Dig Deep…you eventually come across a bone, ball, or find your own sanity

IMG_5542Last Thursday,  I was to board a red-eye flight for Miami to attend a retreat that I had been looking forward to all summer.  This retreat was limited to 10 women and would involve an intense mastermind focus on the businesses that each attendee was creating or growing.  Above and beyond the deep-dive attention to help take my own business to the next level was the opportunity to spend time with a dear friend, whom I admire and respect tremendously.  The previous 3 weeks had been hectic and non-stop with trade shows, taking my daughter to college, and my attendance at a stellar conference for women in the pet industry.  Despite running on fumes, I was excited in anticipation of the weekend in Miami.

At risk of re-living a level of anxiety I don’t wish to recreate, I will spare you the details that led up to me missing the flight….the one and only flight that would have put me in Miami in time to walk into the hotel, change clothes, and be present for the 9am start of the event. As you can imagine, I was devastated…truly crushed.  I contacted the airlines and worked to do everything in my power to find a flight out.  I tried to stay calm inside, because that is what I am “supposed to do”, but I could feel the angst boiling.  Jon was desperately doing everything in his power to get through the traffic to get me to the gate.  The moment I realized there was no way possible I would get into the airport on time, I felt a volcanic urge to erupt.  To avoid having Jon feel I was mad at him, I turned to inform him that my pending outburst was not directed at him and then I exploded.  The anger and disappointment suddenly turned into a  major meltdown complete with screams, stomping the floor of the front seat, and tons and tons of tears.  Having just celebrated my 50t h birthday I was now behaving like a two year old.  Logically, my brain knew there was nothing I could do.  My inner voice was trying to talk me off the ledge, reminding me of all the dedicated time I spend each day working on my mindset to ensure a positive attitude.  The other side of my brain didn’t care and gave me permission to cry and own the anger and frustration I felt in that moment.   By the time I got home, I was exhausted.  Jon was tired too but remained a patient saint.  Empathizing with the sadness I felt, he allowed me to “let it all out” and just left me alone.

IMG_1154.JPGThe next morning, I awoke with the same feelings but this time I would not allow those emotions to rule my day.  I found it interesting that one could experience such extremes of emotions.  It is amazing how one can go from moments of elation one day to despair the next  was interesting to me.  I made the choice to turn disappointment into something more productive and beneficial.  My dogs must have sensed I was not “myself” because they sat quietly with me while I just sat in a chair, looking off at nothing, trying to find my way back out of the black hole I had fallen into the night before.  I did not want to talk with or see anyone.  I just wanted to be alone with my dogs.

IMG_5802I decided to get the two “pups” in the car and drive over to a place we frequent for walks. Guaranteed solitude, I could lose myself in BOLO and Henry, breathe in some great saltwater air, and get some exercise, too.  I was determined to align my physiological state with a positive mindset.  It is one thing to tell yourself, “It’s all good – don’t be upset over things out of your control” but it’s hard to truly “own” that sentiment when elements of tension and anger continue to flow through your bloodstream.

BOLO is incredibly comical.  It took only a couple of minutes for my smile to return as I watched her take off after a ground squirrel.  Her excitement and joy as she looked my way was contagious and, as Henry walked along next to me, I immediately felt my mood and mind relax.

IMG_5088BOLO chased that squirrel into its hole in the ground.  I stood and watched as she began to dig vigorously to reach that poor creature.  Don’t worry, she never did get it, but I found a lesson in her behavior.  BOLO kept digging for that squirrel and when it became apparent that no amount of digging would result in its capture, she just happily trotted away, showing no signs of disappointment.  She eagerly started looking for another adventure to chase.  All morning I had been searching for a way to “dig deep” to regain a sense of joy, exude a positive outlook, and re-energize myself so that I could enjoy the full day ahead.  Watching BOLO explore her world with such zest and watching Henry as he “smiled” and stopped momentarily to allow the ocean breeze to blow in his face, I instantly found the answer.IMG_6076 I was given a gift of time. Instead of having another jam-packed weekend, I now had 3 full days to catch up on rest, complete some unfinished tasks, and spend time with some friends.  I ended up having a fantastic day and enjoyed the remainder of the weekend, giving me the opportunity to start the week rejuvenated and in a much better place.

Dogs are the best medicine and the best teachers. Some people choose to meditate in solitude.  My form of meditation is spending quiet, alone-time with BOLO and Henry.  My mind is cleared, my mood is lifted, I become incredibly mindful of the space I am in at that moment, and my sense of gratitude for things in my life becomes heightened.  Dog is Good.

Things happen in the course of the day that will generate a range of emotional responses.  You only have control over how you choose to respond and sometimes you truly have to work to generate a response that will serve you and others around you positively.

  1. It’s OK to experience anger and allow yourself the opportunity to have a minor meltdown- but it’s not OK to displace that anger and frustration towards others.  Crying, or even screaming out loud, helps to get rid of some of the toxins built up from the negative energy flowing through your body but are poisonous to others.

  2. Once you own the anger and negative emotions, let them go.  That is a choice. Those emotions will do nothing but wreak havoc for the remainder of the day. It is incredibly unfair to impose on others the behaviors that result from those feelings.

  3. Sit or walk with your dogs.  Focus on all things good, and remind yourself that every day is a gift…don’t waste it being angry.

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Make Everyday Extraordinary

IMG_6110Yesterday I celebrated my 50th birthday…”Whoot whoot!!!”.  Yep, that “shout out” is directly from me to me.  I was in deep celebration of myself throughout the entire day and I must confess…it was a “first”.  There was no denying that, when my eyes opened yesterday, I was elated.  I was proud of who I was, how I felt and looked, and what I have accomplished.  I recognized that my life was filled with supportive family, friends, and Dog is Good fans.  There was a part of me that wondered why my 50th birthday became so significant.  Why did I wait so long to allow myself to honor who I had become as a woman, mom, wife, friend, and entrepreneur.  Up until this point, I have held back.  However, moving forward, it has become my choice and my mission to live more fully by taking cues from my dog and to inspire others to do the same. No one should wait a single day, let alone 50 years to “own” life and experience each day for the extraordinary gift it truly is!

1129BOLO had been in my care for only a few weeks when I began to notice a wonderful pattern developing each morning.  As soon as I would wake up (typically at the crack of dawn) and go towards her crate, she would beam with excitement.  Her little tail would start wagging back and forth, almost knocking herself over.  I don’t think I have ever seen a tail wag so fervently on any dog before.  Hardly able to contain herself, she would eagerly offer up the SIT required for me to open up her crate and let her out.  Since we were in “house- training” mode, she would immediately follow me downstairs and head outside to her “pottyspot”.

After relieving herself, she would return to me, tripping over her puppy feet and wagging her entire body, falling all over me as I sat on the stairs to greet her good morning.

Bolo after trainingDay after day would start off this way and as she grew she became increasingly more excited to start a new day.  In fact, she was so excited to start her day that it forced me to stop and take notice. As I sat on the edge of my bed thinking about my other dogs, it occurred to me that none of them ever woke up like BOLO.  The moment BOLO’s eyes opened, her tail would start to thump loudly and wag like crazy.  Her body would follow suite indicating that she was about to explode with excitement.  Once her crate door opened, she would grab her KONG and move about with so much enthusiasm and joy as if to say” hooray!  It’s a new day!  OMG- can you believe it?  I am so excited to start another day!  I can’t wait to do all the things I get to do, explore places, go for my walk, hang out with my family, etc…”

IMG_5463Now as a 2-year old, 63 pound, fully house trained dog, she no longer needs to race outside first thing in the morning.  Having graduated from her crate to our bed, she waits patiently for me to open my eyes.  Although I can’t see her with my eyes closed, I feel her staring at me as I am coming out of my slumber.  I imagine she is thinking to herself, “hurry-up, wake up, we are missing valuable time in our day already”.  My eyes part slowly in a very tight squinting position so I can get view what she is doing before the mayhem begins.  Sure enough, her eyes locked solidly on me, she comes to life instantly.  Her eyes widen and her mouth takes on a doggie smile.  If she had hands, this would be the moment she would clap them together and yell out, “Yeah!  Game on!  Let’s get this party started!”  This is the moment when she leaps off the bed to find the nearest toy and then pummels me with her crazy morning greeting.  I am pinned in my bed as she steps over me going back and forth while her body sways wildly out of control.  In her excitement, she trips over me, steps on me, and repeatedly tries to push her toy into my mouth over and over again before she finally buries her head in my neck while leaving her wagging tail in the air.  She will finally collapse on me, panting and simply thrilled to be experiencing everything about her morning rise and shine ritual.  When I am able to finally break free from the love fest, she follows me with toy in mouth and never once stops wagging her entire body. You can see the happiness emanating from her eyes.

She is always so darn elated every single morning that I wondered, what would my days be like if I woke up like this everyday.  I think they would be phenomenal!

Here are some thoughts to help you make YOUR day extraordinary:

  • Decide within the first 10  minutes of waking up exactly what type of energy you will bring to the day.  Write it down on paper or a file card and refer to it throughout the day to keep yourself on track

  • Predetermine your response to unexpected things that get thrown your way.  Learn how to take a breath before reacting.  Avoid explosive angry responses which will negatively affect the people around you and make it more difficult to experience the remainder of the day positively.  Set the stage for how you will react to things that come your way.  Decide what you will do to positively impact others.

  • Do something special for others.  Look for ways to engage in random acts of kindness.  Bring co-workers bagels or donuts in the morning,  buy coffee for the person in line behind you, look for ways to help others during the course of the day.  This “pay it forward” approach makes the day more memorable and elevates your mood as well.

  • Find ways to break up your routine and try something new  in order to experience the day differently.  Skip the gym in lieu of a morning hike, try a new place to pick up your coffee, take a friend out to lunch and try something new on the menu, take a different route home from work,  etc….

IMG_5996                    “Each morning we are born again.  What we do today is what matters most.”  Buddha

Work Like a Dog

IMG_5036Jon and I have been “working like dogs”.  For people who know us, this comes as no surprise.  Early to bed…early to rise has always been our “modis operandi”, but lately, the “early to bed” part has not been happening.  We are becoming masters at fitting more into one day than most people fit into 2, which- given that I am desperately trying to heed the “doggir inspiration”- Make Time For Play- is not something I share with great pride.  Recently, a friend of mine called mid-morning to say hello and sarcastically asked if, in addition to reading, exercise, and launching my work day, I had already painted the interior of my home as well.  “Hey, my personal over scheduling is not that “ridonculous”!  Well….maybe it is, just a little”

IMG_0121Sitting outside working on a project due in the next few weeks, I stopped for a moment to look up from my computer to discover Henry basking in the sun.  Even though a perfectly clean brick patio and a dog bed were available for his afternoon snooze, he opted to plop down in the dusty, dirt filled empty flower bed in our back yard. I watched him for a few minutes, a little jealous actually.

After a whirlwind month  involving trade shows and moving our child into her college apartment, I wanted to be napping in the sunshine too.  I suddenly realized the paradox in  the phrase, “work like a dog”.  Yea,  I wish I could work like my dogs.  Their job seems to consist of only three things: eat, sleep, play then repeat.  That would be an awesome job!  My dogs both excel at their job, in fact they compete for “employee of the month”.  In observing their “work ethic” I suddenly questioned where the phrase “work like a dog” originated.  Clearly the application of this dog idiom to define my crazy daily routine did not align exactly with what I was observing in my own dogs.

IMG_5563When I began to research the origin of this popular phrase, you can imagine my dismay when I discovered there is actually a National “Work like a Dog” Day,  Who knew?!!  This day is set aside with the intent to encourage employers to recognize and call out people in the workplace who go above and beyond expectations.  Ok, that’s easy enough- I can celebrate my entire team.  Everyone at Dog is Good works their “tails off” every single day and I am eternally grateful for their commitment and support!  The term was coined because many dogs were “on the clock” 24/7, hence working all the time and focused on the task at hand.

IMG_5862Since we are supposed to be recognizing our employees,  I started to think about what kind of dog each one of them represents.  Sometimes, I just simply have to amuse myself. We all have moments like that, right?!  As I thought about each individual team member of Dog is Good, certain breeds immediately came to mind.

Jon:  Bull Mastiff.  Strong, great endurance and alertness, gentle, calm, quiet, fearless, devoted companion- not easily roused but defends when necessary.

Gila (Labrador), Outgoing, Even Tempered, Gentle, Agile, Kind, Intelligent

Gayle (Jack Russell Terrier), Vocal, Energetic, Stubborn, Fearless, Intelligent

Christy (ST. Bernard), Lively, Watchful, Gentle, Friendly, Calm

Beke (Brittany Spaniel), adaptable, sweet, loyal, intelligent

Steve (Golden Retriever) Reliable, Friendly, Kind, Confident, Trustworthy, Intelligent

Katie (Boxer), playful, devoted, loyal, bright, energetic, friendly

Donata (French Bulldog) clown in a lapdog, enjoys playing and entertaining, amiable, sweet

Nick ( Pug) , Charming, Playful, Docile, Clever, Quiet, Attentive, Sociable

Xaviar ( Collie), Protective, Gentle, Loyal, Friendly, Active, Intelligent

Robin (Shi Tzu), Outgoing, Playful, Alert, Gentle, Loyal

Christine (Beagle), Even Tempered, Gentle, Amiable, Determined, Intelligent

Lindsey ( Chihuahua ),Lively, Devoted, Alert, Quick, Courageous

We have a great PACK here at Dog is Good!

Never Sleep Alone

bolo henry on couchThank goodness for bare minerals and coverup!  Following two sleepless nights in a row, it was inevitable I would wake up looking ragged with dark puffy circles under my eyes.  For a moment I thought I may have forgotten to take off my mascara before going to bed, but nope – those dark smudges were the evidence left behind after struggling to get away from the incessant licking sound keeping me up all night long.

If you are like the millions of dog owners who share their beds with their fur covered best friend (the all over the body fur covered, not the friend with just the fur covered back), you know what I am talking about.  It’s that moment when you are awakened, keenly aware of a slurping sound emitting from the center of your bed.  Despite trying to push your dog to the other side or pull a pillow over your head, you just can’t escape the sound.  You begin to whisper loudly “stop it, leave it, go to sleep” but no matter how much pleading or prodding, your dog just won’t stop.

bolo sleeping on henryFollowing a long week working a tradeshow in Vegas, I looked forward to falling into my own bed and snuggling with BOLO and Henry.  Ah, the tranquil comfort of having sweet dogs snuggled warmly against my legs and body is something that helps me fall asleep quickly.  I am part of the 50% of dog lovers who enjoy sleeping with their dogs.  The other 50% actually get a good night of sleep.

Initially, drifting off to dreamland seems to happen so easily, and although I doubt I ever get a full night’s sleep, BOLO made certain I got NONE.  Just as I was all tucked in, enjoying the simple pleasure of being in my own bed, and exhaling one final big breath of air, the licking started.  At first, the sound was somewhat subdued but it only took about 30 seconds before it turned into “nails on chalkboard” level of irritation.  Realizing something was bothering her, I tried to find out what was causing her discomfort and offer her some help.  With no solution in sight and desperate for a reprieve from the sound, I put in some earplugs and attempted to relocate her somewhere else on the king size bed.  When a last ditch effort to bury my head under pillows did not work either, my only choice was to escape to the guest room in hopes of  some “shut eye”.

Throughout the next day, although she moved a little slower- after all she was up all night too- she seemed to be fine.  sleeping boloYep, basically “normal”  BOLO…until it was time to go to sleep again.  Ugh…another full night of slurping, licking, and nibbling at her paws.  Monday was the first I could get her in to see the vet and it could not come soon enough.  We discovered she was having an allergic reaction to something which caused her paws to become inflamed.  Poor sweet girl, I felt so badly for her.  Following an injection of medication to provide immediate relief, topical swabs, oral meds to start later, and a switch of her food, she finally slept through the night last night and I did too…I think.

 

Never Sleep Alone…indeed!  I would not have it any other way.  I recall the words Jon said to me after he acquiesced to my “gentle” pleading to bring Zoe, a Dalmatian/Lab puppy, into our lives.  Before he finally “caved”, he told me that “Under no circumstances at all would the puppy be allowed in our bed”.  Thrilled to have my first puppy, I immediately agreed!  I was so in love with this adorable stark white puppy with perfectly symmetrical black ears (spots to follow in the months to come), I would have happily slept on the floor with her if I had felt the need.  As it turned out, I would never have to “suffer”  the discomfort of sleeping on a hardwood floor.

Following a morning out running errands, I returned home eager to take Zoe out to show to our neighbors.  She had been with us less than a week and I wanted her to have a chance to settle in a bit before sharing with, basically….everyone.  To my horror, when I went to her crate, she was no where to be found.  I searched around the house and started to panic.  Jon, who was Captain of  a US Navy Ship at the time, happened to be home taking a nap.  Fearful of waking him with the pounding of my feet on the wooden floors as I raced from room to room, I took off my shoes and tried to calm down.  The puppy was gone and I was about to launch into a major meltdown.  I had to wake Jon so he could help me find our missing “baby”.

Low and behold….as I approached my sleeping husband, I noticed something white tucked under his arm.  In our bed, sleeping soundly and snuggled close to Jon with his arm lovingly wrapped around her, was Zoe.  photo 3 (1)Thus began our 16+ year addiction to hair on the bed and the pillow too, to finding the occasional buried toy or bone, having no leg room…but always having a soft armrest, being pushed to the very very VERY edge of the bed while an expensive dog bed lay empty on the floor, feeling a wet nose as it peeks out from under the covers, experiencing a four legged spoon or paws in our backs, and having  guaranteed “fall guy” to blame “it” on.

Sleeping with your dog or cat is certainly a personal preference,  but according to the American Pet Products Association, nearly half of dogs sleep in their owner’s beds. The survey they conducted found that 62% of small dogs, 41% of medium-sized dogs and 32% of large dogs sleep with their owners.  Studies done at the Mayo clinic conclude that sleeping with pets likely interrupts sleep patterns, making it highly probable that a lot of people in this country are operating with less than optimal sleep.

IMG_5089Given the fatigue I have felt the past couple days, this is likely true, but the joy, comfort, and safety I feel with BOLO and Henry curled up on our bed far outweigh the occasional fatigue that is easily resolved with a walk outside, breath of fresh air, or a good cup of coffee.

 

Lost Pet Prevention Month

In honor of the month of July being Lost Pet Prevention Month we wanted to share with you some great tips from our partners at PetHub.

 

6 Ways To Prevent Your Pet From Getting Lost

1) The most important things to have on hand are all your pet’s records and proof of ownership. If he is located, you’re going to have to prove that you are indeed his owner, and that he is safe and healthy enough to be released back into your care.

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2) Make sure your pet has a collar that is tagged with identification. This is one of the most important first step you can take to make your pet easy to identify. A useful type of ID tag is a lost pet locator, such as the one PetHub offers. This is simply a tag that attaches to your pet’s collar, and contains your pet’s name, and also a unique bar code that can be typed in on a computer or scanned by any smartphone.

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3) Secure your pets surroundings by making it far more difficult for them to escape in the first place. Building a screened-in porch for an indoor cat and erecting fences that animals can’t either burrow beneath or jump over, even if your property spans acres, is the best way to give your pet the chance to explore in a secure area, while knowing he’s likely to come home.

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4) Many pets escape when they’re in the middle of being transported, particularly if they’re going someplace unpleasant, like the vet. 
Dogs have been known to break their leashes and keep running, and cats will find a way out of a carrier that isn’t securely fastened at all times. Don’t give your pet even the slightest bit of opportunity to get away from you when you’re on the road.

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5) Make sure you have the right kind of leash for your dog. If the collar fits too loosely, he can use the leash set-up to slip it over his head and take off running. Meanwhile, using a thinly constructed retractable leash on a 120-pound dog provides the opportunity for the material to break, and your dog to run much faster than you can catch him.

Lawyer-Dog-Leash

 

6) Proper training goes a long way. While no pet will observe the rules all the time, especially when frightened, teaching your pet at an early age that bad behavior such as going beyond the boundaries or removing his collar is unacceptable will cut down on the likelihood that a pet will choose to wander, even when the opportunity presents itself.

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Make Time for Play

I am embarrassed to admit that I almost forgot what it is like to play and relax, but fortunately- this past holiday weekend I found the perfect recipe to put a little bliss back into my life.  If you take two dogs to one of the best dog beaches in the country, mix with lots of sunshine, tennis balls, and surf, then top it off with a holiday weekend you are guaranteed to rediscover what it is like to have fun.

Last week, at the start of the holiday weekend, I dropped Jon and Abby off at the airport for a trip back east to visit family.  Given that I had just spent the previous two weeks traveling first to Miami, then to Dallas, and have another week long business trip coming up in Las Vegas, I was looking forward to some quiet time at home alone with the pups.  It’s always hard for Jon to leave the dogs (not so much for Abby), so I brought them with me on the drive to the airport.

IMG_5471The weather was perfect with a crystal blue sky, bright sun, and warm gentle winds blowing off the coastline.  As I drove away to head back to the office, BOLO looked longingly out the front window, almost as though detecting the dog beach in Huntington Beach was only about 10 minutes away.  I looked at her in my rear view mirror and then said- “BOLO, you are right…we need to go to the beach!”  I took the next exit and headed straight towards the beach.  I switched my radio from the permanently fixed standard news channel to a station on Sirius XM that only played music from the 90’s, ugh that makes me sound old.  I cranked up those tunes and turned the air off in the car so I could roll down the windows a bit.  As the fresh air started pouring in, my smile grew from watching BOLO’s ears as they flapped back while she put her nose up to the crack in the back window.  Oh yea,  she knew where we were going.  Henry did too and I loved how they came alive in anticipation of some afternoon fun.  As the music blared, I reminisced about the numerous times I drove to the beach back east with a car load of girlfriends.  Those memories were priceless, certainly not for the faint at heart- yes, believe it or not, I was once wild, crazy, and carefree.

IMG_5463As I pulled up to dog beach and into the parking lot where it is almost impossible to find a parking space without waiting, a car was just pulling out.  Perfect!  I knew this afternoon was going to be fantastic.  Parked, meter filled, dogs on leash, tennis balls, poop bags, sunglasses and sunscreen…now, we were ready to go.  The walk from the car to the beach is very short but was obnoxious as BOLO was taunted by countless ground squirrel.  I struggled to keep her from racing towards them- a critical point since they were taunting her from the top of the cliffs.  The walkway is lined with protective railings so people don’t fall over the cliffs/rocks, but BOLO would surely bolt underneath to get to those pesky rodents so it was imperative and all I could do to keep her focused on her ball and away from the walkway.

IMG_5221At last, down at the beach.  A quick “sit- stay” for both dogs so I could take off their leashes-  instant freedom for us all.  It was warm outside so the first place both dogs ran to was the only spot of shade, directly under the lifeguard stand.  Henry is such a character and became instant buddies with the cool guy guarding the beach.  What a great job, being a lifeguard on dog beach!  BOLO took off for the water, dropped her ball and waited patiently while I took pictures of Henry and his new buddy.  The next two hours were amazing to me.  As I walked along the beach, I began to feel the stress and guilt from not returning immediately back to work, start to disappear.

IMG_5464I threw BOLO’s tennis ball into the ocean over and over again.  I reveled in the absolute blast she was having jumping over the waves to retrieve it and then cracked up as she discovered body surfing was a cool way to get back to shore.   Henry trotted along too, stopping to dig into the sand periodically and other times just stand there with the wind in his face.  I found it amazing how my time at the beach with the two dogs had shifted my mental mindset so drastically and so quickly.  Throughout the rest of the 4th of July weekend, we made several trips back to the beach.  Countless others had the same idea as it was absolutely packed with people and their dogs.  We spent hours one day playing, meeting other people and their dogs.  IMG_5466Henry continued to make himself at home on different people’s blankets, under the shade of various umbrellas, or sun bathing with strangers on the beach.  BOLO entertained beach goers as she played non- stop in the surf and mastered her skills at body surfing.  She even had me in the water,  something I have not done  in years out of fear of sharks.

 

I am so grateful for my dogs and the timing of the holiday weekend to keep me out of my office.  Playing with Henry and BOLO, getting out to the beach, getting a little sun-kissed tan, was exactly what I needed.  I even went out with friends and to a 4th of July party too….I think I am going to “Make time for Play”  a new habit.  Thank goodness for my doggies who will make sure I don’t break it!

Free To Be

I love the 4th of July.  I love the BBQ’s, beach, summertime desserts, and – of course – the fireworks.  I grew up outside of Washington DC and recall the memories of fighting the traffic, camping out on picnic blankets all day long, and dealing with the oppressive humidity that plagues the east coast in the summer- all leading up to the big fireworks celebration.  While I love the extravagant show, as a kid, I don’t think I ever really gave much thought  to what the day signified.  Independence Day…

The word “independence” can be defined in different ways for many people.  For Americans as a whole, Independence Day signifies the departure from being governed under British rule and a chance to build the United States of America; one nation, under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.  For my daughter, getting her driver’s license provided her with a sense of independence.  From my perspective as a parent, teaching her to do her own laundry, to cook, and to understand money management helps foster a different definition of independence.

We all have personal freedoms protected by the Constitution, but there are some who find themselves “imprisoned”.  These people are trapped behind experiences so traumatic that their lives are now controlled by the limitations and stress caused by post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  One such group of people where PTSD seems to be pervasive is our military veterans.  The service member suffering from this disorder is not the same person who left behind family and friends as they embarked on combat tour.  Their struggles, often debilitating, dramatically affect their loved ones.  While these American heroes are not literally imprisoned behind bars, many feel they have lost or have limited independence to function effectively throughout their day.  They are dealing with depression, drug abuse, nightmares, anxiety, physical and mental health issues, and  the deteriorating relationships affected by their behavior.

Loss of independence can be taken more literally for animals behind bars.  Beyond their control, thousands of dogs and cats end up in shelters all over our country.  They do not understand the meaning of independence and many often do not live to discover what “freedom” could mean to them.

You might be asking, what do either of these topics have to do with Independence Day?  And what is the relation between humans trapped in their minds and dogs and cats trapped in shelters?  Interestingly, I have seen how merging the two together creates new found independence for both and stories that are priceless.

VolunteersThe positive benefits of animals for improved mental and physical health in humans is well documented.  It is no surprise that pairing a dog with someone suffering from PTSD can bring about remarkable improvement in quality of life.  We recently discovered Freedom Service Dogs of America,  an organization who recognized the opportunity to save dogs from shelters and train them to be service animals for our servicemembers.  I was moved by their mission to bring freedom to two groups I value and care about tremendously – dogs and veterans.  Everyone at Dog is Good instantly knew this was an organization we wanted to support.

David and SummerChanging lives for the better is not an inexpensive or small undertaking.  The dedicated team at Freedom Service Dogs, along with their committed group of volunteers, and support received from celebrities such as Dean Caine, and sports phenom Eric Decker, have done amazing work to graduate over 350 client/dog teams and bring freedom to the Veterans who served to protect our country.

As you enjoy your BBQ’s, picnics, vacation, and time with family and friends watching fireworks to celebrate America’s birthday, take a minute to see first hand what happens when “dog meets vet”.

Loyalty, Bravery, Freedom (2)We proudly wear our Freedom T-shirts in support of Freedom Service Dogs of America,  and we want you to know $10.00 from your purchase of this awesome T-shirt directly supports this wonderful cause.

Happy 4th of July!!!!

A Company in the Company of Dogs

IMG_5036Tomorrow marks an exciting day for many, it’s Bring Your Dog to Work Day!  There are many companies big and small that allow their employees to bring their pups to work!  For some it’s  an everyday adventure.  As an employee of Dog is Good, I find it rewarding on all levels that everyday is bring your dog to work day.  I recently read that working in an environment that allows dogs lowers stress, increases employee productivity and adds to an overall happier work environment.  I absolutely agree.

 

 

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I find joy when I am sitting at my desk in the morning and hear quick little feet running up the staircase and then down the hall.  I try to guess which dog it is based on the intensity of the of the footprint sounds.  Jake, BOLO, Henry, Lulu, Jax, and Dixie frequent DIG headquarters regularly and absolutely add to the positive dynamics of the work environment.  I find myself smiling and at times laughing out loud during the day when the pups are here.  Whether it’s Henry laying in the middle of the hallway looking exhausted, BOLO checking every trashcan on the premise multiple times a day, or Jake making his daily visit down to the warehouse to meet up with the UPS delivery man, it gives me joy.

IMG_4785As we all know our jobs can be stressful, our days can be jammed packed and move at lightning speed and it can be challenging to stop for a fun moment or just smile.  When the pups are here in the office I find myself doing that.  Just stopping to smile.  The core of Dog is Good focuses on the impact of the dog-human relationship and the positive benefits each has on the other.  I get to experience this everyday.

Kids and Dogs….Becoming a Dad

photo 2 (1)Although I am not sure he was ready- or had even given much thought to becoming a father, Jon took on the role of “dad” first to a puppy and then to a human all in the same year.  With Father’s Day approaching, I thought back to the moment when his life was changed forever.

Almost nineteen years ago, we got word that we were going to be moving overseas.  Jon was taking command of ship at the Navy base in Sasebo Japan.  I was excited about the idea of living in a foreign country.  Once there, I made many new friends, immersed myself in the culture, and enjoyed daily adventures on the beautiful island, which seemed like paradise to me.  Although it was incredibly fun, I felt something was missing.  With Jon’s deployments at sea and his need to attend to a demanding job, I longed for something to care for.

One morning, there it was…the ad in the local base paper advertising FREE puppies to a good home.  I called Jon at work to tell him about these puppies.  His immediate response was “No way, we are not getting a dog”.  I pleaded and told him I just wanted to look at sweet puppies and promised I would not beg like a 10 year old once we were there.  As most husbands do, he broke down and agreed to take the 30 minute drive to “look” at a litter of puppies. Once we hung up the phone, I immediately called my friend to let her know that we were going to be getting a puppy.  She was surprised to hear the news as she knew Jon and his practicality.  She asked if he had really said yes to my plea to get a puppy.  photo 3 (1)Of course he did not say yes to the puppy, but he did say that we could go look. The next day, into our home came the most adorable white puppy with perfectly symmetrical black ears.  Her spots would appear later (something I did not know about Dalmatians).  She was simply irresistible and had me “under her spell”  the moment she arrived.  Jon insisted that the dog would never be allowed in the bed or on the couch.  Ok- I agreed, I was just thrilled to have a puppy.  This would be the first of many rules that would be broken.

Over the next 17 years, his child (Abby) and fur kids Zoe, Sasha, Henry, and BOLO would test him, teach him lessons, and create opportunity to experience joy, wonder, bewilderment, pride, anger, patience, serenity, and mayhem… basically the gamut of emotions.

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For those who know Jon, his demeanor is consistently calm. Seriously, calm!  He is a great father to our daughter and is a great dad to the pups too.  Parenting by example, Jon has made a lasting impact on his daughter – providing her with great wisdom on the value of always doing the right thing, teaching her the importance of thoughtful leadership, and compelling her to work towards being exceptional at everything she does.

It’s hard for some guys to show a lot of emotion and Jon is no different.  He did share his vulnerability though as a “dog dad”, shedding tears openly in front of me and Abby during the painful moments when we had to say goodbye to Zoe and then Sasha.

Tears from a grieving man over the loss of his beloved companions were important for his daughter to see.  It softened the “stoic military man” persona and made him more human.

jon throwing ballHenry and BOLO continue to bring out the best in him ( well, except for those frustrating moments when he has to clean up whatever is left in the wake of BOLO’s “adventures”).  I know some of his favorite moments each day are spent maintaining the skills he acquired as a baseball pitcher while throwing the ball with BOLO.  His “fur kids” help him relax and recharge during walks on the trails, romps at the beach, or just chilling out at Starbucks, reading his paper, with them lying by his feet.  Just as he has always done for Abby, Jon takes time to ensure the pups get what they need.  In return, they give him exactly what he needs -peace, quiet, tranquility and at least an hour where “conversation is not required”.  For most guys, this is absolutely golden.

IMG_4923Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful men out there who are special mentors, serve as an ATM to a 17 year old when needed (ok, that may be just our family), and who pick up poop, throw up, crumbs/mess from whatever dogs get into (ok, maybe just my family again).

Dads- you are truly awesome!  May your dogs and family celebrate you for the supermen that you truly are!

 

 

Recognize Opportunity

zoe sasha henry pupDogs always come from a place of abundance.  Especially in the case of food.  They seem to know whenever it is present and assume it’s theirs for the taking.  In my own household the dogs turn up their noses at miniscule crumbs on the floor.  Why waste efforts there when there is opportunity to snag leftover salmon on the kitchen table, demolish an entire cake prepared for a catered event, stealthily consume an entire plate of hors d’oeuvres without the victim ever noticing, or steal fig newton cookies from the hands of a toddler.  My dogs have been the happy beneficiaries of my harried routine.  Regardless of how satiated they feel, they recognize opportunity when food is around and my brain is pre-occupied.  I’ll admit, as a dog trainer, it pains me to admit my failure to thwart food stealing and counter surfing.  Of the four dogs in my life, Henry is the only one who does not steal food.  I believe the only reason is due to his stature.

photo 2 (7)Zoe remained lean and fit up until Abby was about a year.  Her controlled diet, limited access to treats, and regular exercise maintained her weight and “girlish figure”.  Zoe was quite unimpressed with the addition of Abby to our lives.  She seemed to tolerate her more than anything else until she discovered that the baby did in fact have some utility.  Zoe learned very quickly that the best place to plant herself was beneath this tiny human’s high chair.  From Zoe’s perspective, the baby now had utility as a food delivery system.  Abby would delight in the response the dog would give to every Cheerio, animal cracker, or green pea thrown on the floor.  Despite Zoe’s ulterior motives to snag snacks out of Abby’s hands, Abby loved that she happily trotted by her side from room to room.

 Sasha was the queen of counter surfing.  She acquired this skill after walking through the kitchen to discover grilled chicken breasts and steaks left unguarded on a plate.  The counter tops in this home were just barely above her head and the immediate access to freshly grilled meat awaiting transfer to a dinner table was an instant jackpot.  She scarfed it all, leaving nothing for the main dish at the small dinner party about to begin.  And so began her career as the official counter surfer and trash can cleaner.  Over the years, Sasha would become a “master of her trade”.  Described by all who knew her, she was the sweetest, most gentle and loving dog you would ever meet.  She was also smart and a wee bit conniving.  It was not beneath her to quietly work  her way through a party and stealthily snag food off of people’s plates.  In situations where you saw her approaching, she would work her charm as though she was coming over just to say hello and grace you with her sweetness.  A new guest would not be aware of her tactics and would then lean in to pet her and tell her how sweet she was, at which point she would clean off whatever food had been on their plate.  I remember being absolutely mortified as I watched her approach someone in deep conversation with another guest and immediately devour an entire piece of cake off their plate.  The person never noticed but the look on their face was priceless when they discovered it had disappeared.

IMG_4811Bolo is Sasha reincarnated…at least in the food stealing department.  Just like Sasha, Bolo happily greets everyone at work by first checking their trash can to ensure nothing important was left behind.  Bolo is smart.  Her food stealing often involves proper calculation and timing to get exactly what she is after, and nothing is safe when she is in this mode.  The first twelve months of her life in our home were very controlled. As I prepared her for her role as a future Leader Dog for the Blind, she was never unattended and had a solid response to the cue “leave it”.  Once she was “career changed” and returned to us, all bets were off.  With such a well mannered and trained dog, no one ever thought to keep a watchful eye on her around food. I don’t recall exactly when the first incident occurred, but I could write an entire coffee table book about how adept she became at  “recognizing opportunity”.  Following an evening out at dinner with friends, I brought home leftover salmon, my favorite.  I took it out of the fridge the next morning so I would not forget to take it to work and placed it on the kitchen table in a spot where it would be impossible (or so I thought) for Bolo to get to, and then headed off to the gym.  She laid down on the floor as I left, creating the illusion that she was just going to chill out and rest up for the day ahead. I believe the moment she got up to look out the window and watch my car disappear her mind was racing into action.  She knew something delectable was awaiting her.  Also in the bag to bring to work was candle, which made the bag relatively heavy.  A small portion of the bag had been placed on a pile of papers that I thought were out of reach. IMG_1907Bolo is very clever and  managed to figure out how to slide the pile of stuff  very carefully without pulling it out from under the bag and losing her only delivery option.  In the process she knocked over a full cup of coffee, which became wedged between a chair and the table.  Undeterred, she continued to work that pile of paper closer to the edge until she could grab the handle of the bag, take it up to my room, and begin to devour the lunch I had been looking forward to eating later.

She continued to add to her “resume” on a number of occasions.  There was the time she consumed an entire cake I had prepared for our holiday party, making sure to give it back to me the next day in regurgitated form on my office floor the next morning.  IMG_4810At work, she managed to snag and eat an entire chicken breast right off a plate when our marketing director turned her attention to her computer.  I woke up one morning to a ball of dough on my bedroom floor, the result of the previous day’s adventure in a bag of flour.  We lost an entire fish stew one evening when she pulled the pan off the stove and devoured just about all of it before we walked into the kitchen to discover the disaster (stove was off and pan was cooled).  Like I said, I could go on and on, suffice it to say dogs are brilliant at recognizing opportunity.

How do you evaluate the opportunities presented to you each day?  Do you notice them or does lack of clarity blind you to opportunities that appear directly before your eyes?  Do you attack opportunity like BOLO on a trashcan or does fear prevent you from taking action?

Dogs are brilliant at recognizing opportunity and seizing it the moment it presents itself.