Live Life and Practice Writing

It’s scary—you let your dogs out, you go to let them in and they are not there. What do you do?

Or you’re out walking and suddenly a firework goes off; your dog takes-off in fear. What do you do?


Prevention is worth a pound of cure. The best way to minimize losing your dog is by teaching them you are their safe-haven and source of all fun. 

The very first thing you must, must, MUST do is train a solid recall. The best way to do this is NEVER, ever, no matter what, punish your dog in any way for coming to you. No matter what they did or how mad you are, always reward them. From day one, puppy or adult, if your dog comes to you, reward them. Pet them, give them food, whatever you can do in that moment. 

 Dogs live in the present. They have no idea you are mad at them because they ran way from you 5 minutes ago no matter how many times you explain it to them or how loud you yell. They only know they came to you and got smacked on the nose or their collar pulled  or it seemed to agitate you.

Work on recall from day one using fabulous rewards. Use a word other than their name, humans tend to say a dog’s name to often for it to be an effective command. Start by teaching them to sit. Then teach them to stay moving farther away each time. Practice this in 10 minute sessions a few times a day.

You can train weeks old puppies; keep in mind they have short attention spans and need lots of repetition. Teaching at 9 weeks; the puppy learns how to learn, “Oh, that word means I do this and I get a treat.” There are many training systems out there, find one you like and stick with it.

If you adopted an older dog, a great way to bond and develop trust is to take a basic obedience class. I cannot stress enough the importance of this in preventing the loss of a dog. They may still take off at times, but training increases the chance of the them returning on their own by 80% or more.

Walk your dog

This is as important as training your dog and the most important factor in you being the source of all fun. Dogs who escape often do so because they are bored and have excess energy. Walking and playing with your dog drains that excess energy and removes the need to find other outlets for it like escaping the yard.

Teaching your dog to walk properly on a leash makes walking fun for both of you. The more often you walk your dog, the easier it is. If you only walk occasionally, it is much harder. I walk my dogs 2 times a day every day, but I know not every one can do this. Short walks every day are great, three times a week is better than once. Running the dog along a bicycle is a great energy drainer for very energetic dogs. A tired dog is a good dog. 

Walking is not just for exercise. Leash walks are mental exercise for your dog; smelling and catching up on neighborhood critter news, is great mental stimulation and can tire a dog faster than a run. Also, it satisfies the dogs urge to smell whats outside of the yard; the dog learns the neighborhood and the neighborhood gets to know your dog. 

Very often a dog is found and only weeks later the finder learns the dog lives down the street. It’s also a great way to socialize your dog. Introduce him to any neighbors interested. Knowing the people around you helps if you should lose your dog, find a dog or have a dog issue with a neighbor.

Off the Leash

Find places to walk your dog off-leash. Walking off-leash teaches a dog to be with you without a leash and makes it less likely they will take-off at any opportunity.  I drop my leashes all the time, but my dogs don’t run off for two reasons; I don’t panic and they are used to walking with me off-leash.

Yes, you are taking a chance when you walk off-leash, but if you have done your basic training, you should be fine. With puppies there is a period of time where they won’t go far from you. This is the ideal time to teach off-leash ettiequte and recall. Carry treats and very calmly call them to you every so often or call them back if they go to far. It is important you are calm when doing this type training so pick a place your feel comfortable. I like to train mine in a Marsh because it’s surrounded on all sides by water; not every one is comfortable in a Marsh. Find what works for you. Reward, reward, reward.

There are some dogs that can never be walked off-leash, you need to be able to read your dog. The bottom line here is if you are not comfortable, if it’s going to make you anxious, don’t do it.

If your dog runs to far

There may come a time when your dog tests you and runs farther away than they should. It’s hard, but do not chase them. This only encourages them to keep running. They may have done it for fun or because they saw a critter. Your state of worry will communicate there is danger and they need find it by running farther still. You should calmly turn around and walk the other direction calling the dog in a normal, cheerful voice. It would be a good idea to have treats on hand to reward them when they come to you. Yes, there could be cars and all that, but I have never had this not work. You will not catch them by chasing them.

When your dog goes Walkabout

First, do not panic. When you first discover the dog is missing, stay still and listen for other dogs in the neighborhood barking. Follow the barking. This is the best way to find a dog. If you are not sure how long the dog has been gone, still try this but listen further away. Walk the neighborhood and listen. The one time I did have a dog wander out of my yard, this is how a found him. I got on my bike and followed the barking dogs. There was Barney a few streets away running the fence with a barking dog.

Next, if you walk your dog and have a route you often take, walk that route. You are likely to find the dog somewhere along it. Make sure there is some one at home incase the dog returns on his own. I’ve only had two dogs run away in a lifetime of having dogs and I found both by these two methods. What follows is from my experience helping others find their dogs and returning lost dogs to their owners.

Do not think or say your dog was stolen. Although this does happen, it is less likely than the dog wandering off. Do not write this on social media or on any posters you make. It is the surest way to never find your dog. If the dog wasn’t stolen and someone found it, they may hesitate to contact you for fear of being accused of stealing. If the dog was taken, the thieves may not return it even if you offer a reward, if you start by accusing. Often people who take dogs do so for the reward money. Remember the goal is to get the dog back.

If you have searched the walking routes and followed the barking dogs and your dog has not returned home; call the local police and make a report that the dog is missing.  Call any near-by cities and and make the report and leave your contact information. You do not need to speak to animal control or the shelter. If the police receive a call of a lost dog, they will call you. This is how I have returned 99% of the lost dogs I have found.

Don’t forget to call your vet and report the dog missing and your groomer, if you use one. Anyone who would know the dog, notify.

Post your dog’s picture on social media for your local area. Start close to home and then move further out. I like and neighborhood Facebook Groups for this. Most areas have a Facebook group for lost dogs.

As more time goes by, visit local shelters, don’t rely on photos because dogs can look very different after a few hours out on their own. 

Make flyers and canvas the neighborhood and talk to neighbors, give them flyers, don’t just post them. It is better to do this on foot or bike than in a car.  Always make sure there is some one at home incase the dog returns on it’s own.

Hopefully your dog will be found.

A few more tips

Microchipping is the best way to ensure your dog is returned if something weird happens like they get trapped inside a delivery truck and end-up half a state away. Keep your contact information attached to the chip up-to-date.

An ID tag on the collar is good, but when a dog runs away it is often at a time when it is not wearing it’s collar or the collar is lost on the walkabout.

Secure you fence and gate. Leaning something against the gate isn’t good enough. If you can move it, so can your dog.

Never walk your dog on a retractable leash. Despite the handle and the claims of the manufacturers, these leashes are hard to hold. Often dogs are lost by the owner dropping the leash and the leash chasing the dog. These stories usually do not have happy endings.

No matter how distraught you are, be nice to any one trying to help you find your dog no matter how annoying they are.

Keep calling local police and going to local shelters. It’s hard, but ask if any dead dogs where found when you call. It is better to know than not know.

Social media is a great tool for reuniting lost dogs with owners, but don’t rely on it only. Keep refreshing your social media posts.


Please leave your tips below. If you lost a dog and found it, I’d love the hear the story. Please post it in the comments. Have a favorite training method? I’d like to hear that to!

“Will you bring your homemade spaghetti meatballs?”

The Academy Award of home cooks everywhere. I get this all the time because this recipe is that good. People assume I make it from scratch and I don’t correct them. The meatballs are from scratch; the sauce is not, but it’s close. Here’s the recipe along with a few tips.

Continue reading

When I first heard about Anthony Bourdain’s death, I didn’t believe it. Then it was all over the internet and news. It must true, he committed suicide. Over and over it was said, he didn’t seem like the type and the number for the suicide preventions hot line was given. I don’t know, it didn’t seem right for a life like his.

Suicide has no type was as far as I could articulate my feelings. Then I read this Facebook post by Kimberly Stewart and said, “Yes, that’s it!”

Kim graciously allowed me to share her feelings.

Continue reading

A skillet cookie. I am laughing at the irony. I finally include recipes on this blog and the first two are not things you should eat if trying to cut calories. But here’s the thing, you are going to cheat so if you do, it is better to eat goodies you make than the processed ones you buy at the store. At least you know what’s in it.

The Story

When I was in college at Wayne State University in Detroit, we often ate at the wonderful Traffic Jams restaurant on Canfield. They have great food, but what I remember most is a dessert called, “A Cookie in a Fancy Dress.” It was a chocolate chip cookie served with TJ’s homemade vanilla ice cream. We were poor so we’d order one to share. It was delicious and the name appealed to our theatrical sensibilities. It was always a good time.

I have tried many chocolate chip cookies and never found one that tasted like that cookie. When I read the tips on The Foodie Delights blog for making a skillet cookie, I said, “Could this be it? Chopped chocolate, less white sugar and malted milk powder?”

I had to try it.

I will be using my Grandma’s 11 1/2 inch skillet that dates back to 1965. This skillet is larger and heftier than my older ones and has a fabulous surface. If you haven’t guessed, I am a metal head, that is a collector of cast iron cookware.

A Cookie in a Fancy Dress

  • Servings: 6-10
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

A gooey, chewy reward after a long day of writing.

Best if served with a good vanilla ice cream and chocolate shavings. This recipe was modified from the Nestlé Toll House Recipe. I used Baker’s chocolate bars; unsweetened (100% cacao), semi-sweet (56% cacao) and German’s sweet Chocolate (48% cacao.) You can also include some white chocolate. Chop the chocolate with a chopping knife and not a food processor.

It’s hard to shave chocolate in your kitchen, use some of the chopped chocolate or Nestlé chocolate chips of any kind to trim the dress’

For the ice cream, I am useing Calder’s vanilla which has 5 ingredients and I can pronounce all 5. Calder’s is a local dairy.

Credit: Nestlé, The Foodie Delights blog, Cynthia Franks


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 heaping table spoon of plain malted milk powder
  • 2 cups (about 12 ounces) chopped chocolate of different varieties.
  • 1 1/2 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter, softened not melted
  • 1/3 cup white cane sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanillia (if possible natural vanilla and not extract)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 well-seasoned 10 to 12 inch cast iron skillet


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in the center.
  2. Generously butter, with softened not melted butter, a 10 to 12 inch cast iron skillet.
  3. On a piece of parchment paper over a cutting board, chop the chocolate.
  4. In a mixing bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, malted milk powder, swipe all the chopped chocolate bits off the parchment paper and into the bowl.
  5. In a larger bowl, mix together the butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs.
  6. Add the dry ingredients at one time and mix until well combined.
  7. Press all cookie dough into the well-buttered cast iron skillet.
  8. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until the sides are nice golden brown, but the middle is still giggly to the touch.
  9. Remove from oven and allow to set in cast iron skillet for at least 45 minutes.
  10. Cut into desired pieces and remove from skillet. Serve with vanilla ice cream and chocolate shavings or pieces.

End note

This cookie is great with ice cream. It is great crumbled into the ice cream. It is not so great on it’s own.

Next time I will make two cookies out of this amount of dough. I felt the cookie was to thick. I’d cut the cooking time down a bit.

I think I would do 1/2 cup white sugar or use milk chocolate in place of the unsweetened chocolate. The ice cream adds the needed sweetness, but if not serving this á la mode, it needs a sweetness boost. I would add some white chocolate into the mix.

I’m going to look at some other cookie dough recipes and try this again.

Writing a novel is very different from writing a play. The story telling is the same, but the mechanics of it are different as I am finding out.

I know the play writing process. I know it’s different for each story, but I have a good idea what I need to do to get to my pay-off. Once I get the characters working, I almost don’t need to think about the writing until the final tweaks. It becomes a matter of getting the characters to do the things required to tell the story.

In writing a novel, I feel certain that there will come a point where my characters take over, but it takes so much longer to get there. I need to build the sets and do the lighting using my words. It is hard work. And often boring work. Continue reading

[Photographs: Emily Dryden] If I learned anything about food growing up down south, it’s that a cast iron skillet can work wonders for any recipe—even chocolate chip cookies. Slap a chocolate chip cookie dough in a cast iron skillet, and it’ll bake up crunchy around the edges, but soft and fudgy in the middle, like…

via The Skillet Cookie: Yet Another Reason to Love Cas… — Your Foodie Delights

January 22, 2018

This monologue is about 2 minutes. I wrote this character in his mid-30s, but he could be older or younger. Actors feel free to use this. Let me know how it goes.


You like this place?  You like the work you’re doing?  Fixing the place up and all?  Helping to make it productive again, maybe?  Good.  Good.  Think it’s a good thing?  Think you’re doing the right thing?  Jumping right in and saving the farm?  You know what this land is worth to developers?  My Ma could make a lot of money.  The money’s not important to you, I know. She don’t care either.  No, she was never one to think about the future. (Pause.) Did I ever tell you the story about the dog and the train?  I didn’t?  Well, I was down at the train station in Depot Town not too long ago passing time with friends when we heard these people yelling outside.  A train had just gone through, but you don’t pay attention to those things too much anymore.  These people come in saying we have to come and see this.  I start to hear this wailing.  It didn’t sound like any living thing I ever heard.  So we go.  These people are all incredulous, so I’m thinking this must be something.  We get out there and there’s this dog running around and these people are trying to catch it.  I’m thinking what’s the big deal?  As we get closer, I see it’s not a dog, but half a dog.  I shit you not.  Half a dog.  The train hit it and cut it in two just around the hips.  It cauterized it so it wasn’t bleeding or nothing.  This thing is running around screaming because these people are trying to help it.  All it wants to do is lay down and die and these people won’t leave it alone.  I kept saying, “Someone shoot the thing.”  They told me I was a cold hearted bastard.  And these good hearted people kept trying to help this half a dog.  After about an hour the thing finally dropped.  But it lived an hour of agony and terror it wouldn’t of had to go through if the people would have left it alone.  Let it die right where it should have. They had to agitate it.  Keep it going.  But the end was the same.  Only it could’ve been a whole lot more peaceful.  Do we understand each other?  Good.

I have been enjoying reading this mother and son’s journey walking across New Hampshire. I am inspired by their fighting spirit. They struggle to walk, something I take for granted and look what they did.

Read about the trip and then I encourage to read the blog posts in the order they occurred. Be prepared to be inspired.

Click here to read Walking New Hampshire.


Categories: Life

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