Andy Nibley is the Director of the new documentary, Madonna of the Mills, running August 24th on HBO.  Author, Sunbear Squad Board Member and Editor Emeritus of Dogster’s own For Love of Dog Blog caught up with Andy for this interview.


Andy: The idea behind the film was really to show a couple of things. One, that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. Laura is an office manager for a dentist on Staten Island and yet she, on weekends on her own nickel, rents vans and drives down to Amish country and picks up somewhere between 35 and 50 of these puppy mill dogs who have spent their entire lives in cages the size of dishwashers. They’ve never been petted. They’ve never been walked. They’ve never been bathed and she’s saved over 2000 dogs and she’s done that all on her own.  So that was one thing.

The other was what happens when you spare a life? So I follow four of the dogs that get saved and you see them rehabilitated from the point where they couldn’t walk because they’ve spent their lives in cages. There’s a nice story about an autistic boy and a golden retriever and one about a childless couple who end up with a cocker spaniel. It really shows these dogs can make wonderful pets if they’re adopted.

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Hi there! I’m Joy Ward and I’m one of your Sunbearblogsquad bloggers! My advisors (also known as the Ward pack) are Weimaraners Sol and Star and Beagle Beatrice.And we are pleased to be here! I’m going to share a bit about us and I am sooo looking forward to hearing from you.

You might know us from Dogster’s For Love of Dog Blog. I was the founding editor and am still listed as Editor Emeritus. We spent a little over two years writing about dog (and sometimes cat) issues, reviewing books, movies and products and talking about the marvelous Dogsters and Catsters. If you read the For Love of  Dog Blog way back in my day then you know I am passionate about changing human awareness of animal needs and changing laws to protect animals from abuse such as puppy mills and dog-fighting.

You might also know me as the author of Haint: A Tale of Extraterrestrial Intervention and Love Across Time and Space. We might have met at one of the many conventions I’ve attended over the last four years. Since Haint came out a few years back I’ve been busy on some other products including some short stories (one of which is included in the 2009 compilation Dragons Composed which is a USA Book News Best Books Award Finalist). I’m still working on the Haint sequel but it keeps getting pushed to the back of the writing bus. Right now I’m working on what I hope will be an amazing book with animal translator Melissa Dixon. No title yet but we’re shooting for a Spring release.

Before Dogster and Haint, you might have read one of my columns or articles I’ve been writing since 1994 or thereabouts. I was a staff and freelance writer with a wide variety of publications covering politics, business, technology, women’s issues, shopping and pretty much anything else you can name except maybe sports.

Sol Ward

That’s a bit about me on the writing side but what about dogs and other animals? I was raised with all kinds of  animals. My family was very animal friendly! We had dogs, horses, chickens, a myna bird, turtles, snakes, hamsters, goats and probably more species I just can’t remember. I spent a lot of my early teen years hanging out with my horse (who would probably have said I was his girl) Red. You haven’t lived till you’ve woken up with a horse knocking on your bedroom window or opening the kitchen door to find him standing on the steps headed inside!

I also spent a good bit of time with our Weimaraners. My mom was a responsible breeder who showed and occassionally bred what I will humbly call a great line of dogs. One of her females was probably one of the most photographed dogs in the world. She left that passion some years ago so don’t write in to tell me how we should all stop breeding dogs. I’ll agree with you to some extent but maybe not as far as you’d like.  So I learned how to birth babies when I was around eleven or so. Some day I might even tell you about waking up to my Mischka delivering her first puppy in my bed while I was asleep. Talk about a wake up call!

Sol and Star are father and daughter. He is one of the loves of my life and she is his only daughter, the last of my mom’s line.

Star Ward

Beatrice invited herself into our lives.  I was on the way to a concert in Iowa City with a dear friend and her daughter. We stopped for lunch in Hannibal, Missouri. When we emerged Beatrice was sitting next to my car. For all the world she looked like she was waiting for us. After some back and forth (you can imagine how my friend felt about putting a strange dog in a car with her eight-year-old daughter) Beatrice jumped in the car and well, you know how this goes. I planned on turning her over to a no-kill shelter or even a responsible rescue but, well, take a look at those eyes and you tell me you could give her up.

Beatrice Ward

We share a home in St. Louis, Missouri, one of the most dog-friendly places in the US. Really. I often wonder if there is some regulation requiring that every other home MUST have a pet, preferably a dog. Sol’s not keen on all our neighbors but he and the other dogs love having lots of squirrel TV to watch.

I’ll be writing about animal issues of course. I’ll also be giving you reviews of books, movies, products and who knows what else. I already have a pile of books and movies to review but if you’ve got something you think other animal lovers would love to watch or read, feel free to let me know about it.  As many of you already know, I am also passionate about sharing creative work that many people might miss because it comes from a small press or producer.  Some of the best and most exciting work is coming from these relatively unknown sources.

That’s pretty much it for now. I look forward to getting to know you and your furfriends.  Bark in and let me know what you want to talk about.