Rest in Peace, Lily

Rest in Peace, Lily

Our beautiful, happy girl lived full out until the last 60 seconds of her life, and then she passed away suddenly in my arms.

jennifer waters the happy dog mom smiles at boxer dog

The last 60 seconds of Lily’s life were the only warning I got that something was wrong.

She walked down the hall toward me, acting like she might be sick to her stomach. I guided her to the kitchen, wrapped my arms around her and asked her if she was okay, and then laid her down gently as I felt her legs give out.

Three more big breaths and she was gone.

I know there’s a blessing in saying she lived a good life right up until the very last minute, and then left quickly without suffering. It also would have been nice to have had some warning.

There is no easy way to lose a dog.

If I could play you a slideshow of the 11 years before yesterday, you’d see a stream of pure happiness, play and affection. Lily had a remarkably good life, one that wasn’t marred by the hardships and traumas that the other dogs we’ve brought into our family have experienced. She will be remembered in so many stories, and all of them will end in laughter. She was always ready to play, and she never passed up an adventure. But she was just as eager to settle down for a good cuddle, too.

Many of Lily’s stories also end with, “She was so naughty!” But you have to understand that her particular style of naughtiness wasn’t a source of frustration—it was something to be admired. She came into our world like a 5-pound whirlwind, deviously scheming up some of the most complicated, expensive acts of destruction I’ve ever seen in a dog. I am perversely proud that my baby girl chewed off every cement board corner of our house, stripped young trees of their bark and once ripped out all the wiring on the underground sprinkling system. I don’t remember her bothering with normal activities like chewing shoes or pillows—that was too mundane for her style. She preferred things like rolling jack-o-lanterns down the driveway—just to watch them get crushed by cars.

She also was sweet, and thankfully mellowed out later in life. She loved two things the most: her big brother Tyler, and my son, Aidan. Lily would hardcore ditch anyone and anything to spend time with her “boyfriend” Aidan. The day she died, I had told her, “You get to see Aidan one week from today!” He was away at college and hadn’t seen her since August. Going home for Thanksgiving will be very bittersweet now.

I am thankful that I can look back at the last weeks and not spot any signs that I missed. I wouldn’t want to live with the idea that I could have done something to prevent this. I am thankful that we braved the snow and cold to take the walks she loved the last days of her life. I am grateful that I made the effort to cut trails through the property because going on our daily “adventures” was one of her favorite things. I am grateful that I tucked her in every night, telling her I loved her and that she was the best baby girl. I am grateful she didn’t suffer. And I’m so thankful that she was our princess for almost 12 years, although no amount of time would have been long enough.

Every death has taught me something. Duke and Tyler taught me how to live those last days in presence and joy, saving the grief for after they’re gone. Lily is pushing that lesson further. Even when you don’t know that your dog is dying, live in presence and joy. Take the walks. Give out the treats. Say “I love you” every night as you tuck them in. We hear it over and over—live every moment like it could be your last. It’s an idea that is easy to dismiss when you always think you have more time. Lily’s gift is to show us that our next breath isn’t a given. Choose presence and joy today, like it’s the last day you may ever have.

Go get ‘em, Baby Girl. I know you’re pestering Tyler so hard right now, but I also know his playful little sister was one of the great joys of his life. Georgia is grieving, missing her constant outdoor adventure partner. And Archie…you might be interested to know that he guarded your body after you were gone.

You will be so missed, Lily, it’s hard to even comprehend right now in the hours after your sudden death. I’m so glad you didn’t suffer, and we’ll use that as a reminder not to suffer over your loss. I know we didn’t get to say goodbye, but I also know we never really have to say goodbye. You’re always in our hearts and we’ll be watching for you in our dreams, beautiful baby girl.  

Rest In Peace
2/8/11 – 11/16/22

When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed by What to Feed Your Dog

When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed by What to Feed Your Dog

An easy way to find the best possible food for your dog, even when you feel overwhelmed by all the options and opinions.

Shopping for dog food is stressful.

Maybe it’s just me—I don’t enjoy shopping, it overwhelms me. There are too many choices, and I’m the type of person who likes to make good choices, especially when it comes to my health and my dogs’ health.

I once spent months researching what kind of kibble to feed my aging dogs. My dogs were sick and I knew they needed better nutrition than what I was giving them, but I was so overwhelmed by the need to find the “best” food that I became paralyzed by the options.

It took one of my dogs going into a health crisis for me to finally make a decision and try a new food. I had the best intentions—I wanted to feed my dogs the best possible food for their bodies—but I wasted months of their lives struggling with my own indecision and need to make the “perfect” choice.

Maybe you’ve felt the same way when it comes to your dog and what he’s eating?

Today I have the clarity and experience to know that any little improvement I make in my dogs’ food will greatly impact their health. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and it doesn’t have to be drastic. I just have to start.

That said, I still found myself right back in my familiar shutting-down mode at the grocery store recently. Over the last six years, I’ve gradually transitioned my dogs to a fresh food diet of meat, veggies and supplements. I went to the store to buy 10 pounds of protein as I do each week, but the store was out of what I normally buy. I checked out my remaining choices: none of them were organic, grass-fed or hormone-free. The fat content wasn’t what I normally use. And the price of the one that was closest was nearly $20 more than I normally spend.

I spent so much time staring at that meat case and debating over this decision that I almost gave up and went home.

That’s when I caught myself.

When we struggle with making a decision, it often isn’t because of the options that are in front of us. It’s about what we think that decision will say about us.

In both of my situations above, I wanted to choose the “best” food for my dogs.

If I did that, it would mean that I was a really good dog mom.

It would mean I was good enough at something.

It would mean that no one could criticize or judge me for what I fed my dogs. (Because let’s face it, there’s a lot of dog food shaming out there, am I right?)

At least, that’s what I thought my decision would mean.

My overwhelm and decision paralysis came from my belief that what I chose to feed my dogs was a reflection of whether I was a good enough dog mom or not. That belief created so much pressure that I couldn’t make any choice at all.

When I finally removed that pressure, and that belief, I was left with a much simpler decision: what’s the best I can do for my dogs, right now, with what I have available to me?

I stopped trying to become a dog food expert overnight and I asked some actual dog nutrition experts for advice. I stopped trying to do a complete overhaul of my dogs’ diet and I started taking baby steps. I stopped believing that anyone had the right to guilt me for what I fed my dogs, and I stopped making myself available to other people’s judgments.

I was doing the best I could, and that was enough.

I made a few simple changes to my dogs’ food—baby steps, really—and I was blown away by the exponential improvements in their health. I wasn’t doing anything perfectly, but their bodies were responding with improvements in health and vitality that were even greater than I had hoped for.

I learned that baby steps were better than no steps, and that I couldn’t let my fear of judgment and need for perfection get in the way of giving my dogs the better nutrition they deserved.

Which is why I was surprised when I recently found myself standing at that meat case, paralyzed by choices again. That’s when I took a deeper look at what was behind my overwhelm.

I realized that over the years of giving my dogs better nutrition, I had become proud of what I was doing and it once again meant something about me. When I couldn’t find the food I normally fed them, I was upset about what it would say about me if I fed them something “less.” Once I saw that belief, I realized the absurdity of it. Here I was, shopping at a human grocery store for human-grade ingredients to put in my dogs’ fresh, home-cooked meals, and I was worried that I wasn’t doing enough.

I wasn’t trying to find the perfect protein. I was trying to be the perfect dog mom.

Once I let go of all the extra beliefs that I thought that decision said about me, I easily chose a package of protein that matched my budget and STILL gave my dogs a much higher level of nutrition than they used to get years before.

Could I have done more? Could I have shopped around to find a more perfect meat source? Yes.

Could I also be satisfied with a little less than perfection, knowing that it was the best I could do in that moment? Absolutely.

I did the best I could for my dogs, and that was enough. I am enough.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed by what to feed your dog, take a deeper look at what is behind that decision.

Remove the idea that what you feed your dog is a judgment on who you are as a person or a dog parent. Yes, there will be people (including your vet, your rescue friends, your family, and online “experts”) who will try to judge you anyways. Realize that they know nothing about your budget, your lifestyle, your dog’s preferences and your access to different types of food. They do not get to decide what is “best” for you and your dog.

The “best” food for your dog is the one you can afford, get access to and store/cook safely. It’s the one that your dog loves and does well on.

If you exclusively buy grass-fed, free range, organic food for yourself, and it would go against your values to buy anything less for your dog, then by all means, don’t lower your standards.

If you are just trying to do a little bit better for your dog and you know you’ll adjust along the way as you learn more, then stop holding yourself to anyone else’s standards and confidently choose the products that you trust, have access to and can afford in this moment.

Either way, you’re making a difference for your dog. Be proud of that. Let go of any stress or judgment (from yourself and others) and do what you can, in this moment, for you and your dog.

It is enough.

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If you are feeling ready to do a deeper dive into canine nutrition and how to confidently craft your dog’s diet, join the waitlist for Nourish, my online course for dog parents who want to feed their best friends better. In this course, you will learn how to improve your dog’s nutrition by understanding the basics of what a dog needs to eat and thrive, and then by choosing the foods that work best for your budget, lifestyle and personal preferences. Think of Nourish as a choose-your-own adventure book: you’ll be encouraged to take what you learn and use it to improve your dog’s food in a way that makes sense for you and your dog. It could be a little or a lot, but even the smallest step toward better nutrition will create exponential changes in your dog’s body, health and functioning, and you’ll have the foundational expertise to make more or bigger changes when you’re ready.

Three Lessons I Learned from Reading 150 Books on Health and Happiness

Three Lessons I Learned from Reading 150 Books on Health and Happiness

Plus a Free Download: My Top 10 Favorite Book List on Dogs & Humans

In 2016, my mind and body shut down. For about six weeks, I was unable to complete thoughts or sentences. I struggled to get out of bed. I started having PTSD and anxiety attacks that I’d never experienced before.

At the same time, I lost my health insurance. In my time of greatest need, I could no longer afford medical health care.

It sure didn’t feel like it at the time, but this has turned out to be one of the greatest blessings of my life.

I became obsessed with figuring out ways to heal my depression and anxiety using whatever I could get my hands on, short of a prescription pad.

books on dog and human health and happiness

Since that time, I have read more than 150 books on natural healing, health and happiness. (I started with human health and happiness but quickly expanded my interests to dog health and happiness, too.) I’ve taken countless more courses and earned certifications from Duke University and Berkeley University. I’ve joined groups, learned from experts and opened my mind to therapies I never would have known about if I hadn’t been in this situation.

Three things happened as a result of this health and happiness obsession:

  1. I healed.
  2. My dogs healed.
  3. I found a new passion and purpose in my life.

What I learned from absorbing so many different viewpoints, practices and experiences absolutely transformed me—and my dogs.

Today, I am radiantly happy and living my truest, most fulfilling life. My dogs have added healthy, active years to their lives. And I am now on a mission to share what I learned so that others can create their happiest, healthiest lives, too.

Through Dogkind, I’ll be bringing you the mindset shifts, practices, foods, herbs and other therapies that have made the most difference in my life and my dogs’. None of this is meant to replace Western medical care. But what I found is that there is an entire world of healing available to us that most people never get a chance to take advantage of, because their doctors weren’t trained in it, their culture doesn’t accept it, or it wasn’t passed down through their families.

Adding natural healing to your medical toolbox doesn’t make you a witch or a weirdo. It makes you a more empowered and complete healer, both for yourself and your loved ones around you.

books on dog and human health and happiness

I hope that sharing the top 3 lessons I learned from my healing journey will inspire you to take a deeper look at your own health and happiness (and your dog’s, of course). Are you as happy and healthy as you want to be? What is standing in your way? Are you overwhelmed by the options? Or frustrated by a lack of options? Do you wish you could do more, but know you don’t have the time to do the research? Do you feel the pressure to become an expert in something before you get started? Do you worry what your friends, family, veterinarian or doctor will think if you ask questions or suggest alternative ideas?

I get it, I’ve been there.

Opening your mind to new ideas, doing the research and facing the fear of criticism involves creating some new neural pathways in your brain, and that can take some practice and bring up some resistance.

A great place to start is by exploring the three key lessons I learned on my healing journey. These aren’t actual techniques; they are mindset shifts. If you can read them and feel curious about the possibilities, I highly encourage you to join the Happy Dog Mom tribe as we grow and evolve. If you resist the ideas below, think that you have the “right” answer and you need to convince everyone of it, or don’t want to change a single thing about what you’re doing, this will not be the place for you.


Lesson #1: Only One Thing Can Actually Heal Us

This is so simple and yet so forgotten in modern society. The ONLY thing that can heal us is our own bodies, our own immune systems. Medicine doesn’t heal us. Nutrition and herbal supplements don’t heal us. They may repress the symptoms and give us boosts where needed, but in the end it is our bodies’ own repair and regeneration systems that get in there and do the actual healing. If you cut your finger, Bandaids and salves are great tools, but they can’t actually put your skin cells back together. Only your own body can make that magic happen.

The key to healing is to give our immune and repair systems the best environment possible. Pharmaceuticals can do that, but so can nutrition, supplements, mindfulness and so, so, so much more. Why not give you and your dog all the tools you can to create the best environment for a strong immune system and a happy, healthy, longer life?

Lesson #2: “Alternative” Therapies Aren’t Always Alternative

In many cases, alternative therapies are ancient, time-tested healing practices passed down from generation to generation—because they work. We’ve come to think of “alternative” therapies as a little bit out there, unproven, and not worth our time. I know I certainly had the belief that only modern medicine could be trusted. After all, I was raised by a nurse, married to a doctor for 20 years, and I managed hospital websites for a living. It took a real crisis in my life for me to open my mind, and even then I was a pretty skeptical nut to crack.

I still am. I still believe in research and evidence. I don’t try a single thing on my dogs or myself that doesn’t have evidence showing it is safe and has a record of getting results. The difference is that I no longer narrow my definition of “evidence.” When did we start requiring evidence to come from a laboratory or a rigorous clinical trial? Those things are excellent to have. But what if our evidence comes from HUNDREDS of years of native or generational wisdom, rather than a published paper?

the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid

In Blue Zone areas around the world, people have been documented to have a greater chance of living past 100 years old thanks to their natural diets, exercise and mindsets. Studies, books and even documentaries have legitimized the findings, but the results were real even without all that. These societies had unlocked keys to health and longevity, and they did it without clinical trials and published papers. They used the natural resources around them and passed down what worked through their generations. Science caught up with them later, did the research and then presented what these people have always been doing as “evidence” that whole foods can be a longevity tool.

When we close our minds to healing options that don’t have a white lab coat’s stamp of approval, we cut ourselves off from the overflowing wealth of well being that is available from the collective history and wisdom of humanity (and animals).

Lesson #3: There Are No Right Answers

There are no proven, “right” answers in healing because there are no two identical dogs, humans, lifestyles, philosophies, health histories or budgets. Anyone who claims they have the “right” way to do anything is working more from their ego-driven desire to be liked than from their compassion for your actual healing.

We see this a lot in dog nutrition. Some raw feeders in particular can get vehement that raw meaty bones are the only way to feed the friendly little wolf descendant who lives in your home. Feeding dogs raw food is great. I tried it. But I had three big dogs at the time who needed a lot of food, and the cost and the cleaning were overwhelming for me. That means raw feeding was not right for me, period. I didn’t need to be shamed or made to feel guilty about it. I just started to look for other healthy options.

There are always other healthy options.

The only time you run out of options is when you let yourself believe there are no other options.

When I opened my mind to healing options outside of Western medicine, I was blown away by the simple, common sense, time-tested methods that were available—and which I had never heard about because my society deemed them “alternative.” I felt like I had been robbed of decades of health and happiness because I was never taught these methods. In truth, though, the only person who robbed me of them was myself, by keeping my mind closed to them and by judging other people as “weird” or even unintelligent for using them.

The key to your greatest health and happiness is to find what works for YOU, no matter what label anyone else puts on it. Our drive to conform and not stand out is probably the biggest factor in our mental health struggles today. When you can learn how to find the mental strength to be an advocate for yourself (and your dog), you WILL create a happier, healthier, more fulfilling life than you can even imagine right now.

It’s Time to Re-Imagine Health and Happiness—for Us and Our Dogs

I want to be clear that I am not trying to sell you any miracle products or “fix it fast” techniques. What I can offer to other dog moms is deep knowledge and experience from doing what I love—research, asking questions, and breaking down complex ideas into simple baby steps. I know that having the time and drive to do the amount of research and exploration that I did isn’t available to everyone. It is now my mission in life now to offer the lessons I learned to others because I want EVERYONE (and every dog) to feel the profound levels of health and happiness that my dogs and I enjoy.

I know it’s possible because I’ve radically transformed my own life and the lives of my five senior Boxers. I want to show you how you can do the same.

If this interests you, join with me on Facebook and Instagram. Learn the psychological and spiritual transformations that took me from feeling depressed, lost and unlovable to living in unconditional love, happiness and energy—and that pulled two of my dogs back from the brink of death.

Let’s create the more beautiful world that you know is possible, for you and your dogs.

jennifer waters happy dog mom signature

Bonus: My Top 10 Favorite Books on Dogs & Humans

library of dog books

How the Full Moon Affects Your Dog (And You)

How the Full Moon Affects Your Dog (And You)

Police officers, emergency room workers, teachers and even doggie daycare staff all know that sh*t gets weird on a full moon. We joke about it and maybe draw straws to see who has to take the night shift, but have you ever thought deeply about why that is or how the full moon is actually affecting our brains and bodies?

The sun also has a gravitational pull on earth, although much weaker than the moon’s. Full moons (and new moons) are the most powerful because that’s when the sun and the moon are in line with the earth, combining their gravitational pulls to cause VERY high tides (and very low tides).

We see this effect clearly on our ocean shores, but we don’t give much thought to what this gravitational pull is doing to our own bodies.

Human bodies are made of 60-70 percent water.

Did you know that your dog’s water percentage is even higher?

Dog bodies contain up to 80 percent water.

Surely, if the moon and the sun are able to influence our massive oceans so dramatically, the little oceans of water inside our bodies are not immune. 

In fact, studies have shown LOTS of measurable impacts to our human bodies during full moons—including less sleep, lower heart rates and blood pressure, increased mental health disorders, and even synchronized menstrual cycles. Emergency rooms, maternity wards and veterinarian clinics all report increased activity around full moons.

We Are Not Immune to Nature’s Power

I was in a Moon Circle (@ichelfrancis) for a couple of years, where we paid attention to each moon phase. As a group, we talked about how we were affected and how we could use the powerful energy of the moon to heal and grow.

There were two ways that most women felt the moon’s pull: physically and mentally/emotionally. I tended to be in the mental/emotional camp, meaning that I experienced moon energy as strong urges to let go of things that weren’t serving me, take steps toward my goals that scared me, and uncover truths about myself that I had never seen before. Plus lots of crying my face off.

Thankfully, I didn’t experience the more physical manifestations of the moon energy, such as headaches, exhaustion, anger, unexplainable sadness, sleeplessness and even nausea that some other women felt.

However, because I was paying attention to anything that came up during these powerful gravitational pulls, I did notice that my dogs were physically affected. Most often, it showed up as very interrupted sleep during the full moons. My dogs would all wake up several times during those nights. They would settle back down quickly, but it made for pretty poor quality sleep when I had four dogs in my room all moving around at different times.

Another effect I was able to document is that my dog, Tyler, was more likely to have a seizure on full moons than on other nights. Tyler had infrequent seizures for many years—sometimes he only had them once or twice a year. But when they happened, they were almost always on a full moon.

I wouldn’t have noticed this correlation if I wasn’t in a group where our attention was brought to the moon phases and what we experienced around them. Indigenous cultures of the past (and present) would be more aware and accepting of this phenomena, because they respect and honor the power of the moon. In recent times, we’ve become disconnected from the natural world and no longer pay attention to how the weather, seasons and moon cycles affect us.

Western medicine doesn’t ask you what phase the moon was in when you had your latest anxiety attack.

Modern culture has somehow decided that even though the moon and sun can visibly affect the oceans and land masses of Earth, we as humans are not susceptible to their power. And because our dogs are now extensions of our human family, we don’t consider the effect that the natural world has on them, either.

Unless our attention is brought back to it.

It took being connected to this beautiful moon circle for me to even begin to become aware of what we have lost and how we are operating at less than full knowledge when it comes to our health—and our dogs’ health.

The Power of Reconnecting to Nature

Let me give a clear example of how important this natural knowledge is, and how we are shorting ourselves and our dogs by not paying attention to it.

As I mentioned, Tyler’s seizures were notably almost always on a full moon. When he had one, his vet would have me give him a heavier dose of phenobarbital right away and then increase his dosage going forward. He would be seizure-free for a while until another full moon came along and he’d have a “breakthrough” seizure. Then we’d repeat the heavy dose that day and increase his daily dosage going forward. This pattern continued for years.

What if, instead of reacting to his seizures, we tried to be proactive instead?

What if I had given him the higher dose of meds BEFORE he was most likely to have a seizure, rather than permanently increasing his dosage AFTER he had already had one? If I had given him a higher dose around the full moons, would I have been able to prevent the breakthrough seizures and avoid the steadily increasing dosage that came as a result?

Tyler is gone and there is no way to test this now. And I AM NOT SUGGESTING that everyone give medicines by the phases of the moon.

But I am suggesting that we become AWARE and CURIOUS again.

By letting modern science and medicine deny our connection to the natural world, we are not giving ourselves the full picture of the causes, triggers and solutions to our health issues…for us and our dogs.

The first step to becoming aware and curious is to simply ask yourself what you believe, or what might be possible? Do you believe that humans and dogs might be affected by the pull of the moon? If so, then become aware of how it is showing up in your life. Pay attention during the full and new moon phases, and keep a record of any unusual behavior you observe in yourself or your dog. The patterns might surprise you!

I know exactly how full moons affect me and I have an awareness that my dogs also feel some sort of disruption. Even if Western medicine never acknowledges this link, I know it for myself and it allows me to give myself and my dogs extra compassion and support during these powerful events. When sh*t gets weird on a full moon and I am crying my face off for no reason and my dogs won’t settle down, I don’t take any of it personally.

There is nothing wrong with me.

There is nothing wrong with my dogs.

We’re just tiny oceans getting tossed around by that beautiful, powerful Grandmother Moon, Mama Quilla.

As it always was, as it always will be.

I’d love to hear from you. Do you notice any strange behavior from your dog (or yourself!) during full or new moons? Would you like to have a reminder on every full and new moon so that you can pay better attention to what goes on? Drop your thoughts in the comments below and I will read them all and respond.

jennifer waters happy dog mom signature



From abandonment and amputation to hogging all the dog beds and snuggling with Georgia, this is Archie’s beautiful, brave story.

Please welcome the newest weirdo to the family!

Lily, Archie and Georgia

Archie is a 10-year-old, abandoned, three-legged Boxer with cancer…my total dream guy!

I took one look at his seriously grumpy adoption profile and I knew we would be good for each other. Tyler even confirmed it: I heard him say, “You can do this, mama” in my head when I was considering filling out the application for Archie.

Archie’s adoption photo courtesy Boxer Haven Rescue. Look at that grumpy face!


I don’t know what name he went by for the first 10 years of his life, but he was picked up as a stray on Archbold-Whitehouse Road near Toledo, so now he’s Archie. He was underweight and had a softball-sized growth on his front shoulder. It had split open, causing a lot of pain and lameness in that leg.

Archie’s intake photo, courtesy Lucas County Canine Care & Control

The day after Archie arrived at the shelter, he had surgery to remove the mass.

He woke up in the shelter without a leg. He was weak and lethargic and wouldn’t eat for two days, and then he was transferred to a foster mom in Detroit. He battled through pneumonia and then a hip injury from slipping on the floor. As soon as he was stable, I adopted him and he made the long trip from Detroit to the Upper Peninsula.

That’s a lot to go through in 10 weeks.

Archie now, getting healed and healthy at home with me and the girls.

The mass was diagnosed as soft tissue sarcoma, and it had grown so large that the surgeon couldn’t quite get clean margins.

That means there are some soft tissue sarcoma cells lingering, and there is a chance they could grow back, and grow back more aggressive. I’m not worried about that right now. I don’t look at him as a cancer dog. He is a scared, healing dog in need of calm energy, dependable safety, lots of healthy meals and all the love he can handle.

I am giving him supplements to boost his healing and prevent cancer regrowth:

  • turmeric paste
  • mushroom powder
  • CBD oil
  • green tea extract
  • green lipped mussel powder
  • homemade bone broth
  • home-cooked food
  • and more.

He trembles with excitement at every meal time, so that alone makes it all worth it.

Archie doesn’t let his missing leg hold him back. He’s a fast runner and a fearless jumper, and his nose is picking up so many scent trails in the yard. He loves to watch the deer from the window, but he can’t be fooled into chasing them outside. He’s just a skinny little bean, so winter is never going to be his favorite season. He wears a coat outside and loves to get covered up with a blanket when he’s inside. When it’s warmer out, I think he’s going to love exploring the woods and waterfalls with us. I’m excited to see what he thinks of our first warm days and laying in the sun on the deck, watching the bay.

Georgia paired off with Archie right away. ❤️ She will be a perfect healing companion to him, just like she was for Duke. They all go to bed in their own dog beds at night, but every morning I wake up to Georgia laying next to Archie.

For the first few hours after we got Archie, Georgia was the only one who could get close to him. I couldn’t touch him at all—he would growl and snap—but she was smooshed right up next to him within minutes. We had a four-hour drive home with this growling, biting dog, and there was a moment when my daughter and I had to quickly get out of the car because he suddenly jumped over the barrier into the front seat! A few French fries made the rest of the drive go better, and by the end of that night, he was well on his way to opening his heart and letting down his defenses.

Archie’s first hours with us in the car.

Very quickly, Archie went from this scared, scrappy street dog to a velvet teddy bear. During the adoption, the word that was used most to describe him was “grumpy,” and he definitely was. He growled, glared, snapped and bit. He was protective of his body—I couldn’t move him, pick him up, take off the sweater he came in, or help him in and out of the car. His incision was still healing and I had to be very careful not to touch around it.

Today, I wouldn’t use the word “grumpy” to describe him at all. It just doesn’t fit him anymore. The words “melty,” “gooey” and “teddy bear” come to mind instead. I can now pick him up, put his coat on, cut his nails and give him hugs and kisses. I don’t go anywhere without Archie following me, he sleeps on my lap every evening, and I’m happy to say that he even gives the best little kisses. He does this thing now where he rests his cheek against my cheek, and I swear I want the world to stop in those moments so that we never have to move.

He warms up to people fast now, and he’s fallen hard for both of my kids and my parents. He’s learning he’s safe and well cared for, and in return he is bravely letting his defenses down. I can’t think of many things more rewarding than gaining the trust of a dog who’s been so let down.

When I think about everything he has gone through in such a short time, I am so proud of my resilient little bear. There is a big heart inside his vulnerable body, and I love working to gain his trust and make him feel safe. He is teaching me things I never learned from Tyler, Lily, Duke and Georgia. He’s easy to fall in love with, and I hope you’ll help me cheer on our beautiful tripod for however much time we have with him.

After losing both Duke and Tyler in 2021, I really did try to enjoy the “ease” of going from 4 to 2 dogs. But something was missing, and I knew I had room for more. These weirdo seniors that no one else wants have my heart.

Archie is the third special needs dog in a row that I’ve adopted, and I’m coming to terms with the fact that this is my place, this is one of my roles in the world. I have a serious soft spot for the “unadoptables,” and it doesn’t matter to me one bit that he’s old, has three legs and was diagnosed with cancer. He still deserves a soft bed, freedom from pain and fear, and the last best days ever with a family who loves him. I know my heart is strong enough to give him that and still stay open for more.

Thank you to Lucas County Canine Care & Control, Boxer Haven Rescue and his foster momma Lori for giving Archie a second chance at a happy life.

jennifer waters happy dog mom signature

Rest In Peace, Tyler

Rest In Peace, Tyler

On November 6, 2021, after almost 14 years of love and adventures, Tyler went to join Duke in spirit.

A Celebration of Life for the Dog Who Changed My Life

After almost 14 years of life and love, Tyler has gone to join Duke in spirit. The timing was perfect. We had beautiful moments until the very end, and then it was time. He didn’t suffer, but he also had no time left to spare.

senior dog boxer tyler

The last photo I took of Tyler, the day before we said goodbye.

There was a dark time in my life when I honestly didn’t think I could survive losing Tyler. He and I had a bond like no other. So it is a bit of a surprise that my overwhelming feeling in the days since his death has been one of gratitude for his life, rather than grief over his death. I miss him deeply and am grieving, of course, but I’m also aware that I couldn’t have asked for a moment or a memory more than he had already given me.

happy boxer dog in red flowers

The last photo I took of Tyler before we moved from the house where he lived for 13 years.

Tyler changed my life. It’s hard to describe his complexity and presence in words. If you met him, you knew: he wasn’t like other dogs. He was stubborn and demanding, but he also had a huge heart and an old-soul wisdom. He showed me a deeper, wiser, more emotional side of animals that I’d never seen before, and it opened up a passion and purpose in me. Tyler was my inspiration to leave corporate and become a pet photographer. A decade later, he continued to inspire me to go beyond pretty pictures and start advocating for greater dog health, happiness and longevity.

boxer dog in lake michigan

He was a model for what is possible when we see the inherent wisdom, divinity and unconditional love in dogs, and learn to give back to them as much as they give to us. He healed me, and he pushed me to learn how I could heal him in return. The end result is that we had almost 14 years of beautiful moments together. To have a Boxer reach almost 14 years is no small feat. I promised him I would keep showing others how they can do the same for their own dogs.

boxer dog in fall grass field

Tyler loved our new life in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and I’m so grateful he got to experience it. Apparently, he had waited his whole life to be a “farm” dog, and he finally got to live his dream. He loved “checking the perimeter” with me, walking the borders of our property to make sure everything was in place. He loved doing “chores” with me, jogging alongside me as I did yard work. He loved watching sunsets on the deck with me, staying by my side for as long as I chose to stay and watch the sky. He played in Lake Superior, waterfalls, the mouth of the Huron River, forests, lighthouses, and ate dinner at the Mackinac Bridge and just about every roadside park between L’Anse and St. Ignace. One week after he was given a week to live, he was standing in the wild waves of Point Abbaye, grabbing mouthfuls of the Lake Superior water he loved so much. My boy wasn’t one to rest. (Fun fact: Tyler didn’t let me sleep in or take a whole nap for a single day of his life!) He was my constant companion, protector and co-adventurer until the very end.

boxer dog in lake superior point abbaye upper peninsula michigan
senior boxer dog watching sunset from deck lake superior keweenaw bay upper peninsula michigan
boxer dogs eating dinner point abbaye lake superior upper peninsula michigan
happy senior boxer dog
happy senior boxer dog fall field

The day before Tyler died, I had a dream that Duke was a deer and he was waiting at the fence line for Tyler. The day after Tyler died, two deer ran full speed into traffic at a busy intersection, darted right in front of my car, and leapt off into the field on the other side. (At exactly 11:11am. If you know, you know.)

It was an unmistakable sign. Duke found Tyler, and my boys are running through new adventures of their own now. And obviously causing all sorts of trouble, as all good Boxers would

Run free in love and joy, my heart dog.

Thank you for all you gave us. 

I love you more than words will ever be able to say.

jennifer waters happy dog mom signature



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