I’m free, I’m free! – An August reading and writing wrap-up

Reclaiming old habits… about time!

With the virus that shall not be named causing many States in Australia to jump up and down the levels of restriction I’m still gobsmacked at the world we are living in – and the stupidity of the few causing issues for the rest of the population. People: get tested, follow the guidelines. Use some common sense and err on the side of caution.

Now that rant is over, we’ve been lucky here on the Sunshine Coast. Everything is mostly back to normal as long as you observe social distancing recommendations. I got to return to the gym and start to lose some of this weight that’s been sneaking on in the lock-down, plus it feels great to get in a workout, get those endorphins running, and have a professional help with a variety of exercises and challenges. It’s fine to exercise at home, but with a few health issues, I need the guidance of a fitness professional to  avoid exacerbating a back injury. The right equipment, and the correct way of using it is a must. I finally feel like I’m back on track with my fitness goals.

I managed to complete reading 5 novels in August. (Nearly 6, I was only 40 pages to the end, but it will go towards September instead.) I love knocking down that TBR! The number is now at 412… but I will be ordering some new books in the next week or two so the number will jump up again next month, but it’s the first time this year I’ve added to the TBR pile. And I won’t do so again until Christmas, so I can live with that. Besides I managed to get another series finished that has been hanging around for years, and make progress on another two. All the novels have been pretty interesting, but nothing that blew my socks off.

Writing wise was non-existent for my WIP’s. I have had to take on copywriting, content writing, and ghost writing jobs as I’m the only one in the household earning an income… up until the last week when my housemate finally got to return to work. So now I can scale back on the number of submissions and return to my own writing – back to making progress next month. *Happy dance*

The biggest thing happening in August for me has been getting my puppy’s coats back in order – because I was busy at the computer all day, every day; I left the grooming to my housemate, and, erm, well, he doesn’t follow instructions well. Or chose not to. With fluffy furbabies, you need to brush all the knots out of their coat before you wash them to avoid their coat becoming even more matted. Two baths later and I’ve got a bigger job than usual in taking care of my babies. I could have shawn their coats real short, but with the cooler weather of late, I was a bit hesitant. So a number of short sessions spread over a week and a bit have eaten up the little free time I had to care for my pups. 

I have had a few other side projects to boost the household income on the backburner and finally been able to start implementing them during August, so that is another personal win for me.

I don’t feel I got to do much else – not even catch up on movies and tv series. I’ve just been so mentally drained at the end of the day I pass out cold in a drooling mess. Though with the eased Covid-19 restrictions I finally feel like I’m able to get back to some of my yearly goals that have been sidelined for close to 6 months now. 

How has life been going for you? What’s your wordcount? How many novels did you get to read? Has Covid-19 changed the trajectory of your yearly goals?

© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Juxtaposition July – some extremes in reading… a wrap-up

Juxtaposition July 01 by Casey Carlisle

Can the world just back to normal please…

I was determined to get back on track with that goal-getting after an abysmal second quarter due to the virus-that-will-not-be-named and lockdowns. Starting the month of July with all the best intentions was soon waylaid with an unseasonal change in the weather that brought out a lot of Australian natives to flower in the bushland surrounding where I live. Bring on thumping headaches, scratchy voice, watery eyes, and a heavy dose of feeling sorry for myself. Given that I wasn’t feeling too flash, I thought I’d get a lot of reading done because that is my comfort space – curled up on the couch with a warm cuppa and a good book.

What eventuated was my best writing month so far for 2020, and my worst for reading…

I grappled with the headaches and blurry vision, along with two of the novels being more intense, or difficult to read, contributing to the low reading count. (Not to mention constantly falling asleep from antihistamines making me drowsy.) But I’m not mad at it. You need to roll with the punches and adapt. My writing was coming to a stall in May and June. Even though I was getting a word count in, when reviewing my drafts, it was missing the tone from the first five chapters. So rather than flog a dead horse, I made the decision to put it aside for a moment and work on something else – nothing worse than letting frustration colour your mood in a creative endeavor. My strategy worked. Even though I lost a week of work with family visiting (yay, I love catching up with the fam,) and a little more than another week with hay fever symptoms (at-choo, sniffle, sniffle,) in the remaining week and a bit I managed to pen out three chapters on a novel in development.

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That’s really all that I’ve been able to accomplish this month. Though we are not on tight lockdowns, the state is still closed to half of the continent. I have friends in Victoria restricted to their homes. We’ve seen a few cases of Covid-19 pop up locally. People getting arrested and jailed/fined for shirking border crossing restrictions. Teens throwing parties with more than 10 people have seen attendee fined up to $26,000 each. And nightclubs are being closed because no-one is obeying the 1.5 metre social distancing rule. It’s disappointing really, a few people I know have passed away from complications after contracting the virus. It just takes a little common sense and precaution to help us get past this and let things get back to normal. My flat-mate has only just been able to get back to work after 6 months where he was unable to earn an income. We are lucky, but there are so many of my friends who are still trying to secure full time employment and are in fear of losing their houses from defaulting on homeloans. But despite all of the pressure, most everyone remains optimistic. We are all here to help each other get through this.

The highlight of July has to be getting to play Canasta with my family… I know that sounds lame, but it’s an activity we enjoy because we get to sit around the dining room table on the balcony, take in the view of the coast, the ocean, soft breezes with a glass of bubbly, and cackle as we catch up on life. It’s about connecting with each other, spending time together rather than the card game. We used to do it over the Christmas holidays when I was a kid, so it invokes those memories as well. Feeling free and visiting new and exciting places as we caravanned around Australia.

Back to my reading: I really enjoyed ‘The Princess and the Fangirl,’ and ‘Wayward Son,’ though ‘Too Late’ was hard to digest. It dealt with themes of abuse, rape, drug dealing, and explicit sex scenes… a bit confronting and not the usual fare form Colleen Hoover. Plus I started reading Magda Szubanski’s memoir ‘Reckoning’ which deals with her family immigrating from Poland (via England) after surviving the war… the writing is beautiful, but it also deals with heavy topics that I need to let sit before I can read on. It’s not a book you can plough through. But I love the historical elements. I’m currently half way through and hope to complete in in August. So, those last two novels really slowed down my reading productivity. (Reviews for all the books I’ve read to come in the next month or so.)

I’m crossing my fingers that the hay fever won’t persist as bad as it was, because there is a pile of really exciting novels waiting on my coffee table, and the progress I’ve made with me writing has me amped up the keep on firing. So that slight change in direction has got me motivated and celebrating a great witting month. I hope to improve on the numbers in August! Bring it On!

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Oh, and I had to share this puppy dog cuteness – because abovementioned flat-mate has returned to work after so long, my furbabies waited patiently at the door during that first day, snuggled like bunnies, because they missed him. And they are adorable. I needed to distract them with lots of hugs and playing chasey around the house. I wonder how crazy the neighbours think I am, because all they would see through the windows in me running back and forth, waving my arms in the air, screaming and laughing all by myself.

 

How are you handling the impact of Covid-19? What roadblocks have you overcome recently to better your reading or writing goals?

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© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

What you doin’ there Buster?

I’ve been distracted from social media fun, posting, and writing in the last couple of weeks due to this face….

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Buster. The newest addition to my little family. And being a puppy, I have to keep my eyes on him 24/7 and develop octopus arms. Pull him away from chewing power cords, eating strange insects, going to the toilet in the wrong place. Having the fun of the first few nights at home where he wakes you up crying, scared of an unfamiliar place away from his litter. Waking you up at 3 am because he wants to play.

He’s the over-energetic silly-pants all puppies are. With super sharp teeth wanting to chew everything, running and pouncing with unco-ordination. Using my plait as a vine as he plays Tarzan swinging from my hair… or clothes… or anything else he can reach. At 10 weeks old, everything is a new exciting adventure.

Buster 11 Aug 2017.jpgWhen he is asleep he is adorable. And he loves his cuddles once he stops trying to masticate your fingers. A number of times I’ve found him asleep, curled up next to my sneakers or slippers, head buried in the open top like he’s trying to find a missing bone deep within my footwear. But he’s fast asleep, high on the fumes of toe jam.

Buster’s big sparkly eyes stare at you with fascination, and he’s just so little and fragile. I’ve been wanting to add a new canine family member to our troop since last year. We lost our two Maltese X dogs early last year to old age, leaving Baillie (the lovable pooch I inherited from my Mother when she passed away) alone and bored. He’s used to having playmates and was becoming anxious and destructive, especially at times when I had to leave him home alone. Hence the Cavoodle cutie Buster coming into our midst.

He’s definitely playful. Adorable. And just the right fit for our mountain-top family.

Now that Buster has settled in and I’ve puppy-proofed the house, I’ll be able to dedicate my time back to writing without having to search for him every few minutes to find out what trouble he may be getting into next… and I’m sure there will be many a funny tales he creates that I can share to any dog lovers out there on occasion.

These little furbabies enrich my life so much, love unconditionally, and fill an empty house with colour and excitement that makes it feel like a home.

Now if Buster can sit still long enough for me to get a decent photo, he’ll become an Instagram star for sure 😉

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Muttly Mania by Casey Carlisle

 

© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘The Taking’ by Dean Koontz

 An alien invasion that will blow your mind.

The Taking Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Horror, Thriller, Science Fiction, Paranormal

No. of pages: 391

From Goodreads:

On the morning that marks the end of the world they have known, Molly and Neil Sloan awaken to the drumbeat of rain on their roof. A luminous silvery downpour is drenching their small California mountain town. It has haunted their sleep, invaded their dreams, and now, in the moody purple dawn, the young couple cannot shake the sense of something terribly wrong.
As the hours pass, Molly and Neil listen to disturbing news of extreme weather phenomena across the globe. By nightfall, their little town loses all contact with the outside world. A thick fog transforms the once-friendly village into a ghostly labyrinth. And soon the Sloans and their neighbors will be forced to draw on reserves of courage and humanity they never knew they had. For within the misty gloom they will encounter something that reveals in a shattering instant what is happening to their world–something that is hunting them with ruthless efficiency.   

Page border by Casey Carlisle

It was good to get lost in a Dean Koontz novel again after so many years away. ‘The Taking’ left me unnerved throughout the first half. That cold shiver, glancing up at every little noise. It’s been a while since a book has managed to illicit that response from me.

I live in a rural area, surrounded by bush, and at night there is nothing but shadow outside, and reading ‘The Taking’ had me deliciously nervous about dark scary things looming just outside my window.

Our protagonist, Molly and her husband face an alien threat so unusual it can be perceived as magical or supernatural – but not the good kind. This was the gory, creepy, flay-your-skin-off kind. I loved it. It felt a little short, or possibly ended too quickly. I wanted a bit more story other than just a survival tale.

I think when I say I wanted more story, I meant that it felt like it was missing something in the guts of the novel. A purpose, a surety… and it’s the alienness, randomness and the bizarre which threw me for a loop. There is an underlying current of spirituality and human spirit, but without the surroundings of the familiar I thought I was missing something. I know that sounds a bit vague, but it’s the best was that I can articulate the sense I got after completing the book.

The Taking Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

There were times where the narrative got a little long winded and I sped read past. Other parts were so graphically and expressively described, I was just about slack jawed in awe. Koontz has such a special turn of phrase at times that it leaves me gob-smacked.

It does end on a note to leave the reader to form his/her own opinions about the events that take place, and I actually really enjoyed that element.

The big take home message to this novel is ‘question everything.’ And it took me a while to catch on, and when I did, the story felt even more brilliant.

A great creepy read I’d recommend to anyone who’s a fan of science fiction, horror, suspense and a good survival story. Dean Koontz had been a staple in my library since I was a tween, so I’ve never been disappointed with this writing.

Overall feeling: Had me sufficiently creeped out.

The Taking Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

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Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Sneezes are scary!

Ben hides from sneezes by Casey Carlisle.JPGI have to admit, my sneezes are not the most delicate in manner. I sound like a tradie who’s whacked his thumb with a hammer. They are loud, violent, and my voice drops into the low register. It’s a shout-sneeze.

Totally unbecoming.

But I generally crack myself up laughing afterwards. I can’t control it. Especially other people’s reactions to this suddenly unexpected display. It’s a great gag in the doctor’s waiting room.

But my huggy-fluffy-cuddle-bunny furbaby does not like them. He’s so placid, and calm. Loves to curl up next to me or on my lap when I’m reading or writing the next chapter of my book, but every time I sneeze he bolts to the other side of the house and hides under a table or his blankie. Then I have to go find him. Apologise, and give him positive reinforcement that everything is okay.

I feel bad for giving him a scare, but I really can’t help it.

No wonder he has a heart condition.

Muttly Mania by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A double whammy of chocolatey goodness

Easter eggs + Triple-choc birthday cake = Heaven… and other reading/writing dilemmas

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I always love it when my birthday falls in the Easter holidays – when I was younger, it meant family holidays across Australia, or a big birthday bash with just about everyone I knew, which always evolved into a massive pool party. (We may have jumped off the roof into the pool – I admit nothing)

Maybe it is time for another blowout – but, with my oldest furbaby passing days earlier, all the party spirit vanished. Guess I’ll save the big celebration to next year? So this year it was a sombre affair full of chocolate and binge watching ‘The Walking Dead.’

I am also a big believer that birthdays should last a week long – so there is more fun activities in store… shopping, dinners, presents. So it’s not going to be a depressing ‘I’m so old!’ mess.

So consequently this blog was a little quiet over the past week. No apologies. I was mourning and taking a break to celebrate another year I’ve managed to cling to this rock hurtling through space. And enjoying chocolate in its various forms. It’s a wonder I don’t have diabetes.

So now it’s back to business as usual. Before my short hiatus I was enforcing some writing sprints. I really want to finish off some projects this year. In 2015 it was all about ideas and planning, so I didn’t feel like I was achieving much. But this year I want to have at least 5 novels off to the publisher. It’s not an unrealistic goal, with 2 in the final edit stage, and 2 near completion, and another 7 plotted and over 20,000 words, I know I’ll hit the mark. Just have to stay motivated and stick to that schedule. Make sure the time I’ve blocked out to write, I actually write.

Same with editing. I just need to get it done!

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I love it all. Writing, Editing. Blogging. Reading. Reviewing. It’s sometimes a challenge not to get distracted by any one thing and stick to the guide I’ve set for myself. On top of that, I am really interested in creating a Youtube channel around my experiences with literature. But it’s finding the type of content I want to create. I curl my lip at producing the same kind of thing that is already out there… boring. I’m not a “personality” and would like to do something that is entertaining and informative. I have a few ideas, but am stalled by perfectionism and the fact that the whole process is time consuming. At the end of the day I am an author, so the bulk of my time needs to go to writing rather than social media. Why can’t I have both my chocolate eggs and cake? I need more time in my day to achieve everything I want to. Progress always feels so slow because my expectations always exceed my ability. Grrrr!

There was no reading over the break either. Actually, I’m not too far off catching up on my reviews and being able to drop back to posting 1 or 2 a week; well, until I have another reading sprint…

Now maybe I’m still buzzing on my sugar high, but it’s forward at full speed, back to reviewing and writing feeling refreshed. Thank you chocolate. It has also made me aware of how important it is to take an occasional short mental break from writing. In the past I’d hit a wall and turn to a reading binge. Not that it’s bad, but I’m attempting to keep everything in balance and gauge my productivity. That way I will be certain of my writing habits and know how much material I can safely turn out in a given period of time. I feel it’s important to a career author to know how long it takes to write a novel. Publishers work to a timetable and like reliable artists to invest in.

A double whammy of chocolatey goodness Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

#bookporn

bookporn Science Fiction Books February by Casey Carlisle.jpgSome of the science fiction titles that have arrived recently – I’m leaning towards starting ‘Starflight’ … any takers?
 
Oh, and I couldn’t take a pic without my two furbabies teleporting into the shot!

I love the rain, but hate thunder.

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Caring four our cute puppies when the heavens open up.

I Love the Rain but Hate the Thunder Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle.jpgOur local news has been commenting about dogs going missing from a week full of thunder storms not too long ago, warning pet owners to ensure their yards are secure. The thought of my little furbabies out in the cold and wet, terrified, just about brings a tear to  my eye – they are so cute and lovable, I’d do just about anything to ease their distress or pain. Whenever I can’t find my puppy, it’s like a dramatic animated Walt Disney movie.

Thankfully, just rain alone has no effect on my pooches, but add in thunder and lightning… well it’s an entirely different story.

If I’m reading or writing and there’s a soundtrack of grumbling heavens, then I’m often accompanied by a slobbering, shivering dog on my lap. He looks up at me with big brown eyes praying for a hug. Growling or barking at the sky when it does the same. I think it’s kind of cute, but I always end up with a wet lap and feeling like I sat on top of the dryer. However if I’m asleep in bed, he chooses to sit on my head. It gives a whole new meaning to bedhead and morning breath.

Though, I do love the smell rain brings, it always encourages me to write (& read), and I can’t tell you why… maybe it’s the comforting thought of rugging up inside with hot chocolate, cuddles from Mum, and orchid scented fabric softener on my linens that makes me feel safe, happy and warm. Pity that doesn’t extend to my dogs.

I wonder what they do in the same situation when I’m not home – the thought of them scared, under my desk, shivering all alone is awful. Lucky they have each other for comfort. I’ve witnessed them cuddling up together a few times when I’ve stepped through the door on a particularly miserable day.

My youngest furbaby, Baillie, loves to explore – he doesn’t need the excuse of a storm to escape. Thankfully thunder and lightning don’t seem to faze him; but I’ve spent many an afternoon calling out his name along the street where I live because there is just too many interesting things to smell and pee on. We are now on garden fence version 4.0!

Our new home on Sunshine Coast means more thunderstorms & less sound proofing. Plus, being in a remote area on a mountain, the thunder tends to reverberate through the ground and sky. So I get to have more shaky cuddles more often (along with the accompanying drool). It’s just a thing the Den Mother has to deal with.

So while summer showers are my favorite time to write – not so much for my four legged children. But it’s nice to have a writing companion, and hey, maybe he’s interested in my stories and can become my next editor. 😉

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Is it over yet?

Muttly Mania by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

The Year of the Furbaby!

Year of the Furbaby Pic 01  by Casey Carlisle

Wishing everyone the very best for 2016!

Normally over the Christmas – New Year break, I’d be visiting family, lapsing into food comas, tidying up on a sugar high, or cackling the night away over conversation and champagne. But things have been a little different this year: I’ve had three sick puppies to mind, and spent just over a week sitting in waiting rooms of Pet ER’s

This is also part of the reason I’ve been absent from my blog for a few weeks.

I posted a few months ago about Ben, and his big heart. Now in the later stages of failure. So it wasn’t a surprise that he needed professional attention a number of times, but still it’s heart-wrenching. He has been giving me big puppy dog eyes and cuddles every day for just over 11 years. Ben still has that slightly awkward puppy gait that makes him seem more bunny rabbit than canine. It’s only going to be days to weeks before we have to say goodbye.

The other visit to emergency that just about floored me was Baillie, the lively pooch I inherited from Mum when she passed away 2 years ago. He hurt his eye, and though it didn’t look serious I rushed him to Pet ER not liking to see him in pain, and it being the holidays – all the regular Vet Clinics are closed. By that night he’d lost an eye from a fast developing ulcer.

Devastated.

Please take warning – eye injuries with dogs degrade so quickly. If you notice a hint of something wrong, seek medical attention immediately. Even though that is what I did, it could have been much worse.

Picking up Baillie after surgery was alarming – they’d shaved half his head, and with an eye stitched closed, head lolling to one side and tongue hanging out – it’s a sight no owner is prepared for.

He’s much better now, barging into things with his medical collar, not letting the ocular loss impede him in any way. He’s still my little adorable munchkin, but now have some new nicknames for him like Pirate, Cyclops or Winky.

Nonetheless, it has been wonderful to spend Christmas and bring in the New Year with my entire furbaby family. They have been loyal and loved unconditionally. I’ve made sure they’ve felt it back in return and given them all the doggy things!

So in honor of my fluffy little family, I’m declaring 2016 the Year of the Furbaby!

 

P.S. all that time in waiting rooms was well spent reading, so I have a large list of book reviews waiting to be uploaded, so keep an eye out for more biblio-fun coming your way soon 🙂

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Resting up with their Christmas toys after hospital visits

 

 Muttly Mania by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Granted!

I’ve had yet another reminder this week about not taking life for granted.

Granted Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleMy youngest furbaby, Ben, was rushed to the vet after a distressing night where his whole little body was pounding with an accelerated heartbeat, he was off his food and not his usual huggable self. I couldn’t sleep, I remained by his side the entire night gently stroking his fur distraught that I couldn’t do anything more to ease his suffering.

Even though he wasn’t in any pain, he was clearly uncomfortable. And no-one likes to see an animal stressed.

The local vet was amazing. I was strung out and tired, tears streaming down my face. I’d gone over every inch of Ben’s skin thinking it may be a paralysis tick or snake bite – but came up empty.

Well Ben is now back to his good old self and at home by my feet. He is the most plesant natured little pooch and so well-behaved.  Even the vet commented on his intelligence.

Ben has a big heart – literally. It’s common for small dogs of Ben’s breed to develop heart issues. And thank goodness the vet finally narrowed down the issue and stabilized his condition. Now I get to share more cuddles with my little polar bear. And he loves cuddles!

I remember wishing to the night sky for Ben to be alright. He’s part of my family – and as his proud parent it’s up to me to ensure his safety and comfort. I know I spoil all my dogs, but the unconditional love and support they give me is invaluable, and they deserve to be spoiled. The best of care. I’d been bed ridden for many months recovering from cancer, and these boys kept me calm, kept me smiling.

So I still have my cuddle bunny – wish granted.

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I’ve said before, to live as close as you can to treating each day like it’s your last. It was never so important as it was this week. As devastated as I was at the thought of losing my canine friend, I didn’t have one regret about what we’ve shared. He’s been showered with love, seen most of Australia with me, got to eat marvellous things, sniff so many smells, he’s having a great doggie life. And I intend it to be even more fantastic.

Bless my little companion – and thank you.

Granted Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Muttly Mania by Casey Carlisle© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.