Sunday, November 7, 2010

pack of 3, now a pack of 2

my heart aches as i try to put words together for this post. in fact, i wasn't even going to post this. but yesterday it became obvious to me, i knew i just had part of the healing process and as a tribute to CHAMP, the very inspiration behind JOY biscuits.

1 week ago today........champy passed away.

i'm slowly picking up the pieces of what life was like with him and trying to put them back together in a way so that i can move forward. the overwhelming feeling of sadness and loss is gradually giving way to fond memories of champ and what truly made him such a sweet good dog. (he was SUCH a good boy.)

my husband and i put together an email we sent out to our family and friends who knew champ, which i will copy below. the transition back to a pack of 2 is very difficult as it's even hard to imagine what we were like before champ came into our lives. as the days pass without going through the daily routines with champ, petting his soft belly, and the spontaneous outings and walks, one thing is clear: JOY biscuits is not only what champ inspired for us, but it has now become champ's legacy.

Dear Friends and Family,

Almost 2 years ago a retired racer came into our lives and found his way into our hearts. Champ was definitely a looker, and a conversation starter ("He's a greyhound not a whippet. Yes, he used to race. Champ's markings? It's called blonde brindle."). His gentle temperament and soft fur left a strong impression on many.

As many of you know, our boy Champ started acting not like himself in late September. The three of us started an intense journey that ended this past Sunday evening. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, he succumbed to lymphoma, which buried itself in his spinal cord and bone marrow. His passing, here at home, was incredibly peaceful and serene. The look in his eyes that morning let us know it was time to let him go...this was undoubtedly a very difficult decision to make.

After a warm sunny fall day of enjoying time together, feeding him his favorite foods (including JOY biscuits and even some rabbit) and relaxing outside, we sent him on his way. Joy and I can both say that he was probably the most relaxed and peaceful one in the room. He just knew...he was a true champ, in so many ways.

Joy and I were lucky to have had 1 year 9 months and 7 days with him. He came into our world as a hardened racer with a stoic persona, a stellar on-track record, and always looking for a job to do. He left us as a loving family dog that wanted to do nothing more than to please us. He was highly intelligent, but rather than just knowing how to out-maneuver other dogs on the track, he learned and accumulated a library of tricks that he could and would do at any time. All he wanted in return was a pet or a treat.

We'll never forget his soft fur and ears, his propeller tail and how it wagged more and more with time, how he learned to play with his toys and do 180 and 360 degree jump turns in our main room, and how he learned to sniff smaller dogs (as opposed to putting them in his mouth). He literally made our jaws drop when he "opened up" and ran super super fast (faster than what we thought was his fastest) kicking up dirt and dust on us at the horse corral up in Marin. Champ knew what to expect from the person behind the counter at any pet shop, how to pay close attention to the kitchen floor when we were cooking, and how to "counter sniff" instead of counter surfing. Something I know we miss dearly is how he loved to give and receive affection.

During the journey of the past month and a half we bonded with one another and many of our friends more than we could have ever expected. Champ was a very compliant and patient patient, trusting us every step of the way. We can't thank enough the vets that worked with us. Also, thank you to all who visited with Champ, raising his spirits and giving him a distraction from his pain. Your support has lifted us up in ways that are invaluable to us. Additionally, thanks to those of you who welcomed him into your homes and your hearts.

The lessons Champ taught us, such as living in the moment and loving unconditionally, remind us of what is really important in life. We are grateful that he let us into his life as his proud parents, even if only for a short period. We miss our sweet handsome boy. Champ will always be a part of us.

Carpe Diem,

Jamie & Joy

Thursday, August 26, 2010

JOY biscuits loves therapy dogs and service dogs

one of our missions at JOY biscuits is to increase awareness of therapy and service dog programs. we all know that dogs are wonderful companions and that one's quality of life is greatly increased when one has a furry friend in their life, however the distinction between a therapy dog and a service dog is important.

generally speaking, both types of dogs have similar outcomes: to increase quality of life, increase independence, and ultimately enable a person to participate more in their daily activities.

so what exactly is the difference between a service dog and a therapy dog??

service dogs are specifically trained to assist in meeting the needs of a person with a disability who may have limitations related to mobility and/or mental health. service dogs are legally defined by the americans with disabilities act of 1990 and are protected by federal laws that enable them to accompany their owners into public places where dogs-as-pets are not allowed. i've seen service dogs do amazing things like open doors, dial 911, pick up small pills off the ground with their teeth, and turn lights on and off. these dogs have a very important job, no doubt.

service dogs are also known as guide dogs, skilled companions, and hearing dogs. with organizations like CCI (canine companions for independence), and other service dog programs, people with disabilities have more access to participating in their communities, which is something that JOY biscuits cares very deeply about.

one thing to remember though (as it was difficult for me to learn how to do this), is that these dogs have a job and that they aren't necessarily "pets." so talk to the owner first (make eye contact with the owner, not the dog-i know, hard to do!) and ask them if it's OK to greet the dog before assuming that you can. if it is ok, then the owner can "release" the dog from their work before you pet them. if it's not OK, simply talk to the owner (mention what a beautiful day it is!) or just walk away. in either case, all parties will be enlightened and the service dog and owner will appreciate your mindful actions. you will be able to recognize a service dog by a vest or a badge that indicates that it is indeed a service dog. here are some pictures of service dogs in action!

a therapy dog, is exactly what it sounds like. a dog that provides a therapeutic experience to those who interact with it. geez, given that definition all dogs could be therapy dogs, right?! nope. therapy dogs must go through a vet check, discipline/obedience course and evaluation, and be affiliated with a group that organizes visits to hospitals, clinics, and facilities. in fact, most domesticated pets can become a therapy animal, and organizations like furry friends pet assisted therapy services assist with this process. here are some touching stories of strays becoming therapy dogs.

i have seen therapy dogs work in multiple ways. some examples include: having the client brush the dog to increase their strength and range of motion in their arms; having the client direct the dog to do certain tricks, thus having the client work on giving commands and praise when executed well; and lastly having the client walk the dog a few feet initially and gradually increase the distance over time, thus working on strength and endurance. here are some pictures of therapy dogs in action!

ok, 2 more items worth mentioning: 1) champ, the inspiration behind JOY biscuits, is on his way to becoming a certified therapy dog. in fact, i made that one of our new year's resolutions. now i just need to make the time to do it! 2) there is yet another article worth mentioning in the august/september issue of animal wellness. this article illustrates a good picture of what to consider when getting a dog for someone with a disability (and not necessarily a service dog), and what breeds are good for certain purposes. it also mentions some amazing jobs of what different types of service dogs can do, like detecting when a person with type 1 diabetes has a severely low blood sugar level by smelling their breath, and then somehow indicating that the person needs to drink juice or eat. what the article doesn't mention is where to go to find a service dog. i would recommend CCI, but also know that there are smaller organizations that train and provide service dogs. a lot of figuring out where to go for a service dog depends on one's location and what feels like a good fit with one's needs.

i hope this post clearly distinguishes the differences between service and therapy dogs. if you've made it this far to the end of the post, i sincerely thank you for reading, as this means a lot to JOY biscuits.

Friday, July 9, 2010

and now introducing...the JOY biscuits café line

ohhhh baby, yes those are large JOY biscuits! bigger isn't always better, but when you're on the run and your dog has been especially good, they deserve an extra special treat. let's face it, when you treat yourself to your favorite caffeinated drink, cupcake, or cocktail, you want to share the experience with your furry friends, right? thus the JOY biscuits café line was born! these JOY biscuits are made with the same wholesome ingredients that the original biscuits are made with and are packed in a compostable baggy.

the café line packages come in 1 large biscuit and 2 medium sized biscuits. you can find the JOY biscuits café line at that takes the cake, cheengoo, george, and jeffrey's. our plan is to have them available at your local dog-friendly coffee shop, bike shop, winery, restaurant, b&b, hotel, you name it! we're super excited to introduce this new line of larger JOY biscuits to you!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

cleansing and fresh breath update!

well hello! long time no post, i know, i know. there has been so much going on: 1) developing a monthly biscuit cluBAnna (named after our furry friends in north carolina who love JOY biscuits, and whose parents pre-paid 3 flavors of treats to be mailed to them monthly for several months!), 2) a new JOY biscuit size and package to be launched soon, and 3) finding a local outfit to help us print JOY biscuits t-shirts! we also currently have a new spring seasonal flavor: banana, sunflower, & carob - so far it has been a hit! this biscuit is good for healthy skin and coat and may even become a regular flavor of the JOY biscuit line! but i digress, these updates are not the purpose of this post...

the purpose of this post is to share some information i've read recently in the summer issue of an awesome holistic publication: animal wellness magazine. it concerns this beautiful herb above: dill. in an article written by audi donamor, dill leaves and dill seeds are claimed to be a healing and nutritious herb. by simply adding chopped fresh dill to your dogs food and dill tea (made by steeping dill seeds) to their food and/or water, doggy breath can go from really bad to good! in addition to this, dill helps to reduce flatulence and contains heaps of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, thiamine, and vitamin A. so, what does this mean? this means that the mint, parsley, & charcoal cleansing and fresh breath JOY biscuits will soon be made with dill tea (as opposed to just filtered water) to add the benefits of this wonderful herb! we're also in the process of developing another cleansing and fresh breath flavor: ginger, mint, and wheatgrass!