Leigh’s World

On Being A Pet Mom

2013-03-24-20-50-13This is my cat, Daisy. She’s my virtual assistant—and along with the human members of my family, the light of my life.

            The other day I got to thinking about the long trail of pets that have so enriched my world. The first was part of a litter born to a neighbor’s dog. He raised purebred Beagles and didn’t want the “illegitimate” offspring of the female that had gotten out one night. Ah, love. I adopted the weeks-old pup, which might otherwise have met a bad end, bottlefed him, and he was with me and my parents for roughly fifteen years.

            After that, in my own family—husband and two sons—we had a mixed-breed dog who was never fully housetrained L then a Great Pyrenees that loved to roam the neighborhood looking for sheep to herd. My kids had many guinea pigs, a gerbil or…fifty, and a few exotic birds. And I can’t forget Surge, the boa constrictor that lived in a terrarium on my kitchen wall in New York City. Later, in the country, we owned a noble chestnut Saddlebred that was also a New Haven police horse for a time.

Then, finally, we became true cat lovers. Thus far we’ve had five. All were either given to us, acquired from a neighbor, or rescued from a shelter like Daisy.

A few weeks ago, she started moping around on the couch, sleeping more than she normally does (most of the day), drinking too much water—and, um, forgetting to use her litter box! She’d never had an accident in the nine years we’ve had her. So, off to the vet’s we went.

Daisy’s tests showed early stage renal disease plus a higher-than-normal blood sugar. Her vet decided to first treat her pre-diabetes with a prescription diet and soon added medicine.

That night after her initial dose, she nearly went into a diabetic coma. We thought we’d lost her, but at the local veterinary ER they were able to stabilize her. It’s a wonderful facility with many specialists on call, and we’re now working with them and her regular vet. The renal disease seems to be the culprit after all, responsible for both conditions. Daisy has shifted to a prescription food for that instead—and her blood sugar is now normal. She’s doing much better, thank goodness, in fact she’s on my lap right now “helping” me write this post. Purring, too, with more years of happy life ahead. I’m so relieved.

Over time the beloved pets before her have all gone over the rainbow bridge, and that’s always hard for a pet mom. But I wouldn’t trade the joy and love they gave for anything. They all still live in my heart and always will.

In my April Harlequin Heartwarming book, Lost and Found Family, a beautiful Gordon Setter named Bob is a cherished pet in this troubled marriage. Bob’s actually a girl, but the little kid who named her insisted she was a boy like him. I hope you’ll like what turned out to be a very poignant story.



These gorgeous turning leaves are on my little mountain in Tennessee. I can’t believe it’s already November! That means Thanksgiving is just around the corner. And after that, the countdown to Christmas will begin. I haven’t even thought about turkey (although, thanks to my daughter-in-law, I won’t have to cook this year) and I haven’t started my shopping.

But, actually, right now I’m caught up in all the excitement about Harlequin Heartwarming’s Thanksgiving Online Shorts: Thirteen—a baker’s dozen!—stories that center around the coming holiday. A different story will appear each Monday/Wednesday/Friday this month. The promotion began on November 2nd. My story, “Her Thanksgiving Soldier,” will first be available on November 6th.

This is how it came about: In my first Heartwarming book, If I Loved You (July 2014), a soldier named Henderson appeared briefly via his emails from the battlefield, and from the start he seemed to ask for his own story. Now he has it.

After ten years of war and too much loss, black-ops team member Caleb Henderson must decide whether to stay in the military—it’s all he knows and he’s loyal to his buddies—or to come home. While he’s on leave, his long ago friend Daisy McCall just might be his answer but she doesn’t want to love another man in uniform.

Caleb has never had a permanent place or a real family, and he just hopes to ignore Thanksgiving. Daisy, who manages a local rehabilitation center near Phoenix, isn’t about to let that happen. She can see that Caleb, her onetime friend, is burned out and on the verge of falling apart. Daisy hopes to break through his tough-guy emotional defenses while including him in her family’s holiday celebration.

Yet getting close to Caleb wouldn’t be wise and Daisy won’t risk her heart. Falling for him would also mean having to confront her past personal loss—and herself.

Will Daisy and Caleb be able to find their way “home” to each other? Not as friends this time but through their newfound love?


Here’s a brief excerpt:

On Wednesday morning Daisy kicked into high gear. After cleaning house for the upcoming holiday while Caleb apparently slept—he hadn’t shown up for coffee yet—she made her grocery list. And, oh, they had to pick up the now-dressed fresh turkey at the farm. Then Caleb walked into the kitchen. And Daisy felt her heart skip a beat.

She tried to focus on her list, but it seemed his image was imprinted on her mind. Sleepy eyes and tousled hair. He looked good enough to…love? Even after yesterday when she’d cried in the car, and he’d kissed her, she wasn’t going there.

“Good morning. How does a trip to the store sound?”

“Like torture.” He poured his coffee. “I’ll hold down the fort. Got a few calls to make. Other stuff too.”

“Really,” she said.

“Well, no. But I’m not a fan of turkeys—or supermarkets.”

“Too bad,” Daisy said. There was no way she’d leave him at home. Caleb needed to be around people. She had several ex-soldiers at the rehab center who were the same. Whether he liked it or not, she would keep trying to open him up, hopefully without his knowing it. “I need your help carrying that monster bird. And the rest won’t take long. You can let me know what you’d like for dinner tomorrow. Everyone gets a choice.”

“Not in the military,” he said.

She studied him, frowning. “Hmm. And you’re good with that?”

“For now. I’m trying to decide if it’s time to leave the team. Problem is, that only creates another problem. I’d be leaving my buddies behind. And could I even get a job? What job when the military’s all I know? Would I be able to fit in?”

“On the outside,” she finished for him.


“That would certainly be safer,” she said, as if anything was.

I hope you enjoy “Her Thanksgiving Soldier.” I loved writing it! You can download it at http://www.harlequin.com, as I said before, on November 6th. In addition to all the stories, we have giveaways planned for some lucky winners this month. Oh—and did I mention all thirteen stories are free?


Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Holidays!