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.

Unleash Your Potential

During a recent training session with a client and her adorable puppy, I had the opportunity to work on tricks.  Mind you, every new behavior is a “trick”- even Sit, Down, Stay, etc… The session was fun for me and highlighted the capacity dogs have for learning, especially when utilizing positive reinforcement techniques done with clicker training.  As Scooter’s mom and friend looked on, I had Scooter performing the tricks “shake”, “roll-over”, and “spin” within 45 minutes.  I think what surprised them both was the fact that I never said one word to the pup during the initial training of each new trick.

I absolutely love to use clicker training as my primary methodology when I work with dogs. There is no doubt that dogs play an active role in the learning process and seeing it in action is just, well- really cool.  I could go into great detail here on clicker training but for now will just highlight the point that the clicker device provides an audible sound which let’s the dog know, “yes! That’s it!” and is always followed by a reward.  A trainer presses the clicker in the exact moment the dog offers the behavior he/she is trying to teach.

IMG_4642Scooter jumped on this right away, offering up different behaviors.  Every time he lifted his paw, I was able to click and treat.  He tried a variety of things until he began to notice that it was the paw lift and putting it in my hand that got the click sound every time.  Once he figured that out, he offered up the same behavior every single time.  Keep in mind, that I did not say one word until he understood what we were doing.  At that point, I started to say “shake” before he lifted his paw.  Before we knew it, BAM, he was “shaking” our hands. Now that he had this down, teaching the next couple tricks was easy.  He knew how the “training game”  was played and learned the other tricks much faster.

 While my training session focused on simple tricks, think about the work that goes into training service dogs, drug sniffing dogs, search and rescue dogs, or dogs that perform for entertainment.  Most of the behaviors these dogs learn can be quite complex and need to be chunked down into steps which are then put together.  Some are founded in instinctive behavior but others are completely new to the dog and must be learned.  Dogs can do amazing things…the potential is there and unlimited if it is fostered properly.  I’m sure, like me, you have encountered the occasional “unruly” dog.  Unfortunately, a lot of these are the ones who are surrendered to shelters because their owners never took the time to unleash their potential through proper training. This is such a shame.  Provided with opportunity and the right instruction dogs and humans can accomplish unbelievable things.

©Dog is GoodThis past week marked the countdown to my daughter’s departure from high school.  It began with her final high school show choir performance.  Abby has been involved in a performing arts program since she was in elementary school.  As we sat through 4 shows, beaming with pride in each one, so many memories flooded my head.  Watching her transform over the past two years into a wonderful leader and positive role model has left Jon and I both very proud.  Abby belongs on stage, we have known this since she was 2.  She unleashes her potential on stage with incredible passion every time the stage lights go on.  More importantly, you see her potential backstage and offstage as she coaches and mentors others, inspiring them to find and unleash their own potential within.  The combination of her talent, love for the arts, her unwavering commitment, and the right guidance over the years has provided her with tremendous opportunities.

fAMILY PICAs a parent, you marvel at how your children grow.  I look at Abby more closely these days- with love and admiration for the young woman she has become.  I’ve always known the possibilities that lay within my daughter and to watch her discover this on her own is what every parent hopes for.  As she walks across the stage next week to receive her diploma, there will be tears in our eyes.  Tears of filled with joy (and maybe even a little relief) for the opportunities ahead as she continues to follow her dreams.  Abby discovered the importance of focusing on something you are passionate about,  believing in yourself, giving 110% as you pursue your goals, learning from great teachers and mentors, and never being afraid to unleash the potential within to become the best you could possibly be.

Hmmm…., just think where she’d be if I’d used a clicker

 Abby will be attending the Young Americans College of the Performing Arts

 

It’s Not Where You Walk, It’s Who Walks With You

When you have dogs, you walk every day…or at least you should be walking every day. The other morning, during a walk with Henry and BOLO, I reminisced about walks with all my dogs and started to think about the real meaning of Never Walking Alone.

With the many places the Navy took us over the years, came opportunity to create memories on walks in a number of beautiful places.  The most memorable walk of all took place while we were stationed in the Northwest.  During our time there we had just two dogs- Zoe, my dalmatian/lab mix and Sasha- the hound/pointer mix (today would likely be referred to as a “Hointer”).

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Everyday, after dropping Abby off at school, I would take the dogs and I would head for the hills.  Miles and miles of trails awaited us.  The area was well known for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and of course- dog walking.  I loved this time alone with the dogs.  They loved the freedom of running off-leash, taking off to chase rabbits or the occasional deer and then returning by my side in complete bliss.  I loved the solitude and the opportunity to let my mind relax.  These walks were probably the only walks I have taken where I was truly mindful of my surroundings and how peaceful that made me feel.  It was on these trails that I would experience something amazing and surreal.  The day was a gloriously sunny day, unusual for the Northwest at that time of year.  After about an hour of hiking, I was at the top of a major trailhead.  The sky was crystal clear and the brightest blue I had ever seen.  The air was fresh and temperate at about 55 degrees.  I stood there  taking in the beauty around me.  The dogs stopped too as if they realized I was “onto something”  -  or maybe they just sensed that they needed to stay still so as not to disrupt this perfect moment.  Miles away I could see Mt. Baker, snow capped and glistening in full view.  Also a great distance away was Mt. Rainier, the most majestic mountain I have ever seen.  I alternated between the two sites in complete awe of nature.  I felt the moment could not get any better until right before my eyes a huge bald eagle flew into sight and settled down on a dead tree trunk.  My first thought was ,”great, Sasha is going to go after our national bird and ruin the entire moment”-  but miraculously she did not.  Maybe it was because the eagle  was enormous and unlike any bird she had never seen.  Both dogs stood there with me quietly.  At that moment I remember thinking how grateful I was to be alive, to be with my dogs, and to be standing in that very place at that very moment to witness the quiet beauty that had unfolded in front of me.  I felt a keen sense of happiness.

“Surround yourself with people who make you happy. People who make you laugh, who help you when you’re in need. People who genuinely care. They are the ones worth keeping in your life. Everyone else is just passing through.”   Karl Marx

photo 3“Never walk alone, it’s not where you walk…it’s who walks with you”. The people you choose to walk by your side can have a profound effect on which paths you take and the experiences you have during the journey called life. When you travel alone on this path, it too will affect who you become and the success you achieve.  Inviting the right people into my life has helped put me on a trajectory to  achieve and possibly exceed my wildest dreams and discover true happiness along the way.  Lifes journey is not meant to be taken alone but who you choose to walk with you can make the difference between success or mediocrity, happiness or  regret.

 As a parent, we monitor who our children hang out with.  Why? Because we don’t want them hanging out with people who will have a bad influence on them.  Adulthood is no different.  To achieve success in life, you need to walk with positive, supportive people, goal oriented, people.  Conversely, you need to steer clear from poisonous people who will drain you with their complaints, gossip, excuses, and overall negativity towards life.

I am grateful everyday to have wonderful people walking by my side.  At work there are brilliant people, who work magic in their areas of expertise. Their commitment to the growth of Dog is Good and support of our vision there has made Dog is Good the reality it is today.

I am also blessed with the most amazing friends one could ever ask for.  They truly are the most inspiring, caring, giving, thoughtful, empathetic, non-judgmental, women I have ever known.  I strive to  emulate the amazing qualities I find in each of them and, whether they live near or far,  I am always uplifted from conversations or time spent together.  I am fortunate to have a wonderful husband who shares similar dreams and choses to continue walking with me as we grow Dog is Good, even on days when I am not fun to be around (yes, every once in a while those occur).

Lastly, I am fortunate to constantly meet successful, like minded entrepreneurs.  These men and women are great teachers, offer inspiration, and help solidify my belief that anything is possible.

©Dog is GoodJust as we take time out to walk with our dogs, it is critical to invite the right people to walk by your side throughout life.  As you pursue the best that life has to offer, remember- It’s not where you walk, it’s who walks with you along the way.

  1. Develop a mindset  that attracts successful, uplifting, goal oriented, focused, supportive, and positive people.  Remember that these people do not want to surround themselves with others who drain their energy with negative attitudes.  Begin  thinking and behaving like the people you want  in your circle of influence.

  2. Expand your associations through organizations and networking groups.  As you meet like minded individuals, foster new relationships by focusing on how you can bring value to them.  Follow up and maintain contact with those you want to emulate.

  3. Invite only people of character to “walk with you”.  Surround yourself with individuals who treat everyone with respect.  You can learn much from observing anyone who make disparaging remarks or becomes agitated and rude towards strangers. Gossip is poison. Stay clear of those who constantly gossip about others behind their backs.

Thoughts on Motherhood

Last weekend, I had the chance to go back east for a whirlwind weekend to  celebrate my niece’s Bat Mitzvah.  Despite the brevity of the visit, I was able to spend time with my mom. On the return flight home, I thought about my mom and  motherhood in general.

20150508_190233My mom got her first dog 9 years ago. It is interesting how bringing a dog into ones life changes how you “parent” and how you enjoy things in general. .  Quincy is a ball obsessed, high energy, and comical Boston Terrier.  When I call my mom, the conversation quickly shifts to what Quincy is doing. I enjoy the detailed description on  the various antics he displays for my mom’s entertainment. I crack up at the effect of my long distance, over the phone dog training. Apparently, it was not as effective as I had hoped as Quincy still believes the cue to “SIT” is “SIT SIT SIT”.

During the weekend, now armed with her smartphone, my mom  was able to show me lots of pictures and video. I like how her demeanor shifts when she is talking about her dog.  She seems relaxed and smiles. Dogs seem to do this for us.  It is clear that Quincy has been the perfect companion.

Everyone says Motherhood is a difficult job. They also say you never know what it is like until you have a child of your own. photo (4)  I would have to agree with both statements. Just as dogs love us unconditionally, we strive to love our children unconditionally.  This is not always an easy task. Growing up, I was a difficult teenager.  Yes, I know that is extremely hard to fathom, but I was.  When I was 12, my parents divorced. At that age,  I did not have the capacity to comprehend the emotional strain divorce has on a parent.  I was angry and I did not make life moving forward any easier for my mom.   It wasn’t until adulthood that I realized all the sacrifices my mother made to ensure my siblings and I always had a roof over our heads, food in the refrigerator, and clothes on our backs.

 My mom gave up a career to stay home raising 3 kids and now was suddenly thrown into the workforce.  She is brilliant and because she is so brilliant-  yes, worth repeating again-  she was able to get a job with the government and quickly propel herself up from entry level salary to the top of the pay scale ladder, taking on leadership positions. She worked very hard and it taught me that every challenge brings both opportunity or turmoil.  She chose opportunity, despite the turmoil I was creating at home. She made the decision to succeed and to focus on what needed to be done to raise responsible, accountable, motivated, and goal oriented children.  She may not have had the energy to deal with me at the time, but I was learning the importance of being strong, independent, and committed to do whatever it takes to make things work.

 Of course, as a grandma, she is totally different, I guess all grandma’s are- but I appreciate how she has evolved over time and am grateful that I have an open and good relationship with her.

abby zoe picture

 My daughter is graduating high school this year. She has spent her entire life growing up with dogs. I often joke that I raised Abby like a dog. Not really-  I just learned  the same techniques that worked with the dogs, actually were applicable to my parenting style as well. Of course, my reinforcements had to evolve as she matured.   Watching  the Little Mermaid for the 1000th time  worked marvelously when she was 3. Now, filling the gas tank in her car seems to be the best reward.

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My 4 “kids”

When Abby looks back on her childhood and teenage years, I don’t know what lessons she will say she learned.  My hope is that I have instilled the same values my mother taught me:

Have a strong work ethic:  make yourself indispensable by being the first one to show up and the last one to leave, always performing at 100% even when no one is watching.

Never Stop Learning: Life is a continual process of growth. When you stop learning, you stop growing

When challenged, roll up your sleeves and do what’s necessary for a positive outcome

Be Kind: Understand you never really know what another person’s story is in any given moment.

Surround Yourself with Positive influences:  People who uplift you and never try to bring you down

Get a Dog:  Dogs soften our souls, comfort us at time of distress, keep a smile on your face, force you to get out and enjoy  fresh air,  provide opportunity to meet lots of new people, keep you young at heart, and ensure that you are never alone.

©Dog is Good

Abby at 17 and BOLO

As a daughter, a mom to Abby, and dog mom to Henry and BOLO my life feels really good. My adult relationship with my mom has given me opportunity for reflexion and appreciation..  My relationship to my daughter is the most precious gift I have ever received. My relationship to  the dogs has given me some semblance of balance and has been the driving force behind my life’s work.

There are many facets of motherhood- joyful, stressful,pride, and sad at times.  In reality, everyday is mother’s day- we are the example for our children to emulate and the sole providers our dogs trust and depend upon.  I treasure this responsibility and thank my own mom for giving me the solid foundation to become the person and mom I am today.

Happy Mother’s Day!

If It’s Worth Doing, It’s Worth Overdoing

©Dog is GoodFor Those of you who are currently  (or have been at some point) a parent of a teenager, you may relate to the experience I had this morning.  Let me preface this story by saying that I am fortunate to have an easy going, respectful, and genuinely good-natured teen.  However, I have to wonder sometimes why she chooses which activities/tasks will receive 100% of her effort.

This morning I came downstairs to discover last night’s dinner plates, etc. on the counter near the dishwasher. Her chore was to empty the dishwasher.  After doing so, she neglected to take the dirty dishes and put them in the now- empty dishwasher. Other than using the excuse that she is a “teenager”,  I don’t know why she avoided the obvious “next step”. Yet I do know, if it had been something she enjoyed, she would have gone above and beyond the “call of duty”.  It begged the question, why do anything at a level less than 100%?

Dogs always seem to go all out ( and then some) with everything they do. jon throwing ball They don’t just trot towards a thrown ball – they race with intention and excitement.  They don’t just lightly paw at the earth to get something below – they dig enthusiastically. They don’t just welcome you home with a quick fly-by sniff of your clothing and a lame tail wag-  they are exuberant, offering up full body wags, kisses, and power tail wags.  They even put forth maximum effort to disguise themselves in “war paint”.If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing. Let me explain…

 

On a recent walk, in a safe area where the dogs run off-leash, Bolo managed to discover wild animal poop.  Deep in conversation, Jon and I did not notice… until she ran past us.  As we continued walking and talking, the stench took us over.poopy bolo  Bolo, a beautiful yellow lab, had smeared herself in animal feces, transforming  into  a light chocolate colored lab.  She chose not to engage in the “standard rolling of shoulder/neck area” poopy henryin the poop but instead chose to go “all out” and roll her ENTIRE body in this disgusting animal mess.  I’ll spare you the details of driving home with her in the car, but suffice it to say, it took SEVERAL showers to get the mess and stench off of her.

My point is that Bolo and all the other dogs I have ever worked with, not only go after what they want, they go at it with 100% effort.

I find the statement, “How you do anything is often how you do everything” very impactful.

When we make a decision to do something, we can chose to make the experience/outcome “good” or we can make it extraordinary!  Taking the time to provide that “extra touch” over- performing and over-delivering is what differentiates between average and amazing.  Going beyond excellent makes your personal involvement in something more valuable, and the experience it creates for others simply unforgettable.  We all want to be unforgettable, right?

If my daughter approached the kitchen chore in the same vain as Bolo approached rolling in animal poop , not only would the dishes have been in the dishwasher, the entire kitchen would have  been immaculate.  If It’s Worth Doing, It’s Worth Overdoing!

Do you have a story showcasing how your extra attention towards something made an extraordinary  impact?   Please share with us!

Spring Cleaning!

Looking at the calendar this morning, I realized that today marks the first day of Spring. The sun is shining and the fresh air has provoked that urge to do a little spring cleaning
For many people, spring cleaning is a time to get rid of all the clutter in their lives. It is no different in our home. In our house we strive to get rid of the things we don’t use, do some serious deep cleaning, and freshen up everything for BOLO and Henry too.

Here are my tips for a Spring Cleaning session that will benefit not only your life, but your animals as well:

Use Healthy Cleaners: When scrubbing down the bathrooms, kitchen or floor tiles, be sure to use a cleaner that does not contain any toxic components such as bleach or ammonia. Using a non-toxic product that is pet friendly will eliminate the possibility of your animals getting sick. Another option, is to make your own cleaning solution using vinegar and rubbing alcohol. Keep in mind that different products can be toxic to different pets. For instance, dogs and cats are not as sensitive to cleaning products as birds. If unsure about specific cleaning product, check with your vet before using it in a place that your dog currently inhabits.

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Keep Their Beds Fresh and Clean: When washing your pets bed in the home, be sure that the bed has a removable cover. These will last longer and handle more washing cycles. Beds hold onto that “dog odor” and washing it regularly will make the home more fresh and clean. When washing, be sure to use a non scented-detergent Be sure to always use non-scented detergent, and avoid fabric softener so that it won’t irritate your pet’s skin. When done let it dry in the sun so that it can air out and be fresh for your pet.

Clean Your Pets Environment: just like we want our environments to be clean, so do our pets. Regular brushing and grooming will reduce shedding and improve the cleanliness of your home. Also, using synthetic, rubber-backed mats by doors in the home as well as under food dishes will collect moisture and make it easier to clean. Removing pet hair from furniture that your pet regularly relaxes on is much simpler when using a damp rubber glove and brushing it over the couch, pillows, blankets, etc.

Train a Clean-Conscious Dog: after all of your hard work is done, and spring cleaning is completed, the last thing you want is for your pet to run through the home with muddy paws. In order to avoid this, train your dog to stand at the door so that you can wipe their paws and fur that may be dirty from a long day of play in the backyard. Allowing a dog to get up on the furniture is a personal decision but remember, dogs do not differentiate between clean and dirty. Trust me, if they are used to jumping up on the couch to lay down they will do it even when covered in dirt. To prevent accidental couch stains, place slip covers over designated areas to protect the furniture.

Spring Vet Trip: As winter comes to an end, and summer approaches, the spring is the perfect time to take your pet to the vet for a check- up. This is the best time of year to prepare your pet for an adventurous summer after checking in to make sure everything is healthy and ready for fun!

This year, take the time to freshen up the home for you and your pets. It will leave you both feeling rejuvenated and ready for this next season.

Always Leave Your Mark

I am a firm believer in the idea that our dogs teach us lessons through simple things. Their behavior is the main source of our company’s inspired by dog concepts. For instance, one lesson that I have taken from Henry is to “Always Leave Your Mark”. I was recently so moved by a story told to me by a dear friend about her daughter. It truly defined what it means to “Always Leave Your Mark”.

First, a brief backstory.

We moved down to California when my daughter Abby was going into the 4th grade. She was not too happy to leave her friends behind in the state of WA and start a new school where she didn’t know anyone. As you can imagine, for a nine year old this isn’t the easiest experience, so I decided to join her for lunch on hersecond day of classes. We were invited to sit down at a table with two very “stereotypical” California girls. As they sat across from us with their sunkissed faces and sun bleached blonde hair, one of the little girls welcomed us. Her name was Madison McCulloch, and that day she asked us a lot of questions about where we came from, and excitedly told us all about Seal Beach. That day, Abby and Madi became instant friends.

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Fast forward eight years later; that freckled faced little girl has grown up into a beautiful young woman who not only holds a leadership position at her high school, but also works a part time job and volunteers regularly for a number of worthy causes. Obviously, for any sixteen year old these are all wonderful accomplishments. However, what makes Madi stand out is how she leaves her mark on a daily basis that showcases the true spirit of humanity.

Madi works at a local coffee shop, Bogarts. She is quite personable and is a valued employee. Upon visiting the coffee shop, her mother witnessed a beautiful selfless act of kindness towards another human being. Like many communities around the country, there are individuals in Seal Beach who do not have a roof over their head, a regular place to sleep, to bathe, or to eat. One such gentleman walked into Bogarts and was greeted politely and enthusiastically by Madi. His appearance might have made others feel uncomfortable but Madi spoke to him respectfully, and energetically asked him how he was feeling that day while inquiring if he would like a cup of coffee. He graciously answered that he was doing well but needed to use the restroom.

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Without hesitation Madi pointed him in the right direction and told him that she would have a cup of coffee and a donut ready for him when he returned. She promptly poured him a cup of coffee and set a donut on the counter. When he appeared again, he took the coffee and donut and politely thanked her before leaving. Madi wished him well and told him to have a wonderful day. My friend watched he daughter in awe as all this took place. She asked her daughter how she could just give him coffee and a donut. Madi smiled at her mother and told her without a second thought that she did it all the time and that she paid for it using her own money. The tears welled up in my friend’s eyes…and mine…when she told me the story.

We all have the opportunity to do things daily that positively impact the world around us. These “things” can be as simple as a smile, lending a helping hand directly, or communicating with another human being with the respect they so deserve. Rather than go about our days caught up with ourselves, our computer, the television, or our smart phones, I challenge everyone to find ways to “Always Leave Your Mark”. With this conscious effort, your home, your work environment, your community, your “world” will be a much brighter, happier, and better place because you have been there.

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