by Yvonne Dagger
I've often wondered about New Year's Resolutions.
Do they give us some sort of false hope? Or Do they give us positive hope in the right direction?
According to Tipsywriter.com "an average of about 45% of Americans consistently make a resolution for the New Year"… and "of those achieving their resolutions about 40% were successful on the first try. The rest took multiple attempts with as much as 17% taking over 6 tries…" Do you know the "number one reason for failed resolutions? Lack of a clear goal."
Goals to me have always been very important. That is until Dagger came into my life. As a Puppy Raiser for Dagger the goal was to get him to graduation and matched with someone who needed a highly trained assistance dog. That was the primary goal…plain and simple! For us, the minute we held him in our arms at 8 weeks old until his turn in at 18 months old, we knew what that goal was. We always thought a child would be best suited for Dagger because of his gentle, loving nature. He loves children!!! Well….he loves everybody :-)
However, the day when we got "the call"…a call no Puppy Raiser wants to receive and dreads...my "goal" oriented idea changed. You see, while your pup is in Advanced Training the number you don't want to see on your phone's calling window is from Canine Companions for Independence. Unless, of course, you are told that your pup has made it to graduation. But, this call came just 4 months after he was turned in. (They ordinarily spend 6-9 months in Advanced Training for CCI.) My stomach dropped when I heard the words, "We're calling about your sweetheart, Dagger." "OK", I thought, " we can handle this…Dagger wasn't going to make it. But, Why? What happened?" The Puppy Raiser Manager explained to me that Dagger had some fear and insecurity issues. They were as disappointed as we were to learn this. However, the goal and dream of him making it to graduation vanished in an instant.
After we adopted Dagger, I decided that I wasn't going to set a goal for him anymore. I felt and still feel that whatever is meant to be will be. I've lived by that "goal" since Dagger's release from CCI's Program. So, when people ask me what's next for Dagger? What's your goal ?? I think to myself of what a very brilliant journalist, Patricia Kitchen, once said about Dagger…"Dagger knows, but he's not telling me or anyone else."
Now…getting back to my initial question: "Do our New Year's resolutions give us false hope or positive hope?" I've always tried to look on the positive side of things. You see, whenever you make a positive resolution, whether it be to exercise more (that's one for me), read more, share your talents more, create more, inspire more, take more time for yourself; you're really conditioning your mind in an uplifting direction. If we spend one day, one week or one year achieving that resolution then, to me, it was successful. In my book, there's no failures only successes. Dagger's "failure" to become a highly trained assistance dog only opened the door for yet another journey of helping hundreds of people and other animals through his paintings and therapy work.
So, make a "positive" resolution. Embrace it and welcome it into your life. Look to 2019 with an open "PAW" and an open mind…Whatever will be, will be...
Happy & Healthy New Year everyone!!
Happy Tales to you,
Written by Yvonne Dagger
As we enter into one of the busiest months of the year, Dagger & I would like to wish everyone a happy, healthy, safe and stressfree holiday season.
Concentrating on our message of Education & Community Service we continue to recognize that both are vital to this season of giving and receiving. Both are essential to our growth and well being. To give from our hearts and receive with gratitude makes for a happy and joyous life.
However, the holidays can be a time of added stress and overwhelmingness for humans as well as our pets. A person's stress level can travel right down the leash into the dog in an instant.
I know. I experienced this first hand when I was teaching Dagger to paint. Not feeling confident enough and feeling a sense that I was not doing the "right" thing traveled right into Dagger like a lightning rod!! He felt it and hesitated when I worked with him. Thanks to Dagger's CCI Professional Trainer, Lauren, I learned how to be at ease and more assertive while working with Dagger. She came to tudor us, but I quickly learned that it was me she was really tutoring. I laugh whenever I tell this story because when I called Lauren initially, I asked her to tudor Dagger…when in reality I was the one that needed the tudoring :-D I still need plenty of tutoring …We're really never done learning, exploring and creating…Which all can come with a level of stress. Add the holidays to that equation and you've entered into yet another level of stress. It's not easy to keep ourselves stress free during the holidays.
Below are a few tips that I feel have helped me get through the stress of the Holiday Season:
We can learn a lot from our pets!!
Our pets are conveying messages to us everyday like; how to listen, how to take time to sniff stuff…well, the flowers...and how to love unconditionally. We just need to take notice and learn from them. When we enjoy the holiday sounds and sniffs … unconditional love will follow right behind…sometimes on four legs.:-)
Then it truly will be THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR!!!
I know that for sure!!! Have a good one!!!
Holiday blessings, Be well & Enjoy!!!
Happy Tales to you,
By Yvonne Dagger
November 1, 2018
To me, the month of November makes me mindful of my many blessings. It also reminds me that we are not alone on our journey through life. Our community supports us in many ways. They’re with us through good and bad times. I’ve witnessed this numerous times throughout my life and certainly during our recent trial with Dagger. After finding a lump on Dagger’s back and two small cysts on his eyelids, I felt my stomach drop knowing that we were entering in a state of fear. Fear of the unknown…fear that we may hear some bad news. Fear that our lives were going to change in an instant. That feeling seems to always make me feel sad and alone, but I quickly learned that I was not alone in my feelings. You see, many people throughout the world expressed their concern and love for Dagger. They sent their good wishes, prayers and positive vibes to us through all of Dagger’s Social Media Sites. It helped…it truly helped!!! We knew that we may receive a good or bad report, so we prepared for the worst keeping strong and brave because of the support we had received. Steven Latham, Producer of the PBS show, "Shelter Me" Dagger will be featured in later this year, reassured me that whatever the outcome he “would do whatever it takes to get Dagger the best treatment.” Wow! That was the ultimate!!! His concern and love brought tears to my eyes. After Dagger's surgeon called us to give us the good news that the lump and cysts looked to be benign, I knew that Dagger would be able to continue his good deeds for a long, long time!!! Whew!!!! Today, Dagger returned home feeling a little loopy still from the anesthesia, but all in all he’s doing fabulous.
So, what did I learn from this experience?
I learned that we are NOT alone! I learned that we are a part of a caring community that supports us no matter how hard and difficult things may get for us! I was reassured of that over and over again. Hundreds of posts…hundreds of caring people!!
To me that’s Thanksgiving.
I’m grateful to everyone for the well wishes, prayers and positive energy we received.
It helped in more ways then you will ever know. Part of Dagger’s message has always been coming together as a community to educate, inspire, create and help others in kindness and love. And boy! oh boy! did we feel it!!! We’re grateful for you all. Community spirit is the essence of Dagger’s message along with education and creativity. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on our blessings while recognizing the gifts and talents we have been blessed with. May you recognize how special you are!!!
Have a Happy Thanksgiving filled with love, kindness, good food family and friends!!!
Happy Tales to you!
by Yvonne Dagger
October 3, 2018
I love October!!
It's a great time of the year here on Long Island. There's pumpkin and apple picking…and of course Halloween.
Most importantly, though, October is Dagger's Birthday Month!!!
Born on October 6, 2012, Dagger and his brother, Diesel, traveled at eight weeks old to the Northeast Region of Canine Companions for Independence to be Puppy Raised. Both released from CCI's Program…they are now CCI COC Dogs. They've embraced their "Change of Career" Status and now share their talents and gifts with many people!
We are very proud of the both of them!!!
Dagger's Birthday is certainly a reason to celebrate his life. To us and many others Dagger is an exceptional dog. His birthday gives us all the opportunity to recognize the great accomplishments he has achieved in just less then 3 years. Therefore, we have parties planned for Dagger throughout the month. On Thursday, we are visiting the Dominican Village in Amityville, NY. The Sisters of St. Dominic plan to sing "Happy Birthday" to Dagger while enjoying refreshments and festivities. I may even play my Ukulele!! More to come about that!!
Then on Saturday we will be celebrating at the Merrick Library during a Dagger DogVinci Workshop. Dagger LOVES his workshops. Sometimes I think he just loves seeing ALL of the people that come to show off his painting skills!!! As soon as he sees the students come walking in, his tail begins to wag...His "Happy Wag." Resisting his plea's for their attention, they are instructed to say,
"Hi Dagger, I'll pet you later." But, there are times he continues his wiggling over to them…He's truly a character!!
In addition to Dagger's Birthday Celebrations…
I'm proud to announce that Dagger has been Nominated for
Bethpage Best of L.I. Artist/Painter for the second year in a row!!
He won the competition last year and we are confident (with your continued support and vote) Dagger will once again win this prestigious honor!!
Voting began on October 1st and will end on December 15th.
Click the button below to vote for Dagger.
Please join me in wishing Dagger a Happy Birthday by voting for him everyday until December 15th.
That would be the greatest Birthday Gift EVER!!!!!
Happy Tales to you,
by Yvonne Dagger
October 1, 2018
Dagger and I are like mountain climbers exploring new territory all of the time. We don't know where our journey will take us, but with confidence we forge ahead seeking, learning and striving; allowing our creative prowess the freedom and independence to pour forth from the restraints of life.
It’s exciting, exhilarating and exuberating.
Making our way across the house to our studio, I’m reminded of our sense of exploring and climbing. We love our studio space. It’s truly our happy place. It’s a place where we bond, where we create, where we confidently move up the mountain of innovation and origination.
As the doors open to the studio, Dagger's tail wags. Miss YaYa and Tommy TuTu follow behind quickly taking their places on the couch. A small CD player tucked in the corner of the studio is turned on as Dagger & I prepare for a painting session. Placing my smock on, I think of the colors Dagger will use during the session and line up the tubes of non-toxic paints on his painting table. Squeezing some paint on his palette and loading it on his brush, we’re almost ready for action. Dagger is waiting patiently watching as things are coming together for his session. Calling Dagger over to his canvas drop cloth, I place his signature red beret on his head. This is a serious time for Dagger. It's time to work. Working makes Dagger very happy. For...in working...Dagger feels successful. Sitting, Dagger looks up at me with eyes of confidence and intent focusing on my direction. Saying the word "Brush." I give Dagger the loaded brush in his mouth. Then, looking up at me, he waits for the command word "Paint" to make his way over to the canvas set up on his easel. One…Two…Three… Brush strokes are placed on the canvas by Dagger. Standing behind the easel, I continue to observe Dagger painting, reloading his brush as needed, treating him in between with his favorite cookies. Dagger finds this a positive experience...an experience that gives him a sense of success and confidence. Treats always do that!!! :-)
The expression, "Time flies when your having fun" fits suitably when we're creating in our studio. The music plays as we continue to work together. It's a wonderful time. Dagger works hard during the 45 minute painting session. It shows. He has worked on three canvases today. Tomorrow he will go back into them...but, they need to dry or the colors will not look bright and clean. Saying the word "Release" and taking Dagger’s red beret off of his head, Dagger knows this signifies that the session is over. Making our way over to the couch where Miss YaYa and Tommy TuTu have been patiently hanging out, we sit and listen to one of Dagger's favorite songs "Remember Who You Are" by Cathy Bolton. Treats are given to each as they all did a GREAT job!!! Dagger lays his head on my shoulder while Miss YaYa places her head on my other shoulder and Tommy TuTu lays his head on my lap...as I sing along. We love this time. It's a time of continued bonding and moments treasured.
Pablo Picasso and George Braque, founders of Cubism, often likened themselves to mountain climbers exploring new and innovative ways to be creative. They and many artists over the centuries have given much to the art world through their desire and yearning to find new ways of expressing themselves. You, too, can let your creative side shine by using your gifts and talents. Remember; Create. Inspire. Learn. AND, Please, continue to explore and climb your mountain of creativity with confidence and purpose… And Never, Ever give up!!!!
Happy Tales to you,
By Yvonne Dagger on September 1, 2018
I never thought in a million years that I'd be writing a blog for a dog…a world renowned canine artist dog no less!! How cool is that!!
A journey that began a little over 2 1/2 years ago now, has brought us to where we are today. I'm amazed at how our lives have evolved and morphed into this world of an artist's creations of pure abstract art.
The DogVinci Style of painting has become a common term among the children and adults who witness Dagger paint.
I have to be honest…I was never a huge fan of abstract art…it was a difficult concept for me to wrap my creative juices around. But, watching Dagger paint has actually helped me understand the free and independent nature of true pure abstract art. Dagger works from his heart and soul. The strokes he places on the canvas in front of him are random, free and uninhibited. And YES…I do get a bit jealous that he "gets it" without having any art history knowledge and preconceived perceptual skills. Kandinsky (the Father of Pure Abstract Art) fell to his knees and cried when he saw his first ever abstract painting. Little did he know that it was one of his very own landscape paintings unintentionally set on it's side by his companion as she was straightening up his studio. Serendipitous things occur when you open your mind and let creation happen. I have to admit that some of Dagger's paintings bring tears to my eyes when I look at them too. Take, for instance, his painting called "Summer Wind" (Below). I can see an image of our beloved beagle, Jimmy "D" in it. Behind the yellow strokes is an eye, an ear and a nose of a dog…a dog that looks exactly like our Jimmy "D." who crossed the rainbow bridge that same year Dagger painted "Summer Wind." I cried when I saw it for the first time. I rejoice now that I saw it!!!
"First's" are very special…First love. First car. First birth. First job...
They are one time treasured memories. I'm ready for many more "First's" with Dagger. It's been a wonderful ride so far…
I love every mile and moment!!!
Happy Tales To You,