The opening of Next Best Pet is an exciting time. It is the culmination of several years of planning and study. But the timing is bittersweet.
The name Next Best Pet signifies two things. The first is my firm belief that, with effort and proper support, we can make our companion animals the best pets – not in the world, but for our families. (This is NOT a guarantee of results – often helping our companions become the best pets involves adjusting our own expectations.) The other day, a friend asked me, “Do you think I can be successful with my new puppy?” My answer? “Of course!” There is no way to promise she will end up with a dog that is exactly what she envisions right now, but I believe that, with sufficient effort and support, she can have a wonderful companion for her family for years to come.
The second and more private meaning of the name Next Best Pet is as a reference to my parent’s dog Bailey. Bailey came into our lives as a young dog in the dark days after 9/11. From the beginning, Bailey was untrained but basically perfect. She truly was the rare dog that is extremely motivated by attention and affection from those around her. Bailey was also the first dog I had a significant role in training, when we attended clases and earned an AKC Canine Good Citizen certification in 2008.
Many animals have shared my life in the years I have known Bailey, including some I have loved as much and spent as much or more time training, including my current companions, Sirius Black and Nefertiti, but none have come close to deserving the title of “Best Dog”, which Bailey earned so effortlessly.
And that is why this beginning is bittersweet, because Bailey has just recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. I am heartsick at the prospect of losing this faithful and trusting friend, but I am thankful for the years she has been part of my life, and the things she has taught me about love, joy, friendship, and keeping the trash locked up.
So now, as Bailey steps offstage, its time for us to start our journey together. Let’s work to help make your companion the Next Best Pet.