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!
“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!
Meet Maggie Mae! She is a beautiful Australian Shepherd whose adoption story will really tug at your heartstrings! Maggie is a snuggle bug with a wiggle butt that will surely make you smile!
Name: Maggie Mae
How I Got My Name: My human’s mother decided I looked more like a Maggie Mae than a Luna Mae, like she considered naming me.
Breed: Australian Shepherd
Nickname: Maggie Moo, Magoo, Miss Mae, and Wiggle Butt
Age: Approximately 7
Adoption Date: October 2014
Adoption Story: I was running wild through the streets of Fishing Creek when a lady saw me and made efforts to bring me closer to her. She only had Chinese food and pizza for leftovers, which I sneakily made my very own. She gently welcomed me indoors and showered me with love and a warm bath. Upon my surprise, she had two furry friends in her tiny home, but there was no place for me to run and play. She posted flyers, knocked on doors, and made Facebook posts to find my previous owners or a new home. No one claimed me from the flyers, and others reported they had seen me running around for weeks. That’s when my now human momma asked to give me a home. She then took me to a vet to be checked for a microchip and to be well cared for. I had a long recovery from malnutrition, mange, and various allergic reactions, but my momma loved me more than ever, and I stayed by her side. At first, she let me live with her parents because she needed to return to school. She then found a home that suited both her and I! While living with my grandparents, I spent my time snuggling and playing, and soon my scars healed, my hair grew back, and I comforted my human companions with butt wiggles. I am now living with my human momma and am an only dog surrounded by lots of love!
Here I am on one of my very first days with my human momma!
Here I am on one of my very first days with my human momma!
Best Tricks: I do this pretty nifty trick where I randomly throw myself on the ground, roll over, and get endless belly rubs and treats. I also sit, stay, roll over, hug, jump, and bark on command!
Collar Color I Sport Best: Maroon! It brings out my beautiful fur features!
My Fur Family: Me…and only me!
Favorite Fur Friends: I most enjoy Dallas, a big, loving bulldog, who lives with my grandparents! I am also very fond of the twice daily company of a wiggle butt Corgi that always stops outside my home to say hi!
Favorite Activities: My all-time favorite things to do include sunbathing, taking long walks, snuggling my humans, playing tug, and begging for food and treats.
Favorite Toy: I love my moose stuffed animal, marrowbones stuffed with peanut butter, and a tattered rope tug toy. Nothing beats a good play session with my toys!
Favorite Treats/Food: I love, love, love my (Xylitol-free) peanut butter, cooked green beans, and peas. I have some allergies, however, that require me to eat gluten free food and treats!
Favorite Memories of Pet: I once taught myself to roll over, and my human momma tells me that this is her all-time favorite memory of me!
Life Lessons Learned From Maggie:
Always comfort a friend.
Long walks and sunsets can soothe and calm any bad day.
I find myself in a strange home. Unfamiliar scents. Unfamiliar sights. I find comfort in her presence and get scared when she leaves. I know the signs. She’s putting on her shoes. Please don’t grab your coat. Won’t you stay a little longer? I can tell she’s in a hurry. I notice her brows are furrowed, and the outline of her lips are facing down, not up like they usually are. Is she scared too? I’m worried about her. My breathing gets heavier, so she looks into my scared eyes and comforts me. She tells me she’ll be back soon, but I’m afraid. She turns the TV on, so I won’t feel so alone. She grabs her key — a surefire sign she’ll soon be walking out the door. First, she puts me in my crate which is somewhere I feel safe. Her T-shirt she left with me gives me comfort as I await her return. What’s that? The door unlocks, and a familiar sight unfolds. There she is. My person. I’m safe now.
There it is. It’s loud and thunderous like a battlefield. It echoes like a child screaming into a cave. Echo, echo, echo. It looms high, bright, and beautiful in the sky for just a moment. Boom. There goes another one. They light up the night sky. I run and hide into my safe place under the bed. I shake. My breathing gets heavier as I await another inevitable boom. The boom of each firework shakes me to my core. When will it end?
This is anxiety. More specifically, this is anxiety through the eyes of Pinella. Throughout her days as a service-dog-in-training, Pinella underwent observations which ultimately deemed her too anxious for service dog work. Some of my very first recollections of life with Pinella involved preparing her for situations, wherein we had to be separated. As a young puppy, goodbyes were often accompanied by fear and distress. My heart ached to witness her feeling emotionally uneasy. We practiced goodbyes, slowly increasing the duration of time spent away from one another. First, it was a few seconds. We very gradually moved from minutes to hours. Reunions were coupled with praise and positive reinforcement for desirable behaviors she displayed upon being separated and while apart (i.e., no destructive chewing, urinating, defecating, barking, et cetera). It is often suggested that the root origin of separation anxiety in dogs is linked to fear of abandonment. It took many test runs of leaving and returning, leaving and returning, and leaving and returning for Pinella to understand that separation was temporary. Together, we mitigated her anxiety by creating an exciting, enjoyable goodbye ritual. She learned that, while goodbyes are necessary, they aren’t to occur without the accompaniment of a peanut butter snack or, more recently, treats in her tricky treat ball.
Separation anxiety is suggested to affect 14 percent of our nation’s pets (Kriss, 2019). It is my personal speculation, however, that this number is highly underestimated as separation anxiety is often overlooked and ascribed to a dog who “misbehaves” or “has bad manners.” It is not the dog’s responsibility to “wise up” and “fix” their problematic behaviors. Rather, it begins with responsible dog owners whose duty it is to become familiar with their pet’s body language, cues, and signals. Kriss (2019) suggests that signs of anxiety in dogs include, but are not limited to, the following:
Tense body posture
Hypersensitivity to sights or sounds (i.e., alertness to the possible sound of their owner’s return)
Barking, growling, howling
Pacing and restlessness
Repetitive or compulsive behaviors
Familiarity with your pet’s body language, cues, and signals begins with first understanding the context in which their problematic behaviors occur. As such, examine whether or not your dog displays any of the aforementioned signs upon your departure from the home. For example, does the dog begin pacing and panting when you go to the closet and grab your coat and shoes? If so, this may be an indication of separation anxiety. If these kinds of behaviors occur across many different contexts, there may be a larger issue at hand aside from separation anxiety.
While some anxiety is healthy and normal, it can become problematic when the dog’s response is disproportionate to that which is average. The latter has been repeatedly exemplified with Pinella’s fear of fireworks. This specific fear, also referred to as a phobia, developed while on a walk one evening. Neighbors were setting off fireworks, and we inconveniently found ourselves in the crossfire. She froze, unable to move. Shaken to the core, she looked at me with fear in her eyes. There existed no amount of praise or treats that would have enticed her and reassured her that she was safe to keep walking.
Since that incident, I have done extensive desensitization training and counterconditioning work with Pinella to help mitigate her symptomology. While she has demonstrated decreased anxiety symptoms, holidays, such as Independence Day and Memorial Day, continue to be most challenging. What is most frustrating, however, is the unpredictable nature of firework displays. I fully support pre-planned displays at previously determined locations. I think it’s wonderful that we, as a society, can come together and celebrate our nation, its freedom, and the veterans who fought for it. What I find problematic, however, are the displays we see in neighborhoods — those that are unpredictable, unplanned, and unbeknownst to all until it’s essentially too late. We owe it to our nation’s veterans, anxious pets, and all individuals with exaggerated startle responses to be mindful of how unpredictable firework displays can worsen psychological symptomology.
When Pinella developed a fear of fireworks, we immediately began working together to create an environment where she would feel safe, comfortable, and confident. As holidays, such as the aforementioned, approach I find myself with a freezer filled with peanut butter Kongs and marrow bones filled with organic pumpkin. At the sound of the first firework, she will retreat to her safe space under my bed where she has free access to her treats. The curtains are drawn. The television and fans are turned on to provide ambient background noise. Through studying and assessing her body language, I have learned that, while she enjoys my company, constant comfort and too much invasion on her personal space results in increased anxiety. For that reason, I often find myself staying in the same room as her while allowing her to check-in with me when she needs to. When you have an anxious pet, it’s important to know what triggers them as well as what comforts them. Here are some tips to help you in developing a plan to care for and comfort your beloved fur friend:
The aforementioned information highlights the debilitating and unnerving experiences that are commonplace to many of our four-legged companions. The prevalence of anxiety-related issues in pets is alarming. As responsible pet owners, it is our duty and moral obligation to understand what our pets are communicating to us and, in turn, identify sensible solutions to make them more calm, confident, and comfortable!
Thanks for taking time out of your day to read another Sit, Stay, Blog post! Don’t forget to Like and Follow us on Facebook,Twitter,and Instagram! If you have any suggestions for future posts or would like to see your pet featured on Pets on the Net!, leave a comment below or submit your information on Sit, Stay, Blog’s Contact page! 🙂
Until Tuesday is a tail-wagging good read that focuses on the intimate relationship between a veteran and his service dog, Tuesday. Luis Carlos Montalvan, deemed a “highly decorated captain” in the U.S. Army, served two tours in Iraq. Post-Iraq, he found himself experiencing a host of mental and physical disabilities. Montalvan reports that the crippling aftermath of serving in combat caused him to experience debilitating posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and chronic physical pain. He coped unhealthily, often relying on alcohol, isolation, and alienation from others as a means to manage every day life. Each day was seemingly a constant battle for Montalvan “until Tuesday.” Tuesday was a beautiful golden retriever trained by East Coast Assistance Dogs. Through his training, Tuesday learned many cues, including how to open doors, turn on lights, and sense and respond to the onset of anxiety and flashbacks. For Montalvan, he did just that and more. Tuesday connected with Montalvan like none other and provided him with the service he needed to more healthily manage both his mental and physical disabilities. Through Until Tuesday, readers learn about the manifestation of posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, alcoholism, depression, and physical ailments in Montalvan’s life. We learn about the horrific extent of the many issues that our nation’s veterans face upon reintegrating into civilian life, and we gain a first-hand account of the therapeutic and healing power of the human-canine relationship. With Tuesday’s help, Montalvan developed the confidence and courage to become a nationally recognized advocate for veterans with PTSD. Until Tuesday provides an avenue for readers to learn about “man and dog,” “war and healing,” “ability and disability,” and “spiritual restoration.”
Montalvan reportedly died by suicide in 2016. In memoriam of a national hero, 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.
Meet Luca! Luca is a beautiful, two-and-a-half year old Pyrenees who teaches the value of calmness and patience. She’s a beautiful little lady who certainly knows how to steal the hearts of those she meets!
How I Got My Name: Out of nearly 4,000 names, Luca is the only one my owners could agree on! It might have helped sway them that my dad’s name was Luzenac!
Breed: Great Pyrenees
Age: 2.5 years young!
Birthdate: August 27, 2016
Adoption Story: My owners have always wanted to raise a Great Pyrenees from puppyhood, and so along came me into their lives!
Collar Color I Sport Best: Black and gold!
My Fur Family: I have two fur siblings, Rory and Mardi. Rory is a Yorkie, and Mardi is a mixed breed. Word on the street has it that they will also be featured on Pets on the Net! soon!
Favorite Fur Friends: Rory, Mardi, and Finn, of course!
Favorite Activities: I enjoy walking and playing ball, although I most enjoy ball-playing in the house! It is also a favorite pastime of mine to play with Mardi! Lucky for me, I also have two human playmates as well – my owners’ granddaughters!
Favorite Toys: I hope it’s not too cliché, but I really favor my tennis ball! Boy, I have tons of fun romping around with that in the house!
Favorite Treats/Food: Tail Banger Cookies – yum!!
Life Lesson Learned from Luca: The thing about Luca is that she’s known for being the calmest in the pack. She teaches her fur friends and human family the value of patience in this ever-busy, ever-demanding world we live in!