Halloween Memories with Pets by V.M. Burns

Stories of razor blades in apples and tampered candy were prevalent when I was a kid and before individually sealed candy. My mom only let my sister and I eat candy from the homes of two or three neighbors whom she knew and trusted. Dressing up to visit three houses was hardly worth the effort, so I have no childhood memories of Halloween costumes (and no photos). As an adult, I found pleasure and created new memories of Halloween with my pets.

My first poodles, Coco and Cash were registered therapy assist dogs. What’s a therapy assist dog? It’s a dog that has been tested and certified by Therapy Dogs International, as having the temperament to go into hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions for companionship. Therapy assist dogs aren’t the same as highly trained service animals like Leader Dogs for the Blind. A therapy assist dog is tested to insure it can follow basic commands, won’t be skittish around crutches, wheelchairs or canes, isn’t aggressive and will allow people to pet them. Most times, the dogs provided comfort, nothing more. To a sick child in a hospital, comfort may be just what the doctor ordered.

Coco and Cash along with a few other dogs from Echo Dog Club went into nursing homes, hospitals, and other facilities weekly. We entertained people with a few tricks, Coco played a toy piano (well, she banged on it with her paws). My dog trainer’s dog rode a skate board. After the show, that’s when the petting, hugging and general dog love started. When those visits were near Halloween, the dogs wore costumes. A friend made Coco a pink poodle skirt.

Coco is gone and Cash and I no longer do therapy assist work, but the fun of dressing my dogs up for Halloween continues. The kids who stop by for trick or treat get a kick out of seeing my pets dressed for the season. Cash is often silly and the banana costume suits his personality. I thought the “Rufferee” was cute. Kensington, is the newest member of my pack. She wasn’t crazy about the hat, but she looked so adorable as a witch and a turkey, I couldn’t resist.


A killer wants Lilly Echosby to roll over and play dead . . .

Lilly may be losing a husband but she’s gaining a toy poodle. That could be seen as a win-win, since her new adopted pooch Aggie (named after Agatha Christie) is cute and adorable, and Lilly’s dirty dog of a spouse is cheating on her with a blond bimbo—except for one problem: Albert Echosby’s just been murdered, and Lilly is the number-one suspect.

With the cops barking up the wrong tree, it’s a good thing her best friend Scarlett “Dixie” Jefferson from Chattanooga, Tennessee, decided to take a break from the dog club circuit to pay a visit, along with her own prize pair of poodles. With help from Dixie, her defense attorney daughter, and a blue-eyed man in blue with a K-9 partner, Lilly is determined to collar the real killer. But when a second murder occurs, it’s clear they’re dealing with one sick puppy . . .