WCY Books 2020 Recap: 25 Titles Added to our Animal Lovers Catalog

Despite 2020 being a tough year all around, Who Chains You Books somehow beat our goal of 24 titles by one, for a total of 25 new releases in 2020! If you haven’t perused our new offerings, we hope you’ll check out our titles and authors below and support their work. Many are first time authors, and knowing someone bought their book gives them the courage to continue on their writing journey.

All of our authors are animal lovers in one form or another, and our books advocate and bring awareness to dogs and cats, yes, but other animals, too. This year we’ve featured bunnies, coyotes, chickens, bees, horses, sheep, hermit crabs, fish, and birds!

Raven Woman’s Tavern

Written by Laura Koerber

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‪A backwoods bar run by a shapeshifter.‬

A road that changes length, direction, and destination.‬

A young man, lost in the forest and dying, hears the cry of a raven.‬

Set in a dystopic near future, Raven Woman’s Tavern is the story of a collection of survivalists who are squatting in the remains of a dead timber town in the Northwest. The residents—most of them old, sick, and in need—help each other by means legal and extralegal under the watchful eye of Rachel, the tavern keeper. When the peace of the community is disturbed by the sudden visit of four members of the local militia, the survivalists are frightened; not all of them are law-abiding and some are not citizens. ‬

‪But, as Crazy Mary said to Charlie the Poet, “You don’t piss Rachel off. She’s got her ways.”‬


Tale Feathers

Written by Brian Meade

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Coco was fixated by the clock on the wall. It felt as if the hands barely moved, counting the seconds in minutes and the hours in days. “Biggest point, two more clicks,” he murmured under his breath, clicking his beak in unison with the clock.

The moment had finally arrived! “Good morning guys!” his voice reverberated through the cavernous rooms of the old wooden house.

He was met first with quiet, and then the complaints started…

Coco, Pablo, Squeaker, Kiku, and Red are an odd flock of parrots who have been living under one roof with the same family for years. Like any other family, they’ve grown a little too comfortable and a little tired of each other’s company and their mundane daily experiences.

Soon, change arrives in a way none of them could have expected. One day, the quirky flock finds their lives taking a turn that leads them on a several day, cross-town adventure.

They pick up some new friends along the way, and their sometimes frightening real-world experiences leave them with a newfound appreciation for each other and the human family they’ve taken for granted.

Will things be the same at adventure’s end, or will their lives be changed forever? Find out in Tale Feathers, a new novel by Brian Meade, perfect for readers and bird lovers young and old.

“Reveals the wonderful chaos of the flock.”—Kevin Hils, Bronx Zoo


Shadow’s Forever Home:
An Adoption Journey

Written by Sandra Biersdorfer
Illustrated by Barbara Gadsby

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A fluffy, solid black kitten with golden yellow eyes rested on his favorite perch just outside the entrance to Seth Elementary School. It was a warm, sunny day, without a cloud in the flawless blue sky. As the students passed, many stopped to pet him—a pat on the head here, a scratch under the chin there.

“Oh, he’s SOOOOO cute!” one girl exclaimed.

“MEOW!” the kitten cried. Although she couldn’t understand him, what he really wanted her to hear was, “If you think I’m cute, take me home with you. Please!”

“I really like cats, but my mom won’t let me have one,” one young boy pouted as he passed the kitten.

With a sad face and a pitiful sigh, the fluffy black kitten with golden eyes gave up on finding anyone at the school to take him home. He began the long trek downtown hoping for something to eat.

Will Shadow ever realize his dream of a loving family, a warm bed, and plenty of healthy food? Discover for yourself, in this early chapter book just for developing readers. With adorable black and white interior illustrations by artist Barbara Gadsby to bring Shadow’s story to life, too.


The No Name Bunny

Written by Ali Tibbetts
Illustrated by Rhonda Van

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The No Name Bunny tells of one rabbit’s journey to find her forever family, emphasizing the importance of hope in the face of life’s challenges and offering an animal’s perspective on loss and fear, belief and belonging. In this children’s tale of redemption, the No Name Bunny perseveres despite neglect and abandonment to achieve her dream of a better life and to finally get what she wants most: a name.

After reading The No Name Bunny, young readers ages 6 and up will come to understand that, like us, animals deserve compassion and empathy. While the story’s central theme emphasizes humane treatment of animals, humans and animals alike can grasp the need for love, belonging, and identity.


Birdie

Written by Ann Florence Dodd
with Illustrations by the Author

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Birdie is a sweet and lonely caged bird who lives in the garden outside his owner’s cottage. As he sits in his cage day after day, he watches other birds fly the blue skies and wonders why he is not free to fly, too. What did he do wrong?

Birdie really wants a friend and tries to find one, but it just isn’t happening for him. Then one day a beetle named Berty falls into his cage, and suddenly Birdie is so happy: he has his first friend!

After tragedy strikes, Birdie becomes desperate to escape his confinement. When his cage door is finally opened, Birdie has to face his fears and find the courage to leave; after all, his cage was the only world he knew…

Is Birdie brave enough to face his biggest fear? Follow Birdie’s beautiful story—perfect for ages 10 and up—as the little bird finds friendship and courage, confronts untold adversity, and finally explores a whole new world he never knew existed. With heart-touching illustrations from the author, Ann Florence Dodd.

The Spirit’s Message: A Story About Living Kindly

Written by Beth Levine
with Illustrations by Revers Lab

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In a small village in a far-off land lived a young girl named Sara and her younger brother Justin. Today was a celebration: Sara turned thirteen, and as was the tradition in her village, she would travel into the nearby Magical Forest to receive a message from the Spirit of the Earth.

The seeker usually braved the forest alone, but because Sara and Justin were so close, they convinced her parents and the village elders to let them go together. Join the siblings as they embark on a mission into the Magical Forest, where they meet many of the woodland inhabitants and learn that the world around them is not what it may seem at first glance.

The duo is honored with the Spirit of the Earth’s most crucial message—but will they take it to heart? The Spirit’s Message is a tale of courage, hope, and kindness, brought to you through a journey of two young souls; it is a wonderful and purpose-filled read for ages eight through adulthood.


Claire’s Coyote Friends

Written by Christy Burbidge
Illustrated by Mary Jo Helchowski

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Claire lives in a house on a golf course with her dad and rescue beagle, Buddy. Every day after school, Claire and Buddy go for a walk on the course—it’s Claire’s favorite part of the day!

The golf course is home to many animal friends: geese, swans, and…

Claire hears barking…what is that, puppies?!

Upon learning the babies are actually coyote pups, Claire becomes enamored and researches their needs and how they differ from Buddy’s. Claire’s Coyote Friends is an exploration of and helps children understand a different type of bond—one where we can feel close to others even if we can’t spend time with them.


Different is Beautiful

Written by Penelope Lagos
Illustrated by Charles Berton

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Cassius, an eight-year-old pitbull, has been stuck in the shelter for quite some time. It becomes his mission to rally all the other “special needs” animals together to change adopters’ minds and find loving homes for himself and his friends.

This time, the Paws ‘n Claws Adoption Day turns into a life lesson for all. Cassius keeps his friends positive and their heads held high, proving that looking different is not a bad thing—in fact, being yourself is the best way to be.

Different is Beautiful is a heart-warming story for children ages 7 and up that helps them accept people who may not look the same as they do. Author Penelope Lagos also offers ten helpful tips parents can use to educate children about overcoming bias.


Out of the Dog House

Written by Sandy De Lisle
and Stephanie Itle-Clark
Illustrated by Nina Robichaud

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Jax used to live a cushy life inside a house with fuzzy blankets and a comfy chair. Suddenly his person can no longer care for him, and he finds himself living in a stranger’s backyard and missing his best human friend.

He misses his warm bed, squeaky ball, and bowls with his name on them. Most of all, though, he misses his person’s gentle scratches under his chin and the way he said, “Good boy, Jax.”

Will the kind animal control officer succeed in helping Jax get out of the doghouse and into the warm home of his new family? Find out in Out of the Dog House, perfect for ages 8 and up. Out of the Dog House is great for classroom and humane education efforts, too, and includes educational information and questions to provoke classroom discussion.


Wallace Willoughbee Wants a Dog

Written by Nancy Alexander
Illustrated by April Pedersen

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Once a year, Wallace gets to spend a week with his Aunt Polly, and it’s his favorite week of the year. Aunt Polly lives on a big farm, with lots and lots of dogs. Wallace wants a dog with all his heart, but his mom and dad don’t want one.

Wallace couldn’t wait to tell Aunt Polly about the new program at the animal shelter. He’d seen an ad on TV: the shelter had started a program for kids and parents to volunteer to walk the dogs together.

That would be a dream come true!

At Aunt Polly’s, Wallace helps feed and walk all the dogs every day. He sits in the sun with Snickers every afternoon, and Snickers snuggles next to Wallace every night.

But the happy visits always end too soon. Will Wallace ever get the dog of his dreams? Find out in Wallace Willougybee Wants a Dog, by Nancy Alexander, with full color illustrations by April Pedersen.


An Underwater Friend

Written by Howard Edelstein
Illustrated by Jessica Henderson

Timmy woke up early and rushed to his parents’ bed to make sure his dad was awake. He’d been looking forward to this day all week. Today Timmy’s dad was taking him on his first fishing trip, and he was so excited!

But the lesson Timmy would ultimately learn wasn’t the one he was expecting…

An Underwater Friend is the story of a boy who realizes that a friendship can develop between any two individuals. It makes the reader aware that we all have feelings, and that we should treat everyone, including our animal friends, as we would want to be treated.

An Underwater Friend is a project of Fish Feel, the first organization devoted to promoting the recognition of fish as sentient beings deserving of respect and compassion.

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Squirmy Hermie’s Heroics
Animal Protector Series Vol. 4

Written by Tamira Thayne
Illustrated by C.A. Wulff

Snip, snip . . . snip, snip.

Squirmy Hermie poked his head out of his pink and yellow-painted shell, peering out into the darkening room. Where was that noise coming from? The store had closed for the night; the only sounds this late came from his newfound crab friends as they began their nocturnal hunt for food and entertainment.

And maybe a way out of here? The nagging hope slipped into his mind for the hundredth time since he’d arrived in this place only a few days earlier.

Snip, snip . . . snip, snip.

There it was again.

Squirmy and his friend Hairy had been taken, along with many others, from their beach homes in the Caribbean islands. Why? Where were they now? And how could they free themselves from this cage and the toxic shells they’d been forced into?

Will those who speak on their behalf help them to safety? Find out in Squirmy Hermie’s Heroics, the 4th volume in the Animal Protector series from author Tamira Thayne, with full color illustrations by C.A. Wulff.

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Towpath’s Tail

Written by Will Stolzenburg
Illustrated by Rhonda Van

Towpath’s Tail is the story of a special pit bull puppy with a magical tail that spreads happiness wherever he goes. But when Towpath’s tail is suddenly stolen by an angry young boy, his friends all abandon him. The puppy wanders, sad and alone.

Towpath’s only hope comes from the kindness of a young stranger who helps him regain the magic, despite his stubby new tail. Soon we realize that Towpath’s magic was not in his tail after all, but in his heart.

Towpath’s Tail makes a wonderful addition to family reading hour for children five and above, as well as humane education programs with lessons in bullying and kindness to others. Complete with full-color, whimsical illustrations by artist Rhonda Van.

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Reboot Ranch

Written by Eileen Watkins

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Two years ago, Anna Loehmeyer’s marriage, job, and life fell apart when her husband was arrested for fraud. The experience devastated her, but Anna found new purpose when she rescued a mare bound for slaughter. After acquiring two more hard-luck equines and a small farm in western New Jersey, Anna decides to start her own horse-rescue operation.

The only person eager to help is her teenaged niece MJ, who is recovering from her own heartbreak—the death of her beloved father. Formerly a good student, MJ has become depressed and rebellious, even jeopardizing her chances to get into college. She persuades her mother to let her spend the summer at the rescue farm, because her Aunt Anna is “the only adult I know who’s doing anything meaningful.”

Soon the two women recognize a bond even beyond family ties—their mutual love of horses and desire to save them from abusive situations. Their greatest challenge could also be their best hope for an adoption success story—the farm’s newest resident, an ex-racehorse named Murphy. Almost put down for seriously injuring a jockey, the big gray loves to jump, even without a rider. But is he too dangerous for Anna and MJ to handle, much less to retrain for a new career?

For the sake of their horses, they both may have to swallow some stubborn pride, and learn how to ask for help.


The Wild Grass

Written by Graeme Brasher

When you are bred to be eaten, freedom is your only hope. 

Set on a farm on Kangaroo Island, South Australia, Graeme Brasher’s The Wild Grass is the stirring tale of twin lambs’ attempts to escape their fate. The lambs live alongside the human family who own them and the wild animals who make their living on the periphery of the farm.

Sam had never liked the way the livestock on the farm were treated. She understood that the animals were her parents’ livelihood and that nothing much could be done about it; still, their fate troubled her. When her father herded them into the yards for drenching, tailing, or drafting, she mostly bit her lip and turned a blind-eye to the harshness of it all.

Feral cats and scavenger crows threaten, but it is the humans who care for them that pose the gravest threat. When flooding leads to plans for the early dispatch of the lambs to market, the twins are forced to recognize that their lives are at risk.

Each must now make choices that mean the difference between life and death. Sanctuary lies a long perilous journey away. Can the Untamed lead them to safety?

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The Sleepy Honey Bee

Written by Samantha K. Riggi
Illustrated by Rhonda Van

In a busy bee hive near a colorful meadow there lived a little honey bee named Mia.

Mia woke one morning still feeling tired; after all, the hive is a very busy—and very noisy—place. She yawned, and stretched, and wished she could climb back into her warm, honeycomb bed.

But nectar bees don’t sleep in; they have nectar to collect after all!

So Mia flew past the lush lavender, over the wildflowers and through the tall prairie grass that danced in the wind. She landed on some bright orange flowers for just a short rest . . . and closed her eyes . . .

Soon Mia was not alone. Who joined the little honey bee for a summer’s nap in her orange flower bed? Find out in The Sleepy Honey Bee, a wonderfully colorful read for ages 6 and up. Complete with a short lesson on the Earth’s bee population and how we can help them.

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Sergeant Pepper and Mister Paws

Written by Al Riney

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Private Rick Santos and the little cat who befriended him—Sergeant Pepper—are now famous war heroes: battle buddies wounded in combat and awarded the Purple Heart together. In foreign territory, they survived mortar fire and enemy insurgents. In domestic territory, they endured hospitals and therapy centers.

Now they’ll face their greatest challenge yet: civilian life.

When Rick is sent to a special facility for intensive post-traumatic stress therapy, he trusts his Uncle Ernest Gonzales in Florida with Sergeant Pepper’s care. In the foreign world of Hummingbird Circle, Sergeant Pepper encounters a clutter of six cats managed by the mild-mannered Mister Paws, the polydactyl pal of Uncle Ernest.

These lazy, quirky, and undisciplined house cats thoroughly annoy the disciplined Sergeant Pepper. With her army mindset, she feels like a square peg jammed into a round hole.

War’s long tendrils soon reach into the cushy, relaxed existence found at Uncle Ernest’s home. When a gang of tough street cats and a vicious attack dog named Killer disrupt the peace of Hummingbird Circle, the army cat sees it as her duty to assist Mister Paws in overcoming the insurgency.

Only this time, Sergeant Pepper faces an unexpected threat. She discovers something worse than enemy insurgents . . . her own deeply-hidden PTSD. Can she overcome her own demons to save those in her charge? Will she ever be reunited with her best friend Rick? Find out in Sergeant Pepper and Mister Paws, a wonderful new read for ages 10 and up.


Sigils & Secrets: Black Magick Book 1

Written by Whitney Metz

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Ben has a high-paying job, a great apartment and, most importantly, he has Carrie. She’s fun, beautiful, a bit eccentric—and has a fascination with the occult.

Ben thinks it’s harmless.

Then one night during an attempt to contact the spirit world, Carrie disappears. Now Ben must find a way to navigate a world that he never believed existed in order to save the woman he loves from something he doesn’t understand.

Maybe he didn’t know Carrie nearly as well as he thought.

To make matters worse, Ben’s encounter with the supernatural has left him with a mysterious infection ravaging his body and deteriorating his mind.

Sigils & Secrets is the first in the Black Magick Series—a series about the world behind the one we see every day, the importance of the connections we all share with each other and with the Earth, and the search for our true paths.


Coyote Summer

Written by Laura Koerber

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What happens when a rape is dismissed by those with power and control?

Ben O’Rourke, his best friend Clint, and their classmate Claire were supposed to grow up to be wealthy, prominent people like their parents. They were private school kids, raised in the belief that they were obliged to turn expensive educations into prestigious positions in society. Actually, more than that. They were entitled to prestigious positions—at the top.

Clint had done that by winning his dad’s seat in Congress. Benny didn’t know anything about Claire, except she’d never married and she still lived in Camden. Right there in Clint’s district.

Ben was nervous. His voice had to reach across the Rocky Mountains, across the Great Plains, and all the way to Wisconsin. And it had to reach across nearly forty years and who-knows-what changes and pain as well. Did it mean anything that Claire never got married? Girls who went to Saint Anne’s were brought up to get married.

As the phone rang, Ben’s memory returned to the past…and the two girls who’d rerouted his life the summer before college. An assault on Claire right after their high school graduation had led Ben to struggle with right, wrong, and his place in society; while his first love, Puppy, taught him there was much more to life than a prep school upbringing…maybe even things that floated beyond the realm of human understanding.


If Your Tears Were Human: A Collection of Poetry for Animals in Agriculture, 2nd. Ed.

Written by Heather Leughmyer

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If Your Tears Were Human: A Collection of Poetry for Animals in Agriculture, 2nd Edition, is an intensely moving and powerful collection of 28 verses written by Heather Leughmyer and paired with striking photographic images from Vanessa Sarges.

The poems included in this book were inspired by animals, people and events the author encountered in her activism for animals. Although she has been deeply disturbed by the magnitude of human cruelty toward these innocent beings, she has been just as deeply touched by the people who have bravely protested these injustices and who work relentlessly to make this world a kinder place. These are her heroes; the rebels, the bunny-huggers, those with the largest hearts and the softest souls. These poems honor them and the animals they serve.


Lop-Eared Lily

Written by Rhonda Lucas Donald
Illustrated by Rhonda Van

Lily’s ears don’t mind the rules.
One’s up; the other’s down.
She looks a little cockeyed,
But never wears a frown.

Lop-Eared Lily is a little dog with mismatched ears and a penchant for licking. Bound along with her on a day full of ducks and bees and people’s knees—and Frisbee catching, too.

Life wasn’t always sunny for Lily. She had been abandoned and neglected, but found the perfect home with a family who loves her—licks, flip-flop ears, and all!

Written by award-winning children’s author Rhonda Lucas Donald and whimsically illustrated by Rhonda Van, Lop-Eared Lily is perfect for early readers from age 4 and up. The book works great in the classroom and as part of humane education efforts, too.

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From our WCY Humane Press Imprint

Humane Education in Higher Education

Now Available! Great for College Classrooms

Humane Education in Higher Education: Advancing Inclusive Social Justice Studies in a Postsecondary Environment

Edited by Stephanie Itle-Clark

The realm of higher education is designed to disseminate knowledge. The content area is easy to define, but what is being taught related to inclusive social justice and the streaming spectrum of human, non-human, and environmental interactions? Moral intelligence and compassion are shaped by many social dynamics, and in countless ways the postsecondary educational system has a chance to incorporate inclusive prosocial development into instructional concepts as well as the overarching campus systems. Discover how faculty and staff working in higher education institutions can push beyond the degree-specific cognitive skills and encourage compassion so that learners experience social and emotional growth.

Humane Education in Higher Education: Advancing Inclusive Social Justice Studies in a Postsecondary Environment features contributions by twelve scholars of the humane and prosocial movements. The book puts forth the primary concept that “A truly humane education revolves around inclusive social justice and supports personal development of ‘critical thinking, problem solving, perspective-taking, and empathy as it relates to people, animals, the planet, and the intersections among them,’” according to editor Stephanie Itle-Clark. 

The volume aims to bring truly inclusive humane pedagogy into the realm of higher education to effectively address teaching intersectionality of social justice issues.

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From our Crescent Renewal Imprint

Lucy the Duct Tape Warrior

Lucy the Duct Tape Warrior

By Samantha K. Riggi
Illustrated by Todd Myzia

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Lucy is a mighty girl who loves climbing trees, hopping in mud puddles, and playing make believe. She is fierce, determined, and not afraid to get dirty. All of that seems to be working out just fine, until the day her school suddenly changes the dress code policy! How is a fierce warrior supposed to battle beasts and forge raging rivers wearing a dress?

What will Lucy do to stay true to who she is without breaking the dress code? Find out in Lucy the Duct Tape Warrior, written by Samantha K. Riggi, with colorful and engaging illustrations by Todd Myzia.

Jack O’Lantern:
Life Cycle Series Book 3

Laura W. Eckroat
Illustrated by Greg White

“I wasn’t always a brilliant orange with a hint of yellow, a globe with a perfectly curved stem. I came from very humble beginnings.

“My first memory was of a man named John, walking through a field whistling and gently placing a small part of me into the cool, damp earth. In fact, he planted hundreds just like me into the soil, and we disappeared, leaving the field looking barren. We waited and waited for the right time to reappear. Then it happened…!”

Follow Jack O’Lantern on his journey from tiny seed to big and beautiful orange pumpkin. See the world through the “eyes” of Jack as he grows and finally leaves the pumpkin patch for his own adventure. The Life Cycle Series books, including The Life of Bud and Daisy, are engaging tools for classroom or individual reading, and perfect for ages 8 and up. Includes a fun lesson for home or school, too!

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“Smidgey Pidgey’s Predicament” Shines a Spotlight on Pigeon Shoots

smidgeycover18lo-dropNew Release, from Who Chains You Books:

Smidgey Pidgey’s Predicament

by Tamira Thayne
Illustrated by C.A. Wulff

smidgey1loIt was a gorgeous summer day in Central Park, and Smidge and her brother Ridge had time to share one last adventure before it was time to grow up, as Mama Pidgey primly informed them. Yuk, where was the fun in that?!

Smidge slapped Ridge’s wing with hers. “Hey, you hungry? Wanna be real birds, and scavenge the park for seeds, or go see if Mrs. Laney is providing Pidgey Take-Out today?”

Ridge rubbed his belly. “Yum, Mrs. Laney’s for sure! Maybe she put out french fries again,” he grinned mischievously.

The two were so intent on their scramble for treats that when they heard the first squawks of protest, they assumed it was just a squabble over a savory morsel. Soon the cries became louder and more frantic, and more birds joined the chorus.

Finally realizing something wasn’t right, Smidge and Ridge looked up from their breakfast.

smidgey5-1But it was too late—a black sack came down over their heads, engulfing them both and turning their world to darkness…

Who was stealing the city’s pigeons, and what’s to become of Smidge, Ridge, and the others? Find out in Smidgey Pidgey’s Predicament, excellent for ages 8 and up, and perfect for humane education in today’s classrooms. Includes Vocab Builders, as well as information about the very real threat to pigeons, and what you can do to help these wonderful birds.

$12.97 Paperback$3.97 Kindle • Kindle Unlimited

$1.00 from each Paperback and $.50 from each Kindle
sale will benefit the nonprofit Showing Animals Respect and Kindness through the end of the year.

What are pigeon shoots? Well, they’re as bad as you can imagine. From a June 5, 2017 article in the Philly Voice by John Kopp, titled “Pennsylvania clings to pigeon shoots that have nearly vanished nationwide”:

“During such shoots, live pigeons are placed into spring-loaded boxes and propelled into the air at the shooter’s command. The shooter then fires at them from a distance of about 30 yards. Hundreds of birds are wounded or killed.”

From that same article: “One group, Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) has protested the Philadelphia Gun Club shoots by posting videos of wounded pigeons and aerial videos of the shoots.

“We’ve really been pressing them hard and exposing the people who have been participating in it,” SHARK activist Stuart Chaifetz said. “We treat it the same way as if you saw someone dogfighting – it’s inexcusable.”

About the Author

tamijewelonyxloTamira Thayne is an animal activist, and the founder and former CEO of Dogs Deserve Better, a nonprofit organization seeking an end to dog chaining.

She is also the founder of Who Chains You Books, publishing titles for those who believe people—and animals—deserve to be free. She is the author of Happy Dog Coloring Book, Capitol in Chains, Foster Doggie Insanity, The Wrath of Dog, The King’s Tether, The Knights Chain, The Curse of Cur, (upcoming) and the co-editor of Unchain My Heart and Rescue Smiles.

Tamira lives by a river in the woods of northern Virginia, with her husband, daughter, one dog, six cats, and hundreds of outside birds and critters she adores from afar.

About the Illustrator

abstract-meloC. A. Wulff has been involved in pet rescue for over twenty-four years, volunteering with Ohio humane group Valley Save-a-Pet. An author, artist, and animal advocate, Wulff uses her art and writing to spread the joy of the human/canine bond.

Her books, Born Without a Tail: the Making of an Animal Advocate and Circling the Waggins; How 5 Misfit Dogs Saved Me from Bewilderness, chronicle her personal journey of animal rescue. Her books How to Change the World in 30 Seconds and Finding Fido. are guides for animal advocates and pet parents. You can follow her on her blog “Up on the Woof”, where she shares biscuits of dog-related info. [thewoof.wordpress.com]

Wulff currently resides in one of our nation’s National Forests with her lifemate and five dogs. She attributes her love of animals to having been raised by Wulffs.

He Stood in the Tree, Worm in his Mouth, Looking for Babies to Feed

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The bluebird stood in the tree, a green worm in his mouth, but he had nowhere to go with it. There was no nest.

Instinct told him he had little ones to care for; so, on autopilot, he collected the worm. He held the squirming green body for long moments, hopping along the branch, looking down toward where the nest was just yesterday. Nothing.

He finally ate it himself.

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The evening before, I’d looked out my window to see what my bluebirds were up to—like I did about 100 times most days. I had never been a birder before, and probably drove my Facebook friends crazy with my requests to identify new birds I spotted around my home in the woods of rural Virginia.

“Newbies,” they’d scoff to themselves. “So annoying.”

But I’d become attached to the birds who lived in my backyard, as I became attached to all the wild animals who made their homes in the woods nearby.

I believed in their right to life, their value as members of our planet, their unique beauty, and what they could teach me about finding contentment in the moment.

I treasured them all. The phoebes who built a nest on our drain spout and were on their second batch of the summer. The bluebirds who moved into first one house and then another after successfully rearing brood #1.

So I watched them and waited, hoping to catch a glimpse of the babies leaving the nest, the parents feeding. I knew this batch was still young, not yet ready to go, but I remained fascinated and watched as only a birdie-voyeur is capable of doing.

Confusion assaulted me. Why wasn’t my birdhouse where it belonged? What was going on?

Bear.

I didn’t see it happen, but I knew it was the only explanation that made sense.

I can still envision the moment; the ease with which he reached up, cupped the small wooden house, and batted the nest to the ground, smashing the top and emptying the cubby of its fledglings.

I rushed outside, sobbing, “No, my babies!” but knew there was no hope.

Nothing there.

I desperately tried to figure out how I could fix it. How could I put it back together, bring the babies back? Was the mom dead too?

I didn’t know.

The anger and pain rushed my senses. I screamed “Fuck you, Bear, Fuck YOU!” and then fearfully eyed the bushes as the gloom of dusk eased into darkness.

I may have been enraged, but I wasn’t suicidal. If I actually attracted the bear with my verbal onslaught, I knew who would end up on the losing end of that battle.

Sobbing, I fumbled my way back inside.

I reached out to online friends for support in my grief, loss, and anger at the bear, and inevitably got that one person who feels compelled to say something incredibly insensitive like: “That’s just nature being nature.”

On what planet do people believe that’s helpful?

As a reasonably intelligent woman, I can well understand in theory that nature isn’t pretty, and that animals eat each other every single day.

But knowing that will never stop me from wanting to protect those I consider ‘family’, and grieving if something happens to these tiny beings.

The next morning, feeling empathy for my sadness, my husband climbed to the first bluebird house and cleaned the old nest out. We added more safety netting to the bottom of the tree, and removed a couple saplings that were too close to the old nest for comfort.

Then I waited to see if the parents had made it out alive.

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I saw the male.

He was perched at the bend of the destroyed pole, peering about for his lost family. Where had they gone? I watched as he flew from there to the old house, checking inside just in case, and then to a third house that had remained uninhabited.

I was helpless to fix either of our broken hearts.

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He repeated his treks from the old house to the tree limb and back multiple times, and I hated watching his compulsive behavior, suffering my own grief for the loss of his family.

I’d all but given up hope that his mate had made it out alive; I should have seen her by now. What would the male do under these circumstances? I had no idea.

But then, it happened. Something glorious.

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His mate flew up and joined him on the porch of the old nest.

She’d made it!

She made it.

More tears, but now happy ones. The bad was still there—the babies were still gone—but now there was hope for tomorrow for this gorgeous couple.

Maybe they would try again in the old house; maybe they will be back next year.

The world suddenly held room for maybes and possibilities again.

It will always be hard for me to witness “nature being nature.” I am blessed (or cursed, depending on your perspective) with a heart for the animals, and I feel each loss so very deeply.

Please, do those like me a favor. Next time we share our grief and loss over an animal we care about, don’t tell us it’s just “nature being nature.”

We know that, already, thank you.

But we love anyway.

P.S. Yes, I felt sad for the worm, too.

Tamira Thayne is the founder of Who Chains You Books and Spiritual Mentoring, and the pioneer of the anti-chaining movement in America. She spent 13 years on the front lines of chained-dog activism and rescue as founder and CEO of Dogs Deserve Better. She is the author of The Wrath of Dog, Foster Doggie Insanity: Tips and Tales to Keep your Kool as a Doggie Foster Parent, and Capitol in Chains: 54 Days of the Doghouse Blues.