Monday, January 9, 2012

Book Review:Raising My Furry Children By Tracy Ahrens, Guest Story by Steve Dale

I had the pleasure and honor of being given the opportunity of reading and reviewing a delightful and touching book, Raising My Furry Children by Tracy Ahrens.

Before I even opened the book I knew I was going to love it. I know there are some of you who don't consider your pets to be your "furry children", but I also know there are many of you, like myself, WHO DO.

Tracy Ahrens is one of those people. Her book features columns that she had written over the years, more or less in diary form (minus dates of entry and in no particular chronological order) that highlight moments in her "furry children's" lives that run the gamut of hilarious to heart-wrenching.

If you are like me you derive great enjoyment from reading about the experiences of other "pet parents" that make you laugh and that also offer you the opportunity to learn. Raising My Furry Children will not disappoint.

 The first half of the book features Tracy's first dog, an American Brittany named Speckles (who will be featured on my dog's blog,  Dakota's Den, Friday, January 27th.) and the hilarious and touching moments of his life that Tracy has so beautifully documented. A portion of the proceeds of the book sales will go to American Brittany Rescue.

Also in the first half  of Raising My Furry Children is a guest story by Steve Dale. Steve authors a twice-weekly syndicated newspaper column (Tribune Media Services), and is host of two nationally syndicated shows ( and Steve Dale's Pet World, heard on WGN in Chicago. He's also a contributing editor at USA Weekend. Recently he was named a National Ambassador for the American Humane Association.

The second half of the book touched me the most because it features Tracy's cats:

Desdemona-who was from a family of four kittens that were born under Tracy's desk in college. At the time, she was studying William Shakespeare and as a result each one of the kittens were named after Tracy's favorite Shakespearean characters.

Chocolate Drop aka (C.D.)-who Tracy adopted when she was one or two months old from a friend who got her from a farm where she was no longer wanted.  C.D. had epilepsy and Tracy says I believe that she is truly special; that is why I was given the chance to live with and learn from this creature with a devastating condition.
"Joan Of Arc"

Joan of Arc-who was rescued from the side of a road where she was standing next to one of her siblings who had been killed after being hit by a car. Tracy named her Joan of Arc because of her determination and strength to live through anything.
"Captain Jack Sparrow"

Captain Jack Sparrow-was the latest edition to the family at the time that Tracy was writing the book.  Tracy initially named the little man Sparrow after the sparrows he was infatuated with. She received him after she had lost her job and her life "was in a whirlwind". Tracy says that Shamans say that sparrows are spirit messengers that teach us how to find your soul song. She says that she found that message to be fitting for the time Sparrow came into her life.

Being the cat person that I am Tracy's documentation in the second half of the book particularly touched me. A few of the stories that Tracy has so touchingly documented are:

 Desdemona being a "closet searcher"
Tracy and Captain Jack Sparrow

  An adorable passage about Desdemona and C.D. and their love of playing with rolled up "paper wads"

Pet names as in the names we call our pets that are different than the ones we have given them. Tracy says: I have come to realize that if I ever have a child, it probably will never know its real name.

Saying Good-bye to Daddy- about Tracy's divorce and it's affect on her "furry children"

Saying Good-bye To Pepper- her brother's cat of 14 years who they had to put to sleep due to Pepper suffering from an enlarged heart. This section had me in tears because it made me relive my own devastation  after watching  my beloved Bobo's decline having been afflicted with the same condition.  This section gripped my heart and didn't let go.

From Tracy when having to say good-bye to her beloved Desdemona:
I had recently read a book, "Spirit Animals and the Wheel of Life", by Hal Zina Bennett. In it, Bennett speaks of the Zuni culture of New Mexico. When the men of the tribe hunted, they would rush to a dying animal, press their lips to the mouth of that animal and exchange its last breaths with it. "This ritual, " the book states, "is one of literally intermingling the spirits of the hunter and the hunted, of honoring the sacrifice and acknowledging their spiritual bonds." I was bending over Desdemona that morning, my face close to hers, kissing her, and talking softly into her ear. I exchanged breaths with her. In those final moments, our spirits intermingled.
"Mini" as drawn by Tracy

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the superb illustrations (48 total!) that were drawn by Tracy and are featured in this book.  They were done using graphite (a medium I ADORE working with but without the exquisite results that Tracy has brilliantly accomplished.) I was in complete awe of their life-like appearance and the obvious artistic gift that Tracy has in her execution of these  drawings.

I have no human children that I have given birth to, which is always a nagging thought when I think about events that have transpired in my life. I always dreamed I would have children of my own but God had other plans.

As a result my beloved Bobo, my cuddly and courageous Cody, and my delightfully-daffy Dakota are all three the "children I never had." To those who think it is nuts to refer to your pets as your "furry children" I say "pfffffffffffttttt!!!"

To those who share Tracy's feelings as well as mine, I say  pick up a copy of this tenderly touching gem. You will be laughing, nodding in agreement,  and touched to your core.

From Tracy: Most importantly, my pets are listeners, observers and counselors, lying on my lap when I am upset or tired, and jumping about happily when I am full of energy. I talk to them, and they look into my eyes with simple understanding. 

As Tracy states in her front-of-the-book dedication this book is for:

all those who love,
have loved or
will love creatures great and small

Paperback: 259 pages
Publisher:  Weaving Dreams Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9824876-7-9

Tracy Ahrens

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tracy is a graduate of Eureka College in Eureka, Illinois.  Tracy Ahren's current columns appear on the Tails Pet Media Web site as a monthly

For More Information Visit: and

Watch Tracy's Delightful Interview With Steve Dale:


  1. Thanks for such a fab indepth review of this wonderful wonderful book!!
    But it's so sad to hear that some of her furrkids are no longer with her - so so sad. Awww hugs to her - but great that she's found joy with writing this book! Furrkids totally change lives for the better - the bonds created are amazing, totally!

    Take care

  2. "To those who think it is nuts to refer to your pets as your "furry children" I say "pfffffffffffttttt!!!"

    Aunty Caren, you are sooooo right!!!

    Hey Cody, with the amount of reading your mom is doing, I wonder if she has time to cuddle you, eh? I would complain loudly and chew the corners off. (Nikki is good at this. Serious!) purrr....meow!

  3. @Old Kitty thank you! I wanted to do this book justice because it was so good and I felt there was soooo much that I could have covered. It is sad that a few of Tracy's pets are no longer here (most from the book are no longer here) but the book is primarily would love it!

    @Cat from Sydney lol! Thanks for agreeing! As for Cody, you are right! Too much reading lately but I am reading some great books! That is why God created "Frolicat" lol

  4. This looks like a lovely book. I'll have to add it to my ever growing to-be-read list. Wonderful review!

  5. I second the PPPPFFFFFFFT sentiment...LOVE is's that simple. I consider you the bestest kitty mama ever and I am so glad you shared this lady's awesome that name..Desdemona!! Monday hugs!!Sue and Rosie..who feels I adopted the human trio that eat me out of house and home and that SHE is the real child of the home:D..rightfully so!

  6. @Ingrid THANK YOU!!! You will LOVE this book Ingrid! I hear you about the "ever growing to be read list" I never seem to get caught up!

    @catspoiler I adore the name Desdemona too! I share your sentiment with our babies and I THANK YOU but I am far from being the best kitty Mama! We ALL are!

  7. Great review of a great book! Me thinks that is a great book and me will bug Mommy to gets it!
    me sends yous extra purrs, and some head butts to go with regular kisses to helps yous through the dat

  8. Bloggers should start a lending liberry. I know you're trying to sell books but some of us don't have a budget for books. Out of all TW's cats, Tymmy was the one who thought he was a furry little person. And, you know, I don't think it's fair that she call her daughter—ME—Demon Seed.

  9. That was terrific! Maybe the title should really be Raised by our Furry Children, cause we're the boss ya know!

  10. That does look like a terrific book and what a good review that was. It really made me want to read it. I just need to try to make some more money on my reviews that I do. But I sure will put it on my list. Take care.

  11. @Nellie thanks soooooo much!! Oh and the extra head butts and kisses? THANK YOU! I sure can use those!

    @Marg thanks so much! You make money on reviews? I don't...tell me your secret! lol

    @Brian what a fantastic suggestion!!! You are exactly right!

    @CK lol!! Also great idea! About lending! The books that I really like (like this one and many others) I keep, the ones that are signed I keep no matter what...the children's books I give to my niece and nephew and I have had give-aways for books in the past. This one I wouldn't give away though because I loved it and it was signed which I soooo appreciate when authors take the time to do that. I don't make money on any of my reviews FYI.

  12. What a fabulous book!
    Thank you for your review and for bringing it to our attention.

  13. Wonderful review!
    Thanks to share!

  14. Sounds like a very moving and involving book, especially with stories such as Joan of Arc's.

  15. Pffffft indeed! I myself have a litter of human children, and there's no doubt the furry kids are my family, too (sometimes preferred lol). I got teary-eyed just reading your review, can't wait to read the book. And a HUGE fan of Steve Dale here:)

  16. Caren, this sounds like our kind of book. Amazing in depth review.

  17. @Abby you are most welcome! Thank you!

    @Layla it is DEFINITELY your kind of book, you will LOVE IT! Thank you for the compliment...THAT means a GREAT DEAL to me. I am deeply flattered!

    @Kim can't wait to hear your thoughts when you read it. Knowing you like I think that I do, you will ADORE will also love Steve's guest article in the beginning of it. I will probably touch more on that for Dakota's review since Dakota's blog is a dog blog. That will be done on January 27th. Thanks much!

    @Jewel it truly is. Aren't the names of Tracy's cats just the BEST?

    @Repositorio, thanks so much! glad you enjoyed it!

  18. Looks like a great book!

    Hey, I got the package with the Bissell goodies this weekend. Thanks so much! I really love the sweeper and the little fur upholstery gizmo. Thankfully, I haven't had need for the urine system recently! I'll post a blurb on my blog soon about everything.

  19. Aw, Joan of Arc! What a story.

    My Human thinks I am her biggest problem child. She says I am her penance for having had the Best Kitty in All the World, Mr. Teeth. Purrsonally, I don't think that's furry nice of her to say, do you?

  20. I sort of got teary just reading your review! I may have to buy it and read it later, when things have calmed down a bi.

  21. Hi Janet yep it most definitely is! Glad you got everything and that you are enjoying the Sweeper. Don't worry about posting about it. I have won some things on some blogs lately that I have been HORRIBLY remiss in posting. It is hard for me because I won things that aren't cat related and I have a "thing" about putting things on the blog that aren't cat related so I don't know how I am going to handle that. The people will all hate me! lol. Don't stress about it, you dont' have to, just glad you got everything!

    @TMW I didn't mean to make you cry! ((((hugs))))

    @Spitty, nope!! I do NOT think that is very nice of her! She sounds like my Mom and always talks about how PURRFECT my Grandpa Bobo and I are PURRFECT TOO! Love, Cody

  22. MOL, we often talk about the diff between raising kids and kits. We don't do the non-fur kind but we are pretty sure that kits are easier ;-)

  23. I have two human children, but my fur babies are still very much a part of the family. Guess my children agree, since they both have fur kids and refer to Hubby and me as Grandpa and Grandma!

    This book sounds like a lovely collection.

    Critter Alley

  24. Thank you for the review! We will definitely be checking the book out.

    Re your comment on our blog re Kliban:

    "Love to eat them mousies; Mousies what I love to eat Bite they little heads off, nibble on they tiny feet" (the rest of the words). SO funny an image it creates!

  25. Ohhh yayyy, another great book, I"m off to buy it now. Thanks Caren, Cody and Dakota :)
    Miss Bella and Sele