MY ON-GOING JOURNEY
From Corporate Executive to Dog Walker
Twenty-six years ago, I met my first dog-partner and would-be Royal, Shakespeare. He was a big, beautiful boxer that I thought would exist in the yard and be a traditional "pet". Shakespeare quickly won the hearts of my entire family, all of my friends, and trained me on how to be an attentive, compassionate "mom". Fairly quickly, Shakespeare's needs dictated my living choices, car choices, exercise choices, and, at times, vacation locations. He travelled the world with me, and taught me to partner with my dog, rather than dictate who he must become. He was ninety-five pounds of love and devotion; well-behaved to a fault, and to this day, dearly missed.
This beautiful Royal ate raw and was raised mostly holistically. He lived to the age of fifteen, and passed on while chasing a bird from our garden -- one of his favorite activities. I believe Shakespeare lived such a long, healthy life because I developed a philosophy of raising him as I care for myself -- with as few traditional medicines and processed foods as possible, lots of exercise and social interaction.
My second boxer was a small girl with a huge attitude. Pretty Girl’s initial approach to life was, "take no prisoners". She was difficult to say the least. But, Pretty Girl and I partnered on a training program. After some hard work, she became an amicable Royal, enjoying daily time at dog parks and dog-friendly beaches. At eight, she was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. Seven tumors to be exact. One week to live at most, the specialists told me. I remember leaving the cancer center for dogs and thinking I would fight this as though I was fighting for my life. I put Pretty on a 100% Chinese herbal routine to treat her symptoms and slow the growth. I could not reverse the cancer, but I could give her more time, more fun, and more love. She played ball with her friends every day for another five months, living life to her fullest. On her last day, she met her buddies at the park and chased the ball for a full thirty-minutes. I believe those herbs were paramount in extending her activity level, happiness, and life.
We all have that Love of our Life. That one who you will never forget. That was my Leo. A stunning boxer with a will-power and love of life unmatched by any other. Our journey was one of mutual love and admiration. We explored our nation together while navigating some of life’s biggest challenges. But, Leo’s many ailments were a constant worry. We practiced the gamut of holistic lifestyle -- from medicinal herbs, raw diet, and electro-acupuncture to physical therapy and stringent vitamin regimes. I utilized my professional skills to ensure that he had the absolute best of modern care available. At eight years of age, my beautiful Royal Boy faced a fatal disease called Degenerative Myelopathy. He lived three years with this debilitating illness. We utilized every health practice available to man and dog. This is where all of my previous experience, research, and testing came to a head. I had to push further than ever before to make this boy's life as full and happy as possible. In this journey, I met what I believe to be some of our country's best animal care practitioners and learned more about canine health than I ever set out to learn. My obsessive-compulsive personality and intense love of four-legged Royals did not allow me to rest without knowing I’d done everything possible to extend my Boy’s life.
It is Leo that lead me to leave my career. After a long, and what most would consider, very prestigious career path, I left it all behind to walk dogs, to help their owners, and to devote my work time to bettering their lives. I’ve worked with some of the world’s most famous people, and at some of our country’s most revered companies. What I have found, in both the United States and abroad, is that we humans love our doggies. They slowly merge their DNA with our hearts, and there is a molecular shift in our being. They become our Royals. We become their stratosphere. Together, we are better, happier, and more fulfilled.