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A New Tale for a Rescued Kitten

Bruce’s tale very nearly didn’t start at all. A year and a half ago the bedraggled one-day old kitten was alone on a footpath in the rain.

Bruce just found

Luckily he was spotted by a woman who was walking home from work. She took him home and fed him around the clock to keep him alive.

Bruce being fed

The kitten was named after that other famous orphan, Bruce Wayne.

 

The tiny kitten’s story went viral. He now has over 32,600 Facebook fans from all over the world who hang on his every photo and exploit – including getting to know his “big sister” Jager (also a rescue cat), and changing colour from grey to black.

 

(This video explains how Bruce changed colour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwDe8n9WgMk)

 

Along with climbing trees and frolicking in the garden, Bruce now dedicates himself to raising awareness of other cats and kittens in need. Bruce has helped other cats like DeeDee find forever homes.

Frolicking in the garden (1)

Kathryn van Beek (Bruce’s human) has now written and illustrated a children’s picture book called Bruce Finds a Home.

Bruce Finds A Home book cover

The book, which is based on the story of how Bruce was found, encourages children to care for and be kind to animals.

 

The book supports The Animal Rescue Network, a charitable trust dedicated to helping stray and abandoned cats and kittens.

 

Bruce is currently running a Kickstarter campaign which allows people to pre-order copies of the book. There’s a range of rewards for those who pledge, including custom illustrations and even Bruce’s pawtograph! You can find Bruce’s Kickstarter page here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kathrynvanbeek/bruce-finds-a-home

 

The book is already 87% funded with two weeks of the four-week Kickstarter campaign still to run. We feel sure that Bruce will achieve his goal of releasing his book, supporting The Animal Rescue Network and encouraging children to be kind to animals.

 

(This video documents Bruce’s life so far: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTlHIEyjeuw&t=28s

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Poisoning Perfection

My heart was beating wildly.  Slowly, the teacher made her way around the room.  She stopped at my desk and handed me a white card.  Taking a deep breath, I flipped it over.  YES!  Straight A’s!

My parents expected nothing less.  This could be due to the face that my mother was a teacher.  I remember going on full lock down to study for finals.  When I say “lock down,” I mean that we would study for five hours straight.  Seriously!

If I received an A-, my mom would grill me asking why it wasn’t an A+.  She was not overjoyed like many of my classmates’ parents would have been.  I was held to a much higher standard.

I was not expected to attend an Ivy League college, but I was to do my absolute best every day.  Often times, this meant missing out on doing things with my friends.  Education came first.

Mom revealed to me more recently in my adult life that the reason she demanded so much of me academically is because her mother never took an interest in her schooling.  She knows now that she went overboard, but to me, the damage has been done.  I have carried that pressure for perfection with me into adulthood.

Upon graduating from college, I was so excited to enter the working world.  I saw myself getting a fantastic job that I would absolutely love.  I would continue to work hard like I always had and would be financially rewarded.  I could look at myself in the mirror every day and happily know that I was successful.

What I soon discovered was that the working world is not the same one that my parents had.  The job market was scarce for people with journalism degrees.  People who had retired were having to come out of retirement due to the failing economy.  And those that have the fantastic jobs continue to hang onto them for dear life.

My work ethic and positive personality were hardly ever appreciated by my employers.  And certainly not by my co-workers.  It seemed that I was the “problem child” that “made everyone look bad.”  The dream world that I had created in my mind shattered.

The perfectionist programming did not help me achieve my dreams.  Instead, it made me feel like a huge failure.  I was doing everything that my parents had told me to do, following all of the rules and still getting nowhere.

I began to criticize and internalize everything that I did.  I must not be working hard enough.  My best must not be good enough.  I am not good enough.

In 2016, I self-published my first children’s book, Priceless Penny.  The story chronicles the amazing adoption journey of my tripawd Chiweenie, Penny.  I thought that the book would become an instant best seller.  Visions of television and book store appearances filled my head.

I worked tirelessly on Penny’s social media accounts.  I created and maintained Penny’s website, making sure to upload photos and videos almost daily.  Networking became like a second job.  I was always promoting Penny and her story.

Yet, Penny was not launched into the ranks of animal superstars like Tuna, Nala Cat and Lil Bub.  I could not understand it.  Penny’s story is so special and (being the biased fur mom that I am) she is beyond adorable.  What was I doing wrong?  What I should have been asking myself was why am I comparing Penny to other animals?

Perfection is a dangerous thing.  It makes enjoying life nearly impossible.  I realized that I have spent most of my life beating myself up over things that are beyond my control.  Worse than that, I have been trying to live up to the expectations of others.  I have even gone so far as to actively seek approval for the decisions that I make.

Happiness has not been attainable for me because I have been chasing someone else’s dreams.  The cut throat working world is not for me.  My husband and I have even talked about the possibility of me becoming a stay at home fur mom.  I would love to start my own animal rescue, The Duchess of Spots (named after my and my husband’s first dogs).  My focus would be to rescue differently-abled and special needs animals.

I also want to continue to write books about the animals that I have adopted.  Telling their stories and promoting adoption is something that I am very passionate about.  I want to be a voice for the voiceless.  And I would love to devote more time to volunteering both as a certified therapy dog handler and as a humane educator for the APA of Missouri.

We are not made to be perfect.  We are made to be perfectly imperfect.  Being an individual is what life is all about.  We should chase our own dreams and follow the path that feels right for us.  While I know that my parents may not always approve of my choices, I do know that they love me more than anything in the world, flaws and all.

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Vanishing Virgins

When I was in high school, it seemed that all of the “for teen” movies that came out dealt, to some degree, with the issue of virginity.  In many rom-coms, it was a whispered word that somehow meant you were “unloved” or “unwanted.”  I never understood this concept.

I was blessed enough to be raised by wonderful parents with outstanding morals and high expectations for me.  My blessings doubled when I was confirmed as a full-fledged member of the same church in which my father was confirmed in, my parents were married in and I was baptized in.  There, my morals and beliefs were further strengthened.  And I was never ashamed to be a virgin…EVER!

In fact, I was quite proud.  I love knowing that I truly saved myself for my husband.  And he saved himself for me as well.  I believe that this deepens that bond that we share.  We meant every word that we said in the church on our wedding day.  For better or for worse, my husband is the one (and the only one) for me.

Was the virginal road the easiest one to take?  Not necessarily.  I had my share of boyfriends that tried to push for us to “consummate” our relationship.  And it hurt every time I realized that our relationship had boiled down to a physical act.  All the time that I had spent “being in love” with the person was just a waiting game for him to see if he could “get some.”  Many of the girls that I knew in high school would have given in.  I can remember one girl in particularly that did in the back of a pick-up truck.  Wow, talk about romantic.

This is not what I had envisioned for my first time.  But, sadly, this is how many of the girls lost their virginity.  They swore that they were going to marry their high school boyfriend.  Can I tell you how many actually did?  One.  That’s right.  One.

Whenever one of my boyfriends pushed for sex, I told them to drop it.  If they didn’t, it was curb time for them.  I have always respected myself and my body.  I think that a lot of girls have lost that self- respect.  Many have unhealthy body image issues due to what is shown in the media.  And Miley Cyrus is certainly no help in the “protect your gift” category.  Hollywood portrays sex as something that you have to have to survive.  MTV shows that if you are a “man,” you are sleeping with at least ten random women whose names you cannot even remember.  Heaven forbid you are a woman that wants to wait until marriage.  You should be scantily clad, giving it out like candy to anyone that is interested.

Thankfully, I never believed that my virginity was worth losing.  It was worth giving to the ONE man that I knew I would be with for the rest of my life.  And I will never understand the “sex like a man” concept.  So, you sleep around with tons of different guys.  Why?  You are obviously trying to fill a void from a deeper, unresolved issue.

“Don’t you want to have fun?”  I heard that line a lot.  Isn’t that the same line that people use to try to get you to use drugs and steal and all of those other illegal acts?  Waking up the next morning being filled with regret is not my idea of “fun.”  Having boys begin to spread rumors about you and your “performance” does not sound like much fun either.  But, these girls never thought about that.  Every day, boys were sharing their panty exploits during P.E., at lunch, etc.  I was thrilled to not be the subject of any of them.

Then, there were the girls that were not so “lucky” and ended up getting pregnant.  A few actually decided to have the baby, a very brave choice while in high school.  However, the more “popular” choice was to have an abortion.  These girls thought nothing of going to the clinic several times a month!  Do they not realize that every time they have an abortion, they are greatly reducing the likelihood that they will be able to have a baby when they are actually ready?  Having to make such a gut-wrenching life decision would not be something I would label as “fun.”

And here is something that I think about:  Would you really want that many people to have seen you naked?  What if you bumped into one of the people that you slept with in high school on the street?  Wouldn’t you feel extremely uncomfortable knowing that he/she had seen your…everything?  And how would you introduce that person to your spouse?  “Oh, this is Bob.  We used to sleep together back in the day.  No big deal!”

Keeping my virginity until marriage is one of the best decisions that I have ever made.  When I met my husband, I didn’t have to worry about any children from “baby daddies” or ex-lovers giving him a report on what I’m like in the bedroom.  We never had to have that uncomfortable conversation about how many people we had “been with,” like on the movie “Just Married.”  And with him being a virgin as well, we could focus on what was really important, our love.

So, if you are a virgin, hold your head high!  You are a person who respects yourself and is not willing to compromise your morals.

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BarkWorld Expo 2016

My suitcase had been packed for two weeks.  I meticulously planned each outfit down to what jewelry I would be wearing.  Now the day that I had circled on my calendar had finally arrived.

 

As we began our eight hour car drive to Atlanta, Georgia, I started to imagine what BarkWorld would be like.  Would there be dogs as far as the eye can see?  Would I actually be able to hobnob with celebrities?

 

We checked into our hotel and decided to grab some lunch.  Afterwords, we headed to the Loews Hotel to get registered for BarkWorld.  We received our badges and an epic swag bag.

My official BarkWorld badge!

Check out all of the amazing items in our swag bags!
The first event to be held was Bark in the City.  We were able to dine out on the terrace of the Loews Hotel with other expansion pass holders and their pooches.

I was so excited to see my favorite blogging dog, Preston!

I melted when I met Max!  Look at that underbite!

Meet Echo!  This adorable husky was a perfect gentleman.

Mango is a certified therapy dog with TDI!

On Thursday, we started bright and early with a tour of the CNN building.  Having majored in Mass Communications-Journalism, I loved every minute!

 Live from CNN, it’s Lauren!

 

 

This is an actual set from inside a studio at CNN.

After lunch, we headed back to the Loews Hotel for BarkBites, a speed-dating session for brands and influencers.  It was fast-paced, but we met some amazing people and learned about some truly philanthropic companies.  Shorty Rossi then took the stage with his amazing Pitbull, Francis!

 

 Shorty and Francis were awesome!

 

Bark’s Nite Out was a fun dining event where we got to meet even more fabulous pet influencers and, of course, more dogs!

 Cocoa the Chihuahua could not be any more adorable in that tutu!

 

 This pooch was rescued from Sochi!  He has an issue with one of his back legs, but you would never know it!

 

 

 It’s Instagram sensation Leona the Lion!

 

 Check out Louie rocking that sweater!

 

I always love meeting wheelchair doxies!

Friday was a marathon of keynote speakers.  It was exhausting, but I learned so much!

I was beyond honored to do a book swap with Seth Casteel!

Forget posing with cats!  Travis DesLauier posed with a copy of Priceless Penny!

Aly from Why Does My Dog is a fantastic speaker and an awesome person!

Meeting Deirdre from Pinups for Pitbulls was amazing!  Her passion for Pitbulls is contagious and she is an amazing speaker!

We then took a break to support Tomlyn Products.  They are going to send a case of their product to dogs serving in the armed forces for every photo they are tagged in.
After dinner, we were treated to a private screening of the ASPCA’s Second Chance Dogs!  I only cried at the end.

On Saturday, we listened to more fabulous keynote speakers.  They were hilarious as well as informative.

I was beyond excited to meet Brian Fanzo!  He even flashed the signature peace sign in honor of Priceless Penny!

Meeting Nala cat’s parents was amazing!

I loved listening to presenters Bryan Kramer and Daniel Lemin.

Hamming it up with Shorty and Francis.

I am proud to be a Rescue Hero and support Halo Pets!

April and Binky are from Happy Tabby Cat Cafe right in Atlanta!
I was sad to see the conference end.  I was blessed to make so many new friends who also have a passion for rescuing animals.  All of the celebrities that I met were so friendly and down to earth.  We will definitely be back next year!

This is exactly how I felt at the end of BarkWorld!

 

 

 

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Priceless Penny Book Signing

Penny and I were honored to attend a book signing event for Priceless Penny hosted by the fabulous staff at The Bookworm book store in Carbondale, Illinois!  It may have been raining that day, but nothing could keep true Penny fans away!  Check out photos from the event below.

 Check out the awesome sign on the door of The Bookworm!

 

 

Penny took some time to relax after pawtographing.

 

 

Penny and I were so excited to be at The Bookworm!

 

 

 Penny and I love meeting our readers!

 

Signing books is so much fun!

 

 Penny even made friends with the store cat, Casper!

 Penny Meets Casper

It was love at first sniff!

 

We loved the fantastic table sign that the staff at The Bookworm made for us!

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Priceless Penny

Author Lauren Kramer-Theuerkauf Available from Amazon Priceless Penny chronicles one dog’s amazing journey from lonely stray to pampered pooch. Penny was abandoned by her previous owners and left t…

Source: Priceless Penny

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Nullifying No

My husband is one of the hardest working people that I know.  He goes above and beyond the normal expectations of his job daily.  And he simply refuses to give up on a project until it is completed.  Maybe that is the reason why I only get to see him on the weekends…

Even though *Cole has remained loyal to the same company for six years, promotions seem to be elusive.  When a position does manage to become available, the job is simply handed to someone that is chosen by the powers that be.  No interviews are even offered to interested employees.  So much for loyalty.

I began to see the warning signs two years ago.  New responsibilities were being piled onto my husband without any talk of compensation.  He also found himself working numerous back to back open to close shifts.  Did I mention that he has a two hour commute?

 

While Cole is very proud of the work that he does, I can tell that it is simply wearing him down.  He hardly ever gets enough sleep and he certainly does not have any time to relax or unwind.  I told him that it might be time to start looking for other job opportunities.

 

At first, he seemed excited at the possibility of finding a new job.  Maybe he would finally be able to work a normal schedule.  He might actually be able to spend time with me and our fur babies.  That’s about the time when the no’s started rolling in.

 

Cole would check his e-mail every morning.  I learned to stop asking if he had any nibbles.  Breakfast time was soon filled with expletive laced rants about how unfair the working world is.

By week two, a definite change had come over Cole.  Instead of being angry, he was something far worse:  defeated.  He had completely given up.  All of the rejections had taken their toll on his self esteem.

I am not going to lie; I do not have much sympathy for him.  I know what you are thinking.  How can I be such a heartless wife?  The truth is, I know the great potential that lies within Cole.  I also know that he has a tendency of being meek.  When life pushes him around, he refuses to push back.

 

However, I find that the “no’s” in life are what fuel my passion and drive to succeed.  I see every “no” as a challenge.  A chance to shatter all expectations and show the world what I can do.

 

I refuse to let the “no’s” define me.  When one bank refused to give us a loan for our house, I did not sit in a corner and cry.  I grabbed the phone book and started dialing.  We have now been in our wonderful home for four years.

 

I wrote a manuscript for a children’s book about our three-legged dog, Penny.  I sent my story to every literary agency that I could find.  The flood gates of rejection soon opened.

 

Most were just generic canned messages.  Some stated that there isn’t a market for my story.  Others claimed that it did not have a hook (something to grab the reader’s attention).  But something inside of me refused to give up.  I was determined to prove the naysayers wrong.

 

I decided to self publish my story.  I even went a step further and created my own company:  Theuerkauf’s Tails, LLC.  The illustrations have been tested on children in my target audience group.  The result?  Children love Penny!

 

The book, Priceless Penny, is going to be published at the end of this month.  The book launch party is being held at Stray Rescue St. Louis.  Penny and her amazing spirit are going to change the way that people view differently-abled animals.

 

Cole needs to realize that there is great power in the word “no.”  It should never be seen as an ending, but a chance to fight for a new beginning.

 

*Name has been changed

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