"It had been a rough couple of years in our home, and I had discovered with my first book how cathartic it could be to write,” says Cayr Ariel Wulff, an author, artist and animal advocate. “It was like therapy to sit down and pour out all of my thoughts and feelings onto the pages.”
For the last 26 years, Wulff has volunteered in animal rescue. In 2007, she released her first book, “Born Without a Tail,” which chronicles the true-life adventures of two animal rescuers living with an ever-changing house full of pets.
This past year she unveiled her second novel, “Circling the Waggins: How 5 Misfit Dogs Saved Me from Bewilderness,” which follows Wulff and her companion, Dalene, as they maneuver through one unexpected pet incident after another while living in a cabin in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Although both books are memoirs, she explains that they are very different. “Born Without a Tail” tells the stories of 20 animals who have shared her life. While it’s chronological, each chapter stands alone and is devoted to a single animal.
“ ‘Circling the Waggins’ is more of a story with a beginning and an ending. It tells the story of some 27 animals over the course of two years, who lived in our home and took root in our hearts,” she says. “Between the two books, I learned that readers prefer an ordered timeline, and I learned to relax more in my style of writing.”
Like her first novel, “Circling the Waggins” is an incredibly personal story. Its depiction of the ups and downs of sharing your life with animals has reached out to those who have experienced the same heartache and joy. According to Wulff, some of what happens in the story was very difficult to write about and the memories were bittersweet.
“The hardest part was being introspective and honest with myself about what I was thinking and feeling about the various experiences as I related them. It’s hard to admit your faults and failures, but I had to own them,” she says. “It was a challenge to write about those difficulties without making it so sad that nobody would want to read it.”
Wulff has recently completed a guide for people who want to do more for animal rescue awareness but don’t know where to start. She plans to release the new book, “How to Change the World in 30 Seconds: A Web Warrior’s Guide to Animal Advocacy Online,” later this year.
“I wish that more people would realize that every voice counts. We are all so powerful, if we just speak out,” she says. “There are things that everyone can do that take less than 30 seconds a day and can mean the difference between life and death for a shelter animal.”
According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Ohio has some of the weakest laws for prosecuting animal cruelty. Wulff believes a key step in making Ohioans more aware is to have better animal welfare legislation.
“We’ve been trying for four years to get Nitro’s Law passed that would make animal abuse by a custodian or caregiver a fifth-degree felony, and we’ve been trying to get an anti-puppy mill bill passed, but the agricultural lobby has kept those laws from gaining a foothold,” she says. “Our elected officials work for us, but we have to tell them what we want them to do and insist on better laws.”
But, she says, everything starts in the home, and we must take care of our pets from the minute we open our arms and hearts to them.
“Having a pet isn’t all cuddles and kisses. It’s a promise to care for the pet and assure its well-being no matter what,” she says. “Too many people don’t take that responsibility to heart, and that’s why our nation’s shelters and animal control facilities are full of animals.”
/ Writer and web editor Aaron Fowler received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Kent State University.
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