About the Author

Shirley Lawrence Verploegen is currently retired living in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee with her two dogs and a foster cat from the Texas raid capturing more than 200 cats from hoarding. Seventy-nine of those cats came to Tennessee for foster and adoption. “Being close to nature and enjoying the treasures of retirement with my fur babies make for a happy camper,” she says. She chose a house with some acreage where the dogs could enjoy off leash exercise and hiking in the woods.

Shirley has always enjoyed the written word and the beauty of its power. She used her verbal and writing talents in her career as buyer, then director of retail for a large entertainment company, Gaylord Entertainment Company, i.e., Opryland Hotel, marketing its brand with retail products producing phenomenal sales in its retail shops. She established a sought after and successful track record for keeping retail under the hotel’s umbrella rather than leasing its retail shops to other companies. She retired from Gaylord after 27 years of service.

She authored and published two coffee table style resort cookbooks for the company during her tenure that sold 50,000 copies: A TASTE OF TRADITION 1996 and A CULINARY COLLECTION 2002. This was an excellent example of marketing the brand with a book of beautiful pictures of the hotel and featuring favorite recipes from its restaurants. This was quite a task, as the hotel’s kitchen cooking for a 3,000-room hotel would have very, very large sized recipes. Each recipe had to be reduced to family size and be tested for excellence.

Shirley’s passion beyond her work has been her love of animals, more specifically dogs. She has always volunteered at animal shelters wherever she lived, done pet therapy with shelter dogs in retirement communities, attended workshops and classes on animal behavior, fostered animals and done AKC basic obedience training. She was part of the first group to be educated by the Red Cross to learn how to set up pet shelters alongside Red Cross shelters after emergencies. The first Red Cross class coincides with the aftermath of hurricane Katrina and the vast amount of lost pets.

When she lived near a retirement community in Santa Cruz, California, she walked dogs for elderly people and ended up temporarily fostering some of these pups, as their owners would be in and out of the hospital. She was able to research a defunct animal help agency in a deceased woman’s will and trace its roots back to the original Santa Cruz shelter and reward the shelter with $92,000.00. This allowed the shelter to buy much needed equipment for in-house medical procedures for all animals. This shelter accepted all animals. On any given day, it was not unusual to see a horse, pigs, birds and, of course, many bunnies. An interesting tidbit in this particular shelter in this little surf city, 90% of the homeless dogs were either pits or chihuahuas. A great shelter went so far as to offer classes on dog breed behavior, photography and other fun topics to keep the volunteers on their toes.

In this book’s Author’s Notes, the incredible Wiggins story after Hurricane Katrina gives a long-term expression of compassion that ended up with the City of Wiggins, Mississippi getting a new animal shelter. A small children’s book was published after this story: “WIGGINS, A KATRINA LOVE STORY.”

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