Well, on June 13, my new seven week old Golden Retriever puppy picked me and I brought him home. I have had dogs all my life and raised all of them from this tender age but had not done it for ten years. I felt like a rookie all over again. Like any new mother with her first baby, I felt overwhelmed with a litany of new responsibilities and adjustments I had not thought about – or forgotten about

I had formulated all these grand ideas about separate vaccinations for each disease, natural products to protect against fleas and ticks – no massive combo vaccines or Frontline for me.

Then reality set in.

It is almost impossible to obtain separate vaccines for the principle diseases a puppy can get – they are sold in 4,5, 6 vaccine combinations and all the vets around here use at least a combo of four – so I caved and accepted the four shot combo (parvo, distemper, canine hepititis and adenovirus-2 vaccine)  – no leptospirosis though. At least not for this year. And, of course, since no one knows when a puppy loses its mother’s immunity so when the vaccines kick in effectively, Spirit is being given these vaccines four times, three weeks apart until he hits 16 weeks, when it is generally assumed the vaccines will be certainly effective.

A month later, he will get his rabies vaccine – I wanted it done separately mainly to avoid the possibility of a reaction with too many vaccines at one time – and to assure, if he does happen to have a reaction to the rabies vaccine, it would not be confounded by all the other vaccines.

At the same time he gets the rabies vaccine, I will have blood titers run for the antibodies associated with the other four vaccines to assure they were indeed successful. I want to know he is, indeed, protected. Next year, instead of any re- vaccinations, I will run the blood titers again. If the numbers look good, there will be no more vaccinations until the titers indicate he needs them. After the first year or two of good titers (just to build up a data base for his blood antibodies), I will probably recheck the titers every 2-3 years and hopefully, he will never need another vaccination (other than the required-by-law rabies shot).

As to my resistence to Frontline, well, when Spirit began scratching himself every 5 minutes and getting scabs on his body from fleas and I tried spraying him with my newly purchased assortment of essential oils – mainly cedar oil based – and the scratching did not abate at all (although he smelled like a brand new cedar chest) – and the vet confirmed a flea infestation. Being the chemical engineer by training who I am, I caved and gave him a Frontline Plus treatment and started vacuuming my house and washing my bedding periodically.

Within a few days, the scratching stopped, the scabs healed up and here we are.

The vet helped convince me – Frontline has an excellent safety record according to her (everything I find on the internet, pro and con, is all anecdotal anyway); she argued it does not go into the blood stream but follows the fat containing cells at the base of hair folicules along the skin – and it does not merely repel fleas but kills them (and the FL Plus kills fleas at different stages of  development as well) and my own research indicated that, if you choose to use an insecticide on your dog, Frontline is the safest choice out there. And, it lasts for a month.

Not only does FL deal effectively with fleas, just as importantly, it will deal with ticks – and we have plenty of them around here too.

Does any of this prove FL has no adverse effects on my dog? No. But, I watched him driving himself crazy with scratching, thought about how I would like living like that and said to myself, I am not going to watch this happen and not do something THAT WORKS to relieve his misery.

If it were me, would I rather live a long life constantly itching or a shorter life free of it? Simple answer for me. And this assumes FL shortens life. We really don’t know that either.

So, while I am at peace with my choices, I am disappointed I had to resort to these measures. I was hoping to avoid them.



Golden Retrievers average life expectancy is 10 years. I have known some that have lived 15 years while treated with FL while my four have lived 11, 10, 8 and 8 years – so, maybe it is just the genetics of the breed and the breeding lines more than anything else. No one knows.

So much for my elaborate plans to follow the natural path to pest control for my dog.



Self Publish? Why? 

I am in the process of self publishing a memoir about my life with my deceased wife, Dianna, who died in February, 2008 after battling breast cancer for 17 of the 20 years we were lucky enough to be married. This book, Dianna’s Way, should be out in early fall of 2012.

After her death and while  immersed in my grieving process, I realized she was a woman who had a valuable story to tell that would be helpful to others – certainly for those dealing with cancer or care giving for anyone who is ill – but, even more broadly, for anyone seeking to live their lives in an extraordinarily powerful way. She taught me and many others so much about how to live a life worth living.

So, I began to write.

As background, I have been writing – sometimes for publication, on and off all my life – not my primary career by any means  but along the way, had a few short stories and articles published while doing my main careers – first chemical engineering, then as a team building consultant/practitioner. Consequently, I have always paid attention to the publishing industry and how it has been changing.

In any event, as I was writing my first ever book at age 70, I began to consider how to get it published.

The conventional process one follows is: write a lengthy proposal, send it out to agents, hoping to find one who is a) competent and b) motivated to sell my book to a mainstream publisher. If I am successful in finding such an agent and the agent is successful, a mainstream publisher offers me a four figure advance and maybe 10% of the royalties, takes over complete artistic control , pays to publish my book, then tells me to market it myself since they will not be investing their marketing budget to do it. (They invest in marketing what they believe are their front list books capable of bringing financial success to them; the rest have to make it on their own.)The publisher (who pays for printing and distribution), then gets it out to bookstores who, in turn, bury it on their back shelves (I am not Stephen King) and, after 3-4 months, return any unsold books to the publisher for ultimate destruction. And that is the end of that. One more book tossed into the trash heap of history.

My prognosis is not based on a cynical view of corporate owned publishers interested only in sure winners, although this is the truth of traditional publishers today. There is no right/wrong to it but simply a process based on economic reality – and the reality of the “platform” I have to offer, as an author.

A platform is essentially whatever I can bring to the table that would support strong book sales – reputation, name recognition, notable accomplishments, personal media exposure and any other attributes that would help bring attention and credibility to the book – without regard for the quality of the book itself.

Well, it would be hard to imagine a weaker platform than my own.

I am John who? writing a book about Dianna who? who has written yet one more, odds are, boring, overly sentimental memoir with little to distinguish it from a million others out there. Additionally, since this is my first book, I am an unknown in every sense of the word. Worse, at my age, how many more books could a publisher expect I might produce for them after this one?

Celebrity memoirs may sell, any well known writer may sell, and a few topical nonfiction books may sell. These are the likely “winners” in the corporate publishing world. So, who would you bet on? Me or Stephan King or Obama’s memoir? Who would I bet on if I were in their shoes?

From my point of view, though, even if I were successful in selling my book to a mainstream publisher (highly unlikely though I would have to put in much time, blood, sweat and energy into the effort to find out for sure), what do I get in return? Loss of artistic control, a few thousand dollars advance, NO marketing assistance and a book life of MONTHS.

After putting three years of my life writing it, why would I want to do that?

Consequently, I turned to self publishing.

In my next post, I will discuss the pluses and minuses of self publishing.