From the publisher—
This is the true story of Bear and Whiskers, two dogs who came to our sanctuary. For 10 years they lived a life like no other, roaming free and living off what they caught in the hundred acres of woods surrounding us. And they ruled the streets of the neighborhood, daring any dog—or human—to intrude upon their territory. People complained. Some people even thought the dogs should be put to sleep. What these people didn’t realize is that we were the ones encroaching on Bear’s territory. This was his street and his neighborhood. And he had recruited Whiskers to help him rule it.
Go ahead, grab that box of tissues ’cause you’re gonna need ’em before you finish this book. Heck, before you finish the first chapter, but you’re also gonna laugh and smile and feel generally pretty darned good about people like Giacomo and his wife, Mikki, as well as their wonderful 4-footed companions.
Animal stories are nearly impossible to dislike unless they’re full of abuse and other bad stuff but I knew before I signed on that this would not be that type at all. What lifts this book above many others of its ilk is the relationship these two dogs have with each other, their loyalty to and love for each other, and their dedication to protecting their humanfolk without actually living with them. This aloofness, for lack of a much better word, is different from what we normally see; after all, dogs are either usually very attached to humans or they run in semi-wild packs. Neither is the case with Bear and his pal, Whiskers—they care for and protect their humans and all the other sanctuary animals but they do it on their own terms. And I fell madly in love 😉
Whiskers and Bear have a unique, charming, totally heartwarming story and I urge you to buy this little book. It isn’t big, won’t take you more than an hour or two to read, but you’ll be so glad you did and you’ll help the sanctuary, too 😉
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2017.
An Excerpt from Whiskers & Bear
I climbed up onto the tractor, a Kubota 4630, with a six-foot bucket on the front. It was a powerful machine, and we’d put it through the hoops more than a few times. What I mean is that my wife Mikki and I had dug a lot of graves.
I tied an old cloth diaper around my forehead and draped the end of it over the top of my bald head. There wasn’t much better than a cotton cloth for keeping sweat out of your eyes, or the sun from burning your head. I turned the key and revved the engine. After letting it idle a moment, I lifted the bucket and drove toward the south side of the property where Mikki was waiting for me. She’d already gotten a few blankets and a clean sheet. For this one, she’d brought a pillow, too.
I reached up and wiped my eyes. I was getting damn tired of burying things.
An old white pickup crept down the gravel driveway, coming to a stop near the fence.
A neighbor leaned out and hollered. “What’s goin’ on?”
I wished he’d have kept going.
“Nothin’,” I said, but not loud enough for him to hear.
The door opened, and he stepped out and walked over to the fence, using his right hand to shield his eyes from the sun as he peered over the top rail.
“What are you doin’?”
I could see there was no getting away from it. I muttered my answer a few times so my voice wouldn’t crack when I yelled.
“Diggin’ a grave,” I hollered back.
“A grave? Which one died?”
Which one? That’s what it had come to for most of the neighbors and relatives and friends. Which one died. As if it didn’t matter. As if having forty-five animals made it easier to deal with when one of them died.
He came in through the side gate and headed in my direction. He walked slowly, which gave me time to compose myself. It’s never easy to bury a friend, but this one…this one was special.
Mikki walked over to me. “He’s just trying to help.”
I don’t need his help, I thought, but the fact of the matter was I could probably use it.
It hadn’t rained in weeks, and the damn Texas ground was as hard as concrete. Even if the tractor did cut through, it could only go so deep; we’d have hand work to do at the bottom.
Our neighbor was about twenty feet away. He took off his hat and swiped at his forehead. It was a scorcher today and had been for a month or so.
“Who was it?” he asked.
I couldn’t say, but I managed to gesture toward Mikki. She lifted the corner of the blanket so he could see.
“Oh shit!” he said. “I’m sorry.”
“Thanks,” I said.
He unbuttoned his shirt and grabbed a shovel I had leaning against a small oak tree. “Might as well get this done.”
I nodded again. He was right, of course, but I was in no hurry to put another friend in the ground. I cranked the engine up a little higher, shoved the tractor into low gear, and positioned the bucket for the first scoop of dirt. The bucket hit the ground with a metallic thud. It didn’t do much more than break the surface.
“Whew!” the neighbor said. “Going to be a long day.”
“That’s for sure.”
“How long have they been with you?” he asked.
They. I thought about what he said. I would have laughed if not for the circumstances. Everyone referred to the two of them as one. They or them. Bear and Whiskers. Whiskers and Bear. It was a cold day in July if anyone mentioned one without the other.
I handed him my bottle of water; he looked thirsty.
“They’ve been with us a long time. A damn long time.”
Excerpt from Whiskers and Bear by Giacomo Giammatteo. Copyright © 2017 by Giacomo Giammatteo. Reproduced with permission from Giacomo Giammatteo. All rights reserved.
A PLEA FOR HELP
Out of all the books I’ve written (almost thirty), this one is closest to my heart. For twenty-four years, my wife and I have run an animal sanctuary, providing homes for dogs, cats, pigs, horses, and even a wild boar. I don’t know how many animals we’ve had through the years in total, but at one time, we had as many as fifty-five.
I don’t often ask for help, but this is important. We have run this sanctuary for twenty-four years using our own money—no donations to speak of. The feed bill alone was more than a thousand dollars per month. And there are plenty of other bills, vets, fencing, shelter, medical supplies, and more.
In early 2015, I had two heart attacks followed by two strokes. The result was that it left me disabled. Now it is difficult to continue paying for everything.
I wrote this book in the hopes that it would sell enough to help with the funds, as all sales go to the animals. And I mean that—every penny goes to help support them—nothing for anyone else.
About the Author
When Giacomo isn’t writing, he’s helping his wife take care of the animals on their sanctuary. At last count they had 45 animals—11 dogs, a horse, 6 cats, and 26 pigs.
Oh, and one crazy—and very large—wild boar, who takes walks with Giacomo every day and happens to also be his best buddy.
Follow the tour:
4/01 Author Of The Month @ CMash Reads
4/08 Author Of The Month @ CMash Reads
4/15 Author Of The Month @ CMash Reads
4/22 Author Of The Month @ CMash Reads
4/28 Review @ JBronder Book Reviews
4/29 Author Of The Month @ CMash Reads
5/01 Review @ Mochas, Mysteries and Meows
5/02 Guest post @ Mochas, Mysteries and Meows
5/03 Showcase @ Socrates Review Blog
5/05 Showcse @ Books, Dreams, Life
5/06 Review @ Buried Under Books
5/07 Guest post @ Loris Reading Corner
5/08 Interview @ BooksChatter
5/09 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews
5/10 Showcase @ Bookalicious Traveladdict
5/11 Review @ BookLove
5/12 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews
5/13 Review @ Lauras Interests
5/14 @ I am not a bookworm!