Tuesday, May 28, 2019

UNDERSTANDING SASSIE, A Novel of Dog and Human Communication, Ch. 1

Understanding Sassie: A Novel of Dog and Human Communication

Praise for Understanding Sassie by Helen A. Bemis 
What a delightful book! The story line was clever, the characters interesting, and it held my interest. The big surprise came when I discovered I had received a subtle education about the language of dogs. Definitely a ‘feel good’ book which I’ve read a few times, to make sure I learned all my lessons! Looking forward to a sequel.  Peg Gifford, former sales executive and current business owner
Understanding Sassie is a wonderful story for young and old. The tale is spun from a dog’s perspective and how they perceive humans, interpret their actions and how they respond to human love and kindness. The story unfolds when a dog, about to have puppies, escapes from the pound. The adventure begins once the pups are born and their exposure to the world in the “wild” and their survival. Following the adventures of each dog is heartwarming and enlightening. I highly recommend this wonderful story for all ages. Sandy Manclirespecial education, animal rescue, pet care business owner
My wife and I enjoyed this new book by Helen Bemis. We have loved our 13-year-old Bichon since she was a puppy. We have observed many behaviors and voices. Thanks to this creative, endearing, and very readable book by Helen, we now understand better her personality and enjoy her more. Our thanks to Helen for writing a helpful and interesting volume on dogs. Rev. Jeffrey Stratton, Trinity United Methodist Church of Wilton, NY


To all the people who train with “tools of love.”


A special thanks to my husband and best friend, Bruce: his encouragement during this process was invaluable.
To my daughter, April: a big thank-you, for her wisdom and talents. She helped me make this book come alive.
To my editor/coach, Douglas Winslow Cooper, PhD (douglas@tingandi.com): a big thank-you for all your time and expertise. You were instrumental in helping me create a good story that teaches dog communication.
To my long-time friend, Gary: thank you for all your helpful ideas.
To Michelle Roskiewicz (loveddogsart@gmail. com): your talent in dog art is awesome and much appreciated.
To those that proofread my early attempts at this story–Peg, Sandy, Jennifer, Judy, Donna, and so many others (you know who you are): I appreciate all the wisdom and input you shared with me.
In conclusion, I’d also like to thank you, the reader, for accepting Sassie as your teacher of the language of dogs.


In my many years of teaching dog obedience, I have discovered that not all humans understand what the dog is trying to tell them. Although I’ve enjoyed my opportunities to teach classes on dog communication (the body language of dogs), my goal has always been to reach a wider audience. In writing this book, my hope is that it will also teach safety around dogs.
I’ve always enjoyed telling stories. I have discovered that stories can help us to remember and learn valuable information.
Learning what the dog is trying to tell you, I believe, is the path to safety. I have used an expert of the dog language, the Golden-Retriever-mix puppy named Sassie, to teach us what the dog’s body language is telling us.
I believe if you can understand what someone is saying, any fear or confusion can be illuminated. We can listen to them and feel comfortable in recognizing what they are saying to us.
I also believe that if fear and confusion are eliminated, we are more inclined to listen and respect someone’s (or some dog’s) communication.


My name is Ruth. In my youth I lived on a 200-acre dairy farm. I love the memories of this time in my life. The smell of the freshly cut hay in the fields and the scent of apples as they turned into Mom’s pies or her secret recipe for applesauce were a few of my favorite memories. Whenever I saw a Collie I would think of my summertime best friend.

A typical summer day might begin with a review of my Collie’s training. “Sit!” I would watch my Collie react to my firm but pleasant request and when I added the word “stay,” I would walk away. As I walked to the near-by fence, I noticed the multicolored flowers Mom had planted around our home. She loved planting many floral varieties, but her favorite was that lilac bush at the farmhouse entryway. The scent of lilacs would always remind me of Mom. I stopped at the fence and debated about hiding behind that lilac bush. I thought that the fragrant lilac perfume might hide my scent. Yet, as I looked back at my Collie, he was watching me and studying my every move. I decided it would be more fun to watch him run, so instead of hiding, I called, “Come!”

As soon as he heard that magical word, he leaped at the invitation to join me. My Collie’s muscles made his multi-colors of brown, red, and white wave in a majesty that somehow reminded me of a flag. Maybe this was because he looked to be flying in his eagerness to come to me. I delighted in his joy of our companionship.

However, my joy ended when my Collie developed a deadly skin disease. The veterinarian recommended that he be put out of his misery. I was devastated. I would not accept this loss of my best friend. It hurt too much. I slammed shut the door to my feelings and announced, “I will never love anyone or anything again!”

Little did I know how my life would change when I met the golden-haired dog named Sassie. 


My name is Sassie. I’ve been told that I am a blond-haired beauty. Some men have said that they like to run their fingers through my long silky hair. Do you enjoy the outdoors? I’m a lover of the outdoors and my favorite outdoor activity is the sport of hunting. The reward of eating what I have caught

is always an undescribed pleasure. I enjoy eating. I do not share my food. I will gobble my meal, am a sloppy eater, and proud to say that I have no table manners. Maybe that is why no one wants to come near me during my mealtime.  Do you wish for some things? My greatest wish is that more people would understand me when I try to communicate with them. My wish came true when I met Ruth.




"No! My dog, Sassie, has done nothing!  You don’t understand! Please let her go. She's done nothing wrong!” Ruth was begging the policeman to listen to her. The policeman continued to ignore Ruth, and he tugged on Sassie’s leash.

As Ruth looked at Sassie, she saw the confusion in Sassie’s eyes mirror her own frustration.
Could this policeman be dragging her dog to a possible death sentence? Why could he not understand that Sassie was considered a service animal. She was doing her job as a diabetic alert dog. Sassie would alert Mom when her blood sugar was too high. Someone misunderstood Sassie’s alert and called the police.

I wished there was some way to quickly explain my life-long knowledge of dogs, their emotions, and the valuable work that they can do. All my attempts to talk to this policeman seemed to fall on deaf ears.

In my frustration, I collapsed on a nearby bench. A shower of tears flooded my shaking hands. I knew I was not thinking clearly. If there was any way to help Sassie, I would need to calm down.
It was time to use my personal meditation! I discovered this technique when I was a very small child and had those childhood fears. I always had warm and happy farm memories, so I decided to meditate on those happy farm thoughts. This relaxation process always created mental smiles. My icy fears would melt away. This meditation created a soothing calm. My insurmountable fears would shrink to microscopic irritations.

So, I began my personal meditation and thought about my parents’ dairy farm. I loved to walk those 200 acres and listen to the songs of the farm. There was the sharp call of the blue jays and the chic-adee-dee chorus of musical joy.

On a blistering hot day, the locusts would buzz in complaint. The feel of a cool breeze that would tickle the trees was always a welcome relief on those scorching days. I loved the taste of the air after a rainfall. There was a trout stream on the other side of the hill near our home. It sang a special melody as the water kissed the rocks and caressed the fallen tree branches. Fish often made a quick splashing sound, and the frogs seemed to harmonize as if in response to nature’s music.

The forest that bordered the hay fields with Christmas-like pines reminded me of the fun we had
finding that special Christmas tree within the snow-covered greenery. The strong wind could sting the skin or ruin a fresh hairstyle. Each day brought joy and laughter. If I could walk ever so quietly, not an easy task, I could see the various creatures as they lived and worked in the farm environment. 

There were the rabbits and deer that would either bolt away or freeze to blend into their surroundings. The black and white dairy cows speckled the fields. At milking time these cows would give their deep voice call as they announced their pilgrimage to the barn. The rooster was our morning alarm clock and the dog’s alert was a no-nonsense bark that intruders respected.

As a teenager I used to enjoy thinking about my adventures with my Collie. This enjoyment died when he developed a deadly skin disease. This was a painful time, and I did not like the emotions it created. My decision to shut out this sad feeling was my method of running away from reality. So, this was now an area I would avoid during meditation.

As I looked down at my watch, I realized that several hours had elapsed since I had collapsed on the bench. Jumping up, I decided I would go to the Riverview Animal Shelter. The policeman probably had taken Sassie there.

This was the shelter that Judge Thomas had sentenced me to do my community service. It was his ruling in my assault case. Was it only a year ago? So much has happened in that time. I returned to the farm to live with my parents. Pop died. Mom had those feelings of being watched. At that time, I was unsure if Mom’s fears were real or imagined. However, there were those mysterious calls with riddles that were confusing. Her stress and insulin irregularity placed her in the county hospital.

I quickened my pace. My involuntary cry was filled with the sound of despair, “Why do all these horrible things keep happening to me?”

The only reply to my question was the sound of my hurried footsteps.


With her permission, I will be serializing a chapter a week, on this blog, the material from this novel by Helen A. Bemis, published by Outskirts Press and available through amazon.com: 


As her editor and coach, I aided Helen through my WriteYourBookWithMe.com endeavor.

Monday, May 27, 2019

GOOD GRIEF, Pace Yourself in Telling Others

Good Grief: Strategies for Building Resilience and Supporting Transformation

One of the greatest gifts you can give anybody is the gift of your honest self.
Fred Rogers, TV Show Mr. Rogers’s Neighborhood
One self-care survival tactic essential for me was being honest with myself regarding my needs. At this very stressful time for me and my daughter, I did not want to keep repeating to others, “I called to let you know that my husband died.”

What worked best for me was for my daughter and me to make the contacts closest to us by ourselves first and to have the help of family, friends and colleagues to address other contacts.

This not only helped decrease our stress, but allowed others to feel good about being able to help and support us through this time. The night my husband died, my daughter felt the need to call my sister-inlaw at his mother’s home to tell her about it, so she could convey the news to his mom — a high priority. Others would be notified later. The next morning, some select others needed to be called by phone: some co-workers and a few close friends/relatives.

Notices also went out via group email to others at work, partially handled by my contact in Human Resources who offered to do this for me. I greatly appreciated this offer of support and thanked him.

The second week, individual calls were made to those who were considered close, but whom I did not see often.

The third week, I stopped at some of the businesses we were connected to and shared the loss. I also sent out emails to work colleagues or responded to the emails and condolence cards sent by mail.

Since I belonged to a group of nurse coaches, I sent an email to the leader, Barbara Dossey, sharing my loss and asked her to forward it to all our colleagues. Without delay, the message was sent and I was getting more messages of caring and support. It’s so helpful to have support persons who can help you disseminate such sensitive information. I could not have imagined interacting with so many on a one-to-one basis.

Five weeks later, I continued to communicate our loss to others not yet aware of it.

Even nine months later, I was still sharing the news of Fred’s demise with some in my community who had not learned of it.

There are some people you do not know how to contact, but over time they check in, either by email, phone, or snail mail. An alumni group from my husband’s high school was one of these. I opened his mail, and the letter inside announced a reunion of those turning 70; it included an email contact, to whom I conveyed the news of my husband’s death, asking it to be passed on to those in the group. The contact person responded with condolences and agreed. I even got a few responses from others in this group whom we both knew.

I do not know if this was the right way to proceed or not. I had no training in how the process worked, so I just pushed my way through what I thought best. You may know another, better way to share the news of a loss or have experience with rules related to the grieving process that you follow. Use whatever works for you.

Many of you also include the traditional obituary announcement that informs a larger audience of the loss of your loved one. This includes the information needed to participate in the funeral, memorial service, and gathering afterwards. Some funeral homes today also offer a posting of the event on their website with all the important information needed by those who wish to participate in the viewing or burial. These traditional communications were not pursued in our case, nor was a memorial service announcement, as it was not my late husband’s wish.

The most important thing I found was to connect with those who were willing to jump in and help me through this task. I am very grateful for each one of them. To keep track of my follow-up communication to those who offered condolences, I made a list (see the next page) and used it to not miss anyone.
        I take my time in dealing with difficult situations.
        I face each day with hope and strength to move through the grieving process.
        I am gentle with myself and others.

Condolence Check List
To keep track of my follow-up communication to those who offered condolences, I made a list so I would not miss anyone. Remember this is a stressful time, and you are distracted. Use this helpful tool. You can also ask family or friends to help you.

YOU: Card, Phone, Email, Etc.


With her permission, I am serializing here nurse Cheryl Barrett's valuable book on transcending grief. I had the pleasure of being her coach and editor through my Write Your Book with Me enterprise. 

Douglas Winslow Cooper, PhD

Perhaps the easiest way to obtain a copy of her book, published by Outskirts Press, is through this Amazon link: 

Monday, May 20, 2019


Words That Change Minds: The 14 Patterns for Mastering the Language of Influence

Using a personality inventory she helped develop, LAB Profile ®, Ms. Charvet has consulted worldwide on how to influence people who have different personal styles. She has her own set of helpful category labels, not all of which are self-explanatory:

Proactive people act with little consideration.
Reactive people first analyze, then act.

The words that reflect the listeners goals.

Toward: oriented to achieve goals.
Away From: oriented to avoid loss.

Internal: they are guided by their own standards.
External: they are guided by the standards of others and seek feedback..

Options are continually sought and used to update plans
Procedures are relied upon to assure completion.

Sameness preferred.
Sameness with rare Exceptions wanted.
Difference: change preferred.
Difference and Sameness with Exception: like both evolution and revolution.

Specifics emphasized.
General overview preferred.

Self: barely notices others’ behavior.
Other: highly attuned to others’ reactions.

Feeling: emotional.
Thinking: rational, analytical.
Choice: mixes the two styles.

Independent wants to work alone.
Proximity likes a few others nearby, but he controls his space.
Cooperative wants and needs others, team player.

Person: what counts is how people feel, relate.
Thing: the outcome, getting the job done, is paramount.

Four possible combinations of having rules or not that apply to self or others: My/My, My/No, No/My, My/Your.

See, Hear, Read, Do

Number of Examples: How many needed.
Automatic: gives benefit of the doubt.
Consistent: almost impossible to change.
Period of time: “time will tell,” a critical duration needed for confirmation.

Charvet gives many examples of the application of this analysis to convincing others, forming teams, hiring, etc. and offers examples of the wording most appropriate to convincing people of the various types she analyzes. She presents estimates of the distribution (frequency) of the various types. She has had a successful career using this method for consulting and there are some studies that support it.

The book is available from amazon.com at

I expect to use some of her ideas in my own enterprise, helping writers to write and publish their books, WriteYourBookWithMe.com

Saturday, May 18, 2019



The following is an actual care plan submitted by this writer [DRB] while in nursing school. It is provided to illustrate nursing care plans.  Some information has been altered or deleted for patient confidentiality. [Bracketed material added editorially here.]

NameDiane Beggin     Date:  04-11-02     Client:  E.J.     MedDxSyncopal Episodes, Acute Renal Failure, Possible Pneumonia

Nsg Dx:  Impaired Gas Exchange related to decreased functioning lung tissue, chemotherapeutic agents, decreased immune response and congestion secondary to recent thoracotomy of mesothelioma (diagnosed in 10/2001), chemotherapy Gemcitabine and Cisplatin.

Defining CharacteristicsAs Evidenced By – increased respiration rate typically above 20 up to 28-34 breaths per minute (normal = 16-20) noted intermittently but usually upon restlessness or exertion at bedside; audible breath sounds without auscultation indicative of fluid congestion in lungs; ineffective, unproductive cough with retained secretions; decreased oxygen saturation of 92% on 2L oxygen via nasal cannula (normal with room air is 96% plus).  Lab values:  hyper- to hypocapnia [high to low levels of carbon dioxide in the blood] (20-32 when normal limits are between 22-29); hypoxemia [low levels of oxygen in the blood] (74 when normal is between 80-100); decreased hemoglobin (9-10 when normal is between 13.5-17), decreased hematocrit (28-31% when normal is 41-53%); decreased erythrocytes (3.6-3.7 when normal is 4.7-6.1).  Mental status:  restless intermittently; confusion “Is WWI over?”  WWII?  “What war is going on now?”  “Am I still at City Hospital? (When that hospital was in a different state in a different part of the country.) 

Outcome:  Client will have increased gas exchange within four days as evidenced by:  decreased confusion and restlessness; increased level of consciousness; decreased dyspnea at rest and upon exertion in 24 hours or less; decrease in adventitious [unusual, non-normal] breath sounds especially those heard without auscultation; ABGs with normal ranges; increased sputum to relieve congestion.

Interventions [I] & Rationales [R]:
1)  I:  Assess lungs every 2 hours minimum or upon changes.  Assess for unauscultated [not sensed by a stethoscope] audible and auscultated congestion.  Note type and presence of adventitious lung sounds as well if diminished.   (Assessed with wheezes bilaterally, crackles especially to left base, diminished on right and unknown to what extent lung was dissected).  Note location.         
    R:  Frequent assessment lends to knowledge of progressing or resolving problems and provides increased time to act.  Noting specifics provides baseline for self and others to use for comparison in evaluation of treatment.

2)  I:  Assess rate and quality of respirations every 2 hours.  Look for increases in signs of dyspnea such as nasal flaring, shallow respirations, tachypnea, increased confusion and restlessness, decrease in capillary refill (currently normal) and decreased peripheral pulses (present currently).
     R:  All are additional signs of lack of oxygen via gas exchange.  Some provide details of progression to other systems such as the periphery if changes occur.

3)  I:  Monitor neurological functions every 2 hours.  Establish baseline for level of consciousness, papillary response, response to sensation, command response.  Provide simple commands in which he can follow.  Orientate as necessary.
    R:  After initial assessment, baseline provides gauge upon which to further assess.  Level of consciousness is primary indicator.  Already has decreased function to time and place.  Can easily lose track of times especially with currently prescribed medications.  Helps to provide recognition to surroundings and focus.        

4)  I:  Ensure oxygen is provided as ordered.  Check position of cannula and skin to ensure no breakdown.  Collaborate with respiratory therapy to ensure treatments are completed as ordered.  Follow up on arterial blood gas orders. 
     R:  With decreased oxygen to tissues, integrity of skin can diminish, increasing risk for infection.  Ensures proper placement to ensure therapeutic measure.   Ensures treatments are received timely and do not interfere with other diagnostic tests or treatments.  Values essential to provide meaningful and therapeutic treatments.

5) I: Elevate hard of bed to roughly semi-fowler’s position or as is comfortable for client.  Ensure proper precaution (use of pillows, flexion at knee, etc.) to decrease shearing forces especially with lack of energy to prop self up and prevent sliding.
    R: Provides increased oxygenation by decreasing pressure on diaphragm and result in ease of breathing.  Position helps with problems with hypoxia and hypoxemia.

6) I: When conscious and alert, encourage deep breathing.  Find ways to enhance client participation (for example, washing feet makes him more alert; smiling at him evokes the same response).  At those times, instruct him to deep breathe and mime it for him.  Provide splinting for his coughing as he had decreased energy and awareness to do it himself.
    R: Client is cooperative.  When alert, encouraging and taking deep breaths with him may decrease avoidance or increase mimic activity.  Due to confusion, splint abdomen for him to illustrate.  Continue to do so when can each time, doing these exercises until he can accomplish them for himself.

7) I:  Ensure suction equipment is accessible.
    R:  Provides readiness in negative circumstances.

8) I:   Encourage fluids as appropriate.  Client has no IV except for pharmacological treatment and is on a renal diet.  For comfort, provide mouth care every 2 hours if not more.
    R:  Without fluids mouth becomes very dry.  Also on antibiotics with increased risk for thrush increased with leukocytopenia [a decrease in the white blood cells].  Mouth care provides freshness, comfort, hygiene, and opportunity for assessment,


Contact information:
Diane R. Beggin, RN
40 Sycamore Drive
Montgomery, NY 12549

Web site: http://ManageNursingCareAtHome.com