Ghost Dogs and Spirits

Ghost Dogs and Spirits – a true Halloween Story

When I rented a furnished home for a few months, the last thing I expected to see were ghost dogs and spirits. But it happened to me.

One sunny fall morning I looked up from my bowl of oatmeal and was taken quite by surprise to see a column of hazy white in front of the door to the indoor porch. What surprised me even more was the nonchalance I felt upon seeing her, as just the thought of seeing a ghost sends me into instant fear.  As I gazed upon my visitor to figure out who or what it was, I noticed there was no discernible human form per se, but the energetic sense felt female and benign. She remained there, unmoving, until I broke my gaze. She appeared a week or so later in the same spot. I looked up from my dinner and there she was. My curiosity was piqued, but I told not a soul.  All I knew was that this lakeside home was renovated from an old cottage.

A second, less mysterious apparition appearing in that house was a small, dark haired, terrier-like dog who walked by me as I was lying in bed with the light on. He entered the room, took several steps, and vanished. This also happened twice. Just as with the ‘white lady’, I doubted that I had actually seen a ghost dog and kept my visions to myself.

The confirmation of the white lady’s presence came when a friend was visiting. She had no such doubts about spirits or her ability to see them, and blurted out, “You know, you have a spirit in this house.” I looked up from the living room floor to see her pointing at the door the dining area.  “I know”, I replied matter-of-factly, “I’ve seen her twice already in the same spot.”

The little dog’s identity was confirmed when I noticed a little photo of him on the dresser. When I asked my landlord about it she said, “Oh, yes, that was my dog Gizmo.” I did not share about seeing him walking past the bed. The next several months passed without incident.  Were my spirit visitors still in the house?  Were they staying hidden once they knew they were seen? I’ll never know. When I moved out I took the secret of my spirit visitors with me. That was the last time I can honestly say I’ve seen a ghost.

A few words from Teddy:

Teddy Yoda500Teddy wishes you a happy Halloween and asked me to remind you that there are many scared dogs in shelters and rescues waiting for you to take them home as real, live companions who will love you forever. Please adopt, don’t shop and spay/neuter your pets.

Keep the Tail Wagging

Winograd’s Redemption and No-Kill

redemptionMy interest in reading Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America by Nathan J. Winograd (Jun 16, 2009) was fueled not only by my commitment to helping homeless dogs (and cats), but by the flurry of charged reviews and comments it generated–for or against, some with great emotion, frustration, and defensiveness.  I knew the author must have hit a nerve to elicit such responses, and I wanted to find out what that nerve was. It turns out there are two – his position on pet overpopulation and his indictment against shelters and national associations (think ASPCA, PETA, and the Humane Society), which in our shared opinion should be devoted to preventing animal cruelty and saving as many lives as possible. Instead, they have a long history of laying blame on the public while promoting mass killings as the way to control homeless pet populations. As badly as dogs suffer with this mindset and policy, feral cats fare worse.

As Winograd states, much of this book is about history, beginning with Henry Berg’s founding of the ASPCA in 1866 and his commitment to stopping the cruel treatment of city work horses and other animals, to the atrocious policies and conditions of so-called “shelters”, to the challenges and successes of the No-Kill movement (through 2005).  This history is laced with the good, the bad, and the ugly of animal control, legislation, and sheltering, which unfortunately even today is still more often than not bent on killing than saving animals.

If I were to boil down my most important take away from of Redemption, it would be that instead of laying blame and setting up a punitive system (which doesn’t work) against the public as a primary strategy for opting out of lifesaving in favor of killing, shelters have a responsibility to do right by the animals they take in as their first priority. This means implementing a multi-pronged approach of providing good care, fair, reliable behavior testing, rehabilitation if needed, and a commitment to making adoption an appealing option to the public by way of education, a foster home network, cooperation with rescue groups, good customer service, clean facilities, spay/neuter before adoption, and liberal adoption hours. Only animals that are hopelessly ill or vicious are euthanized (about 10% of incoming animals) and all others, most of whom are young, healthy and friendly, are candidates for adoption. As for unadoptable feral cats, trap-neuter-release and vaccinate. Allow people to feed and care for them instead of legislating against them.

Euthanasia is ...killing someone who is very sick or injured in order to prevent any more suffering. ~Merriam Webster Dictionary

Euthanasia – the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease. Mercy killing

The most heated discussion among reviewers and people commenting was caused by Winograd’s stand that pet overpopulation is a myth.  One would think that with 4-5 million dogs and cats killed in shelters every year (down from almost 18 million in the 1980s), and facilities inundated with more animals than they can handle, that overpopulation surely is a problem. Not so. Winograd maintains that while overpopulation in shelters may be problematic at times, the use of foster homes and space in facilities is often not maximized, which contributes to the problem. Seeking convenience and maintaining the status quo trumps change and life. He claims there are more than enough homes available for adoptable dogs and cats. The US Humane Society backs up this claim. So where are these people? They are getting their pets from pet stores (think puppy mills), breeders, friends, anywhere but shelters. Why? Because of the misperception that homeless animals are damaged goods and facilities are often perceived as dirty, unfriendly killing places where the public is not really welcome.


 Today in 2014, in northern NY where I live, I thankfully see a somewhat different picture than Winograd paints.  I say somewhat, because our SPCA has a disturbing policy of not taking dogs over 5 years old or animals that are sick, even with easily treated conditions.  On the more positive side, they have a foster program, support TNR, and  have liberal adoption hours. They maintain a satellite site at PETCO (cat adoptions are way up because of that), a committed staff, lots of volunteers, a play area and dog park, and they spay/neuter/vaccinate before adoption. Our dog pound (renamed  dog shelter), where dogs once had seven days to live if not adopted, now has a 90 day policy. I know for a fact that the staff goes above and beyond to keep them alive longer. Several  residents, many of them pit bull breeds, live there over six months before the happy adoption announcements are posted.  Unfortunately, they do not allow volunteers, but they do welcome donators, including me with my gifts of cushions for the seniors and bones and toys for all.

 I wish I could say this shift toward No Kill and decency were widespread nationwide, but I know it is not. Winograd’s point and indictment of many facilities still stands valid. Although the tide is surely turning since Redemption was published and before, mostly due to public pressure, we as a nation have a lot of work to do. Since writing Rescue Me, and becoming more connected with rescuers, I see daily post after post pleading for the lives of dogs in shelters, many with 72 hour policies or less.  I read of dogs being injured while their cages are pressure washed, sick and injured animals receiving little to no treatment, animals living in deplorable conditions, and shelters with a no-adoption policy (REALLY?!!). I read of corruption and animals killed cruelly and too soon, sometimes to spite advocates.  I see videos of animals being neglected and abused in places where they should find refuge.That’s what the word shelter means, but in some places, it is nothing more than a word that covers up what they really are – horrible places where their number one mission is disposing of animals, including healthy, friendly adoptable ones, primarily by murdering them.

Recently, this unfortunate realization personally hit home with me. A plea went out by Julia Buie, one of Rescue Me’s contributors, for vetting and transport funds for several dogs. I donated the $95 needed to gain freedom for a young coonhound named Wesley, only to learn that he was killed shortly before his rescuers arrived.  It may have been a mix-up, but for Wesley it was still death. How sad to be in such a hurry to kill. And what’s even sadder is that some staff members have been brainwashed to believe they are doing a good deed for the dogs and society by killing. How sad.

The truth is, No-Kill is achievable with committed shelter leadership and a well-functioning network in place. When the organizations do their part, and the public does theirs, very few animals will ever have to die for no good reason.  Isn’t that what you would want for you and yours? Should it be any different for them?

Do you want to know how to bring No-Kill to your shelter? Download the No Kill Advocacy Center’s FREE No Kill Advocate’s Toolkit, 13 step by step guides to help you reform your local shelter.

Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America

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Rescue Me Wins 2014 Readers Favorite Award

Val Silver and Team Rescue are very happy to announce that Rescue Me won the 2014 Reader’s Favorite Book Award – Silver Medal in the Nonfiction Animals category. Val will be attending the awards in November and more photos will follow.


Read the review here.

Thank you, Readers Favorite, for choosing Rescue Me as an award winner, and all of you for your continued support in our mission to help homeless dogs and advocate for animals.

Teddy’s Good Life

Update on Teddy

Teddy’s story was originally shared in Rescue Me. He had made a lot of progress, and it has been so wonderful watching him continue to blossom into his true and maturing self.

Teddy’s good life didn’t start out that way. Actually, Teddy started life very sadly and quietly in our house and did a fair amount of hiding under the bed. That, combined with the awful condition he arrived at the SPCA, suggested a prior not-so-good life. When he played, which wasn’t often, he never uttered a sound. One day, after several months with us, he surprised us with tentative little r-r-r sounds during a game of tug-o-war. We were delighted!

Now, Teddy has so much fun playing, that even when amusing himself with a stick in the yard, he runs and prances while making making his adorable, happy growly sounds.

It warms my heart to watch him having so much fun, enjoying himself with head and tail held high, especially when I remember how he was at first. Teddy is a joy, and his joy of life can’t help but enhance ours. Just last month he has started laying against me at night when we’re sleeping, instead of putting distance between us. (Sometimes I’m not so sure that’s a good thing, but usually I love it!) We are so happy this boy found his way to our home as a foster to forever.

Rescue Me Teddy

Read Teddy’s story – “From Foster to Forever” – in Rescue Me.

Do you have a happy ending story about your rescue dog? We’d love to hear it. Please share in the comments below.

Mom and Dog Memorial

Dear Readers,

I thought you might enjoy this note I received from Reverend Riki Renfro, a member of my Holistic Mindbody Healing website who purchased the kindle version of  Rescue Me.  In this note, Riki shares a delightful story of Mom Lelah and her pomeranian Polly, and the fitting Mom and Dog Memorial given them. And how cute is that photo! :)

 Hi Val,

Sorry it took me so long to get back to you; it’s been a busy summer.  I finally had time to complete the book and enjoyed every bit of it.

One of the things on our long list of “to do’s” was to complete my mother’s memorial service.  Based on her pre-death instructions, we took her ashes to a local lake where my brother died seven years ago.  My father’s ashes were also put into the lake a few years ago. 

Since her little Pomeranian, Polly, died a week after Mom died, we mixed their ashes together and put them into the water together after sharing stories and memories of the two of them.  Polly was with Mom her last 16 years and was unquestionably the love of her life. To be honest, I was probably the favorite (and youngest) of Mom’s three children, but Polly quickly surpassed my standing as “favorite kid”. 

Mom was 96 when she died and I know it was having the love of this little puff-ball that contributed to her longevity and gave her a purpose for waking up every morning.  Mom also attributed her longevity to the nightly martini she had.  Polly didn’t care for gin, but she loved the green olives more than any doggy treat.  Mom would put 5 green olives into her drink: one she ate, the other four were Polly’s.  As we dispersed the ashes we also poured a fifth of Mom’s favorite gin into the water for her and a bottle of green olives for Polly.   It certainly was not your conventional funeral service, but was definitely a fitting and meaningful ceremony for all of us. 

There definitely is a reason why DOG spelled backwards is GOD.  Thank you for a lovely book.  I’ll look forward to more in the future.

Rescue Me Review

Polly with her blanket crocheted by Mom Lelah

Rev. Riki Renfro
Peaceworks Universal Life Church
Shared with permission.


Rescue Me in Rescue Me Magazine

We are so delighted and honored to be featured in the July/August 2014 issue of Rescue Me Magazine. And look who’s on the cover – my favorite cat man, Jackson Galaxy, of “My Cat From Hell” with his rescue cat Barry (to the left-not visible in this shot) and his beautiful Chow-Shepherd mix, Mooshka.

Get your autographed copy of Rescue Me here.  Also available on Amazon for kindle and in paperback.

Good Reads Rescue Me

Rescue Me is a new magazine – only in it’s third edition. Like us, Rescue Me magazine is dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of homeless animals, and support causes, organizations and people who promote pet rescue, adoption, and the human-animal bond.  Besides all the interesting articles, tips, and shout-outs to rescuers in the magazine, half of your subscription fee goes to the non-profit of your choice. Check out their website and get your subscription here:


TapInfinity Has Gone to the Dogs

TapInfinity has gone to the dog in celebration of the release of my new book, Rescue Me: Tales of Rescuing the Dogs Who Became Our Teachers, Healers, and Always Faithful Friends. 

Rescue Me is a collection of 12 original true stories by 10 contributors. These stories, and the accompanying quotes, highlight the companionship between humans and dogs, and how when we rescue them and make them part of our lives, we really rescue ourselves in return. In addition to raising sensitivity to the plight and needs of homeless dogs, funds from Rescue Me sales benefit non-profit shelters and rescues.

Rescue Me paperback 3D

Get your copy, listen to free audios, and more here.

I wrote Rescue Me because dogs have always been a big part of my life, and have saved me emotionally more than once. They have taught me about unconditional love and living in the moment. With so many homeless dogs (and cats) in need, I had to do something to help. Please join us in giving back to these deserving beings.

  Rescue Me Val Silver quote

Service Dogs

Service dogs can be a real godsend for people with physical and mental disabilities. They can alert them to medical problems, provide comfort, be their eyes and ears, and offer them a better quality of life.

These highly trained dogs are required to perform tasks that assist someone with a disability. Sadly, some people are using a loop hole to call their untrained pet dog a service dog. Then they take that untrained dog to restaurants, on airplanes, shopping etc and this untrained dog does all sorts of UNBELIEVABLE things like going potty, barking, grabbing at food or goods, lunging, snapping at people, and worse biting people.

Service dogs spend many months in very intensive training to ignore any distractions as well as learn how they will service their new owner. You will never see a trainer service dog make any of the mistakes I listed above yet shop owners, airlines, etc are starting to turn away REAL service dogs because someone wanted to break all of the rules.

Here is a list of things service dogs are trained for:

  • Seeing eye dogs not only do they guide their owners, which is huge, they have to be able to pick up dropped items, get their working harness, go potty on command, never touch food not given to them, and remain in a down stay for hours and hours at a time.
  • Hearing dogs are trained to notify their owner (without barking) of any sound that needs to be responded to,  such as doorbell, oven timer, fire and carbon monoxide alarms, alarm clock, etc.
  • Physically disabled assistance dogs are trained to pull a wheel chair, open and close doors, open appliances  such as the refrigerator, oven, dishwasher, washer,  and dryer. They learn to turn on and off lights, and so many more specific skills based on their person’s needs.
  • Seizure and Diabetes alert dogs are trained to smell very slight changes in a person’s body chemistry prior to a seizure or sugar crash and to alert both the person getting ready to have an event and anyone else around that person so that they can be ready for the seizure or medicate the diabetic to stop the event.
  • PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) dogs are trained to detect a panic attack and push into the owner to provide comfort and help reduce the panic attacks, most are trained to find the cell phone and bring it to the owner as well as many other tasks based on each person’s issue.

Then there are therapy dogs like mine and Judy’s dog, Frances (see a Tale of Two Judys in Rescue Me), that are in no way service dogs, but have training to provide comfort to those that find the presence of a dog comforting.

Written by Jean Owen of NJ

Advocating for Animals On-line

Do you have a passion for animals? Do you have time on your hands that you would like to use to help others? Have you been looking for a way to give back to others? Then you might be just the person we are looking for.

There is a whole community on the internet using social media, mainly facebook, who are the voices for the voiceless animals. We are comprised of people from all walks of life – retired, ill and cannot work, working folks, rescuers, shelter volunteers, etc. We have a large community of people (thousands of cross posters on 7 continents) who share animals that are in shelters on death row, on streets, tied to poles and left to die, left in homes to starve when people move, missing, stolen, emaciated, dumped, surrendered seniors, horrible shelter conditions, chained, tortured, etc. all over the world. We post and share sick animals, young animals, old animals, blind, deaf, tortured; well, you get the idea. We just share all animals. And, we save lives every single day. Dogs, cats, pigs, horses, birds, any type of animal, have a chance to have a life, thanks to our networking. Those same animals were dying in great numbers before the birth of the internet. We are international.

Here are only a few ways that we, as the animal advocate community use the internet, Facebook being our largest venue, to do our work.

  • The internet has made it possible to rescue as many as an additional million animals per year. There are hundreds of shelters which are invisible to the world and with the use of the internet, our advocates are now able to post pictures and write ups of these animals that are never seen by the public and find rescues and homes for them. There are many shelters that do not allow public access to their animals. How else would those animals be seen and have a chance at life, rather than death? We, have people who go into those shelters and take pictures and post them to give those animals their slim chance at life.
  • Through the use of facebook, we also alert animals’ owners of food recalls and supply important information on food, treats, toys, grooming, obedience training, help for disabilities in pets, news, organizations that can assist, new ideas, etc., etc.
  • Through facebook, we can now share the identities of scammers and animals abusers. We can show pictures and share write ups of those who have and will continue to abuse animals in horrible manners. Abusers are now being caught due to the Face book awareness level. There are many facebook groups  with the specific purpose of getting the word out on abusers and abuse cases to the communities. Thus, abusers are identified faster and people are warned at a much higher rate. This all makes it harder to hide abuse now.
  • We also educate others with news articles, warnings about the use of Craigslist to post animals for homes, etc.
  • There are so many, many shelters out there that are in horrendous conditions filled with neglectful and abusive employees. We are  able to publicize these shelters; our advocates investigate and these shelters are now being exposed.
  • With use of petition sites, abuse petitions are being spread and signed and laws are being changed and abusers being prosecuted – this would never have happened before the internet.
  • We also share missing children and adults. This has helped the community a great deal by making it faster to find someone. Due to this internet exposure, we have seen missing people posted and found the very next day.

No special talent is needed for this volunteer opportunity. If you have some time, a caring for others and internet access – come on over and join our community. We always welcome new voices. You will be helping the world and meeting people from all over the world.  To find groups and pages that interest you, use the search engine of facebook.

Warning – you may get so excited helping others that you may get addicted! This is a work of love and of heart and we would love to have you.

suzie and patt600_3
Written by Patti Mansfield
Read Patti’s story “From Trash to Treasure”
in Rescue Me

Calming Feelings in a Cancer Surgery Scar with EFT

This is one of the three articles posted in Gary Craig’s newsletter several years ago complete with Gary’s intro. Enjoy!

Hi Everyone,

Here’s an unusual use for EFT from Valerie Silver that can be expanded to many other related issues.

Hugs, Gary

Recently I had the pleasure of exchanging services with a local Reiki Master. We used the EFT Tell the Story technique and chopped down two trees in the forest of traumatic memories from abuse by her mother that happened over fifty years ago. She went from tears to laughter (level of intensity of 10 out of 10 to 0) in just a few rounds.

She later showed me a scar from skin cancer surgery two years previously. She mentioned that whenever she used a pendulum over the scar, it would “swing like crazy” and when she would do Reiki on it, the area felt “yucky”, even though it felt good on the rest of her arm.

Intrigued, and hearing Gary’s voice in my head saying “Try it on everything”. I thought, “Why not?” When I contacted her to follow up on her session (still a 0 on a scale of 0 to 10), I asked if she’d like to try an experiment via telephone using EFT for the scar.

The process only took a few minutes. Here’s how it went. First I had her rate her intensity by using both the pendulum and Reiki. The pendulum went crazy and the scar felt weird, like burned skin feels, with Reiki. She rated the intensity at about 3 out of 10. We began the sequence with three rounds of rubbing the sore spot and saying:

Even though I have this scar…

Even though it makes the pendulum swing like crazy…

Even though it feels “yucky” when I do Reiki on it…

We did one round of shortcut tapping, then assessed. The pendulum was quiet on her whole arm and there was still some uncomfortable feeling at the top of the scar with Reiki. We tapped again on the “remaining yucky feeling at the top of the scar”.

When we tested again the pendulum was still quiet and the arm, including the entire scar, felt cool with the Reiki. She then tested again using another pendulum, her metal one that “really goes crazy” and … nothing. “Hmm” and “that’s amazing”. I heard as she tested again. “Amazing”. What else can you say?

Val Silver