Monday, October 29, 2012

One blanket Can Save Two Lives

Did you know that donating one blanket to a shelter can save two lives? It is likely that the one dog will be adopted and when that happens, another dog can await finding their forever family.  Snugly blankets make dogs more adoptable!
While on a book tour, we took a break to have Toby spread the word about a local Sedona AZ Humane Society Program

Eileen Smulson was our guest on PAWsitive Radio All Things Pets, and I thoroughly enjoyed interviewing her.  She is the founder and President of Operation Blankets of Live, an award winning nonprofit public charity.  They collect and distribute recycled and new pet related items to comfort stray, sick neglected and abused homeless animals in shelters, rescue groups, sanctuaries and foster groups.
They are also an Emergency Response Team that partners with those organizations who provide relief and comfort to animals that are displaced or endangered by catastrophe.
Her adopted dog Ginger was the inspiration for her to start this charity. She wanted to make sure that every homeless pet had warmth and comfort by having a blanket to snuggle in while waiting to be adopted by a loving family and forever home. 

So one blanket really does save two lives. The research is showing that shelters who have snugly blankets for animals instead of cement floors are more adoptable. And the impacts on the animal of course are extremely positive. 

Operation Blankets of Love hosts blanket drives and also does presentations in schools and to children and youth programs. They also engage schools in blanket drives, which is a very positive learning experience for children to be engaged in animal kindness and making a difference. 

Listen to the incredible things Operation Blankets of Love are doing:

·         How could you host a blanket and towel drive?
·         How could you support your local animal shelter?

It starts with sharing the message.  Then by taking action.

thank you Eileen for all you do to positively impact shelters, and the many animals awaiting a forever family!

 Find out more about Operation Blankets of Love at:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pets as Teachers

Can our pets, our beloved animal family members really be teachers?

Robynn McCann says they can.  And I agree.

My friend Heather made this lovely card for me celebrating my dog Toby's life. I will treasure it always because Toby was my teacher.  As the saying goes "the teacher appears when the student is ready"- I just didn't know I needed a teacher.

 Robyn was a guest on my PAWsitive Radio Show- All things Pets!  You can listen to our discussion here:  We had an incredible conversation about the rescue ranch that Robynn started, and the many animals that she shared her time with. In fact, if you visit her website (see below), you can see many of the animals she rescued, and who helped her write her book (she refers to them as her co-authors, which I find so endearing).

Animals help humans "with the dance of life" stated Robynn, the challenge is that sometimes people are so busy living their life, they don't take time to be silent, present and to listen to the messages their animals are sending. Animals mirror us and "they meet us where they are" Robynn explained. They simply accept us, without judgement, and keep teaching us. "They are subtle" in how they teach us.  And, they are also persistent, sticking with us until we finally get the message, hint or lesson.  I recalled several times where our Toby kept persisting with us, and once I got the lesson, his behaviour changed (for the good). Some of my fondest moments with Toby, were those times where we were together in silence... there is something so pure about the animal human bond.

Robynn's next book will explore the process of animals transcending.  She stated that to animals, death is part of their life process, and is really just another day for them. This process is described so beautifully by Robynn, I really recommend listening to her share this: 

Robynn  is author of the best selling book The Opal Within Us: Understanding Animal Voices ( and is also an animal advocate. She volunteers for Vitas Hospice and the Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets.



How does your animal communicate with you?
What lessons have you learned about life, love and purpose from your pet?
How is your life different because of an animal?

We would love to hear from you. Please share your stories.

Monday, October 22, 2012

What Dogs Teach About Parenting

Toby visiting the HUB Family Resource Centre
Fort McMurray, Alberta
He was as excited to visit all the children as he was to see
tennis balls on the chairs.

Recently I had the pleasure of being on Family First Radio with Randy Rolfe- a parenting expert. We enjoyed a conversation about some of the lessons that our dog Toby taught us, that could be applied to parenting.  Here is how Randy and her team promoted the show:

"Some relationships are more difficult than others. Sometimes a friend or even a child can be difficult to handle. They can try your patience and seem incorrigible. Can we learn some tricks from our four-footed friends? My guest this week on Family First says absolutely! Charmaine Hammond is an international transformational speaker, author, and radio host, helping people live inspired, resilient lives, and she is a leading trainer in corporate North America, helping transform workplaces. Charmaine Hammond is the award winning and bestselling author of On Toby’s Terms and Toby The Pet Therapy Dog – and his hospital friends, and also Bounce Forward. She has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul - What I learned from the dog. She is now coauthoring a new book GPS Your Best Life. Her book On Toby’s Terms is currently in development to become a major motion picture! Get your whole family to listen in. Charmaine will be sharing Toby’s lessons."  You can listen to our conversation here:

So what did Toby the dog teach me about life, that could be applied to parents coping with their children's behaviour?

Patience. Toby taught me about patience, I discovered that I like quick results, and that waiting caused me to become restless and impatient. Because Toby was a dog who showed up in life full on in service to others, and 100% in the moment, I started to apply that approach.... patience really did become a virtue.

Patience in action.... coming home to this frequent shoe disaster tested our patience
but also inspired us to find different ways to prevent (well at least minimize) shoe disasters (e.g. less shoes in closet,
rewarding good behaviour)

Clear Communication. Often pet parents are frustrated with their pet's behaviour or are trying to correct behaviour, they speak in many sentences, not clearly communicating with their pet (our behaviourist Maggie pointed this out to me). When I learned to speak in short sound bites and with clear short sentences, Toby relaxed and could comprehend the direction, request or statement. Randy pointed out that the same rings true for children, often parents speak to children like little adults, instead of children. Clear communication helps the child (and pet) understand what is being requested of him/her.

Clear communication... Toby and I practised his famous "PAWdograph" so many times
 I used simple clear communication.  Eventually all I had to do was take the book and the stamp
and he knew exactly what came next...and demonstrated his excitement.

Persistence. Training your four legged family member takes time, focus, repetition and patience, and Randy shared that teaching children new skills requires the same from parents.  Change and learning takes time. Reward the behaviour you want to see and correct the behaviour you wish to change.

Toby eventually learned to dive though my husband's persistence, helping Toby practice, and
by the geese teasing Toby at the end of the dock. This is the closest Toby ever got to the geese
but by being persistent he overcame his reluctance to dive into the water. Once he learned, you couldn't stop him.

What have you learned from your pet? 

As you move into a new week, can you find opportunities to tighten up your communication so that it is clear and focused? Can you create opportunities for your pet to demonstrate wanted behaviours?

You can listen to the rest of my conversation with Family First Radio Host Randy Rolfe, at:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pets do teach us so much!

Pets do teach us so much!

That was the topic of discussion when I was on the TPPC.TV show. You can listen in here:

What did our dog Toby teach us? You may want to sit down if you aren’t sitting already, the list is long.

• Toby taught me about patience.

• Persistence… we had to stick with it to help Toby be the dog he needed to be (and to stop destroying our house)

• Purpose was another lesson we learned from Toby. He was a dog who was always on a mission (even if that mission wasn’t clear to us)

• Unconditional love rules!

• Destruction and disasters are temporary…. Love is forever

• Perfectionism is not all that it is cracked up to be

What have you learned from your pets?

Would love to hear your comments.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Extraordinary Dogs!

Toby the dog can be described in many ways...
  • A dog who left pawprints on hearts everywhere

  • A dog who had a fetish for breaking toilet tank lids

  • A dog who went to jail to raise money for kids in need

  • A dog who frequently trapped himself in closets, bathrooms and any room with a door

  • A dog who was so in love with life he would bark at pretty much everything

….A therapy dog

…..The star of a book and upcoming

…..The dog who taught me how to be a better person….

And, and Extra -Ordinary dog!

Here I am sharing Toby's story on  Extraordinary Women TV

Talking about the inspiration to write about Toby the dog, how his story became a published book, and a soon to be motion picture. Learn how a dog who was once unruly and breaking everything in his path, became a trusted confident, an inspiration and confidence builder for patients living in a mental health facility. Host Shannon Skinner interviews Charmaine Hammond, international speaker, best selling author ("On Toby's Terms") and champion for community service. Charmaine's book "On Toby's Terms" quickly become a runaway success and will be made into a Hollywood feature film. (Interview date: June 27, 2011)

Find out more about charmaine at

To learm more about Toby, check out his other videos, and follow or his blog

What makes your pet ExtraOrdinary?
Share your stories with us... we would love to feature you pet on Toby's blog and radio show.

Monday, October 8, 2012

New Dog Movie Released Oct 9-2012

Charmaine and Ken Kragen, Producer of 12 Dogs of Christmas

If you love dogs, heartwarming family Christmas movies and more dogs.... you'll love my friend Ken's new movie that is being released tomorrow. I had the chance to see a preview in Dallas in July when he spoke at the eWomen Network conference, and then attended another pre-view last week in Utah, alot of fun to meet Chester, the main four legged actor.

Here is the description from the 12 Dogs of Christmas website:  "The dogs of Doverville are in trouble again... but Emma O'Connor (Danielle Chuchran) is back to save them in a song-filled, seasonal extravaganza. Mean-spirited mogul Finneas James (Sean Patrick Flanery) plots to shut down the local puppy orphanage, unless Emma can come up with the money to save it. With the help of some friends, she races against time to put together a musical holiday event that just might save the day. Don't miss the new chapter in the heartwarming sequel to the holiday classic."The movie is based on a book that Ken's daughter when she was a little girl.  How wonderful to see a child author, her story and some incredible dogs, bring so much joy to people around the world.

When you visit the website, you can watch the trailer, learn more about the actors,  the movie, the dogs, and more.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Lessons from Cats!

What's your favorite cat story?

How has a cat impacted your life?

Deborah Barnes, Author of The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey, was  a guest on my PAWsitive Radio (all things Pets) show. Deborah’s new book is a stunningly-illustrated true story about the world of Zoey, a high-spirited female Bengal cat, and Zee, a loveable male Maine Coon. 

While Zee and Zoey are the charismatic stars of the book, Deborah introduces readers to an evolving cast of feline characters. 
Deborah Barnes, author
 Photo Credit: Amazon Author Profile Page (make sure you check out 
her website for beautiful photos of her cats and the characters in 
the book)

The stories are graced by custom photos and artwork, and are backlit by the life lessons that cats share by just being cats. We are gently encouraged to wake up and enjoy each day, not as we might wish it to be, but as it is – full of mystery, beauty, and the opportunity to welcome whatever we have before us. 

Deborah shared the many ways in which Zoey and Zee inspired her to write a book, and wake up optimistic and hopeful.... and to live an extraordinary life. She is also a champion for many pet related organizations and animal causes, in fact, Deborah raised $10,000 and incredible prizes with a fundraiser contest she held called Cat Ruler of the World. The Blind Cat Rescue was the recipient of $7500 and the other 5 runner up programs won incredible gits and prizes.  

Are you following your dreams? Deborah shared how her life has changed as  a result of her loving feline family, the lessons they teach her every day and the way in which her cats inspired her to take action on her dreams.

For more information about the author and this book, including excerpts, please visit:

Listen to internet radio with PAWsitive Radio on Blog Talk Radio

  To find out more about the book and to order your copy. 
This book may be the most inspiring and rewarding read of the year for anyone who loves cats.