7 Ways To Strengthen Your Bond With Your Dog

I have partnered with “I and love and you” for this post.

Do you love your dog like crazy but you don't always have as much time to bond as you'd like? Try the 7 tips for strengthening that important bond! #ad #ILY

Lately, I worry that Athena is feeling a bit left out.

Life is full force, even more than usual! We have almost completed our chicken coop, and moved all 11 chickens in. We still have to add their egg boxes, but they’re not old enough to lay eggs yet anyway! Juniper the cat, in seeing an unusually high amount of chicken energy, has taken to sleeping on my feet just to make sure I still love her. (I do) Des graduated preschool this week, and Scarlet gave a speech into a microphone in front of HER ENTIRE SCHOOL. Who is this girl? I’m not kidding!

Cassidy is building gardens, I’m taking on way too many work projects, and we have architects and builders traipsing in and out of the house to get our two year renovation plan underway. See what I mean about full force ahead? It hasn’t been quiet at all. May was pretty much an entire month of rain, and Athena HATES rain! (she gets that from her mama) I have often found her cuddling and huddling on her special chair upstairs. And did I mention she almost lost her chair?? That’s more of the craziness! One of our loved ones had major heart surgery and Cassidy offered him our chair. Luckily for him, he already had a suitable chair. Luckily for Athena, she still has her little “nest” in her chair! Thats one point for Team Athena.

That said, summer has started and I’m going to take a lot more breaks. With the kids heading to camp soon, I want to make sure our dog knows that we still love her as much as we did, and that we’d rather just sit and watch the world go by with her too. We don’t want to be on the go all the time. We want summer days at the water, some ice cream and watermelon, and bonding time with our girl. In fact, today I have it scheduled to go read a book by her side in the garden. I can’t wait!

This week is Animal Rights Awareness Week, and I’m celebrating with my favorite I and love and you. Animal Rights Awareness Week was started in 1999 by the animal rights group, In Defense of Animals, to help raise awareness of animal rights. They educate the public about the basic needs of animals around the world – and advocate for the humane and compassionate treatment of all animals. This extends from our own beloved pets to companion animals, farm animals, wildlife, and animals used for testing. I have been using this week to think of ways to strengthen my bond with Athena.

pet care

7 Ways To Strengthen Your Bond With Your Dog

1 – Start training, if you haven’t already, or maintain it. This creates communication between your dog and you. It helps her focus, and fosters teamwork and belonging. We teach her to come, sit, stay, down, down-stay, etc. Teach your dog a new trick once a month. This will make your dog smarter, and will strengthen your bond.

2 – Don’t just play with her. Keep it special and engaged. When we first got Athena, we took her to the beach and she SWAM with us! We were so surprised. Fun and agility-based activities build loyalty and a deeper relationship.

3 – Have quiet time together. No gadgets, no screens, no devices – just the two of you.

4 – Travel together. I first fell in love with Athena because of how awesome she was on our annual Cape Cod vacation. And I think she falls in love with us a bit more each time we trust her enough to take her on our adventures.

5 – Turn negative experiences into positive experiences. Athena hates grooming and bathing, but those are bonding experiences in themselves. Use treats, toys and a slow transition to make the experiences more positive.

6 – Create in your dog a sense of purpose. Dogs want to work and serve and play and focus.

7 – Feed at a specific time of day. With our cat, we leave food for her all day, but with Athena, we feed twice a day at the same time. She will tell us when it’s time if we forget! This will make her depend on you, and bond to you more.

And feed your dog high-quality food. We love I and love and you. Based in Boulder, CO, this amazing company makes super pet food and treats that contain everything pets need to be happy and healthy. The food and treats contain none of what they don’t need. All choices are made with real meat and they contain no grains, fillers, or anything artificial.

They’re all approved by a holistic veterinarian for uncompromising quality.

pet food

Find “I and love and you” at your local grocery store, or online!

Enjoy your bonding time!

Ask Me Anything, and I Hope You Will

When I can’t write, I turn to you.

When I can’t write, I turn to ME. I look at old writing, with new perspectives. I step away to find a different way. If it’s not working, I can’t force it. And in 30+ years of life, since I first put pen to paper, I’ve never truly had writer’s block. I was born with the ability to know that the words will always come. For my whole life, I’ve let them come, and maybe had to coax them a bit only when I had a deadline. They always come, but sometimes they make me sweat first. Only sometimes.

When I can't write, what do I do? What do YOU do? This Finish the Sentence Friday #WritingPrompt will get you going! Ask me anything! Really! #FTSF #writing

Remember when I used to host Ask Away Friday? Ten questions to ask and answer?

I never knew what I would be asked. I never knew how I’d answer. It’s how I process life through writing. I crowdsourced on Facebook to have my friends ask me TEN QUESTIONS and I’m here to answer them for you. Thank you for these questions!


“The Words Crawl In,
The Words Crawl Out,
Into your stomach,
And out your mouth”

You put them on auto-pilot and send them out into the abyss, and see what they boomerang back to you with.

1 – (Question from my friend, AnnMarie) Where did your love of photography come from?

Maybe she’s born with it – maybe it’s Maybelline?? I remember collecting cameras as early as age seven. It first occurred to me on the school bus. I was in 6th grade, huddled against the cool window pane as the bus went up the winding mountain road. I was a mountain kid. My neighbor’s stop was coming up and he was standing in the aisle, facing the back of the bus. The sun was peeking through the window and lighting his eyelashes. It was a moment of ordinary/extraordinary beauty.

I thought, “I could write about this moment but is that enough to take with me? Is that enough to show other people what I saw?” It wasn’t. In high school, I was accepted into an art show and started to wonder if I had the eye. I didn’t know how to translate it, though. I just loved it. I never thought of myself as a photographer until I saw what developed.

Ask Me Anything

2 – (Question also from AnnMarie) You grew up in a big family, any plans on adding to your own?

I would LOVE a third baby, but I have been hesitating. Despite a history of healthy pregnancies, I fear being pregnant so if you know any surrogates who will do it for cheap, call me! I am also afraid of going backwards since life is smoothing out with two kids headed to full-time school and both out of diapers, etc. I wonder if I’d be alone, and barely hanging on.

The heart wants what the heart wants, though. We’ll see if I make that call to the doctor to remove birth control? I haven’t.

3 – (Question also from AnnMarie) Now that Des will be starting Kindergarten what will change in your daily routine?

Des had an option for extended day in preschool and I used that option a lot. I think that having two kids at the SAME school will be a bit mindblowing. It will save a good hour or two than doing two drop-offs and two pick-ups a day. I think I will continue to work the way I do – like a dog – but with more breaks. Funny, because I would have thought I’d have said that I’d work MORE, but I already work ALL THE TIME while balancing family life. I see this as an improvement in my routine!

4 – (Question from my friend, Lana) Who would play you in a movie about your life?

Anne Hathaway, I hope! I’m not sure of her current hair status, but I feel like we are hair/big smile twins. Not much else!

5 – (Question also from Lana) If you could be someone else for a day, who would it be?

I think I would be Cassidy. It would be fascinating to spend a day as a tall man with a booming voice, and to see what it would be like to live without constant anxiety, self doubt, and even some self-loathing thrown in there too.

(Also this wolf looks like he might not love Cassidy the way many do?)

6 – (Question also from Lana) Dream vacation, if money was no object?

It used to be Alaska and then I went to Alaska, and it’s still Alaska. I can’t help myself. That’s more of a big adventure than a vacation, though. I’ve always wanted to visit Aruba and lie around in a bikini doing virtually nothing for days.

7 – (Question from my friend, Kenya) – Do you or will you color your hair when it’s starts to gray?

Sort of, and yes. I’ve had gray hair since college, but it’s underneath so you can’t see it. My hair is colorful! When I go fully gray one day, I will probably color it, although it grows so fast that I would need root touchups all the time. Not sure I’m down with that? I have glazed my hair. It’s not permanent dye. It washes out, and fast in my opinion. I can go ages without doing it, but I also really like having all my hair one color! It’s translucent so you can still see all the natural highlights.

Ask Me Anything

8 – (Question from my friend, Sharon) What’s the most significant change (positive or negative) in your life since you started sharing your writing consistently?

Oh boy. Positive. I have found, everything. I have strengthened my writing, my photography, my editing, my friendships, my self-confidence, and my self-worth. I have also found that the career I have ALWAYS been searching for exists.

ask me anything

9 – (Question from my friend, Matt) If you could go back in time just to observe one event (let’s assume you’re invisible), when would you go?

I was too stumped by this one so I cheated and asked my mom. She said, “My birth so I could see that I’m really an alien.”

Ask Me Anything

10 – (Question from my friend, Jimmy) What is your favorite unexpected part of being a parent?

I like that. It’s so simple. I knew my heart and world and self-actualization would expand rapidly, but I didn’t realize how it would happen. I didn’t know I’d fall so far, only to get to soaring heights when I picked myself up again. I didn’t expect all the healing I would experience from my own childhood trauma, to see such whole children. And I like that childhood, especially early childhood, is filled with contained worlds of safety, comfort, and structure. Routines and rhythms.

Bright colors and fun foods. I love it all.

I’m going to go over 10 here, and I got other great questions! I will save them for another post!

*Bonus questions. (These are all from my friend, Tammi) What does Siri call you? How long has it been since you ate Talenti gelato e sorbetto? Do you know you got me hooked on Lime Outshine bars? Did you and Cassidy already kiss today? What are you going to do with all those strawberries?

I asked Siri what she calls me. She said, “You’re Master. But since we’re friends, I get to call you ‘Tamara.'” She doesn’t pronounce it like camera, though! I ate Talenti Cookie Dough yesterday (no sorbet), I believe! I’m happy about the Outshine, but didn’t know! I cheated and read this question early and then told Cassidy about it, and then we kissed so that the answer would be “yes.” Otherwise.. shame shame. Those strawberries? We’re just gifting them to people! Or snacking!

*Bonus #2. (This is from cousin-in-law, Juan) What’s your relationship with Darth Vader?

It’s complicated.

This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday or #FTSF. This week’s topic is “When I can’t write…” And there’s still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin on the matter: HERE.

Feeling brave? Pick one question to answer in the comments!