Posts Tagged ‘basset hounds’

You Can’t Walk Away From the War, June 1, 2012


Patricia H. Parker “Bookwoman”

This review is from: Getting Dunn (Paperback)

T. J. Dunn has seen much more of life than most women her age. Right out of college, she went on active duty as an Army Lieutenant in Iraq. When we first meet her, she is traveling in a UAH along a street in an Iraqi town. Her unit is attacked, they find themselves surrounded, and her Platoon Sergeant is shot in the head right next to her. She realizes that the unit’s 50 calibre gun is running low on ammunition, and the only supplies are strapped to the outside of the UAH. As she crawls out on the outside of the vehicle, she is shot in the arm and falls off onto the road, out in the open, and she knows she is going to die. As she watches her vehicle pull away from her, leaving her all alone, it explodes.

The reader next finds T. J., still in a drugged fog, in the hospital, three days later. The chaplain and one of her and her fiancé’s best friends, David Strickland, come to her, and she knows they bring news that her whole unit was killed in the explosion of the UAH. However, they also bring the news that her fiancé, Captain David Halle, has committed suicide. T.J and David were not stationed together, but he was also on active duty in Iraq. She is confused and distraught. Captain Halle was not the type to commit suicide. Also, he is the second man close to her who has taken this action. Her father, also an Army Officer, had committed suicide, without warning, a few years earlier.

Having been released from active duty, we find T.J. a year later, having run away from everything and everyone from her past, working as a stripper in a bar in Albany, New York and spending her spare time as a volunteer on a Suicide Hotline for a local charity.. She has no friends and keeps to herself. A few of the dancers and a couple of the other volunteers have become acquaintances, but she doesn’t let them get close, and she never speaks about her past. However, her past haunts her, and she is in counseling to help with the pain, but, to her, this is a new day, and she doesn’t want to even consider the old ones. Then, one night, she looks up during her performance, and thinks she sees David Strickland in the crowd. She looks for him later, but he has disappeared. From that point on, the story gets deeper and murkier. She finally realizes that, for some unknown reason, someone is trying to kill her, and it has something to do with Iraq, David’s suicide and secrets she may or may not know.

“Getting Dunn” is an intriguing book with a thrilling story. The reader is led from one point to another until the truth is laid out and the secrets are revealed. It is a well constructed tale with T. J. not knowing which are the good guys and which the bad until the very end. Mr. Schreck has written some other books which have won top awards in their genre. I recommend this book highly as it never lets up, and there are no down spots as this young woman fights her way back to some semblance of normalcy in a life which hadn’t known much up until that time.

This review is from: Getting Dunn (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What’s this?)

Good story and really appropriate for the time and generation. The mental health issues are brought out with compassion and frustration. T.J. is a perfect example of someone using their physical body to cover the emotional and mental damage done to them through no fault of their own.

Unfortunately, the bad guys are probably our neighbors and friends because they wear friendly faces. I will definately go looking for this authors other books.

Tom Schreck Brings It! Not a disappointment as usual, May 17, 2012
This review is from: Getting Dunn (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What’s this?)

Although tough, TJ Dunn knew the risk when she entered the army. Her team is ambushed in Iraq and when she’s the only survivor left, albiet physically and mentally tramatized she also finds out her fiance has taken his life.

When she comes back home, she drifts through life depressed and then she gets this anonymous call who says maybe her guy didn’t kill himself. Maybe the government or somebody else is making it look like suicide to cover up some drug conspiracy.

Life jumps back into her and she sets out to find the killer.

This was the second book by Schreck and I was burning the midnight reading this suspense! Good job … again!!

Ex-military topless pole dancer? Why not?, June 7, 2012

Unaccustomed as I am to heroines who relieve stress by kick-boxing, and then head for an establishment called “Taco” to entice men by topless pole dancing, I must admit that I was able to relate eventually. What makes this unusually interesting is that Dunn is experiencing a devastating grief for both her father and her love, who were both in the service, and who both committed suicide. The act was not something she would have thought either of them capable of – so something else was going on. She makes it her business to find out – all the while, in grief counseling with a psychiatrist who plumbs her depths with great professional precision. This process is aided by an author, who, himself, is a psychologist – so it’s all very real.

I must admit, the pages were turning and I did get caught up in the intrigue. This novel wasn’t the best of its kind – but it was a departure from the usual – and I celebrate a plot that is creative. If you like tough heroines (I wouldn’t want to meet this one in a dark alley), you might consider this novel a “diamond in the rough”.


Great!, March 28, 2012


Richard A. Mitchell “Rick Mitchell” (candia, new hampshire United States) – See all my reviews

Other reviewers have compared Mr. Schreck to Coben and Parker. They are absolutely right. He is definitely in that league. I was shocked this is his third book. I immediately went and bought his first. This book has all the humor, intelligence and human warmth of their best stuff.

This book has a few intrigues going on at once. Like the best of Parker and Coben, Schreck’s main character, the professional sparring partner and social worker, Duffy Dombrowski, is well-developed and with great depth. This enables the plot to include some real human interest elements to go with the humor and the mysteries.

Although classified as a mystery, this is not a standard whodunit. Duffy is going through life in his usual take-it-as-it-comes manner. There is a parallel under story of murders of Mexicans in Las Vegas, but this does not impact him for quite some time. For most of the book, Duffy is dealing with the vagaries of being employed by the Russian mob.

There is a lot of good humor here to go with the good story lines. Duffy’s “posse” of four, who normally don’t leave their usual bar stools is priceless. Their conversations are laugh out loud funny while being perfectly believable despite their absurdity. Duffy’s bassett hound, Al, adds to the book in unforeseen ways.

I have only one caution. In the first 60 or so pages, there was a lot of scatological humor that would put a 14 year old boy on his knees with guffaws, but not so much for adults. I was pleased and relieved that after that start, the humor became much richer.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough for a good fun read.

“Just Knockdown Refreshing”, April 17, 2012


John Mercier

I gave this story five stars because it was so refreshing in the truest sense of the word. The main character, Duffy Dombrowski, is the most likeable boxer that you could ever meet; being a social worker might have something to do with him being a people person. He helps people all throughout the story and being a professional heavyweight boxer and black belt in martial arts he is really able to help in some rough situations.

Duffy works as a social worker in upstate New York, but because he is a decent “South-Paw” boxer he is offered a chance to go to Vegas to spar with a Russian boxing heavyweight to get him ready for a championship bout for the best money that he has ever made. Of course he can’t turn it down; he just has to get out of going to a social work training camp in the Catskills. With Duffy where there is a will, there is a way. Nothing is ever simple for Duffy and his big heart and since he gets a whole house to live in at a “Brothel” he invites four of his friends to come on out. Oh yeah he couldn’t leave his basset hound, Al behind either. It’s so funny how he gets Al there. While in Vegas, Duffy helps out prostitutes, illegal, and legal Mexicans, with the help of Al, of course.

Duffy’s character reminds me of Nelson Demille’s John Corey, who always keeps me laughing. Tom Schreck is a very good story teller and his words go smoothly onto the paper and back to this reader’s mine to create a very refreshing story. I am going to read the two previous Duffy Dombrowski novels, since this one was so enjoyable. Like the author, Tom Schreck, I live in the Albany, NY area.

A Real Page Turner, May 30, 2012


Chris Warren

This is the first Tom Schreck book that I have read. I found ‘The Vegas Knockout’ to be a highly readable, funny and action-packed read with a very human element to it. The characters in general were very interesting, and Duffy Dombrowski, the main antagonist, was a flawed but likeable man’s man that would not be far out of place in a Hemmingway novel. I recommmend this light, highly entertaining book as the perfect laying on the beach with an adult beverage type read.

Loved It – Want More!, April 3, 2012


Brenda Frank “Eclectic Reader”

Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What’s this?)

This is my first Tom Schreck/Duffy book, and I loved it. J.A. Konrath who writes the Jack Daniels series is one of my favorite authors. Konrath’s stories are irreverent, funny (sometimes on a juvenile level) and the good guys win. Tom Schreck is a likely winner for me since he has collaborated with Konrath to write: “Planter’s Punch,” encompassing both the boxing and the mixed drink themes.

Consider Al, a “rescue” basset hound given anthropomorphic qualitites. like dogs and stories including dogs as characters. Al is a hoot and gave me many laugh out loud moments. Duffy, the lead character, is a boxer, sort of. He’s really hired as a sparring partner for really good boxers. Basically, he’s paid to be a piece of meat to pummel. More important, Duffy is a really good guy prone to help the needy.

Adventures ensue in Los Vegas, in a brothel, in the gym, in the ring, and in the casinos. There are subplots, tearful and touching moments, lots of jabs, hooks and low blows. In the end, of course, the good guys win and happiness prevails. It works for me.

Vegas Knock Out, June 26, 2012


Rebecca Townsend (Indianapolis, IN United States) – This review is from: The Vegas Knockout (Paperback)

Tom Schreck landed the perfect punch with Vegas Knock Out. His cast of babes, boxers and bassets grabbed quick attention, which was held by a rampaging murderer, a damsel in distress and a loud, ugly Russian in need of a good smack down. Schreck admitted to encountering a seeming impasse during his writing process. Glad he got over it. Maybe Elvis is watching over him with a little help from Boggsy.The Vegas Knockout

Exceeds Expectations…Once Again, June 21, 2012


Abby Mead “Abby” (Grand Rapids, Michigan)

Once again, another fantastic book from Tom Schreck.

His narrative and writing style makes it seem that you’re right there in his head while he’s writing it. It’s as if while you’re reading it, you can imagine how a film version would be.

It’s great to see Al, Duffy & the gang back, because, honestly, I was going through withdrawal. If you haven’t bought this book yet, you’re doing yourself a serious disservice. I think that this is the best one yet.

The Vegas Knockout

Short chapters full of suspense!, June 9, 2012


Kat “kttykat16” (San Francisco, CA) – See all my reviews

This is a great book and and easy read. With an eclectic cast of characters and 80 short chapters full of suspense, author Tom Schreck shows you the life of Duffy Dombrowski and Al, the basset hound and side-kick. Duffy is a social worker and professional boxing sparing partner who encounters the Russian mob, prostitution rings, illegal immigration and of course murder. If you love Vegas, boxing, or Basset hounds you’ll love this book even more. Chapter 7, and 13 and 14 where so funny I had to share those chapters with my wife and she was just as amused as I was. This is my first of the Duffy Dombrowski series and I jumped in not even realizing that there were three previous books. Tom knows his audience and how to appeal to the masses, with his master’s degree in psychology he keeps you reading, in fact after the first few chapters it was difficult to put the book down until I was finished.

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This One’s Got A Strong Heart And A Nerve Of Steel, May 15, 2012


W. Dolan (USA)

This review is from: The Vegas Knockout (Paperback)

I’m a fight fan, a rockabilly fan and rescue dog fan (anything with a white tipped tail and an annoying howl will do) so it was inevitable I’d find Tom Schreck’s ‘Duffy’ series.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all the Duffy books and looked forward to reading ‘The Vegas Knockout’ since I heard about it.

The new setting opened up avenues that couldn’t be traveled back East. I liked the change of scenery and Las Vegas was a natural place for a fighter to end up.

Duff and Al have their usual dynamic that I’ve found hilarious and spot-on. Some of Al’s this-must-be-comic-relief-made-up-for-a-work-of-fiction antics are anything but fantastic. Live with a basset and you’ll laugh as you mentally commiserate with Duff (and know (some of) this stuff ain’t made up).

Happily, “The Fearsome Foursome” make their way to Glitter Gulch to hang out with Duffy. They are regulars at the bar back home and their conversations kill me every time. They’re the scene-stealers in all the Duffy books, IMO.

‘TVKO’ isn’t all fun, fluff an’ fightin’, though. Racism and nationalistic xenophobia figure into the story as well and the morality themes aren’t as subtle as in earlier editions of the Duffy Dombrowski series.

Not to worry, there’re hookers, mobsters, fights and breathless running through the streets of Sin City for you action hounds, too. It *is* a whodunit, after all.

I won’t go into the nuts & bolts of the story- Amazon’s ‘Book Description’ gives you that.

I can’t not mention the old stage hand at the Imperial, though. My favorite part of the story, and the parts I found most touching, involved him. Duffy (or is it Al?) is the hero we love and root for but the old timer gives TVKO huge added touches of heart and humanity.


Every thing you could want in a book., June 11, 2012


Siobhan Bourbeau (Billerica, MA USA) –

Another great book by Tom Schreck. I’ve been waiting anxiously for another Dombrowski book and this one did not disappoint. The story takes Duffy to Vegas for the opportunity of a life time and of course his best 4 legged friend, Al and the 4some have to come along as well. As a basset hound owner I found myself laughing out loud at Duffy and Al’s journey through the airport. The book delivered it usual great story line, filled with humor and suspense. Tom has a way of really bringing his characters to life and making you care about what happens to them. Once I started it I couldn’t put it down, I need to know how it ended.

Life imitates art imitates life


M. Hegeman (New York State)

This review is from: The Vegas Knockout (Paperback)

I’m also a social worker, drug counselor, Elvis lover, rescued basset hound parent. I don’t punch or get punched as a side job, but other than that have found my Doppelganger in Duffy Dombrowski. The scenes at his job, as a hapless therapist trying to help people who are too messed up to see how messed up they are, are bittersweet funny and true. Duffy has wit, good sense, and a heart for helping others. Plus he’ll kick your ass if he has to.

Schreck has created an original, endearing character. Duffy doesn’t want trouble; he’d just like to do his job, hang with his friends, and tend to his dog. But if you’re looking for trouble, you’ve come to the right place. Duffy is a reluctant hero; often as not he’s literally pulled into his adventures by his rambunctious basset hound, Al. But once he’s in, Duffy is in all the way, and the reader cheers him on.

Enjoy your wild ride with Duffy and Al. I defy you to read the scene at the airport check-in without laughing out loud!

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There are certain styles of therapy that rely on story telling and metaphor as an indirect way to impart knowledge from the therapist to the client.

Sometimes life does that all by itself.

Right now I am in the midst of looking for the deeper meaning in an event.

Let me explain.

We have a small city backyard. We’ve divided it in half so that the dogs have their side and the humans have a dog-free side. I have three large hounds who shit two or three times a day. Many times they do this on walks but when the weather is bad they can do it quite frequently in the backyard where we have pea gravel down to aid the process.

The ideal procedure is they go out to crap, I follow them with a rubber glove, pick up the product and dispose of it in a garbage-bagged-lined receptacle placed strategically in the back corner of the yard. Every Monday I take the bag out, seal it tightly, sometimes double bag it and put it out with the city garbage. It is not a bad system.

Alas, life gets in the way.

Now it gets dark much earlier. This time of year it can get quite cold or wet with rain and snow. Skipping a week or even two doesn’t cause a lot of trouble because the receptacle is lined and sealed.

Yesterday I realized I had been procrastinating.

I realized it was time to get the bag out.

Turns out it had been more than a couple of weeks. It was more than three weeks.

The garbage receptacle is not a simple round barrel. It is an ornamental thing designed to look like its wood. It has a lip on the top and a lid with a hinge.

I reached into to get the bag out and realized immediately it was heavy.  The unseasonably warm weather had kept its contents from freezing. Much of it had become liquid or sludgy.

The bag ripped in half and sunk to the bottom of the receptacle. I tipped it over but the contents got stuck all around the lip.

I decided I had to go to work and that I would tackle this problem later.

This morning, just now, was later.

I tipped the thing over and about eighty pounds of a congealed peanut-butteresque substance half plopped out and half stuck at the top of the receptacle. I was still in my slippers and barely awake.

I felt a wave of revulsion surge through me followed by panic. I went and got a supply of rubber gloves, a farming shovel, several garbage bags and I did my best to disassociate from my consciousness.

I shoveled and filled 5 garbage bags. I raked the stones to spread the stuff out. I kept at it despite being totally grossed out. I tried to controll my self-talk about what I was doing. In a half an hour I was done. When the weather is warmer I will get the power washer and clean the receptacle thing of the remnants.

Where’s the therapy metaphor?

1. I learned procrastination has it’s consequences.

2. Getting through something takes work even if you don’t want to do it.

3. Denying a problem only makes it worse.

4. Even though you hate addressing something if you keep at it it will get done.

5. Ignoring what your thoughts tell you can be very helpful in accomplishing something.

6. Sometimes even if you want something done and over you have to finish the job by working on it later.

7. Thinking about this problem now may not be pleasant but knowing it is done lessens its effects.

Now if I can only get this stink of my hands.

Which is often metaphorical for the aftermath of dealing with an issue.

For more articles on basset hounds click here.

For more Free Psychotherapy articles click here.

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Today a guest poem  from basset haiku master Ginny Tata-Phillips. You can find her regularly at:

Why do you scoop

my poop so carefully yet freak

if I consume it?



For more dog blogs click here.

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Writing is tough to do. I love it but its hard, especially when the cold business of publishing wears you down.

I was thrilled when I got a four book contract from my first publisher. The first one hit  the independent Mystery Book Sellers top 10 list and the same organization gave my second book the designation “Killer Book”.

Then later that month I got a letter that my publisher was dropping me.

Luckily another publisher picked up my third Duffy that was in the can and ready to go.

Someone in publishing read my books and told me to write something out of my series because it was very hard to resell a series. I did just that and took a year to write a totally new book. I had friends read it and they liked it.

The publishing pro didn’t.

A year later someone else in the publishing world picked it up and I was psyched. Nine months later the person let me know they were leaving the business and they’d done nothing with the book.

I was worn out. It was hard to be enthusiastic for writing books and as much as I loved Duffy I really didn’t want to write any more. I wanted to throw my energy into magazine work where you write an article and then you get a check. No promises, no hopes and just work. Not as much fun but not as many broken hearts.

There was this problem though. A big, pain in the ass problem.

Career Savers

For years I’ve been letting basset rescue groups auction off a chance to put their dogs in my books. You see, basset people don’t follow Publishers Weekly, Kirkus or other top 10 lists. They like stories where hounds are respected, kidded about and get to be the heroes that they are. They are, without a doubt, the most loyal fans an author could possibly have.

Because I took a year off from Duffy (I did release a short story collection with Ginny Tata Phillips) the auction winners piled up.

Career Savers

That meant I had to finish the damn book. I couldn’t look auction winners in the eye and my wife and I would have to avoid waddles. Well, Sue wasn’t going to allow that. I figured I’d bang out the book and self publish it and be done with it. I had 200 pages to go.

I did it. Then I was going to self publish and Kindle it along with the new book. The problem is to self-pub right it cost about $1200 a book. Right around this time a magazine that was my steadiest form of income folded. My disposable income for self pubbing dried up.

Like I said this business wears you down. I didn’t know what to do. I half heartedly sent it to a couple of minor publishers just hoping that someone would put it out and I could save the money of doing it myself.

I called my buddy JA Konrath and asked his advice. He said to self publish–he’d even lend me the cash or he’d write a letter to the guys at Amazon that had started a new mystery line and were publishing his last Jack Daniels book , Stirred. Joe did that. I didn’t give it much hope.

A month later a guy called me from Amazon. He absolutely loves Duffy. He owns a hound. He didn’t understand why my books weren’t top sellers and he was going to do all he could to change that. That, and he wanted my other stand alone book. Contracts were on the way.

I just looked at the phone. It felt surreal. I shook a little. then a big smile came over my face.

And I thought of all of those hounds. the homeless ones at the waddles, the crazy people who do ANYTHING for them , the people who collect them like potato chips and I thought about those “pain-in-the-ass” auctions. I thought about my wife who organizes these waddle trips for us and makes sure I go. I thought about Joe and Maria Konrath who a month before called me because they wanted help getting their own rescue basset. It was the first time Joe and I connected in a long time. Then he did me a favor.

And my eyes welled.

Then I thought about the great scene that I wrote for all those hounds  (and one Yorkie) who won auctions. They’re all at a luxurious dog spa at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas with Al getting pampered–which is exactly how a rescue hound should be treated.

So I’m sitting here on Thanksgiving with a two book contract with the hottest mystery publisher on the planet and I’m grateful. Wilbur my blind hound woke me up at 2:30 am to go out, Riley hasn’t stopped barking all morning and Roxie hit me in the face while I was drinking  hot coffee. Like a basset owner, I barely noticed and I didn’t mind.

I smiled and realized it was time to say thanks to all the rescue hounds and the crazy people who rescue them for reviving an author’s career.

And Sue is busy making a list of basset hound events she wants to go to this year.

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Hard luck fighter, Duffy Dombrowski, his low-riding basset side kick Al and the boys from AJ’s Bar got some exciting news this week.

Their next adventure, THE VEGAS KNOCKOUT will be published by Amazon’s new mystery publishing line THOMAS & MERCER! T & M already features the work of Ed McBain and authors like JA Konrath and Barry Eisler.

Amazon announced the creation of Thomas & Mercer this past May and it has already garnered a lot of attention in the publishing world as the “Seventh” of the “Big Six” publishers. You can read about T & M here.

In THE VEGAS KNOCKOUT, Al and the boys join Duff for his sparring partner gig in Vegas with the Russian-mob handled heavyweight contender. But while Duff gets one low blow after another in the ring he gets focused on the serial killings of The Strip’s Mexican street workers. Add in some boxing murders, a virgin-prostitute auction, an evil Elvis impersonator, Jerry Number Two’s disappearance and Al’s affection for the working girls and you got yourself the most exciting, raw and satisfying Duffy yet.

THOMAS & MERCER will release THE VEGAS KNOCKOUT as a trade paperback and a Kindle E-book on May 15, 2012.

You can pre-order it here.

THOMAS & MERCER also will be releasing the new mystery, GETTING DUNN. TJ Dunn is fresh out of Iraq suffering with PTSD and grieving the loss of her military fiance to suicide. She drifts into her own world of volunteering on a suicide hotline, exploring her pain in therapy and making a living as an exotic dancer. When she starts to get calls on the hotline warning her that the military suicides she’s hearing about aren’t suicides at all, she’s troubled. When her fiance’s best friend shows up out of nowhere she’s frightened and when she hears about heroin trade that was making corrupt military officers rich, she’s enraged. She decides to fight and go after those responsible for her pain.

Along the way she also runs into a certain left-handed boxer with a basset hound and a penchant for Schlitz.

GETTING DUNN will be released July 31, 2012. You can pre-order it here.

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To order a Duffy book, click on one of the covers to the left.

Hey! The new release DUFFY TO THE RESCUE has been released and I’ll be signing some tonight at the Troy festival at the Uncle Sam Atrium to benefit the Mohawk-Hudson Humane Society–you can get yours from ABC Basset Rescue Slobber Shoppe. Click on the link above.

Here’s the table of contents for the book.

Foreword: Tom Schreck

Ginny’s Intro: Ginny Tata-Phillips

Is a Basset Hound the Dog For You? by Ginny

The Duffy Series by Tom

Haiku by Ginny

The Hound Who Went Moo by Tom

Haiku by Ginny

Al Goes to Agility Class by Tom & Ginny

Haiku by Ginny

Rescue Organization:
All Bassets Cherished by Tom

Haiku by Ginny

Duffy Dog of the Week: Bob by Tom

Haiku by Ginny

Rescue Organization:
Guardian Angel Basset Rescue by Tom

Haiku by Ginny

Riley’s Issues by Tom

Haiku by Ginny

Planter’s Punch by Tom & JA Konrath

Haiku by Ginny

Rescue Organization: BROOD,
Basset Rescue of Old Dominion by Ginny

Haiku by Ginny

Hounding Duffy by Tom

Haiku by Ginny

Al and the Clicker by Tom

Haiku by Ginny

Rescue Organization: House of Puddles by Ginny

Haiku by Ginny

Duffy Dog of the Week: Otis by Tom

Haiku by Ginny

Rotten Riley by Tom

Haiku by Ginny

Duffy, Elvis and a Very Special
Hound Dog by Tom

Haiku by Ginny

Rescue Organization:
New England Basset Hound Rescue by Tom

Haiku by Ginny

A Sad, Yet Happy Tail:
A Tribute to Dreyfuss by Shawn Leslie

Haiku by Ginny

The DuffyVinci Code by Tom

Haiku by Ginny

Al and the Mexican Guy by Tom

Haiku by Ginny

The Right Choice by Tom

Haiku by Ginny

Duffy Dog of the Week: Jamie by Tom

Haiku by Ginny

Al at the Airport by Tom

Duffy By Decision by Tom

Rescue Resources

About the Authors

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To order a Duffy book, click on one of the covers to the left.

This is a love letter.

A long one.

Let me explain.

The night I met my wife, Sue, we had a conversation about her seven cats. She told me how cats love you back and how they each have their own personality. Me, being the psychology professor that I am told her that animals do not have language and therefore don’t have rational thought and are incapable of love.

Yeah, I know.

I fell in love with Sue and we got married. Some of her boarder cats were adopted and two passed away during our courtship but three made it through to our wedding.

It was an adjustment.

My wife sometimes will state something that becomes an immutable fact. She is the least pushy person in the world—almost to a fault but there’s this one thing she does. In this case, after about a year of marriage she declared.

“I reserve the right to get a dog.”

I said “no dogs” and you can’t just state that as a fact.

Sue did not waiver and stood behind her declaration like it was “We prove that these truths be self-evident….” or something like that. Foolishly, I tried to dispute her statement which had become ingrained in her.
Sue’s Dad and Step-mom run a shelter and one day showed up with a cat and a Basset Hound named “Buddy”. I think I had let it slip that of all dog breeds, the Basset Hound, was the most appealing to me. I don’t know if I said that aloud, or Sue saw my Hush Puppies or the clipping about Hugo from the Arthur Miller book or if it was just Basset telepathy.

Sue said she wanted Buddy.

I said no.
The house got very quiet.

For a week.

That Monday Sue came home from teaching sixth grade and presented me with 25 hand written letters from her students on why Buddy should be allowed in. Sue told me he didn’t bark, he just lay around and he was perfectly housebroken.

By Saturday of the next week it dawned on me that if I ever wanted to have a conversation with my wife again I should do something.

You should know that I am not without elaborate manipulation skills and I had a plan.

“Sue, honey, I love you. You know I don’t want Buddy but if it’s that important to you then you can get him.”

The goal—get the husband points for allowing the dog but not actually get the dog.

Genius, right?

In fifteen minutes Buddy was on my part of the couch drooling on my pillow.

Sue lied. Buddy barked—a lot. Every time one of us left the room. He peed in the house, especially if it rained and he wouldn’t let us sleep through the night. He was attached at the hip to Sue. My life would never be the same.

Now, I was the one who got quiet.

A week later while I was sulking in the basement trying to find some peace from all the barking Sue came down the stairs.

Through her tears she said.

“I’ll bring him back today.”

She turned and headed back up the stairs.

Something went through me. I didn’t know what it was but it was very, very clear. There was a voice, a feeling, hell, it might have been a spirit and it had a message.

“Hey, Schreck. Stop being an asshole.”

Before sure got to the top stair, I called to her.

“No! Buddy stays.”

Sue didn’t say “Are you sure?” She didn’t hesitate. She went up the stairs and fed the new member of our family.
My wife likes to say that things happen for a reason. Shortly after we got Buddy I got a new job at Wildwood Programs, an organization that serves people with autism and other disabilities. At Wildwood, they like it when you bring your dog to work and a couple of donors endowed a pet therapy program so you could get your dog trained for free.

Buddy passed the test and he went to work with me often.

He would threaten the life of delivery men barking like a mad dog, he stole the chief operating officers lunch and ate it, he peed on a pile of freshly delivered annual reports (my first big project of my new career) and he left a big steaming pile on the executive director’s carpet.

He also had the habit of doing something else.

He would lie down automatically when a kid came around him for belly rubs. He would lick the faces of children who would squeal or have strange involuntary movements that freak out other dogs. He would obey the commands of kids with autism like some sort of Westminster champion while still ignoring me.

The school staff told me things.

There was the teenager who never formed a relationship outside his classroom until he met Buddy who he took for windsprints. Buddy would perk up and get nuts when he saw the kid and a bond was formed. I got to be friends with the student riding Buddy’s short-legged coattails.
There were kids who behaved in school and got their work done so they could earn a trip to visit Bud.

Buddy became the mayor of the school. Because of him I got to know students. Because of him I got to learn about people with disabilities. Adults from Wildwood would take him to nursing homes where he became a big hit. Often people with disabilities never get to be in the role of helper but with Buddy they were stars.

Buddy taught me a lot. He taught to stop being an uptight jackass. He taught me that shoes, clothes and furniture are objects and not to be given importance when they are chewed through. He taught me that convenience, sleep and peace and quiet are overrated and that I ought to get over being so anal about them.

Buddy died too young. I swore that if I ever got my novels published I would try to tribute him. The books feature Al, a Basset Hound very similar to Bud. Since Buddy we’ve lived with Wilbur, Agnes (a Bloodhound), Riley (a Basset Bloodhound mix) and Roxie (a Bloodhound.) Agnes, too, died too young.

When my books came out my wife and I decided to go to waddles and sell the books and give the money to the rescue groups. Then we started to auction off chances for people to get their name or their dog’s name in upcoming books. When bids started going over $1,000 I was astounded.

What astounded me more was the love, devotion and tenacity of rescue workers. These people drive across the country to save a single dog. They put themselves in harm’s way and give up all semblance of comfort to save hounds. Talk about love and commitment.

In this book you’ll read about some of these people. There’s the paralyzed Basset Hound rescued from China, there’s the Arkansas 11 saved by ABC basset rescue, there’s House of Puddles, a place for senior Basset Hounds—all acts of love that simply blow me away.

As for me, I am, of course, a jackass. Believing that animals can’t love and give of themselves is idiotic. I am smart enough to marry a woman infinitely more intelligent and more loving than me. I’m smart enough to make friends with hound rescue people around the country (and actually the world, now) and I smart enough to listen to what my dogs have to say, which is “Stop taking yourself so seriously. Pay attention to what’s really important. Slow down and experience the tender moments. And while you’re at it—feed me!”

This book contains Duffy short stories, rescue stories, essays on hounds and the very special Haiku, or Bassetku of my friend and dog rescuer, Ginny Tata-Phillips. Ginny’s been raising money for hounds with her Haiku books for years and when I asked her to team up with me on this project she was thrilled. She’s a very cool lady—nuts, especially when it comes to hounds, but very, very cool. All of the money made from this book is going to rescue organizations—not a portion, not a percentage—all of it.

So as I said this is a love letter. It’s to Sue for using any means necessary to get Buddy. It’s to Buddy for enlightening me. It’s to everyone at Wildwood. It’s to Wilbur, Agnes, Riley and Roxie. It’s to Roxie’s namesake. It’s to the rescue people who are angels and above all, it’s to the hounds. The ones that brighten lives and the ones that will when they’re only given a chance.


ps–You can pre-order DUFFY TO THE RESCUE” ABC at