Category Archives: inspiration

Space Corgis: A Life of Possibility

With the Star Wars craze in full-bloom, you’d think that someone with corgis named Leia and Yoda would have been first in the theatre! But no, I have not seen the film yet. I prefer waiting it out a couple of weeks until the theatres are a bit less crowded.

So in the meantime, I helped to dissipate my outer-space enthusiasm with some doodling by the fire. At first I doodled about Christmas, then about summertime (since I greatly miss those beautiful temperatures). But then I wanted to be even more whimsical, and I ended up drawing Corgis in Space:

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It got me thinking about the reason I love the concept of outer space so much. Why am I such a fan of Star Wars, Star Trek, and Doctor Who? Why does the idea of corgis flying around outer space fascinate me?

It’s the same reason I love sharing a life with dogs.

Possibility.

In a universe that includes space travel, possibility is nearly unlimited. The Doctor can travel through time and space—finding almost any possibility somewhere in the universe. The crew in Star Trek can explore the universe to find types of life previously unimagined. And, of course, the characters in Star Wars have the chance to fight for the type of world they want to live in.

And so it goes with having a dog. No, they can’t literally travel in time. But dogs can help us manipulate time, slowing down a stressful day simply by sitting on our laps or engaging us in a game of catch. Maybe they’re not discovering new forms of life in the vast corners of the universe. But they certainly can find any new forms of life that manifest in the back yard, opening our eyes to what would otherwise go unnoticed! Like children, they find magic and wonder in everyday life, and if we pay enough attention to them, we may, too.

While I’m sitting here typing, Leia and Yoda are chasing each other around a loop in my basement, play-fighting over a single white sock they found under the couch. Who knew the possibility of such fun existed in a single, mateless sock?

Certainly not me.

But then again, I’m not a space corgi!

A Corgi Thanksgiving

May there always be food for you to mooch,
Always a warm bed fit for a pooch,
Always a human to hold you tight
In the darkness of winter and blackness of night.
May there always be squirrels for you to chase,
A bird in the garden, or a kitty to race,
And always a smile and wiggly tail
Because you love everything–and are grateful for it all!
Love life like we do, be always amazed
And thankful for each moment for the rest of your days!

Thanksgiving

Fantastic Friday: Bringing Joy

I heard just yesterday the question, “Why isn’t there any good news?” It’s true that new media seem to play up the negative stories and skip over the happy ones. What’s that expression? Blood sells, right? As 9/11 approaches each year, it seems many of us grow gloomy as well, so I thought I’d share an article I’ve been saving since last month.

I enjoyed coming across an article inAugust’s Parade magazine about acting dogs (Acting Like a Dog), and you can imagine I was thrilled to read about two corgis, Mimi and Marco, who were surrendered by their owner when they were 9 and 10 years old. Sent to a rescue organization, they were placed with Bill Berloni, an animal trainer, who placed them in a Broadway show called The Audience, a play about Queen Elizabeth II. The two “undeniable crowd pleasers” dash across the stage, thrilling audience members and are themselves rewarded with mozzarella cheese, their preferred treat.

The article continues, discussing dogs that Berloni trains, including the Chihuahua starring in Legally Blonde: The Musical, which he adopted from a shelter.

I always sort of dread when September 11 rolls around on the calendar. Like any of us old enough to remember the day, I will never forget where I was when I heard, and I will never forget the tense moments afterwards, glued to the television and unsure of the future—or the serious repercussions the day had on our society at large. It’s good to be reminded that there are positive stories out there such as the stories people like Berloni create every day—of abandoned lives turning into talent that can bring joy to thousands.

The news story brought me a smile and is one more reason we should all aspire to consider small ways we can bring joy to others—in other words, to live more like a dog!

 

Guest Post: Dogs in our Hearts

Several months ago, I read a great “dog” book called Seven Days to Goodbye. The idea of a service dog is prominent in the book, and I have heard plenty of people praise the power of service animals. Today I have the opportunity to feature a guest post by author Sheri S. Levy, who wrote the book. When I contacted her, I specifically wanted to know: what inspired you to write the novel, especially as it relates to service dogs. Enjoy her post below, and then check out more information about the book at the bottom of the page. It’s clear from all of the pictures that we have a dog lover in our presence!


Why I wrote Seven Days to Goodbye

by Sheri S. Levy

Years ago, after acquiring my special education teaching credentials, I put teaching on hold and opted to stay home with our young children and babysit for a neighbor. Her young daughter, two years old, and the same age as my daughter, gave me the chance to play school. Our son attended half-day kindergarten and before long three additional school age children joined us after school.

Seven-year-old, David, lived across the street with a single, working mom, and his beautiful German Shepherd, Charlie. They wandered over every day and Charlie attached herself to my husband, Murphy, as he worked outside. When David and his mother couldn’t keep Charlie, Murphy instantly offered to take her. She was our first dog and the reason for all of the following dogs.

charlie_300x300[1]After Charlie’s death, Murphy cried in his pillow. When he traveled out of town, the children and I found the perfect puppy for his birthday. An eight-week-old, white German Shepherd, Gretchel, our family pet for twelve amusing years.

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With our children gone, it pained us to say goodbye to our first grown puppy. We tried to hide our need of another dog. But it wasn’t working. A friend introduced us to her Australian Shepherds, and an unbearable desire for a pup escalated. We drove five hours to the coast to claim our first red-merle. Sydney became our first house dog, slept in our bed, joined us at Edisto, and repaired our hearts.

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At six months old, Sydney romped in the snow during a January snow storm with a black Lab pup. Thinking it was a neighbor’s puppy, we played and sledded for hours. Frozen to the bone, we headed home and the Lab followed. I called the neighbors. No one knew of a black Lab missing. We waited two days for the snow to melt, and then took him to the vet. She examined him, found he had three puncture wounds, and told us he was around Sydney’s age. We named him Jake and our two-dog adventure began.

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As both dogs aged, we retired and traveled across the US for a month in our old Tahoe car. The dogs walked the streets with us and rested in the hotel while we dined in the evening. A couple years later, after repeating this trip, Sydney became ill and we had to say goodbye. I wasn’t sure my heart could take the pain.

An idea about creating a story with a special needs child, and Sydney and Jake, festered in my mind. I wrote for years, revising and editing until a critiquer mentioned removing Jake to reach my emotional theme. Dreading deleting Jake, I shared this idea with Murphy. He reminded me I’d always have Jake with me in spirit. We toasted Jake, and I deleted him from the story.

My funny, happy, and sad experiences with dogs and special needs children shape my stories. Writing the real and the make-believe pieces of my life is cathartic and spurs my imagination. Seven Days to Goodbye is my heart book and its saga will continue.

Our current dogs, Slater and Mulligan:

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About Sheri’s book:

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After Trina’s beloved dog dies, she swears she’ll never get another one. But then she learns about service dogs, and realizes if she becomes a puppy raiser, she could train puppy after puppy and never worry about them dying. But like all great ideas, this one has a serious flaw: her first service puppy must be returned to his kennel at the end of their week-long summer vacation. And saying goodbye to Sydney is going to be much tougher than she ever imagined.

Trina’s last week with Sydney is made that much harder by her newly strained friendship with her best friend, Sarah, who’s become so over-the-top boy crazy that she’s almost like a stranger. Sarah is determined to have them hang out with every boy at the beach, but when a boy named Chase takes an interest in Sydney and Trina, it puts an even bigger strain on the friendship. It’s hard enough to deal with losing Sydney, but now she may lose her best friend, too. And even if she manages to patch things up with Sarah—and figures out what to do about Chase—she still must face a daunting decision: is she strong enough to take on another service puppy?

You can read a free preview and get a 35% off coupon here.

 

 

 

Corgi Photo Shoot

Last month, my good friend Voula Trip came over to kindly take photos of the corgis (and of me). As might be imagined, taking pictures of two crazy corgis presents quite the challenge. We wanted to get a picture of me and the corgis along with the two corgi Squishables. Sounds easy enough, right?

Challenge #1: Squirmy Leia

It took six years for me to get her to sit still enough to brush her teeth, and even now, it depends on the day, her mood, the angle of the sun… Note that her squirming was also accompanied by high-pitched squeals, disturbing enough to make Yoda leave the area (butt pictured).

Squirmy Leia being... squirmy.

Squirmy Leia being… squirmy.

Challenge #2: Yoda is in Love with the Photographer

Yep, he’s obsessed. Makes it difficult to take pictures when he’s sitting at your feet howling up at you lovingly.

Yoda: I love you! Sooooo much!

Yoda: “I love you! Sooooo much!”

Challenge #3: Make it Look Like You’re Not Choking Leia

When Leia finally calmed down a bit, we were able to have the corgis take their “places.” But Leia wouldn’t stay still. It was suggested that I “hold her gently” in place. The first attempt looked something like a toned-down version of Homer Simpson strangling Bart. Notice Yoda gazing longingly toward the photographer:

"Why you little!" ("Leia, just sit still for two seconds, please!)

“Why you little!” (“Leia, just sit still for two seconds, please!”)

The Payoff

And finally… after my hands gradually moved away from Leia’s neck in each subsequent shot, we ended up with something that looks halfway decent. If you don’t look carefully enough, you won’t notice Leia’s leg is in “spring” mode, ready to pounce away as soon as my arm is lifted. I put an arm around Yoda, too, so people might think the arms were a sign of affection instead of a near-death-grip on Squirmy Leia. Notice Yoda is still gazing longingly toward the photographer 🙂

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Their Reward

Not that Yoda needed a reward. The ability to bask in the warm presence of his new Love was enough… but Leia was still a little wound up. When it was all over, the corgis were thrilled when Voula asked them to sit on the couch for a “private” photo shoot. With such a privilege, Leia sat still for shot after shot.

Headshots-145Happy Monday, and Corgi On!

Diary of a Dirty Dog

If your dog is anything like mine, you may notice a personality change in direct proportion to the level of stinkiness. My corgis are so sweet and cuddly when they’re clean, and then the dirtier they get, the more wild they become. IMG_4226

Monday

Had a b-b-b-bath last night.

Even the bedding was washed.

Fur smooth, scent fresh.

Must not allow this to happen again.

 

Tuesday

Person was very cuddly today.

Kept complimenting my smell.

Cuddled back.

Received two extra treats.

Bedding fluffy and comfortable. I awoke well-rested.

Maybe baths not so bad.

 

Friday

Tired of cuddling.

Bed too clean.

Went exploring Yard while Person distracted.

Found pile of dark brown Stink.

Thinking either skunk or raccoon.

Will investigate further for consumption.

 

Saturday

Went back to Stink pile.

Started to eat it.

Was stopped by Person.

Rubbed nose against Stink while Person wasn’t looking.

Jumped into Crate, rubbed snout on blanket to save Scent.

Will have a good night.

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Monday

Person asked, “What’s that smell?”, took out trash, seems content for now.

Found several more Gooey Blobs in Yard.

Person has been watching too closely.

Could not investigate further.

Fur has developed lovely patina.

Life is good.

 

Tuesday

Rained today.

Person would not come Outside with me.

Rubbed in Muck but Scent was wiped away by Rain and Towel.

Will try again tomorrow.

 

Wednesday

Rain made Muck perfect consistency.

Dashed outside despite Person’s warnings.

Was yelled at.

Rolled anyway.

Smell like Muck.

Person displeased.

I find this somehow exciting.

 

Thursday

Had a b-b-b-bath last night.

Even the bedding was washed.

Fur smooth, scent fresh.

Must not allow this to happen again.

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A Word from Leia the “Poop Monster”

My person called me a “poop monster” recently. The indignity, right?

See, last Friday night, my person and her person were having pizza. A corgi loves pizza. It’s food, isn’t it?

Demonstrating perfect begging form.

Demonstrating perfect begging form.

My silly person couldn’t finish all the pizza, and she left it there on the table. As if I didn’t know it was there. So what I did was, I jumped up and down like a kang-aroooo, and I kept doing that, and adding pathetic squeals, until my person said, “Okay, already. You can have a piece.”

So she took all the cheese off (how dare she!) and gave me some of the crust. It was so good that I kang-aroooed again, and she gave me some more. Before she knew it, she had gaved me almost all the pizza slice (except that my stupid brother got some, too).

I was so content that I curled up on her lap to take a nap until bedtime.

But before bedtime, my person woke me up and said, “Leia, you stink! Do you need to go out?”

Cold, dark, and snowy: the perfect time to play!

Cold, dark, and snowy: the perfect time to play!

It was not the Time to Go Out, but I will never say no to a romp around the yard, so I went out with her. But she didn’t want to play. She crossed her arms like I was supposed to be doing my business. But my person knows I already did my business for the day. How dare she!

What do you mean "time to do my business"?

What do you mean “time to do my business”?

She stayed out so long until she finally said, “Okay, I’m freezing.” And then we went to bed.

The next day, she came down and saw that I had made a mess in my crate. She (how dare she) said she had to get rubber cleaning gloves because I “slept in it,” and she had to carry me outside. She then complained about how cold it was out, and how the hose wasn’t hooked up and that she’d have to carry me back inside for a b-b-bath! The nerve of her! And she didn’t even feed me, either. Instead, she cleaned me with some stinky shampoo.

The indignities of bath-time.

The indignities of bath-time.

She even made me go to the vet when the poop wouldn’t stop coming. The vet said I didn’t have any parasites (of course I didn’t!) and that it just had to “run its course.” Whatever that means. I like to run, so whatever!

Here I am hiding at the vet's office. I figure, if I hide behind this chair, that pesky vet won't be able to find me.

Here I am hiding at the vet’s office. I figure, if I hide behind this chair, that pesky vet won’t be able to find me.

Turns out, “run its course” has nothing to do with running. Instead, it means being crated for like 20 hours a day! What’s a gal supposed to do being crated so long? Even being let out every three hours… the nerve!

All I had to do while in that crate was stare at my brother. He had to be in his crate, too “because of me.” Here are two funny stories about him.

First: my person had to cut my “butt fluff” the other day. She said she was tired of me squealing when she had to wash my butt fluff in the sink. I tried to tell her she didn’t have to wash my butt fluff—she could just leave it. But she insisted. So she took me outside with scissors and cut a little bit at a time. I squealed each time those scary scissors sliced together. I don’t like the noise they make.

So here’s the stupid part. My dumb brother always has to copy me (because I’m so amazing). So as soon as my person finished cutting my butt fluff, Yoda came running over and presented his rump for cutting! Can you believe the stupidity of that dog? So my person just shook her head and said, “Yoda, you don’t need a haircut. You aren’t sick.” You’d think Yoda would trot away, but instead, he just howled at my person.

So what she said was, she was going to pretend to cut Yoda’s butt fluff so that he wouldn’t feel left out. But here’s what happened: she opened the scissors up, and they made that scary slicing sound, and Yoda got so scared—with the scissors like a foot away from his butt—that he ran across the yard squealing.

He’s such a scared-y dog, and a goody-two-paws, too. Here’s why. After I stopped being sick, my person was still skeptical of my “poop situation” (the indignity!). So when I barked at 5:15 in the morning, she came right down to let me out. I wasn’t sick or anything, and she gave me some petting and food and then said she was “going back to bed.”

The nerve.

She put these baby gates at the bottom of the stairs and told us to “stay.”

As if.

I stayed for a little bit. In the past, I barreled through the gate, and the noise woke my person, and then I got yelled at and crated.

The time after that, I moved the gate ever so slowly, so my person didn’t even notice. When she woke up, I was sleeping in the hallway just outside her bedroom. She didn’t even know!

Sneaking-in-action.

Sneaking-in-action.

This time I was just as sneaky. Stealth-like, I moved the gate millimeter by millimeter until there was just enough of an opening for me to squeak by. I was being so quiet, not even jingling my collar. I made it to the upstairs hallway and then…

My pesky brother.

He loves to howl. He’s got about five hundred different kind of howls. There’s an excitement-howl, a fear-howl, a startled-howl, and greeting-howl, and worst of all, there’s a tattle-tale-howl. The tattle-tale-howl has been used time and time again to

Ruin

My

Day.

Which is what he was trying to do. He tattle-howled me, and my person got up right away. Without even looking, she knew it was a tattle-tale-howl. She called, “Leia, what have you done this time?”

She was onto me.

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And there I was standing in the hallway. What could I do? I ran down the stairway, but it was too late. She saw that I was still on the wrong side of the baby gate. And so I was in trouble.

I thought for sure it was the crate for me, but things worked out okay in the end.

My person said I was “too cute for my own good,” and she said she would stay downstairs with us so we could cuddle with her on the couch.

And that’s just what we did.

Me. Her. And even my pesky brother.

The best kind of cuddling is cuddling that prevents our person from being productive!

The best kind of cuddling is cuddling that prevents our person from being productive!

From the warmth of the couch, this is Leia the Poop Monster, signing off!

Chloe the Book Critic

Today I’m featuring a guest canine on my blog. She’s best known in the literary world as Chloe the Book Critic, and let me tell you: she’s the toughest critic I’ve ever met. She likes to try as many types of literature as possible, but writers beware: she eats what she doesn’t like.

And I haven’t met a book she likes yet!

She started out her early months as a critic of newspapers. It looks like perhaps she’s a fan of shopping because she left a few of the store circulars intact:

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Here we see her brother Buster, who is not a book critic, wondering how she could be so critical, even of the sports and weather section:

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It’s even been rumored that she devoured (quite literally, I’m sorry to say) a copy of Corgi Capers. In her most recent endeavors, she decided to critique a book her person had borrowed from a friend. Chloe only made it a few pages in before deciding the book was worthy of her harshest criticism:

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But who could stay mad at that face?

IMAG0442Chloe is a rescue; she used to be a racing greyhound, but at only three years old, she broke her toe, making her eligible for rescue status. She has a sweet personality and is even friends with the corgis. Since her rescue, she has healed, gained weight, learned how to play, and adjusted to life with her beloved brother Buster. She is well-loved by her human.

If you have written a book that you’d like reviewed or critiqued… don’t send it to Chloe!


I sometimes feature guest dogs on this dog blog. If you’re interested in featuring your pup, let’s chat: send me an email!

A Ruff Day

Today, we suffered the indignity of a visit to the vet. Hmph! Canine friends, have you ever been to such a place?

It starts out with your person saying “We’re going for a ride in the car!” But don’t be fooled. You’ll be driving along, wondering where the heck you get to go, and all of a sudden–bam! The scent of it’ll hit you like fresh shampoo from a bath. The vet! There is nothing quite like the smell of the vet. There’s the exciting smell of other animals, the intriguing smell of all the people who live in the vet building, and the yucky smell of mediciny-things.

And that’s just what we smelled today. Our person told us we were so wild we’d “sleep good tonight.” We sleep good every night, so we don’t know what she was talking about. She tried to get a picture of us “being excited.” Here’s how it came out:

vet16feb2015_007See, what happens is: when we get to the vet, our person doesn’t let us in right away. She makes weird hand gestures through the glass window at the people sitting behind a counter. Then she brings us in real quick-like. Other dogs get to go on the scale there near the counter, but we’re too special for that. What happens when we get to the vet is, they say “Oh, it’s Leia and Yoda. We’ll get you to your own room real quick.” Then they come around and open up our own very special room so we don’t have to wait in the waiting room with all the other dogs.

It’s nice to be special.

We don’t know why our person turns bright red and tells us we’re too loud and barky. She should be thanking us for letting her have the royal treatment. But instead, she always says confusing things like, “I wish you two would just behave” or “Quiet, Yoda.”

Anyway, what happens next is, we have to listen real careful-like. Here is a picture of us listening:

vet16feb2015_001What are we listening for? First of all, the person behind the desk keeps saying “hello” into that hand-held ringy thing. We can hear it even through the closed door of our own private room. Whenever we hear the word “hello,” it means someone has come into the room to greet us, so as soon as we hear it, we bark. Our person makes no sense. She usually responds by saying weird words like “Quiet” or “That’s just on TV. No one’s here.” What the heck does that even mean?

We heard the person behind the counter say “hello” quite a few times, and we were sure to bark each and every time–like good corgis should.

Then someone said “hello” right in our room. It was a person with a leash, and we knew she was coming to take us away. She always does. She always asks for Leia first, and Leia was on it! She ran between the two chairs in the room. It is the only place to hide in that room:

vet16feb2015_004But that lady was clever and saw Leia hiding there. She got her anyway.

What happens next is beyond the realm of dignity, so we aren’t going to write about it. But talk about being poked and prodded! Leia always makes sure she squeals bloody murder and kicks and squirms as much as possible. Just because we have to suffer indignities doesn’t mean we have to go down without a fight!

While this is happening, I–Yoda–get quite upset. It’s important that I listen to make sure my sister is squealing loud enough. It doesn’t matter that she probably woke up people in the next zipcode. I’ve got to listen. I even stop barking when the person out in the waiting room says “hello.” Here’s what it looks like to listen for your sister squealing:

vet16feb2015_008But because she’s so squirmy, my sister takes way too long getting prodded, and a dog can’t help but get sleepy, especially after the excitement of the morning:

vet16feb2015_006When my sister finally comes back, I know it’s my turn. How do I know? I have to sniff her real good. She smells like someone’s perfume and like mediciny-things. She’s extra squirmy when she gets back. I know I’m supposed to be a good dog and go with the person holding the leash, but I want to make my objections known. So I look at my person and ask with my sad eyes, “Really???” Maybe if I look at her hard enough, she won’t make me go.

vet16feb2015_005She says, “Yes, really, Yoda. You have to go. I’ll be right here waiting.”

In the meantime, my sister has been freaking out in the waiting room. While I’m being taken for blood work, she tries to tug at the leashes to drag our person home:

vet16feb2015_003

Come ON, person. Let’s get the heck out of here!

Of course, I know my person would never leave without me, no matter how demanding Leia is.

Once the vet has looked us over, we are ready to go. We’re still upset because the vet said, “Leia acts pretty typical for a corgi, based on what I’ve seen.” What does that mean? He should know better than to test the dignity of a corgi! Hmph!

But I digress.

Once our person lets us leave, we know our time at the vet is coming to an end, so we must be as loud as possible. If we should happen to see a ferret being dropped off for dental work, we should bark and howl at it. If we see a person dropping off a cat for daycare, we should growl.

And we do. How we do!

Why, oh why, does our person always take us to the car and then go back into the building, telling us she “has to pay” before we can go home?

Oh, she’ll pay alright. She’ll pay for making us go to the vet. We have it all worked out. After returning home, we have a plan:

1. Drink the entire bowl of water.

2. Spit up part of said bowl of water.

3. Drink up the part we spit up.

4. Act pathetic and clingy. Receive treat.

5. Take a nap. For about twelve seconds.

6. Run to door. Cry. Get let out.

7. Stand outside and do nothing. Refuse to come when called.

8. Come running when our person utters, “Treat!”

9. Take a nap.

10. Act pathetic and clingy again. Get petting and cuddles. Get treats from all members of the household.

11. Take another nap. Make it impossible for our person to be productive (ex: lick laptop, push laptop off of person’s lap, bark at random noises)

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That usually works pretty well, and our person doesn’t dare take us to the vet for about a whole year or so. You should totally try it.

Wishing you a vet-free day!

-Leia and Yoda Corgi

Leia: A Corgi (in verse)

Leia: A Corgi

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A princess in every sense:

I demand service in its appropriate time—

A time for petting,

For feeding,

For waking,

For walking.

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A time for going outside,

For bathing (yes, I demand even that),

For cuddling,

For chewing.

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And if the appropriate service is not provided

At the appropriate time,

I bark sharply

And stare

And nudge

And whine

Until you obey.

(And you will obey.)

My person was "cleaning," so I thought I'd help sit on laundry that needed to be folded!

My person was “cleaning,” so I thought I’d help sit on laundry that needed to be folded!

I cry at the fast food window

Until the smell of goodies fills the car.

I growl at my brother,

Or the cavachon,

Or the poodle,

Or the squirrel or bird or mouse,

Or even the boxer that outweighs me by four.

I'm not allowed to sit on the stairs, so I hide behind the Christmas tree so no one can catch me doing it!

I’m not allowed to sit on the stairs, so I hide behind the Christmas tree so no one can catch me doing it!

I do bad things

And then make my face look so sad,

My stance so cuddly,

That no one can stay mad at me,

Not even for a second.

The person on the couch doesn't let me sleep on there. I snuck up while *he* was sleeping, and my eyes bulged every time he moved because I thought he was gonna yell at me!

The person on the couch doesn’t let me sleep on there. I snuck up while *he* was sleeping, and my eyes bulged every time he moved because I thought he was gonna yell at me! It was *so* worth it!

Through this behavior,

I make people smile.

And that is worth

Every pesky little quirk.

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Leia the Corgi is the inspiration behind the character “Sapphie” in the Corgi Capers kidlit mystery series.

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Book 3: Curtain Calls and Fire Halls has recently been released. Check it out to read up on the corgis’ latest adventures. You can also find a discount on the three-book set directly from the publisher!

Corgi Capers 3 front cover

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