Friday, October 25, 2013

Climb That Fence and Take That Leap

Today's special guest is Philip Johnsey. Raised on a farm and having been a volunteer at different animal rescues, it’s no surprise that his first two published articles were about animals. So it’s only fitting that Phil’s first book is about animals and the connections we share.

From Phil’s first high school job to present, he’s spent his career working with clients, explaining complex ideas in an easy to understand manner.  In addition Phil enjoys exploring the world and sharing those adventures via writing, photography, and videography.

Phil’s credits include, multiple certifications, Reiki master, photographer, author of two blogs, author of a travel column, creates short segments for a local T.V. station and whatever else he can get into.

Kirkus Review:


I asked Phil if he had five things he wish every pet owner knew. Here are his answers below. And Phil, thank you for joining us here today!

Hi! Thank you for the opportunity to swing on by. This topic really made me think more than expected, which I always enjoy. Here are five things I wish every pet owner knew.

In no particular order…..

11.      Pets have distinct personalities: 

That may sound obvious, but if you pay attention, you’ll see they’re very much like people. Some are very easy going and just float along; others demand a lot of attention and will let you know if they don’t get it, some just are playful. For example, Edmund is easy going and mild whereas Amanda needs lot of attention and validation.

2.      Pets are protective on a variety of levels:

We’ve all seen stories of pets alerting owners to fires or other in home physical dangers. Pets can also sense things about people. I’ll never forget the evening my mild mannered, laid back cat decided to have a stare down with a guest. As soon as this guy sat down, Keiko climbed onto the coffee table and just stared at him. She didn’t move an inch and was directly in front of me. The guy became very uncomfortable and even noted he had never had a cat stare him down like that. Keiko wasn’t moving at all and we couldn’t budge her. Later on this guy’s true colors shown and he was not someone we wanted to be around.  Keiko was dead on in sounding the alarm.

33.      Pets are intuitive:

Similar to number two, pets can read us and know what we need. I know when I’m not feeling well or sad both cats will come and stay near me. What’s even more interesting is times I’m quite upset and one will just walk up, rub against me and just stand there. As if to say, “it’ll be fine, I’m here”.  On a fun note, the other morning I was thinking to myself "this would be a good day to take a sick day”. I never said a word, but as soon as I thought it, both of the cats excitedly ran around the house and then headed for the door waiting to be let out.  It’s like they knew: Daddy’s home today, we get to hang out on the porch.

44.      Pets have feelings and emotions:

We all know pets can be happy. Just wave a ball in front of a dog! Yet I’ve seen them display sadness after another pet passed away. I particularly remember a time when Edmund kept trying to get out of the fence and I finally fixed all the escape routes.  He just lay on the patio, as if he had no purpose. He didn’t seem to care much about anything else. Even eating was routine. I changed the patio where he could explore and the life instantly came back. If you want to experience this first hand, take a walk in a shelter and see the animals that are just lying there. Wondering what happened to their owner, will someone take me home?

55.      Pets need attention and love:

This sounds too obvious, but often life can get in the way and we end up giving them food and water and that’s it.  It’s amazing how they wake up when you give them a little brushing, or spend some extra time with just them.  When you give them love and attention, they totally wake up and then show you more affection. It’s a cycle that is worth continuing.

In summary, I’d say that pets are more like people than we think. They have feelings, emotions, personalities, and a special bond with their owners.


Edmund blasts across the yard against my calls to come in. He gleely runs off and I chase him across the grass only to find a unique butterfly or a sky filled with stars. As soon as I stop and admire, Edmund promptly comes to my side and rubs against me.

Do you ever wonder if there is more to your pet's behavior than meets the eye?  Sometimes their antics are more than just random behavior.  Can we learn something about ourselves by watching them?

I believe so and Climb that Fence and Take that Leap is a compilation of personal, inspirational animal stories and the life lessons I gleaned from them.

After enjoying these stories, hopefully you'll enjoy more quality time with your furry friend and know what it takes to Climb that Fence and Take that Leap!


Unconditional love isn’t always easy:

You remember how I said I’d spend more time with her? That became very difficult as the disease progressed. The sickening smell, the drool, and the wet fur made it hard to be near her, let alone pet her.

Whenever she came up to me, there was always a puddle or mark left from her drooling on me or rubbing against me. Anything she laid on or was near captured that smell.

Then one day I looked at her, and she just looked so pitiful. How could I not show this cat who’d been with me eighteen years some love? That was just being selfish and mean. I grabbed some old towels and began to hold her frequently. She just loved it. As soon as I picked her up, she’d just purr away. Yeah, the stink would get through onto my clothes, but that was OK. It was worth it.

It had always been easy to hold her when she was clean. Now that she was stinky and sick was when she needed that affection the most. As much as I loved my cat, there were days where it was difficult to be close to her. Often I’d get upset with her, and I knew that it was my frustration coming out. I just wanted to help her be well.

Unconditional love can be hard sometimes. You have to go way past the funky appearance and the odd smells, and think solely about the other person. You have to think about what it’d be like if you were in that situation. What would you really like?


I don't usually review books, but anyone who knows me knows what an animal lover I am. I couldn't resist asking for a review copy. And to my delight, this book is a real gem. As I read about the author's 18-year relationship with his cat Keiko, it brought back memories of my own pets and how much their lives taught me about living. Both heartwarming and heartbreaking, I was pulled into the drama as Keiko was diagnosed with a type of squamous cell carcinoma that degenerated her entire jaw. The author told of wrapping her in a towel and taking her on car rides, which she adored, as her physical condition waned. Her emotional attitude, however, remained high and that is due (in my opinion) to the caring and loving attitude of her owner, who clearly adored her.

Johnsey takes the story a step further, however, into what Keiko taught him about living each day to its fullest and making every moment count.

He also tells of a turtle he rescued who became a pet and family member, and how the turtle discovered the world beyond his fenced courtyard. While some owners would see the digging under the gate as a nuisance, Johnsey took the role of an observer, discovering why the turtle wanted to explore its world and deepening his bond with this unlikely pet. The result is how much this turtle taught him about broadening his horizons, taking on challenges and never giving up.

A truly heartwarming story is one in which he found sea turtles digging their way out of the sand and making their way to the beach, encountering rocky outcrops and terrain that threatened their lives. Only the size of quarters, he watched and assisted without taking from their unique experiences and tenacity to reach the sea. There were stories of waves pushing them back, of imprints in the sand that swallowed the baby turtles, of rocky ledges with four foot drops, and much more - but their determination to reach the sea and survive was an amazing, inspiring story.

There are many of these stories in which Johnsey observed animal behavior and applied their attitude, problem-solving and tenacity to our own lives, our own challenges and the worlds we make for ourselves. The result is learning how to excel in this life and perhaps, in the process, becoming the type of human that our pets believe us to be.

This is a quick read, if you're looking for entertainment. But it's much more than that: it's a reference book to return to time and again, to re-read the lessons and learn how to apply various principles to our own lives.

Highly recommended reading.


Philip will be awarding a $50 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:

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