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My anxiety has been riding me hard lately and I haven't been able to pinpoint the trigger. And then suddenly, it hit me.
My dog died.
Yes, I mourned Sydney’s death last year, I shed many tears, and I miss her every day. I know from experience that mourning doesn’t have a set game plan or time limit. But I was still caught off guard when I found myself making plans to give up, walk away, and start fresh with something else. I’m pretty good at collecting Rae Dunn mugs, maybe I’ll focus on that for the next ten years.
So, yeah, my anxiety kicked in because I’m still feeling the loss of my dog, which makes me feel like I’m in a permanent state of darkness aka depression.
“Dogs Come into Our Lives to Heal Us”
This is a quote from Heather Szasz of Happy Owner, Happy Dog. She was a speaker at the Natural Pet Care Summit hosted by Dr. Judy Morgan.
Hearing those words was my Aha Moment. I began thinking about all the dogs that have come into our lives and what they taught me and suddenly I stopped focusing on what I did wrong with each of my dogs and instead began thinking of what they were sent to teach me.
- Rodrigo taught me how to be an advocate for my dogs.
- Sydney taught me to pay attention and listen to my dogs.
- Riley taught me that when it comes to dogs, the more the merrier.
- Blue taught me how to find joy in every moment.
- Scout taught me that a cancer diagnosis isn’t the end.
- Zoey taught me that my energy impacts them.
- Apollo taught me that love can heal.
And all of my dogs have taught me the power of forgiveness. Not for others, but for myself. It's time to own my shit and forgive my past bullshit.
It’s Time to Make Amends
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about. Anxiety? Depression? Suicide?
I’ve spent weeks starting and restarting this blog post until I listened to Heather Szasz speak about dogs.
I’ve had people reach out to me over the years and instead of listening, I went on the defensive and missed an opportunity to be a kind human being. #HypocriteMuch. These are people who I know through the raw feeding and pet blogging communities, some were friends at one time or another, and others are people I know in passing. But all of them deserved better from me.
This is me owning my shit.
1 – Rachel Phelps of PrestonSpeaks.com
Years ago. Rachel shared in a group an experience as a pet blogger that shocked me to my toes. I took that experience and without sharing her name, I brought it up as a discussion in another group to ask if anyone had a similar experience. This upset Rachel and instead of defending my right to start a discussion, I should have respected the fact that she was upset and been open to hearing her out.
2 – Ryan Yamka
In 2020, Ryan took offense to a comment I left on a status update questioning his motives. I still don’t agree with his motives, however, not every status update requires feedback. I should have kept scrolling and minded my own damn business. In that discussion, a dog trainer said that I represent everything wrong in the raw feeding community and now I understand what he meant. When we spend our time and energy tearing each other down (even if that's not our intention), we take away from helping the dogs and cats we love.
3 – Gregori Lukas
If you’re part of the raw feeding community, then you know Gregori Lukas. He’s a passionate influencer, former pet store owner, and a political advocate. Gregori has done things that I disagree with and last year I decided to call him out on his behavior. I was completely out of line and I’m disappointed in how I handled my beef with him. Again, I don't have to agree with or like someone's actions, but who the hell elected me judge/jury/executioner? Me?
4 – Savannah Welna of Raw Fed & Nerdy
I’m not a fan of the Raw Fed and Nerdy crew because I made the mistake of reading screen captures of unflattering discussions about myself and others. Savannah reached out to me a couple of times to discuss what was being said about me, but I was so angry and offended (insert eye roll here) that I didn’t create a space where we could have an adult, respectful conversation. I wasn’t open to a discussion because I was too busy enjoying #victimlife. I’ve learned that what people say about me or think about me has nothing to do with me. If it's not about me, then there's no need to be offended.
5 – James R. Ballard
Years ago, a dog trainer started a discussion (I owe him an apology too) about an influencer in the raw feeding space and it wasn’t very complimentary (the comments were harsh). I joined the discussion (mistake 1), defending the subject of the discussion (mistake 2), and stayed around to argue with folks (mistake 3). I also unfriended several people as a result of this conversation because I was afraid – if they speak that way about him, they’ll do it to me too. Talk about ego. Yikes. This was another situation when I should have minded my own business and kept scrolling.
6 – Peter Ciancarelli
Last year, Peter sent me a video and asked my opinion after he was dealt with some negative feedback. I shared my thoughts with him and then, without his permission or naming names, I shared my thoughts on my Facebook wall. This was last year and I was caught up in the racism discussion and saw this as an opportunity to raise awareness of….I don't know what, but I was wrong. Peter was not happy and asked me to take it down, I did, and then he promptly unfriended me, which I realized months later. I don’t mind being unfriended, it’s a good habit to purge your friend list on Facebook – what bothers me is that I shared his story without his permission. I didn’t share his name and no one knew who I was talking about, but that’s not the point. It wasn’t my story to share.
7 – Yvonne DiVita
Years ago, Yvonne posted something on her wall in response to my social media post (on my wall) and feathers were flying. I think this happened pre-therapy so I threw a social media tantrum that would make my three year old self proud. This was yet another time when someone else’s opinion of me wasn't about me. Instead of creating drama that extended way too long, I should have pounced on the opportunity to have a discussion, but I was enjoying my self-proclaimed victimhood far too much.
This list could be longer. Engaging on social media opens the door to offending someone. But in my case, I opened that door and loudly walked through so it’s on me. I don’t write this blog post to change history or to get on anyone’s good side. Instead, I’m honoring the dogs that have come into my life, carrying a briefcase full of lessons.
Going forward, I want to live in the moment, appreciate every breath my dogs take, every tail wag, every bark, and every muddy paw print because when we reach the end of our journey, I’ll regret every moment I chose to focus on Facebook drama instead of spending quality times with my dogs.
Dogs don't live long enough, so I want every moment I can have while they're here.
What I Learned this Past Year
If you're still reading this, thanks for sticking around. I don't have many regrets because even crappy experiences leave me with a lesson. As a member of a passionate online community, I've learned that I need to focus on my own shit and not about what others are or aren't doing. It's none of my damn business, it doesn't impact me, and none of those people are paying my bills.
It's time for me to return my focus to learning how to improve the lives of my dogs.
If you have found yourself diving deep into social media drama, arguing with strangers on social media, or making a strong stance about a topic that maybe doesn't matter as much as you think – I have one thing to say to you (or maybe two)…
- Hi! You're not alone. So many people are behaving this way that some of us have convinced ourselves that this is normal and right.
- Keep scrolling. If the drama-du jour doesn't sincerely help dogs (and be honest, does calling that person out really help a dog???) or where ever your passion lies, then just keep scrolling.
What's the point of dying on that hill if no one remembers your spectacular death over prong collars, overweight dogs, or vegan dog food?