Friday, December 28, 2012

Pet Blogger Gift Exchange - Rescued Insanity

About a month ago, Pamela from Something Wagging This Way Comes did what she does best and came up with a wonderful, giving and creative idea for the holidays: the Pet Blogger Gift Exchange.

Knowing that what we bloggers really need and appreciate is a little bit of social media love and cheer, Pamela offered folks the opportunity to be paired with another blogger on whom we would shower attention for the holidays.

The pairings were random but I seriously questioned that when I learned of my own pairing: Kristine and Shiva from Rescued Insanity!

I know many people wish they'd gotten matched with Kristine and Shiva for this event and I'm sure they'd have lots of funny, thoughtful and wonderful things to say. I hope I don't disappoint.

Because, while Kristine writes an awesome blog and I have a lot of things to say about that, the biggest reason I was so excited to be matched with her is to tell the world what she has done for the health and life of my dog.

You see, long before I had a blog, I had a Twitter account. And I started following a few people - dog people. I didn't even know what blogs were but the people I followed followed other people and they said those people wrote lots of good stuff about dogs so I started following them, too.

Soon, I was following lots of people and reading their "blogs".

I read a lot but I wasn't quite bold enough to comment on any of these "blogs". But I listened. I learned. And one of the folks I learned a lot from was @shivathedog (aka Rescued Insanity.)

Twitter actually helped me through a difficult time when I felt kind of adrift with Bella, unsure of what to do to help her. We were afraid to tell our 'real life' friends and no one we knew was really familiar with actually implementing fearful/anxious dog protocols.

And then I saw this:

"I asked the advice of friends and family. No one understood. No one was able to offer anything I hadn’t already thought of by myself." -- Supporting Insanity

Talk about finally finding someone who understood!

Kristine and Shiva were a living, breathing, tangible model of what could be. And while Shiva's never had the aggression issues that Bella had, the underlying issues were the same: too much anxiety, too much energy and much too smart for her own good. The treatment would also be similar: exercise, expectations, patience, persistence and perseverance.

Reading Kristine's account of working with Shiva gave me hope. And often made me laugh. Her honesty in speaking of Shiva's issues and both the success and failure they've faced together along the way made me feel much less alone and so much more confident that maybe we could actually do this, too.

And most importantly, as you will all soon learn in Bella's story, it was via Rescued Insanity that I first learned how agility can be used to help a fearful dog.

But what about the blog? Oh, the blog, the blog!

If there are one or two of you left who aren't already following Kristine and Shiva, let me give you a quick primer as to why you should:

  • Kristine is totally honest and will make you will laugh and think, get mad and inspired with every post. (Sometimes in the SAME post.)
  • You will learn about clicker training. And not just with Shiva, Kristine is even training her cat!
  • Kristine participates in just about every event and challenge that gets thrown at bloggers - there is no one more devoted.
  • Of course, there's Shiva - the prettiest little dog in Nova Scotia.
  • There are also the Shivie awards - Last year, Kristine switched up the honors and gave the award to bloggers who have gone above and beyond to help their crazy dogs. It is a great way to give a little encouragement to someone who has been trying so hard when rewards are often slow to come.
  • Supporting Insanity - Kristine also offers a means for folks with crazy dogs to ask for and receive advice, information, instruction, encouragement and guidance from folks in the community who have been there before. Every time I hear Kristine wonder whether or not she's giving enough back to this blogging community, I have to laugh and think of this. How could she even question it?

And on top of all that, Kristine works a full-time job, spends oodles of time training her dog (and her cat!), participates in agility, and is a staff writer for Be the Change for Animals.

So, about that social media love?

Kristine and I are already connected on Triberr so tweeting her posts wasn't going to be much of an example of "sharing the social media love". One of the things I did instead was set up a Pinterest board of some of my favorite posts.

I've included a few more links here for those of you who aren't already familiar with Rescued Insanity. Have a quick look at some of what you've been missing.

My favorite five:
  1. A mostly likely inappropriate rant -- Hardly inappropriate, Kristine takes a look at how breed and size play with our perceptions of 'dangerous' dogs.
  2. Stop. Just stop. -- A reminder that a little kindness goes much further than judgement.
  3. Shiva: 1, Human: 0 -- Even Kristine's "practically husband" is not immune to Shiva's antics. (This one had me crying with laughter and commiseration.)
  4. It seemed like a good idea at the time -- Of separation anxiety, crates and caves.
  5. Stray dog syndrome -- "Food, glorious food!"
And because I just couldn't stop at five, here are a few more faves:
  1. Shiva Handling 101 -- The "art" and science of handling a crazy dog.
  2. What would Patricia McConnell Do? -- Dog training super heroes.
  3. Dog agility blues -- Some of the ups and downs of canine agility.

But, while there are many reasons I admire Kristine - from her writing style, her humor and wit to her constant self-deprecation while the very definition of over-achiever - it really all pales in comparison when you realize that her efforts helped to heal the life of a dog (both hers and mine).

You can find Kristine and Shiva on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest, too. I hope if Rescued Insanity isn't already on your reading list, you'll swing by and give a look. Once you do, I'm sure you'll be hooked.

I mean, really, how could you not fall in love with this dog and her awesome family?

Photos used by permission from Rescued Insanity.


  1. Heading over now!  Thanks!

  2. Such an awesome story! I only very recently starting following Rescued Insanity and already think that it is a very good blog. 

  3. Kristine and Shiva were 2 of my first dogblog park friends. I found some other bloggers quite unfriendly and unwelcoming, they were just the opposite. Where would I be without them? Possibly not blogging ;) X

  4. They are one of my favorite blogs (along with yours!) what a great post about an equally great blog!!

  5. We love Kristine, Shiva and the Cat. Shiva:1 ; Human:0 is one of my favourite blog posts ever.

  6. I am a huge fan of Kristine, Shiva & Rescued Insanity...already had connected on everything but the YouTube channel & that's fixed now...You tribute has done them proud and anyone not already R. I. reading needs to get right over there

  7. I just don't even know what to say. When I started the whole "Supporting Insanity" thing I really hoped it would help someone but I wasn't sure how exactly to go about it. My network is pretty small. I know how alone I felt and how much it sucked. When we first worked with Shiva I wasn't blogging so I had no idea just how common our problems were. Once I joined the community I received such an outpouring of support I wanted to give back. I figured if even one person's life was aided by something I have done, even if only a tiny way, I will have done something incredible. Now I know for sure I have made a difference.

    Thank you so much for everything you have said here. I am a little overwhelmed at the moment but am so thrilled to know I have helped you feel less alone as you struggled with Bella. It means so much and I am so amazed by what you have achieved with her. It would have been so easy for you to give up. No one would have blamed you. Many would have said it was the right thing to do. But you didn't. And look at her now. Go Team Bella!

  8. I know how much agility helps you bond with your dog, so I certainly will check them out!

  9. It's so nice when you are able to click with someone right away - without even meeting them!  Wonderfully written tribute!

  10. Snoopy@snoopysdogblogDecember 30, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    The gift exchange is awesome! We love Rescued insanity too!! Love your Pinterest board idea, so cool!

    I hope you had a lovely Christmas and have a super fun New Year!!

    Big Wags to all,

    Your pal Snoopy :)

  11. What a wonderful idea! I love your post, thanks for introducing us to "Rescued Insanity with Kristine & Shiva!

  12. Great Idea! Loving the gifts, and my jaw dropped when I read shivas obsession with timbits!

  13. This was just lovely--as lovely as Kristine is. I really enjoy the way you broke it all up, too. Well done.

  14. Three (thousand) cheers for Kristine! I truly love Rescued Insanity and the perspective and voice that she brings to the world.

    Somehow, I feel like you two were an absolutely perfect pairing for the gift exchange. You're both inspiring when it comes to working with your sometimes challenging pups. :)