A personal style blog aimed to entertain and enrich the lives of readers by sharing meaningful and impactful life experiences. Here, readers can find a variety of blog post topics, in addition to a tail-wagging focus on dog blogs!
Author: Sit, Stay, Blog
Welcome! In a world where time is a valuable, precious component of life, I am ever so grateful for the personal time you are taking to read about me and how I began Sit, Stay, Blog!
In 2018, I graduated with a Master's Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and in 2016 I received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology, with a minor in Sociology. While attending my undergraduate institution, I involved myself in a plethora of unique activities which undoubtedly provided me with memorable experiences and a motivation to document and share these experiences with others. One of my most monumental experiences to date has involved being the first student to ever raise and train a service dog, Pinella, at my undergraduate institution. With that experience came both challenges and inspiring moments that I hope to share with you along this magnificent journey of Sit, Stay, & Blog. My primary goal is to connect with my readers on a personal level and create content that is meaningful and relevant to everyone’s interests.
I am forever grateful for your support of Sit, Stay, & Blog, and it is my genuine hope that you visit my blog page and enjoy the content provided throughout!
Tuesday’s Promise is a tail-wagging sequel and continuation from Luis Carlos Montalvan’s first book, Until Tuesday
Having served two tours in Iraq, Montalvan begins by describing his post-wartime experiences, including what he calls the “invisible wounds of war.” These “invisible wounds” devastatingly include the alarmingly high suicide rate among veterans. To be more specific, Montalvan outlines that veterans die by suicide at a rate of 22 per day, 1 every 65 minutes, and 8,000 each year. Montalvan intimately invites readers into his narrative by discussing his reintegration into civilian life as well as detailing his experiences with posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideations. In addition to his invisible wounds, the author also discusses his experiences with chronic physical pain and the life-altering decisions he has had to make with respect to his physical condition.
He transitions by educating readers about the historical context of the human-canine relationship. For example, it is suggested that dogs assisted hunter-gatherers and evolved alongside their human counterparts by detecting threats, tracking food sources through their keen sense of smell, herding livestock, enhancing the agriculture industry, and providing border protection. More recently, dogs have been introduced into the medical scene by offering support and assistance to individuals with disabilities including, but not limited to, blindness, psychiatric disorders, seizure response, etc. For Montalvan, it is his service dog, Tuesday, who assists him in mitigating his disabilities, fostering a sense of independence, and ultimately enhancing his quality of life.
Through his narrative, readers gain insight into the many challenges that individuals with service dogs experience, specifically related to their public access rights. Montalvan shares a unique experience he had with Tuesday upon attempting to attend an appointment at the VA, wherein he was denied access, treated unjustly, and “required” to provide a service dog identification badge for Tuesday. In the words of Montalvan, this experience “felt infuriating, too stupid for words.” It was experiences, such as this, that motivated Montalvan to serve as an advocate to educate others about the work of service dogs and the public access rights of their partners.
With Tuesday by his side, Montalvan traveled nationwide as a public speaker, advocate, and educator. It was his mission to utilize his relationship with Tuesday as a means to help others feel respected, connected, loved, and embraced — characteristics that humans and animals alike both want and need!
Montalvan died by suicide in 2016 and was reunited in Heaven by his best pal, Tuesday, in 2019. In memoriam of two national heroes, thank you for your service. Thank you, Tuesday, for your gift of life that you provided to your partner in the years leading to his death.
“Dog Medicine,” written by Julie Barton, is a phenomenal read that offers insight into the emotional support and companionship offered by our best fur friends. Throughout the book, Barton details her experiences with mental illness and utilizes a heartfelt approach to depict how her best fur friend, Bunker, aides in alleviating her debilitating symptoms.
“Dog Medicine” is a relatable read for those with and without mental illness. The author emphasizes the supportive role of Bunker in adding structure, routine, and purpose in her days. With Bunker, Barton is able to return to her normal activities, including socializing, working, caring for herself, and living independently. In her book, Barton states, “I want to get out of bed.” Readers can interpret from this statement exactly how dogs can serve as a natural antidepressant. Through the development of their bond, it is observed that Bunker serves as a source of safety, provides comfort and companionship, promotes mindfulness, and encourages laughter. “Dog Medicine” exemplifies what we, as a social species, need but are often neglected. The author highlights how she has become more attuned to her own emotional experiences by observing and attending to Bunker’s emotional needs. Through immersing oneself in “Dog Medicine,” readers begin to understand exactly how Bunker shaped Barton’s mental health recovery by teaching her how to embrace, welcome, experience, and ultimately accept pleasant and unpleasant emotions. Barton succeeds in creating a powerful anecdote about the healing effects of animals and the human-canine bond. “Dog Medicine” is a Doggone Good Read that is sure not to disappoint!
“Craig & Fred,” written by Craig Grossi, is a doggone good read that is certain to raise the question “Who rescued who?” A heartwarming story, “Craig and Fred” details the unique circumstances that brought man and dog together as one. Grossi utilizes an easy-to-read narrative to depict his inter and intranational journeys alongside his best four-legged pal, Fred.
Told through the eyes of an eight-year Veteran of the United States Marine Corps, readers can expect to gain insight into Grossi’s wartime experiences, including the often difficult transition to civilian life. In sharing his story, the author outlines how Fred served as a social lubricant, allowing for more seamless discussion of difficult war stories. Throughout their experiences together, Fred faithfully served (and continues to serve) as a constant source of companionship, comfort, and guidance, and their relationship together truly embodies the human-canine bond. Through this inspiring story, readers gain clarity into why dogs really are man’s best friend. Although the question remains of “Who saved who?,” it is clear that both Craig and Fred played important roles in one another’s journeys toward healing and recovery!
Interested in following along on the many journeys of Craig and Fred? Follow them on social media!
“Career Change” is a term used in the working dog world to reference when a dog has ultimately chosen a different career path. For instance, some service dogs in training find that they are better suited for explosives detection, therapy work, or even the pet life.
If you’ve followed along on Pinella’s journey thus far, you already know that, just shy of her first birthday, she chose to pursue the pet life. It was her choice. She told us through her behaviors and temperament that she preferred to live a calming, playful, and relaxing pet life. Although it was heartbreaking for her to be discharged from service work, I now have the clarity to recognize that this was a necessary component of her journey.
Following her release from Susquehanna Service Dogs, our training efforts naturally decreased. Through this experience, however, I became attuned to a key quality of Pinella — She loves to work! Pinella demonstrated excitement at the sight of her clicker and treats. She seemed to really enjoy the mental stimulation she gained from practicing her cues in pet-friendly stores and getting treated for loose leash leisure walks. Her companionship was second to none and something I truly wished more people had an opportunity to experience. I observed these traits for a year or so and did my very best to give her a healthy combination of “pet life” and “working life/training.”
Pet Therapy at a Glance
Pet Therapy is an animal-assisted intervention that I’ve always had a keen interest in. Much of this interest derived from my own experiences with the healing power of the human-animal bond. If you’ve ever had a pet, you, too, have likely experienced the therapeutic role that interacting with an animal can have. While pet therapy can be as informal as interacting with your pet, it also involves more formal, structured interactions.
“Animal-assisted interventions are goal oriented and structured interventions that intentionally incorporate animals in health, education and human service for the purpose of therapeutic gains and improved health and wellness.”
(Pet Partners, 2020)
Pet Partners (2020) acknowledges pet therapy as an animal-assisted intervention aimed at providing comfort and healing to individuals in a variety of settings. Examples include, but are not limited to, hospitals, advocacy centers, schools/universities, assisted-living facilities, mental health facilities, as well as libraries. Pet therapy affords people with an opportunity to focus on the animal/animal’s handler as opposed to the ongoing stressors that might be occurring in their life. This might take the form of petting the animal and talking to the animal’s handler, for example. It has also been suggested that therapy dogs can aide in improving children’s literacy skills by having them read to the nonjudgmental dog. Lastly, therapy dogs are often involved in crisis response and have served on the frontlines during national crises, such as 9/11, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting, and even the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Rewind: October 2019
Reflecting back on Pinella’s desire to live the pet life, coupled with her innate love for working, I anticipated that pet therapy would be a suitable fit for her. It was also encouraging to know that Pinella’s sister, Syrah, had already made the transition from service-dog-in-training to therapy dog. In October 2019, I reached out to Syrah’s handler and asked for mentorship and guidance through navigating the pet therapy world. Together, we did several pet therapy trial visits at a local nursing home. Much of our experience at the nursing home involved allowing residents to pet Pinella while simultaneously reminiscing with them about pets they’ve owned throughout their lifetime. It was a unique and memorable experience to watch Pinella work side-by-side with her sister to learn how to be a comforting companion and eager therapy dog.
Following these trial visits, it was important to have her undergo formal evaluation and observation to ensure that she met the necessary qualifications to be a therapy dog (i.e., a calm temperament, obedience skills, behavioral training). We pursued certification through Alliance of Therapy Dogs, which involved an initial oral examination as well as three tests/observations of Pinella. She demonstrated excellence throughout these observations and gained official certification as a therapy dog in January 2020! In addition to accruing a certification, she was also accepted into a local airport therapy dog program! Here, she visits with nervous passengers awaiting their flights and works to calm their anxieties merely with her presence.
We have had to put a pause on therapy visits due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; however, we are eager to resume once it is deemed safe to do so! This new career as a therapy dog appears to satisfy Pinella’s desires to not only be a pet, but also work. It seemed appropriate to announce Pinella’s newly-granted certification as a therapy dog today in honor of National Therapy Animal Day!
Pet therapy is a fulfilling volunteer experience that I recommend to anyone who feels their pet might be a suitable match for therapy work. I’ve included resources below from well-known, reputable therapy animal organizations. If you’re interested in learning more about the handler and animal qualifications necessary to pursue pet therapy, these are great resources to start with. Just as Syrah’s handler did for me, I am happy to answer any questions you may have and help guide you through the process if/when you ever feel like this might be an appropriate endeavor for you and your furry companion!
“Scent of the Missing” and “The Possibility Dogs,” both written by Susannah Charleson, provide readers with an inside look into the world of working dogs. In “Scent of the Missing,” Charleson discusses the emotional and logistical components of her work alongside canine search and rescue teams. She shares her passion for canine search and rescue (SAR) with readers by describing her own experiences becoming a SAR team with her dog, Puzzle. Here, readers learn about the work ethic, flexibility, and emotional and physical strength necessary to execute SAR fieldwork. This is an inspiring read that will leave you wanting to offer thanks and gratitude to the humans and animals who devote their time and energy toward uniting loved ones near and far!
The focus of “The Possibility Dogs” is largely on the role of psychiatric service dogs in mitigating mental illness symptoms and diagnoses. In addition, Charleson provides insight into the process of selecting, testing, and placing shelter dogs to become working service dogs. As with many of the “Doggone Good Reads” found on Sit, Stay, Blog, “The Possibility Dogs” equates the human-animal bond as an affinity toward one another. Charleson provides fresh perspectives into what it means to experience love and loss within the context of the human-animal bond, including a dog’s ability to recognize grief in their human counterparts. Readers can also expect to be introduced to and educated on the concept of Black Dog Syndrome and the impact this has on shelter and adoptable dogs. Charleson has taken her writing one step further through the foundation of her nonprofit organization, Possibility Dogs, Inc., which seeks to train appropriate shelter dogs for work as service dogs, emotional support dogs, and therapy dogs. “The Possibility Dogs” is a tail-wagging good read based on raw personal experience that is nothing short of remarkable and memorable!
When you hear the word “doctor,” what is it that you think of? Who do you envision?
I anticipate that many of you, amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, imagine the medical doctor who is wearing the lab coat and personal protective equipment and running frantically from patient to patient in an attempt to combat this ruthless virus. Perhaps, you picture the pharmacist overseeing the life-saving medication you are about to receive. Maybe you’re even thinking about the veterinarian who provides comfort and critical care to your furry best friend. The limitations established in response to this pandemic, coupled with minimal use of healthy coping strategies, might contribute to poor mental health outcomes. Understanding this, you might even be envisioning the psychiatrists or psychologists who are working on the frontline to aide in mitigating mental health symptomology. If you are a college student, it might be commonplace for you to envision your professors who possess doctorate degrees.
You see, doctors come in many different forms and possess a variety of different titles, namely, M.D. (Doctor of Medicine), D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine), Pharm.D. (Doctor of Pharmacy), Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy), Psy.D. (Doctor of Psychology), Ed.D. (Doctor of Education), DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine), DSocSci (Doctor of Social Science), etc. Each of the respective individuals play an integral part in our society. On the path toward attaining these advanced degrees, each doctoral candidate engages in remarkable research discoveries, meaningful self-discovery and exploration, and altruistic behaviors. Through education, training, and experience, they become equipped to critically analyze and develop solutions for complex phenomena. The goal for all of these individuals, however, is ultimately the same — to contribute to the enhancement of society.
So why does all this matter? Right now, there are thousands of doctoral candidates (and doctors, of course) working behind the scenes to research innovative strategies to combat issues, such as cancer, interpersonal violence, mental and physical illnesses, animal abuse, suicide, incarceration rates, oppression, and the list goes on…and on. These aspiring doctors often have to sacrifice important elements of their personal lives, including outings with friends and family, “normal” routines, leisure time, etc. When working in helping professions, in particular, the concept of self-care becomes eternally ingrained in you. Thus, opportunities for emotional and physical care are crucial and necessary components of your every day life. Often, for students, this involves balancing the demands of their personal, professional, and academic lives. In doing so, it is important to employ skills to help you establish boundaries, ask for support and assistance when needed, and ameliorate feelings of guilt and shame when it is truly in your best interest to say “no” to that social gathering. It is important to schedule opportunities for fun and play amidst the ongoing pressure of academic and work demands. If you enjoy reading, schedule time to read. If sitting in silence is comforting for you, give yourself that silent opportunity. If you are energized by creativity, don’t forget to integrate writing, drawing, coloring, and crafting into your self-care routine. If you enjoy cuddling with your dog (who doesn’t?), by all means, please cuddle with your dog!
If you have read up until this point, I wholeheartedly thank you. I thank you for your receptivity and willingness to open up your worldview about what it is like to be a student. Most importantly, I thank you for playing a crucial supportive role in my first steps toward becoming a doctor. By way of confession, I haven’t yet been entirely forthcoming to you, my reader, in this post. Truth be told, in just a few short years, I will officially possess the title of “Doctor.” No, I won’t be able to fix your broken bone or write you a prescription for your medication. Instead, my focus will be on developing preventative approaches to some of the aforementioned complex issues that face our nation’s society. Very recently, I was granted acceptance into a Doctor of Social Science in Prevention Science program. This degree will equip me to examine issues from a preventative lens as opposed to focusing solely on treatment approaches. For example, it will be my role as a social and preventative scientist to explore the underlying causes of animal abuse in an attempt to reduce its occurrence. Another crucial role of an individual possessing a Doctorate in Prevention Science is examining risk and protective factors for issues, such as suicidality. It is my professional goal to incorporate my knowledge of and passion for animals into my studies by formally examining the impact of pets on mitigating symptoms of mental illness, preventing decompensation, and promoting mental health and wellness.
This is undoubtedly an exciting opportunity for which I am eternally grateful to have been afforded. This post is ultimately an open letter to myself — my future self as a doctor. It is intended to serve as an ongoing reminder about why I am seeking an advanced doctorate degree as well as how to maintain balance between my personal, professional, and academic lives. It is a reminder to myself to utilize support and continue to ask for help, when needed.
There are many supportive individuals in my life who deserve a surplus of thank-yous! It is of particular importance, however, to extend my gratitude to the individuals who devoted their time and energy to writing a recommendation for me to pursue this degree. To protect their privacy, I will not share their names but instead highlight my relationship with them. So thank you to my wonderful mentor and graduate school professor, thank you to the director of my favorite nonprofit organization, and thank you to my clinical supervisor who offers relentless emotional and professional support!
I thank you for reading along, and I hope you will join me in supporting all of our doctors, regardless of their title, as we continue to navigate challenging circumstances in our society.
“Haatchi & Little B,” written by Wendy Holden, is a twist of heartwarming and gut-wrenching. Holden begins by introducing readers to the saddening story of Haatchi — an Anatolian Shephard who began his life misguided by humans. Haatchi’s fate appears dismal. That is, until he is introduced to Little B, a young boy with a rare genetic disorder called Schwartz Jampel Syndrome. Little B experiences physical limitations that negatively impact his independence, comfortability, and sense of self.
While the story of Haatchi initially invites feelings of upset and fury, readers experience firsthand how a twist of fate, dependability, relatability, trust, and unconditional love brighten the future for both Haatchi & Little B. This story is nothing short of remarkable and is a tail-wagging good read about the unbreakable bond between a boy and his dog!
Want more Haatchi & Little B? Check out this video:
“Thunder Dog,” written by Michael Hingson and Susy Flory, is a remarkable, awe-inspiring story about the trust and triumph of a guide dog team. Hingson, who is blind, writes about his guide dog, Roselle, who was by his side as he worked in the World Trade Center on 9/11. Roselle can be described as a devoted, committed, and hardworking assistance dog who was trained by Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael, California. Together, Hingson and Roselle portray a human-canine relationship built on trust, understanding, and dependability.
Photo Credit: Google Images
Photo Credit: Google Images
In “Thunder Dog,” Hingson provides a near minute-by minute recollection of his experiences during 9/11. He depicts how the power of the human-animal bond and the trust in his partner, Roselle, ultimately led both of them to safety. Through this story, readers learn about blindness and the role that guide dogs play in mitigating this disability and promoting independence. Hingson also provides a raw, insightful look into his life with blindness, while educating his readers about “Courtesy Rules for Blindness.” He promotes person-first language and encourages readers to take interest in others for who they are, not for their disability. This tail-wagging good read will certainly leave you on the edge of your seat and wondering how the bond between Hingson and Roselle could get stronger with each turn of the page!
Click here to read more about Michael Hingson and his guide dog, Roselle!
This post is dedicated to those who lost their lives due to the events of September 11, 2001, including Roselle who ultimately crossed the Rainbow Bridge in June 2011.
“The Divinity of Dogs,” written by Jennifer Skiff, takes an inside look into the healing power of the human-animal bond. Through a series of short stories about our encounters with dogs, Skiff teaches readers how to lead a life with nonjudgment, empathy, kindness, dependability, and love. Readers can expect to find stories about the role of assistance dogs in promoting independence, adoption of shelter dogs, and the therapeutic role of dogs on healing our mental and physical ailments. Each chapter in this tail-wagging good read contains emotional firsthand accounts of how dogs and their human counterparts ultimately save one another physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Emphasis should be placed on the emotional aspect of this book as many of the chapters are a reflection of the heroic stories of beloved pets who have since crossed the rainbow bridge. The “Divinity of Dogs” is a true testament to the phrase “Who rescued who?” and is a tail-wagging good read for dog lovers everywhere!
Image Credit: Google Images
Image Credit: Google Images
This post is dedicated to those who (thanks to their beloved pets) know what it is like to love and be loved.
“Paws & Effect,” written by Sharon Sakson, is a tail-wagging good read that focuses on the remarkable impact of the relationship between humans and canines. Sakson creatively utilizes each chapter to convey factual and anecdotal information related to, among other things, the therapeutic role of the human-canine bond. “Paws & Effect” provides readers with an in-depth look into the foundational beginnings and current roles of assistance dogs to promote independence and overall wellness in humans. In addition to learning about the therapeutic impact of assistance dogs, readers can expect to learn about the astounding nature of military working dogs and the incredible bond formed between these animals and their handlers. Sakson bravely takes a dive into controversial topics by providing scientific insight into seizure alert dogs and olfactory detection of melanoma from our furry friends. “Paws & Effect” displays a phenomenal balance between personal accounts and existing scientific evidence of the healing power of dogs in mitigating physical and mental ailments in their human counterparts. An exquisite read, “Paws & Effect” is a must-read for dog lovers near and far!