by Lorie Lewis Ham
On May 29 KRL celebrated our 5th anniversary! One of the things we are doing to celebrate is to introduce a few of our staff writers to all of you! Some you have already gotten to know as they are also mystery authors and have been interviewed here–but many you have not, other than what you have learned through what they write for us. I’m even learning fun things I didn’t know about our staff!
So far we have already profiled Terrance McArthur and Tom Sims, and Cynthia Chow. This week we are chatting with Jackie Dale, who writes the Cat House on the Kings column for us each month. You can check out the latest Cat House On the Kings column here: kingsriverlife.com/05/30/the-cat-house-on-the-kings-jackie-dale-cat-trapper.
KRL: Where were you born and raised?
Jackie: I was born in San Francisco and raised in the Bay Area by my dad and stepmother. They divorced when I was 15 and I was basically on my own after that.
KRL: When did you move to Reedley area, if not raised here?
Jackie: I moved to the valley in 1981 when I married a local boy. Things didn’t work out and I remained single for 10 years before meeting my current husband of 24 years, Frank. We met on a blind date I almost didn’t keep and we got married three months later.
Jackie: Besides writing, I have been teaching YogaFit for about six years. I teach yoga and toning classes at two different gyms and have private clients as well. I also teach aerobic dance but not at the present time. I handle all the shipping for our eBay store (selling motorcycle parts), but my main job is to care for our son, Frankie, who has a degenerative brain disorder.
KRL: Tell us more about your dance and yoga.
Jackie: Yoga: I have been going to the gym since I was 18. I started out just taking the yoga class. Eventually I started to sub when the instructor was ill. I subbed free for a year before they hired to teach my own classes.
Ballet: As a child, I taught myself basic ballet from a book I got at the library. When I was 18 I started taking lessons at the community center. After a year, the instructor recommended me to the Peninsula Ballet Theatre School in San Mateo and I was accepted. I trained there four days a week for four years before moving to the Valley where I took a break from dance. I eventually took up dance in again in 2001 at the Kingsburg School of Ballet and joined the Valley Civic Ballet until 2007. Now I sometimes teach beginning ballet at the Reedley Community Center.
KRL: Schools attended?
Jackie: I attended Carlmont High School and San Mateo Community College. I worked for the American Indian Council at that time and they paid for my schooling at the college. I did not attend a four-year college. Once I was interviewing an accomplished artist who had attended some of the best schools. He asked me where I got my degree and I was embarrassed to say I did not have one. He was surprised and said that I “must then truly have natural talent.”
KRL: I love those kind of responses. Had you ever done any writing before KRL?
Jackie: The first thing I remember writing was a Christmas poem that was published in the junior high school magazine. I was thrilled to see my name in print. I excelled in my English classes. Once out of school, my first foray into writing was letters to the editor of the local paper. I really enjoyed it. I continue to write letters to the editor to this day, and the numbers likely run into dozens. The Fresno Bee did a writer profile on me—I think it was in 2007—and I think I had written something like 43 letters! I also wrote a newsletter for the mothers’ group at my church for five years. In 2006, one of the mothers, Jenny Peters, asked me if I might be interested in writing for Traffic magazine. I have been writing for them ever since. My articles number 70+m including many cover stories.
KRL: How and when did you first get involved in KRL?
Jackie: Well, I first got involved when you asked me to, and that was in 2012. I was thrilled to have another forum to get the word out about the Cat House.
KRL: Tell us a little about your column.
Jackie: My columns are about my work with the Cat House. I try to educate about the benefits of spaying and neutering. I want to inform people about the goings on by the volunteers outside of the Cat House. They can read all about the Cat House in our quarterly newsletter, which I also write. But the behind-the-scenes work of the volunteers is what really makes up some of the best stories. The joys and letdowns, the successes and the failures. The Cat House relies heavily on its volunteers to help rescue and foster cats and kittens all over the valley.
KRL: How, when, and why did you get involved with the Cat House?
Jackie: In 1993, I first learned about the Cat House in the newspaper during an appeal for donations and food. I brought donations of food and ended up adopting a kitty. I also signed up to sponsor a cat. At that time I had young children and not a lot of time to volunteer. Years later in 2012, I get a phone call from the Cat House, asking if I would be interested in writing their newsletter. I said yes and am currently still writing it.
KRL: What all do you do with the Cat House?
Jackie: Besides the newsletter, I am in charge of all the TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) in this area. Calls to the Cat House for help with stray or feral cats are generally referred to me. I also foster and specialize in bottle-feeding. Anything Lynea needs me to do, I am there!
KRL: Have you been involved in any other animal rescue work?
Jackie: No, not really. Just the rescues I have done on my own. I will do whatever I can to help an animal in need. Sometimes some of us on Facebook will band together and network to save an animal.
KRL: That’s how we got our Willow kitten! Family?
Jackie: I’ve been married to Frank for 24 years, with children Frankie, 23, and Dominique, 17. We also have six dogs and a dozen cats.
Jackie: Not much time for hobbies! I garden and go to line-dance rehearsals twice a week. I like to ride motorcycles, dine out with friends, and have a good time!
KRL: Wow we have two motor cycle riders on staff. Anything else you would like to share?
Jackie: I wish everyone would spay and neuter their pets. Be more courteous drivers and don’t litter. Be the person you would like everyone else to be. Stop hoping someone else will do something and be the change you wish to see in the world.
KRL: What do you like best about writing for KRL?
Jackie: I like being able to get the word out about the Cat House on the Kings to as many people as possible.
KRL: Well we are very happy to give you the chance to do that.