Traveling Dog Lady: About


Hello! My name is Kathleen Mandell*, and I'm the Traveling Dog Lady.

The purpose of this blog is to tell you, the reader, about my experiences with my pets. I'm one human, and I'm outnumbered by cats and dogs.  At last count, there were five of them, and only one of me.

I am a pet parent who writes essays about dogs, cats, pet loss, grief and bereavement, and other topics during my spare time from my "real job" as a travel executive with Passports Educational Travel. I have been in the student travel industry since 1984, and I am a contributor on Passports' blog "Going Places"

I also am the steward of the website which is an archive of the life of Gil Markle, the original owner and founder of Long View Farm recording studios in Massachusetts; last but definitely not least, I'm an amateur photographer and videographer.

I live in South Carolina with my husband, Brad; my twin dogs Charlie Brown and Cooper, who is a tripawd (three-legged dog); and a third dog who is "the boss" of the pack, Petey; we also have three cats, Cali, Tux and Newman. 

I have shared my life with dozens of dogs and cats since childhood, and am proud to have cared for many senior pets as well as experiencing the grief and loss that comes along with that process.

I was a "crazy cat lady" years before I became a "crazy dog lady", even though I've had both cats and dogs my whole life.  I understood cats, even though I was attacked by one when I was 7 years old, and nearly lost an eye. In fact, that incident propelled me to understand what makes cats tick.

I've been accused of being both a class clown, and an inspiration.  Apparently, I have a good sense of humor, but when I write about my beloved pets, it often makes my readers cry.

I've endured a lot of loss in my life, starting with the death of my paternal grandfather before I was even born;  losing both my mother and brother in 2009; a childhood friend and my beloved dog, Hector, in 2011; and culminating with losing the two loves of my life within one month of each other in the spring of 2015:  my "not-husband", Dr. Gil Markle; and our dog Hobie.

Because of these losses, I have discovered that I am a resilient person, even though I feel like the loss of people and pets I have loved has sort of "defined" me. 

Contact me by email:

*Formerly Kathleen Mueller

The cast of dog characters

Timba, a black labrador retriever, possibly mixed with something else. Timba went to work with me every day, lived to be 18 years old, and was my most loyal and best friend for the first half of my adulthood.  A friend borrowed some money from me, and signed over his dog, Timba, as collateral in the event that he couldn't repay the loan.  He couldn't repay the loan.  I got the dog.  Timba was with me from 1983 through May of 2001. 

Hobie, a yellow lab/shepherd mix, probably a black mouth cur.  Hobie was being kept in a no-dogs-allowed, third-floor apartment in a nearby city.  A big time barker, the family who had him couldn't keep that a secret for very long. A co-worker put a note in the break room where I work announcing a dog that needed a good home.  Timba was getting on in years, and I needed a walking partner.  The dog was brought to my office so I could meet him.  Our eyes met, and it was love at first sight. Timba taught him everything she knew, and he forwarded the information to his protegees, Charlie Brown and Cooper.  Sadly,Hobie, the canine love of my life, was the only pet I've ever had to euthanize.  RIP Hobie:  January 6, 2000 - April 25, 2015. 

Hector, a Heinz-57 hound mix, probably some kind of herding dog in there, too.  Hector was born on our friend's farm one week before 9/11. We adopted him only 5 months after Timba died. Working in the travel business, the aftermath of 9/11 was really hard -- to blow off some steam, I'd go to the farm and play with the puppies on Friday afternoons. Hobie actually chose Hector... he walked over to the litter of pups playing on the ground with me and flipped Hector over with his nose.  "That's the one!"  The two were a bonded pair for 10 years, when, tragically, Hector's life was cut short from a mysterious medical event just one week before his 10th birthday.  Hector was the nicest dog in the whole world.  He was happy-go-lucky, well-behaved and loved everyone.  Hector Hount:  September 4, 2001 - August 28, 2011.

Charlie Brown, a hound/collie mix we adopted 5 months after Hector died (anyone see a pattern?).  We had decided our next dog would be a combination between Hector and one of Gil's earlier dogs, Schulz, a collie mix.  Once again, I wasn't really looking, but there on Facebook/PetFinder stood a little cutie named Charlie Brown who was a hound/collie mix.  Combination between Hector and Schulz, indeed!  Not to mention that his name was already Charlie Brown (the cartoon character created by... wait for it... wait for it....  Charles SCHULZ!).  Charlie and his 6 litter mates, along with their mama, were found in an abandoned house in Tennessee on November 11, 2011 (that'd be 11/11/11 for anyone who's paying attention).  The house was about to be torn down, and a worker heard noises coming from a closet inside the house.  In the closet were a mother dog and eight newborn puppies.  The well-meaning worker brought them to a shelter, but as most of us know, shelters in Tennessee are anything but sheltering!  Enter Great Dog Rescue of New England, who scooped up the entire little family, dubbed them Kate Plus Eight, and promptly brought them to Massachusetts just in time for Christmas where they lived with a foster family until they were old enough to adopt out.  I picked up Charlie Brown, sight unseen, on a warm January day in 2012.  He was the last of the litter to be adopted out, having been called "the pack leader" in his PetFinder bio, and being not yet housebroken, I knew we were in for a big challenge, to say the least.

Cooper, seven months later, I and the other adoptees of the "Kate Plus Eight" brood received an email from the folks at Great Dog Rescue... Charlie Brown's little brother, Cooper (the runt of the litter), was being returned to rescue by his original adopters who were moving out of the country and could not take the dog with them.  To complicate matters further, Cooper's right, front leg was badly broken and had healed incorrectly due to the family being unable to afford appropriate medical care for his injuries that were sustained some weeks earlier.  Veterinarians were unable to save his leg, and it would need to be amputated.  Cooper was just 9 months old.  Rescue wanted to know if any of us other adopters would want to add him to our family.  I replied to the email (I believe I used the words "It's tempting but I would be crazy to do it"), and declined, but did send out a bulletin to everyone I knew by email asking if they knew anyone who could adopt the poor little guy.  The flood of responses I got back were all pretty much identical, to the tune of:  "Do I know anyone?  Um, yeah... YOU!"  And there ya have it.  We adopted Cooper in late August of 2012, exactly one year after Hector died, almost to the day. 
If you've ever read the book "A Dog's Purpose" (and if you haven't what're you waiting for?), then you might fancy the notion that dogs get reincarnated.  Years and years before I read that book, I always said that Hector was Timba reincarnated, they were so very much alike!  I like to think that Hector was so special, so much larger than life, that his reincarnated spirit, heart and personality couldn't possibly fit into just one dog, and that's why we had to have the twins, Charlie Brown and Cooper... to get all of Hector's "stuff"!





The cast of cat characters






Love Kitty



Mr. Kitty






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  1. Hi! I'm the 2nd half from the A-Z Prep Blog Hop and I'm going around saying hello to everyone who has joined! So glad to meet you and can't wait to see what the A-Z Challenge brings us. :)

    I love your cast of characters! That's a great way to categorize the pets who've made a difference in our lives. :)

    1. Hello! Thank you so much for reaching out, I look forward to the A-Z Challenge! Your feedback about my site is most appreciated. I'm a little backlogged on the animals' bios. May be a good project for this weekend.
      Thanks again :)


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