At the start of a new year it is almost impossible to resist the urge to create a list of all that you would like to improve for the next 12 months. I make new goals for Dog Quality, I make new goals for me personally, but the most important are the goals I make for how I look after my dogs.
So for 2016, here are the 5 promises I am making to my dogs:
- Patience is a virtue - One interpretation of this saying is that the ability to wait for something without getting angry or upset is a desirable trait. I remind myself of this on a daily basis but it is something worthy of being a 2016 goal since I can always improve in this area. Some days I have more patience than I ever thought possible and then other days I feel quite the opposite. So Winnie, when everyone is downstairs ready to go out and you are watching me from the top of the stairs, I will wait for you. Milo, should you wish to urinate on every blade of grass on our walks, I will support you and appreciate the slower side of life and Lily, when it is snowing and you choose to hide instead of leaving for work with me, I will not take it personally, but I will still make you go ;)
- Dental work for everyone - As many of you know I am a big believer in dental health and while I have been so focused on Milo's teeth since he is my oldest and has had needed help every year, I have not given Lily and Winnie the dental love they need. This year everyone is getting their teeth cleaned and if needed we will have to also endure some unpleasant but necessary extractions. Last year I took Milo and had his teeth cleaned through a company that does it without anesthetic and it worked very well, but he has a couple teeth that require surgery despite our efforts at avoiding this. Lily and Winnie? Well we will see what they need. It is a challenge getting a clear look inside, but I suspect we will be saying good-bye to a few teeth this year. Once everyone is looking great again orally I plan on continuing to clean without anesthetic in hopes that we can avoid dental surgery moving forward.
- Better food - The more I read about diet for our dogs, the more paranoid I have become about my choice of dog food. For years my dogs have been on Natural Balance Fish & Sweet Potato, which is a good food, but after reading about the lack of disclosure in the additive pet foods list as "Natural Flavors", where companies are not required to list out exactly what is being used, I have decided to avoid companies using this in their foods. Unfortunately Natural Balance Fish & Sweet Potato is one of those foods so I began looking for an alternative. At the same time I have been reading a lot about the benefits of Vitamin D3 and wanted a food that gave my dogs the appropriate amount. As a result I am now trying them with Orijen Six Fish dog food which is jammed packed with amazing and understandable ingredients and supplements so we are well on our way to better eating. I was concerned that this would be too rich for them, but so far so good.
- Natural remedies - I have become very interested in natural healing options for my dogs ever since losing Paige to cancer. I am not saying I could have prevented what happened, but the feeling of powerlessness changed me forever and I would like to understand what can be done at home using natural plants, oils, methods etc to treat and possibly prevent certain conditions and to even just help make life a bit more comfortable for my dogs as they face the challenges of senior years. I am currently taking a course on Aromatherapy as part of my desire to become a certified aromatherapist so that I can safely and effectively use therapeutic essential oils, healing butters and other natural ingredients to create products that will help address some of the challenges senior dogs face. A few areas I would like to focus on include muscle and joint issues which Milo, Lily and even Winnie have for various reasons that can impact mobility and cause discomfort; anxiety issues which can come as our senior dogs lose sight, hearing and face dementia and I also see a need to help with skin conditions that senior dogs often struggle with.
- Quality time - My life tends to be quite hectic and even though I am extremely fortunate that I am able to have my dogs with me 24/7, it is not always quality time, so my promise is to make time each and every day to simply appreciate what I have. Life is so fragile and so short and I always want to make sure I take the time to soak all that I have in by having some relaxed time with my dogs. Whether it's a walk, a cuddle or just hanging out together I vow to always make time.
I am so excited about 2016 on both a professional and personal level and I wish you and your family (two-legged and four-legged) the very best for this year. May it bring health, happiness and quality time together as you make memories to last a lifetime. Happy New Year!
Ann-Marie Fleming is the Founder & CEO of Dog Quality, a provider of products focused on improving the quality of life for older dogs.