Life to the Max Wins Prestigious Parent Seal of Approval

June 28th, 2010 by Robin Reynolds

We are thrilled to announce that our family gift book, Life to the Max: Maxims for a Great Life by a Dog named Max, was among the select award recipients that were revealed today in the Parent Tested Parent ApprovedTM Latest & Greatest Summer 2010 campaign. The book was honored with the influential PTPA Media Inc’s Seal of Approval for excellence in family products.

All PTPA products are tested and evaluated by independent parent volunteers throughout North America in their own homes. As a result, the Parent Tested Parent ApprovedTM Seal has quickly gained recognition as an international leader in certifying consumer products for quality, effectiveness and value.

To celebrate our award, we are offering another 10% off our already reduced price for the whole month of July. There’s no better time to stock up on holiday gifts and support rescue. That’s because the charity you choose on our website receives 25% of the price of the book.

Thanks to all our loyal readers and followers who continue to make Life to the Max a success!

Taking Your Dog To Work Has Benefits Any Day

June 24th, 2010 by Robin Reynolds

Tomorrow, many will celebrate “Take Your Dog to Work Day” with a day at the office. For my dogs, Amber and Krissy, however, the day holds no particular distinction since they come to work with me every day. True, I own my own business and our workplace is small, so it is easy to accommodate them. Still, as an employer, I find that having my dogs in the workplace is beneficial for everyone for a number of reasons:

1. Dogs teach us to give every task our best effort. Whether my dogs are chewing a bone, chasing a ball or pulling apart a new toy to get the squeaker, they go after it with gusto. It’s just another way of demonstrating that old adage: “Any job worth doing is a job worth doing well.” Maybe that’s where they get the phrase “Work like a dog!”

Krissy gets a scratch

2. Dogs reduce stress. A lot of stress is relieved just by taking a moment to scratch the ears or belly of a canine co-worker. Even if you’re having a tough time solving a problem, your dog will tell you you’re the greatest person in the world every time you look at her. In fact, studies have proven that petting a dog can help lower blood pressure-though I don’t know who gets more benefit you or the dog.

3. Dogs can help us look at things in an unusual way. When we’re trying to solve a problem, it is easy to fall into similar patterns. This is where it is comfortable for us as humans. Yet, we only have to glance at Krissy who has undoubtedly fallen asleep in some unusually contorted position that reminds us that there are many ways to look at a problem and comfort is just a matter of interpretation.

4. Dogs motivate us to stretch. In this computer age of information overload, it is easy to sit staring at the computer for hours without moving. Prolonged periods of time writing, reading or researching can put stress on the lumbar region of the back as well as the neck and shoulders. Dogs don’t remain in one position for too long and whenever they get up from a resting position, they stretch first. Daily stretching can provide a lot of physical and mental health benefits including keeping us younger.

5. Dogs remind us that work is more fun when we do it together. Sure there are vendors to bark at, issues to lick and client demands gnawing at us, but all seems doable when we collaborate. In the company of dogs, all things are possible.

6. Dogs encourage laughter. Dogs are naturally spontaneous and playful and they do smile and laugh. (Really!) Whenever Amber or Krissy hears one of us laughing, they love to be a part of it. Amber will throw her bone in the air and Krissy will roll on her back and grin. They don’t let us get too serious, prompt us to take play breaks and generally just make the workplace a more joyful place to be.

7. Dogs make us feel safe. Whether or not we actually are safer .is beside the point. The reality is that my dogs would rather lick someone to death than to bite their butts, but to the unwelcome solicitor we do nothing to discourage their image as ferocious beasts. “NO, WE DO NOT WANT YOUR BULK CANDY, SPA DISCOUNTS, OR YOUR COPIER, CLEANING OR INSURANCE COST COMPARISONS. GRRRR!!!!

8. Dogs can help us stay in the moment. Oil in the Gulf, job layoffs down the street, assistant out with the flu on day of the big presentation-there are plenty of things to worry about in business-but dogs will keep you grounded. There’s nothing to worry about except what’s right in front of you. All you have to do is take some time to chew it over.

Let’s face it—when you’re in business, there are some days we feel like the dog and sometimes we feel like the hydrant. We’re just glad we have always have the benefit of the doubt from our canine companions.

Life to the Max Lesson: I Am Your Dog

June 17th, 2010 by Robin Reynolds

A friend of mine sent me the following parable.  It is written from the perspective of the family dog, but the author is unknown. It is a great reminder to us all to appreciate the moment and to be generous with our time and attention, and the wisdom of its lesson crosses time, generations, and species. It bears repeating here:

I am your dog, and I have a little something that I’d like to whisper in your ear. I know that you humans lead busy lives. Some have to work, some have children to raise. It always seems that you are running here and running there, often much too fast, often never noticing the truly grand things in life.

Look down at me now while you sit there at your computer. See the way my dark brown eyes look at yours? They are slightly cloudy now. That comes with age. The grey hairs are beginning to ring my soft muzzle. You smile at me: I see love in your eyes. What do you see in mine? Do you see a spirit? A soul inside, who loves you as no other could in the world? A spirit that would forgive all trespasses of prior wrong doing for just a simple moment of your time?

That is all I ask. To slow down, if even only for a few minutes, to be with me. So many times you have been saddened by the words you read on that screen of others of my kind, passing. Sometimes we die young and oh so quickly, sometimes so suddenly it wrenches your heart out of your throat. Sometimes we age so slowly before your eyes that you may not even seem to know until the very end, when we look at you with grizzled muzzles and cataract-clouded eyes. Still the love is always there, even when we must take that long sleep, to run free in a distant land.

I may not be here tomorrow: I may not be here next week. Someday you will shed the water from your eyes that humans do when deep grief fills their souls, and you will be angry with yourself that you did not have just ‘one more day’ with me.

Because I love you so, your sorrow touches my spirit and grieves me. We have NOW, together. So come, sit down here next to me on the floor and look deep into my eyes. What do you see? If you look hard enough and deep enough we will talk, you and I, heart to heart. Come to me not as ‘alpha’ or ‘trainer’ or even ‘Mom or Dad’. Come to me as a living soul and stroke my fur and let us look deep into one another’s eyes and talk. I may tell you something of the fun of chasing a tennis ball, or I may tell you something profound about myself, or even life in general. You decided to have me in your life because you wanted a soul to share such things with. Someone very different from you, and here I am.

I am a dog, but I am alive. I feel emotion, I feel physical senses, and I can revel in the differences of our spirits and souls. I do not think of you as a “dog on two feet” I know what you are and who you are. You are human in all your quirkiness, and I love you still.

Krissy and I spend a few moments together on the floor.

Now, come sit with me on the floor. Enter my world and let time slow down if only for fifteen minutes. Look deep into my eyes and whisper into my ears. Speak with your heart, with your joy, and I will know your true self. We may not have tomorrow, but we do have today, and life is oh so very short.

So please….. come sit with me now and let us share the precious moments we have together.

Love on behalf of canines everywhere,

Your Dog

A World of Difference in the Lives of Dogs

June 9th, 2010 by trohrs

We took a little break from the blog last week, but we’re back with a special blog post from Life to the Max illustrator and designer, Terry Rohrs, who just returned from a trip to Eastern Europe. As she related her adventure to me, I was struck by the cultural differences not only with the people she and her husband met, but also with the dogs they encountered.  I asked her to share her observations in a special guest blog today. Here’s Terry:

A dog’s lot in life is not the same around the world as it is in America. This was never so apparent to me as when my husband and I recently had the opportunity to travel to Eastern Europe. Our observations of dogs in these countries helped to solidify our belief that our own rescued dog, Tater, would probably not have made it out alive if she had been a stray anywhere else.

In Macedonia there were lots of dogs. Almost all were uncollared and ran loose. Like little hobo dogs, they were just about the only beggars I saw. But they weren’t pushy about it. They relied on those big puppy-dog eyes that evolution has nurtured in the species for thousands of years.

My daughter, who’s been living there now for more than 20 months, says dogs are not given elevated “family member” status in Macedonia. They are yard pets, they are working dogs, or they are strays, but not many people bring them into their homes. She told us you won’t find anyone talking baby talk to their dogs, or buying them special treats, or dressing them up in pretty collars and coats. It’s just not done!

We were encouraged to follow the other Macedonians’ example; ignore the little stray and he’d move on. But have you any idea how hard that is for an American dog lover to do? Sometimes when no one was looking, I’d bend down, give a pup a good scratch and tell him just how cute he was and how much I’d love to take him home.

One little guy was so sweet; you could tell he’d appreciate anything we did for him. All of the little hobo pups were good at turning on the charm. Say what you will about the unseemly life they lead: these street dogs don’t know a different way, and they are very grateful animals. I never saw one that was unfriendly, aggressive, bossy, or seemed to have any issues at all with humans! I’m convinced that Cesar Millan would go hungry in Macedonia.

But don’t let them fool you — these dogs are as much pragmatists as everyone else — if I didn’t have food to give them, they’d enjoy a short scratch or chin rub, then move on to the next easy mark! No gain, no loss.

Of course, we were never happier to get home to our own lovable canine companion, but now we appreciate her even more. We know now that Tater’s very lucky she’s an American Girl!

Tater comfortable inside her American home with her favorite ball