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Writing and Imposter Syndrome

I am an avid reader and journaler. I always have been. My mom taught me to read at home when I was very little and by the time I started kindergarten I was reading Little House on the Prairie books and Nancy Drew books. It was difficult to get my nose out a book…it was my escape, my idea of fun and something to this day I never tire of doing.

Along the way I took up the process of writing and journaling, largely because it is how I process and learn. When I was a student the way I committed things to memory to prepare for tests was to rewrite the information in my own words. If I write it down it was embedded in my head. Eventually I started journaling to process my life and emotions…this has remained a key part of spiritual and emotional health. Because I experience so much loss, taking care of senior dogs, greif is something that I write about alot.

I have always felt that my journaling was a very private thing for me. Over the years as friends have reached out for support and comfort when they lost their pets I have leaned on my own writing to help them. I never felt comfortable directly sharing my writing though…major imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is something I have experienced throughout my life…even when I worked in finance and had qualifications up the hind end…I had moments of imposter syndrome. As an artist I have felt it too.

I guess I am a late bloomer in life, but now in my 50’s, I am finally finding the courage to shirk the imposter feeling and publish some of my writing. The conclusion I have reached…and where I have found courage to escape imposter syndrome is by focusing on what I believe my biggest strength is and that is my desire to do things at a very high level. By which I mean my attitude towards anything I do is that if I am going to do it…I’m going to do it at the best of my abilities. I also never see anything I do as “finished”…as soon as I am done with something…a painting, a handmade journal, a poem…I don’t linger in a feeling of accomplishment but rather get flooded with more ideas of how I can do it differently or better for next time.

I am starting my publishing endeavor small, with some of my poems. I will admit the process has been fun. Learning how to copyright them is easier than I thought it would be. I have already been contacted by a few publishers to publish a collection. I am publishing them for now as cards but at some point want to put them in to a book with photos of all of the beautiful dogs I have lost over the years.

Eventually I hope to write a book on pet loss focused on tackling one of the most difficult issues with pet loss and that is the guilt that often comes with euthanizing a beloved pet. This is something that I have worked really hard to process in my own life.

I am going to start posting some of my poems with my blog letters. This is the first one I published. It is made in to a card at my Etsy Shop and has been selling well for me. All of my shop sales support the Misfits veterinary bills and other expenses. Don’t forget to visit our shop for your holiday shopping for pet lovers! We have ornaments, artwork, cards, gift tags and more. Everything in my shop is made by me.

Our new shop, Court Street Journals, is open on Etsy. We received our first sale after being open only a few days…one of my Edgar Allen Poe bookmarks was my first sale. The moment I heard the chaching for the new shop I was so excited…and then within a few second the imposter syndrome hit and I laid in bed thinking about it for a long time…lol…the upside of the curse of imposter syndrome was as I laid there worrying I also came up with a lot of great ideas for new products, branding and packaging. Please check out our new shop for your holiday gifiting!

That is all for now! Have a wonderful Friday and may you find many blessings in all this new day has to offer.

Nancy & The Misfits

Our Misfit Manor Art Shop

Our new shop Court Street Journals

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The thinning veil and pet loss

The last few weeks of October are when we experience the “thinning of the veil”, the time of year when the veil (separation) between the physical and the spiritual world blurs far more than average. This is by no means the only time we experience the thinning of the veil, but it is definitely the time that the experience of this thinning is felt more acutely and collectively. For me personally, it is a time when I definitely feel more agitated and melancholy; almost like I am emotionally and spiritually functioning in the midst of a heavy fog.

I have been adopting senior dogs for a very long time. I have also been making and selling pet sympathy cards for well over a decade. Over the years, I have noticed unmistakable patterns in my sympathy card sales that coincide with the lunar cycle. My sales pattern increases dramatically with the waxing moon, peaks right around the full moon, and finally, sales drop off dramatically when the moon begins waning. I have also noticed, in all the years that I have been adopting senior dogs (and thus experiencing a lot of loss), that my own dogs typically cross over during the waxing moon. Maybe this seems like an odd thing to think and write about, but this season has felt particularly heavy, and my sympathy card sales were the highest they have ever been in the last weeks at the same time that the thinning has felt so acute.

There are a few conclusions I have drawn from all of this over the years that bring me some comfort when I am faced with loss. The first is the understanding that our beloved animals don’t cross alone. They cross together in groups with the waxing moon. Death is a journey that our culture tends to characterize as a solitary one…based on my experiences, I don’t believe that. I believe that both humans and animals cross collectively…the pathway between the realms is most likely far less solitary than we are conditioned to think. I personally find this incredibly comforting to think about my beloved pets having companionship on their next journey. And, of course, I find that reassuring when I contemplate my own eventual death. My own experiences with mediums also confirm my understanding that our pets do not make this journey alone.

The second is that there is a lot of power to solidarity in loss on this side of the realms. A lot of the customers that purchase pet sympathy cards from me take advantage of the service I offer to write their personal messages and sign the card for them, shipping directly to the bereaved. So I read and write out a lot of personal condolence messages. I personally find that solidarity in loss is a significant part of the pathway to healing. The work I do with my art and cards is a huge part of my own personal healing. The condolence messages that customers write generally reflect similar sentiments…a reflection on the powerful relationship that was had between the bereaved and the pet …the acknowlegement that these relationships make such a difference in both lives. And an expression that voices solidarity in grief. We can find comfort in knowing that both our lost loved one is not alone and neither are those left on this side alone…we experience grief collectively not only in the collective mourning of all of the bereaved but in the solidarity of those around us who sit in our pain with us. The broader point being that the solidarity in grief is beyond our private circles of aquaintences…it is much more collective.

I was digging around looking for a dog collar in a drawer yesterday. I pulled out Rosie’s collar and tag, that I had not looked at since her death. It stung, badly. She has been gone for a long time and it still stings like it was yesterday. I put her collar on my dresser and took a few minutes to look at her pictures and remember her. I find comfort in knowing that she is not alone, she is remembered well and someday I will see her again.

I put a picture of Rosie’s grave in our memorial garden. These gardens are a huge part of my healing process and remembering my dogs well. I planted this perennial hibiscus plant behind her grave stone…it blooms magnificently every year, reminding me of how gorgeous she was when was here and that there is a season for everything in life.

If you are experiencing pet loss, know that I am in solidarity with you. Grief never goes away…we just learn to live with it over time. But if we can find our way to see it as a collective experience perhaps it can lighten the burden just a bit.

On the Journey,

Nancy & The Misfits

If you want to keep up what we are up to sign up to follow our blog! If you want to see pics of the Misfts every day follow us in instagram @Misfitmanorshop.

Please keep us in mind if you are shopping for a sympathy card, pawty supplies or pet art. The Misfit Manor Etsy Shop is how I support the Misfits.

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What suprises you more?

What suprises you more? When someone does something kind or when someone does something rotten? For myself, I am honestly not sure which suprises me more. Or perhaps swap the word suprise for shock.

In a world full of terrible news…a never-ending saga of humans behaving badly…you would think that bad behavior would not shock me anymore. But it does. It shocks me to the core and it wears on my psyche, as I am sure it does for everyone these days. I am not sure what that means…does it mean that I harbor hope and that I know deep down the world doesn’t have to be the way it is? Or am I just really naive?

At the same time, I experience a similar shift in psyche when someone does something unexpectedly and extraordinarily kind. Why does kindness take me by surprise? My daily life is pretty insular. Most days, I don’t even leave the manor. The person I interact with the most is my husband, who is incredibly kind to me. When kindness comes from someone else, I am genuinely shocked.

One of the guests in my vacation rental left a very sweet note when she checked out, as well as $50 for the dogs. Most guests come and go from the vacation rental without a word being spoken between us… which is fine… I want my guests to feel they have privacy. Some guests are friendly and want to meet and chat. Some guests are just extraordinarily kind and make a gesture that goes way above and beyond. When I went out to the rental after this couple checked out, I was feeling very low… too much news, stress, chores, worry about Lacey… my guest’s note completely lifted my spirit and shifted my day. It wasn’t the money, though that was really sweet to leave the dogs some money, it was that someone took a few minutes to express some gratitude and kindness. It completely changed the tone of my day.

It reminded me of a principle I have printed on my wall in my studio… If you want to have a good day, do good things… So simple… But also so powerful. I have 100% control over how my day feels.

I don’t have control over anything outside of my own behavior…but that doesn’t mean I can’t have a rippling impact on the world…kindness truly is contagious…one small gesture can entirely change someone else’s day…do good things…spread as much joy as you can in this terribly broken world.

We have been having great weather in Kentucky lately… perfect for enjoying a lot of outside play with the Misfits. Halloween season is my favorite time of the year… the weather, the colors, scary movies… fall baking and canning. I hope you are enjoying the fall season as much as we are.

On the journey,

Nancy & The Misfits

We have a lot of ways to support the Misfits if you choose!

Purchase the Misfits a doggie treat

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Visit our Etsy Shop

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Misfit Manor Diary..and then there was Rosie…

There is no such thing as a dull moment at Misfit Manor.  While so many of my days seem filled with routine…routine is pretty crucial to juggling a large family of dogs…nothing about life here is ever dull. 

Several weeks ago I took in a new Misfit. Her name is Rosie.  She has some issues that are yet medically unidentified.  Perhaps they will never be identified.

She cannot bark.  She struggles with swallowing her food.  When she first arrived she was walking very little.  The vets believe she has some sort of neuro-muscular disorder…but no hard diagnosis as of yet.    We recently had a muscle biopsy done…no results yet.  Initially I had to carry her everywhere in the house…she had no strength to get up and walk (despite being on steroids).

.., if I left the room without her she would pant and whine and I would go running back for her. She was making little to no effort to get and up walk on her own.

Feeding Rosie is a daily battle.  I quickly figured out that she needs to eat sitting up or she gags and chokes on her food.  I feed her in a little doggie booster seat I have…one small bit of food at a time. She also gets bored with eating…or perhaps just tired…and we have have to take a lot of breaks.   She is also incredibly fussy.  There are days where I  have to cook her 3 different breakfasts just to find something she wants to eat.  I will not give up finding the best solutions for her.

But things are also changing a lot in the last few weeks.  She has morphed from rarely getting up and walking on her own at all to walking on her own most of the day.  She still has moments where her legs just give out and she plops on her belly.  But she gets right back up and tries again.  She has gained quite a bit of weight as well.  The last two days I have taken her on very short walks.

She loves wagon riding!  Initially she would just lay down in the wagon the whole time.  Now she is stronger and she sits up or stands while she is in the stroller.  I’m guessing she has covered more ground in the last few weeks than she has in her whole life.

Rosie has blended perfectly in to our broader family of Misfits.  Her initial introductions went very smoothly and she continues to play nicely with her housemates.  I am always grateful (and frankly fairly amazed) at how well all my Misfits do together…there is an energy level in this house that I do not understand…but am eternally grateful for.   All of my Misfits come from difficult backgrounds…yet once they are here they are very gracious about welcoming new family and helping each other grow.

Rosie has been a lovely addition….Betty adores her (and so does Buster).  Betty continues to amaze me…she remains so strong and determined yet she is the gentlest creature I have ever met.   She shadows Rosie…wherever Rosie goes Betty follows.

Betty continues to do fabulously.  We have pulled out all the stops for her…acupuncture, laser treatment, plasma injections…it is working…she loves going to the park…she would wander in a field all day if I let her.  She struggles sometimes with getting up…but that is what mommy is for.   Once I lift her up…she is off!

The Manor is a busy place…I run two businesses to keep my fur family going and thank the gods both of my business are thriving.  We are currently working hard to save money to buy our own laser machine…old dogs with sore joints is the norm here and it would be so much more economical to have our own laser machine…hopefully soon!

While there are days it seems like a live in a very narrow tunnel…I don’t leave the Manor unless I absolutely have too…I’m not oblivious to the world either….I watched the elections…the coverage of the fires in CA…my heart aches for our broken world…there are always rays of hope though…I find solace in doing my part right here…taking care of my band of Misfits that had no where else to go…I wish for everyone that you may find your hearts calling…because when you do…nothing can jar you from your path.

The holiday selling season is a critical time for my online stores.  If you need a gift item for a dog mom/dog dad in your life please browse my Etsy shop.  I have a lot of really cute affordable items for dog lovers.

Rescue on!




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Confessions of an imperfect dog mom: Preparing to Nest

My spirit animal!

There is something about this time of year that fosters an organic ability for me to relax.  Relaxing does not typically come naturally for me.  But the air is cooler in the morning, the spiders are huge, my spice garden is ready to harvest, and the days are getting noticeably shorter…change is in the air.

spider web
This amazing piece of arachnidart hangs above my main gate and below my Hemlock tree…its absolutely stunning.

This year there seems to be an urgency about getting ready for fall and winter.  The squirrels on my property are working at a dervish pace, there are wooly worms everywhere and trees seem to be turning pre-maturely.  There was a time when I dreaded fall for what comes after it.  I hated the shorter days and without a daily energy boost from the sun all winter I would slip in to some pretty deep winter blues. download But I’m in a different season of life and now I look forward to burrowing in for the winter.  My work load on the property slows down considerably and I can allow myself more time for art, play, cooking and spiritual pursuits…perhaps even a vacation this year.  I can’t wait to have this time to slow down and re-charge.  The older I get the more clarity I have into the relevance of the cycles and spirals of all life; the agricultural seasons, the cycle of birth and death and the constant sprials of evolving as an older woman.  I find the this latest cycle to be one of the most empowering times in my life.

Each season inspires a specific basket of dominant feelings/emotions in me…in spring its hope…but in fall its gratitude.  I love the colors, smells, sounds of fall..they make me feel grounded and quiet.  I feel grateful for the income that my businesses have provided all summer.  And I feel grateful knowing that an extended period of rest is near on the horizon.

I had not realized how much I resemble a squirrel until I started writing this post…perhaps they are my spirit animals.  All summer I feel like a squirrel while I’m hard (but joyfully) at work squirreling away my nuts for the winter.  And with the addition of Heloise to my family it seems like I sleep in a literal “nest” every night.  She is terribly shy and still won’t stand for being picked up or carried around.  Since I can’t convince her to go up to my bedroom at night I’ve been sleeping on an air bed in my den for over two months so she can be with the whole family at night.  She, and the other 8 dogs, pile on the airbed with me.

My babies piled on the air bed with me….love.

Heloise loves being in the mix; some nights she sleeps right on my belly.

I know she appreciates that we all stay close to her.  She tells me often that she “belongs”…that seems to be her word.  She is a very happy and playful girl despite her strong boundaries with touching…I am patient and I feel incredibly grateful for the trust she has already shown in me.  I posted a video of her playing with Snoopy at the bottom of this post.  She is joy.

Me and my fur family live a life where we try for the most part to keep to

Banishing Spray

ourselves…that is not always possible and there have been some uncomfortable incidents and lingering negative energy on one side of my property at Misfit Manor. I’ve been pulling out my full arsenal of prayers, blessings and tricks to put a stop to it.  Today I harvested a variety of sage, rosemary and lavender from my herb garden.

Making a banishing spray from herbs from my garden.

I am steeping them in charged rain water to make a protection spray to keep clear that corner of the property of any lingering nefarious energy and also work with in the house when I don’t want to burn my herbs.  The smell of steeping fresh herbs is so earthy and comforting.  I posted a cheat sheet on my banishing spray (though if you are interested I would encourage you to really craft your own with ingredients and intention that flows from your heart and intuition).



Snoopy’s 2nd Birthday Pawty!

The Pawty business continues to grow for me.  I appreciate everyone who supports my shop.  Vet bills on 9 dogs and 2 cats are no joke and my shop is a big source of how I fund it.  Petunia continues to get laser therapy several times a week for her back; as well as acupuncture treatments.   Millie and Petunia just had dentals…it adds up fast.

Millie & Petunia resting after their dentals.

Every time I realize that the “pet account” is running low I take a deep breath and trust that what I need will come….and it always does.  Every time I hear the Etsy “register ring” sound on my phone I feel a profound sense of gratitude.

Blessings to you and yours as we enter the fall season… may you find gratitude, renewal and peace in this beautiful season.

Rescue On!



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Confessions of an imperfect dog mom…”In the shadow of the tripod there is no empty space”.

Every pet in our home has a background story…none of them are pleasant…some are much worse than others.    But, for the most part, our pets are “over it” in regards to things that happened to them in the past.  They live happy and carefree lives.  Even Turnip, who has deep emotional scars, has come so far and embraced joy.  Mom though, being the flawed human that I am, doesn’t always “get over it” as quickly as they do.  I have moments, when I am reminded of their painful stories and I quickly retreat to feelings of anger and heart break.

Snoopy came here with a badly broken leg…we were told he was kicked down a flight of stairs…he was just 3 months old.  His leg was broken so badly there was no choice but to amputate it.  Unfortunately, he died under anesthesia when the vet attempted his amputation.  The vet resuscitated him but he woke up blind and of course still having a badly broken leg.  This is when Bret and I started fostering him.  He stayed with us in an understandably hastily applied splint that caused him a lot of discomfort for weeks.  We waited for a strengthening of his health to undergo a second attempt at amputation.  With his vision restored and health stabilized Snoopy made it through a second attempt to amputate his leg.  Bret and I officially adopted Snoopy the day before his amputation.  We wanted him going in to his surgery knowing he had a huge family pulling for him.  Waiting for his surgery to end was agony and we learned a new level of compassion for our veterinary team.

Buster stayed at Snoopy’s side while he recovered.

Make no bones about it…a puppy suffers CRUELLY after an amputation.   Snoopy screamed…and I mean SCREAMED with pain for weeks.  He was confused and he was frustrated.  He would wake up from a dead sleep and start screaming…sometimes 10+ times in a night…nothing we did comforted him.  Only Buster could bring him any level of comfort.  Buster would run to him and lick his head when he cried.  The entire scenario was horrible.  But slowly…Snoopy regained his strength and his courage and definitely his joy.

Today…Snoopy (now 8 months old) is SO OVER IT..he is UNSTOPPABLE on three legs.  He is the happiest and most playful puppy I have ever met…and frankly…he can be pretty naughty.  Remarkably…he just loves people….all of them. Humanity does not deserve him.  He is pure joy.

Unlike Snoopy, Bret and I will never forget his suffering.  We didn’t leave his side after his amputation…we learned a lot about what it means to be both heart broken and madly angry at the same time.

When I had that moment the other day when I saw his “tripod shadow”…a poignant reminder of the cruelty he suffered…I became angry all over again…”he shouldn’t have to live as a tripod”…”he shouldn’t’ have had to suffer through an amputation”…I was wishing again I could get my hands on the S.O.B. who did this to him.

But while I am thinking all these toxic thoughts…Snoopy just turned, looked at back at me and shamed me with this smile.  He’s over it and I need to get over it too.

Snoopy is fine…he can run fast, he can wrestle with his siblings, he can dig…he can snuggle fabulously…he certainly eats like a little piggy…he is a perfectly happy dog.  I need to just get busy loving him and let go of his past.

The moral of the story is this…which again…I didn’t realize it until I finished this post…there is no “empty space” in life.    When I was in seminary…one of the most powerful lessons I learned was from my favorite Old Testatment professor, Dr. Howard.  I worked for him as his TA my last year…it was the year Bret and I lost our baby boy…I was completely crushed…probably the lowest I have ever felt in my life.  He told me this very important truth when I expressed my despair to him…he said “just like it is in the physical world…so is it in the spiritual world…there is no “empty space”…you can fill your life with joy and gratitude and love or you can fill it with sadness, resentment and pain…there is no room for both…regardless of the difficulty of your circumstances …you must choose what you will fill your life with.”    Not only will I remember Dr. Howard’s insightful words always…but I will forever remember Snoopy’s smile as a reminder of this wisdom…I will remember how easy it is for Snoopy to live this truth…Snoopy will remind me always that we must choose what we fill our lives with…no matter the circumstances.

I’m with Snoopy…I choose joy and gratitude and love.  Snoopy and I wish that for everyone else too.

Rescue On!


If you would like to follow my crazy life with pets more closely…friend me on Facebook or follow me on Pinterest..  I also sell my art and cards at my ETSY shop.

The Rescue Mama, Nancy Halverson, dog rescue art, pet rescue art, political art
Snoopy’s first Pawffiti… it was auctioned for $375.00 for the animals of Scott County, KY.

This is Snoopy’s first Pawffiti.  It was auctioned in February for $375.00 to raise money for animals in Scott County (Snoopy’s home town).  Prints are available at my ETSY shop.

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“The Rescuer”

“The Rescuer” wrote an article about my husband and me.  Its written by a rescue here in Central Kentucky called Paws 4 the Cause.  They are a humble group who fights really hard on the front lines of Kentucky’s rural communities that are very poor and have little to no resources for helping animals.  I am very flattered to have been highlighted by them.

I pasted the article below.  You can sign up for the “The Rescuer” at their Paws 4 the Cause website.

A Lifetime of Love

Nancy Halverson and her husband, Bret have a household filled with love. In 2000 they adopted their very first rescue, a lab mix named Sparky. The Halversons wanted a companion for the dog they had already purchased and made the life-changing decision to adopt.

Before finding his furever home, Sparky had been adopted out numerous times and brought back to the shelter for his unruly behavior. Deemed unadoptable, he was scheduled to be euthanized. Lucky for him, in came Nancy. Through love and patience Sparky went from an uncountable, destructive animal to a loyal loving companion to Nancy for 15 years.

Since adopting Sparky, the Halversons have continued to provide a loving home for animals deemed undesirable. Whether from a physical disability, or behavioral problems, the Halversons have found a place in their heart and their home—which they call “Misfit Manor”–for many animals.

Over the years they have fostered 9 dogs and cats, and adopted many more. Currently 8 dogs reside at Misfit Manor permanently. Snoopy, the newest resident recently had one of his legs amputated due to abuse he suffered before being rescued by the Halversons. He has been doing quite well in his recovery, and is sure to lead a full and happy life on three legs. Nancy says, “We tend to gravitate towards dogs that will have a harder time getting adopted. We don’t see age or handicap as a barrier to a full life. We don’t feel sorry for them. Rather, we fall in love with them (usually instantly). It’s just who we are.”

Behavioral problems are a big reason many pets get deemed unadoptable. Many people do not want to dedicate the work and time that goes in to rehabilitating these animals. The Halversons don’t shy away from such challenges. Lacey was a small dog with a big attitude. “We have three dogs currently in our home that came here with significant behavior issues; one was surrendered for chronically biting her people. The day I met her (she’s a little thing) she did a 3 foot vertical leap and bit my nose (hard). I seriously lost count of how many times she bit me the first few months she lived with us. But she was out of options so we adopted her.
Besides the work that goes into owning a special needs pet, there is another reason people tend to avoid them. Loss. When you first get a puppy, loosing them someday is usually the furthest thing from your mind. However, dealing with loss is often a consideration when adopting a senior pet. Most of us can be a little selfish, thinking of the heartache we will have to face and will avoid it. Not the Halversons. For them, it’s all about the dogs. They make sure all of their animals have a full and happy life—for however long that may be. By taking it day by day, they don’t take one minute for granted. Even still, it is never easy to loose a pet.
“Our goal as pet parents is to give each one of them the fullest life possible and that may not be traditional with their health challenges, but we make it work.
I’m that “crazy lady” that shows up at the park with a stroller full of senior/handicap dogs.”

-Nancy Halverson

Recently Nancy lost her beloved Luna, a chihuahua mix she carried everywhere with her. Luna had a very hard life before finding her way to Nancy for her final eighteen months. Not only had her age caught up with her, but her little body was broken from years of abuse. Despite all of the set-backs, Nancy gave Luna the best months of her life. For those of us that had the pleasure of meeting Luna, she no doubt made a lasting impression on your heart—and especially Nancy’s.
“But to be honest….physical difficulties in dogs are really not an issue for us or for the dogs.  Dogs cope with aging and disability quite gracefully.  People may perceive them as having challenges but these dogs make fabulous pets.  I wish more people could see this.”
-Nancy Halverson
The eventual loss of a pet is unfortunately something that all pet owners will have to face someday. Everyone deals with grief in their own way. For Nancy, she takes refuge in art. She creates hand-made pet condolence cards, and other pet-themed cards encouraging adoption. I think we can all learn a lot from the Halversons. They do not let heartache stop them. In fact, in only seems to make their hearts even bigger. Rescuing and rehabilitating dogs with a death-sentence is extremely rewarding for people like the Halversons. They get the satisfaction of saving lives and these lucky animals get a lifetime of love.
Click on  the above photos to see Nancy’s Etsy page.
Click the link below to go to Nancy’s website.
The Rescue Mama
O.F.C. Raffle
In case you haven’t heard, we are having a raffle for an ultra-rare bottle of bourbon–one of only 100 ever made. This bottle of 1980 O.F.C. donated by Buffalo Trace is estimated to be valued at $10,000!
We still have a few raffle tickets available for this ultra-rare bottle of bourbon. Don’t miss out!

We will be co-hosting an event with Willie’s Locally Known on February 22nd. This will be your last chance to buy a ticket before we announce the lucky winner that night!

Winner will be announced March 1st, 2017.
Buy Your Raffle Tickets Here
Canines of the Month
These two were captured living on their own out in the wilderness right
before Winter set in. Butch (the big one) is the younger protector and
Sundance (the little one) is a natural cuddle bug. They have looked out
for each other for a long time, and suspect they are related somehow.
Butch is larger and playful, the easier of the two and a typical Jack
Russell in many ways, without all the yappiness. Sundance will require
time, but with a little nurturing will become a forever bed bug. Once he
bonds, it’s forever. He just needs to feel safe first.
Dog Adoption Form
Willie’s Locally Known to Host O.F.C. Event

If you haven’t had the chance to check out Lexington’s newest hot spot for food, drinks, and live music, here’s your chance! Willie’s Locally Known has partnered with P4tC to host a special event–and the only event where you’ll be able to buy your O.F.C. raffle tickets. Wednesday, February 22nd from 5-9pm Willie’s will be offering a special course-menu deal and bourbon-based mixed drink created by their expert staff especially for P4tC! A portion of these specials will be directly donated to our organization. The Cerny Brothers will be playing great tunes too! Come enjoy incredible food, drinks, and live music. We’ll also be set up with our P4tC merchandise, and of course be selling O.F.C. raffle tickets and announcing the big winner that night!

Interested in volunteering at this event? Contact us!

Felines of the Month
This is a brother and sister team that need a home–together. They are in foster care right now.
The foster says they love each other so much that she can’t bear the idea of them going to separate homes. Both are litter trained and very well-behaved, despite being rambunctious 5-month-olds.
They have been fully vetted and spayed/neutered.

These two need to go to home together, as they are sure to be playmates for life!

Cat Adoption Form
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The truth about Marge…the “paradox of rescue”.

leftbehindFacebook, every once in awhile, pops up “memory pictures and posts”.  I have mixed emotions about this feature because sometimes it brings back a memory I don’t want to revisit.  Recently, Facebook delivered pictures of a fox hound we fostered last year, named Marge.

Marge followed me home last December when I was walking Buster.  She was young, very skinny, flea bitten and had a few puncture wounds in her back end…but was otherwise healthy and an absolutely delightful creature.  She was absurdly obedient and enthusiastic to please her humans.  She played beautifully with other dogs.  My husband and I thought for sure that Marge must just be “lost” from her family.  Someone had to be missing her because she was such a wonderful dog.  We tried everything we could think of to find her family.  Our local Humane Society took her on TV to make an appeal to find her family.  I did Internet searches on her microchip data and literally called every possible person listed in the entire country with that name. marge-poster  I posted her on every possible rescue and shelter site within a several hundred miles.  I paid for a pet “amber alert”. maddiemarge We held out for quite a while.  But it was crickets.  No one was looking for sweet Marge.  We loved having her with us for Christmas.  Eventually, after zero contact from her family, our local Humane Society put her up for adoption.  She was adopted quickly by a lovely couple.  We said that terribly sad “foster dog goodbye” but knew Marge was headed for a great life.  Both Bret and I moped around the house for days after she left.  Maddie and Buster missed her a lot.  Her new dad called us daily for a while with reports on how Marge was adjusting.  They clearly loved her and had compassion for how hard it is to say goodbye to a foster.  Good people.

Fast forward 6 months.  I was out walking my dogs and a neighbor approached me.  He told me how happy he was to see that I had taken in that “poor fox hound” last winter.  I exclaimed…”you knew that dog…where did she come from?”.  Well, as it turns out Marge had only lived a few blocks from me, with a family.  Her family moved away and left Marge behind in the yard.  The neighbor said she hung around the house for a long time…waiting for them to come home.  They never came home.  Eventually she started running the hood looking for food.  Thank God she found us.  I was flooded with anger and sadness at this news.  How could anyone abandon this sweet dog? Who would leave her to fend on her own?  I hate people!feeling-safe

20140918_190455And thus, the “paradox of rescue”.  I exist on the periphery of rescue.  I adopt only rescues, foster and volunteer where I can.  I use my art to raise money.  But I do not work deep in the trenches of rescue like many of my friends do.  But I see more than enough to make me angry…a lot…it is steadily costing me my faith in humanity.   Neglect and cruelty are rampant where I live…I realize these problems are  every where…but here in Kentucky there are no laws to protect animals…no deterrents…and there is certainly no justice for animals.

Yet, there is no “rescue” at all if you don’t put faith in humanity to re-home the very same dogs who have been neglected, abandoned and abused by humanity.  It really is a horrible paradox.  I have met people who initially appeared to be kind and just…good potential pet parents…who later turned and dumped their adopted dog in a kill shelter.  I have met many others who are wonderful pet parents. It is an odd paradox to be engulfed in an economy where the work makes you hateful and suspicious of most people but also requires that you trust some of them.

I have no answers…no wisdom other than this;  rescue doesn’t work without people.  No matter how hard you try to vet potential adopters there will always be lemons/scumbags and there will never be enough good adopters.   The scumbag puppy millers and backyard breeders will keep making money off the genitals of the innocent and perpetuate the flood of homeless animals. The reality is five innocent animals die per minute in our shelters…every stinking day.  But without people we will never make things better.   The animals are 100% at our mercy.mommarge

Of one thing I am certain…kindness to animals should be easy…but I have to wonder…why is it so elusive?  Animals are without guile, greed  or malice.  It is frightening that we are incapable of doing right by them.  The mass killing that goes on in our shelters is a human created problem.  We could fix it.  But we don’t.  It is such a small percentage of the population that works tirelessly to make a difference for animals.   Laws that protect the innocent and punish the evil doers should be easy…but they are insufficient…where I live….the laws just don’t exist.  What does this say about our society…a society who claims it is just and evolved?   Justice, fairness, compassion…kindness…these are not abstracts…they are intuitively obvious and clear…but yet elusive when it comes to animal care.

Most people in rescue are over-worked and usually emotionally exhausted….it is grueling and heart breaking work.   Becoming suspicious of people is an inevitable symptom.  Most have developed an edge; I sure have.   I don’t keep my mouth shut when someone tells me about their “accidental litter”…or about the “designer dog” (expensive mutt) they plan to pay a fortune for.  I tell them the truth.  Five innocent animals die per minute in our shelters every stinking day and these type of actions are the reasons why.  You are either part of the solution or part of the problem…we all bear responsibility to make a difference.   Maybe with some people it will at least make them think about better options…most probably just think I’m a crazy fanatic.  I can live with the label of fanatic…I don’t do anything with half of my heart, have long passed the age where I care what others think of me…and answer only to my conscience.

bretmargeThere is no grey area…too many animals suffer in this country at the hands of humans.  Only humans can fix it.  The moral of the Marge story is this, and it didn’t hit me until I finished this post, Marge completely understood the “paradox of rescue”…in fact…most animals do.   She had every reason to hate people…to resent the creepy bastards who left her behind in a yard to starve…yet she chose (or you could argue she was created) to put her faith in people.   Maybe the only solution to the “paradox of rescue” is to think more like the dogs.

Rescue On!



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Confessions of an imperfect dog mom…

Living in the land of dichotomies…my weapons of war…

lucy quoteI think I need to make an early new years resolution…to blog more regularly.  I blog for two reasons…I want to share my passion for animals and my own need to clear my head…they are intimately connected I think.

Technology is a funny thing.  There is a fine line, I believe, between staying “connected enough” with the world to be useful to the world and becoming “compassion fatigued” as a result of being “too connected”.  I have had several days…a week really…where I have had to “unplug”.  The steady barrage of horror stories, the unceasing amount of animals surrendered to kill shelters in Kentucky…the complete lack of will by the “elected class” to protect animals…it never stops.  It is easy to fall prey to the lie that it is hopeless and just shut down emotionally.

Kentucky is a strange place…it is a place of dichotomies.  A place where on the one hand…their is tremendous passion for animals…the celebration of the horse in Kentucky borders on a form of worship.  But on the other hand neglect, abuse and flat out ignorance brings on the suffering of a truly staggering number of animals.   On the one hand the rescue groups here are all overwhelmed and running on shoe string budgets…competing with each other for the small amount of donations available from a populace with one of the lowest wage rates in the country.  But on the other hand the horse auctions just took place in Lexington where hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent by a handful of people hoping to buy that next superstar race horse.   The inequity of it all is quite mind numbing.   But it has been this way forever…indeed a strange place and the dichotomies don’t just apply to the way animals are treated.

On so many very serious levels Kentucky is so terribly behind the rest of the country; health, education and wages are ranked at the bottom in the country.   Maybe it takes an outsider to see how grossly some of these things stand out…at least to see how Kentucky fares relative to other parts of the country.   Perhaps this is the closest I have ever lived to some of these issues and the contrast bothers me.  The contrast of extreme wealth (horse barns nicer than most homes) juxtaposed with extreme poverty (others live in campers…not trailers…but campers).

downloadI walk all over this town with my dogs everyday…I see beauty and pride in the community all over the place…there is also a lot of poverty, blight and hopelessness.  The signs of how so many lives are being short changed by a poor education system and the impact of addiction are everywhere.  So often, I miss Apple Valley…my whistle clean, prosperous and homogenous home town.  But now it almost feels that it wasn’t real…reality is here…and I am meant to see it, live it…be it.   I can’t say we fully understand why yet but Bret and I both know that we were right where we are supposed to be.  This town, this house and at this time…is where we are meant to be.

So much contrast…gross dichotomy all around me…and it bothers me…so much it makes my bones feel cold.   There is darkness and hopelessness like I have never seen before…sometimes its downright scary…a form of spiritual poverty I have never felt before.

At the same time…there is a spirit force in some of the local Kentuckians that is remarkable.  It’s a fighting spirit…its a never give up spirit.   I didn’t know until I toured the Kentucky armory recently that Kentucky has sent more men to fight in every single war (relative to its population) than every other state in our country…every single one.   Many people have a  fierce self-understanding of who they are as Kentuckians.  Whether you agree with them or not they know what they stand for and I respect that.  There is also an earthiness about the people here…something I have really come to love and hope to write more about some time.

veteran+funeralThere is an unsung compassion here too.  Not too long ago there was a funeral director who went public with a body he had been given custody of.  A man, a vet…who had no family, no friends…not a single contact…died in a nursing home, alone, with never a visitor.  The funeral director asked for people who might consider coming to his funeral…hundreds..seriously hundred of people… showed up for his funeral.  Despite the warts…there is something powerfully good here too…often it feels like I have a naked view of spiritual warfare…something that was more deeply shadowed in Minnesota.

These days; I am a “girly, girl” as my husband says…I cry a lot these days…I cry when I see something sad, something happy, something compassionate…I just cry a lot…my husband thinks its cute…but I know its how I fully experience what is going on around me…really feel things deep down in my bones…the way we were made to feel things…if that makes sense.  For most of my life…I did not cry…I had a very narrow range of emotions…I did not feel.

A few weeks ago…I had a conversation with a local friend who works in throes of pet rescue…he was at a point of disgust…that giving up point where anger and frustration can over take the desire to keep trying…at least for a while.  I told him…”I know that spot…I know it well.  But I also know that the only way out of that hole is to fight…and for me that means fighting with the only weapons God gave me…forgiveness, compassion and the will to do good.”   I subsequently spent a week re-trenching from the same feelings of despair.

nickelThen I got a call about a dog named Nickel.  He needed a ride out of a kill shelter to safe place.  Off I went…Nickel paid his fare in kisses and snuggles.  My soul was fed for a week.  I needed Nickel to remind me of my own words.

When all else fails…and darkness seems brighter than the light…grab your weapons and look for your Nickel.

If you are a lover of all things pet and pet rescue consider following my blog or my Facebook Page.  I also have a Pinterest Page full of resources for pet parents.  And of course if you are in need of any pet sympathy cards or pet rescue art check out my Rescue Mama Shop.

Rescue on!


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Pet Rescue: Warning…Dogs can die in hot cars!

Warning:  Dogs can die in hot cars!  There is something we can do about it.

dogsincarsGiven I have five dogs…I do a lot of walking.  My dogs and I walk through our adorable little town (Georgetown, KY) every day…sometimes twice a day.  Summer has barely had its start here and already we are seeing dogs left in hot cars…NOT OK.  In fact it really pisses me off!  I can’t walk by a dog in a hot car.  While I am not the type to go directly to smashing out a car window…I would if I had to.  I am the one though who doesn’t hesitate to call the the police…and no cracking the window an inch is not good enough…I will still call the police and let them smash the window!

Two weeks ago we (well me…my dogs just witnessed) had a verbal altercation with an older couple who stopped me to ask what the parking time limit was in our town…because they were going to go have lunch and leave their dog in the car.  I couldn’t believe they were looking me straight in the face with that idiotic statement.  I suggested to them the names of several ALDF-dogs-in-hot-cars-flyerrestaurants in town that had patio seating that welcomed dogs.  They weren’t interested.  I dug in my heels and told them if they leave the dog in the car I am calling the police.  (It was an 80 degree day).  They called me a dirty name and told me to mind my own business…I didn’t mind my own business and stood my ground until they drove away.  It blew me away that an elderly couple could be so boorish and irresponsible.

That same day I was browsing my Facebook feed and saw this poster from the Animal Legal Defense Fund…with a statement encouraging people to download the sign and hang it. I thought…we need these signs in downtown Georgetown…then I thought…well…perhaps I am supposed to be the one to go hang them.  So I did.use this one

I downloaded their art file…sent it to the local print shop for printing…and Lacey Mae and I hit the road.  We started going door to door to the business of Georgetown asking them to hang this sign in their shop window.  We have gone to over 20 business so far…all but one was more than happy to hang the sign.  When we ran out of our first 20 signs the local print shop made a whole bag of them for us for free!  We will be back out next week and will keep going until we get as many businesses as we can to hang our sign.  It is already abundantly clear on our Main Street (given all the obvious signs in business windows) that we are a town that is not ok with knuckleheads leaving a dog in a hot car.  Hopefully it will both make careless people think twice before trapping their dog in a car oven and also encourage citizens to speak out and call the police if necessary for a trapped dog.

There is a saying that goes something like this…whenever we say “someone should do something about that”…that someone might be ourselves.   Lacey and I had a lot of fun going door to door in town…she behaved like an angel in every business we went to (she didn’t pee on a single carpet!!!!).  We met a lot of great folks…and found out that they all want to see dogs safe…and when asked…they are willing to help out.

I have been taking pictures of every shop that hangs our sign and posting them on our Facebook Page.  If you want to do something like this in your town the copy for this poster is available for download at this link on the Animal Legal Defense Fund website.  It was a lot easier than I thought to approach business owners with my sign…in fact the response was overwhelmingly positive.

Rescue On!



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Pet Rescue Art: Rescuing and breathing…

Pet Rescue Art:  If I am breathing I will be rescuing.

close upI just recently finished this little diddy…I decided a long time ago that since we all exit this life the same way eventually (empty handed and six feet under) that rather than accumulate “things or experiences” that I wanted to be completely used up when I die…I choose to use up whatever energy and resources I have being involved with pet rescue…whether its using my art, caring for my own house full of rescues, training rescue dogs or fostering homeless dogs…it is truly the highest privilege in life to find the vocation God destined me for…I live a blessed life.

This painting is an acrylic on canvas…11×14…glossy archival finish.  This and many other of my paintings are available at my ETSY shop.  I donate a portion of all of my sales to pet rescue groups.

If you are in to all things pet and pet rescue don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Pinterest!

Rescue On!



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Pet Rescue Art…we all leave a trace in this world…

Pet Rescue Art…a trace left behind

use this oneI firmly believe that what we do in this life will follow us in to the next life.  We all leave a trace while we are here…some call it a legacy…be it small or grand though it will follow us.  My trace, like most people’s I suppose, is a mix of good and bad.  I had my wild years…the years where what I left behind was more like a stain than a trace.  But my animals continue to rub my rough edges off.   I will leave no grand legacy…just a trace of life with animals.  I hope that trace is learning to work with difficult dogs (who for some reason are the one’s that steal my heart) and sharing the realities of how poorly animals still fare in our increasingly complex and unfeeling world through my art.

Pet Rescue Art, Graffiti Art, Dog Painting, Dog Mom Gift
Pawffiti…a reflection of our lifestyle.

Likeness of Hercules
Likeness of Hercules

I started painting just a few years ago.   My muse was my Rottie Hercules.  He was also the reason I had to learn to train dogs.  Like his human mama…he was head strong, difficult, didn’t always play well with others and enthusiastic about everything he did (good and bad).   After he died I had a broken heart for a long time.  It seemed like no time had passed at all before I was losing my clear mental picture of him…I felt like I was losing his face.  So I started doodling/drawing him and then one day picked up some cheap pastel paints and painted him.  On the left really big frontis this very first painting.

I was hooked after this..painting became my outlet.  Every time I felt moved in regards to my own animals or the fate of other animals…I turned to painting to work it out.  I am what they call in the art world an “outsider”.  I have no formal training…actually I do not even have any informal training.  All I have is a desire and passion to speak for animals through art.  It was therapeutic for me…I never thought that what I was doing would resonate with others.

Pet Rescue Art, Cat Rescue Art, Cat painting, Cat art, cat mom gift.
Choose Life…This painting is sold.

Rescue mom's should
Rescue mom’s should

Two year ago I finally had enough paintings finished to open an ETSY shop.  I started my little art shop with the hope that it would be a way for me to give voice to homeless animals and raise money for homeless animals while still being able to be present at home for my own house full of rescued pets (I have eight of them).

In the last two years I have shipped art to 29 states (CRAZY) and the momentum continues to build. The first three months of this year allowed us to raise our largest amount of funds so far …just over $1,200.00…I hope this momentum continues and I can’t say enough how much I appreciate everyone who frequents my shop, sends me referrals and connects me with rescue groups running large auctions.

Pet Rescue Art, Dog Fighting Sucks Art, Graffiti Art, Dog Painting, Dog Mom Gift
Pawffiti: Dog Fighting Sucks

Cat rescue art, Pawffiti, cat painting, cat art, cat mom gift
This painting is sold.

I raise money in two ways…the largest portion is from my original paintings that go straight to charity auctions to raise money.  My highest single auction sale to date has been $700.00 for one painting.  If anyone had told me that I would make a painting that fetched that kind of money I would have laughed at them.   I also donate a percentage of any sales of my art and handmade leashes from my ETSY shop to rescue charities.

Pet Rescue Art, Graffiti Art, Dog Painting, Dog Mom Gift
Pawffiti…Real Men Don’t Chain Dogs

Parting with my art is an odd thing.  I am of course happy when I sell a piece or ship one off to auction.  But there is also a strange remorse.  I am parting with a piece of myself that I will never see again.  It really is quite strange.

Fortunately, I am blessed with a house full of rescued cats and dogs that are my constant muse for my art.   They give me so many ideas for more paintings that it feels like I have ping pong balls bouncing around in my head…I have to write them down or I will clutter them out.   My website has been a great place to share my ideas and I appreciate everyone who reads and comments here.

Every life is precious…and that means the sweet animals too! God Bless and thanks for your support over the last two years!

Rescue On!


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Pet Rescue Art…for the love of Vera

Pet Rescue Art…the stories that steal our hearts…

cover 4Allow me to introduce you to Vera.  Vera is a pittie girl who was rescued by a group called Muttley Crue Rescue in Ohio.  A few weeks ago I was contacted by Muttley Cure looking for a painting for their Mardi Paws event in Cleveland, OH next month.  I found Vera’s story on their website and fell in love with her…I just had to paint her.  Prior to her rescue by Muttley Crue some horrid person poured hot oil on her body and left her to die.    But look at her now…isn’t she lovely! 9173974   I think everything about her just says “joy”.  I am always amazed at how fast dogs and cats can recover both physically and emotionally after they have suffered at the hands of creepy humans.

The statement on Vera’s painting was a theme that Muttley Cure used on their website.  I will be shipping off Vera’s painting for auction as soon as I have it photographed.  I hope the painting raises a bunch of dough as Vera also has a heart condition and will need an expensive surgery. 368787_orig I will be making prints of Vera’s painting which I will put up for sale at my ETSY shop.  I will donate a portion of the sale of each print to Muttley Crue.  It will be a few weeks before the prints are available.

My paintings are my way of doing a little something more for dogs and cats who are still waiting for their forever home while still allowing me to be present at home for my house full of rescued pets…each painting I do is completed in a studio full of cats and dogs.  Check out my Art Gallery to see more Pet Rescue paintings I have done.

Odds are I will never meet Vera but it was an honor to paint her!

Rescue On!



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Pet Rescue Art: a hero in pictures

Who is your hero?

Handsome Sparky

mainDo you know a lot of heroic people?  I believe I know a lot of them…I think they are all around us.  Everyone has their struggles…some people wear them on their sleeve…some people bury them deep inside….but we all fight battles and those battles makes living life on life’s terms heroic in its own right.  Still, we have the more obvious heroes…like our soldiers.  A hero comes in many forms…and sometimes its the sweet soul who wanders to the shelter and rescues a dog…and sometimes it’s the dog.

Sparky, my black lab, has been creeping in to my art more and more…he creeps in to my dreams more too.  He is very old now and sometimes I think his presence in my dreams is his way of beginning to say good-bye to me.  I love to draw and paint him.  He is a fascinating dog.  When I first adopted him he was near a feral dog.  I could not touch him or even get very close to him…he was never aggressive but he had no use for me…would not even take food from my hand.  He had no concept of how to live in a home with humans and destroyed miraculous amounts of things in my home and would jump up and down (several feet up) when I put a leash on him.  What kind of crazy woman adopts a dog like that might be a fair question…honestly…one that didn’t know any better.

This painting is sold.
This painting is sold.

While I was clueless then I know now that dogs come in to our lives when they are suppose to.  hot pink imprintSparky, who for years wanted nothing to do with me…turned in to a loyal companion.  He never leaves my side and has become a hero to other dogs.  Whenever I hear someone say a dog is not adoptable…I cringe.  Sparky was in that category.  The weekend I adopted him (he had been adopted out several times and returned to the Humane Society) was his last chance…he was on doggy death row for the following week.  Don’t get me wrong…the early years with Sparky were not easy….sometimes I could do nothing but cry at the things he destroyed …at the frustration of trying to manage little things like getting him in to the car.  But oddly enough…in the midst of a very dark time in my life he started to change and calm down…he became the dog I needed at that time.  Eventually, Sparky was the dog that went through dog training school with me…all of which were efforts to help my other dog (Hercules) who was terribly reactive.  Sparky rocked dog training school…my mentor couldn’t believe his ability to focus on me (neither could I really…I think now of all the years I was underestimating what he could do).   Now Sparky is the dog that I use to work with other dogs…those that are fearful and those that are reactive in the presence of other dogs. (Reactive is the politically correct way to say dog aggressive).  There is something about Sparky’s presence that calms and guides other dogs to better behavior.  I won’t pretend for one moment that I understand it nor do I feel the need to.bigbe the change imprint

Sparky has a way of communicating with other dogs…his body language, his ways that say all sorts of things I suppose…its so hard not to anthropomorphize our dogs…I would imagine he says things like…”knock it off you obnoxious idiot” to dogs like Buster and “follow my lead I’ve got your back” to dogs like Turnip.

Pawffiti...important message from the pets we love.  This painting is sold.
Pawffiti…important message from the pets we love. This painting is sold.

But make no mistake…he is a near 100 pounds of a take no prisoners bad ass if he needs to defend his family.  Very few times in all the years that Sparky has lived with me have I seen him go in to a guard dog state…but each time it has happened I have been both startled by and also proud of his fierceness…I believe he would die defending our pack.  The first time my husband saw Sparky defend the pack he was shocked.

Pawffiti...inspired by Turnip
Pawffiti…inspired by Turnip

WTF imprint

Sparky and Buster
Sparky and Buster

Since we moved to Kentucky Sparky has worked his magic with our two foster dogs; Turnip and Buster.  Turnip is a fearful dog and Buster is a reactive dog.  Sparky is a dog that gives other dogs a second chance…it is really a magical thing.  Turnip was afraid of his own shadow…taking him for a walk in the neighborhood was nearly impossible…a blowing leaf, a passing car, a garbage can…all were potential threats in Turnip’s eyes.  We started walking him with Sparky and it changed Turnip’s world.  After his Sparky therapy…Turnip walks the hood like he owns it!  Buster was an obnoxious idiot that wanted to hump and bully every dog he encountered.  Sparky very quickly taught him some manners.  Turnip and Buster will be Sparky’s last miracles…we declare him officially retired and will focus on caring for him in his old age.peace imprint

We all owe Sparky a lot….the dogs and certainly Bret and I.  We enjoy every day we have with him…and relish in the grace with which he is dealing with his old age. He is totally deaf now, his kidneys don’t function well, his hips are weak and he farts all the time…still he hangs with pack, goes on his daily walk (slooooowly) and rarely leaves my side. While he isn’t going to live here on earth with us forever…he will be in my dreams and in my art until we reunite on the other side…and I find great comfort in that.  He is like magic to me…or maybe a better word is grace.  Sometimes I think that in certain moments with our dogs we get rare but clear glimpses in to the mystery of grace…the only other place I have felt it is in my marriage…dogs and husband…what more could a girl want.

I leave you with all these thoughts and images of my Sparky…my sweety, my magic and when he needs to be … a badass!

Rescue On!


To follow my art and work subscribe to my blog by email sign up (I typically post weekly) and/or follow my Facebook Page where I post daily.  Many of my paintings and cards are available at my ETSY shop.


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Pet Rescue Art: what tugs at my heart…

Real Men Don’t Chain Dogs!

main 2

This painting has been a long time in coming…it has been on my mind since Turnip (our foster) entered our home. Seeing dogs living on chains is new for me…and it is so hard…no impossible for me to understand. When I see a dog on a chain…I DON’T think…”how could someone do this?”…because I know how one person can do this…they are spiritually sick. What I DO ask myself is…”how can an entire community stand by and let this happen to so many dogs…”

Kindness to animals is (and should always be) easy for us as a civil society. It is one of many important characteristics by which the spiritual health of our communities can and should be evaluated. I paint because I want to share the things that tug at my heart…the number of dogs living in distress in my own community weighs heavily on my heart…so here is my painting…what do you think?

The painting is for sale…it is up on my ETSY shop…as with all my paintings I donate a percentage of my sales to rescue groups.

turnip 2Here is the picture of Turnip when he was rescued by SOAR.  Here is a picture of Turnip today…20141225_085734

Rescue On!

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Merry Christmas from the Halverson Pack!

When you really do have the perfect Christmas…

kingles goodI don’t know about you but I usually have mixed emotions about the holiday season.   The zealous commercialization of Christmas seems to have stolen its real meaning…the expectations of others seems to add too much stress.  It has been a long time since I have enjoyed the holiday season but this year instead of feeling emotionally zapped by it I was fully energized by it. The commercialization is obnoxious….still, there are some fun but silly activities that captured our amusement….like pictures with Santa. This year Bret and I really had the chance to focus on what means the most to us…each other and the current cadre of critters running around our house.  Our gift to each other this year…vet bills (they are so high right now with three seniors)…our gift to our critters has been and will always be our time and focus.

One of our holiday adventures this year was pictures wreally good bothith Santa at the Scott County Humane Society.  We took Lacey and Kringles…both made a lot of people smile with their cute little outfits and cooperative natures.  Kringles picks up chicks everywhere he goes.  After pictures we took them for puppy lattes at Starbucks.  Lacey knows what it means when we pull up to a Starbucks drive through and bounces around with excitement…if she wasn’t in a car seat I am sure she would leap right into the Starbucks window.

lacey lattepuppy latte kringlesChristmas Eve was bittersweet this year….sweet because the weather was fabulous most of the day and I spent most of the day walking dogs at the park.  For a Minnesotan…a 60 degree Christmas Eve is a wonderful treat! selfie 2With six dogs in the house right now I spend a good portion of each day excercising them…the biggest gift we can give our dogs is keeping them mentally, physically and socially stimulated…while that is not easy with six I do enjoy every minute of it.  walk in the parkI am lucky to have several parks within a few minutes of my house.  Sparky and Kringles are good walking companions…Sparky still loves his walks but moves very slow now.  Kringles has an enlarged heart and can no longer go on walks…he enjoys tooling along in his wagon…he is so content to ride along and enjoy the view.  The bitter part of Christmas Eve…the night before Christmas Eve I made a late night run to Walmart…to pick up some treats for a friend who just broke her leg.  It was getting cold and it was pouring rain…this picture was all I could think about….10868035_10153893293772588_6867434912571990884_nthis picture was taken by a local rescue group in the county I live in (it is one of several pictures of dogs living chained that day).  In the cold and pouring rain this dog had nothing but a plastic tote to keep it warm and dry….assuming its chain wasn’t tangled that night keeping it from the tote.  There was also a puppy at the site who was sharing the tote with this dog.  This is such a common picture of dogs in Kentucky.  When I look at this I do not wonder “how could anyone do this to a dog”…I know how…they are spiritually sick.  What I wonder is “how can an entire community look the other way?”   The problem in Kentucky is not simply the spiritually sick individuals who chain up and neglect their dogs…its the lack of will by the community to stand up say “NOT IN MY BACKYARD…WE ARE BETTER THAN THIS”.  Kindness to animals is simple and easy…and is one of many important benchmarks by which a  community’s conscience and spiritual health can be evaluated.

Also on my mind was this dog…Lola.  Lola was rescued in the nick of time…she was tied to a chain and left to starve.  Her brother was found dead at the scene…he slowly starved to death. lola This incident was also in Kentucky…just north of here.  Lola’s abuser has been arrested…which is great…but the maximum sentence for what he has done is 90 days.  This is a travesty of justice…yet there is no outrage.  Lola is healing (she had wounds all over her skin) and has gained considerable weight since she was found…but it appears her suffering is in vain…as despite the coverage of this incident in the press here…there are no laws to adequately deter this type of crime in the future.

The state of the dogs in Kentucky is such a frustrating situation…in most communities in Kentucky the laws are such that there is absolutely nothing you can do to help these dogs…if there are laws they are rarely enforced.  As I thought about that poor dog living in the tote that night I did the only thing I was able to do for it…pray. Pray for comfort and rescue for this dog and pray for grace to enter the heart of this dogs human….pray for this community to have a change of heart.  You can analyze societal problems like this any way you want I suppose…but I see this as a spiritual epidemic…perhaps it is time to start a prayer chain focused on the dogs of Kentucky because frankly I am not sure anything else will work.

Every time I see dogs in distress I want to run home and snuggle my own pets…lucky for me our two foster dogs are the world’s best snugglers.  If I asnuggling momm sitting down anywhere in our home….they are vying for my lap.  I really couldn’t be more blessed…I have learned so much from both of these dogs.  Our Christmas carried on…depsite my pre-occupation with all the dogs living in distress.
We stuffed the tree with presents Christmas morning….the dogs watched with great anticipation.20141225_080329 20141225_080128  Buster and Lacey attacked the present pile with great enthusiasm.  Kringles just wanted to snuggle.  Turnip just wanted his stuffed lambs.  Sparky just relaxed and watched the festivities in his usual dignified manner.  It was a delightful morning.  I leave you with a few of our family pictures from Christmas morning….a morning that I felt very blessed to have a husband who doesn’t just tolerate all the critters I bring home…he loves them…and blessed to play a small role in the lives of all these sweet creatures.  I believe the entire reason we are born on this planet is to grow spiritually…for each of us there will be different paths and roles that rub the rough edges off of us and aids in our spiritual maturity…for me…my path is pet rescue.  What we do in this world follows us into the next…

Merry Christmas and Rescue On! Nancy20141225_140711

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Pet Rescue: Faces of Compassion

What exactly does pet rescue look like….

20141115_102450As most of you know my husband and I re-located to Kentucky this past summer.  We moved to a small town just outside of Lexington.  Lexington is the horse capital of the world. You can go for a lovely ride in just about any direction from our home and see amazing horse farms…where the horse barns are nicer than most folks homes (sure nicer than mine).  One would think that the guiding principle in the region in regards to the care of horses would permeate the culture and translate in to a high standard of care for all animals…but it doesn’t….not even close.

Bret and I come from a cushy suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota…we are used to seeing dogs living in the home, with safe fenced yards to play in and living generally healthy and fulfilled lifestyles.  We had country clubs for dogs..with pools, massage treatments, bed time stories and fresh baked dog cookies.  We have been shocked at what we see here for dogs.  You really can’t turn down a street here without seeing a dog living outside chained to a tree or staked to the ground.  I want to be clear…these dogs are not out on potty breaks…they live on chains…exposed to the elements 24/7. 20141115_102332 Often they are on very short and very heavy chains.   Sometimes it seems as if there is an ongoing contest to see who can have the biggest, heaviest chain on their dog.  There are obvious problems with chaining like neck damage, lack of access to shelter, water and food.  Often their chains end up flipping over their bowls (if they have them) or they get twisted up and can’t reach their bowls or shelter (if they have them).  Dogs who live chained can very easily become anti-social making their plight so much worse and making them a public safety risk.  While pit bulls are most often what you see on a chain here it spans the spectrum even to tiny Chihuahuas living staked to the ground outside.  What makes it worse is that in very few counties in Kentucky are their laws to protect these dogs and if there are laws there is very little appetite by the authorities to enforce them even if rescue advocates make a huge stink.

turnip 2

This is a photo of Turnip. Turnip became our first foster dog this summer.  When I see this picture of him living on that chain; starved and nearly froze to death I am embarrassed to be a human.  Turnip is a sweet, gentle and frail little creature and he lived four years of hell like this…he barely survived and frankly I don’t know how he did…what a little fighter.  Unfortunately, this is a common picture of how dogs live in Kentucky.

One of the first things I did when I moved here is look up some of the rescue groups in our area to see how we could get involved…at the time not realizing how big a problem chaining was here.  I found that there were groups throughout the state focused on easing the suffering of chained dogs.  They do things like directly ask owners to surrender…pursue action by the authorities if the dog is in distress and take custody of the dog.  My initial attitude was pretty black and white…without question take these dogs away from anyone who would chain them outside.  But often, there is no ability to get these dogs away from their humans and even if you can get them away from their humans what do you do next?   Where exactly do you go with a dog who has lived outside on a chain for years…who is going to step up to the plate and bring them in to their home?  It sounds obvious and easy…but it is not.

One of the groups we got involved with (S.O.A.R.) does a lot of very hard leg work keeping tabs on chained dogs.  They respond to reports they get from the public regarding dogs living chained outside.  They knock on doors and ask for owner surrender of these dogs. If they can’t get the surrender or legal confiscation, which often they can’t, they do the next best thing…which is help the dog where it is at…they bring straw to keep them warm and even build fenced areas (for free) in their yards if the owners will allow it.  I have to admit that I had a hard time with this at first.  Why should anyone who treats their dog like this get free stuff?… especially a free fence…just “take the dog away” I thought….I was honestly not sure this was something I could support.  It seemed better to work at owner surrender and legal confiscation (stealth confiscation if necessary) rather than leave these animals with someone who would chain them.  But the longer I live here and the more I see…the more overwhelming the issue of chained dogs gets and the more I see that in many cases all you can do is help these dogs where they are at…and in some cases it really is the best possible outcome for the dog.
20141127_125641If there is one thing that meeting Turnip has made me think long and hard about it is the meaning of compassion.  It is easy for me to have compassion for Turnip and every day it  seems to grow but I deserve no badge for that; compassion for Turnip is easy and obvious.  But if I want to live my life as a compassionate person I have to be compassionate to everyone…even someone who would chain their dog.  I have found that is it very possible to do just that.

20141115_101548Several weeks ago my husband and I helped build a fence for two chained dogs (it was my husband’s second fence build).  The two dogs we went to help, Buddy and Bear, have lived their lives on heavy chains for 12 years.  I didn’t know what to expect when I went to meet these dogs and their human.  I was very surprised.  Both dogs were incredibly social and very interested in what these strange people were doing in their yard.  The dog’s human was incredibly grateful for what we were doing.   He was living on a rented farm and S.O.A.R. had to pursue the landlords permission to build a fenced yard for these dogs.   S.O.A.R. basically had carte blanche to build whatever they wanted for these dogs.  It was 25 degrees the first day we went to set the fence posts (which could never be done without male volunteers).20141115_091855 It was cold, damp, and hard work but it was a complete BLAST! 20141115_102316 We were working for the better part of two days building this fence; the dogs were watching and waiting with anticipation and their human was grateful and I believe as excited as the dogs.  I know little to nothing about Buddy and Bear’s human but my take away was that while I couldn’t see eye to eye with him on how these two dogs were living, he loved his dogs (he also had several small dogs that lived in the house with him).  It was clear he did not have the financial or physical ability or even the will to put up a fenced yard for the dogs…so S.O.A.R. did it for him.  Once I was involved in making this situation better for Buddy and Bear I honestly no longer cared what the human’s circumstances were…it was about the dogs and everyone involved was walking away better off from this fence build.  There were no losers here…no resentments, only positive change for two sweet creatures and their human who ALL deserve compassion.


Leading up to the fence build I posted S.O.A.R.‘s pleas for volunteers on my Facebook Page.  I followed some of the commentary on Facebook that others posted in  response to a plea for volunteers to build this fence.  Some of the rhetoric struck a familiar tone…”take the dogs away”, “why give someone like this a free fence”, “this person should be in jail”…and on and on.   I have to admit I had similar thoughts before I went to the build.  But reality sets in when you see these dogs and their human face to face.  I realized that not only is not my place to pass judgment on Bear and Buddy’s human (I should be far more worried about pulling the log out of my own eye)…but the reality was that judgment, anger, opinion, rhetoric…none of those things would help Bear and Buddy…but a fenced yard sure as heck did…and that is what they got.  Do you want to see pure joy?20141116_114750  Be present when two dogs who have lived twelve years on chains get cut loose in to their own dog yard for the first time (with new dog houses taboot)….trust me when I tell you there is nothing like it. PURE JOY!

So if you want to know what faces of compassion look like…they are pictured below…a group of people…who didn’t know each other but all responded to a call for help…to show up with tools and energy to help build a fence for a couple of dogs and their human…neither of which any of them had ever met.  What an amazing day this was!


20141116_114929I certainly don’t have the answers to solving the issue of so many dogs living on chains.  But I do know where part of the answer lies…stronger laws to protect dogs from living in distress (laws passed by the politicians who are accountable to us), the public’s will to pressure the authorities to enforce the laws and protect these dogs…but also outreach and dialogue…slowly changing the cultural perception of how dogs deserve to live.  It is easy to pass judgment on how someone is treating their dog…it is much harder to have the guts to knock on their door and ask if you can help…but that is the only way to start the conversation and get a better outcome for the dogs.  I have a tremendous amount of respect for groups like S.O.A.R. who have the passion and the guts to speak out and change the lives of so many chained dogs.  The one thing I know for sure is that meeting Bear and Buddy and their human expanded my heart and my capacity to have compassion and I am grateful for that.  My husband and I will be helping with more fence builds in the future!

Rescue On!


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Dog Training: The importance of trust and relationship

Building a foundation to train on with your dog…

doggy kissesThis is picture of me and Buster.  Buster is a rescue dog that I have recently started doing some obedience work with.  Let’s just say he has been bounced around a bit in his life.  He is super smart, affectionate and has tons of energy!  Buster needs some polishing touches on his manners and he needs a little help overcoming anxiety around unfamilar dogs.

For my first session working with Buster I was really focused on getting right to work and putting in action the training plan I had made out for him.  Buster was not living in my home so I had to pick him up and take him to my house to train.   We had no experience together other than my initial evaluation of him.  Buster is a very friendly and affectionate dog so it seemed plausible to start right in and get to work.  I took for granted that his friendliness meant he trusted me enough to work with me.  It didn’t go very well that first first training session…in fact it went quite poorly.  I (and probably he as well) felt totally overwhelmed by the end of our time together.  It dawned on me after our first session that in my eagerness to help this dog I had skipped the most important part of getting Buster and I working well together as a team…building a relationship with him and earning his trust.

I revamped my training plan to start our session with play and affection.  Our second session was a totally different experience…he took to his training like a rockstar and we had a blast together.  We alternated between training and play and we even took a break to take a few selfies together.selfies one   At one point in our second session I sat on the floor and Buster curled up in my lap with his head buried in mid-section.  We sat there for a good ten minutes….I could feel the tension release from his little body.  He was a different dog to work with after that.  The more time I spend playing with Buster and giving him the affection he craves…the harder he works for me.  Look at those ears…aren’t they amazing!!!!

Rescue dogs never cease to amaze me.  Their willingness to learn (at any age) and openness to relationships with humans (despite have been short shifted by a few humans) always touches my heart.  If only humans were so this patient and forgiving with each other.

I believe that pet rescue is serious business….the number of healthy pets dying in shelters every day in our country is a very dark spiritual blemish on our society.   I also abhor the notion that shelter pets are “damaged” or “unstable”…quite the contrary…they are survivors both physically and spiritually…would we humans have such good attitudes if we were homeless…no less dumped by our own families?  I am always amazed at their uncanny ability to live in the moment and live with such great attitudes…to assume the best about their humans.

Rescue On!


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Confessions of an imperfect dog mom…who really trains who?

Pet Rescue…

turnip 1 This is Turnip.  Turnip was rescued from this chain and post in January of 2014 by SOAR, a local rescue group here in Kentucky.    He was grossly underweight.  He had ringworm, hookworm and heart worm.  He also contracted hyptoplasmosis (a fungal infection that forms in the lungs from exposure to bird feces).  The hytoplasmosis nearly killed him…he is still battling it but gets better every day.  Turnip is freightened of everything (especially men). Check out the size of the chain and the collar on him…which by the way collapsed his trachea.  When Turnip was found (in January) he had no shelter, no food and no water…had he been there much longer he probably would not have survived.

turnip 2

Turnip went to his first foster home where he could rest and recover physically.  But he just wasn’t making any progress from a social stand point; he was afraid of everything and everyone.

As fate would have it, Turnip came up in casual conversation at lunch one day with a friend from SOAR.  I thought that my dog training skills might be able to help Turnip come out of his shell.  A few days later he became our first foster dog.  Since his arrival I have felt a heightened and unsettling sense of anger towards people who abuse animals.  Turnip is so gentle and innocent and has suffered greatly by human hands.

As a dog mom I like to think I am important to my rescue dogs development and happiness but the reality is there are serious limitations to what I can do for them.  When Turnip came to our home my own dogs took command of the situation and began doing what dogs do best…being dogs.  They are showing Turnip the ropes…teaching him how to play and to know what is safe and good…with each passing day Turnip is coming a little more out of his shell.  Instead of pacing neurotically in the yard Turnip now runs, jumps and does play bows…his tail is up and wagging just as it should be.   When a loud thunder scares Turnip, instead of running under furniture…he jumps in my lap…not because I am special but because the other dogs do it. Turnip has also become very comfortable with our household routine and is picking up house training and basic commands with very little help from me (so much for being the expert).

Bret and I are earning Turnip’s trust a little more each day…Turnip eats from Bret’s hand and likes to hang on the couch with the family…this is big for a pup who fears men.

turnip night 1Small things, like eye contact are big steps for a fearful dog like Turnip….this weekend Turnip approached and made direct eye contact with our friend David…we are so proud of him.

Turnip has taken to our labs like he has known them all his life.  He follows Sam (our chocolate lab) every where he goes and often when we are on the couch he sits right on Sparky…who doesn’t seem to mind.  He takes no crap from our sassy Lhasa and he is very gentle with little old Kringles (our Pom).  We both think that the Turnip is the sweetest and gentlest creature we have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  When Turnip makes a new step (walking up the steps the first time)…we clap and cheer…we like to think that the 9 of us our Turnip’s Team.turnip night 1 Bret

This is a picture I took of Turnip on a walk at the park by our house…isn’t he handsome? up close face

It never fails that every time my bleeding little heart thinks its time to step up to the plate to “help” another dog it is always the dog who changes my life.  Turnip is figuring life out at his own pace. Sure, I will teach him a few things and help him through some of his fears…but the reality is Turnip has had a much bigger impact on me.  He has reminded me what true goodness is…that it is simple and it is all around us…that trust is earned slowly but is worth more than gold when it is achieved.

From a practical standpoint, this was not the right time for us to take in a foster dog…we just moved to a new state, we are remodeling our house, we have 7 rescues of our own and my husband just started a new job.  But as it turns out Turnip has arrived just when he was suppose to…he had work to do here…he has reminded us both that we need to slow down and enjoy the greatest things life offers us…our loved ones.  We aren’t a conventional family; two humans and house full of rescues…but we are happy one and we take care of each other and as a group we have a lot to offer others…love, patience, enthusiasm and compassion.

20140930_092855Since Turnip has been here we have had several really bad storms…including a hail storm that damaged our cars and home.  The night of the hail storm I was out with Turnip and Lacey in the car (my two dogs who are afraid of storms..ugh).   The hail hitting the car was so loud and hard I thought my windshield was going to shatter.   I couldn’t help but think that night that if SOAR had not rescued Turnip that he probably would have been chained outside in that storm with no shelter from the golf ball sized hail and that he has probably lived through many storms like that, tied to post, in his life.  It made me angry to think about it…really angry…at the dirt bags who treated Turnip so poorly for so long.  But when I got the dogs home safe and sound and we all snuggled up for the night I said a prayer of thankfulness that Turnip had found his way to SOAR and would never experience unkindness or neglect again… my anger toward his abusers went away.  Don’t get me wrong, abuse and neglect of any innocent creature is so very vile…but it is a deep and dark spiritual sickness that only God can heal…my anger will do nothing.   I have my list of people and issues that I pray for each day.  It became obvious that rather than be angry anymore that I should pray for grace to enter the lives of anyone inclined to be unkind to animals…my wish and prayer is that they too can experience God’s grace and someday see what a gift that life with his awesome creatures can be.

I will be involved with pet rescue until my creeky old body gives out…but I can not change the heart of those who are unkind to animals only God can do that and from now on that is my prayer.  What a gift little Turnip has turned out to be..anger is tiring and I have an amazing family (and many more rescues) to put that energy in to.

October is Adopt a Shelter pet month…if you don’t have a rescue pet I hope you will consider it…it will change your life.

Rescue On!


handsome turnip