Now in Paperback

dog-coverWhat does grief look like when your pet dies?

Is people psychology the same as dog psychology?

Should a person be embarrassed about preferring animals to people?

What is the strongest antidote to suicide?

What can a dog owner do to stop the barking habit? 

In bed, who is Top Dog?

Ella Duncan’s lifetime with dogs answers these questions and many more in SLEEPING DOGS NEVER LIE, a novel of surprising depth and magnetism.

  • Available now at


The First Time

     I grew up in a family that hunted deer, ducks, quail, and rabbits. I learned early how to shoot a rifle and a pistol, and I am still a good shot, though I would never think of owning a gun. I am a vegetarian and pacifist. So, besides the logical arguments against gun ownership, such as shooting myself by accident with or without an aggressor in my home, such as endangering children, such as avoiding the temptation of killing someone in the heat of an insane argument, besides those things, I believe in non-violent solutions.

     With the epidemic of mass murders by Americans, it seems prudent to require people to register for a gun purchase, to demand a background check to prevent felons and emotionally handicapped individuals from buying a gun, and to have a waiting period before someone receives a gun. This certainly does not stop a sane person from owning a gun for any legal purpose. In fact, it ensures that qualified gun owners have their rights preserved, rather than tarnished by crazy killers.mp900315556

     For similar reasons, assault weapons and arms with the sole purpose of military usage are exempt from 2nd amendment protection. My neighbor next door does not need a tank in the driveway.

     However, for the first time in my life as an educated liberal, I can understand needing an AK-47. Under the radical regime which now rules Washington D.C., the possibility of a military junta to change the presidency into a dictatorship is within the imaginable scenarios for the U.S.A.  Americans would fight against that.

     As I understand the 2nd Amendment, it was composed to ensure a national militia could stand up to protect the country against a tyrant who wanted to overthrow the government. Hunting was not the issue at the end of the 18th century.

     I will not buy a gun. I will not become a gun advocate. I will continue to believe that citizens of the United States can protect their constitutional rights through protest, through judicial recourse, and through the strength of human logic.

     But still, just saying, who knows….


The Beast with Breasts

     Helmut Newton’s pictures of the female body show her to be an animal. Not an animal of the Playboy Bunny ilk to aggrandize masculine egos, although his oeuvre includes models wearing rabbit ears. No. His female animal is a palpitating splendid creature like her male counterpart. Communicating such life in the two dimensions of photography is quite an art.

     In the current exhibition of works by the portraitist and fashion photographer for Vanity Fair, an assortment of pubic hair is made public. Most of the pubic hair is untrimmed, or trimmed only a bit. It is good to see real pubic hair instead of tweezered, plucked, shaved, waxed nothingness.

     Newton’s subjects often seem like animals caught in the glare of headlights during a private thought or action.  The physicality of the models is extraordinary. Several of his models had breasts and showed them.


     Well, of course. What is extraordinary about that? Generally speaking, women have breasts. To a certain extent, men also. Newton presents breasts belonging to young, healthy, beautiful white women, and still the breasts range in size and shape dramatically, like dogs, as different as Chihuahuas and Saint Bernards.

     Add in breasts of women of different ages, weights, and colors, and the variety is astounding. The diversity includes nipples. Big, flat, dark, minuscule, beige, poofy, you name it, and it exists.

     How is a girl supposed to know if her breasts are within the range of “normal” as she matures? Someone must tell her that no matter how she looks, she is perfectly formed. She has breasts that fit the standard gamut of women, an array so broad it is surprising we are a single species.

2017 version of Napalm

She left Vietnam to live in Tunsia when she was 9 years old.  She moved to France when she was 17.  She is 58 now, a full-time physical therapist, with a son preparing to go to university.

She visited the United States in 1999.  She toured New York City and loved it.  Then she went to Minnesota.


Minnesota.  She has cousins who live and work in Minnesota.  Like her, they were refugees, fleeing their homeland destroyed by napalm during the Vietnam war.

She remembers living in fear.  She remembers living with a military curfew.  I remember being against the war.

She does not blame me or other individuals for the war.  She rationalizes that governments ruined her country.

If her cousins needed asylum now, the great expanse and the heart-warming opportunities in the United States of America would not be their choice, and probably not an option.  After all, the U.S. is being dismantled, one element at a time:  Freedom of speech and press, Freedom of Religion, Separation of Church and State, Department of Education, Environmental Protection, Social Security, NEA, Parks and Wildlife.  The list continues.

Canada, perhaps, still aware that people are the most valuable resource in a country, Canada would open its arms to them.  And Australia.  Maybe Sweden.


Spilt Milk

mp900175436My friend insists we must write our congressional representatives.  “They have to listen to their constituents.  They will want to be re-elected so they have to listen!”  I will write and resist.

But also, I offer the alternate voice, which I hope is wrong:  There is no writing to your congressperson demanding justice, demanding constitutional rights, demanding your voice be heard.   Not any longer.

The new president of the USA has taught Americans how to get what they want.  If they want power, they can invite foreign influence and funds to manipulate elections.  Gaslight, lie, yell, and smile.

On the other hand, as trump demonstrated, winning an election that way is so easy.  Why bother to have elections at all? Merely announce that XYZ has won; refuse to allow the press to say differently; then condemn anyone who disagrees with the outcome.

We will no longer have elections.  They would pose a security risk.  We can have reality shows staged to look like elections on TV, but finally there will be better shows to script.

Those who have taken power want money and pleasure?  Change laws so the people have to pay more taxes, shrink and then eliminate their social security savings, cancel minimum wage, increase oil production on government-owned land and parks, open channels of international tax shelters, relegate women and people of color to servant status again. Voila!

Militants will be allowed to be militant for the spectacle of it all, for a short time.  Then they will be silenced.

The time to have been militant has passed.  It would have been better to have shown up in million-person masses at the debates and the voting booths of 2016, instead of impotently waving signs now.

But ultimately, it would not have mattered if the marches had been 21 January 2016, instead of 21 January 2017, because a few greedy men in a private room lined with naked women decided to take power no matter what.

Great civilizations have generally fallen after 200 years.  The Great American Experiment has had a longer run than that.  We were lucky.  Now, it’s all over but the crying.