More Real Life Inspiration

I intended today’s blog to be on The Pack Horse Library program, but that will have to wait for next month. As I sat trying to write that piece, life has intruded changing my focus.

My current fosters Noelle, Dash and Charlotte

For those of you who don’t know, rescuing animals has become a large part of my life since my boys left the nest. I foster dogs with Cody’s Friends Rescue, and I handle administration for a primarily cat rescue, A Voice for All Paws. Being involved with these organizations has brought me both incredible joy and reeling sorrow.

As with many authors, my non-writing loves often find their way into stories. Such is the case with the third book in my Wishing, Texas Series, To Tame A Texas Cowboy which I recently turned in. A character playing a major role bringing Cheyenne and Cooper together is a rescued German Shepherd. She is based on and named in memory of Dennis Pisarski’s amazing service dog, Penny Lane, both of whom inspired the seed idea that became this book.

Cooper Abbott is contacted by the local shelter to foster Penny. After her owner dies, Penny is dumped in the shelter. One of my favorite scenes in To Tame A Texas Cowboy is when Cooper receives a call from the shelter. For me, this scene speaks volumes about my hero.

Here’s an excerpt:

“When Penny arrived, we had to carry her outside, and then she cowered and whimpered until we took her back in. Now she’s quit eating. You know what that means.”

With her owner, the anchor in her life gone, unless something changed, Penny’s case would become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because of fear or depression, she’d hide in the back of her kennel. People would walk past her to more outgoing dogs. Those would be the lucky ones brought to meeting rooms to turn on the charm and find forever homes. But not Penny. Being withdrawn, she’d remain in her kennel, sinking further into herself, as her time slipped away or her health declined.

 “I need her out now, and since you’re currently without fosters, I started with you. Plus, you and Rowdy would do wonders for Penny,” Kelli said.

“If I weren’t moving, I’d gladly take her.”

“Moving? Where? When? How did I miss that news?”

After Cooper explained about his opportunity to take over the practice in Wishing, Kelli said, “She won’t make it here.” Kelli paused. “I’m making an exception. Because you’re a vet, we won’t worry about medical needs. Plus, Wishing’s only a couple hours away. You and Rowdy can work your magic on Penny, and when she’s ready for adoption you can bring her back. Or, maybe you’ll find an adopter in Wishing.”

“Then sure, I’ll foster her. I’m at the clinic, but I can be there in a few.”

Fifteen minutes later, Cooper knelt inside the kennel and stared at Penny Lane curled into a tight ball in the far corner. His hands tensed around the leash he held, but other than that he remained still, giving her time to adjust to his presence. Most dogs would be all over him by now. Jumping, barking, begging for attention, but not this girl. She’d already given up.

“Hello, Penny. I hear you’re having a rough time.”

The dog’s eyes opened, but she remained motionless. The trauma and loss she’d endured shone in her wide brown eyes.

He inched closer, watching for signs of aggression, but she’d pulled so far inward, she barely acknowledged him. She just plain didn’t care. He continued working closer. “Don’t give up, sweetheart. I know you’re missing your human, but there’s someone else out there for you. Someone who’ll love you, and wants, maybe needs you, too.”

Penny lifted her head the tiniest bit to stare at him. The look in her warm brown eyes was different than it had been a minute earlier, more haunted now, but with something else.

She thinks you’re a hypocrite. You talk the talk but aren’t big on walking that walk yourself.

Cooper shut out the mocking voice. “I’ve lost someone, too. I know it hurts like hell, but you can’t give up. She wouldn’t want you to.”

Olivia’s face flashed in his mind. Oval and delicate, framed with long blond hair and big blue eyes. Giving, and sweet as ripe Texas peaches in July, she’d had so much to offer him and the world.

They’d had their lives planned. After a small intimate wedding and a quick honeymoon, they’d return to College Station. She’d get the SeizureReader into production and run the budding company. Then they’d focus on saving the money for his practice where he could offer rescues and those who couldn’t afford it, reasonably priced vet care. They’d both be doing what they loved. They’d have each other, and eventually a family of their own.

But life hadn’t gone as planned. Two years, and yet at times, it felt as if they’d been together yesterday.

“You’ll get through this, Penny.” Cooper hooked the leash to Penny’s collar, slid his arms under her middle, and scooped her up. “Let’s get go home.”

Now it’s your turn. To be entered in the random drawing to win the picture frame and To Catch A Texas Cowboy, leave a comment about an animal who’s changed your life for the better.


Please remember, Adopt! Don’t Shop! For more information on Cody’s Friends Rescue or A Voice for All Paws or to see their adoptable pets, click on the organization name. If you’re not in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, you can click Petfinder and enter your zip code to find adoptable animals in your area.





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Julie Benson has written five novels for Harlequin American, and her Wishing, Texas series is available from Tule Publishing. Now that her three sons have left the nest in Dallas, when she isn't writing, Julie spends her time working on home improvement projects, rescuing dogs, and visiting Texas wineries with her husband. Visit her at

44 thoughts on “More Real Life Inspiration”

  1. 13 years ago a dog was running down my country road, scared, thin, and exhausted. He came to me with his last strength. Brought him in, gave food and water, and waited for him to not make it through the night. When the Vet examined him, gave him fluids and some meds. He got stronger and started to perk up into a happy dog we named Buster. He became my granddog. He had numerous health issues we treated as best we could. Vet said he lived much longer than expected due to his health. But, last September, he had enough. Lost a lot of weight and stopped eatting. We were with him when he was helped to pass over. We still mourn his loss. Sassy, our other dog, is still in mourning as well. Sassy was abandoned 5 years ago. We legally adopted her.

    • Jerri, how wonderful for Buster that he found you! Dogs like him always seem more grateful for the life they have. Rescued dogs know how tough it can be on the street and know when they have a good home. Losing a furry family member is never easy. We had the same situation with our beloved Shadow. We were with her when she passed and I cried for two day. And like you with Buster, I miss her every day. Pooh, the dog we got soon after Shadow, still misses her too. I wish now we’d have had someone come to the house to help her pass. That way Pooh could’ve been there too. Thanks for sharing your story about Buster today.

  2. Wonderful blog, I truly believe rescue animals make the best family pets. We rescued my little Casino 7 years ago this very month. She’s been a golden light in our lives. She’s the sweetest dog and she knows everything we say. Especially bath (not a word she likes) and walk (her favorite to hear). Thanks for bringing awareness about rescuing animals and giving them a forever have a blessed day and Happy Early Easter.

    • Tonya, you’ll laugh, but I have a scene with Cooper and his pet steer Bruiser in this book. I have him hate the word sell! Our dogs go crazy when we say walk or out. It’s like mass pandemonium. By the way, I love the name Casino! Is there a story that goes with that? I’m going to file that name away. You may see it in a future story! Casino would make a great name for someone’s dog, horse or even a cat. Thanks for the idea today. I’ve had quite a few pets in my stories and it’s always tough to think of great names!

      • Julie- I would think it’s an honor if you used Casino. When we rescued her from they shelter the gentleman filling out our paperwork went through every pen on his desk and not one would write. So I dug into my purse and came out with a pen that said Prairie Band Casino, I looked down at this precious little joy in my arms and said to her. “ I think Casino fits you perfectly!” So she’s a lucky puppy and spoiled rotten. I love animals in books. I’m a huge animal lover.

      • Tonya, what a lovely story about her name and the pen. I’m definitely going to use that some day! I’ll keep you posted and when I find the right story, I’ll let you know.

  3. I have rescue dogs they are the sweetest loving dogs around. I cannot understand for the life of me understand how people can mistreat animals. Oh I want to read this story so badly now just to see the outcome for Penny. Thanks for all you do for rescues. Have a Blessed Easter season

    • Glenda, spoiler alert, things turn out fantastic for Penny! 🙂

      Here is Texas we have a terrible problem with people dumping dogs in rural areas. I don’t understand it either. The number of owner surrenders to shelters is staggering. It breaks my heart. I have to think about the ones that have been saved, rather than the ones I couldn’t otherwise it’s too hard. I tell myself we have to keep fighting the good fight. Thank you for stopping by today, and may your Easter season be blessed as well.

  4. I’m looking forward to reading your book now. It’s so but wrenching to see how some animals are abused. I just can’t get it through my head. Unfortunately I don’t have any pets now because I rent & we can’t have a dog but my son had a rescued puppy he named Scooby. The cutest and funniest dog. I swear he was almost human lol During the holidays last year I tried to get our huge family to gather around for a picture, I said , let’s go everyone sit down for our picture. Here comes Scooby, jumping on soda posed & looking at me lol We got our picture with Scooby front & center.

    • Carol, Scooby sounds like quite the character, but then with his name, that’s exactly what I’d expect. How wonderful that he’s in the family picture. One of my favorite pictures is of my three boys with our dogs. It always makes me smile.

      Thank you for your comment. I appreciate you stopping by.

  5. When I was a teen we got a long haired german shepard even though he was not good with people outside the home he was great with us teenagers inside the home. He was a great companion and a all around good dog.

    • Kim, it’s funny that you mention your German Shepherd not being good with people outside the family. When I was researching To Tame A Texas Cowboy I spoke with the director of Patriot Paws a service dog organization, and learned this is very common with shepherds. In fact, her organization doesn’t work with shepherds because they can be possessive with their owners. She’s heard of cases where shepherds won’t let paramedics help their owners! My mom tells a story of a dog we had when I was young. They called paramedics because my brother was having seizures, and our little mutt bit one of the guys. She wasn’t about to let them take her human.

      Thank you for your comment and for stopping by to chat today.

  6. We had a cat who was supposed to my daughter’s but she followed me everywhere. She had been rescued by a friend along with her mother and siblings. The mother was feral. It took time but she became such a loving cat. She developed a tumor and could not breathe. We had to let her go.

    • Debra, how wonderful that you gave the sweet girl a home. I have a couple dogs who follow me everywhere. Rocky, my youngest son’s dog, has started whining if he can’t be right with me. I guess with Nathan in college, he has become more attached to me.

      I think the hardest thing is deciding when it’s time to let our furry family members go. I hated making that decision with Shadow. My boys say I held on longer to her than I should’ve, and they’re probably right, but it’s so hard. We want to have every minute with them we can. I often wonder why the Good Lord made their lives so short in comparison to ours.

      Thanks Debra for stopping by to chat and for giving that sweet cat a loving home.

  7. All if the cats I have now are rescued. The oldest was thrown out of a car driving down a busy Dallas street in front of the automotive shop where my husband was working at the time. One of the guys he worked with saw it happen and told my husband (knowing how much he loves cats). He ran out in traffic to save her. My middle girl came from a rescue in my town. After losing Nani, I was in need of a new friend. She is the one who changed my life. I became friends with the girl who ran the rescue and I even started volunteering with her bottle feeding babies, helping to socialize kittens and helping at adoption events. Then, I started doing their fundraising auctions. I loved doing it all. But, when she had a falling out with her partner and left the rescue, I left too. My youngest family member is a kitten that I got last summer from a different rescue.

    • Janine, your husband is a hero! I don’t understand how people dump animals, much less throw them out of a moving vehicle. It tells us a lot about those people’s character. That’s for sure. Thank goodness your husband was there to save her from getting hit.

      How wonderful that Nani, brought you her friendship but gave you so much more. I admire you. Bottle feeding kittens take a strong heart and strength. Not only is it physically demanding, it is emotionally tough. Volunteers like you are more precious than gold! You should check out A Voice For All Paws Facebook page. It’s a new rescue and we’re struggling with visibility. We’d love for you to like our page and help us share posts! One of our volunteers, Angie Clark, specializes in bottle babies. She just picked up two, Gussy and Patrick. I bet you’d love to follow their story!

      Thank you for sharing Nani’s story and that of your hero husband!

  8. Great blog. I live in a very rural area that gets a lot of dropped off and abandoned dogs (I know, what is wrong with people?!?!) herefore, I’ve more or less fostered a lot of dogs over the years. My most rewarding pet I’ve ever had was a “hand-me-down dog” a chihuahua. My former husband often had family members convince him to take a dog that their family just knew they had to have but living in town for one reason or another didn’t work out. I have no idea how old my chihuahua is but he was given to me in December 2009 when I wasn’t mobile after an MS exasserbation. Chaz’s role became sit with her human all day until the man human came home and he could go outside and play with him. I think his just being at my side made him into a very calm chihuahua. I along with most people think of chihuahua’s as yappy, annoying dogs. Chaz isn’t like that at all. Chaz has kept me company for almost 10 years now and I’m seeing his decline and its very sad for me to think he probably doesn’t have many more years with me. I’m sure I’ll be looking for a rescue when I no longer have him. I’ve yet to read one of your books but this series had me at Texas Cowboy! Texan here that loves all things Texas! I’d love to read your book and have the opportunity to add you to my go to authors list. A giveaway is an awesome way to find a new author to add to my go to authors list.

    • Stephanie, what a wonderful story about Chaz! He sounds like a wonderful dog. They somehow sense when we’re down or our health isn’t right. I’m amazed at how they can sense glucose issue in diabetics and they’re saying now some dogs can detect cancer. We don’t appreciate all they can do for our lives. I love how Chaz knew you needed his company, and was more than willing to take on his “job.” I’ll pray you have many more years with your dear boy.

  9. When I got married 47 years ago, we moved to a small southern Minnesota town. It was a farming community very tight-knit. As a new bride, I found it lonely. My husband asked his students if anyone had kittens to give away. About every hand in the classroom was raised! We picked out a calico kitten and she had one pink toe, so I named her Pinkie. She was with us for 20 years. Had several litters of kittens too. On April 1st, I set her outside to soak up some sun. When I went to let her in the house a few minutes later she was gone. We searched everywhere and never found her. She went away to die. I will always cherish her memory. Since then, we have had Quarter horses, collies, more cats, and many more German Shorthair Pointer digs. My life has always had a furry friend.

    • Kathy, what a wonderful story about Pinkie! How wonderful that she came into your life when you were so lonely and that you had her for 20 years! She sounds like such a special girl. Like you, I can’t imagine my life without a furry friend to come home to. You wouldn’t believe some of the conversations I’ve had with my crew! They are the best listeners.

      Take care and thank you for stopping by today and sharing your story about Pinkie!

  10. I have a tiny chihuahua who brings me joy every day. Dogs don’t realize just how wonderful they are!

    • Melanie, I know they don’t recognize how amazing they are. How can those people who dump them not realize it? Two of the dogs in the group picture were dumped in a box with their sister as puppies in a field on one of the coldest days last year. Then the tan and white was left in a shed behind a condemned house! We’re fostering them until they get adopted. All three are the sweetest, most well-behaved dogs.

      Give your chihuahua a scratch from me and enjoy your day. Thanks for stopping by.

  11. Oh man, that excerpt grabs you!! We have always gotten rescue animals. They have been such loving animals.

    • Susan, I’m so glad the excerpt got you! When I wrote it, I actually cried. I’m not sure I’ve ever done that when writing a scene before. The ones where the owner has died, and the animal goes from a loved companion the shelter chaos rip me apart. What am I saying? They are tear me up! The dogs I foster are usually a last call, as in, if someone doesn’t immediately step up, they’ll be killed. Either that, or with puppies, they’ve been super sick with manage. A couple of them have had no hair and their skin was cracked and bleeding. I wouldn’t have anything but a rescue dogs. They’ve seen the worst of the world, and when something better comes along, they are so appreciative.

      Thank you for stopping by today.

  12. How wonderful what you do. Oh my I had tears reading the excerpt. I lived on a farm for a while and was in 4-H. I had a Palomino. We did barrel racing together. We rode the desert together. We did so much together. Goldie taught me about freedom and friedhsip and responsibility. She taught me about giving. I would let younger children ride while I held the reins and walked them around. We did life together, and shared it with others. Goldie taught me to care for others outside of my family. Oh my, this beautiful horse just taught me so much.

    • Lori, I teared up reading your words about Goldie. What a special horse. I could’ve used to talk to you while I was writing this book. My heroine, Cheyenne is a barrel racer who has to leave the sport for a while. I love how you said, “We did life together.” What a wonderful sentiment, and I love how you say Goldie taught you to care for others outside your family. I’ve never thought about it before, but that’s exactly what animals do! Thank you for sharing your wisdom and Goldie with me today.

  13. My rescue dog, Bogie, is smart, sensitive, and aware of whom to love and trust. He has been my faithful and devoted companion for over 12 years. He is 15 pounds of love.

  14. Animals give me such enjoyment and contentment. They know so much and look at you with their wise eyes and expressions. Dogs especially are my favorite as they can feel so much.

    • Ruth, I think all animals sense when something’s wrong. When we’re sick or upset, they just know we need them. On those days they stay close and often curl up with us. Even pets that normally aren’t know for being snugglers will often act that way when we need it. I’m continually amazed at their ability to love. How some who’ve had the worst pasts and been treated horribly cam still love humans is beyond me. We often aren’t as forgiving.

      Thanks for leaving a comment today.

  15. Rescue animals are very rewarding and wonderful friends. I know that I derive a great deal from them.

    • Lanini, when I talk about my dogs, people will often ask what kind they are and I proudly answer rescued mutts! I wouldn’t have anything else. Thanks for stopping by.

  16. My current kitten is helping me get through life right now. She’s the first kitten I’ve adopted from a shelter and is almost one now. I got her when she was six weeks old to have someone to talk to and cry with after the death of my dad. Unfortunately, she had been sitting up there all alone too though and has had to be put on medication. I guess I’m helping her as well, at least the vet says I’m doing a good thing. He says if I had given up on her and taken her back, she probably wouldn’t have done well.

    • Linda, I’m positive you saved her life. With so many animals in shelters ones that get returned often withdraw further or get put on the top of the euthanasia list. Even if they’re returned for reasons like people not realizing how much “work” a dog or cat would be. Bless you for sticking with her. Not everyone would have.

  17. Cookie was a dog that someone abandoned in our back yard when she was a puppy. I credit her with helping me overcome vertigo that I would get almost monthly from ear infections. The vertigo would get so bad that there were days I could not get out of bed, but when this little puppy was dropped in our yard I had to get up to take care of her ( my children were old enough they could take care of themselves or my husband would help them). At times I felt so hopeless and scared because my world was spinning out of control literally I would open my eyes to everything spinning it was horrible. But cookie caused me to start overcoming the sickness and brought me joy as well. We had to fight to keep Cookie when we went to tag her they said they needed to keep her at the shelter to see if she was claimed, but when we brought her inside they looked at her and said she had been abused and let us claim her. God is so Good.I love that there is pet assisted therapy, I never had it officially but I know God sent that little puppy who needed my family because I needed her. Even recently I have witnessed this with my father who is exhibiting signs of dementia, my mom got a cat and now dad has calmed way down so the cat won’t be scared of him. Amazing!

    • Vicki, your story brought tears to my eyes. My Bff shared a letter she received from an adopter when she was director of a shelter. She said a woman wrote that had it not been for her cat she would’ve committed suicide. She had been so despondent, but she knew her pet was counting on her. How wonderful that God put you and Cookie together when you both so desperately needed each other. And then there’s the story about your father…that cat was another blessing from God and how smart of your mom to think of it. I saw a post once that said with dementia/altzheimer’s patients we often make mistakes in dealing with them. Instead of reminding them they don’t remember, we should simply reminisce. Your mother is brilliant to have a cat knowing your dad wouldn’t want it to be scared of him.

      Thank you for sharing these poignant stories with us.

  18. A little over sixteen years ago my husband brought home a surprise (surprise to me too) birthday present for the granddaughter we were raising. A Pug puppy a few weeks old. As he toddled toward us I resisted because I’d already been through the reality of pets with kids and how much work mom ends up with. However, this little guy got into all our hearts in his own way. When he was a couple years old he had eye surgery and since then it’s been meds several times a day plus regular eye doctor visits and by now not much vision. About 6 years ago he had spinal surgery. It helped Pep for a while but now he can no longer walk so has a wheelie cart to use when eating and a red wagon to transport him in. He has a colorful variety of diapers and makes a trip to the vet every couple of weeks for an injection and takes pills daily. But in spite of those things he’s still a healthy, hearty little guy (good guts we say) with big smiles and kisses and loves to cuddle. He is our inspiration. We should all deal with what life throws at us as he has.

  19. When I was a kid, we had a pet guinea pig. She gave birth to three little ones not long after we bought her. She was a fun pet to own and we owned her for the rest of her lifetime. Really learned the cycle of life through watching her care for her babies and when she eventually passed away.

    • Denise, we’ve had guinea pigs, too. They were definitely fun pets to have. Luckily, we never had any babies. Thanks for your comment and for stopping by today.

  20. Happy was my 11 year old Golden Retriever. I lost him in 2013 to cancer. The Lord showed me unconditional love through Happy.

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