#IBPABens Ceremony

Dear Readers,

Well, the time for the Independent Book Publisher Association Benjamin Franklin Awards (#IBPABens) Program is fast approaching.  As many of you may remember, #SitStayPray has already been given a silver award for being chosen a finalist in the humor category, and is hoping for a gold during the presentation tomorrow night.

This year the show will be a “Shelter-in-Place” online presentation and there will be, much to Momma’s disappointment, no gala dinner and ceremony in a fabulous destination such as Redondo Beach.  She is actually just crushed that she will not have the chance to fly all the way to California (hopefully with the real author in tow), the land of swimming pools and movie stars, and “doll up” for a big night out and the #IBPABens.  Sounds a bit Beverly Hillbilly, doesn’t it?

Anyway, instead of gazing out at the ocean, Momma and I will be sitting in front of my iPad in our grubs doing our best to log on and stay tuned in.  Luckily, we’ve already submitted a video of our award “acceptance” speech as required, so no one will be subject to what Momma looks like these days.  On a positive note, I did see that my name was included in the email invitation to join the ceremony and use the #IBPABens hashtag in all of our social media posts.  Oh and we’re supposed to include a photo, so I’ll toss one in at the end.

Momma and I hope you will send your good wishes and prayers our way.  And, as always, thanks for your loyal readership!

Lina, Hopeful and Thankful



Momma and me at a Book Pawdographing this year.  #IBPABens hopeful!



Shortest Post Ever

I have your attention now, right?

I just wanted to tell you that Momma is really down in the dumps, with the extension Governor Walz’s #stayhome order and its accompanying restrictions for humans.

She says, and I quote, “Lina, there is something fundamentally wrong with a world where you can get a salon appointment and I can’t.”

Don’t tell her I woofed this, but I can’t wait until my fur and nail services next week!

Lina, Pampered Pup



Sit, Stay, Play!

Dear Readers,

This week Momma’s favorite newspaper, the Star Tribune, printed a fun article entitled “Make it a Placation for Your Pet” with helpful tips about what do to with us while sheltering-in-place (“For heaven’s sake, Lina, can’t they just call it staying home?”).

What a great article.  The author begins by noting that training classes, agility trials and dog andF6D1EFAB-A37C-4D34-B98D-C5753FE64DA2_1_201_a cat shows are cancelled and we pets might be a little blue and needing activity.  So insightful.  The author goes on to say that pets may be weirded out by having their humans home all the time and might need help staying sane.  You think?  It’s as if the article was written with me in mind.  Look at me — I’m a basket case!


Despite the help offered by the paper (and despite the fun factor for me), Momma scoffed at most of the ideas.  They included:  teach your dog some tricks (“So yesterday, Lina”) and blow bubbles in the living room (“And who’s going to clean up that mess, Lina?”).  There was one that caught her attention, though:  train your dog to use the treadmill.  I know she wouldn’t want me woofing about this (it’s coming from the Strib and all), but she has considered it and even set me on the belt for awhile yesterday.  Here I am sizing up the idea.

The article also had helpful placation suggestions for humans. These were all dismissed out of paw, too.  Momma has absolutely no intention of watching free educational videos on pet body language, behavior, training and care at the FearFreeHappyHomes website (“What about a FearFreeHappyHour video instead, Lina?”) or discovering a new fantasy book series with great animal characters or characters who commune with animals (“We already have books about characters who commune with animals, Lina — they’re called Lina Unleashed and Sit Stay Pray“).  Okay, I officially give up.

In the meantime, I continue to make the best of my #safeathome “placation” with Momma.  We go for short walks, do a little agility training (“Better tell the Strib that our classes aren’t cancelled, Lina”), and the other day she even threw me a bone.

And luckily for me, we had company the other day!  My hysterically fun step sisters once removed, Tammy and Talla, came over for a pontoon ride.  If we get in trouble over this, please tell my hero, Governor Walz, that I had nothing to do with the social distancing.

Lina, Playing it by Ear



Quarantine Update

Dear Readers,

I hope you and your friends and family are staying safe and sound during this horrible pandemic.  At the moment, Momma and I are healthy and staying busy and trying to obey Governor Walz’s #StayHomeMN order.

When Momma must venture out for food, she has — at least up to now — worn her mask and gloves and stood on the big blue spots on the floor of the store to accurately distance herself from others.  She doesn’t really know why she wears the gloves, by the way, because she touches the bags and food and packaging anyway when she gets home.  Couldn’t she just wash her hands before and after she goes into the store, she wonders?  I can tell Momma is getting a little skeptical about this whole thing.  Just woofin’.

Nevertheless, she really is trying to comply with non-essential travel restrictions, and stay at home (although I don’t think her trip today to Dick’s Sporting Goods in a distant suburb to pick up a new golf push cart would pass muster).  Nor did she wear a mask to the wine store on her last trip.  I watch her pretty closely and can tell there are cracks in her resolve to be a good Minnesotan.

So far, though, we’ve managed to pretty much stay home and stay occupied.  Momma has even cleaned the counters many times (“Very important to wipe down surfaces, Lina”), but most household things just aren’t in her wheelhouse like cleaning the oven and re-attaching the chain to the flapper on the toilet.

Also, Momma quickly ruled out suggestions she found in a recent newspaper article of what to do in a quarantine such as “try to speak in pig Latin,” “talk to your plants” and “rearrange your sock drawer” — as ridiculous.  (“I suppose next they’ll suggest we take up macrame, Lina.”)  See what I mean by cracks in the armor?

On the other paw, we do go for long walks, play ball in the yard, kayak and have even built a fire!  Here we are in the backyard.  Please note that the kayak photo, was taken by Margaret, daughter of our good friend and neighbor, Dana.

One night Momma and I even had a Zoom Happy Hour with her law school study group (I know, right?).  I think it goes without woofing that Momma didn’t know how to work Zoom, but I don’t think she ever learned a new “trick” so fast in her life.  Luckily, Michaele, Barb, Kurt and Dave did not mind me joining in on the fun!


I can tell that Momma has just about had it with whole lock down thing, however, and is aching to bust loose.  Even though all the experts (I especially like the scarf-wearing Dr. Birx and the way she always says “next slide please” during her daily update) know that we still need more testing while flattening the curve, Momma — like some of her radical right-wing friends — are thinking about a rebellion.  In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see her at one of the Trump-inspired “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” protests soon.

Oh, and just one last thing — have you ever seen a more perfect card (photo by Sara of Adventure is Barking!) for the times?  How prescient was I?  You let me know if you need any and I’ll give you my special COVID-19 discount!  I think my “There’s Light at the End of the Tunnel” cards might soon be more valuable than toilet paper.  Next slide, please!


Lina, Doing My Part



We Made It (But It Wasn’t Easy)

Dear Readers,

IMG_1590Momma and I made the big journey from Florida to Minni a week ago Saturday.  Momma was a little nervous about the trip because of the COVID-19 crisis and any possible challenges that might bring.  Preparation was key, she thought, so she donned her mask and armed herself with hand sanitizer and wipes.  She knew she didn’t have to worry about me because I likely could not contract or spread the disease — especially since I would be practically self-quarantined under a seat in my little carrier.  Here I am in the car on the way to the airport giving Momma the stink-eye for my upcoming confinement.

As we got close, we made one last potty stop for me and braced ourselves for the unknown.  Things went smoothly, however, at the almost empty terminal, and we breezed through ticketing and security.  The boarding of the flight, though, was a bit of a different story.

We flew Delta, and our 737 was actually pretty full.  Luckily, Momma had gotten us a “miles” ticket in the front of the plane so we had a little more space.  Unluckily for us, the humans on the flight — because of the virus and other mysterious issues — were rather picky about who they sat next to.

When we arrived at our aisle seat in row two, we found next to us a passenger who was standing, in fact, practically glued to the window behind her and eyeing us warily.  Momma said hello, and went about her business.  First, she carefully put her (and my) tote in the overhead bin directly above us.  Then she pushed and pulled and scrunched until she got me arranged just so under the seat in front of her.  Then she began wiping down all the surfaces around us with one of her hard-to-find sanitizing wipes.  As soon as Momma was finished and sat down, the “woman in the window,” who had been watching the whole procedure, pointed to the seat in front of us and asked, “Would you mind changing seats with my husband so I can sit by him?”

Momma, incredulous that she hadn’t said something sooner, maliciously and (glad she had an excuse) gleefully replied, “Sorry, I can’t, it’s a bulkhead seat, and I need a spot to put my dog” and pointed to me.  The woman, realizing Momma had a point (and might be just a little close to the Brinkley flipping out), began looking around for someone else with whom to jockey.

When the passenger who was assigned to sit next to window woman’s husband finally showed up, she agreed to switch seats — until she learned that Momma had a dog.  That stopped our prospective new seat mate in her tracks and she promptly declared, “I don’t want to sit by a dog.”  Oh, oh, I thought from my little prison — we have a situation on our paws.

Before Momma could react (or I could break free and bite her) — the woman asked if it(!) was a big dog.  (Meanwhile about ten people were lined up behind our little road block waiting to board and be seated.)  Momma, who had finally had enough, stood up and announced to the woman — and the rest of the cabin — that “NO, THE DOG WAS SMALL AND PROBABLY THE SAFEST PASSENGER ON THE AIRPLANE!” and ushered her past us.

By now our original seat mate had forged her way against traffic to the row in front of us.  Before settling in though, she stood in the aisle (the line waiting to board probably stretched back into the terminal by now), started placing items in her newly claimed overhead bin, and somehow dropped her cell phone right on Momma’s head!  Momma, hurting and almost apoplectic at this point, nevertheless decided she must “bite” the bullet and keep quiet just to keep things moving.

From then on, the passengers were well behaved, mostly quiet and sitting and staying in place, and the flight went smoothly.  Good humans!  I slept (when Momma wasn’t waking me up to see if I was still alive) and Momma, still smarting over the doggist comment and the knock on her head, hunkered down grumpily with a minuscule bag of Cheez-Its and a movie.  I think I’m speaking for both of us when I woof that isolation at home never sounded better.

Lina, Sheltering in Place and Digging It




Captive Audience & Time to Go

Dear Readers,

Okay – I’m going to be honest.  Most of you are stuck at home with nothing better to do than watch me practice my agility training, so for your viewing pleasure, I’ve attached some videos and photos of my latest romps at Ruffgers.  And really, can’t we all use a little entertainment right now?

I continue to learn and improve, and have even conquered the teeter totter and the weave poles!  My trainer, Gigi, who has two doggos of her own — Chewy and Ringo, said that I “rock.”  See — based on that alone, you should be glued to your seats with a big bowl of popcorn waiting to watch the show.  Now sit, stay and enjoy!

Let’s start out with a little trick — Momma calls this “tall,” and Gigi calls it “dance!”

And here I am running the course with Gigi:

And whipping through six weave poles (the amount used in competitions with novice dogs) with Gigi!  Note she called me a “superstar!”  Life just doesn’t get any better!

And then twelve (used with more advanced dogs)!  Okay, now I’m just showing off.

And mastering the teeter with Momma.  That’s Momma in the mask.

At the end of our session, Gigi officially pronounced me #1!


Well, that does it folks — my home movie/slide show is complete, and so is our stay in Florida.  Governor DeSantis has just issued a statewide stay-at-home order, and Momma has decided it’s time to pull up stakes and fly home to Minnesota.

Here I am after our last session saying goodbye to Gigi.


And speaking of masks, Gigi gave Momma and me each one for the trip home:  who do you think wore it better?  (And before you get upset, Momma has already given my mask to (another) elderly human.)


See, that took your mind off our troubles for awhile, did it not?  Thanks for being such good humans and watching my show.  And may you and your animal companions stay safe and well.

Lina, It’s Been a Good Run





Momma Goes to the Grocery Store

Hello Again Dear Readers,

I thought you might like to hear about Momma’s wake-up call with regard to the  coronavirus crisis.  To date, she and I have been very lucky — we have not “presented” any symptoms, hopefully have had no contact with an infected person or dog (I have heard now that dogs can get the virus!), and are not sequestered.  In fact, our lives have gone on so routinely that Momma may have not been paying as much attention as she should have to the problems at paw.  Although we’ve had no real slip-ups, Momma has had her moments.  Here’s the latest.

So a couple of weeks ago she wakes up to a text message from her brother.  He asked very pointedly if we are planning to stick this thing out in Florida, and if we have at least a three-month food supply and other essentials in our home.  Well that got Momma’s attention.  She didn’t think she even had a three-day supply of food.  Remember this was early on in the crisis and she was still focusing on tee times, nail appointments and happy hours.

But back to my story.  Momma, alarmed and wondering if she’d already missed the boat, jumped in the car and sped off to Publix.  What she saw there increased her anxiety ten-fold.  The parking lot was quite full, there were at least fifty people in line already, and it was only 6:55 a.m.

When the doors opened, people stormed the store — most of them heading for the toilet paper aisle.  See my “Crisis and Update” post for more on that.  Momma, still not understanding the urgency for toilet paper, nevertheless followed the crowd, elbowed her way in and grabbed a bag.  Although she would never admit it (and I know Momma), she secretly felt like she’d just won the lottery.

Unfortunately, Momma’s foray into the critical toilet paper aisle caused significant delay for other items she wanted, especially because it took her awhile to fight her way out of the crowd.  Her first priority was frozen pizzas because they would be easy to make and would keep in the freezer, like forever.  Plus, there would be no limit on their purchase.

Precisely.  When she finally got to the frozen food department, it was practically picked clean.  The only kinds of pizza left were the kinds nobody wanted, such as those with cauliflower crusts or fake cheese.  Oh well, at least they would keep her alive, she thought, and grabbed a few boxes.

At that point, Momma was losing focus on what she meant to get, so she started picking up random items and wildly throwing them in her cart.  Who knew when she might need Cool Whip (which she hadn’t purchased in at least ten years), Campbell’s Cream of IMG_1476Cauliflower Cooking Soup (the only kind the store had left) and extra large yellow rubber gloves meant for washing dishes (fat chance)?  One thing she knew she needed, especially after this little excursion, was wine.  Luckily that aisle was far from the madding crowd.

So here is Momma’s start on a three-month supply of “necessities.”  What more could she possibly need?


Luckily for me, Momma, motivated by a $5.00 off coupon, had already purchased a bag of dog food.  Somethings never change.

Lina, Safer at Home?



Sit Stay Pray Named National Book Award Finalist

Dear Readers,

I feel guilty announcing this now because of the enormous crisis the world is going through, but, as my loyal followers, I thought you’d want to hear our good news.  We could all use a day brightener, could we not?

Momma and I just received word that my latest book, Sit Stay Pray, has been named a finalist in the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA)’s 32nd annual Benjamin Franklin Awards program!  We are one of three finalists in the humor category.

This year there were almost 1,700 entries and 164 finalists.  The ceremony to announce the winners, originally scheduled for April 3 in Redondo Beach, CA, was cancelled and now will be held online in early May.  One finalist in each of the fifty plus categories will be named a Gold winner and the remaining two will become Silver winners.  Momma and I could not be more grateful and excited to be among the finalists.

For more on the program, you can go to https://www.ibpa-online.org/news/494443/IBPA-Announces-Finalists-in-the-32nd-Annual-IBPA-Benjamin-Franklin-Award-Program.htm.

As many of you may remember (Momma’s made me write about it enough), we won a Foreword INDIES 2017 Book of the Year Award for Lina Unleashed, so we are actually two for two!  Speaking for both of us — which I’m going to take the liberty of doing — I think maybe we’ve got something good going on here!

All of this pales in comparison, of course, to what’s taking place right now in our country and the world.  I hope you, like Momma and me, are taking measures to stay healthy and help turn the corner on the corona virus crisis.  We are praying day and night over it.

Lina, Proud but Concerned Pup



Crisis and Update

Greetings Loyal Readers,

In light of all that’s going on with COVID-19, I want to give you a big woof-out to try stay safe and well, and let you know that Momma and I are just fine.  In fact, life for us has required only a few adjustments in this strange new world.  (I am often quarantined against my will anyway, but when I’m out and about, you can pet away — no social distancing necessary for doggies.  Momma has – amazingly – limited her activities and puts a healthy distance between herself and her fellow humans when she does.)

One thing about this phenomenon, however, is really puzzling for Momma.  What is the big deal with toilet paper?  She has even Googled it:  “Why are people buying so much toilet paper?”  Has she missed the boat on hoarding it and thus saving our lives?  Should she be lurking outside the door of Publix to grab a few rolls when it next opens?  And, by the same token, should she be stocking up on poop bags for me?  She thinks not — the world may be crazy, but she is not.

Moving right along, I thought I’d take your mind off the problems at paw with a little update of our pre-crisis activities.  Momma and I had a great book event with the Women’s Cultural Alliance in early March.  It was well attended, the audience was engaged, and we sold several books — both Unleashed and SSP.  Momma and her friend, Cathy, hosted the event (Cathy kinda filled in for me as Momma’s support person since the venue barred dogs from attending — even though we now know that I would probably have been the safest being in the room!).  I did get to meet several of the attendees at the door, however, and the women seemed excited to meet the real author.

Momma’s cousin, Janet, who I adore, helped out with setting up and minded me during the meeting.  Momma was pawrticularily thrilled when the chair of the group, Lenore, told her that she would try schedule a bigger event next year!  Here are a couple of photos of our little group.

The next day Janet, Momma and I made the familiar trek to Naples.  First, they dropped me off at Ruffgers so they could shop and dine and hobnob unencumbered.  After a little shopping on Fifth Ave., they lunched at Minnesota-based Campiello which was right next to Momma’s favorite shop — BRUNO!  Momma, never missing a marketing opportunity, stopped in to check on book sales and flirt with Bruno himself.  Here he is with some of the most popular items in his store!


From there Momma and Janet returned to Ruffgers so Janet could watch me train.  Although I was tired from all the socializing I did at day care that morning, I still managed to pull off a pretty good run with Gigi!

And so it goes.  Momma and I are taking this virus crisis seriously and one day at a time, and hoping you, dear readers, are taking the necessary precautions to stay healthy.  If you need any good reading material while hunkering down at home, I know of a couple good books you might like.

Lina, So Far Surviving and Thriving




My Training Continues

Dear Readers,

Just so you don’t think I’ve forgotten about you, I want to give you a little update on my training at Ruffgers University.

I continue to work hard on the jumps, tunnels, tire, weave poles, plank and am even learning the teeter totter (those of us in the know just call it “teeter,” however).  It’s a little scary, but, as Momma says, one should do something every day that scares oneself.  Momma is actually (semi) quoting my hero, Eleanor Roosevelt, but don’t tell her that or she won’t say it anymore.

Here are some photos taken by my trainers, Gigi and Ashley.  Prior to taking the photos, they announce that it’s  “Tongue Tuesday” or “Tongue Thursday” depending on what day we’re there.  (Momma snarkily:  “At least I bet they know what day it is,  Lina.”)   All I know they are both Super Tuesdays or Thursdays because I get a ton of treats!

And here I am running the course with Gigi last week (with a little pawse to fix my fur):

And resting up after another grueling session at Ruffgers.


No rest for the wicked, though, as they woof.  Momma has booked as many sessions as she could cram in before we leave Florida in early April.  I know she will stop at nothing to see her little Aussie “in the arena.” Can you woof stage mom?

Lina, In It to Win It!