your body resembles an inverted V. Your feet should be hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Keep your shoulders away from your ears. Hold this pose for three breaths.

5. Child’s Pose

Sit comfortably on your heels. Roll your torso forward and bring your forehead to rest on the floor, while lowering your chest as closely to your knees as possible. Extend your arms in front of you while enveloping your cat in your hands. Hold this pose for a few moments while you relax together.

Practicing yoga with your cat will give you the opportunity to share time and relax with a being that you love. Over time, you’ll feel more relaxed, and you’ll see a deeper relationship developing between you and your little friend.

About the Author

Payal Bhandari M.D. is a holistic family physician at her practice, Advanced Health. She provides personalized, comprehensive primary care to families and individuals of all ages in San Francisco since 2005. Her integrative style blends the best in western and eastern medicine to effectively transform health.

Here’s how animals are good for heart health!

Guest Blog Post By Payal Bhandari M.D.

We all know dogs are man’s best friend. But did you know dogs can also be your heart’s best friend? Studies have shown owning a pet – especially a dog – can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

There are many reasons that can explain this link, but the general understanding is dog owners tend to exercise more regularly and lead a healthier lifestyle. Pets provide social support to their owners and help them stick with a new habit. So if you start the healthy habit of walking your dog on a daily basis, you can be sure your dog will hold you to it.

A scientific statement released by the American Heart Association (AHA) describes how studies found ownership of dogs can reduce the risk of heart disease.

Physical Activity

An online survey in which 5,253 Japanese adults participated revealed that dog owners are physically more active than non-owners, and was 54% more likely to get the recommended level of physical activity.

Physical activity can lower your blood pressure and decrease the likelihood of becoming obese, which is good for your heart health. A daily 30 minute walk with your dog, and occasional bouts of playing fetch will increase your health.

Lower Stress Levels

Animals are very good at lowering your stress levels. Pets have a calming presence and are natural mood enhancers. They’re also very good listeners. When you feel stressed and have to get something off your chest, your pet will be happy to listen to your vent without judgment. Walking with your dog, petting, and hugging your pet will also reduce stress and lower your blood pressure.

Research suggests dog-owners’ heart rate and blood pressure go up less and return to normal quicker during times of stress, compared to non-owners.

Mental Health

Pets can even have a positive effect on your mental health, and people who are mentally healthy tend to live longer.

Pets have helped many people suffering from anxiety or depression get better. When you have to care for a pet, it shifts the focus away from your own problems. Pets love their owners unconditionally, helping you feel better about yourself.

Pets also make you feel less lonely, making them the perfect companion for older and sick people, as well as single children. You’re also bound to be more social – strangers are more likely to interact with you while walking your dog.

Improve Your Heart Health with a Pet

The companionship a pet provides has many health benefits, but don’t get a pet just to reduce your heart disease risk. You need to be sure you’ll be able to provide, care, and play with your pet.

Few things are so uplifting than the excitement your pet shows greeting you when you come home. The powerful bond which can exist between pet and owner is therapeutic; pets are tuned in to understand your behavior and emotions, and know when you need extra love and support.

Consider adopting a pet if your heart health concerns you, or if you have a family history of cardiovascular disease. Your new best friend might just be the answer to living longer and being healthier.

About the Author

Payal Bhandari M.D. is a family physician at Advanced Health. She provides personalized, comprehensive primary care to families and individuals of all ages in San Francisco since 2005. Dr. Bhandari delivers integrative, holistic care which looks at the whole person. She is consistently able to understand the root cause of any illness and effectively transform health.

Photo credit text: {Photo credit: SplitShire}

Book Review: A Valuable Lesson in “Jordy the Jaguar”

Welcoming a new addition into your family is a joyous event, but not always for everyone involved. Any pet owner and parent can relate: sometimes siblings do not want to get along.

In the children’s picture book Jordy the Jaguar author Meryl D. Day takes us into the home of Fred and Mary, and what happens when they decide to bring a new cat into their family. The existing family cat, Tallie, is not very thrilled to suddenly be sharing her home with a new sibling.

Jordy the Jaguar is a cute story of friendship and family, and is also a helpful tool for parents who are welcoming a new child into their home. Many children will relate to Tallie and the trouble she has with feeling jealous and having to share.

The book provides a valuable lesson for children: that being friends is more rewarding than being enemies. And also helps parents understand what older children may be going through when a younger sibling enters the picture.

In addition to the valuable lessons, the illustrations in Jordy the Jaguar are colorful and fun, and the story weaves through the book with a rhyme and cadence that children will delight in.

To learn more about Jordy the Jaguar visit

How to Write a Poem that Commemorates your Pet

The grieving process that follows after losing an animal companion can be really heart wrenching. For most people, having an animal companion pass on is like losing a family member. There are many ways to cope with the grief, such as reaching out to friends and family, and there are also ways to commemorate your beloved pet so that their memory will live on with you.

A poem is perhaps one of the nicest ways to commemorate an animal companion. Read more to learn how:

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