Archive for July 12th, 2018

at the womens march, by Arayah

“For a while I was travelling quite a bit and would rely on Majo to take care of the critters while I was away.    He was prompt and reliable and kept in touch with anything he felt I needed to know about.  I definitely would use him again!”  Susie Davis

I’m reviving my dog walking/pet sitting business and launching a “Go Send Me”appeal to support this launch (yes, “Go Send Me” not “Go Fund Me” – read on).   I tried nine years ago to make a living off of dog walking and pet sitting, but it was the worst part of the economic downturn and people were just not spending money on dog walking or pet sitters. Now I know several people in Asheville who are doing well with it – and they don’t have half the network I do! Here’s the blog I was writing during that period – anybody who loves dogs will love this blog. Read it!

You’re actually reading it right now, but read more!  Read it all!  Follow it – you can sign up by clicking the button in the right column. After eight years this blog really holds up – some of my best writing.  My Buddy’s Blog

Why a Go Send Me Drive?

resist big smile

Let’s say it straight – I’m broke. I left my Earth Fare grocery store cashier job because, between Social Security and my job, I was making too much money to move into the subsidized Section 8 apartment building I have just moved into (Battery Park Apartments in downtown Asheville – it’s wonderful!). Having left my cashiering job a month ago, I then needed to augment my Social Security income and I tried to do it with busking poetry on the street. I crashed and burned. (My poet/performer friend Tebbe says “Busking is not an old man’s game!”) I haven’t given up on it – I’ll still do more of it.  (See that blog: “Write Me a Poem!”.) But when I’m depressed I just don’t get out of bed unless I am required to.  I need a schedule – I need commitments.  I need to have to show up somewhere.  I need a dog to be waiting at the door for me to take her out for a walk.  There are lots of reasons why I think that dog sitting is just the right step for me right now. Read on.

business card

There’s a glitch on this card – or maybe just my computer – which overlaps the front of the card with the tag line from the back side. Gotta get that straightened out before we print.

Why not Go Fund Me?


Go Fund Me exerts a lot of control over the process and takes a cut.  And “Go Send Me” echoes a beautiful, inspiring spiritual song that feels like the anthem of this next stage in my work contribution.

I honestly think this whole letter is really beautiful – great photos, three inspiring songs, a killer original poem at the very end written just for this letter.  But if you don’t have time to read it all right now and want to just give already – or are coming back to the letter looking for the link, here it is:

Contribute to Majo’s Go Send Me appeal

Majo helped me out with my animals–two cats and 5 chickens–while I was on vacation. He was dependable and tidy and all was well when I got home. I feel so good having such a trustworthy person in my home caring for my beloved creatures. (PS: It’s not always easy finding chicken sitters!)  Amanda Graves

 Where’s the money going?



  1. My computer is a tool of the trade.  Part of my writer/pet sitter trademark has been that when people are gone for a week or more (good customers) I provide them with a unique blog about their animal(s) which they can see from the road.  Another element is that I write poems about their pets.  Finally, I do billing and receipts.  My computer is a 12 year old rebuilt PC that sometimes takes 3-5 attempts to get it to boot up.  New Asus PC computer from Christopher Computer, a local shop: $800 and $120 to move my files over – $920.
    (When my dear friend Margaret saw this paragraph a few days ago, she wrote me “I have a used laptop that I think might be just fine for you.  The only thing wrong with it was that it wasn’t a Mac.”  She’s dropped it off at Christopher Computers to see if it might be right for me.  I’ll let you know if a computer still needs to be a line-item here.)
  2. With a portable, I-come-to-you business, my car represents my business. Especially since I will sometimes be transporting clients’ dogs in my car, I can’t afford to have it looking like I don’t take care of it. My car needs some body work (not a lot, but I can’t afford it) to look good.  Front bumper painted – $200, cracked windshield replaced: $256
  3. Auto insurance. $110 x 2 months: $220
  4. Gas to get to pet sitting jobs – $200 a month for two months: $400
  5. I need Vistaprint (inexpensive) marketing materials, all still on file with Vistaprint and ready to print out : adorable full-color business cards, stationery for billing and receipts, car magnets, hats and t-shirts.  Marketing materials: $100
  6. If I want to get serious about pet sitting, I will need (as I got nine years ago) liability insurance and bonding.  $340 per year
  7. Membership in national petsitters organization (Pet Sitters Associates) – required to qualify for above insurance and bonding:  $125
  8. Membership in local professional organization:  $75
  9. Total start-up expenses, needed right now: $2636

I really do believe that before very long at all this business (combined with my Social Security) can pay all my bills and maybe even allow a little discretionary cash.

But until I build my business to the level of paying my living expenses, I need an infusion of cash to get me through the next couple of months. 
– Toni medical bills. 
My doggie, little 5-pound 9 year old female yorkipoo Toni (or Toni O – see this post about her full name) is the world’s best dog – or second best, right after yours of course.  Peaceful, sweet, loving, funny – and fragile.  Maybe it comes with the tiny little designer breed.  I’m gonna go into detail about her medical issues in another post. What it makes sense to say here is that three vet visits (one last Monday for a genuine breathing crisis that required an hour in an oxygen tent) have cost me $1200 – and we’re not out of the woods yet.

Itemizing all this can get me discouraged.  If you can send even $10, seeing that my appeal is being responded to can really lift my spirits.  Or if you “Share” this on Facebook or are keeping your eyes open for deep pocket donors or people with a need for pet sitting, drop me a line and let me know you are doing this – all of this can be deeply encouraging.

(While I was writing this, I left YouTube running and it played this amazing song, also sung by Josh Groban. The video is awesome – it just gave me a good cry.  It’s just what I need to hear right now.  Maybe there are times when it could help you too.)

Why give?


I am meant to do this work. I am magic with dogs. I adore my dog Toni (my last dog -Buddy is above and was the namesake of this blog.) This is the right work for me to to right now.
I’m offering perks:
  • all people who have received this letter have also received a link to this beautiful “My Buddy’s Blog”, which all dog owners owe it to themselves to read
  • You don’t have to give me money! One friend said to me, “Right now, $10 is not in my budget.” I get it – I’m pretty close to that right now myself, that’s why I’m sending out this letter.  But there are other wonderful ways to support me:
    • “Share” this link on your Facebook page – that gets me in front of your 14 Facebook friends (or 1400, but all it takes is one for me to get a donor or a great new client).
    • Send this link to friends who do have more money and might be moved to support a great startup by a guy with a big vision
    • Support the blog – mybuddysblog.com
      • Read it
      • “Follow” it – button in the right column
      • Cheerlead me – tell me when you read something you like
      • When you like a post, “Share” it on your Facebook page
    • Keep an ear to the ground for who might need a dog walker or pet sitter.  Talk me up to them.
      • Give them the link to this blog (my website – all the website I need): mybuddysblog.com
      • Or my phone number (828-582-9822)
      • Or email address (heymajo@gmail.com – catchy and easy to remember)
      • have me send you some business cards – they’re really cute, with the adorable cartoon dog waiting to go out and the business name: “U Wanna Go Out?”
  • All people who give $10 will receive online my “Call Me Majo” story from my gotta-eventually-be-published book Radical Integrity.  It tells the true story of the Majo name – which may be crushing if you are one of the many people to whom I have told one or another bullshit version of the story. (“Yes…Majo…I was born in Hungary…to gypsies…Majo is short for Majerewski…”  Sometimes this is as far as I can go with a straight face.)
  • people who give $25 will receive an email portfolio of photos of my dogs Buddy and now Toni, including the infamous “The 5 pound Toni tries to play with the goat” photo
  • people who give $50 will get their choice of the adorable “U Wanna Go Out” t-shirt or baseball cap
  • people who give $75 will get a t-shirt or cap and the very touching “For My Buddy” poem, written three hours before we put Buddy down – must reading for anybody who has lost a pet
  • people who give $100 will get a customized poem for your dog (or other pet)
    • I will interview you for 30-60 minutes about your dog
    • you will preferably send me a photo of your dog
    • I will write you a poem that will knock your socks off
  • people who give $150 will get weekly text message updates about the progress of my business
  • anybody who gives at any level will get periodic updates about the progress of the business and the funding to date – and a promise that I will never hit you up for money again
  • anybody who gives at any level in any format (Pay Pal, check, cash) by 7/30 (to get me through to my Social Security check on 8/3) will get an audio file of me creating a spontaneous poem about people and dogs. Giving by Pay Pal is secure and a piece of cake – click on a link.  It’s a good modern skill to have.

Thank you, thank you.  Share this blog post on your Facebook page or with your pet-loving friends – maybe especially those with deep pockets and maybe a philanthropic orientation (they like to give to good causes).

“My wife and I have known Majo John Madden for 10 years.  He has done pet sitting for us multiple times for our dogs, Sparky and Gypsy, and our cat Joey.  We were always very happy with his service.  He is a true animal lover and very reliable.   Each time we used him for pet sitting, we returned home with the pets happy and our home as we left it.  I highly recommend him for your pet sitter.” 
Sincerely,  Steve Swearingen

How to give

  • Pay Pal – best.  Click the button below.  Secure and speedy (yes!).
  • send me a check
    • made out to Majo Madden or John Madden – my bank knows both identities
    • send to 1 Battle Square, Apt. 503, Asheville NC 28801
  • or hand me cash at Jubilee or Earth Fare – where the plan is for me to spend a couple mornings a week selling poetry on demand outside, to see my peeps and keep getting my Earth Fare fix (after four years of cashiering, I’m the “mayor of Earth Fare”).

Thank you, thank you, thank you.


Sherri Lynn - no rotate.jpgMy co-worker Sherri Lynn with Toni at the Earth Fare cash register – possibly less speedy, but more charming.


Majo John

Finally, a bonus – totally irrelevant but wonderful.  When I played the Josh Groban “Here Am I” song yesterday, YouTube automatically followed it with the Susan Boyle “Britain’s Got Talent” once-viral video. It’s so beautiful and inspiring, you can’t watch it too many times.  Enjoy.

Oh, watching it again just now, not irrelevant at all!  “I dreamed a dream“!  Isn’t that what it’s all about, for you and for me – dreaming a dream and following it?

P.P.S.  A poem for you!  My friend Maria, reviewing this letter last night, wrote me: “Where’s the poetry?  You’re a poet – give them a poem!”  I loved this idea and penciled in my calendar Saturday afternoon for writing a poem – knowing full-well that this poem would not wait until tomorrow afternoon to be born.  A half-hour after hearing from Maria it came tumbling out (12 midnight-12:30, supposed to be sleep time).  This morning I tweaked it and added some great photos. I will humbly offer that you will be missing something great if you don’t click here now.



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For the three days earlier this week that I was in the hospital with my stroke scare (looks now like a TIA mini-stroke),  my little five-pound yorkipoo baby Toni was with her favorite other human, our digsitter Lori.


When Lori returned her to me at my Battery Park apartments downtown on Tuesday afternoon, she was very happy to see me but maybe even a little suspiciously subdued.

I spent the next couple of hours right where I rendezvoused with Lori and Toni, sitting out in the beautiful summer evening on the front stairs of our apartment building/ historical hotel – visiting with my neighbors in a way that I had not before done in my first three depressed weeks in my new home.  Some of the people already knew I had been in the hospital (juicy gossip travels fast in this senior center) and other neighbors were eager to hear about it – us seniors are all about illness and hospitals.  It was the most I had ever visited with my new neighbors and it felt good.  Toni was being very sweet and well-behaved and is already known and loved in the building.  Lots of my neighbors who may never know my name already know Toni.

My friend Paula Hanke Paulasaw us out there and came by to say hi to me and Toni.  She knows Toni from church and there is a connection between them.  Within a few minutes, she asked “What’s wrong with Toni?”  “What do you mean?”  “Her eye – what’s up with her eye?”  I had not noticed it, but her right eye was badly swollen – almost swollen shut. (What I observed over the next 24 hours was that her eye would swing pretty rapidly from almost swollen shut to mostly open – pretty normal-looking.)

As soon as Toni and I left the sweet group in front of the building, I called the vet.  “Dr. Sinclair is away on vacation and we are pretty backed up.  We have no actual appointments until the weekend, but if you come tomorrow afternoon at 3:30 we can try to work you in” (“try to work you in” means be prepared to sit in the waiting room for a while – maybe a long while.)  Toni had to get seen, so I took the 3:30 time.

I have learned that for doctor appointments, even vet appointments, I like to bring a friend – for moral support, to pass the time in the waiting room and for another set of ears and brain to process the information you get from the doctor.  I called my dear friend Laura, who just had played that role for me a lot at the hospital.  She is medically knowledgeable, smart and analytical, and an assertive good communicator.  And we like each other a lot and enjoy each other’s company.

When we arrived at Heather Sinclair’s Haw Creek Animal Hospital in East Asheville, the waiting room was miraculously empty and they took us right in.  Actually, I had taken a few minutes to pee the dog outside and Laura came out to claim us: “They’re ready for us right now!”

Dr. Klein, a new vet in this practice whom I had never before met, struck me first as kind of nervous and maybe not sure of herself – but proved herself to be astute, thorough, calm and kind with the dog and overall a really great vet.  And she discovered something that was unexpected and very important.  If she had been only focused on the swollen eye and had not performed a thorough exam, she would have missed it.

“There’s a crackling sound when I listen to her chest.  I want to take some x-rays.”  After she took the x-rays and measured the pressure in Toni’s eye, she took us back to show us the x-rays and give us the results.  Toni does have swelling and pressure in her right eye, diagnosed as glaucoma.  I need to do some reading about glaucoma, but it sounds treatable with some eye drops and was immediately overshadowed by the x-rays of Toni’s chest.Boy with dog

“See how swollen Toni’s heart is – it’s about 30% larger than it’s supposed to be.  This dark area all through here is fluid on her lungs.  These arteries are all swollen, working overtime to try to pump her blood.  She has heart disease.”

I expressed my first concern: “Is this life-threatening in the short-term?”  “Probably not, now that we have found it and are going to get her on some good medications.”

Which begged the question, “Is this going to affect her longevity?”  “Probably.  We can’t fully reverse this condition, more just manage it.  Some people with heart disease live a long time, others not so long.  We really just can’t predict.”

When people, so often, ask how old Toni is – partly cuz she kinda looks like a puppy but some people do see the signs of age – I routinely answer “She’s nine, but little breeds like this can live to 18 – so she’s middle aged.”  That little bit of denial is the way I have handled adopting an older dog, at 8 years old.  Well, it’s looking like probably I won’t have another 9 years with her and maybe well less – there’s just no telling.

This sweet little being, who has always struck me and others as fragile along with being adorable, is now presenting as even more fragile – and even more precious than ever.  I want to do everything I can to improve her quality of life – and to share this heart-opening little being with others.


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