Wednesday, September 23, 2009



 Stray Affections.

Along with 10 winners for an autographed copy of Stray Affections

*The actual snowglobe I held while making this promotional video.
*The audio version of Don't Miss Your Life! An Uncommon Guide to Living with Freedom, Laughter and Grace, recorded by ME!
*A sweatshirt from Winona Area Humane Society
*A T-shirt from Winona Area Humane Society
*Food Worth Begging For Winona Area Humane Society (check their store tab; it's a cook book)

Monday, September 21, 2009


The Object of the Contest: Guess first 4 breeds mentioned in Kornflake's DNA WisdomPanel results and answer The Question correctly.
  • If the results indicate only two breeds (i.e. he was born from two full-blooded parents), those two breeds must be mentioned FIRST in your four guesses, but in case test results reveal he is a mutt born of mutts, you must still name four.
  • Contest WINNERS will be based on most correct breed guesses in most relevant order. HOWEVER, you also need to have the correct answer to The Question.
 Deadline for Entry: 3 PM October 10, 2009


1. SEND EMAIL ENTRY TO: (no caps necessary)
  •  NOTE:  Do not send any other correspondence to the entry form address. Only entries go to the entry form address. No other correspondence to that email address will be read. 

 2. SUBJECT LINE MUST SAY: ENTRY Stray Affections and Kornflake
          (caps are necessary)

3. THE FIRST LINE OF YOUR EMAIL: The first words—the first line—in your email should be the four breeds, SEPARATED BY COMMAS, you think most likely in Kornflake's WidsomPanel results. List them with your best guess first, then in descending order. (i.e. Springer Spaniel, Dachshund, Poodle, Border Collie). Your four breed guesses must be on the same line.

Then, a double space to answer The Question.

4. THE QUESTION:  In Stray Affections, what is the name of the dog the young Cassie rescues out of the woods?  (Hint: if you haven't read Stray Affections, you can find the answer on this blogsite.)

Follow the Rules: Every single rule must be followed exactly or your entry won't fit into our much deliberated Assessment Format (I made that term up for all the folderol I've gone through figuring an easy way to handle responses). If your entry doesn't fit the Assessment Format, it will be kicked out of our filters, charts and graphs, even if it was 100% correct. Sorry, don't mean to sound cranky; just trying to get a FUN job done without insanity. I now understand why the fine print on corporate contest rules is a billion pages long.

Contest Winners Announced: right here in a new blog post: 1 PM, October 21, 2009.
  • I'll still be book touring Stray Affections, so in case he is many, many breeds and I have thousands of entries, I'm leaving plenty of time to cull results. Mark your calendar and bookmark this page.  
HOWEVER, a few FUN things will happen before winners are announced: 

  •  Breeds Announced in real life (aka The Big Reveal): October 10, 2009 during Pet Medical Center open house, Charlene and Kornflake present. This will be the first time Kornflake and Charlene know! (Exciting!) 
  • Breeds Announced right here in a new blog post: October 10, 2009, when I return to my computer after The Big Reveal event above. Might be fun to see if you're in the running, so mark your calendar and bookmark this page.  
CONTEST RULES RECAP (worth a double-check before you push SEND):
*Follow all rules exactly.
*Four breed names listed on first line, separated by commas, in order of relevance.
*Double space.
*Answer to The Question: One name, answer only. (no question repeat)
*email to
*Subject line: ENTRY Stray Affections and Kornflake
*One entry per email address.
*DEADLINE FOR ENTRY: 3 PM October 10, 2009
*Breeds announced 10/10/09 during Pet Medical Center open house
*Breeds posted in blog post after I get home from above event
*WINNERS announced here on blog at 1 PM October 21, 2009

THE BEST HINT EVER: Read my first blog post, Friday, September 18, 2009 (the answer to The Question is within) and the  Kornflake Stats, and check out the links in the right-hand column on this page—especially links about dog breeds listed on the site. STUDY PICTURES OF KORNFLAKE. (More pictures at ) This is a FUN (remember that) contest and a little sleuthing might pay off.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Charlene's Life With Dogs & how the contest came to be

Over the course of my lifetime, I've owned and loved many dogs, and vice versa. The sense of kinship undoubtedly started when I was a baby.  My parents loved telling the story about how their Irish Setter simply would not leave my side.  Wherever they pushed my baby carriage, so went the faithful dog.  Although that's not the dog in this picture (I'm older), you can see the love and trust.

Growing up, I went on many hunting trips with my dad, usually with one of a long string of German short-haired pointers. Schnapps, the biggest of the bunch, let my brother and I dress him up in play clothes, complete with clip-on earrings. He was faithful, calm and excellent when on task.

I remember dad's return from one hunting trip.  He asked me to dig into the big "game" pocket in the back of his hunting vest. Anticipating the feel of fur or feathers, I stuck my hand down in. Instead of discovering dinner, I felt a wriggling mass of puppy we named Zippy. Such a sweet memory. I still miss my dad.

We once owned a full blooded Beagle who climbed the fence post we briefly tied her to.  She sat on top of it like the Queen of the Land. Mitzi Flicker Revelie, our miniature Schnauzer, was a friendly dog until she produced a litter of pups she didn't like, after which she turned mean. (Go figure.) Cindy, our favored black-and-white mutt (over time, we cohabitated with many mutts), was a steadfast companion. Smokey, a full-blooded black Cocker Spaniel, was a true dear.  Somewhere is a picture of little-girl me pulling her puppies (some black, some blond) around in a wagon.  Bluejay, one of dad's German shorthairs, was a relentless escape artist. One night we received a panicked call. She was in the bowling alley chasing bowling balls down the alley and back up the ball return. Muddy feet, tongue flapping …

Fast-forward to my adulthood. Butch the Wonderdog, a mutt who looked mostly like a border collie, came to us when Brian, our youngest, was in junior high. We adopted him from DuPage Animal Control when he could still fit in the web of Brian's baseball mitt. What a good friend to all of us.  After Butch passed on to doggie heaven, George and I were dogless for many years--until I couldn't stand it anymore. I am a better person when in a serious relationship with a dog, and thus, the hunt began.

I first saw Kornflake's picture on the internet. He was listed with the Winona Area Humane Society in Winona MN. At that time, WAHS had no facilities to house dogs; they were placed with volunteer foster parents until adopted out. I set up a meeting with his fosters and it was love at first site. Trouble was, George had bum knees. (They’ve since been replaced.) Kornflake was too big. I left him with tears in my eyes (that quickly he'd burrowed into my heart) and a big hug and well wishes for perfect placement.

Two weeks later, I was still relentlessly pursuing the right match. I drove within a hundred-mile radius and tried to talk myself into everything from a quirky poodle mix to a white fluffy purebred. Every time I'd walk away, I'd ask myself, "What was wrong with that one?" Finally I realized the only thing "wrong" was that it wasn't Kornflake.

Then it struck me: it's not the size of the dog that could create a hazard for George's bad knees, it's the obedience factor. Guide dogs are always big dogs. DUH! I called WAHS. Did they by any miracle still have Kornflake, who was gentle and not a power house muscle dog? YES! They'd also recently discovered he was housebroken, and since I'd last seen him, he'd been neutered—and three other families were currently interested in him. I raced down the hill and we've lived happily together since four years ago when he moved in.

"What kind of dog is that?" I am often asked when at the farmer's market or out running errands. "He's a big red kind," I say with a chuckle. Then I heard about DNA testing for dogs and my curiosity blossomed. "Why would you care what mix he is?" friends asked. Because … Because. However, I did not act on the impulse. Life marched on. But a couple months before Stray Affections released, I started thinking about ways to let dog lovers know about a book I believe will move their hearts. After all, it is my love for Kornflake (and all the dogs who have gone before him)--the longing I hold to keep him well--that is behind the tender words Cassandra, my main character, speaks to Toby when, as a child, she discovers him in the woods behind her house. 

Hm. Perhaps there was a way to marry my curiosity with a fun promotional contest.  Doggie DNA? Why not! Dr. Laurel Logas (left) at Pet Medical Center, Kornflake's vet in MN, graciously agreed to sponsor the DNA testing. HOW EXCITING! And how appropriate:  Pet Medical Center was the first to check him out when he came to WAHS all skin and bones, ear infection and way bad stinky. Pet Medical Center put him on the road to recovery and he's been well and their willing patient since.  Just this last spring, he even had his teeth cleaned! (Aw, pretty boy!)

So, Kornflake's blood was drawn. (He was a very good and brave soldier) It is working its way through the WisdomPanel process, so as of this writing, I do not know the results. But the closer we get to finding out, the more excited I become.  Pet Medical Center is hosting an open house October 10th, and on that day, I will give a short presentation about Kornflake and Stray Affections, and we will announce--
Ta-Dah!--the Big Reveal. 

Throughout Kornflake's four years of wondrous presence in my life, I've changed my mind a dozen times as to what I think his mix might be. In fairness to everyone entering the contest, following is a list of breed possibilities (mixes of them) that have flicked through my mind: Lab, German Shepard, Redbone Coonhound, Greyhound, Basset Hound, Beagle, Vizsla, Airdale, Foxhound, Bloodhound, Golden, Harrier, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Irish Setter ... the list goes on. (CONTEST HELPFUL HINT: one of the "pertinent links" leads to pictures of all these dogs and more.)

If Kornflake was born of two full-blooded parents, results will come easy. If, however, two mutt dogs produced him, WisdomPanel results will be ... sketchier at best and more difficult in outcome. Deciphering the contest's winners' pool could be a challenge. But we're gonna have fun anyway and give it our best shot. In the end, this will remain true: Kornflake is a Very Good Dog. (CONTEST HELPFUL HINT: one of the "pertinent links" shows you how surprising these results can be!)

So, there you have a brief recap of my life with dogs and how the contest came to be. Have fun guessing, but read the rules CAREFULLY. Only entries in COMPLETE COMPLIANCE will be eligible to win one of the prizes--which I'm still figuring out.  I'll post prize updates as I settle on them, but one will be the actual snowglobe I held in my hands when filming this promotional video.