"Who the heck is this crazy dog woman and why should I trust her with my dog's good looks and health?"
Every time you turn around there is someone claiming to be an expert on dogs, how to care for them and what works on dogs. Why should you trust me and The Blissful Dog with your best friend's health and well-being?
For starters, I have worked in various aspects of the pet industry for over 30 years (yikes). But first, indulge me as I backtrack a bit...I grew up in Mississippi (down the road from Oprah) and appreciate how hard my mom worked to expose us to a bigger world than our small, rural town.
From an early age I was dog obsessed. My mom tells a story about a friend of hers asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was about three at the time and I dropped down on all fours, panted and barked and told the poor lady I wanted to be a dog...my poor mom.
After graduating magna cum laude from college I headed west to Dallas. I had a blast working in the fashion industry and at some oh-so-trendy clubs (don't even ask). It was the 80s and 90s and I remember my blond hair being ever, ever-so BIG!
Then I got my first dog that was MINE. I was hopelessly smitten and devoured every book I could find about dogs. My first purebred dog was a Chinese Shar-Pei and that is a story for another time. Through the Shar-Pei community I met David Williams and we jumped into the dog show world together. Now David is one of the top professional dog handlers in the world. He's come a long way from the two of us cramming into a Suzuki Sidekick to go to dog shows.
Luis and Angela Arenas-Lopez of Goodtyme Chows and Pekingese were so generous with their time and knowledge and we had a BLAST going to the shows. It was like an old I Love Lucy show at the dog shows!
The pet industry must have been my destiny, as I left the fashion world and joined Petsmart as a specialty area manager and then PETCO as a store manager for a few years. Talk about a great education in the pet industry! Ken Bendon, who was my boss at both Petsmart and PETCO was the greatest teacher and boss I could have imagined. I still use lessons he taught me and share them too anyone who will listen.
Right after I turned 40, in what may have been a psuedo-mid-life crisis, I took a position in St. Paul, MN as a graphic designer for a French Bulldog magazine. One week after moving to St. Paul, I met my now-husband, Steve. I was smitten, plus, the dogs loved him. I would have gotten get married on the second date!
In 2001, five years after we met (don't laugh at me) we got married. Joker, my first Frenchie, was Steve’s best man and Kwik Pik, a sassy Frenchie girl, was my matron of honor. Luckily it was an outdoor wedding! as Kwik Pik peed in the aisle on the way to the altar. The Justice of the Peace said he had seen grooms faint, ring bearers throw up and flower girls cry, but he had never EVER had the matron of honor pee in the aisle.
Shortly after our wedding, Steve decided he wanted an adventure and before I could say, "I'm cold" we were here in far northern Minnesota! We live literally 40 miles from a gas station. I am VERY grateful for fiber optics internet and our UPS and FedEX friends for bringing me stuff. And yes, the winters are science fiction, freaking cold.
For over twenty years I bred and showed purebred dogs (Chinese Shar-Pei and then French Bulldogs). Over time I bred many Number 1 and Top Ten French Bulldogs, Best in Show, Best in Specialty Show winners under the JACKPOT! French Bulldogs kennel name. Side Note, BOTH of Martha Stewart’s first two French Bulldogs were bred, born and raised here! While I no longer breed Frenchies, I cherish the memories and friendships from that time in my life.
One of the things I am proudest of is being the breeder of the VERY FIRST OFA Excellent Hip French Bulldog in the history of the breed CH. Jackpot! For the Love of Money (pictured with me and his dad, Money above) and the VERY FIRST Registry of Merit (ROM) awarded by the French Bulldog Club of America (CH. Jackpot! Money Money Money, CGC, ROM.
The AKC Breeder of Merit emblem is awarded for dedication to the sport of dogs and meeting requirements within your breeding program. I was honored to receive this award.
Howell Books (now Wiley) commissioned me to write The French Bulldog, Happy Healthy Dogs which is still a top seller and for years was one of only two Frenchie books in print. I also wrote many articles for a wide variety of dog magazines over my decades in dogs and have been interviewed by many top dog publications.
In 2008 I was honored to judge Sweepstakes at the French Bulldog Club of America National Specialty. This is a huge honor in the dog world and it meant a lot to me.
Then, in 2012 I was elected by the FBDCA club membership to judge the Top Twenty Competition French Bulldog Club of America National Specialty with esteemed breeder, Nannette Goldberg of Marianette French Bulldogs and AKC Judge Robin Stansell. That was a blast!
Those are some of my street creeds in the dog world! Thank you for allowing me to blow my own horn and share some of what inspires me.