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, Life with Jackson & Tinkerbell

Who the Heck is Lynn Stacy-Smith?

I have been blessed with continually growing numbers of new friends and followers and I could not be happier that we found each other and that you are along for the ride! I thought it might be time to share more about myself and explain to you what Love, Laugh, Woof is all about.

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Snoop, circa 1984

I have been a dog lover my entire life. I grew up with Labrador Retrievers and have had at least one in my home since I was just a little girl, so long that I do not remember life without one. The first one was our family dog named Snoop who was the ultimate Labrador: family dog all week and duck hunting dog with my father on weekends. Snoop went everywhere with us and we enjoyed an active outdoor lifestyle in the country in rural northern New Jersey. And yes, there is rural New Jersey!

Flash forward a few decades to around 2010. I had built a nice little career at the home office of a large retail company in the Chicago suburbs. The best way to describe my job was part writer, part corporate trainer, and part analyst. Essentially I helped mentor and train store managers to run a profitable store in our industry. It was a job I loved for a long time, with a great team, an awesome corporation, and the perfect environment to thrive. It was a rare company in our current business climate because it was one where people stayed willingly and happily with the company for ten, twenty years.

As time went on, though, the entire company and culture changed dramatically and quickly. Layoffs began, people became uber competitive, drama started and things started to go downhill. At the same time I started to think about mortality, the quick passing of each year and realizing I was in my forties, chasing my own dreams, doing something I loved instead of driving to the same office day in and day out without anywhere else to move up with a promotion unless I wanted to focus entirely on numbers and spreadsheets.

It took months to get up the courage but one day I finally gave my notice. Six weeks later I was finished, on my own, no paycheck coming, with a supportive if not slightly nervous husband and a future with endless possibility.

I was thrilled to land a part time job working remotely as the Content Writer for alkaline, organic pet food company Canine Caviar. Each week I wrote blogs and newsletters for them and threw myself into learning about the pet food business and canine nutrition. I was thrilled to continually interview and ask questions of the company’s founder and Research Scientist and learn from him. I could still listen to him for days on end and keep learning! He is, in my opinion, a genius and incredible asset to the pet food industry. In fact Canine Caviar remains the only food I feed my own dogs.

After two years I stepped down from that position, with a great amount of sadness but immense gratitude for the experience, in order to put 100% of my time into following my own dream of helping dog owners create the best life possible for their dogs. It had been an incredible learning experience but it was time to accomplish the goal I set when I left my corporate job.

Throughout the job change and pondering of what to do with my newfound professional freedom, we had some rough years with our own dogs. In 2009 I lost my soul dog Babe to kidney failure and old age. In 2011 my beloved German Shorthaired Pointer Dutch passed away from cancer that started in his spleen and spread throughout his entire body. In 2013 our rescued Basset Hound Maggie passed away from Lymphoma.

After the heartbreak of losing Babe and Dutch to kidney disease and cancer, we added eight week old Jackson to our family in 2011. I fell in love with him at first sight and vowed to provide him the healthiest life possible, free of toxins and carcinogens, from the food that he eats to the toys that he plays with, all the way to the bedding on which he sleeps. Tinkerbell joined our family in 2013 after we lost Maggie and I vowed to provide the same lifestyle to her.

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Tinkerbell and me

Love, Laugh, Woof was born from this promise. My mission is to take all of my experiences, both from the corporate world and my extensive experience, research, and knowledge as a dog owner, to help you provide the same healthy lifestyle for your dogs that I give to mine so that your dog can thrive and feel fantastic just like Jackson and Tinkerbell do.

Your dog’s health is more than just about his body. Creating a healthy lifestyle also involves working your dog’s mind and continually strengthening the emotional bond that you share across what I consider to be a true miracle of friendship and love between two different species. I am wrapping up work on my next workshop: The Compassionate Pet Owner that will touch upon much of this concept, so watch for that to be available soon.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for following me. In my next blog I will explain more about the Love, Laugh, Woof Philosophy and what that entails (no pun intended.) Until then, Love, Laugh, Woof and give your dog a chin scratch for me.