Miss Destructive: Puppy On A Rampage

I don’t know about your puppy, but my 16-month-old terror, Lucy, has been on a binge of destruction, galloping like a wild Indian through my apartment, set upon chewing up anything she can get.

Yes, she has plenty of dog toys–an elk bone, a Nylabone, stuffed animals, kongs, rubber balls, torn socks–but why bother with those when she can eat Chinese grasscloth off the wall? Or my new sneakers? Or most recently, C A S H. Yes, I was in the bathtub reading a magazine and I heard Lucy contentedly chewing on something–which turned out to be my WALLET. Not only did she eat through the leather with gusto, but she also took $200 and efficiently tore the money in half with her nice white teeth.  By the time I got out of the tub, and almost broke my back slipping on the marble floor, she had my American Express card in her mouth, knawing on that as well.

She could be a custodian–as she also relishes going through the bathroom and kitchen waste baskets, excavating for watermelon rinds or used paper toweling. And when she can can work it into her schedule, a long doggie list of don’ts, she also has enjoyed eating through the silk backing of pillows. And in the evening, nothing makes her happier than finding Bazooka chewing gum. I recently found four pieces in her mouth, and she managed to blow a few bubbles.

Do you think she needs puppy Ritalin or Valium?

Mind you, while “her” room is untouched by chewing and totally intact with no damage done–her very own silk pillows still in pristine condition without a saliva stain on them–she doesn’t feel a bit of guilt about tearing into my space.

Today, she’s in “time out” in her room, stretched out on the beige couch, enjoying the air-conditioining, and watching the Food Channel, too hot to destroy anything else for the moment, but she will. The terrible twos really are pretty bad, but I’m hopeful that with proper

training, and lots of NO’s–she’ll understand that hers is a dog’s life, rather than my own.

All worn out and taking a nap after a rampage

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Hachette Trailer Treat: Coming Attraction for Dog Lovers

For generations, moviegoers have been seduced into buying tickets for upcoming attractions by watching those all-important movie trailers, alluring previews that generate the ‘impulse buy,’ pulling you back into the theater for more. 

These 30-second trailers are elaborately produced, intended to incite in the viewer a visceral reaction. I think of them as Hors d’oeuvres, whetting your appetite for the main course. In fact, I often make my decisions about what movies I see based upon trailers, which ideally give you the flavor and texture of the story without giving the plot away.

While movie producers have banked on the power of trailers for years, it’s only in

History Precedes Book Evolution of Book Trailers

the last few years that the book industry is finally catching up, borrowing the concept by producing so-called “book trailers”– video advertisements for new releases that can be acted out using flash videos, animation, or simple still photos set to music (with optional narration), designed to build advance interest and sales.

It’s hard to believe that the first book trailer wasn’t produced until 2003! And it wasn’t until 2005 when user-generated online video upload became more popular that such trailers become a common reality on sites like MySpace, YouTube and iFilm. The cost of such trailers range from the bare bones low-end of $1500 to $15,000 and up toward $100,000 depending on productions values. But such trailers turn out to be invaluable as an author can use them on social networking sites, in their press kits, in presentations to book chains, on commercial sites selling books, at Book Expo America, and at book readings.

The Final Book Jacket Design

When I learned all this about a year ago, my goal was creating a book trailer of my own. After all, KATIE UP AND DOWN THE HALL is an emotional, highly-visual story that takes place along the Hudson River–with a very photogenic dog (Katie), an adorable little boy (Ryan), and a charismatic matriarach (Pearl), so I envisioned a book trailer that could capture the color and mood of the story.

Glenn, Ryan, Pearl, and Katie

But I didn’t get the idea of producing such a trailer until the great book coach, Ann McIndoo, suggested that I consult with with the renowned book marketing authority  John Kremer, who wrote a great book titled, 1001 Ways To Market Your Book. “If there’s one thing you should do, it’s build an Internet audience through social networking sites, one key tool to doing it being a book trailer.”

John defined the most effective book trailers as “poems with music,” consisting of three major elements–an inspiring message (the script), beautiful images (in my case, a montage of photographs that illustrate our family story), and atmospheric background music that matches the mood of the story. As an example of one trailer that got 40 million views, he sent me to thedashmovie.com.

So I set to work: The first thing I did was write a 4-minute script that would capture the essence of the story in an emotional way.  I started with the line: “Some of the best things that happen in life are purely accidental…an intuition can take you almost anywhere–even to a beautiful friendship when you least expect it. That’s what happened to me.” And then I transitioned to setting the scene by writing: “There’s a little town built on water with a never-ending parade of sailboats, ferries, and cruise ships.
Into this world arrived a homely little puppy with skinny legs and gigantic ears.”

Pitiful As A Puppy

That, of course, is the star of the book, Katie. And on it went.

Next, I combed through 20 of my scrapbooks, each identified by theme, choosing the most expressive pictures I could find. I eventually wound up with 300 “finalists,” that told the entire story of our 16 years together. From this pool of photos, I eventually narrowed it down to 65 pictures to tell the story of KATIE.

Finally, I needed to find background music that would match the mood of the story–and hopefully evoke in viewers an emotional reaction. One night, I found a great movie on cable titled “My Dog Skip,” and as soon as I heard the film score, I knew it was perfect for my story.

Photo Perfect Brandon Williams

And now, with all three elements chosen, I needed a video and sound editor to put it all together. It’s fitting that since my book is all about building a family from neighbors–I was able to build my book trailer the same way! One of my best friends is the brilliant Broadway and TV actor, comic, voice-over artist, and screenwriter Brandon Williams, who lives fifteen floors above me with his wife Sheila and their two young sons. Brandon has the most mellifluous voice–almost haunting in its expressiveness–and I felt he was the perfect person to record the trailer voice-over. As if all his other talents weren’t sufficient, Brandon, I quickly discovered, is also a skilled video editor. Brandon arranged the photos in the right order, matching the meaning of the script to the image, creatively panning and zooming on pictures, coordinating the final look of the trailer.

There was only one thing missing–a sound editor to record the voice-over and edit the film score to match the flow and meaning of the words. I lucked out knowing Diego Costa,

Diego Costa

a skilled musician and audio editor, who again, lives right in my building, 20 floors above me with his wife Daniela and their two young sons.  Don’t I have great neighbors?!

Diego and Brandon Recording Katie Book Trailer in my Dining Room

So rather than going into a recording studio or hiring a producer or video editor, we produced my book trailer right at home in my dining room! There we sat, and in just 3 hours, we recorded the script, edited the music, and then Brandon, over a period of just a few days, put the pieces all together. Taking the pictures of the session was Brandon’s talented wife, Sheila of Sheila Williams Photography.

The final result speaks for itself. Just click and see. I have to tell you that I’ve screened this trailer for many people–kids, seniors, businessmen, dog lovers, and those not even interested in dogs–and the reaction has been startling. Almost everybody who sees it cries! Why? I think it’s because each of us has a child, or a grandmother, or a best friend, or a dog in our lives who we’ve bonded with deeply–and who we’ve ultimately lost, due to the inevitability of death or separation.

Well, there you have the story of my book trailer. I recently found the trailer posted on the Barnes & Noble web site, pictured here. It makes me feel great to share the story of our lives with families and dog lovers everywhere. And if you come to the Barnes & Noble bookreading on September 16th, we’re going to have a special screening of the trailer, the evening hosted New York legendary journalist Liz Smith.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll watch the trailer–and let me know what you think of it.

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THE CUTEST LEGEND IN TOWN: Winning Friends And The Influence Of Puppies

Posted June 30th, 2010 in Cocker Spaniels, Dogs, Friendship, Getting A New Dog, Puppies, Socializing Dogs by Glenn Plaskin


Lucy Snuggles Up To A New Baby In Town


When I got my new puppy Lucy this past May,  I never imagined that she would, among other things, be a passport to a brand-new social life. But that’s exactly what happened. I have more new human and canine friends than I ever imagined I would, my social life expanding exponentially due the the incredible cuteness of my puppy and her outgoing, friendly disposition.

Living in Battery Park City and going in and out of dog runs and walking Lucy along the Hudson River 8 times daily!–we bump into big dogs and small ones, seniors and babies, plus a cavalcade of kids all day long–each of them walking (or trotting) over to check Lucy out. She is a love magnet.

Lucy and her boyfriend, Stanley


They want to hold her; chase her; feed her; play with her; be photographed with her. And everybody leaves us with at least one little gift–a kiss from Lucy, who has mastered licking not only her food bowl but every human (and canine ) she sees.

I read that the window of the socialization of a puppy closes at about 16 weeks, and now that Lucy is four months old and it’s officially closed, I can report that my dog is fully and happily socialized. Whether it’s the sound of traffic or heliocopters, the motion of elevators or circular doors, crying babies, overly-aggressive adolescents, horses, dogs, or skateboards–NOTHING bothers Lucy. She’s game for anything and everything and always read to play.

She especially loves HUGE dogs, jumping up on them to kiss or bite their ears, or getting a grip on their long bushy tails, never letting go as she gets whirled around. Like a gymnast, she somersaults effortlessly, laughing all the way, her tongue merrily falling out of her mouth, breathless with excitement for more…and more and more! I’m thinking of sending her to doggie day care a few days a week just to tire her out!

Lucy's new boyfriend, Donny


Cesare and Lucy, fast new friends


In any case, I’m so pleased to have a happy dog–one who has no fears. Two of her favorite playmates are pit bulls Angie and Donny–both big and muscular compared to Lucy’s 10-pound frame. And yet, they’re incredibly gentle and patient with her as she assaults them with her puppyness, knawing at their ears, jumping up against them, rolling under them, and otherwise doing her level best to seduce them into play. It’s a happy thing to see.

I hope you all enjoy seeing these pictures of Lucy with her many new friends, who never forget her name.

“Hi LUCY!” is the refrain I hear, over and over again, on every one of our walks. Just like my perspicacious dog KATIE, Lucy is quickly becoming a neighborhood fixture, the cutest legend in town.

Lucy likes horses too--especially police horse Lee


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5 Secrets To Preparing The Way For Your N E W Dog!

Posted June 17th, 2010 in Dog Equipment, Dogs, Friendship, Getting A New Dog, Hypoallergenic Dogs by Glenn Plaskin

Regal Katie

Losing a dog is devastating–and exhausting.

For me, those last months with Katie were heartbreaking as I helplessly watched my formerly-energetic dog deteriorating. She lost her hearing and vision and her ability to walk due to painful arthritis, all of it making her increasingly disoriented and depressed.

Finally, after fifteen years of companionship, more than 20,000 walks, and countless moments of pleasure, fun and adventure, my incredible dog passed away.

At first, I was numb and almost relieved that it was over, that she was no longer in pain. But waves of sadness often swept over me, in and out like the tides of the ocean. Some days were better than others. Like so many of us after losing a dog, I desperately needed a CHANGE. Fortunately, I quickly distracted myself with new work, leaving the country to write a new book in Fiji and Australia. This was therapeutic and healing.

The View From My Office In Fiji

But after about a year, I began to think about possibly getting a new dog—though I never did. I would periodically visit animal shelters or call breeders—but I never made a move. I just couldn’t–and never really understood why. Maybe I wasn’t ready to let go of Katie. Maybe I was enjoying my newfound freedom. The reasons don’t matter. I simply wasn’t ready. I discovered that some people are ready for a new dog after a few weeks or months, while others, like me, take years. So I funneled my energy into new friends and projects—and enjoyed the time away from a dog—never letting go of Katie’s memory.

But then, a few months ago, feeling the hunger for a puppy—I finally found the perfect one for me–Lucy!, pictured to the right with one of

Lucy loves babies!

her new friends in the neighborhood. From the first minute I met her, when I picked her up and she snuggled in for a kiss–it was love! And nothing beats that puppy smell.

While Lucy, like Katie, is a cocker spaniel and blonde, their looks and personality are completely different. Katie was somewhat introverted, preferring people to dogs; while Lucy is an Alpha extrovert, wild for dogs and adventure. For me, this contrast has been a perfect way to start all over again.

For those of you who have lost a dog and want to find a new one after the grieving process has ended, the subject of yesterday’s Blog, maybe some of the suggestions below will be helpful to you, as they have been to me.

(1)Don’t Try To Replace Your Dog: Just as you could never replace a family member, it’s impossible to replace a dog. A dog has a soul and a personality and is entirely unique, no two alike. So give yourself time to recover from the loss before rushing out to get a new one. Consider a different breed, or a female if you had a male, or at least a different color. But even if you get the exact same breed you had, you can’t replicate what you had. And if you attempt to replace a dog, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment or heartache. So take it easy. Take your time. You’ll know when the moment is right.

(2)Start The Interview–Following Hunches and Intuitions: Once you’ve decided you want a new dog—begin the process of narrowing down your options. Do you want a puppy or a dog already housebroken? Remember, puppies are babies, incredibly labor intensive requiring 6-8 walks daily. Perhaps you want to rescue a dog by using a site like Petfinder or visiting your local ASPCA or Humane Society. There are millions of dogs who have been abandoned or abused desperate for good homes. The secret is INTERVIEWING—seeing dogs at shelters, at dog shows, even borrowing dogs of friends. Take them out on walks, try them out for size, following your hunches and intuitions. It’s like falling in love—you’ll know it when you feel it.

(3) Evaluate Your Lifestyle: The size, temperament, physical needs, and personality of a dog  should correspond to your temperament as a dog owner. If you’re athletic, find a high-energy dog. If you’re extremely neat, find one that doesn’t shed much. If you’re allergic to fur, find a Hypoallergenic breed such as a Poodle or a Havanese. Your dog will be lucky or lonely depending upon your lifestyle. If you’re at work ten hours a day, you may want to choose a more sedentary breed; if you work at home, anything goes. All of your family’s hobbies, activities, personalities, and schedules should be evaluated. In the end, there’s nothing sadder than a neglected dog sitting at home alone. . Whether it’s a neighborhood child, a dog walker, a play group, or doggie day care, find a way to make it work so that both you and you dog are happy and unstressed.

(4) Prepare For The Homecoming: Make a detailed list of everything you’re going to need for your dog’s homecoming–and buy it NOW. When you walk in the door for the first time, you want everything in its place, ready to go. This will reduce stress. So, though you’ve done it before, don’t forget you’ll need: a wire or plastic dog crate; a baby gate; an exercise/play pen (which conveniently places boundaries on your dog and allows them to play safely); easily washable, hard-to-destroy bedding material; a leash and collar; an ID Tag with your phone number to wear on the collar; a collection of high-quality safe chew toys—Nylabones, rubber balls, stuffed squeak boys; quality-brand dry dog food; treats; and Wee Wee Pads. Not least important, dog-proof your home: If your yard is fenced,check for openings and escape routes; if it’s unfenced, never allow your dog off the leash. Inside, rugs, electrical cords, sharp edges of cabinets, running shoes, and anything small and chewable are prime targets—so either cover it over, pick it up, roll it up, but keep it out of your dog’s mouth until your dog is more mature.

(5) Be Patient With Yourself—And Your Dog: The memories of your former dog are most likely focused on the good times—when your dog was acclimated, happy, and trained. But we’re starting over! So start with the right attitude. The first weeks of your new dog’s life with you will be frenetic and demanding. There may even be times when you wonder if getting a dog was such a good idea. I wanted to give my puppy away after 2 days! But the bonding process happens quickly if you’re patient and keep your sense of humor. And remember: The extra effort at the beginning will pay off if you’re calm and steady. Remember: You’re the boss. You set the pace and establish the boundaries.

Lucy's New Friend, Our Neighbor Hugh

If you’re in the process of finding or adopting another dog, let me know how you’re doing and what other tips might be useful.

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