A Dog’s View – Tip 6: You Are What You Eat

versace  Hello, my name is Versace. I am a four-year-old Terrier-Pit Bull. Not only am I adorable, I am affectionate too. I had a great life until allergies forced my owner to surrender my sister and me to the animal shelter. One day soon, I hope to find a home with people who love me.

My sister Sassie is an eight-year-old purebred Rottweiler. Being in a shelter frightenssassie her. My wish for Sassie is to find a quiet home to live out the rest of her life.

I’ve shared my hopes and dreams, now I’d like to provide the benefits of welcoming a dog into your life. Did you know that owning a pet can improve your overall health? One walk a day or a several minutes playing ball with your pet would increase your activity level, thereby lowering blood pressure and improving heart health? In addition, our silly behavior brings extra smiles to your face and leaves you in a better mood. Tests indicate that spending time with animals lowers your stress level more than spending time with family and friends. I’m sure having someone who views you as the greatest person in the world also plays a positive role in emotional health. Decrease the amount of hours you spend in a doctor’s office by stopping by the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter to adopt your next pet. My paws are crossed that you’ll pick Sassie or me.

I’ve shared the benefits of owning a dog, now I’d like to share a tip that will keep your pet healthy. This tip comes from our trainer Laura Garber. Laura and the staff at the animal shelter are committed to keeping our hearts and bodies healthy. Enjoy Tip 6 – You Are What You Eat!

The saying “You are what you eat!” applies as much to dogs as it does to people.  Feed your dog a diet with high-quality nutrient sources.  Look for specific meats (like “chicken”) as well as specific meat meals (like “turkey meal”), which offer a high concentration of the meat source.  Avoid by-products and, above all, corn, which is a simple sugar.  Finally, remember that animal proteins are not only tastier but also more digestible than plant proteins in dogs.  It is a rare dog that can thrive on a vegetarian diet.

Is your dog hyper, unfocused, and exhibiting out-of-control behavior?  It may be due to an extremely high level of cereal foods such as wheat, corn or corn meal.  As a test, soak a piece of his kibble in water for 15 minutes; if it swells in size and gets mushy, it’s mostly cereal.

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Versace and Sassie


About the Author and her sister: Versace’s former owner indicated that she is house trained, crate trained and lovable. Her sister Sassie is a gentle giant who would flourish with a family familiar with her breed. Both dogs are spayed and micro chipped. For more information, please contact the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter, 3320 Beltagh Avenue, Wantagh, New York. Our telephone number is     516-785-5220.



Author Spotlight: Dave Freeman’s Anti-Bullying Book

I am delighted to introduce you to Dave Freeman, the Author of the Mushroom Tales Children’s Pictures Books.


 Mushroom Tales – Volume 2: “Bullies!”

Subtitled: “Where do they come from and how long will they stay.”

“A Bully can seem like a monster or just a mad kid with nothing to do.

For reasons unknown they are angry and they seem to like picking on you.”


I am thrilled to discover your books. Please tell us a little bit about Mushroom Tales – Volume 2: “Bullies!”

Most recently, we have released this new Tale in English, while we work on the bilingual (Spanish + English) and DVD versions:

Bullies!” is the second in our series of motivational Children’s Picture Books, in rhyming verse, with colorful, comical Mushroom characters. Each Mushroom Tale consists of a short story that will serve as a conversation starter between our young Mushroom Readers and their Parents. Our main character and narrator, Maximus Mushroom describes our Tales this way:

“Learning to read is exciting.

Sharing time and a laugh is great fun!


Mushroom Tales share a verse with a message,

That will last when the lesson is done.”

Max’s voice resembles Alvin or one of his chipmunk brothers and will be heard in the Audio, DVD, Downloadable file versions and currently in our YouTube Trailer. (http://youtu.be/Z72JkDFjdR4).

Our goal is to dedicate our books to influence young readers with what we call the Three L’s of Mushroom Tales….To Love, To Laugh & To Learn.

Where did you get the inspiration for this book?

Mushroom Tales, available on Amazon.com, are a family affair. My wife Connie (Maria Consuelo) is the Artist who, while living in Colombia, South America had a dream and an idea, having something to do with cute Mushroom Characters. Fifteen years later, give or take a week, Connie and I met and married (not in the same week), which makes me a Gringo with a Colombian connection, possibly a “Colom-Bingo”.

A year ago, Connie asked me to create a story to bring her Mushroom characters to life. “You mean a Mushroom Tale?” I asked and the rest is an obsession that I hope will never end.

 Connie’s experience confirms the rule: Authors should keep a pad and paper close by to write down dreams and ideas. How did you begin your writing career?

I don’t recall the beginning of my love affair with writing. I can only remember that once I joined the real world, in a professional capacity, I was always drawn to and selected for writing assignments. I was asked to write resumes, radio commercials, complaint letters and even letters to turn an angry client from antagonist to a proponent. I enjoyed the challenge and to my great pleasure continued to hit the bull’s eye on many assignments. That gratifying feeling of connecting individuals and solving problems is my major motivations as a writer.

It’s not uncommon to hear quite sincerely, “Wow, that’s excellent!…..Can I see the short version?” My biggest challenge is a variation of the KISS principle, “Keep It Somewhat Short”. (We’re not allowed to say “stupid” in our house, unless it’s talking about why we don’t use the word “stupid” in our house).

I have a tendency to be a trifle verbose, in my writing, due to the fact that it allows me to use words that would never pass my lips in normal Construction Manager conversations, words like “trifle” and “verbose”, for example.

I sometimes even have difficulty answering short questions with one sentence answers. I am pleased to announce that by transitioning to the writing of SHORT, motivational Children’s Books, I have now gone to the other extreme. I have actually written a series of books in rhyming verse, which following a non-scientific public survey, have been determined to be TOO SHORT.   I can fix that.

That last response had me laughing.  Readers love following their favorite authors, which social networking sites can fans find you? Please provide links.

Would you please share an odd behavior you’ve picked up while writing? (An example: during intense scenes, my fingers pound the keyboard.)

I’m told that I have a good “radio voice” (last tested as a DJ in the 60’s), but when I am reading my stories out loud to listen to the meter, rhythm and rhyme, the only voice that comes out is Maximus Mushroom. We will be introducing a new character, soon, Max’s friend Millennium Mushroom. Millie will have just a hint of a Spanish accent….Colombian, I think. We’ll see if Connie’s reading habits change with this new addition.

I would love to hear you read your writing aloud in that voice. Did you conduct any kind of research in order to write this book?

To be honest, our first 12 volumes of Mushroom Tales came from my experiences in a perfect “Ozzie & Harriet” childhood in Portland, Oregon. When I took charge of my life in young adulthood, life seemed to get much more complicated. My writing is a combination of the wonderful childhood and scary, goofy, real world adult experiences that have shaped my character. Now, the next series of Tales will deal with an area that is much more challenging and an area that I am researching through connections with Psychologists, Medical Professionals, Teachers and Librarians, to name a few. This condition that affects millions of individuals is called “Autistic Spectrum Disorder” (A.S. D.).

Are you working on new projects?

Our objective is to create a style of book that will capture the imagination and attention of children within the Autism Spectrum. Certainly of equal importance in our goal is to create lessons that help “less challenged” kids and their families and friends to be more compassionate, caring and considerate. “Inclusion” is our key word and we dedicate our next series to that end. My immediate plan is to continue and expand our research by reaching out to professionals and affected families in a Blog. This will, hopefully, start a conversation and the sharing of experiences, observations, questions and proven solutions. Now that I know how to spell Blog, all I need to do is figure out how to turn it on. The self- education process continues.

I already know your book is part of a series. Please describe the series for readers?

We began with stories of importance to our young readers, one subject per book. They include:

  • “Rules of Gold” (about the Golden Rule)
  • “Bullies” (about Bully Solutions)
  • “How to win a race” (about personal motivation)
  • “Your Smile! What’s it for?” (about personal interaction)
  • “Single Moms Rock! Lessons from a child” (about single parent families)
  • “Be Positive. You are what you think” (Think Positive)
  • “The Troll and the New Kid” (about prejudice)
  • “Where do Friends come from?” (about..you know)
  • “Good thoughts, why bother?” (shows that thoughts have meaning)
  • “Good Morning Choices” (shows that you can choose your path daily)
  • “You are Special” (shows the reader that they have value as a person)
  • “Be the one!” (Be like One, not the Other..you choose)

Please share an interesting fact about yourself (other than writing).

 With an Irish heritage, it might surprise you to know that at the age of 39-ish I spoke no Spanish. Fast forward, 20+ years and I have a website called “Ayúdame Gringo”, which means ‘Help me Gringo”. I translate documents, resumes, etc. from Spanish to English and write persuasive letters for Spanish only speaking clients with English only speaking antagonists.

It’s often fun to see the faces of individuals hearing me speak in Spanish for the first time. I often get one of those “What’s wrong with this picture” double takes. Especially when my new friends have been speaking Spanish and they quickly do a mental rewind of the conversation to remember if they accidently insulted the Gringo. (¡No problema!)

 Me encanta! Is there anything else you would like to say to your readers?

Our goal is to share our sincere respect for all people, young and old. We will continue to dissect our daily experiences to identify the good parts and the teaching moments. We hope that you enjoy our positive approach to life and that we may bring a smile to you and your children, while helping parents and mentors to connect with those children with a positive and motivational message.

We are always seeking new story ideas and even sensitive subjects that could use the help from a loveable Mushroom character, to help open a conversation and to bring families and friends closer together.

We promise to remember the goal of Mushroom Tales is to teach our children:

Thank you Dave and Connie Freeman for this wonderful series. I am a firm believer that children, who learn how to deal with bully behavior at an early age, will successfully overcome the issue when faced with it later.



For more on Dave Freeman and his books, please visit www.farmingdale.patch.com and click on Author Interviews by Katie McKnight. Would you like to have your book featured on my blogs? You may contact me at www.katie-mcknight-author.com or through Facebook at www.facebook.com/katiemcknightauthorpage.


Michael Haden is in the Author Spotlight


Today I welcome Michael Haden to the Author Spotlight.  Michael wrote a novel about Deana, a young lady he coached in soccer. Tragically, a drunk driver killed her just before her 20th birthday. After she passed, he learned of her amazing biography. Deana had such a great story; Michael Haden shares it in his novel, A Deal with God.


Please tell us a little about Deana.

Deana was the most inspirational person I ever met. She survived a brutal upbringing and became a wonderful person whose life ended way too soon.

How long did it take you to write your current novel?

One year

Did you conduct any kind of research in order to write this book (visit certain locales, etc.)?

I went to Dothan/Rutledge Georgia for an entire week.

Who is your book published through?

I author published through Create Space and call myself Denco Media.

Who reads the drafts of your novels?

Adam Camuti is my editor.

Where can we find your book?


Readers love following their favorite authors, which social networking sites can fans find you?  Please provide links.

I have Facebook pages for Michael Haden and A Deal with God

What tools/methods have you employed to promote your book? What advice would you give to writers regarding promotion? 

I hired Nick Wale to promote my book.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

I use a firm outline.

I could ask a dozen more questions about Deana’s story.  Instead, I am going to grab a copy of your book and read the story.  We cannot end the interview without learning about the author.  Here are some fun questions.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what is one thing you couldn’t live without?

Radio/music. I am the two time Beef O’breidys Karaoke champion.

How did you begin your writing career?

Deal is the Genesis of my writing career.

What is your favorite snack while writing?


Would you please share an odd behavior you’ve picked up while writing? (An example: during intense scenes, my fingers pound the keyboard.)

Trying to not be distracted by incoming e-mail.

What is your day job?

I own Denco Water Conditioning Inc. in Odessa/Tampa Fla. Finding time.

What would you say is the most challenging part of writing a book? 

Customers don’t always understand that I have a second job.  It doesn’t bother me.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Professional musician.

What are your favorite TV shows?

24, Last Man Standing, Modern Family, Rules of Engagement and Hallmark movies.

Is there anything else you would like to say to your readers?

Please spread the word that if you are going to operate a motor vehicle please drive sober and put the phone away. Too many people needlessly perish due to the neglect of other drivers.

Thank you for joining us today.  Happy holidays!

Author Michael Haden and Deana.

Author Michael Haden and Deana.

Empowering Bystanders (Anti-bullying)

This weekend a friend posted an anti-bullying video on Facebook. The video contained stories of three victims. The first victim, a teenage girl describing, through index cards, an ongoing incident she’d suffered at the hands of classmates. Shortly after she posted the original video online, she committed suicide.

If her story was not heart-wrenching enough, it led to a second story. This victim, lured to a house by someone she considered to be her friend, was beaten. A third person in the house filmed the attack. This girl suffered severe head and eye injuries. According to the video, the assault caused permanent eye damage.

The final story described the abuse a boy with special-needs suffered at the hands of his classmates. The torment was more than he could handle. He hung himself.

These stories are tough to read, but it is reality. Feeling sorry for bullied children and their parents is not enough. We need to protect children. We have all asked a neighbor or parent at school to keep an eye out for our child. I know I’ve requested that parents let me know if they see my son go into the woods (a popular hangout for teenagers in my neighborhood). Yet, we are conflicted when our child notifies us of a bullying situation.

How many people have told their children not to get involved? Don’t be embarrassed. Most parents want to protect their child. They fear reporting an incident will cause problems in their own home. How would you feel if neighbors and friends ignored a bullying incident involving your child?

There are several ways your child can help. The most effective way is reporting the incident to an adult. I’ve included a few other options to consider:

1. Do not give the bully an audience. Show disapproval of the incident by walking away. Encourage friends to do the same. Most bullies want an audience. They believe this behavior will increase their popularity. If peers show disapproval, it may prevent the bully from repeating this inappropriate behavior. Make sure you tell an adult.

2. Never laugh at stories involving bully behavior. We must encourage our children to speak out against injustices.

3. Send an anonymous letter to the proper authorities suggesting that staff members watch a particular hallway, bus, lunchroom or student. Indicate unkind behavior or bullying that is taking place in a certain location.

4. If you are friendly with the bully, tell them to stop.

5. Reach out to isolated children. Support the victim.

6. Athletes are respected by their peers. These students can support anti-bullying by reminding classmates that the behavior is unacceptable.

Punishment does not necessary solve the problem. Often it enrages the bully. The key to ending this epidemic is teaching appropriate behavior. Sometimes the most effective lessons are taught by our peers.

Empower your children to stand up to bullies.

Bullying – The Importance of Early Awareness

Bullying is a devastating situation for a child and a heart-wrenching experience for a parent. I suffered at the hands of a bully during middle school. I also spent a year crying over my son’s painful experience.

There were times I wished my son and I could undergo a “Freaky Friday” situation (similar to the movie). This way I could stand up to the bully and end the problem for him. That’s an unrealistic fantasy. It’s important for parents to support their children and teach them how to navigate the problem. We must reassure children that they are loved. Help them understand that suicide is never the answer.

I regret not discussing the topic of bullying with my son before it became a problem. By the time I shared the statistics and facts, he felt worthless and alone. He believed the information was lies I created to help him feel better about himself and the situation. Why didn’t I think to discuss the effects of bullying when he was younger? Why did I ignore this epidemic until it touched our lives? I foolishly believed my child’s outgoing, funny personality protected him. He’s a popular kid. He has no worries. Well, I was wrong. It can happen to anyone.

I researched different aspects of bullying and plan to share the information through this weekly blog. I am not a specialist on this topic. I am just a mom who wants a better life for children — yours and mine.

Prevention begins at home. Let’s work together.

Next Topic: Signs your child may be a bully.

Insecurity and Invitations

There were two items I used to dread finding in my mailbox. The first, bills (I still dread those) and the second, invitations from people I do not see on a regular basis.

Weight gain prevented me from attending some events. Over the years, I have learned disappointing careers paths, relationship status and other vanity issues are causes for people to decline invites. It recently dawned on me that none of the invitations I have received (or sent) has ever included a questionnaire requiring that guests meet certain specifications to attend. No one asks for my dress size or a copy of my latest income tax statement. Rather, I receive invitations from people who want to celebrate their milestones with me.

I imagined my children shunning the world based on belief that they were not good enough to take their rightful place in it. The thought is heartbreaking. I do not want to miss life events or shun people who were once close to me. I no longer allow a lack of confidence to keep me from reconnecting with wonderful people — or possibly meeting someone new.

Insecurity still sits on my shoulder poking me each time I walk into a party. I fight those demons by wearing something that makes me feel good. A pair of high heels or a special piece of jewelry often does the job. I hold my head high, realize the focus is on the guest of honor rather than me and enjoy spending time with the people in my life.