Animal Assisted Therapy–, Health Benefits –Dogs, “Men’s BEST Friends!

Most of us don’t need science and research to feel the benefits of having pets. I refer to dogs because their unconditional love is what I have been experiencing directly, for years .I know  cat lovers or any animal lovers in general, could vouch for their favorite type of animal-companion and their importance in their lives. 

The story I am about to share happened years ago, in communist Romania.

When I was eighteen I rushed into marrying my high school sweetheart and  moved on our own. It was not clear if  our parents approved or disapproved, as we eloped. Fact is, my mother gave us money to buy a bed.On our way to the store, we crossed path with a drunk man  dragging a small, black dog, screaming and cursing his ex-wife and threatening to kill her dog if he couldn’t find a buyer. We stopped and I asked in horror: “Sir, how much is the dog?”

“How much do you have?” the man responded. (I guess, he wasn’t THAT drunk!!!)

We told him how much we had to buy a bed and such a coincidence!!! The amount we had was EXACTLY the price of the dog!!!:)

 We spent the following year saving  money for a bed and sleeping on the floor, cuddling with the dog and each other.

From times immemorial it has been known that humans and their animal (pet) companions have shared a strong bond. ( but to be accepted,  the benefits of animal assisted therapy had to be proven scientifically, and it had.

As early as the mid-1990s in Abington, PA (USA),  my dog Gretel and I belonged to a  dog therapy group and  regularly visited Abington Hospital and  area nursing homes. Animal Assisted Therapy works for the young and the old alike .It works for everyone who loves animals.It has been proven to lower blood pressure, lower anxiety and  makes for an overall happier environment. A 1998 article by E. Richart points out the successful use of Animal Assisted Therapy as an adjunct to play therapy and therapeutic storytelling.The many benefits of specially trained “service” dogs to help the blind and people with disabilities, could make the topic of a whole other post.

So… if it is generally accepted and scientifically proven that our companion pets are beneficial, why are there so many communities and condominium complexes and hotels, and places for rent which do not allow residents/visitor to have a pet companion?  Why so many hotels still do not allow our “best friends,” to travel with us?

The good news, is that more and more hotels are changing their policies to allow companion pets. It seems  the West Coast  hotels are more pet friendly.Also,there are pet friendly hotels in Chicago, IL, some in  Florida  ( Miami and Tampa) and in New York City.

For details, please visit:  or search “popular pet friendly destinations.” 

Part of the “good news,” is the implementation of dog  therapy in  some colleges, as it has been proven, it helps with anxiety and stress. I find it significant that many of these programs started in law schools and medical schools, both known as high stress professions.

I am  more familiar with the dog therapy program started in June, 2013 at the Countway Library of Medicine at Harvard ( but there are pet assisted therapy programs on the raise in many colleges.

At Countway Library of Medicine, Harvard, Cooper, a Shih-Tzu puppy was included as part of the library staff. He keeps half-hour sessions, twice a week. Students and staff with proper i.d.may spend  half- hour sessions cuddling or playing with Cooper!

Similar programs are also available at ten other colleges, according to the article entitled,  “10 Top Colleges with Successful Pet Therapy Programs.” (01/23/12)

It is about time to acknowledge and respect men’s best friends for the UNCONDITIONAL love they offer us, the humans, and perhaps learn from them… 

REMINDER— Good news, bad news!

Hello friends,


Bad news first:

Please remember TODAY, January 26, 2014 FIRST CLASS stamps go UP 3 cents.


Good news:

If you bought FOREVER stamps they are still good and you do not have to purchase an additional three cent stamp to mail a letter.

If you are not sure if what you have is a forever stamp, please check with your post office.  It would be more costly to have your letter returned for insufficient funds. 

Have a great week everyone and stay safe!

I shall pray for you! What does that mean exactly? …and does it have the same meaning for everyone?

I believe in the power of prayers, but over the years, I couldn’t help observing that some people use this phrase:” Oh, so sorry, I will pray for you,” when in my heart I know they just said something “nice” and non-commital,” rather than just saying sorry or I hope it gets better or actually helping a person in a more palpable way.

For many the fact that this very important word, prayer, is taken lightly or misused, resulted in daubs for many.

For me  prayers DO EXIST but they take certain conditions, such as a dedicated peaceful time and above all Faith!

I am  wondering, how many times I said “I’ll pray for someone,” and thought of them all day, sending love and healing, but not actually taking the time to focus in silence, light a candle and be on my knees, focused  on their problem alone. I have been more of a doer to show my faith, It could  be a ride when someone was sick, or a loaf of bread, or making soup for the elderly in a church group.

As I lack the hard cash, I try to help through my skills. But these acts are not prayers, more like community service.

When I realized that what I did was not true prayer, I changed the wording to “I am sending good, positive vibes your way,what can I DO for you in a tangible way!”  I  show my Faith by doing something concrete.

I  am a believer of the saying “God helps those that help themselves.”  As a result, I took out of my vocabulary and thoughts  the words “never, impossible, may be,” and replaced them with attainable specific goals (of course, that did not include becoming an opera singer, that would be delusional.) 

As I was writing this post, I remembered  a group of nuns in whose prayers I do believe, defining prayer as needing “peace and  quiet. Please, don’t take me wrong, no doubt others pray in their various ways, I am ONLY sure of what I experienced personally.

With that in mind, I recalled a visit I paid many years ago with my friend Cassandra, to her friend, a Carmelite nun in a monastery, in Philadelphia. As visitors, we were allowed to speak with Cassandra’s friend, the Carmelite nun, through the bars. I learned that this incredible nuns do not speak among themselves, they are SILENT. They speak only if they had a visitor or an emergency. Their whole life was dedicated to prayers.

Today, I wanted to learn more about them, before I shared with you, and researched the Carmelite nuns origins. Thanks to “Catholic Voice,” the article “Peace and Quiet,” by Naomi Fallon, I learned that the nuns” take vows of obedience, chastity and poverty and make their business to pray for other. Prayers could be requested by letters, in person or by telephone.

” As stated in this article, the nuns say: ” The essence of our vocation is prayer and seeking union with God.”They have two books of prayer, one for the living and one for the dead. 

The order was founded in 1865 by Lyons in France at Fuhham ( They are vegetarian and the Prioress makes the decisions. At Mass, there are six lit  candles  on the altar, and a seventh is lit if the Bishop visits.

Their motto: “To Thee O God Silence is Praise!”

“There women, 500 years after Saint Teresa of Avila, who are giving their all to God.” (quote from  the Bishop’s speech,( 

There are many Carmelite locations around the world, and personally, as one who loves to talk, I admire their comittment to silence and prayers. 

To me, personally, what they do is prayer, as I imagine it in its perfect form, requiring  peace and quiet and a dedicated, focused intention  on the subject of prayers.

I have heard of many forms of prayer, but I would love to hear back from the readers of this blog:

What does prayer mean to you? Did you have a personal experience with prayers working for you?

Cranberry Bread to Soothe Your Senses on a Winter Day

If you are stuck at home on this winter day, as I am, one of the best ways to get a natural “lift,” is to bake!

There is nothing as uplifting as the smell of freshly baked bread. In fact, I know that if you sell your home and you work with a skilled real estate agent (and if you read this post, YOU become skilled:) one of the many other things that help is an attractive smell in your home. I’d venture to say, an attractive smell in anyone’s home is important. Why? Well… that’s for another post.

Back to cranberry bread!!!

I am one of the few who doesn’t read labels:) so for years I bought the Ocean Spray Fresh Cranberries bags but never LOOKED on the back of the bag. So, if you do have such a bag in your refrigerator, READ  this post NO MORE!!!

This recipe is taken from the back of such an Ocean Spray bag (and if you wonder, NO, Ocean Spray, or any other entity do NOT pay me to write this blog) I do it voluntarily, because I like to share the things that helped me or make me happier, and hope it will help someone else.

Feel free to substitute, or in the case of nuts to avoid, as many are allergic. I have never been big on rules and following EXACTLY what I am told, so feel free to improvise. The worst it could happen is you give the bread to the birds (I don’t think they are allergic) and would appreciate on a cold winter day when everything is covered by  frozen snow. In my country of origin, Romania, we called such  sunny but very cold days, “soare cu dinti.” That means:” Sun with teeth,”  because it is so deceiving. You go outside seeing the beautiful sunny day and when you are outside the coldness “bites you” (this is a figure of speech, of course.) However, be careful, it is slippery.

Here is the recipe:

2 Cups flour

1 Cup sugar

1 1/2  Teaspoon  Baking Powder

1/2 Teaspoon baking soda

3/4 Cup orange juice

2 Table spoons vegetable oil

1 Tablespoon grated orange peel

1 Egg, well beaten

1 1/2 Cups Cranberries (I use the fresh ones, the recipe says frozen)—chopped

1/2 Cup chopped nuts (I don’t because they are too expensive) –optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together all the dry ingredients first and add the other ones. At the end stir in the cranberries and nuts. Mix well, grease your baking pans and pour in equal amounts. 

These quantities make according to the original recipe one loaf. I use small baking pans and I get four.

It makes for a wonderful, “attention, thank you” gift with a nice hand written note (not text:) 

Bake at 350 for 55 minutes IF you have ONE loaf. If not, just check the oven until the loaf is hard in the middle. Use gloves, do not burn yourself, as I did!

Enjoy your “soare cu dinti” winter day and your baking therapy!!!!




Winter snow storm — How to keep safe! Easy steps to take so your PIPES don’t freeze !

Here in Central PA we are expecting the biggest storm of this winter.

The amount of snow will vary from  area to area, however the temperatures will drop to as low as 4 degrees.

Our local news advises, if you drive, to leave  6 car length between cars, and  keep your car lights ON if your wipers are on, also to buy food for about 2-3 days because this is going to be the biggest storm of this winter, so far.

My concern, since I already decided to cancel my morning appointments, is FREEZING pipes.Why? I assume at least one person doesn’t know that if water freezes in the pipes, they expand (ice) when the temperatures raise again, there is a good possibility the pipes will BURST!

Here are a few tips on how to avoid this potential disaster, thanks to our local CBS 21  news station and Red Cross:.

1. Keep the water trickle (movement of water will prevent freezing))

2. Open your cabinets in kitchen  and bathroom.

3. Keep your temperature in your home at at least 67 degrees..

 4.   Keep the SAME temperature throughout day and night..

If your pipes are insulated, congratulate yourself. If not, do the above, hope it helps and in the spring visit Home Depo or Lowes and buy pipe insulation.

Don’t forget the movies, pop corn and hot chocolate or hot cider. and other beverages to keep you warm and happy:).

Good luck. Stay Warm! The good news, nothing is permanent. You might want to buy your air conditioner now!