A Beautiful Blessing From Bentley's Pet Stuff
Blogs, Life with Jackson & Tinkerbell, Products & Places I Love For Dogs, Uncategorized

A Beautiful Blessing From Bentley’s Pet Stuff

Last week our country observed the seventeenth anniversary of the horrific September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. I had intentionally stayed away from social media that day because I am adamant that I never want to profit in any way from the murder of 2,996 innocent people, even if it is from an increase in clicks and engagement because I posted something. That is how seriously I take that solemn and important day. However, I cannot help but share the beautiful “thank you” gift that we received from Bentley’s Pet Stuff because of my husband’s work in the fire service. 

Late that afternoon I realized that I had forgotten to purchase food for Jackson and Tinkerbell, and I ran out to our local Bentley’s Pet Stuff. Because I am a regular customer there, I knew both of the women working and we chatted for a while after I had paid for the food. Somehow the topic came up that my husband is a professional full-time firefighter, and they surprised me by telling me that they were going to refund my purchase. The owner of Bentley’s Pet Stuff had sent out an email that morning that they would be covering up to $100 of any purchases made by police officers or firefighters that day as a way of saying thank you for their service.

I was shocked and nearly started to cry right then and there in the store, completely overwhelmed with gratitude at this gesture. They told me to grab some treats and more food, then refunded my cash purchase. I held back the tears and said thank you about a dozen times before one of them said, “Don’t thank us, we are saying thank you to you and your husband for what he does for the community!” After I left, I made it all the way to the car, put my items in the back, and then started to cry for real, big hot tears of gratitude flowing down my face.

I know I don’t write about my husband much, and the reason for that is that he is very private, and this is a blog about dogs, not my life as a fire-wife. There are blogs out there written by other fire wives about being married to a firefighter, because it’s definitely not your normal 9-5 job.

Firefighters are a unique personality type and each call puts them right in the middle of the worst day of someone else’s life. They see things that other humans cannot fathom, and every day is entirely different from the last with zero ability to predict what might happen on any given shift.

Most of them honor a very long tradition of never bringing the job home to their spouse, so I rarely hear about any calls. They handle life and stress quite differently, and over time I have learned that the best thing I can do in terms of moral support and understanding is to simply be there without pressing for information. I know very little what his day is like except for the times he does fire inspections at the no-kill shelter near his firehouse and he sends me a photo of a dog that he is tempted to add to our canine family. 

Tinkerbell Loves to Snuggle with Daddy
Tinkerbell Loves to Snuggle with Daddy

Jackson and Tinkerbell can always get a smile out of him no matter how hard of a shift he has had. They will hear his truck pull up, the garage door open and their ears perk up. I say, “Daddy’s home! Go find Daddy!” and they run to the inside garage door, big otter tails wagging like crazy to greet their beloved Daddy.

Our non-snuggle pup Jackson is drawn to his daddy and will do his “awkward snuggling” routine with him because they share a dog-human bond of not enjoying people hanging on them or showering them with kisses and over the top attention like Tinkerbell and I both enjoy. And Tinkerbell’s lack of personal space, endless puppy kisses and insistence on climbing on top of his chest like a 65 pound baby can blast through any bad mood because she has him wrapped around her dew claw.

As I sat down to write this blog, I realized that this gift of food and treats from Bentley’s Pet Stuff was more than simply a financial gift. It was a way to nourish and fuel the dogs who do such a good job of loving their firefighter daddy in a pure, unselfish way in which their lack of words is a bonus instead of a detriment. Thank you, Bentley’s Pet Stuff, for supporting your first responders and the dogs who love them. 

Jax napping with his Dad
Jax napping with his Dad

If you read this blog, please consider donating to a reputable fire service related organization like the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance: https://www.ifsa.org/

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My Dogs are My Self Care
Blogs, Love, Laugh, Woof Life, Uncategorized

My Dogs are My Self Care

Lately I am seeing the phrase “self care” everywhere I look. Now, maybe it’s been around longer than I know and I’m only now noticing it, because I have been going through a lot of personal changes myself the last few years. I have been learning about mindfulness, meditation, energy, connecting with the source energy of the universe, reading non-fiction books about people with life advice, and figuring out how to make my brain work for me instead of running around all willy-nilly. Basically, I’ve been trying to make my brain act like a six-year-old Labrador (energetic but in control) instead of a one-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer (crazy and all over the place). At any rate, it seems like “self-care” is the buzzword of the year.

In a quest to better understand what exactly everyone is talking about when they say self-care, I did what we all do and Googled it. I found this in an article called What Self Care Is and What It Isn’tSelf-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health on Psychcentral.com  The article went on to say that self-care was the key to an improved mood and reduced anxiety.

I thought about that for awhile and realized that I’ve been participating in self-care since that day in 1976 that I wrote about in my book when I learned the beauty of having a dog as my best friend. It turns out that my dogs are my self-care, and I bet that they fall into that category for so many of the readers of this blog and dog owners everywhere.

I found another article on a website called MoneyCrashers called What is Self Care: Definition, Tips and Ideas for a Healthy Life. In it, they ask these questions: 

What do I most enjoy doing with my time? (Your answer shouldn’t include work or chores.)

What activities make my heart feel at rest and at peace?

When do I feel the most full of life and well-being?

When do I feel the tension release from my neck, shoulders, and jaw? What am I doing when this tension goes away?

Which people provide me with energy, strength, and hope, and how much time do I spend with them compared to the people who drain my sense of well-being with negativity and guilt?

When do I feel my life is full of purpose and meaning?

Source: https://www.moneycrashers.com/self-care-definition-tips-ideas/

I have a feeling that if you’re a reader of my blog or came across this post and clicked on it, that you completely understand what I am saying.

What activities make my heart feel at rest and at peace? When I am chilling with the dogs, petting their bellies in silence, stroking their silky ears, watching them sleep, reading a book with our heads on the same pillow. It is more therapeutic and good for my own energy than any meditation I’ve ever done.

Sometimes I actually like to lay next to them in silence and stillness and give thanks to the universe, “thank you for these dogs, for their presence in their lives, for the love and friendship that we share, for the lessons that they teach and the knowledge to make their lives as happy as possible.” 

What do I most enjoy doing? Taking the dogs on a hike, playing with them in the yard, having Puppy Power Hour in the house. 

When do I feel the most full of life and well being? When the dogs and I are out on a walk, in that one of a kind mind meld zone. I love when we are in the yard together and they are off leash and we walk next to each other in harmony, the dogs trotting to my left side in companionable silence. There is no need for words that they cannot speak. I feel our connection just by walking together side by side. 

When do I feel like my life is full of purpose and meaning? When I am writing this blog, sharing this content that might just help a fellow dog owner emotionally or with practical information. I have never felt in any other career the same joy and satisfaction over answering a question for someone in need of information as I do when I can help a person and their dog. 

In another article, this one in Forbes, I read this: 

Know your worth: Self-care is important to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself as it produces positive feelings and boosts your confidence and self-esteem. 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/payout/2017/09/19/practicing-self-care-is-important-10-easy-habits-to-get-you-started/#78db661c283a

So I sat here, staring at the blinking cursor on the screen and wondered if categorizing my time with my dogs as self-care would still apply. Not that it matters in terms of how I am going to approach my time with my dogs, but for the sake of this blog I was curious. And the answer is that yes, it does!

In fact, a 2016 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that humans with a close relationship with their dog experienced higher self-esteem and were happier.  When you think about it, your dogs are your biggest fans, looking to you for everything, happy when you return home, gazing at you with adoration, so it’s only natural for them to make you feel good about yourself.

So what does this mean? What can you take away from this? For the diehard dog lovers, maybe your takeaway is that you can relate to this 100%. Maybe your takeaway is that you can stop wondering if you’re getting enough self-care like all the talk shows and magazines are saying you should, and just snuggle up to your pup, sharing a bowl of popcorn and watching Animal Planet together.

If you have not experienced these quiet moments with your dog, try out spending time with your dog as a way to restore your energy. Sit quietly together, no phone, no music, no TV, and focus on your breathing while you gently stroke your dog’s fur wherever she likes to be petted, or go outside in the yard with your dog and watch him as he sniffs the ground, watch his nose at work, his brain analyzing every scent, and appreciate the things that make him so dog-like and unique. 

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Blogs, Creating a Happy, Healthy Life, Dogs & Lawn Care, Uncategorized

Infographic: Dogs and Lawn Care, Protecting Our Best Friends

Click here to access my infogDogs and Lawn Care Productsraphic Dogs and Lawn Care: Protecting Our Best Friends for information on recent studies linking lawn care products and cancer rates in dogs, tips on washing your dog’s paws and body after walks and information and links to maintain an organic lawn that is safe for pets and humans.