My pup, Phineas, has a Twitter account. You can check him out @PhineasNYC. Why is Phin on Twitter? Because he’s got a lot to say and a lot to teach others. He teaches me every day and quite frankly I feel selfish keeping all of that knowledge to myself. Phin deserves to have a platform to spread himself around to as many people as possible. The little guy needs a megaphone to be a broadcaster of goodness for animals everywhere and the people who love them. After much deliberation about which platform to use, we decided to start with Twitter. Messages are short and mighty, just like him.
Here’s what he plans to do with his Twitter account:
1.) Daily observations on a dog’s life in the big city with pictures and videos
2.) Spreading the word about good causes related to helping animals, especially, though not exclusively, dogs
3.) Promoting products he loves – from treats to squeaky toys and everything in-between
4.) Tips for pet parents on topics like pet health, separation anxiety, adopting a pet, and special deals on pet products and services
5.) Indulge his many funny bones
Phin and I are excited for his new online adventure. The world needs more goodness, more levity, and more dachshunds.
A couple of days ago, it was 60 degrees in New York. Phineas didn’t even need a sweater on his walks. All of the businesses and apartment buildings flung open their doors to let in the warm sunshine. Phin didn’t hesitate; he wanted to take advantage of the situation and check out every single one, mostly because a lot of them have treats for the local dogs. As the saying goes, “His mama didn’t raise no fools.” Here’s what little Phin taught me by his actions:
1.) Don’t count yourself out of the running.
Too often we talk ourselves out of opportunities that are right in front of us. Thoughts like “Why me? I bet there’s a lot of competition. I shouldn’t even bother trying. I’ll just be disappointed when it doesn’t work out.” We self-sabotage before we even give ourselves a chance. Not Phineas. If that door is open, he’s going through it. Others may try to stop him (me included!), but he’s not discounting his own actions. He leaves that to someone else.
2.) Be bold.
Hold your head up high and never underestimate your own capabilities. Phin is a whopping 16 pounds and 6 inches at the shoulder. He’s a little dude but you’ve never know it from his attitude. I wonder where he learned that from…
3.) Have a mission and stay focused.
Phin’s looking for two things when he walks through open doors – treats and attention. He also has a an insatiable sense of curiosity, often to my dismay because he checks out every square inch of the ground he traverses. We need to do the same: Know why we’re doing what we’re doing and why we’re going where we’re going. And always learn. Every circumstance has something to teach us.
These lessons are a reminder that Phineas is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. I continue to be amazed by everything he shows me just by being who he is in every moment. That level of integrity, strength of character, and unwavering commitment to authenticity inspires me.
What lessons has your pup taught you?
I know we can’t hang onto time though that doesn’t stop me from wishing it were possible. As I was admiring the stunning Fall foliage in Central Park, Phineas was rooting around in the leaves looking for a tasty morsel of something. My pup has a penchant for trash. I was explaining the dangers of eating things off the ground to him when we met one of our neighbors with her flat-coat retriever. This sweet dog was diagnosed with cancer during the summer, started chemotherapy, and then had to terminate treatment because of internal bleeding. ”I’m not sure how she’s still alive,” said our neighbor through a lump in her throat.
My eyes started to well up with tears. Losing a dog is one of the worst kind of hurts I’ve ever known. I wanted to let my neighbor have her space and time with her dog so I told her how sorry I was and wished her well. I turned to leave to let my neighbor have her peace and so she didn’t see me cry. Phineas did something else, something I thought was quite extraordinary. He walked right up to his dear canine friend and gently bumped her chin with the top of his nose. Then he gave her a smooch. He knew what was happening. He was saying goodbye since we’ll probably never see this sweet pup again.
When we got a few blocks away and I finally got ahold of my tears, I knelt down on the ground and looked right into Phineas’s eyes. “Look Phineas,” I said, “I know you’ve got a lot on your plate but you’re going to have to find a way to live forever. Okay, buddy?” He gave me a smooch right on the nose, and I think that means he’s accepted the challenge. I can’t hang onto time; I’m hoping Phin can find a way.
Happy 4th birthday to the best fuzzy friend a girl could ask for. Love you, buddy!
A few weeks ago I went looking for a new place to board my sweet dog, Phineas. I’ve been boarding him at a place in New York City that is expensive and mediocre when I have to go out-of-town and can’t take him with me. I don’t mind the expense, but for what I pay I want stellar service for both of us.
Enter the advice of Abigail Michaels (an apartment concierge service retained by my apartment building management company at no cost to tenants) and several of my friends who are also dog parents. They all told me to check out The Spot Experience. I called the location on the Upper West Side at 72nd Street, spoke with the incredibly friendly staff, and made an appointment for Phineas to take his temperament test the next day.
From the moment we entered The Spot Experience, I knew we found the right place. It was serene, incredibly clean and tidy, and the staff was expecting us. Lucas, the manager on duty, took us back to explore the backyard, complete with plenty of grass and a pool. I was amazed at the space that they have. It was empty as the dogs were inside resting after their afternoon of play.
“Where are they?” I asked.
“You can see them through that window right in front of you. There are about 50 dogs back there right now,” he said.
“How come I can’t hear them?” I asked.
“Because we have a ‘no bark’ philosophy.”
I looked at Lucas, completely confused.
“We believe that while your dogs are with us, we should create a calm and inviting environment for all of them,” he said.
Sure enough I took a look through the window and all of the dogs were relaxed, lounging around on cots, and enjoying their downtime. The Spot Experience has a strict cage-free policy, 24-hour professional care, a complete set of grooming, daycare, and boarding services, and a webcam so pet parents can log in from anywhere in the world and see how their dogs are doing.
Being a true dog’s dog, Phineas passed his temperament test with flying colors and began his plot to figure out how to move into The Spot Experience for good. (I must admit that I was trying to figure out how I could move in, too!) The next day, I had Phineas stay over night at Spot while I went to DC to visit friends. He waltzed in (the staff immediately greeted him by name), got his treat, and never looked back. I had a wonderful weekend with my friends and knew that Phineas was in the hands of expert caregivers. All for the same price that I paid for mediocre service at the other pet services company.
If you’re looking for a place to keep your best furry friend safe and cared for while you’re away, I encourage you to run to The Spot Experience. Phineas and I are glad we did.
I received the link to this YouTube video from the first trainer Phin and I had when I first adopted him. It’s a short clip about the incredible aspects of dogs that make them amazing teachers and companions for all of us.
When I get out Phineas’s travel carrier, he never knows where we’re going. Sometimes, we get on a plane. Sometimes, we head for a car or the subway. We’ll go over to Brooklyn and visit two of our favorite friends, Amanda and Jordan. Sometimes, we’re going to the vet.
No matter. Without fail, Phin enthusiastically jumps around at the site of his carrier because he knows we’re going somewhere to do something out of the ordinary. He doesn’t need to know where he’s going; he’s just prepared to enjoy the ride. We, and by we I mean me, should live more like Phin.
Thanks to my friend, Alex, for this beautiful photo – and the reminder to enjoy every adventure.
On Monday night my dog, Phineas, started showing signs of sickness. Just after midnight on Tuesday, he started getting sick to his stomach at least once per hour. Though his energy was still good in the morning for his walk, he wasn’t able to keep down food nor water. And he was getting sick even more regularly. Something was terribly wrong.
I rushed him down to the veterinary hospital and his x-rays showed extreme inflammation in his digestive track. Our doctor explained that it could be anything from an infection to a blockage of some kind. Rather than diving right into surgery, she wanted to try to treat him with constant fluids and meds for 24 hours. Young, strong, healthy dogs are often able to pass blockages on their own and bounce back from infections quickly. Phin falls into that category. I left him at the hospital overnight and the doctor will call me in the morning after they run another set of x-rays.
I came home to my empty apartment and tried to stay busy. I cleaned my entire home from top to bottom and attempted to get some work done. It worked moderately well as long as I didn’t look at Phin’s dog bed, his blanket still curled up the way he likes it when he makes a little sleeping nest for himself. One look at that blanket and I would fall apart.
Finally, I put my work aside, closed my eyes, and meditated. I said a lot of prayers. I summoned up as many healing vibes as I ever have and I sent them all over to Phin. I asked my friends to do the same and I know many of them did. I kept reminding myself that my meditation and yoga practice saves and serves. Right now, I really need it to do both.
Every morning, Phin and I take at least an hour-long gratitude walk. On our walks, I think about all of the blessings I have in my life. I worked for and live a magnificent life. I’m grateful for good work, good people, and freedom, for the sunshine and the blue sky and the trees. For the ability to feel such a wide range of emotions so fully and authentically. I’m most grateful for my inability to take any moment for granted; I know too well how swiftly it can all disappear without warning. I’m grateful to see opportunity everywhere and be able to action against those opportunities for my own benefit and the benefit of others.
Every once in a while, I ask Phin what he’s grateful for and he just looks at me and smiles. “Back at ya, buddy,” I tell him. He lives in the moment more than anyone I know. He loves fiercely and freely. I try to follow his example. If anyone knows the value of time and gratitude, it’s Phin. He’s an amazing teacher.
Given my deep love for dogs (especially my little guy, Phin), a friend of mine sent me this story. My friend doesn’t know the author and I searched online to no avail. It’s a beautiful story about a veterinarian and an amazing little boy as he confronts losing his faithful pup, Belker.
“Why Dogs Don’t Live as Long as People. Answer of a 6-Year-Old.”
Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.
I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.
As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.
The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker ‘s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.
The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.
Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ”I know why.”
Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.
He said,”People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?” The 6-year-old continued,
”Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”
Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Never pretend to be something you’re not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.
Enjoy every moment of every day!”