Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Iditaord , Making a Positive Difference in the Lives of so Many

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” ― Jane Goodall

Wade Marrs
Photo courtesy of Stumping Jump Kennels

No words rang a greater truth than in this year's 2016 Iditarod. I believe the Iditarod is not just a race or sport, but a time of community, learning and camaraderie. These mushers and this race make a difference in the life of so many.

As I reiterated in my book, "Furry Philosophy and Memoirs Set in Stone" a quote by Dee Dee Jonrowe, "Musher’s win in the manner they take care of their dogs, in the way they treat people in the villages, and how courteous they are to the volunteers."

Some of these communities that the race runs through are very poor, or small in the middle of nowhere. These towns look forward to this event and love to come out and participate with signs of support. 
Dallas Seavey
Photo courtesy of Jeff Schultz

I would like to congratulate Dallas Seavey on another win, his 4th of the last 5. He started out the race very sick. Dallas at only 29 years, is in excellent shape and has been athletic his whole life. 
He chose to make a difference by example and push on. He chose to find his inner strength and determination and followed it all the way to first place under the Burled Arch again. I would also send a special congrats to Mr. Wade Marrs. I just adore Wade's disposition and his care of dogs. He is making a difference by continued dedication to detailed care of his dogs. He attributes his continued success to "looking at his own faults" and working on improvement. It was a nail biter back on the back and  forth race to the finish with Peter Kaiser. The last stretch of the race they were running only a mile apart. Wade also started this race coughing and sick. He flew in, out of breath, into the finish line saying, "I never worked that hard in my life" but with a huge smile on his face. His hard work is showing. In just 5 years he has gone from, 47th to 4th place. I whole believe with all my heart, this ethical, hard, 25 year old musher, who started at 8 years old, is someone to watch! 

This year's Iditarod experienced a horrible tragedy when Arnold Demoski of Nulato intentionally drove a snowmobile towards Aliy Zirkle , Jeff King and their dog teams. The tragedy harmed 2 dogs and sadly killed King's dog Nash. I send love to Nash and Mr. King. Both Aliy and Jeff chose to push on. I would like to congratulate Aily on finishing 3rd and Jeff on finishing 9th, and overcoming adversity. I also believe into every storm a little sun must shine. I believe both mushers have made a difference by showing strength and determination. As Laura Wright, Teacher on the Trail writes,  "The tragic situation outside of Nulato has created a 'teachable moment' for educators who are following the race in their classrooms."  Children are making inspirational signs. Just to quote a few, "You are brave and brilliant and oh so resilient , Go Aily" , "Don't say 'Why me' say 'Try me' Go Mr. King" and "Aily ~Winner's are not people who never fail, but people who never quit." I believe these life lessons are one that our future leaders will remember and hold in their hearts
Aliy with Kodiak at 2016 Iditarod Ceremonial Start.
 Photo courtesy of the SP Kennel

The fact the overuse of alcohol was a factor in this tragedy will teach lessons that will make a huge difference in the life of so many. It is a know fact there is a problem with alcoholism in Alaska. I believe the isolation and lack of sunlight greatly contribute to this.  Musher John Baker, his wife Katherine and Governor Bill Walker formed ACT a state-wide wellness initiative. Their "goal is empower all those residing in Alaska, especially native villages, to establish healthy wellness goals, prevent substance abuse and suicide." Wade Marrs was also asked to be an ambassador of this group and he accepted. Since I have been following Wade, I have seen him work in many ways to make a difference in the lives of so many including the dogs. 
Martin Buser
photo courtesy of Happy Trails Kennel

Sadly this past summer there was another tragedy with the Alaskan fires.  Dee Dee Jonrowe lost her home and sadly one of her dogs. So many lost so much. Everyone showed such camaraderie helping to get dogs out and to safety. The Buser's housed hundreds of dogs and welcomed them to their home. After showing such kindness sadly, the Buser's experienced a horrific tragedy in their life when son, Nikolai suffered extensive injuries in a bad car accident in Seattle WA on Jan. 22nd. Martin spent all his time at the hospital and was not even sure he would race. He was not able to do the training that he needed. He also came down with pneumonia. Dee Dee also was not able to do all the training she wanted. I believe they both made a difference by showing determination and getting out there anyway. I also believe that the Iditarod was healing to them in many ways. Being alone, one with the wilderness and your dogs can work magic. At a checkpoint interview Dee Dee said when talking about the Iditarod, "Something in my life I understand what is going on." Mr. Buser is was having a hard year and also pulled a hamstring so terribly that he blacked out. He was asked at a checkpoint interview, "You're not going to scratch?" He replied, "Scratch? That would be like quitting, I can't quit." "I gotta prove that when you start something, you gotta see it through and I kinda wanna do this for my son who since January 22nd has a hell of a lot more to overcome than I have." I hope that both Martin and Dee Dee found some peace on this trip. When 4 time Iditarod winner Martin Buser crossed the line in 37th place this year he was asked how was the race. He replied, "What race? My camping trip, just did a fun camping trip." I hope you enjoyed your camping trip. You deserved and needed the solitude. I also want to give Dee Dee and Martin a four paws up for making such a positive difference in the community. The both are ambassadors for ethical treatment of the dogs. Dee Dee is a founding member of Mush with PRIDE, "which provides responsible information of a dog's environment, exhibiting her commitment to set the standards for all aspects of sled dog care". Martin regularity talks to the youth at schools on the humanitarian care of animals. I believe educating our future leaders on ethics is one the biggest and most important differences we all need to strive for. 

I believe one of the biggest differences we can make in the world is to be happy, share our happiness and stay positive as much as we can. I believe also we learn by example and can make a difference just by being kind and ethical, especially to the voiceless, the dogs in the race. One of my favorite parts of being a member of the Iditarod Insider is the footage and the interviews and I see this infectious joy, and love for the animals being shared! When watching Paige Drobney and her husband Cody I was very inspired and resonated with Paige's feelings. She loves being alone in the wilderness with her dogs so much "she cried tears of joy". They both mush for the right reason, the love of the dogs and nature. Aily was interviewed while camping on the very windy Bering Sea. She thought she was going to run a little longer but the dogs needed a break so she did was best for them and stopped, in the wind, to rest. She made the best of things with a smile. She said with a grin, as the wind whips in her face, "It's pretty look at it, most people wouldn't choose it, but it's sunny." Miriam Osredkar, a rookie this year running the puppy team for Joar Leifseth Ulsom has a contagious smile and a joy for this race that is quite infectious. You can feel her love for the dogs. Brent Sass has always been know for being positive and he has a logo with the word "Believe" on it, one word that says so much. He states at the finish line, "Places in the end didn't mean anything to me. It's all about the dogs." It warms my heart to see how much the mushers in this race make sure the dogs are put first and foremost and shown so much love. 
Grandpa Phil volunteering on the Pee Team

I believe one of the biggest keys in this race is the volunteers. Without these volunteers there would be no race. My friend Grandpa Phil Cady, was one of the very first volunteers of the race when it started. This year, at 89 years young, he came in all the way from Florida to volunteer on  the "pee team" to test for drug screening to ensure the safety of the dogs. All the vets that ensure the safety and good health for the dogs at every check point are not paid and all volunteers also. 
Once a dog is "dropped" for being tired or injured they must go somewhere to be properly cared for.  There is a "Prisoner Sled Dog Therapy Program" that provides this care. Women from the prison come to care and love these dogs very much. Inmate Danielle Carrier states while stroking a dog with a gentle hand, "There is a lot to be said about dogs, not for just a mental health aspect but definitely  for recovery and substance abuse as well."  Veterinarian, Dean Bauman states, I am so thankful they are willing to work with us on this. It's a win- win situation, not just for the dog's but the inmates too."  I commend these volunteers for their dedication and love of the dogs. They are making a difference in so many ways.

To this author The Iditarod is not just a sport, but a way to make a difference. It is making a positive difference in the lives of so many. It inspires our future leaders and adults to be the best you can be, teach by example and love the voiceless animals, always treating them with the proper care they deserve.

To learn more or become a member for next years adventures go to
To read a little bit more about my views and love of the Iditarod you can read older entries on my blog 
You can also read my article in  the 2016 March -April issue of .

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

TTouch , a second look

"The circle, ancient symbol for life unending, for renewal, community, wholeness and self "~Linda Tellington-Jones

We connect the circle as a symbol to countless things, eternity, love, and so much more, but for healing and change also? Absolutely!
In past articles I have mentioned TTouch as part of what I incorporate in my dog Odin and my daily special time together, when he gets his range of motion exercises, cold laser, etc. I will do everything his ol' bones need to keep him moving good and happy.
I would like to paws and elaborate on this amazing technique that deserves a closer look.
What is TTouch?
According to Tellingon Touch Training ,it is briefly defined , "TTouch - the Tellington TTouch - is a method based on circular movements of the fingers and hands all over the body. The intent of the TTouch is to activate the function of the cells and awaken cellular intelligence - a little like "turning on the electric lights of the body. The TTouch is done on the entire body, and each circular TTouch is complete within itself. Therefore it is not necessary to understand anatomy to be successful in speeding up the healing of injuries or ailments, or changing undesirable habits or behavior."
Ttouch was first perfected on horses and they seem to be one of the animals that are very in tune with this type of technique.

TTouch is very easy and there is no wrong way to do it. It is circular movements that are performed with your hands ,very lightly and gently. I have taken a seminar on it. There is definitely  a lot of information you can learn to incorporate to benefit your animals. That being said your pet can benefit immensely also from simple information. I highly suggest the book, "The Tellington TTouch" by LInda Tellington-Jones with Sybil Taylor. You can get the basic cliff notes at: If you watch this video and want more information look to the right and you will see longer videos to click on. You can also find seminars to attend at
Over the years I have heard nothing but wonderful results from Ttouch. Odin seems to respond wonderfully to it and enjoys our special time, bonding with wordless love. When you spend this time with animal in your life don't forget to breathe deep, they will relax and you will find yourself relaxing with them.
Odin J.

I have a good friend who has two beautiful horses, Trigger and a rescue, Molly, who I have been fortunate enough to go visit and spend time with. Molly has had some issues such as being difficult when ridden and showed signs of stress when my friend would run the tractor or various loud machinery. She would chase Trigger and get very agitated. Trigger was very standoffish. After a very short time of trying out the TTouch technique he has seen a change in both horses. Trigger is now not only enjoying attention, but seeking it out. Molly is calmer and now shows no reaction and doesn't even flinch when the tractor and loud machinery are brought out. Molly also is seeking out attention. I love to hear unbiased personal accounts such as this.

This quote by the founder of TTouch, Linda Tellington-Jones resonates with my beliefs on Ttouch and also in a whole how to' be' with our pets, "All it takes is your desire, your love, some trust in your intuition -and, of course, a little practice."

Fostering is a priceless gift

"There is a deep sleep that only comes on the first night out of the shelter. As he settles in, he gives a great big sigh. Like a weight has been lifted off his shoulders. Then he sleeps deeper than he ever has. Knowoing he's safe. You get a lump in your throat as your realize how close he came. Now he's safe. Forever. Because you fostered."  ~Two dog farms
Paula Smith and her 3 rescues.

I cannot express how important fostering is to pets. Fostering allows pets to feel like they are loved and allows them to get used to what it is like to live in a loving home. Proper fostering allows the pet to get some basic training. Basic training will help to ensure that a pet stays in a home once it is adopted and lessens the chances of returning to the shelter.
This month Odin and I would like to introduce our guest writer and good friend Paula Smith from Dog Blessed LLC. Paula specializes in reactive dogs. She also has helped, trained and fostered so many dogs that are thankful for her expertise.
Take it away Paula!

When your foster dog leaves to join her new family, it is a bitter sweet moment.  In my case it always involves a few tears, but every day I look back on it with a warm heart and smile on my face.  I know I helped her find that special family to give her the life she deserves and I got a chance to have another special dog in my life, even if only for a few weeks. Most importantly, I helped save a life.
According to the ASPCA website, approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter shelters nationwide every year.  Of those, 1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats are euthanized for a variety of reasons. Shelters play an important role by providing temporary shelter, safety, food, and water to animals in need.  However, shelters have limited space and resources. Additionally, some animals don’t do well in a shelter environment.
Foster homes are a vital part of saving lives of dogs, cats and other animals.  These special homes are lower stress environments that allow the dog to feel safe; learn that humans are kind and loving; and, how they should behave to live their life with humans to the fullest.  Foster homes also free up space in the shelter for another animal so shelters do not meet capacity or have to turn needy animals away. Most shelters have a foster program and there are many rescue groups that operate as only foster homes, without a main facility.  Some of these groups are breed specific.
While the primary goal of the foster family is to save lives and provide safety for their foster, they can also teach her basic rules about living in a human world. These simple lessons impact the dog’s quality of life forever. Many dogs are abandoned because of behavioral issues that can be resolved with basic training. Other basic training such as sit and keeping four feet on the floor can also help a dog make a better first impression to potential adopters.
Best of all, anyone can foster.  If you love animals, you can open up your home to them while they are waiting for their new family to find them.  Most shelters provide training and everything you need, so fostering costs very little.
To learn more about fostering, I suggest contacting a shelter or rescue group you are familiar with or one in the back of this magazine to learn about their foster programs.  Ask questions to learn about their program.  How do you select your foster dog? What happens if the foster dog does not get along with your dog?  What if you have to leave town and can’t take the dog? Do you get to help select the dog’s new family? What expenses (if any) are you responsible for?  What if you think the dog needs special vet attention or training?  Can you adopt the dog if you decide to you want her forever? Are there any cases where the dog might not be adoptable? If so, how are those handled?
This past fall, I fostered two puppies from a litter of eight abandoned at a kill shelter at just six weeks old. I had the opportunity to socialize them and teach them many lessons during a very critical time in their lives that will impact them and their families forever.  Best of all, one of those puppies ended up finding his permanent home with our family. I hope you find your next family member through fostering or at a local shelter.
Paula Smith , Dog Blessed LLC