Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Repotting a Blog

I've been blogging in this place for nearly four years. 

This spring, I've discovered that this blog has become 'root bound' and is in need of 'repotting'.

I'm taking a brief hiatus from the blogging world, to dig in the 'dirt of inspiration' and replant House Blend so it can bloom and flourish.

See you in a few weeks.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Stamps to the Rescue

On Friday, April 30th, the United States Post Office will release 10 great stamps featuring the faces of rescue pets that have found permanent, loving homes. 

The "Stamps to the Rescue" campaign is designed to raise awareness of the thousands of rescue pets that are available for adoption.  Each year, hundreds and hundreds of animals turn up at rescues across the country in need of medical attention, spay or neutering, and in need of a home.  The stamp program is an awareness campaign and does not raise money for rescues. 

In conjunction with the "Stamps to the Rescue" campaign, HALO foods, co-owned by Ellen Degeneres, will donate over a million meals to shelters across the country.  One of the largest expenses for any shelter is providing good, well-balanced nutrition for their four legged guests.  The program sponsored by HALO will help with those expenses. 

Rescue animals are often misunderstood as being 'bad' or 'wild' animals.  This simply is not true.  For any number of reasons, animals are taken to rescues and shelters.  They are deserving of a good home. 

David and I fully support rescue efforts and have adopted three of our four cats from a local rescue that we are affiliated with.  We can't imagine our lives without these adorable and affectionate animals and do all we can to support their work. 

If you are thinking of bringing a deserving pet into your home, I encourage you to adopt from your local shelter.  To find a shelter near you and see all the pets that are up for adoption, use the Petfinder search box on the right side of the page.  You just may find the dog or cat you want in your life.

Farm Visit

I grew up in the country.  The sound of a passing tractor, the 'moo' of cows in the pasture, and a night sky full of stars were part of everyday life.  I always feel most comfortable in the clean country air. 

Saturday, David and I visited the home and farm of our friend Nancy and her husband Kendall who live and work a farm not too far from where I grew up.  I took my camera along to capture a few pictures from the farm. 

The farm was established in 1907 by Kendall's grandparents, Reuben and Martha.  The farm has been in the same family all these  years. 

They recieve Centennial Farm designation by the state of Michigan.  This sign is displayed at the entrance to their property.

The chickens in their chicken house produce the most amazing eggs.  If you've never had farm fresh eggs, you haven't eaten a REAL egg!  I love how the chicken on the right is looking to see what all the fuss was about.

Their home is large and typical for a Michigan farm.  The stone foundation holds a beautifully decorated home that overlooks the farmland. 

The crab apple trees were already in bloom.  A wonderful burst of color.

It was feeding time for the large herd of cattle.  New calves were hanging with the adults.  They looked at me with curiosity as I snapped photos.

There were several new lambs.  They were so adorable!  They looked like stuffed animals. 

There are many barn cats on the farm.  Nancy takes wonderful care of them and is the process of having them all spayed/neutered to break the reproductive cycle.  They are all quite friendly and as you can see by these two, quite handsome!

These two were inseparable.  As they walked along, they would nudge and cuddle each other.  Best pals.

The big barn is just gorgeous.  I imagined the orignal farm owners Reuben and Martha peering out over their land from these windows.

We picked up a couple dozen of the fresh eggs to take home.  Beautiful brown, green, blue, and tan eggs from the Araucana Chickens. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day

It's the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.  No lectures about taking care of our planet, no rewrites of the numerous tips on going green; simply a reminder:  We have but one Earth. We must protect our environment for those generations that will follow us.  Do your part.  Celebrate Earth Day - everyday. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Day With Tracie Hotchner

For the last couple of months, I’ve had the good fortune to plan and coordinate a pet nutrition presentation and book signing by Tracie Hotchner, the fabulous host of “Cat Chat” on Martha Stewart Living Radio. Tracie made her first Michigan appearance at the PETCO store in Westland, Michigan yesterday. It was a day to remember!

Of all the pet experts on MSL-Radio, Tracie is by far my favorite. Her style, her knowledge, and the passion for her work drew me in to trust her and her message on pet wellness.

I was lucky enough to not only coordinate the event, which benefited Friends of Michigan Animals Rescue; but I met some great people from PETCO along the way. The real bonus was that I got to spend the entire day with Tracie as her guide and “advance man.” Here are a few photos from the event.

Tracie gave her presentation "You're Feeding Your Pet, WHAT?!" Afterward, she signed copies of her best-seilling books,  "The Dog Bible" and "The Cat Bible." 

Tracie signed numerous books.  If you own a pet and have not yet read either book, you must order one and read it!  It will change the way you look at your four-legged companion!

Representatives from natural pet food companies were on hand and wanted the opportunity to meet Tracie

Tracie with the rep from Natural Balance - one of the oldest companies that made GOOD pet food available to the public. 

Tracie with Jenie from PETCO corporate.  Jenie was a delight to work with on the event and such a warm and friendly person.  She is one of those people that you  just instantly like!

Expressive and passionate, Tracie shared the truth about commercial pet foods.

A moment to listen to one of the guests questions.

After the event, Tracie took a moment to pose for a picture with PETCO store managers Rachel and Pat.  I was so fortunate to have such a supportive local store management team.   They were so easy to work with and we had some good laughs along the way too!

Following the PETCO event, Tracie went to the Friends of Michigan Animal Rescue for a site visit.  Tracie has been so supportive of FMAR and it was a great opportunity for her to see the operation up close and personal. 

We were greeted by Amber, one of the shelter cats.  She's adorable!

Tracie with many of the volunteer staff and board members from FMAR.

Tracie with Marcy and Pete LaFramboise, founders of Friends of Michigan Animals Rescue

You can listen to Tracie on "Cat Chat," Wednesday nights at 8pm eastern time, on Martha Stewart Living Radio, Sirius 112 / XM 157.  You can also download for FREE her weekly podcasts on iTunes.  Simply search "Tracie Hotchner" in the iTunes store. For more information, log into Tracie's website at

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Sunrise.  It's a crisp, clear, Sunday morning.  Peaceful.  Birds singing to welcome the new day

The rising sun brings a dance of color on the leafing trees.  So beautiful

My favorite time of day... when the world quietly awakens. 

I love morning. 

A new growth of tulips stretch to greet the morning sun. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Michigan Hospital to Grow Their Own Produce

Saint Joseph Mercy Hospital, located in Ann Arbor, MI is using some of their property to erect 'hoop houses' and grow their own organic produce. 

Construction of the first 30'x96' hoop house began this week.  A second house will be constructed later this summer.  According to hopsital planners, a dozen or more of the structures will be built in the coming yesrs. 

Vegetables grown on the farm land will be used in the hospital cafeteria, in meal preparation for patients and sold at a farmers market on the hospital grounds.  Excess food will be donated to "Food Gatherers" a local food bank. 

Draft horses assist with tilling the fertile earth

A team of draft horses helped with the effort to convert about an acre of the hopsital campus to productive farm land.

“The Sisters of Mercy made the visionary decision in the early 70s to move the hospital from Ann Arbor to the 356-acre plot in Superior Township. It is because of their foresight that we are able to have this fantastic opportunity,” explained Rob Casalou, president and CEO of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, Saline and Livingston hospitals. “We are excited to be able to use the land in its original form.”

“Initially, we will sell the produce at a farmer’s market held at the hospital. As the farmland expands, we will integrate the vegetables grown on our land to the cafeteria and patient menus.  This is an opportunity for us to live our mission and provide healthy food to the poor and hungry in our community,” concludes Casalou.

The hospital program will welcome Michigan State University organic farming specialists, and local farmers to the hospital campus  to prepare and nurture the farmland project.  

The first hoop house under construction

The first hoop house and garden will grow vegetables including tomatoes, basil, broccoli, lettuces, and peppers.  Future plans call for a greater variety of vegetables and a fruit orchard on the property. 

“When it comes to healthy eating, one of the most difficult aspects for people is finding quality produce at a reasonable cost,” says Lisa McDowell registered dietitian, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor. “We get many consultation requests from patients hoping to lose weight and begin living healthier lifestyles. Opening a farmer’s market featuring home-grown produce is a great way to enhance the healthy eating habits of people in our community.”
HouseBlend salutes Saint Joseph Mercy Health System for this amazing project!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Everyday Food - May Issue "Fast and Healthy"

On the heels of the May issue of Living appearing in my mailbox, Everyday Food arrived today. 

The May issue is all about "Fast & Healthy" with 40 dishes that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less.  As the weather warms and we spend more time outdoors, the recipes in this issue are perfect for quick, easy, and healthy meals. 

I've always loved breakfast at dinner time and this issue has great recipes to turn our morning favorites into fast, simple and satisfying evening meals.  From a spinach and cheddar strata, to a potato and zucchini hash, there's nothing better than eating morning classics after the sun goes down!

In the mood for Italian rustic fare?  Try lemony zucchini bruschetta, pork milanese with arugula salad and ricotta dumplings.  Sounds delicious, doesn't it?  This menu is all about simple ingredients and streamlined prep. 

Fast and easy desserts are always a plus.  Celebrate a special occasion or end a weeknight supper with any of these super-fast sweets all in a half hour or less!  Try phyllo cups with cappuccino cream, crisp wontons with strawberries and yogurt, or chocolate-zucchini cakes with walnuts.  Any one of these desserts would cap off a great meal!

The May issue of Everyday Food goes on sale April 26.  Grab an issue and prepare any one of these 30 minute or less meals.  Your family will thank you.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Martha Stewart Living - May 2010 - Color for Everyone!

The May issue of Martha Stewart Living arrived in my mailbox  and it's full of wonderful color inspiration. 

In 2007, the editors of Martha Stewart Living dedicated the May issue to color.  Since then, May has been one of the issues I look forward to most.  This issue is among my favorites. 

This issue also marks the first for new Editor-in-Chief Vanessa Holden.  If the May issue is any indication fo Vanessa's vision,  each future issue will be sure to be a favorite. 

Kevin Sharkey continues to take us on his apartment remodel journey with a great look at living with technology.  Utilizing the expertise of former MSLO staffer and founder of, Suzanne Kantra, Kevin solves the common problem of installing technology without visible wires and cables. The product highlights have me thinking of what could be next in our own home. 

Martha and the editors of Martha Stewart Living show us how they translate the shades that they love into a spectrum of beautiful home, food, flower and craft projects in the article, "The Palette Project."  Following their lead, it's easy to find your own personal color palette. 

"The Briefing," a regular section of the magazine has now been replaced with "Great Finds."  In this section, the editors share some of their favorite finds for the home and garden.

The feature section of the magazine, "Living in Color" gives readers a great lesson in what the editors are calling "Super Neutrals."   They scoured the color spectrum to find 18 paint colors that are based on the fool proof equation:  color plus neutral equals super neutral.  The color palettes are spectacular and bring ordinary spaces to life. 

There's much, much more to enjoy in this issue, but I don't want to spoil it for everyone.  The issue is arriving in subscribers mailboxes now and will be on the newsstand April 19. 

Have You Noticed?

The Martha Stewart Crafts website has undergone a terrific makeover.  Now powered by EK Success, the new Martha Stewart Crafts site features more products, and project ideas.  I found the site much easier to navigate and much easier to locate products I was most intersted in.  It's clean, and represents the brand very, very well. 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Making A City Healthy

Five days a week, the Peaches & Greens truck rumbles through some of Detroit’s toughest neighborhoods with the call “Nutritious and Delicious” broadcasting from its loudspeaker. It’s like the Good Humor ice cream truck, except that the Bomb Pops and Creamsicles are replaced by spinach, sweet potatoes and strawberries.

Since the fall of 2008, Peaches & Greens has been trying to meet one of Detroit’s most pressing needs –access to fresh and affordable produce – by selling fresh fruits and vegetables to families on welfare assistance, seniors who can no longer drive, construction workers repaving the city’s battered streets and young people with no form of transportation.

The nonprofit organization that funds the truck, the Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation, also runs a storefront where they offer cooking classes in addition to selling produce and other healthy staples like grains, beans and dairy products. Together, these collective initiatives are trying to transform the city from a barren food desert into a community where the pounds of parsnips and plums outnumber the soda cans, 40-ounce beer bottles and cellophane wrapped snack cakes.

“Food desert” describes many of the nation’s largest cities that have little access to fresh food. The lack of grocery stores and fresh food in combination with the abundance of fast-food restaurants and convenience stores poses a significant threat to the health of the country’s urban residents. The recent rise of obesity and weight-related health conditions among inner city communities is alarming.

According to the Chicago-based research group Mari Gallagher, 92 percent of all food stamp recipients purchase their food at convenience stores, gas stations and pharmacies. The US Department of Agriculture estimates that the cost of groceries in food deserts is 10 percent higher than suburbs.

The idea for Peaches & Greens started over 10 years ago as Lisa Johanon’s frustration grew over the dearth of adequate fruits and vegetables in the city. “I’ve lived in Detroit for 22 years and week after week, I drive to the suburbs to get fresh produce for my family, because in the city, it is either awful or nonexistent, and to be honest, I was scared to buy any of it,” explains Johanon, who responded by founding Peaches & Greens and now serves as its executive director. Within the area that Peaches & Greens serves there is one grocery store and 26 liquor stores. Detroiters have to travel twice as far to get to a grocery store as they do to get to a fast-food restaurant or convenience store.

Johanon started to investigate the idea of a mobile produce truck as a way to get fresh food into the kitchens of Detroit residents. The main target audiences for the initiative were the poor, shut-ins and seniors. A few clicks on Craigslist turned up an old UPS truck with a price tag of $5,000. With the help of volunteers and donations of paint, shelves and a table-top refrigerator, the vehicle , which once sported he trademark UPS Pullman brown color, was converted to a colorful collage of bananas and watermelons.

Customers can step into the back of the truck and select their own produce or have it chosen for them. The mere selection process is empowering, given the very few food choices available to Detroiters. The truck is also equipped with a hand-held EBT machine for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. About half of its customers use food stamps.

Peaches & Greens has garnered the attention of lawmakers, researches and media outlets. And Peaches & Greens was the impetus behind Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s Michigan Neighborhood Food Movers Project.

Learn more about Peaches & Greens at

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Early Garden.. Early Worries

The weather has been unseasonably warm for the last two weeks.  With the warm weather, the gardens have come alive!  While I love the beauty of the young plants, it brings a bit of worry; our area is known for those freezing and frosty nights in April and May.  I will have to keep a careful eye on the weather reports and be prepared to cover on a nightly basis if necessary.  Here's a look at what's happening in the garden today:

All of the rose bushes are pushing leaves.  I love the purple green color of the leaves

The bleeding heart has such delicate flowers.  It's one of my favorites in the garden during the early spring.

The clematis is growing like a weed!

Lily after lily is breaking ground and stretching toward the sun. 

The hydrangea bushes are also bursting with new leaves.  I think there will be substantial growth this year!

Martha Stewart turned me on to Ladies Mantle about 12 years ago.  I've loved the plant since and each year it continues to spread. 

The astible is quickly gaining some size!

I love daffodils.  There is a smattering of these beautiful spring blooms all through the gardens.

The Chinese wisteria is LOADED with buds.  I love the light purple clusters of flowers.  They look like delicate clusters of grapes when in full bloom.

Even the peonies are gaining some substantial size.  I will have to be VERY careful to make sure nothing happens to this beauty!  The pink/white/red flowers are so vintage and beautiful looking!

The daisies are ready for another season!  This plant nearly doubled in size from last  year.

Even the hosta are taking off a bit earlier than usual.  We grow several different types of hosta in the gardens. They are easy to care for and provide great color/texture in any garden. 

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Meet Tracie Hotchner - Your Pets Best Friend

I will never forget the first time I listened toTracie Hotchner, host of Cat Chat on Martha Stewart Living Radio; within minutes of the very first show, I was hooked. She was no nonsense, obviously passionate about her work, and quite direct with her callers. I knew within that very first hour, Tracie Hotchner was someone I would want to listen to as often as possible.

Fast forward to the following year and I was faced with a stray mother cat giving birth to six beautiful kittens. I didn’t know what to do! It was my first time dealing with a newborn kitten on any level! I turned to Tracie Hotchner, who helped me understand what to look for if there was a problem and what to expect as these tiny bundles of fur started growing up. Thanks to Tracie’s help and guidance every week on Cat Chat,  David and I adopted one of the little kittens and naming him "Sirius," inspired by our new pets best friend, Tracie Hotchner.

Tracie brought the keen eye of her background as an investigative reporter to every aspect of living with a dog, resulting in THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know. Tracie has established herself as a foremost pet wellness advocate in the United States. Her encyclopedic book covers everything from medical issues to training, nutrition and problem solving; winning the hearts and minds of people whose dogs are their family members.

Tracie did it again for cat lovers with the all-encompassing THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. Her investigative research exposed a number of startling revelations about creating a safe and interesting life for cats, not the least of which was to avoid the harm of feeding the highly-processed carbohydrates in dry cat food to an “obligate carnivore” - coining the phrase “kitty crack” to describe it.

Tracie also has a “mini-empire” of weekly live radio programs, all dealing with dog and cat wellness issues. She interviews experts in the field, authors of books about animals, and takes callers’ questions on the air. CAT CHAT® is on Wednesday nights on Martha Stewart Living Radio, Sirius 112/XM 157 satellite radio – DOG TALK & CAT CHAT® is on Saturday nights on WOR 710 AM in New York City, and her first show, DOG TALK® on NPR station WLIU 88.3 FM from Southampton New York won a prestigious Gracie Award in 2010 for “Outstanding Host of an Entertainment/Information show on public radio.

Tracie has not only become my trusted pet care resource, but a friend as well. Tracie graciously agreed to answer a few questions recently for this House Blend exclusive interview:

You’ve authored two wonderful books on pet care; “The Dog Bible” and “The Cat Bible.” What was your motivation/inspiration to write these two books?

Nobody had ever tackled a “Dr. Spock for pets” – one reference book that would cover every single aspect of sharing your life with a dog or cat. So I decided to climb that mountain - I love a challenge!

Have you always been a pet lover?

Earliest memories are crawling around with my older “sibling” Pango, a year old Bedlington terrier. I think I barked before I spoke. And as a child growing up in Connecticut I had a Noah’s Ark menagerie – all in pairs. I had 2 donkeys (Jackie & Jennie, who wound up having a baby, Tinkerbelle), two sheep, lots of exotic chickens, a pair of ducks, different kinds of exotic rabbits, and of course many pairs of hamsters with names like Peaches and Cream.

I first became familiar with you when you started your Cat Chat radio show on Martha Stewart Living Radio. How did you come to connect with Martha Stewart and the radio channel?

The top fellow at Martha’s Omnimedia Empire happened to hear me being interviewed on the local NPR station in Southampton about The Dog Bible and I found out later just loved my voice and personality. Out of the blue I got an email from the head of Martha’s radio channel asking whether I waned to “join their world.” Needless to say I jumped at the chance – and The Cat Bible was about to be published but I had already trademarked the name CAT CHAT and had a logo designed – so I offered them me doing that show and they jumped at it./ Timing is everything in life.

I understand you now have three radio shows?

Yup – I have my original NPR show called DOG TALK on the new NPR station in the Hamptons called Peconic Public broadcasting – then CAT CHAT and my newest show is live in NYC on Saturday nights and is called “Tracie Hotchner’s DOG TALK & CAT CHAT.”

Do you have others who assist you in the production of your radio shows?

If only! I wish! In my dreams! Incredibly I do it all alone and sometimes marvel at how I pull this off- deciding guests I want, contacting them, arranging a date, reminding them, tweeting the show topic – and all that on top of tons of emails to answer.

What’s a typical day like putting a radio show together?

It’s a wave of activity that happens constantly – every time I hear of someone or a book or a topic that intrigues me I learn more, reach out and connect with that expert then invite them on the show – but the management of the website and email inbox is where 90% of time & energy goes. We all know how email can suck the marrow out of your bones – and in fact, mine are feeling a bit brittle at the moment!

On Cat Chat you drive home the message of good nutrition for pets and the draw-backs of what you refer to as “kitty-crack.” What is the best type of meals we can provide for our pets? (both cats and dogs)

The yardstick is exactly the same as for people food: higher quality ingredients – in the most natural state possible - with the least amount of processing. Variety from different food groups is also important, although with kitties it’s variety in the protein source since they should get a meat-only diet, with no more than 10% carbs. What we want to really avoid is corn-based foods, because those foods that are loaded with corn in different versions tend to be fattening, be way too heavy on the highly processed carbohydrates, which is the main no-no of pet nutrition. No kitty crack at all for cats, and reduce the amount of kibble in your dogs diet to no more than half his meals.

What I have enjoyed most about listening to Cat Chat is your straight forward, no-nonsense answers to caller’s questions and the fact that you’re consistent with your message. Frankly, you’re messaging goes against the grain of most manufacturers of pet food and even a good many vets. Has the public been duped all these years?

We have all been led down a garden path. And what I love about my listeners is that the very minute they hear the holes in the story they have been told, they know instantly they have been misled and misinformed and start using their own commonsense. It’s a beautiful thing, the triumph of intelligence and integrity and devotion to their pets getting people to take responsibility for their pet’s wellness and making decision based on their own good sense.

You are very supportive of animal adoption through shelters/rescues. What should a potential pet owner look for in a shelter/rescue? Are there any ‘red flags’ that people should be aware of?

A red flag would be that they charge a very high fee for "adopting" - above $150 for a dog or $200 for a puppy - because it signifies they may be selling dogs, not rescuing them. Otherwise a shelter should have a volunteer program- that's a sign of a really well thought out facility. And of course that it not smell terrible (i.e. is cleaned regularly) and where cats are concerned that they have done the spay/neuter already (not relying on people who adopt) and have determined that the cat is not positive for any illnesses. For dogs, you want some sort of credible behavior evaluation so you aren’t taking home a dog that may bite or have other serious behavior issues.

Pets of course are not immune to health issues. What are the most common health issues for both dogs/cats? Are there preventative measures that can be taken as we raise our pets to minimize these health issues?

That is a two-page answer! There is nothing that befalls all pets – except perhaps obesity, which comes from feeding too many highly processed carbohydrates (as I’ll explain when I come to Detroit to give my Pet Nutrition Truth talk!) Cats get fat for one reason only: you are feeding them dry food which is a heavily carb food which they are not “designed” to digest. They are obligate carnivores who need meat only. All the kitty urinary tract issues (stones, crystals, blockage, and infection) can be traced to the ill effects of feeding what I call Kitty Crack – any dry food. Wet food from a can or frozen raw pet food is the solution to these problems. For dogs, feeding an exclusively kibble diet without real food in it – and half their diet consisting of real recognizable protein – will lead to obesity. Good health and even preventive care begins in the food bowl (for our four-legged as well as two-legged family members!)

Are there common behaviors in pets that are perhaps misunderstood by owners?

I think people misinterpret aggression in dogs – they call normal dog-to-dog behavior “aggressive” when it is really just informational body language and vocalization to establish a hierarchy. Then they refer to a dog who bites people as “nipping” them or “being protective of me” when it is actually a full blown dangerous aggressive behavior requiring emergency intervention by a certified behaviorist. People with pussy cats think the cats don’t want to interact, that they are “aloof” – when really they may be feeling punky from being fed dry food (many cats act more energetic and affectionate as soon as you get them on wet food) and also they may be stand offish because people have not engaged them in games and interaction they can relate to in a feline way. People need to initiate with cats way more than they realize.

For those that have never shared their life with a dog or a cat, what advice would you give a potential pet-parent before they make the decision to adopt?

Just like people unsure whether they want a baby, I recommend spending time around the babies and kids of all ages of other people and imagine yourself living with that 24-7. Same thing with pets – hang out with different friends’ dogs and cats – take one for a weekend. See what’s involved; check out how you feel about the responsibility but also the companionship and connection. Do the trial-and-error thing with other peoples’ pets – don’t impulsively buy or adopt a pet and realize a week into it that this isn’t what you expected.

There have been news stories in our area recently of people ‘hoarding’ pets, with literally a hundred or more dogs or cats. What is the maximum number of cats or dogs that should be in a single family home?

There’s no fixed number. It depends on how big a space a person has and whether she has the ability to divide spaces and give proper wellness care and nutrition to whatever number of pets she has. It’s really a question of resources: if you have a 6 bedroom house and segregate groups of cats into 5 of them, you can have a lot more cats than if you just gave them the run of the house. Dogs need exercise as well as personal attention and training. Yet for some people, having three cats is too much and the house turns into a giant litter box and with three dogs they can be ungroomed, unwashed, unexercised, and malnourished – and all that can appear like hoarding. It’s a complex psycho-social phenomenon and very hard to truly eliminate.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Free time? What’s that?

What’s next for Tracie Hotchner? New projects on the horizon?

One thing I am NOT going to be writing is THE DONKEY BIBLE: Everything Your Donkeys Assume You Know. We now have a pair of mini-donkeys, mother and daughter retired breeding Jennies, Mona and Lisa. I think maybe they may inspire my next project. One project I am really proud to be part of and seems to be enlarging is being the spokesperson for the evolving natural foods section of PETCO. I am really looking forward to bringing the natural foods message to as many people as possible so they will learn how to make the best possible choices for their four-legged family members.

Tracie will be making her first Michigan appearance, April 18th, at the PETCO store in Westland, Michigan.  Click on the events page at the top of this blog for more information.