Hello Friends! It’s Mother’s Day! I hope this finds you and yours well in all ways.
We are all aware that today is Mother’s Day, but are we aware of the Many Mothers Who deserve our acknowledgement? Mothers are everywhere, but are we seeing and honoring them? Or do we just see and honor our own?
If we look closely, we will discover the many mothering roles in our lives. If we keep an open heart and Mind, we will begin to see there are many kinds of experiences which honor motherhood. We will begin to notice the many roles we all step into which embody the service of motherhood.
This goes far beyond just our family.
Let us honor and celebrate the many mothers in our hearts.
It seems that every cultural holiday is consumed by consumer pressures, rather than honoring the meaning behind the day itself, and more importantly, who we are honoring.
But Mother’s Day is not always an easy day for everyone. There are many mothers who have had to say goodbye. Let us honor those who are a mother who’ve said goodbye to their beloved child or animal companion. Let’s honor those who’ve had to say goodbye to their mother too soon. Let’s honor those who never could become a mother. Let’s honor the countless critters who are devoted mothers. Let’s honor the moms who brought our furry and feathered family members into the world. And let’s honor Mother Earth.
Let’s consider a new way of honoring All Moms, in every moment.
What if we began to look at Mother’s Day in a new way?
What if we cast a compassionate
net over the sea of many mothers?
What if we saw a mother where we
least expected it?
What if, we, as sons and daughters
of mothers, began to Honor All Mothers?
Would this open our hearts?
Would we feel more connected to others?
Would we see a stranger as a mother?
Would we see other species as mothers?
I believe it would, and I believe we can.
Whether we’re talking about a wildlife mother, a pet parent, a parent with (or without) pets, a caretaker of critters, or a steward of Mother Earth, each one of these souls are in a mothering role. And each one makes a difference in unimaginable ways. Your service as a mother matters.
I hope you create some time to listen. This important and empowering discussion serves to open our Mind and hearts to the many mothers all across the universe, who are all deserving of acknowledgement, gratitude, and honor. -Every moment of every day.
For we are all mothers at some point. And our service to each other matters. We Are One.
I ran from her initially; fearful of the love that called. Terrified of losing a timeless love again. Unable to let love in again. Blind. Unable to See.
Eventually I surrendered. I let Love in. I let love lead.
I couldn’t see I couldn’t hear Shut me off when you were near Like a cloud A dusty mirror Disappear, you disappear All of a sudden All alone I’m calling out I’m calling love’s gonna let me know –“Let Me Know”, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
She’s shown me worlds I never could have imagined. She’s challenged me in ways I never knew possible. She reflects back to me what I have yet to see within.
I am forever grateful.💝
Hocus is not unique in what she offers our family and the countless souls she encounters while she is here on Earth. Every one of our animal companions is a compassionate teacher in furry, feathered, or scaly suits. Every moment we have with them is a gift. Every emotion they invoke within us is a message.
But are we listening? Are we open to learning from them? Are we willing to go within? Are we willing to SEE clearly?
Yesterday was the anniversary of our beloved Hocus Pocus’ “Gotcha Day.” Coincidentally, it was also my Aunt’s birthday and the date of when her mother (my grandmother) was tortured and killed, then dumped on the side of the road for a small boy and his dog to later find.
A myriad of emotions. Among them, Joy and Gratitude Reigned. 👑
My grandmother is still with us. She is our guardian angel. Her tragic transition out of this world was only the beginning; a new life for her … for all of us. And I honestly believe that our grandmother, Dolores, had a divine hand in directing Hocus Pocus to us. There are no coincidences.
Even in tragedy there are miracles in the making. Rebirth. Life Reborn. Beginnings. Alchemy. Forgiveness. Awareness. Transformation. Insight. Healing. Spiritual Sight. Awakening. Love Waiting. ♾
No matter the illusion of form: birth, death, celebration, suffering; they are all invitations to remove the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence. They are calling you Home to Love. 🧡🖤💛💖 Love Is. ✨♾✨
For you could not control your joyous response to the call of love if you heard it, and the whole world you thought you made would vanish. —ACIM, chapter 13
As I mentioned above, yesterday was Hocus Pocus’ “Gotcha Day”, and we are still celebrating!!! If you haven’t heard of a Gotcha Day, it’s basically an adoption day/ the day your animal companion came into your life. So, for those of y’all who love cheesy videos, here ya go 😉
Love’s gonna let me know Like the day you took me home We counted every minute left to go My love’s gonna let you know – Let Me Know, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
And if you’d like to read an excerpt of a current book in the works, you can view “Love At First Sight … Not Quite” in the link below. It’s a short story about how Hocus Pocus found our family, and more importantly who really invited Hocus into our lives. I am forever grateful.
I hope this finds you well and at peace in all ways. Today I am inspired, so I Am guided to share something beautiful with you. My hope is that it will inspire you, too!
As I write this we are snuggled up with our fur fam while the wind and rain tap and dance wildly at the window panes. It’s quite a blustery day here in the new England area; something we never experienced on the west coast in southern California. But we always make the most of less than ideal circumstances. That’s been one of the most empowering lessons I’ve learned from my husband, Hocus Pocus, and the Kitty Boys. Rather than complaining, they accept. And may I dare say, embrace challenging circumstances at times?
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” ― Lao Tzu
I love that quote, even though I am not yet able to live my life that way every day. But I do know someone who does. You may have read about him before in this post, or this one. His name is Mr. Beaux. And he is my greatest teacher. He is the one, who consistently offers A Love Not of This World.
We recently celebrated his 19th birthday. (That’s roughly 92+ in human years). ✨🐾✨
💜🖤💛 Yeah, this cool cat is rockin’ the geriatric life. He is incredible. I often jokingly say that I drink espresso just to keep up with his high-energy-arse. If I have half of the sass and energy that he has when I am 50, I will be living the Good Life. Here’s my birthday tribute to him:
This beautiful benevolent being has been one of the most amazing teachers for me on so many levels. Not only does he challenge me to see things in a new way, but he has helped me to become a better human. Every moment I’m grateful for the gift of this powerful teacher and for the blessing of being on this journey with him. And since today is World Black Cat day, I thought this would be the purrfect time to share some thoughts about the benevolent beings who are here to teach us, and help us to “unlearn”.
“You must unlearn what you have been programmed to believe since birth. That software no longer serves you if you want to live in a world where all things are possible.” – Jacqueline E. Purcell
I adore black cats – all shapes, sizes, and species. Between our family we’ve been graced with 3 black cats. Black panther is one of my totem animals, and I find all melanistic creatures to be absolutely beautiful! But I get it. Not everyone loves the dark colors of life. And not everyone dorks out about animal days like I do.
If you are anything like my husband, you might be rolling your eyes at the “black cat day” thing. That’s cool. When you meet one you’ll change your mind 😉 And when you do, he/she will transform your life … if you are open and allow it.
This morning while gleefully telling him how excited I was that there are two black cats days of celebration in the year he said, “Did you know that it’s national safety pin day tomorrow?” Confused, I asked him why he’s telling me this. He quickly responded, “There’s a day for everything ridiculous. I bet there’s even a flying squirrel day or a world poptart day.”
Rolling my eyes at him and his lack of enthusiasm, I left the room and went back to celebrating Black Cats Everywhere. How did I do this? I made a super cheesy video of course! 😀 🐾You can view it here.
After creating that video I got all feely and decided to post on our Empowered Path page how I really feel about Mr. Beaux, black cats, and the benevolent beings who walk with us. This was the quote that sparked it all …
“It wasn’t exactly love at first sight, but it was deeper than that; a sense of belonging to a place I never knew I wanted but somehow always needed. It was a home that carried a heartbeat.” — Nikki Rowe
That quote spoke loudly to me. I mean, full-on-swoon-feels; immediately Mr. Beaux came to mind. And that’s when I was guided to share. If you read this post, you’ll remember that I did not want this Stranger In Black.
But here we are today. And I owe him my all.
It’s been nearly 20 years with this master teacher by my side and I’m still in awe of him.
Resistant to him at first, and certain I knew it all, I later became the humble student. He became my greatest teacher.
When I’m frustrated, fearful, triggered, or tired, he holds space for healing and overlooks error. With every heartbeat he exudes unconditional love. With every moment he provides endless life lessons. Mr. Beaux has become my memory of our True Home.
Since the day our paths crossed nearly two decades ago he’s been a master teacher and Guide. ♥️ Through this cool cat I’ve compassionately conquered some of my toughest life lessons, was introduced to his Lyran family, and discovered what unconditional love truly is. Through his infinite wisdom I am still learning to “unlearn” and see through the veils. But mostly Mr. Beaux reminds us to never fear, to live boldly, to take risks, to speak our truth, to stay young at heart, to be kind always, to question everything, that patience pays off, and to always explore beyond the boundaries of life.
Mr. Beaux is not unlike the enlightened ones who came before. Don’t let their fur suits fool you; many are wise beyond words. There are countless divine teachers who walk with us, reminding us of the Light within us all, and the love we are capable of being.
Here’s to the magical, mystical beings in our lives who hold space for us always, and who lead with Love. May the grace and gifts they offer be an endless source of inspiration and magic. ✨🐾💫
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” ― R. Dahl
I would like to note that my husband’s cynical comments were later clarified. He was quick to point out the silliness of seemingly random days of the year, because, from his point of view, we could be honoring the ones we love and respect every day; we don’t need a day of the year to tell us to be loving, to appreciate, or to be kind. He’s right. Every day is a gift. And every day we have the opportunity to show our gratitude toward the ones we love. We don’t need a calendar to tell us that. 🙂
Do you have a benevolent being in your life who’s helping you to walk on an empowered path? We’d love to hear about him/her and see pics❣️
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” — L. M. M.
… And in a world where magnificent, magical benevolent beings can become our greatest teachers. ✨🐾✨
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
Hello. I hope this finds you and yours doing very well and at peace. I hope wherever you are in the world you are enjoying the holidays and the changing seasons of life.
You may have noticed that I have been absent in sharing with you for many weeks. Things on our end have been nonstop and challenging, to say the least. I haven’t had time to share here, continue writing my books, or working with clients. I have made a few videos, but in general, all professional work has been on hold.
Since I last shared with you we have had many successes and a few scares. We’ve had three birthdays in the house (woot!), four surgeries, one near-death experience (on a birthday), one reactive rover who trusts again (hallelujah!), funerals for fallen Marines, family and friends visiting, awards ceremonies, best friends battling cancer, and a multitude of other experiences.
But today I am allowing myself to take a break. Today I am choosing to channel my energy into this post in hopes that it will inspire and uplift you. Today I am focusing on something we often forget to focus on: gratitude.
Ever since we moved to California there has been one challenge after another. One struggle after the next. One illness after another. Pain. Heartache. Frustration. Exhaustion.
But that’s not the full story. That’s only part of the picture. There has been much more at play. There is another side to all the stress and strife. The other side of the struggles are at the heart of this post.
Between the physical and emotional struggles there have been miracles and wonder. There’s been growth, expansion, hope, strength, endurance, and bonding. There have been life lessons learned, friendships forged, soul contracts at play, inspiration gained, and new horizons seen. There have been unimaginable success, hard-fought healings, and life-changing growth on every level possible.
And through it all, somehow we have remained in gratitude. We come back to gratitude. And we remain there. Looking above it all, I am in awe.
Each one of the struggles and successes deserve a post in itself. In fact, there will be several chapters dedicated to each of them in the books I am writing. But for now, I will summarize a few of them because not only is there too much to cover in one post, but some stories are not ready to be shared with the world just yet. But they will be one day. I look forward to sharing that with you when the time is right.
Today I want to keep it simple. I want to uplift and inspire. My goal is to redirect our focus. And to see life from a new perspective. Even if it’s merely a glimpse.
Today I will be sharing something from the animal’s perspective.
I took the liberty to share not only what they have shared with me over the years, and what I have learned from them lately, but also what I perceive their truths to be. All of this is centered on their idea of “Gratitude.”
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Here in the United States we just wrapped up Thanksgiving. It’s a lovely time of year if you create the time to slow down and enjoy it. I love seeing people smiling, sharing, and caring more this time of year. I love seeing and hearing the words, “grateful”, “gratitude” and “thankful” tossed around like autumn leaves on the breeze. An attitude of gratitude seems to permeate people. It’s really quite beautiful.
But then it leaves.
Just as the vibrantly colored leaves float to the ground, briefly rest on the Earth and quickly dance off into the horizon, so too goes our gratitude.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Gratitude can be an attitude that we embody during the most challenging times. Gratitude can be a cloak in which we cover a tired body. Gratitude can be the breeze we choose to ride. It can be the wind we set our sails to while riding the rocky seas. Gratitude can sooth the most exhausted mind. It can heal a broken heart. It can change your world. And it can radically change the world of our animal family members.
But we have to choose it.
Gratitude is not a gift. It is not reserved for the elite, the special, or the few. It is who we are. It is who you are without all of the other thoughts, beliefs and judgments. Gratitude, like Love is always only a thought away.
I am reminded of this during every struggle. In fact, I am reminded of Gratitude when I look at how the animals move through their lives. I am reminded of the power of gratitude when I see them shine; when their light is brightest even when there is a dark cloud above them. I am reminded of gratitude when they outshine me.
It’s as if all the world could be falling apart, but they somehow remain grateful in their heart. They rise above it. They see beyond temporary, fleeting circumstances. They know that this too, shall pass. They know more than we realize and gratitude is their guide.
“Just an observation: it is impossible to be both grateful and depressed. Those with a grateful mindset tend to see the message in the mess. And even though life may knock them down, the grateful find reasons, if even small ones, to get up.” ― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
Gratitude as a Gift
I started thinking about how gratitude has pulled me out of my darkest depressions and my most intense anxieties over the years. Gratitude has transformed boredom, frustration, fear, and anger into hope, trust, and joy. I thought about how much there is to be grateful for, even during the darkest hour. I thought about how gratitude has been a driving force pushing me through the past few months.
Then I thought about our animal family members. I wondered what they might be grateful for this year. I wondered how gratitude played into their perspective. I wanted to really look into what they were thankful for, without stepping into the quicksand of anthropomorphism. I wondered what they would say “Thank you” for every day.
What I discovered wasn’t a surprise; these aspects are all part of their journey and the story of their lives. If the animals were to say “thanks” for the circumstances and gifts in their lives, their lists might include these:
The ability to let go
Hide and seek games
Seeing the world through innocence
Seeing our people become stronger and fearless
Meals tailored to our individual needs
Foraging and hunting opportunities
Sharing our people’s bed
Knowing this world is temporary; a place away from our real Home.
Energy healing sessions
Living a force-free way of life
Being silly and goofy
Food used as a tool
Soul contracts being honored
Unexpected car rides in the Adventure Box
The ability to choose
Meeting nice people out and about
Seeing my people happy and healthy
Getting permission to roll in smelly goodness
Watching our person learning to let go
Communicating on a new level
Smelling the scents on the breeze
Our person learning how hidden emotions affect us
Teaching our people new life lessons
Knowing that our people are doing the best they can
Watching each other grow
Feeling the sun on our fur and face
Aging with dignity and grace
Unlikely friendships forged through trust
Force-free medical care at home
Bonds that never break
Being seen as an individual
Polite play dates
Being listened to and heard
A loving home
Being near the one you love
Being loved for who I Am
…Those were just a few of their “thanks” that came to mind. These are a merely a snippet of what I have been honored to learn from them. I am grateful. I am humbled. I am honored. And I am grateful for each of them.
Teachers. Gifts. Angels. Lights in the dark. That is what they are to me. This is some of what I am grateful for each day. This is what I will focus on as we move through this life together. This is what I will remember when things get hard. When life is rough. I will remember these things and I will share their gratitude.
Our gratitude won’t end now that Thanksgiving has come and gone. Our gratitude will last. It will be within us 365 days a year. And as we grow gratitude, we will pass it on to others. If you’re interested I made a quick video about this. You can view it here.
What do you believe your animal companions are grateful for? What are the gifts in their lives? What supports their attitude of gratitude? What would be on their “thankful for” list?
Before I go, I would also like to share that I am grateful for you. Thank you for being here. Thank you being a part of this community. Thank you for reading, staying inspired, and for being willing to stay in an attitude of gratitude every moment of the day.
From our family to yours,
Much love and light
“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” ― Meister Eckhart
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” -William Arthur Ward
Happy Tuesday! Hello Summer! And how the heck are we in August already?!? Gah!
I have not had the opportunity to sit down and write to you about the tools, tips, and transformation from before, during, and after our Big Move out West because we have been going nonstop since I last wrote you. And we have had some major life challenges as well. But I promise, those posts will come. It takes a lot of time and effort to share in detail with you when it comes to behavior modification, energy work, and inter-species communication. When I have the time, you will hear all about it!
But when it comes to quickly sharing good news with the world, I cannot contain myself! Which brings me to the point of this post: Gratitude.
(I will give myself 20 min to write this … And the clock starts NOW!)
We can get so wrapped up in our daily lives that we forget to see the good. When we encounter minor and major frustrations we can easily overlook the miracles and magic, and small successes that are happening right in front of us.
It’s easy to overlook the positive side of every challenge and frustration. It’s easy to focus on the negative. So much crud and crap is being shared, talked about, and focused on. There is so much negativity in the news. And too many crazy people are receiving the spotlight. Focus around the world is focused on fear and negativity.
Where’s the Good Stuff?
There are GREAT things happening everywhere! There are amazing things happening in our homes! But we often don’t see them. We are focusing on the fearful, scary, or frustrating parts.
Where are we focused when things get a bit challenging in our homes? Where does our mind wander when we (or our animal companions) are having a hard time? Are we exploring all of the options available? Are we practicing patience? Are we staying in gratitude? Are we anticipating a positive outcome? Are we recognizing small successes?
Most of the time we are not.
But we can change that! We can condition ourselves to see small successes. We can learn to look at the highlights, instead of the low points. It takes practice and a little willingness to see things from a higher perspective, and to view the Big Picture. Once we start this practice, our lives with our animal companions will change dramatically, for the better.
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Be In Gratitude
Even in the lowest moments in life I can find something to be grateful for. I can even find a way to laugh. I have learned to do this through practice.
This tool has changed my life in more ways than I can explain. I am now keenly aware of how deeply my moods and attitude directly affect everyone around me, especially my animal companions. Whether it’s during a training session, grooming them, cleaning around them, or hanging out as a family, they are very in tune with what I am going through.
We may not see it on the surface, but our animal companions are sponges for our emotions and moods. They are literally soaking up all that we are sending out. And many animals will reflect back whatever we are sending out. It’s taken me many years to recognize this.
These days I am very aware of what I am transmitting.
Now I catch myself when I start to fall into a downward spiral of frustration or fear. If I am feeling angry, frustrated, overwhelmed, sad, or afraid, I will find one thing that I am grateful for. I say it out loud. When I do this I can literally feel a shift. I can feel myself lighten up and feel better. Then I am able to focus on more things that I am grateful for.
Once I am in gratitude I am able to look for solutions. I am more willing to look at the circumstance from another perspective. I am able to stay grounded. This helps me to steer clear of fear, frustration, or even reactivity. Sometimes I am able to even laugh!
Once I do this, whatever I was so upset about starts to fade from fear or frustration and transform into trust and clarity. Gratitude overtakes the monster mental scene I have created. I can see more clearly. Then I am ready to move forward and face the challenge with (a little more) grace and ease.
Miracles are like pimples, because once you start looking for them you find more than you ever dreamed you’d see. ― Lemony Snicket, The Lump of Coal
There have been a lot of challenges recently for our family, and for our animal companions, but there were so many Good Things that have come out of every challenge. For example, Hocus’s reactivity issues seem to be fading fast. Mr. Beaux, our 17 year young feline, continues to amaze me in every way. We are all embracing health and happiness, and setting aside all kinds of fears.
Life is Good (because we continue to see it that way.)
If you are interested, here are a few other tidbits and challenges that I am grateful for this week:
We found an incredible all feline (cats only) veterinary specialist near our new home.
After Mr. Beaux had 3 teeth removed and jaw surgery, I became wholly aware of how much pain he had been in (and hiding) for a long time. This pain contributed to his lack of interest in food, and subsequent weight loss. (And NOT because “he is a picky eater!”) He is eating like a champ now! … More to come on this important cat misconception later.
Someone near and dear to me was diagnosed with Cancer, but all we are focusing on is perfect health and a complete healing. All we can see is someone who is free of cancer.
I was reminded how important and healing laughter is when I found this Instagram account and couldn’t stop laughing at the pet & wildlife ones.
Mr. Beaux reminded us all, once again, of two things: 1.Animals are never doing things out of spite; all behavior serves a purpose. It’s our job as their guardian to help them by becoming a “pet detective”. 2. Litter boxes must be adjusted carefully for cats, post surgery.
I got back into meditation AND stopped feeling guilty about how much I procrastinate after I discovered this amazing video.
What are you grateful for this week?? I would truly love to hear!
What will you focus on this coming week? Will you stay in Gratitude?
“Make a pact with yourself today to not be defined by your past; Sometimes the greatest thing to come out of all your hard work isn’t what you get for it, but what you become for it. Shake things up today! Be You… Be Free … Share.” ― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.” –Dalai Lama
This is a shout-out to you. A huge, sincere thank you to you.
Today is all about you.
It’s National Pet Parent Day! Yep. I have to admit that I laughed when I realized this and thought, “Every day is pet parent day in our home! I don’t take a day off.”
There seems to be a worldwide or national day for everything these days, but today is a good day to celebrate. Today is a worthwhile day to recognize because it’s all about honoring everything that we do as devoted animal guardians. Whether you are a pet parent at home, an animal care taker at a shelter, zoo, or aquarium, or whether you are a trainer, behaviorist, veterinarian, or energy healer, you deserve thanks. No matter what our exact role is, we all need to hear thanks. No matter how we serve them, we all need to feel appreciated for all that we do for them.
How This Day Was Created
National Pet Parents Day was created to “honor all dedicated pet parents across the nation with a special day of their own.” This date was founded by Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) in 2007. And although National Pet Parents Day is an unofficial holiday, it was created out of the inspiration of realizing that the majority of their insurance policyholders consider their pets to be part of their true family. If you are following this blog, then you (like our family) see your “pets” as animal family members. They may not be related to us by blood, but they are f a m i l y.
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” -Cicero
We Aren’t Always Living On Easy Street.
If you are a professional animal caretaker, or a professional pet consultant, people may see you and think you have the coolest job in the world. If you have beautiful pets people may envy you. They may assume your life is perfect with them. If their rescue story melts their hearts they may want to rescue one, too. And they assume that your animal companion’s rescue story ended when you invited them into your home.
If you are an animal behavior consultant, an animal trainer, an animal communicator, or an animal healer, people might assume you have “perfect pets.” They assume that these pets are never sick, never wild and crazy, they never backslide, and they are all perfectly trained, and never misbehave. You must be the envy of the world if you are one of these people with one of these pets!
Ah, but we know the truth.
We all know that life is not always easy-going with the animals we care for and share our homes with. We know that some days there seem to be constant challenges. We know what it feels like to want to cry or scream when we are at our wit’s end. We know all too well how hard it can be to juggle a busy work and a family life with a pet-family lifestyle.
We know what it means to have our own physical challenges while living and working with animals who have their own challenges. We know what it’s like to be a new parent struggling with a new baby while trying to manage your pet “kids” as well. We know what it means to have a crawling toddler and a conflicted canine. We know that a rescued animal’s rescue story really only begins the moment that we bring them into our human environment. We know that there is never a “cure” for every behavioral issue. We know the real meaning of patience. We understand what it means to rearrange our lifestyle to ensure that our animal companions feel safe and secure. We know the meaning of selflessness and sacrifice. We know and understand that there are a myriad of challenges that we encounter with every animal that we care for. We know that we have invited these animals into our lives and we are bound to them for the rest of their life. We know that life with animal companions can be a blessing beyond words, but it can also be wrought with unexpected trials and circumstances.
But we also know that we never give up. Ever.
We are dedicated to them all. We believe in what can happen when we are armed with knowledge. We know how far we can go together with love and compassion. We know that healing is possible. We know that there are solutions that can be found. We know that together we can create miracles. We know that we will find a way to succeed with them. We know that they might never know all that we have done and will continue to do for them. But we do it all anyway. We do it with love and devotion.
And our lives will never be the same.
We know this truth.
We live it every day.
A Thousand Thanks
I have taken a break from writing blog posts to continue my focus on writing a few books in the works, and to prepare for an upcoming move to the west coast. But when I felt into what today represented, I was inspired and really wanted to take a moment to write to you.
Thank YOU for being a true and loyal Conscious Companion. I know it’s not always easy.
★Thank you for never giving up on them.
★Thank you for allowing them teach you.
★Thank you for being open to new ideas.
★Thank you for being willing to implement something new every day.
★Thank you for learning how to speak their language.
★Thank you for learning how to listen to them.
★Thank you for accepting challenges as they arise.
★Thank you for helping them to become well-adjusted to your human world.
★Thank you for helping them to age with grace and ease.
★Thank you for knowing when it’s time to let them go.
★Thank you for loving them with all of your heart.
Thank you ALL for being dedicated, determined, and downright amazing!
I am graciously sending you and yours my love and gratitude.
Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.― Voltaire
Two of our friends died suddenly and tragically on Mother’s Day. It has been a shock to everyone who knew them. They left behind countless friends and family, and their beloved rescued canine companion.
We are all mourning in our own way. We are all feeling the effects of this tragedy differently; some inwardly and some outwardly. My grief comes and goes in waves. My husband on the other hand, shares it all, bares it all, and makes no apologies or excuse for what he’s feeling. He laughs when he needs to, and cries when he’s moved.
He is the one who brought something to light for me during all of this.
We had both been gone when we heard the horrible news. When we returned home we went out for a bite to eat, to get some perspective and discuss the details of what we knew about the tragedy. Something he said at dinner resonated with me, and keeps coming back into my awareness: “You know, when I first heard the news, all I could think was NO NO NO NO NO that’s impossible. Then my mind quickly switched to feeling an overwhelming sadness at the fact that I can never tell him all of the things I want to tell him. All of the things I should have said. I have so much I want to tell him.”
That hit me hard. My husband was right. That chance is gone. Game over. They are both gone.
You may be wondering, Why are you sharing this with me? How does this have to do with our companion animals?
I am sharing this with you because life is precious, and the ones we love could be gone in an instant.
Life is dear and too short to put off sharing our thoughts, feelings, and gratitude for the ones we love, the ones that make us laugh, and even the ones that push our buttons. This includes the animals we have in our lives; the ones we care for at a facility, shelter, or in our home.
Those annoying behaviors or frustrating personality traits (whether friend, family, or pet) instantly disappear when their life is extinguished. All we see is their beauty and their light. All we remember is the best of them.
So why aren’t we seeing the best in the animals and people we love that are still alive?
It’s easy to complain or become annoyed with the people we love, the family and friends that drive us nuts, and the coworkers that we could do without. But understand this: no matter who they are, or what they represent to you, they are in your life for a reason, and their presence matters. The animals that we care for at home or work are in our life are also there for a reason. Even when they make things more difficult or frustrating at times, they still add value to our lives. Look for that value. Look for a reason, for each of them. I promise you, if you look hard enough, you’ll see their value and their individual worth.
Every soul in our lives is a gift. They are either a teacher, a mentor, or someone you are teaching and mentoring. Every person, animal, and circumstance in our lives can be a great teacher. There are countless lessons to be learned by all of them.
I am grateful beyond words for every teacher in my life. Many of them came in forms that I would not have chosen, but lessons were learned because of them. Two of my animal companions are currently teaching me lessons that I would rather not learn at the moment, but I have to remind myself to thank them for being in my life. Their presence is invaluable.
Who we love, and who we care about need to hear it. Every day. Tell the ones you love how much you appreciate them, how much you value their presence in your life, and how their life has affected yours. Look past those annoying traits, and the buttons they seem to push in you. Laugh at it. Blow it off. See them for who they really are. Look beyond the surface to see the best in them.
Appreciate them. Thank them. Spend time with them. Shower them with love. Tell them how you feel, even if it’s a tough truth to be told; be humbly and graciously honest. Be kind.
That’s love. That’s living life to the fullest. That’s how we make life meaningful. That’s how life becomes a miracle. Don’t wait. Show them, and tell them now.
At the end of the day, let there be no excuses, no explanations, no regrets. ― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion. ~ Unknown Author
Last night while most of the world watched the Olympics, I was wide-eyed, giddy, and on the edge of my seat watching the Westminster’s Masters Agility Championshiplive from New York. Yeah, I know, it sounds riveting. Let me explain.
For the first time in its 138-year history, the famous Westminster Kennel Club allowed mixed-breed dogs to compete in a brand new competition called the Masters Agility Championship. For nearly 140 years, the Westminster Kennel Club has closed its doors to mixed breeds, known as “All American dogs”, focusing only on the conformation, physical abilities, and skill of only purebred dogs. This inclusion allowed dog guardians from all over the world to show that everyday dogs can go nose-to-nose with their purebred peers.
I, along with many others felt that this was a huge step in the right direction of celebrating and recognizing all dogs, regardless of their pedigree. Many of these high-spirited, high energy dogs are all too often dropped off at shelters by people who just don’t know how to deal with their energy and enthusiasm. So it really was such a joy and pleasure to see the All American Dogs go paw to paw with the purebreds.
Reese, a four year young Papillon from North Carolina, is a great example of what this new sort of competition means. Reese was surrendered to a rescue organization as a puppy because his original owner thought he had too much energy. His new owner is an X-ray technician who doubles as Reese’s handler. They found a way to channel his energy by working with a qualified trainer, and Reese now competes in trials about twice a month. He even became a bit of a celebrity last week when The Charlotte Observer published an article about his appearance at Westminster. Another “All American Dog” named Emma is one more example of an incredible but true, underdog success story. Emma went from doggie death row to Westminster row! Emma was abandoned, found and taken to a 48 hour high-kill shelter, rescued, and then three years later, Emma was chosen to compete at Westminster!
As cool as all of that is, something else really moved me. Even with all the pressures of being at the very first Westminster agility championship, and being live on international television, the handlers (trainers of the dogs) praised the heck out of their dog at the end of each agility run, no matter how well or how poorly their dog did. Even if the dog stopped on the course, refused an obstacle, or performed less than desirable in any way, the handler treated the dog as if they had won best in show. It moved me to tears to see that kind of love, loyalty, and support from a dog trainer toward their beloved canine companion while under such pressure.
Let’s back up here for a bit so you can really understand why this is So Huge, and such an act of love and devotion. These expert handlers and dogs practice for hours on end, for weeks and months at a time to perfect these obstacles on the agility course. Many have been practicing agility training for decades, and some for only a few years. Regardless of how long they have been working together to master the obstacle course, they train day in and day out to get it right. The handlers and dogs go through rigorous (but fun) training to get to where they are so they can compete with the best of the best at the Westminster Agility Trials. About 225 dogs, including 15 mixed breeds, were entered in Saturday’s agility drills. They are given a map of the course to review (the people, not the dogs) and then they are expected to perform at their very best, having never run on this course before. Yesterday each dog and their handler took the ring twice for qualifying rounds, with the best performers moving to the championship round. The dogs, representing 63 breeds from 23 states, were randomly selected from a pool of 653 entrants. Eventually they are narrowed down to 50, and then as more are eliminated, the best of the best get their Game On.
Our dog, Hocus Pocus, and I are very new to the agility world. We started agility training in September of last year. I had no idea the bond that it would create between us, how much we would both love doing it, how amazing of a team we were together, and how additive it is! Once a week for an hour and a half we were both pushed to the max both physically and mentally. I always knew that training can be stressful for all animals, but during our agility training together is when I really started to understand and appreciate the phrase “learning can be very stressful” for you and the animal that you are training.
So when I watched the agility trails last night I was so amazed when I saw the love, pride, and joy in the faces of the handlers after the dogs finished the course, no matter how poorly or well they or their dogs did. They weren’t frustrated or angry. They were genuinely proud of the dog and they celebrated their dog’s success of just showing up and trying their best! They didn’t get mad or frustrated with themselves or the dog for making mistakes! They went with whatever happened, and not only accepted it, but also celebrated at the end, no matter what it meant! I was amazed at how genuinely happy they were and how much they lavished their dog with love and praise, even when the dog or the handler totally screwed up! It was a tough course and one that really challenged some of the best agility dogs in the world, but the dogs and trainers showed up and gave it 110 percent.
I could see this happening and I appreciated it because I knew the feeling. I knew what it was like to try so hard and want yourself and your dog to succeed. Every night that Hocus and I went to agility I was nervous. I wanted to have my timing right for her, because she is a wicked fast learner, so I knew that if I was tired or distracted, her results would suffer because of me. Before we went into class I would affirm that I wasn’t going to forget the cues, and I was going to do it right this time, for her. But the most important thing that I would remember was to say to her, “No matter what happens tonight I am so proud of you. You make me so proud every day. I love you. Now let’s go have some fun.”
Last night while watching the Westminster Agility Championship I was so moved to see every one of the remaining competitors give their dog the same love and respect that I gave to Hocus before every practice session. I really hadn’t expected to see that.at a world famous competetion. I figured that if I could be stressed and nervous before agility practice with no one there, they had to be out of their minds stressed beyond belief! I know that the handlers were stressed, anxious, and nervous. I know those dogs felt their anxiety, nervousness, and tension, but they ran the difficult and complicated course, accepted the mishaps and mistakes, and still celebrated their dog at the end. It was truly amazing.
This is what competition is all about. Showing up, having fun, accepting the results, and praising your partner! It’s not about the outcome, the finish line, the well behaved moments, the perfect timing, the correct cues and behaviors. It’s about the connection you have together. It’s about them trying. It’s about you trying. It’s about knowing you can lose, but giving 100 percent anyway. It’s about the bond you are strengthening. It’s about just showing up. That’s all that either of you have to do; just show up. Smile. Breathe. Just get out there. Have fun with your dog. Because that’s all your dog wants from you. And thank them for just showing up.
Purebred and mixed-breed dogs show off their grace and skills in the Westminster Kennel Club’s first agility competition. Handlers raced against the clock while directing their dogs through a complicated obstacle course with tunnels, jumps, weave poles, teeter-totters, A-frames and dog walks. Instead of being judged on appearance and temperament, they earn points for their speed, jumps, and turns through the obstacles.
You can view some footage of the day trials in the video below.
Note: This video was not footage of the final agility contestants. Video of the finals was on FOX Sports 1 last night. It was an incredible LIVE premiere of the Masters Agility Championship at Westminster in New York. If you missed it, check your local listings as it’s scheduled to replay again a few times this week! It was amazing!
Agility, particularly is exciting for spectators and for the dogs themselves, as that it’s a race over a number of obstacles and it gets great fan support and, in fact, is the fastest growing area of the dog world in terms of events. ~ Sean McCarthy, President, Westminster Kennel Club