I've always had a love for animals. Dogs, in particular.
As many little boys do, I had dreamed of getting a dog as a pet when I was kid. Unfortunately, it was never a real possibility. My parents explained, at the time, that because our family often traveled overseas during summer vacations, it would be unfair to leave a dog in a kennel for such extended periods of time. Most importantly, taking care of a dog (or any pet) is a serious responsibility that could not be taken lightly, nor could it be put on hold to accommodate, say, leaving for college.
Though I still consider it a great disappointment that I never had the chance to enjoy the unique bond that a boy might have with his dog, my parents were absolutely correct. After high school, I left for Duke. And, a few years after that, I moved to Los Angeles for graduate school.
Then, even more years passed.
Oddly, the idea for getting a dog came almost as an epiphany. I was having dinner with a friend listening to her, again, gush over her adorable, though shy, black cat. I mentioned how I had once hoped to have a dog, but that it wasn’t meant to be. She offered a curious look, then reminded me that I had the financial means and the living space, with few of the burdens that would keep me from handling the responsibilities of a dog. Even better, as the owner of my own business, I’d be able to bring a dog to work every day.
She was right. I could get a dog.
Better, I could adopt a dog!
I contacted the Summit Animal Rescue Association (SARA) in New Jersey and, soon after, visited the home of a foster family taking care of a trio of adorable Pit/Shepherd three-month-olds. As I kneeled down to get an eye-level view of the pups, the female--a spindly, tan brindle little girl--crawled under me for a reprieve from her larger, more rambunctious brothers.
And like the guy who suddenly has the prettiest girl in the bar saying hello to him, I melted.
I named her Daisy, after the character Daisy Buchanan of my favorite novel, The Great Gatsby. A year later, I introduced Daisy to another female German Shepherd (headed for certain euthanasia) from the same rescue. The two got along well, and so, Sara (not named especially cleverly) was adopted.
The three of us were a pack!
I don’t believe it's coincidence that the eleven years since their adoptions have been the most creative and productive of my life. I’ve had three novels and one long short story published, and have experienced tremendous success in the companies my business partner and I founded, Listen & Live Audio and Dog Park Publishing. Daisy and Sara are my constant companions, both at work and home. They have made me a more responsible, compassionate, and outgoing person. I enjoy taking care of them. I enjoy making sure they are safe, comfortable, well fed, and in good health.
Similarly, being a dog owner in Jersey City has exposed me to many of the issues confronting the animal welfare community, particularly as it relates to pit bulls and other ‘bully breeds.’ As a result, in 2010 I became involved with the city’s shelter, Liberty Humane Society, and was honored to serve as president of its board of directors.
As is the case for most shelters, Liberty Humane is grossly underfunded, while its staff and volunteers work tirelessly for the sake of the thousands of cats and dogs that come through its doors each year. While certainly rewarding at times, the work can be difficult and unpleasant, to say nothing of the heartwrenching life-and-death decisions that shelter workers make every day. I applaud their dedication, as I do for the staff at every well-meaning rescue and shelter across the country. And I do hope that anyone reading this will consider supporting his or her local shelter by donating time, food, and, of course, money.
The desire to raise funds for rescues and shelters became, in part, the impetus for my business partner and I to start Dog Park Publishing in 2011. That, and my business partner's canine addition to her family--Farfel, a chocolate brindle pit bull--adopted from Liberty Humane. "Farfy" is as lovable as he is surely the archetypal example for the idiom, "A (pit)bull in a china shop."
And so, the company's mission soon evolved into the showcasing and celebration of the Pit Bull, through our calendars and other products, as a majestic, affectionate, and intelligent breed that is sorely misunderstood. We fight the stereotypes facing these dogs by featuring the Ambassadors of the breed and the organizations that support them. Every dog we've featured in our calendars has been rescued from his or her circumstances by a reputable organization or individual.
In November of 2015, I decided to start a new venture, dog with a mustache, inc., which advocates that all owners spay or neuter their dogs, and donates a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of our merchandise to dog rescue groups. In fact, in the short time since its inception, our company had made in-kind and cash donations of $7129.85.
Along the way I have found dozens of wonderful vendors creating exciting products for canines and humans, alike. I am pleased to offer their items on our website, especially knowing part of the funds are being passed along to the organizations that need them so desperately!