Monday, May 26, 2014

Pet Health Tip #11- Hot Spots

"Hot spots" are localized bacterial skin infections usually caused by Staphylococcus spp. Typically, the skin becomes inflamed and the bacteria that are normally found on the skin invade and cause an infection.  You will notice an area of matted fur or a lesion that is oozing pus.  The skin will be very red and inflamed. Often the lesion appears very suddenly and progresses quickly.

There are 3 common causes of the initial inflammation of the skin:

1) Moist skin- The skin becomes moist due to a bath, swim, or heat.  If the dog has dense fur, then this area doesn't dry properly and the moist skin becomes inflamed allowing the bacterial invasion.

2) Fleas- The skin becomes inflamed from either the flea bites or the dog scratching.

3) Ear infections- Often times a hot spot will develop under the ear due to either the dog digging at his ear or from the discharge coming out of the ear.

The main treatment for “hot spots” is to allow the skin to dry.  First, shave the fur from around the lesion.  Once the fur is removed, then the air can circulated over the skin and dry it out.  The next step is to thoroughly clean the area.  Most of the time the dog will also need oral antibiotics in order to heal the infection.

"Hot spots" can spread very rapidly.  They are extremely painful and can cause nasty looking lesions.  It is important that you get the "hot spot" treated as soon as you notice it.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Foreword Clarion Review of "Dogs Aren't Men"

Dogs Aren't Men

Clarion Review (4 Stars)
Tiner blends humor and tenderness with a skillful literary hand.

Harlequin-romance tradition meets contemporary intrigue in a heartwarming novel that brings out the best in both genres. Dogs Aren’t Men blends humor and tenderness with a skillful literary hand. An underlying element of danger enhances the tension in a quaint small town inhabited by a few undesirable saboteurs. This sweet romance features an ambitious veterinarian with no patience for demanding men until she meets an emergency room doctor who shares her lack of enthusiasm about relationships.

Dr. Rebecca Miller is intelligent, outspoken, and in control of her successful career as owner of Animal Friends Veterinary Clinic. She finds her sense of purpose in caring for the countless creatures who enter her life daily, and has formed her strongest bond with her loyal dog, Captain. Derrick Peterson, a stressed hospital physician, competes for Rebecca’s affection, while his best friend stands in the wings as an analyzing sidekick. The story unfolds as a predictable dating scenario that questions the real meaning of love, especially when a stalker threatens Rebecca’s safety at the clinic. In a manner that is modern yet stereotypically familiar, Rebecca resists any situation that may cause disruption to her contented existence; this logical aversion sparks interest but lacks ingenuity.

The occasional trite description (“She devoured the tub of ice cream”) bogs down what is otherwise an excellent portrayal of an educated woman. And male introspection that conveys less sophistication than is typical of Derek’s character leaves a false impression of him: “He’d never set out with the intention of wooing a woman before. He had no idea how to go about it. He began to hum along to the music on his radio as the last remnants of the wall he’d built around his heart fell away.”
Without question, the story offers well-developed characters placed in a realistic environment, even though the glossed-over love scenes may have benefited from a bit more action. Rebecca and Derrick are set against the backdrop of their careers, revealing the personality traits that drove their successes. Their relationship develops slowly, a natural progression of events. The plot is meticulously implemented, sustaining one’s page-turning impulse throughout the book. Garnering respect as well as admiration, this stellar heroine’s only apparent flaw is her tendency to ignore her own needs.

Tiner knows how to write engagingly for a popular niche genre, while establishing a sense of place in an active American community and infusing the story with a feeling of immediacy. She incorporates her expertise as a veterinarian and explores several compelling avenues, bringing her profession vividly to life through her portrayal of Rebecca.

Dogs Aren’t Men is a commendable opening for a trilogy that will delight pet enthusiasts and draw in dedicated romance readers. Witty and amusing, Tiner’s concise, appealing style shows potential for attracting a lifetime following.

Julia Ann Charpentier
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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Readers' Favorite 5 Star Review of "Every Day Needs A Dog"

Reviewed By Anne-Marie Reynolds for Readers’ Favorite

Every Day Needs a Dog by Billi Tiner is the story of Paul and Elizabeth and love at first sight. Paul lost his fiancee in a horrific car crash and his friends suggested he become a volunteer dog walker at the Spring Valley Dog Shelter. Elizabeth was unceremoniously fired from her job as head of PR at a prestigious company and was offered a job as President of the Dog Shelter. Both accept and their first meeting is something of a shock. Partly because Elizabeth is knocked off her feet by a huge Newfoundland puppy that Paul is walking and partly because of the electricity that flows between them. Elizabeth steers clear of Paul and instead goes out to lunch with Greg Silverman, a vet at the shelter. But, as well as trying to raise money for the shelter, Elizabeth finds herself falling foul of a jealous member of staff, a very hands-on vet and a stalker. Life becomes a little difficult for Elizabeth as she tries to contain her feelings for Paul and she leaves the shelter to go to another job. Is this the end for Paul? Will she find happiness in her new job?

Every Day Needs a Dog by Billi Tiner is the quintessential love story. It has love at first sight, heroes and villains, all the ingredients in the right mix for the perfect story. I thoroughly enjoyed it and thought that Billi Tiner had done a wonderful job with the plot and the characters. I am looking forward to getting hold of the other books in the series and hope that they are as good as this one.

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Enter my Goodreads Giveaway of "Every Day Needs A Dog"


When Elizabeth Fischer unexpectedly loses her job as the head of public relations at a large pharmaceutical company, she’s left with big bills and few options. She reluctantly accepts a job as the president of an animal shelter in Spring Valley, a small town twenty miles outside of the city. 

Elizabeth is a big-city girl, who has never even owned a pet. What does she know about running an animal shelter? She has no idea how much her life is about to change. 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Every Day Needs A Dog by Billi Tiner

Every Day Needs A Dog

by Billi Tiner

Giveaway ends July 01, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Friday, May 16, 2014

Pet Health Tip #10- Ear Infections

Ear infections are a common medical issue that occurs in dogs.  Ear infections are typically caused by moisture that gets trapped inside the ear canal.  The moist environment is a breeding ground for infectious organisms, such as yeast and bacteria.  Floppy-eared dogs are highly susceptible to ear infections, especially in the summer time.  Since the ear flap covers the opening to the ear canal, air is unable to circulate, which creates a warm, moist environment for the infectious organisms.

Ear infections are easily prevented by cleaning your dog’s ears with a drying solution on a regular basis,  especially floppy-eared dogs.  During the winter, make sure you clean the ears each time your dog has a bath.  This ensures the ear canal is dry after the moisture from the bath enters the ear canal.  During the summer, you should clean the ears approximately every two weeks.  Again, this is to make sure that they remain dry.  If your dog is a swimmer, then the ears should be cleaned out after each swim.

Several good ear cleaning solutions are available.  You can also use a mixture of 1/2 white vinegar and 1/2 warm water dispensed with a bulb syringe (like the ones used on babies).  Although not as effective as the commercial cleaning solutions, it can be used if you are on a budget.  Note: It is important to have an expert show you the proper procedure for cleaning your dog’s ears before you attempt it at home.

Several factors can lead to ear infections.  As I stated, the most common cause is moisture in the ear canal.  Ear infections can also be caused by a foreign object (such as a tick or grass seed) in the ear.  Additionally, they can be caused by allergies.  The skin in the ear is the most tender skin on the dog’s body, so this is often where we see the inflammation of an allergic reaction manifest itself.  The most common allergies to cause ear infections are flea allergies and food allergies (See #37 Allergies in Dogs).

Ear infections are easiest to treat in the early stages.  Symptoms include: redness, odor, excessive scratching at the ear, or tilting the head to one side.  Ear infections can occur in one or both ears.  As the infection progresses, you will also begin to see a discharge.  This discharge can be an oozing pus or dark brown or black waxy build-up.

If your dog is showing the symptoms mentioned above, then you should to take him to a veterinarian, so that a diagnosis of the underlying issue can be made.  If it is your dog’s first ear infection, then it is most likely due to moisture trapped in the ear, and a 10-14 day regimen of ear medication will clear it up.  However, if your dog has been having reoccurring ear infections, then you are most likely looking at a bigger problem.  Chronic ear infections are much harder to treat.  Therefore, the sooner you get a diagnosis, the better the chance of successful treatment.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Limited Time Offer!!! Bounty Hunter Series $0.99 each! 5/12-5/18


2013 Readers' Favorite Award Finalist

After his father's tragic death, sixteen-year old Ben Sharp is living a life of solitude in a one room cabin in the woods. He is lonely and restless but cannot see a way to change his situation. His life takes an unexpected turn the day two horse thieves ride up leading a stolen stallion. When the two outlaws attempt to rob him, Ben is able to turn the tables. His successful capture of the men opens up his world to the life of the bounty hunter. Ben sets out on a journey that will transform him from a boy into a man. This coming of age tale is full of action, adventure, humor, and romance.

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Ben Sharp hunts outlaws for a living. He’s smart, tough, and only seventeen years old. In this action-packed sequel to Bounty Hunter: The Beginning, Ben goes after a gang of murderous thieves. As Ben tracks down and captures some of the meanest men in the west, his reputation for being fast with a gun grows. Ben’s grit and determination will be tested at every turn by ruthless men and the deadly forces of nature in this old west adventure.

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Ben Sharp thinks he has put his days as a bounty hunter behind him. He is living a peaceful life on his horse ranch and is eagerly awaiting the day Mary Anne Sumter returns from Boston. When rustlers attack a cattle drive and kill some of Ben’s friends, he is called back into action. Will he be able to return to his life of peace or has he been forced to leave that life for good? Read this action-packed conclusion to the Bounty Hunter series to find out.

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Friday, May 9, 2014

Pet Health Tip #9 Impacted Anal Glands

Many people see their dog scooting across the floor and assume they must have irritation due to worms.  However, scooting across the floor is almost never a symptom of intestinal worms.  Instead, it is almost always an indication that the dog’s anal glands are full or impacted.

Every dog has two glands located on each side of the anal sphincter.  These glands are filled with a liquid that is sprayed onto the fecal material when the dog eliminates.  The pressure of the fecal material passing through the anal opening along with the constriction of the anal muscle help to express the liquid out of the glands.  When these glands do not empty normally, they become overly full and the liquid can thicken into a paste-like material.  The full glands cause an irritation and the dog scoots on his butt in an attempt to empty the glands.  Occasionally, the dog is successful and the glands empty as a result of the scooting.  However, often times, the material inside the glands has become too thickened and they will not empty when the dog scoots.  In this case, the glands need to be manually emptied.  This is something you can be taught to do for him.  However, due to the unpleasant nature of the task, most people elect to take the dog to a professional (i.e. vet, vet tech, or groomer) to have them emptied.

Several factors contribute to full anal glands.  Some breeds of dogs, especially small terrier breeds, are prone to having anal gland problems.  Hereditary issues, such as position of the glands, can contribute to the dog not being able to empty the glands naturally.  However, most of the time, it is an issue with diet.  If the dog is overweight, then the glands are cushioned by fat deposits and are not expressed when the dog eliminates.  Also, the diet can cause the stool to be too soft.  Therefore, it does not apply enough pressure to express the glands when the dog eliminates.

So, should you worry when you see your dog scooting?  Not necessarily.  As I stated earlier, often times the dog is able to get the job done by scooting.  However, if you see your dog scooting on a regular basis, and/or he starts to bite at the area or act as if it is painful, then the glands are probably impacted.  Impacted glands can rupture through the dog’s skin and cause a pretty nasty infection.  Therefore, it is important to have the anal glands checked anytime you see repeated episodes of scooting.

Monday, May 5, 2014

NOW AVAILABLE!!! "Every Day Needs A Dog" cover reveal + 1st Chapter

NOW AVAILABLE!!!  "Every Day Needs A Dog"


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Thunder boomed. The skies opened and rain poured down. Paul Jones barely noticed. His eyes were focused on the casket in front of him. The minister was speaking, but Paul wasn’t listening. He’d been in a daze for the last few days. One minute, he was sitting in a restaurant waiting for his fiancĂ© to arrive and the next, he was here. The time that had passed in between was nothing more than a blur. Flashes of the events that had taken place over the last few days flew threw his mind. A deep sorrow settled in his soul. His heart felt like it had been ripped apart.
   A hand gripped his shoulder. He turned to see Mitch Holt and his wife, Catherine, standing beside him. Mitch held an umbrella over his wife’s head. She clutched his arm, tears streaming down her face.
   “We’re so sorry, Paul,” Mitch said. “If there is anything you need, please let us know, and we’d be glad to help.”
   Catherine stepped forward and wrapped Paul in a fierce embrace. “Stacy will always live in my heart,” she whispered, her voice choked with pain. Stacy and Catherine had been best friends.
   Paul nodded, but didn’t speak. He couldn’t. His mind was too numb to form any words.
   Others stepped up to him offering their condolences. Paul continued to stand in silence as each one of them passed by him. Finally, he was the only one left. He stayed as the casket was slowly lowered into the ground.
   “We’ll drive you to the funeral home now, sir,” the funeral attendant said softly.
   Paul hesitated, then turned and followed the man to the waiting limo. As they drove toward the funeral home, his mind drifted back three days.
   Paul sat at a table at Papa Georgio’s. He was meeting his fiancĂ©, Stacy Shields, for dinner. She’d spent the day shopping for a wedding dress. She’d sounded so excited when she called to tell him she was on her way to the restaurant. He’d laughed as she enthusiastically described the “perfect dress.” He glanced at his watch, 7:15 p.m. She’d told him to meet her at 7:00 p.m. He wasn’t too worried. She often ran late. However, as the minutes passed, he grew concerned. He tried calling her, but she didn’t answer her phone.
   His phone rang. He quickly answered, not bothering to check the caller ID. “Where are you?” he asked, relieved she’d finally called.
   “Paul, this is Mitch.” Mitch was a detective for the Spring Valley police department, and a good friend of Paul’s.
   “Sorry, Mitch. I’m meeting Stacy for dinner, and she’s running late. I thought you were her.”
   “That’s why I’m calling, Paul,” Mitch replied in a serious tone.
   Paul felt a tickle of dread run up his spine. “Has something happened?” he asked, holding his breath as he waited for the answer.
   “Yes,” Mitch answered solemnly. “Stacy was in an accident.”
   “How badly is she hurt?” Paul knew if Mitch was calling, the accident must have been serious. There was a pause on the other end of the call. “Tell me, Mitch,” he said, his voice filled with intensity.
   “I’m sorry, Paul. She didn’t survive the crash,” Mitch finally answered.
   Paul felt the air rush from his lungs. Bile rose in the back of his throat. He doubled over in pain.
   “Paul,” Mitch said. “Where are you? I’m coming to get you.”
   “Papa Georgio’s,” Paul replied, barely above a whisper.
   “I’ll be there in ten minutes,” Mitch stated firmly.
   After he ended the call, Paul stood and rushed to the men’s room. He stood leaning over the sink. He splashed water on his face, fighting the rush of nausea. His breathing was labored. He glanced in the mirror and barely recognized the face staring back at him. His skin was ashen, his brown eyes wide and dazed. He was unaware of the passage of time as he stood staring at his reflection. His mind screamed that this was just a terrible nightmare.
   He felt something touch his arm and turned. Mitch stood beside him, his face full of sadness. Paul was surprised he’d been standing there long enough for Mitch to arrive.
   “Come on,” Mitch said softly. “Let’s get out of here.”
   Paul nodded and followed Mitch out of the restaurant. They rode in silence for several minutes. Finally, Paul whispered, “What happened?”
   Mitch glanced over at him. “It looks like she dropped her cell phone. When she bent to retrieve it, she swerved into oncoming traffic and had a head-on collision. She was dead by the time emergency personnel arrived on the scene.” He paused, allowing Paul time to process the information. “She was transported to the hospital. That’s where I’m taking you.”
   Paul and Stacy met a little over a year ago. Stacy worked for the Department of Social Services, Children’s Division. She’d placed one of the foster children under her care into the home of her best friend, Catherine James. The boy, Ethan, got into trouble with the law and was sentenced to community service. Paul was refurbishing an old elementary school to be used as a recreational center in an underprivileged neighborhood. Ethan’s community service was to help Paul work on the center. Stacy would bring Ethan to and from the rec center. Paul liked Stacy right away. She was filled with energy and vitality. However, it wasn’t until Ethan and his foster mom, Catherine, had trouble with Ethan’s biological father, and both ended up in the hospital that Paul started developing romantic feelings toward Stacy.
   They began dating, and it didn’t take long for Paul to realize Stacy was the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. It had taken Stacy a while to accept Paul loved her. Although she had a very outgoing, confident personality, she’d not believed someone with Paul’s good looks would be interested in her. He finally convinced her he was madly in love, and she agreed to marry him. That had been six months ago.
   Mitch pulled to a stop. Paul glanced out the window and saw they were at the hospital. He slowly exited the car. His legs felt heavy as he walked toward the emergency-room entrance. As soon as they entered, Dr. Derrick Peterson stepped forward to meet them. He and his wife were friends with Paul and Stacy. His eyes shone with sympathy.
   “This way,” Derrick said. Paul followed him to the far corner of the room. Derrick pulled back the curtain and waited for Paul to step past him.
   Paul pulled up short. He stared at Stacy’s still form in the hospital bed. Her face was swollen. Several lacerations marred her delicate skin. A loud sob escaped Paul’s throat as he gazed at her.
   Derrick squeezed his shoulder. “Take all the time you need,” he said, then left Paul alone.
   Paul stumbled to the bed. He reached out and grasped Stacy’s hand. It felt cold, lifeless. “I will always love you,” he vowed. Then he collapsed onto the chair beside the bed, lowered his head to rest his forehead against her arm, and wept bitterly.



Elizabeth Fischer sang along to the radio as she weaved her sleek black BMW through traffic on her way to work. She was the head of public relations for a large pharmaceutical company. The company was constantly being bombarded with bad press. Her job was to spin the negative statements into positive results. The job was stressful and often times chaotic, but she loved it. She fed off the adrenaline rush she received each time a “PR nightmare” popped up, and she was called on to put out the fire.
   She pulled her car into her reserved spot in the parking garage under the high-rise building that housed the corporate headquarters for Stropmeyer Pharmaceuticals. Her high heels clicked against the concrete as she made her way to the elevator. Her office was on the 20th floor. The elevator made numerous stops on the way up. As men got on and off the elevator, she received several appreciative smiles. Elizabeth politely returned the smiles. Her platinum-blonde hair framed an oval face with large blue eyes and a full mouth. After being the brunt of so much teasing in high school, it had taken her some time to adjust to the fact men found her attractive. She’d grown from a gangly teenager with braces and thick glasses into a beautiful woman.
   She exited the elevator and moved toward her office. Several co-workers called out greetings as she passed. “Good morning, Samantha,” she greeted her secretary.
   “I’m not so sure it is a good morning, Ms. Fischer,” Samantha returned, a worried expression on her face.
   “Why? What catastrophe are we facing today?” Elizabeth asked, a slight smile on her face. She wasn’t too worried about Samantha’s statement. Each time the company received bad publicity, Samantha took a defeatist attitude. She called each incident the worst situation they’d ever faced, and acted as if she was sure the company was going to be put out of business. Elizabeth found it highly amusing.
   “Mr. Stropmeyer is in your office,” Samantha whispered dramatically.
   Elizabeth’s smile vanished. Mr. Stropmeyer, the head of the company, was the son of the original founder. Very few people liked him. He had a reputation for firing people without any warning. He rarely made an appearance, except when he intended to let someone go. He could have other people do it for him, but he seemed to take pleasure in doing it himself.
   “Do you know what he wants?” Elizabeth asked.
   Samantha shook her head.
   “How long has he been in there?”
   “About fifteen minutes,” Samantha answered.
   Elizabeth took a deep breath and squared her shoulders. Planting a smile on her face, she stepped into her office. “Mr. Stropmeyer, what a pleasant surprise. Sorry to have kept you waiting.”
   The man was seated in her leather office chair. He frowned at her, his sagging cheeks jiggling as he shook his head in displeasure. Mr. Stropmeyer was in his late sixties. He was short and extremely overweight. His mottled complexion and red-rimmed eyes indicated he drank to excess.
   “Has something happened, Mr. Stropmeyer?” Elizabeth asked, standing awkwardly in front of her desk.
   “Is this the time you always arrive, Ms. Fischer,” he asked, his tone aggravated.
   Elizabeth glanced at the wall clock. It was just a little after 7:30 a.m. Her day didn’t officially start until 8:00 a.m. “Yes, sir,” she answered.
   Mr. Stropmeyer snorted with derision. “I guess I should just get this over with. Ms. Fischer, you’re fired.”
   “What?!” Elizabeth exploded in shock.
   “You heard me. I expect you to pack up your things and be gone by the end of the day.” The man struggled to his feet and lumbered out the door.
   Elizabeth stood in stunned silence. What just happened? she wondered as shock waves rolled through her. She stood there for a full two minutes. Then she started to shake as anger set in. How dare he? I’ve worked my butt off for this company for five years, never even took a sick day, and this is the way I get treated? She spun on her heel and marched out of the office. Samantha’s jaw dropped when she saw the murderous rage on Elizabeth’s face.
   The executive offices were on the 21st floor. Elizabeth tapped her foot impatiently as she waited for the elevator doors to open. As soon as they did, she jumped inside and viciously punched the button. Anger continued to build inside of her as the elevator glided up to the next floor. The doors opened and she rushed out, slamming into someone entering the elevator. The person mumbled an apology, but Elizabeth didn’t respond. Her focus was centered entirely on the rage boiling inside her.
   Mr. Stropmeyer’s secretary jumped to her feet and moved to block Elizabeth’s path. “Ms. Fischer, please stop,” she pleaded, holding her hands out in front of her.
   “I need to see Mr. Stropmeyer, now!” Elizabeth roared at the woman.
   “He’s in a meeting. You can’t go in there,” the secretary replied.
   Elizabeth shoved past the woman and burst into the office. Mr. Stropmeyer was seated at a long table with five other men. Their eyes swung to Elizabeth as she rushed into the room.
   “I tried to stop her, Mr. Stropmeyer,” the secretary said, a note of fear in her voice.
   “Ms. Fischer, I’ve said all I intend to say to you. You have ten seconds to turn around and exit my office, or I’m going to call security,” Mr. Stropmeyer said, his voice shaking with anger.
   Elizabeth glared at the man. “You have no right to fire me without giving me an explanation,” she spat out angrily. “I’ve done a good job. In fact, I’ve saved your company’s ass on more than one occasion. I deserve to know why you are firing me.”
   “I don’t have to explain myself to you,” the man replied.
   Elizabeth took a step toward him. She felt a spurt of satisfaction when he flinched slightly. “You are a miserable human being.”
   Mr. Stropmeyer jumped to his feet. “GET OUT!” he roared.
   Ignoring the man’s outburst, Elizabeth scanned the faces of the men seated around the conference table. Her eyes widened in surprise when the face of Preston Collins came into view. He was the most powerful PR man in the business.
   “You stole my job, didn’t you?” Elizabeth asked, narrowing her eyes on the man.
   He flashed her an easy grin and shrugged his shoulders.
   Elizabeth knew there was nothing left to say. If Preston Collins wanted her job, he was going to get it. There was no way she could compete with someone with his reputation. She spun on her heel and marched from the room. She hurried the short distance to the elevator and punched the button.
   “Excuse me, Ms. Fischer,” a voice spoke beside her.
   Elizabeth turned. A small, wiry man with grey hair stood smiling at her. His blues eyes were soft and kind. “I’m Phillip Grogan. I’m on the board of directors here. I’m sorry about the way you were treated. I think you’ve done an excellent job. I wanted to give you my card. I have a job I think you’d be perfect for. Give me a call in the next few days and we can talk.” He held a business card out to her.
   Elizabeth took the card. “What kind of job?” she asked.
   “We can talk about it in a few days. You need some time to cool off,” he turned and returned to Mr. Stropmeyer’s office.
   Elizabeth glanced down. The man’s name and phone number were the only things printed on the card. It gave no indication as to what kind of business the man was in. She shrugged. She didn’t have time to think about the strange little man. Her mind was still reeling over the events of the last few minutes.
   All of her energy left her as the elevator carried her down to her floor. She had to use all of her concentration to place one foot in front of the other and walk to her office.
   “He fired you, didn’t he?” Samantha asked as she passed by.
   Elizabeth nodded.
   “Does that mean I’m fired, too?” Samantha asked. She’d only been Elizabeth’s secretary for a few months. Her previous secretary left after she met “Mr. Right” through an online dating service. He lived in another state, so her secretary had moved to join him.
   “I have no idea,” Elizabeth answered, her voice sounding hollow to her ears. “I guess that’s up to my replacement. Could you please find me a couple of boxes?”
   “Um, sure,” Samantha answered, getting to her feet.
   Elizabeth walked into her office and moved to look through the window. She gazed out over the city. The sight of all the cars buzzing along the city streets below her usually soothed her, but instead, she felt dizzy looking down at them. She pressed her head against the glass and closed her eyes.
   A few moments later, she heard a slight cough. She glanced over her shoulder.
   “I brought the boxes,” Samantha said, pointing at two boxes sitting on the floor in the center of the room. “I’m really sorry, Ms. Fischer,” she said as she backed out of the room and closed the door.
   Elizabeth sighed heavily and moved to pick up one of the boxes. It only took her a few minutes to gather up her things. She was surprised to see everything fit into one box. She hadn’t realize how few personal items she’d brought to her office. As she made her way to the elevator, the room was filled with silence. No one looked up as she walked past them. It was such a stark contrast to the friendly greetings she’d received only a short time ago.
   She drove toward her apartment, and for the first time since buying the car six months previously, she regretted the impulsive purchase. The car was more expensive than anything she’d ever bought before. It had been her 28th birthday present to herself. She’d felt confident in her career and was making really good money. She’d convinced herself she deserved to spoil herself a little. What was she going to do now? If she didn’t find another good job soon, there was no way she’d be able to keep up the payments. When she arrived at her apartment, she set the box on the coffee table in front of her sofa, went to the kitchen, and poured herself a glass of red wine. Grabbing the bottle, she returned to the living room. She turned on her stereo and sank down onto the sofa. Leaning back against the cushions, she closed her eyes. I wish I could call you, Mom, she thought, a tear slipping out of the corner of her eye. Her parents had been killed in a car accident the previous year. She’d been close to both of them, but especially her mother. She didn’t have any siblings. Her mom had been her best friend. She wasn’t sure how much time had passed when she finally stood and padded to her bedroom. She kicked off her shoes and fell onto the bed fully clothed.
   The next morning, Elizabeth awoke with a sense of determination. “I’m not going to let the old bastard defeat me,” she told herself as she made a pot of coffee. “This is a big city. There are plenty of good jobs out there.”
   She spent the morning updating her resume. Then she started scouring the Internet for job postings. As the morning wore on, she lost some of her confidence. She was worried about the low number of public relations jobs she’d found. Aren’t companies worried about their image these days? she thought. She made a list of the openings she found and put them in order of preference. Then she spent several hours doing research on each of the companies, in the event she secured an interview. She decided to visit the companies the next day. By the end of the night, she felt satisfied with the progress she’d made. She’d never been a procrastinator. When something needed to be done, she jumped right in and got to it. She didn’t understand people who continually put things off. It drove her crazy to have an unfinished task hanging over her head.
   The next morning, Elizabeth dressed in her black business suit, packed her resume and reference list into a leather briefcase, and set out to get a new job. There were four companies on her list. Her first stop was the law firm of Packer and Smith. She’d heard of them, and the research she’d done the night before revealed they were some of the big boys.
   “Can I help you?” the receptionist asked.
   “Yes, I am here to apply for the public relations position,” Elizabeth answered.
   The woman shook her head sadly. “I’m sorry, but that position has already been filled.”
   Elizabeth felt a wave of disappointment pour through her. This was by far the best job opening she’d found. The other three jobs on her list were for much smaller, less influential companies. She nodded and said, “Thank you for your time.”
   When she got to her car, she sat staring out the windshield for several moments, giving herself a pep talk. “This is only a minor setback. There are three more options on the list, and something else could open up any day.” Drawing a deep breath, she started her car and pulled onto the street.
   She received similar statements at her next two stops. The jobs had already been filled. The last place on her list told her they’d decided not to fill the position. Elizabeth felt completely deflated by the time she returned to her apartment. She dropped her briefcase inside the door, kicked off her heels, and padded to the sofa. She collapsed and stared up at the ceiling. There was enough money in her bank account to cover this month’s bills, but if she didn’t have a job by the time the next month rolled around, she’d be in big trouble.
   Her stomach growled. She stood and started walking toward the kitchen. “Ouch!” she cried as her shin banged into the corner of the coffee table. The box filled with her office supplies crashed to the floor. Elizabeth moaned and bent to pick it up. The business card the old man handed her when she’d left Stropmeyer’s lay beside the box. She’d forgotten all about it. Picking it up, she studied it for a moment. The man had said he had a job he thought she’d be great for. Maybe, she should give him a call tomorrow and find out more about it. Placing the card on the table, she continued to the kitchen to fix herself something to eat.
The next morning, she picked up the business card and called the number.
   “Hello,” a gravelly voice answered.
   Elizabeth was surprised to hear such an informal greeting. She’d expected a secretary to answer her call. “Yes, I’m calling to speak with Mr. Grogan,” Elizabeth replied.
   “This is Phillip,” the voice answered.
   “Mr. Grogan, this is Elizabeth Fischer. You gave me your card the other day and mentioned you might have a job for me.”
   “Sure, I may be getting old, but I remember what happened a few days ago,” the man answered, a note of teasing in his voice. “How about we meet for lunch, and I can tell you all about it?”
   “All right,” Elizabeth answered, not sure what to think of the man’s teasing tone.
   “There’s this delicious little diner over on the corner of Wellington and 3rd. It’s called Sunset Diner. Do you know it?” he asked.
   “No, but I’m sure I can find it,” Elizabeth replied.
   “Good, I’ll meet you there at noon.”
   After she ended the call, Elizabeth sighed and leaned back against the sofa cushions. She didn’t have a lot of hope this meeting was going to be fruitful. The old man seemed to be a little off his rocker. She wasn’t even sure there actually was a job. Oh well, she thought. It doesn’t hurt to meet with him and see what he has to say.
   Elizabeth felt another moment of hesitation about her decision to meet with Phillip Grogan when she saw the diner he’d recommended. The place was the epitome of the greasy spoon. Her nose wrinkled when she walked in and saw a large man wearing a stained apron frying hamburgers on a long griddle.
   “Over here, Ms. Fischer,” a voice called.
   Elizabeth turned and spotted Phillip sitting in a booth in the far corner of the little restaurant. The cracked red leather squeaked loudly as he slid out and reached for her hand. His face was lit with a friendly smile. “I’m certainly glad you decided to call me,” he said as they slid into the booth.
   As soon as they were seated, a waitress wearing a blouse that was two sizes too small stepped up to their table. Elizabeth worried the buttons straining against her large breasts would pop off at any moment.
   “Hello, Rosie,” Phillip greeted.
   “Hello yourself, handsome,” Rosie replied. “What can I get you today?”
   “We’ll both have the special,” Phillip replied. He caught Elizabeth’s surprised look and smiled. “Trust me. You’ll love it,” he said.
   Rosie met Elizabeth’s gaze. “What would you like to drink, sugar?”
   Elizabeth felt as if she’d been transported back in time. Who talked like that anymore? Rosie reminded her of the waitresses she saw in movies from the fifties. “Um, I’ll have a Diet Coke,” Elizabeth answered.
   “Food’ll be out in a jiffy,” Rosie replied, turning from the table.
   Elizabeth watched her walk away. Then she turned her head and met Phillip’s smiling eyes.
   “The way you busted into Harold’s office the other day was priceless,” he chuckled. “I’ve never seen anyone have enough guts to stand up to him before.”
   Elizabeth smiled. “Well, in hindsight, it probably wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done.”
   “But it felt good, didn’t it?” he asked.
   “As a matter of fact, it did,” she replied.
   “I’ve been on the board at Stropmeyer since Harold was a boy. His daddy was a good man, but Harold isn’t worth a hill of beans. He’s been trying to get rid of me for years. The only reason I haven’t retired is that it gives me pleasure to be a nuisance to him.”
   Elizabeth smiled. She liked Phillip Grogan. He reminded her of her grandfather. “So, can you tell me about the job offer?” she asked.
   He nodded and leaned forward enthusiastically. “I am also on the board of directors for the Spring Valley Animal Shelter. We’re looking for a new president and I think you’d be perfect.”
   Elizabeth stared at him in shocked silence. An animal shelter? She didn’t know the first thing about animals. She’d never even had a pet. What in the world would she know about running an animal shelter, and in Spring Valley? She’d driven through there once. It was a small city about twenty miles away.
   “Well?” he prompted eagerly.
   “Mr. Grogan, what makes you think I would want the job? I don’t know the first thing about animals.”
   Phillip smiled. “You don’t have to. The president’s job is all about fundraising and PR. The shelter isn’t generating enough revenue to house all the animals. We need someone who knows how to build an image and get the word out. We need someone who won’t take no for an answer.”
   “I’m sorry, Mr. Grogan, but that person isn’t me,” she replied.
   Just then, Rosie placed their plates on the table. A giant, juicy hamburger and onion rings filled the plate. Elizabeth hadn’t eaten that much greasy food in years.
   “I don’t want you to decide right now. Think about it for a few days, then get back with me. Let’s just enjoy our lunch.”
   Elizabeth sighed and picked up the hamburger. She thought it would be impolite not to eat the food. She took a bite, then moaned with pleasure.
   “Good, isn’t it?” Phillip chuckled.
   Elizabeth nodded. “It’s delicious,” she said around the bite in her mouth. She couldn’t believe it, when several minutes later, she popped the last onion ring into her mouth.

   “It’s best not to dismiss something, until you try it,” Phillip commented. Elizabeth suspected he was talking about the food.