Friday, December 30, 2022

Interview with Author Cal Orey--NEW RELEASE: Soulmates with Paws

By Cal Orey

Meet Cal Orey, the author of the popular Healing Powers series and her other creative works in progress...

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I prefer to write in fall/winter when it's quiet.
I was born and raised in San Jose, California. It's changed due to gentrification aka (King Kong stomped on Mother Nature and now it's a metropolis). I moved to Lake Tahoe to get back to nature. Ironically, history repeats itself. More changes, including killing healthy trees (I'm a granola girl/tree hugger) and vacation homeowner invasion like Stephen King's Langoliers, especially in the summertime. I am a journalist-author. That's what they (my editors) call me. 

How and when did you become a writer?

I got my first poem "School Days" published when I was in third grade. My teachers told me I had a "gift" when I wrote papers. I liked to write colorful stuff. So, I ended up majoring in English (Creative Writing) in college. I hold a bachelor's and master's in these topics. But I flunked math. 

What genre do you write?

I'm known as a health author. I have had thousands of articles published on different subjects, including relationships (I flunked this topic, too, in real life), pets, Earth changes, and just about anything (even sex). However, in 2021 I fell into novels and novelettes. After all, my thesis was collection of fiction stories. And many of my tales were published in national publications throughout the years. I came full circle. 

How would you describe your writing style?

I'm candid. I like to inject heart and soul into my work. Third person narrative is boring, I prefer talking to readers like I chat it up in real life. I do this on a regular basis. Lately, I like to write in the morning (thanks to my cup of Joe), research after swimming in the afternoon. Late at night I brainstorm. When working on a book like now it's similar to having renters in your brain. I'm trying to go with them, this time. Overall, it's cool. Think visitors that can be amusing, thought-provoking, and inspiring but pesky at times. They don't sleep!

What makes you different from other writers?

I like to put my personal paw print on each piece of work. In other words, I prefer to write in a chatty, down-to-earth narrative. Love to say things people are afraid to say, kind of like baring your soul or disrobing in front of the world. I lose the inhibitions for my best stuff.  Love to write from the heart and tell stories--all kinds that'll make the reader laugh, cry, and nourish the soul.

Who inspires you?

My dog is my mentor. He gets me. I adore his energy--an Aussie at 4 1/2.  In grad school for my oral exams I chose my three authors: George Eliot, John Steinbeck, and Edward Albee; my professors weren't pleased with the last two--but I didn't care.  Steinbeck knew the Golden State, Tahoe, the ocean, and dogs. And, people in real life, past and present or future (in my imagination) make my works come alive.

How did you come up with the title of your series?

I fell into the Healing Powers series. It was the title of the first book back in 1999. The Healing Powers of Vinegar paved the way for books that followed into two, a trilogy but my editor corrected me and called it a "series." The rest is history. Nine books later... Psst. Essential Oils, #8, was chosen to be featured in FIRST FOR WOMEN (Mar. 2022 issue). These books seem to be timeless.

Who is your favorite character in (your book you want to talk about) and why?

July 4th I was in Victoria, B.C. to flee Tahoe tourist chaos
A returning character is an elderly woman who is someone who helped me a lot when I was a struggling magazine journalist. Read: I scrubbed toilets for the well-to-do to make ends meet. She traveled abroad many times and loved Europeans. Now I travel to Canada. A lot. It gives me my fix of culture, diversity, England and France. I have a sense of belonging in Quebec to British Columbia. Psst! I am wearing a maple leaf necklace I got back in July when I paid a visit to Victoria. So calming that trip was for me. 
Bonding with a Victoria seal. 
We live in divisive times. Should your religion/politics influence your writing?

As a Catholic I admit in my books this fact does come out a bit...but I shy away from politics. Too heated these days--I don't want to lean to the left or right. But between you and me? I am an Independent, former Democrat, and closet Republican. This is probably because I'm a middle child; dad a Republican, mom a Democrat. And I was the rebellious hippie chick growing up in the seventies.

What are you working on now? 

I helped co-author a 2-in-1 contemporary romance novel.  Then, I embraced a Carl Sagan-ish science book; I co-wrote it. It won an award for the best nonfiction book in 2022. It is so artsy and amazing! And I completed a book about MLK and racism in the Deep South. It's still at press. Finally, I submitted a collection of my published stories: Soulmates with Paws.   I love sharing my adventures from on the road with a dog or dog-less (that's tough) and linking it to the topic to make it a fun, lively read from the heart. And this first installement (yes, it will be a series) is close to me since it covers decades of my travels and connection to pets and their people.

Anything else you'd like to share with our readers?

Good news! I'm always crushing on the Pacific Northwest. Cabin fever has hit since the pandemic grounded me. It is almost time to flee, perhaps to somewhere warm or back to Alaska or Hawaii (again). Actually, I'm booked to go to Anchorage in January. In November after my bags were packed my Siamese had a hissy fit. My vet said it was behavioral not medical. When Zen knocked down the framed photo of my 2019 Dec. Alaska journey? I rebooked the trip. He was telling me it wasn't the right time to go. And odds are I'd get stuck because of extreme weather throughout my flight plan. Plus, the Full Moon would have decreased the chance to see the northern lights. It wasn't meant to be. So I bought plug in northern lights (they work!), finished Soulmates with Paws, and cuddled up with the cat and dog in the comfort of my cabin.

Gentrification is ruining Tahoe, my home for
almost two decades.
Advice for young writers? 

Live life! Your experiences will take you where you are supposed to be in the writing world.

For more information about this author check out the following links:,

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Soulmates with Paws: A Collection of Incredible Animal Stories -- A New Action and Adventure Page-Turner

  By Cal Orey



(It's not a Crafts or Pet Care book! Think Action & Adventure, Animals & Essays, Fiction, Travel)

Author of the popular Healing Powers series introduces a collection of her published stories in national magazines from the past!

 This one-of-a-kind book includes recognized pet-lovers, such as Betty White, Doris Day, John Steinbeck, Zane Grey and Charles Schulz to memorable pets and their people. Each story and event show the virtues of soulmates with paws.

 * The global pandemic and lockdowns of 2020 resulted in an upsurge of animal adoptions… people were seeking the emotional support and affection that a companion animal can bring.

* Whether it’s ESP, superior senses, feline intuition, or a change in routine, your pet may sense danger, and give you a warning to keep you out of harm’s way.

* Homeless pets and their people are a timeless phenomenon. How do dogs and cats help humanity facing the worst of times?

 * Beyond 9 lives:  Why canines and felines come back from the brink may be a connection to the strong human-pet bond. 

* Homeward Bound: How do wayward cats and dogs find their way home, anyhow?

 Written from the perspective of a veteran animal writer, flanked by her devoted pet menagerie, gifted storyteller author Cal Orey, shares the best of her nationally published magazine stories. This fascinating, warm, and witty gift book dishes out the power of love and loyalty between companion animals and humanity.

 "Cal Orey combines well-researched expertise, dynamic humor, and honoring the angelic nature of animals by showing their power to heal hearts and minds with unconditional love."

 — Allen and Linda Anderson, co-founders of Angel Animals Network

 Order Now (softcover/hardcover and ebook last week of December at all online bookstores). Now Available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon bookstores...more to follow!

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Invisible Ink: 5 Reasons to Ghostwrite

 By Cal Orey

Ghostwriters might not see their name in print,

but the work is varied and even in demand

I am a ghostwriter. I am often on the job writing books for someone else. For example, writing as a military wife, I dished out heartfelt feelings in a woman’s magazine about my husband’s service in Iraq. Writing as a witty English doctor, I prescribe anti-aging secrets in a self-help book. Writing as my sensitive mixed-breed cat, I dispense advice to pets and humans in a bimonthly horoscope column.

            Sound like fun? For writers who don’t mind losing a byline, ghostwriting is an interesting and potentially lucrative career option. Also, I must share that I work as a developmental writer (or even start a story from scratch) so often I enjoy co-author credit--and my platform helps the author get noticed. 

1 Interesting assignments

Ever wish you were someone else? As a ghostwriter, you can live your dream vicariously—without having to get credentials or be reincarnated. Being a “ghost” is like channeling into someone else’s body and mind. For example, I write for my 5-year-old cat, Kerouac, who pens the column “What Do the Stars Hold for Your Pet?” for a pet magazine. Not only is his name on the masthead, each column pays for his premium cat food and toys.

            Eric Neuhaus, a New York ghostwriter, did the writing and more for a book by fitness guru Joe Decker. As part of the assignment, Neuhaus and a diet consultant cooked up healthy versions of traditionally unhealthy dishes such and meatloaf and fajitas. “The kitchen in my one-bedroom apartment became the test kitchen,” Neuhaus says. “I bought another book on how to write recipes. All of this was trail by fire. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I’d be testing recipes.”

Ghost Tip: “If you enjoy people, ghostwriting is a way to delve into some of the most unusual people on the planet,” says Marc L. Weber, a former ghostwriter.

2 An occasional credit

When I was assigned the Iraq article for Complete Woman, I collected the very personal first-person narratives of two military wives, using their unique voices to put together their heart-warming tales. I received an “as told to” author credit.

Ghost Tip: If you think the book has potential to be a bestseller, request co-author credit. But if the project is an author’s tool (i.e., selling products), credit isn’t a big deal.

3 Appreciative clients

“One of the most surprising facts I have learned about ghostwriting is that there are some extremely intelligent people out there who cannot put anything onto paper,” Habert says. “For some reason, somewhere between the thought process and the actual movements of their pen or fingers on keyboard, they become babbling fools.”

            In my ghostwritten book on anti-aging, I noticed while the doctor had good command of the English language, his prose tended to be dry. I was hired to “dumb down” his health advice and product information. And the doctor appreciated my ability to do just that.

Ghost Tip: “You have to check your ego at the door,” cautions Deborah Kotz of Silver Spring, Md., who has worked as a ghostwriter on several health books. “Realize that you are the ‘writer’ and not the ‘author.’ There’s a big difference between the two. You are not the authority. So, you have to convey the message that the author wants to convey.”

You have to check your ego

at the door. Realize that you are

the “writer” and not the “author.”

4 Big-money potential

Some book advances can make you smile. Case in point: I just signed a book contract for a five-figure deal, travel expenses and bonuses. For the next five months, I will feel financially secure as I ghostwrite about a fascinating and controversial topic. How rich is that?

Ghost Tip: “If you think the book isn’t going to get that six-figure advance, settle on a fee upfront for your services,” Neuhaus says. “If you think it is going to be a blockbuster project, then negotiate a percentage of the advance and royalties.”

5 Unlimited prospects

The best part of ghostwriting is that it’s like a deep well that never goes dry. Habert understands the glory of ghostwriting. “It is a lucrative source of writing, not only in a monetary manner but also in the volume available,” she says.  Weber adds that as baby boomers age, “that generation becomes interested in holding on to its memories, so there is more work for ghostwriters to do than ever before.”

Ghost Tip: “Network as much as you can,” Weber says. “Make sure people know you have the talent to help them."

            Each in his or her own way, Habert, Weber and Neuhaus have discovered that ghostwriting is a good avenue to a never-ending road of projects. You, too, can arrive at that point. Just put on your mask and go to work.

Getting Started

Look close to home: Offer to be the ghostwriter for your family, friends and co-workers. Don’t rule our your kids or pets, either.

Develop a specialty: “Whether it’s fitness or fashion, write about what you love and have a passion for,” says New York City ghostwriter Eric Neuhaus.

Network with other ‘ghosts’: Often, ghostwriters will be busy with projects and may refer clients to you for a finder’s fee.

Discuss the editing process: If you want to avoid ghoulish re-dos, talk with the author about edits before you begin. Personally, I have incorporated the phrases "No revisions" in the agreement. A dentist to hair stylist may make minor tweaks--but countless changes? Not a chance.

Get it in writing: “If you’re going to collaborate, you’re going to need a written contract or agreement that spells out show does what and how much you get—and when,” Neuhaus says.

Tackle Tasks:  Outlines, restructuring and crafting, developing characters, writing prologues, cliffhanger chapters, and WOW endings, settings, description, dialogue -- and much more!

Remember, everyone has at least one book in them:  It’s your job to connect mentally and emotionally with someone who want to hire a ghost—namely, you.

Published in The Writer 

BIO: CAL OREY, M.A. Meet a super versatile author-journalist, columnist & ghostwriter (fiction: crime, romance, sci-fi, adventure, psychological thrillers, memoir & most genres) and a known on-air personality... 
I'm a born and raised Californian who keeps it real. I hold two degrees in English (Creative Writing) from SFSU, and pen the "hugely successful" Healing Powers Series, available at all fine bookstores --all 9 books have been graced with online bookstore website Bestseller banners; (translated in 25+ languages), many featured by Good Cook and Literary Guild book clubs to Newsmax media.
 New Releases: Cal Orey's favorite stories of 30 years: Soulmates with Paws: A Collection of Tales & Tail (2023), 
The Healing Powers of Herbs & Spices: Timeless Treasures #9 published in 2021 by Kensington  
It has made its way to being a pick in Woman's World Magazine Book Club, and covered by Booklist, American Global News, GlobalInformerNews, NYC Daily Post, New York Daily, City Buzz News, Huffington Post, on board with Newsmax, and in more than 100 libraries worldwide (multiple branches, many copies), articles in hard copy and online magazines.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

2023 Forecasts: Golden State "Rain, Flooding, Mudslides"

  By Cal Orey

2023 Forecasts

The year of 2022 will go down in history books as a rough ride around the world. We had action and adventure. There were quakes, twisters, hurricanes, wildfires causing dangerous air and lake quality. Extreme climate change effects to man-made disasters will happen again in 2023. Count on it...

As the New Year rolls in we unfortunately will be in Mercury Retrograde until mid-month. Some famous prophets predicted this year would frightening—and it may feel that way since some happenings may get worse.

The drought, air quality, toxic waterways, famine, challenges of crops and inflation affecting our food will not go away.

It will be a New Year and new thinking is going to help us get through it, one day at a time. So, dear readers, it is again a time of resourcefulness. Put together a healthy emergency pantry and a go bag for people and pets in case you have to escape or live with nature’s wrath, whether you’re near the coast, mountains, cities, or countryside. Yes, it’s going to be another year of living on the edge of the unknown chock-full of twists and turns like a roller coaster.


Tremors and More Tremors


* Okay, the San Andreas fault zone did move like I predicted it would. In the fall, there was a notable 5.1 earthquake that rattled nerves for folks in the San Francisco Bay Area. In fact, there’s been quite a few minor but noteworthy shakers in both the East and South Bay. But no Big One yet. However, due to the rain and snow in the fall (we’re still in a drought on the West Coast) it could help trigger more stronger earthquakes.

* Looking at hazardous regions on a USGS map the normal earthquake areas are shaded risky. These places include up and down the West Coast, Sierra Nevada, the New Madrid Zone, southern Alaska, and The Big Island, Hawaii.

*Alaska, especially near Anchorage, may experience a major earthquake as it did a few years ago. Since this state is noteworthy of its earthquakes it wouldn’t be shocking.

*In 2022, on November 21, a 5.5 in Greece triggered tsunami fears. It’s possible Italy is up next to rock and roll in 2023 and a great earthquake could happen.

*Indeed the Pacific Ring of Fire was on a roll last year and will likely be the region where at least one great earthquake occurs in 2023. Japan could have a repeat of March 2011which included a fatal tsunami.

 Northern California ShakeAlert! This Is Not a Drill! On December 20 when most people were in bed at 2:34 A.M. Tuesday, a 6.4 strong earthquake near Ferndale shook parts of Northern California. The shaker was about 15 to 20 seconds—

frightening to many people who reported the event. The end result: At least two deaths, at least a dozen people injured, and more than 70,000 folks were left without power. There was infrastructure damage, a road closure, and plenty of objects fell and broke…

A news headline read “Humboldt earthquake alert warned 3M people in California, Oregon”.  The ShakeAlert on cell phones say five warning words “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” and gave people about 10 seconds to prepare for the Earth to move. Dozens of aftershocks followed and there is a chance it was a foreshock. The Northern California earthquake is in both The Ring of Fire and Cascadian Subduction Zone known for deadly earthquakes.


Rain and Snow

As Earth changes continue to shock us, in 2023, according to the experts, a drought in the West and Southwest is not over. In mid-December the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California announced a drought emergency. And dams, reservoirs, and rivers are drying up. Ironically, in December 2022, the northern and southern regions of the Golden State got rain, flash floods, flooding, and mudslides. The Sierra Nevada did enjoy several; feet of snow—but the snowpack, report experts, is a “drop in the bucket.” In 2023 water rationing will continue. The lack of water, especially in Southern California, will be a challenge as it will be in central California—the place where our crops are grown and used to be plentiful.

Still, talk of a Sacramento mega flood, like in the 1800s, continues and people are warned to keep their flood insurance. If the temperatures warm up throughout the West Coast there could be some flash floods and flooding in January and the springtime. If this occurs Washington, Oregon, and California will experience coastal erosion, lost homes, and past wildfire burn regions are vulnerable. 

    Speaking of rain, the Deep South states will face flooding and tornadoes. The states most affected may include Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida. Coastal regions and their people should be prepared.


Hurricanes and Wildfires

 Hurricanes will happen and in 2023 history may repeat itself. One of the Hawaiian Islands could be in danger as well as Florida and the Gulf States. The Atlantic seaboard folks may be boarding up and hunkering down. The Carolinas may be two states facing action and adventure.

Wildfire season is now an annual happening – and unhealthy air quality is affecting all of the West. Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and California are coping with smoky skies especially during summertime. In the winter, prescribed burns, and fireplace smoke causes more toxic skies. People in these regions are getting used to fleeing for a wildfire vacation to find clean air and/or living indoors with air purifiers. 


Climate Change and Immune System

     Not unlike 2022, climate change and immune system challenges will be ongoing. During the winter masking up will be recommended to stay well—but it will not be mandated. As we try and find normalcy since COVID-19, new culprits will lurk around us wherever we go.

During the end of 2022, the “tripledemic” (flu, respiratory syncytial virus, and COVID) is wreaking havoc on our hospitals and people. While we thought the pandemic was over now, we’re dealing with other bugs. And yes, traveling like we did in 2019 but now in cramped airplanes and other transportation can help spread contagious illnesses. What’s more, due to climate change and strange weather we can expect more not less turbulence on flights.

 Both illness and extreme weather affects health, the workplace and our food chain and will continue to rise prices. Some produce will be less than more, and some foods will be difficult if not impossible to get.

       The good news is people will be forced to be more thoughtful with their diet. Buying nutrient-dense fare, fortified cereals to milk, will help people to get nutrients to stay healthier and leaner. This, in turn, means we can boost our immune system, naturally with a better lifestyle.

Because of climate change a plant-based diet will become more popular but more difficult to get because the cost will be pricey. It will take thought and resourcefulness to get fresh fruit and vegetables. People who can grow their own gardens will be blessed. Those people who can afford to pay ten dollars for a few apples will be lucky. And then there are some of us who have the time to forage for apples and oranges at different stores and may score healthy superfoods.


  Pesky Planets

So, to add craziness to this New Year, don’t forget Mercury Retrograde. It happens three times in 2023. Be mindful during these periods. Consider not making travel plans, big changes during these periods. Mercury Retrograde times aren’t always a terrible curse, but it can be.

            The planet Mercury Retrograde dates to mark on your 2023 are29 December 2022 – 18 January 2023 in CapricornApril 21. 2023 – 14 May 2023 in TaurusAugust 23, 2023 – September 15, 2023, in Virgo; and December 13, 2023 – January 1. 2024 in Sagittarius.

Often arguments, high stress, and anxiety during moving or new jobs can happen during Mercury Retrograde--but not always. If you’ve planned on something big and you absolutely cannot change the time it happens it’s a time to be aware and stay safe as possible.


Soulmates with Paws for 2023

Without doubt, people in Ukraine to America and around the globe will be cuddling up to four-leggers. The global pandemic and lockdowns of 2020 resulted in an upsurge of animal adoptions… people were seeking the emotional support and affection that a companion animal can bring.

Homeless pets and their people are a timeless phenomenon. Due to inflation (and recession), displaced families facing financial and physical disasters, will feel scared and lonely. But our companion animals will help us stay strong and survive during the worst of times.

 It’s the year of inhaling and exhaling because more challenges are coming. Some folks believe the end days are near, others choose to live life in the moment and tune out the media hype. Learning to go with the flow in 2023—and being prepared for anything is going to be the name of the game. Your mantra: Stay safe.


Nostradamus’ 2023 Sci-Fi Visions

What did the French astrologer Nostradamus see for the New Year? Well, some visions in the prophet’s quatrains are scary. On the upside, “Nosty” has been wrong. .Epidemics will increase. I agree with epidemics continuing as we experience viruses mutating, a flu bug spreading, and other contagious diseases affecting people of all ages.  Famine may soar. Due to factories and farms being affected by shutdowns and exportation due to illness, inflation, and climate change, lack of food is happening.·       Detonation of a nuclear weapon. It is possible a weapon of destruction may be used and affect some European countries that will make climate change and resources worse.·   Migratory problems. People all over the world are moving due to terrorism, war, famine, and climate change. People in Mexico, Ukrainians, Europeans, and the West Coast locals of California to Washington are relocating to survive.


Soulmates with Paws (Excerpt)...Available January at Online Bookstores

 By Cal Orey

Woman’s Best Friend 

(Excerpt Soulmates with Paws: A Collection of Tales & Tails)

At 20, I wanted to join the Army, train dogs and travel.  I never made it into the service. I may have failed the male-biased aptitude test, but I still love dogs—all breeds, sizes, and ages. So rather than globetrotting in a uniform, I found myself hiking around the country with a beautiful 6-month-old black Labrador retriever named Stone Fox. Stone Fox and I walked and hitchhiked to the Pacific Northwest, Midwest, Deep South, East Coast and even Mexico and Canada. We were on the road like John Steinbeck and his Standard Poodle Charley for more than one year. Taking care of my carefree and upbeat dog and letting him take care of me helped me become a happier and more confident woman in mind and body. He was the dog of my life…


We were lucky to find the widow’s ad for domestic help because I read “No Pets Allowed” in every other “Rooms for Rent” advertisement in San Jose, California. When I applied for the live-in housekeeper position, I explained to Mrs. Thurman that Stone Fox was my best friend and we had just finished traveling cross-country in search of America. The widow, who was soft spoken, said she needed a maid who charged cut-rate prices, and I needed a little R&R for a while. It was self-preservation in a nutshell.

I am not a hypocrite, so I must confess that if I didn’t have my young black Lab with me, I wouldn’t have lasted a minute. Living with the widow would have been too confining at best. But I was in luck because the widow was a dog lover. Her place was a blue and white trailer house—not great for a big dog—landscaped with red bark chips scattered around cacti shrubbery. But there was a creek one block away, which I suggested could be a good dog run. (Later it became me and my dog’s refuge.) So, the widow decided to ignore the “No Large Pets on Trailer Court Premises” rule. Rules are made to be broken, we agreed. Our “we love dogs” motto prevailed.

The widow had the will to subsist inside her coop because of Tweetie, her 11-year-old, devoted Yorkshire terrier, the kind of small pooch that yaps, begs, and wears frilly bows. (I favor larger breeds.) But the spoiled dog did liven up the widow’s low moods, I must admit. I often watched her talk to Tweetie about trivial matters like, “The air is bad in the kitchen” (after she finished frying her bacon, tomato and onion sandwich).  And important issues were covered, such as “Should we sell the Oldsmobile?” and “I don’t want to have the operation for my osteoporosis.” Despite the dog lover’s woes, I felt secure inside the widow’s coop, complete with its colonial style furniture, lacy curtains, and color console television. I didn’t even feel deprived when I was told my fifty-dollar-a-month allowance would be cut in half because of her “too many bills.”

One evening, while returning from a good romp around Quailhollow Creek with Stone Fox, the trailer manager, Ms. Weed, confronted me as I was entering Space 88, the widow’s lot. She spoke of the trailer park regulations, emphasizing that dogs over 15 pounds were not permitted. I told her Stone Fox was my seeing-eye dog straight from San Rafael Dog Training Center for the Blind.

“It’s just a matter of time,” I lied, “before my vision will fail me—for life.” Ms. Weed glared at me with that cosmetic smile of hers. I bet she had plastic surgery. You could sort of tell because her face was too perfect. But it didn’t really match the sloppy way she dressed (purple polyester dress hiding an older woman’s body. She looked like an overweight senior spayed cat, I thought. As she adjusted her large straw hat, she studied me: a hippie girl dressed in baggy blue jean overalls and a peasant blouse, and barefoot. I brushed my shaggy light brown hair out of my eyes when she suggested I should keep my 70-pound Labrador on a very tight leash whenever I walked him on the Quailhollow premises.

That night I confided in the widow almost everything. I told her how Stone Fox and I traveled. A lot. How we hitched and hiked through high and flat deserts of the southwest, fighting off cowboys in the prairies. (They tried to run us off the road. Stone Fox barked and growled. I felt protected.) How we were stranded on on-ramps during a blizzard in Cheyenne, a sandstorm in Winnemucca, and a monsoon in Tucson. And I told her that through our good and bad escapades we learned more and more about each other, and our bond of friendships strengthened...