(Main picture is of Hannah, a lovely hear old Husky mix.  For more information please CLICK HERE) .


What a year it’s been. The limbo between Christmas and New Years usually allows for some down time, quality time with the family (or fur babies) and reflection. We think about what went well, what didn’t go so well and anticipate the upcoming new year. As our bodies process the overindulgences of the holidays, we start to prepare for our next steps.

For some of us, we need to commit to spending less time at the office and more quality time with our loved ones. For others, we mourn the loss of someone we loved or admired and cherish those memories we’ve had with them as the year draws to a close. At the end of the day, one thing remains the same. We need each other to survive another year and to create a better space, warmer hearts and a welcoming community. We as a whole need to slow it down and start living in the moment.

Shut off the smart phones and pull out a board game, go for a coffee or use your talents to make a difference in someone’s life instead of wasting away behind a screen. I often wonder how all of this technology is going to influence us in the future – what toll is this taking on us? Like smoking is to cancer, I am convinced all of this time looking at a screen is impeding on our natural quality of life.

New year. New you. Every year, businesses capitalize on this phrase. Gym memberships skyrocket through the roof and protein sales soar. People buy new shoes and new treadmills as they set goals for themselves that will fall apart come February first. New years resolutions simply don’t work – they are a myth that so many of us buy into.

So how do we stay on track and focused to a goal we set for ourself? January 1st isn’t the answer. Getting caught up in all this “new year new you” hype is just that – hype. How do we create something tangible. Something measurable. Something that will be successful. Some of us have heard of the SMART approach to successful goal setting. Today, I want to talk about this.

The first letter – S – stands for specific. Without a specific goal, we are destined to failure from the get-go – why – because there’s no goal in mind. Imagine saying that you plan to eat healthier in the new year. What exactly does this mean? Define health. Define unhealthy. Why does this matter to you and what does it mean to achieve this specific goal? Making a statement “I plan to cut out junk foods and processed foods, except for one day a week, while focusing on eating fresh fruits and whole grains” is a much more specific goal. See what I’m getting at?




Bailey (above), is a shy youngster who has had a rough past. He was rescued in West Virginia from a hoarding situation with over 50 other dogs. He is making good progress but is looking for a quiet calm new home to help him acclimatize to a new start. He is still considered a flight risk at this time – but do you blame him? He came from a very unfortunate circumstance.

A fenced in yard is required to protect him from his anxiety and fear of being contained. He is quick to bark if he is nervous but is you give him a minute and let him know he is okay he will settle down and start wagging his tail happily. He needs to feel like he is not in danger after all that he has been through. Honestly, we would all react the same way.

He loves getting his treats and has an adorable grin on his face that makes you instantly smile. Bailey is best suited for a home with mature kids or adults only because he is still easily overwhelmed and skittish but is getting better with some patience and compassion. Help Bailey learn our first step of a specific goal by bringing him home and showing him that everything works itself out for the best in the end. (For more information CLICK HERE)

The second letter – M – stands for measurable. Imagine trying to make a new recipe for a large family gathering and the instruction call for “a lot” of one ingredient and a “fist full” of another. What in the world does this mean? My fist is obviously larger, or smaller, than others. Without a standard of measure, our overall goal fails. Throwing a ball 50 yards vs. 4 feet makes all of the difference. Giving our cats the proper measurement recommended serving of food is much different than eyeballing it and hoping for the best – that leads to a very fat or very thin cat; both which are unhealthy. Eating more healthy food is vague. Eating at least the daily recommended serving of fruits and vegetables per day with an 8 ounce glass of water before each meal is much more measurable. Stay with me here, it will all come together by the end.




Meatball (above), is a playful bubbly boy who needs some help with his manners. Labs are highly food motivated (and so am I *chuckles) so he will be eager to learn and earn his cookies. He is 64 lbs. He needs a dedicated owner to give him structure (someone who, perhaps, has learned how to implement our smart goals).

Dog Walker Linda spent sometime with Meatball and has this to share: I had a nice walk with this handsome fellow today. He has striking good looks with his dark eyes and glowing black coat. We were only on the driveway today but was able to teach him to come and sit for me, next will be heeling. He jumped up a few times but is learning quickly not to.

He is one smart cookie (did Linda just make a pun?) It must have been boring for him just going up and down the driveway but he was game for it. It will be fun to take him in the pen to play with the toys and walk the grounds too. He has a nice personality, just needs some work with his commands. With exercise and more training Meatball will be a wonderful companion for a special person. (For more information CLICK HERE).

The third letter – A – stands for attainable. This goes without saying. Having a dream to be a rock star and having never made any effort to pick up an instrument, while still expecting to become a world famous rock star is foolish. I think we can all agree on that. Committing to losing 25 pounds while setting up a specific workout plan each day is realistic. Expecting to reach that in 2 weeks? Not realistic.

Choosing a healthier and more physical lifestyle takes time to show results, and trust me they will come. We have 6 months to show that beach body, now, don’t we? C’mon, lets get a move on! Those calories aren’t going to burn themselves!

I can guarantee you that playing Call of Duty for 10 hours a day won’t help you reach any goal. I recently had someone tell me that they plan to be the next breakout football star because they have played Madden NFL and can really understand the game now. I’m pretty sure I needed a stitch in my lip after biting it so hard, trying now to be rude and laugh in his face. Seriously. Some people’s goals are so unrealistic it makes my brain hurt. We all have these people in our lives.




Linda enjoys her time with Carlos (above), and observes: Carlos is a great dog. He heels beautifully, just a joy to walk. He sits and comes too. He loves to play in the pen especially throwing the soccer ball in the air. Carlos is very affectionate, he has a lovable way about him. I really like the times I spend with him, the ones who are around for a while tug on your heart strings.

Carlos is best suited in a home with no kids and would like to be the only dog in his new home. He is a big teddy bear who does much better with women than men. He can act fearful towards them by being defensive but is just scared and with gaining his trust, he does come around, he is great with the staff here at the shelter and all of our dog walkers. He is a special boy who can’t wait to meet his new people.

Carlos has been waiting quite a few months but has made great progress here; gaining weight, obedience, and overall attitude towards people. If you are looking for a goofy but stubborn companion to snuggle with you in bed, Carlos is the right boy for you! His perfect day would include lots of yummy treats, running around throwing his stuffies and getting a belly rub and a cuddle. Single ladies, Any takers? (For more information CLICK HERE)

The fifth and final letter of this plan – T – stands for timely. Without a proper timeline using all of these other letters, once again – game over – you lose – say goodbye to that plan. But we are not losers here, we stick to our guns and pull through to the end. You’ve made it this far through the article. The home stretch is near. I can smell it! Again – another food reference. You’re probably thinking that I am in love with food. Not far from the truth. Food is great and I digress. Pizza delivery will tell you it will be at your house in 25 minutes or less or it’s free. Imagine waiting 8 hours for a pizza to be delivered because no timeline was ever set? That would be infuriating. Time and timelines is self explanatory. Lets talk about our final puppy of the week, Dolly!



Hi everyone I’m Dolly (above)! I have been waiting a little while to find my forever home and just can’t wait! I am looking for someone special to take care of me; I love people but I can be selective and defensive in my kennel. I act like a monkey! I act tough but I am insecure and a bit sassy sometimes (so I have been told). I don’t want tons of cuddles or want little people in my space thus needing someone a bit more mature in my new home.

I am gentle and loving and have a fun playful side once I break out of my shell my wiggly bum is always going! I am great outside my kennel once I get out for my walk and have some cookies (I am highly food motivated and will become your best friend – again, more food talk!). I don’t want a ton of cuddles or in the face kisses when we first meet. A sniff and some quiet one on one time suits me best in the beginning but I warm up quickly if you give me my space. Come and meet me if you think we might be a good match … I picture long walks, some snuggles and someone who doesn’t mind a bit of slobber from time to time. (For more information CLICK HERE)

Ok folks. We made it. Another year. A new you? Can we do it? I think so. We now have the SMART goals in our handy tool belts. Please, for our own sanity, don’t go buy a tool belt and put one on. Disclaimer – if you’ve done this already, do not tell a soul.

Be safe over the holiday season, please. Drinking and driving is not ok. Everyone eventually gets busted. Is the punishment really worth the crime? Jail time, lawyer fees, fines, and loss of your license for a night out on the town. It’s not worth it. And now the NRP publicly shame those caught drinking and driving. It effects you, your family, strangers and your income. It’s not smart. The same goes for using drugs and getting behind the wheel. Have a great new years eve, and please be safe. See you next year!

This week’s column written by Christopher Dalton

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