Posts Tagged ‘dogs


You Can’t Keep A Good Dog Down

Good DogThis past week I faced one of the greatest challenges I have ever had to deal with. My soul dog, Mr. Blue, has battled lymphoma for the past nine months and, for the third time, he is out of remission. The doctor said he wasn’t strong enough to begin his fourth drug protocol and sent him home for three days with steroids to get his strength up. It didn’t help. His platelets were too low and he was still in an anemic state. In a private room, the doctor told me that Mr. Blue was too weak and tired to continue treatment and was likely to go downhill fast. He advised me to spend the next few days with him and prepare to make every dog owner’s worst decision. Sobbing, I looked at my sweet boy and agreed. Mr. Blue was tired the disease was obviously taking its toll.

Somehow I made the 90-mile drive back home. I called work and asked them to notify Peaceful Pet Passage for an at-home euthanasia on Wednesday at 3 pm knowing full well that I couldn’t make the arrangements myself without losing it. I cleared my schedule for the next two days. That night was filled with the most painful emotions I’ve ever felt. One moment I would relish the life Blue and I had lived together and the next I would fall into overwhelming despair trying to fathom how I would go on without him. Mr. Blue has been my constant companion for thirteen years, ever since the day I picked him up as an abandoned five-week-old pup. I tried not to cry as I was sure that Mr. Blue could sense my grief.

That night I posted the news on Facebook to the thousands of people and animals touched by Mr. Blue over the years. Many have followed his journey from the start and were pulling for him, just as distraught as I was. The following day began a long and beautifully touching succession of visits, texts, calls, and messages as people offered their support and prayers.

That same day Mr. Blue also began a miraculous turnaround. He ate breakfast. He ate a second breakfast. He ran around the house as people came to see him. He ate lunch. He played with his toys. He was alert and he probably gave me close to a thousand strong kisses. Earlier I had asked God to just keep him comfortable and happy on that final day so I could always cherish the memory. I really thought this was his final rally before we said goodbye.

That night, Mr. Blue came even more alive. At dinner time he ate another plate of food, and then another. He even had treats before he went to bed. I was perplexed. I have never lost a dog before but I have always been told that I will know when it’s time to say goodbye. I couldn’t shake the growing feeling that this was not his time.

Mr. Blue was out of remission and the clock was ticking, but was this his time? I went to bed and prayed for discernment, for some kind of sign. I also made one last decision. I wrote his obituary earlier that day, trying to keep myself sane and occupied as the hours ticked by. I reopened the document and deleted the date: May 21st, 2014.

When I awakened the next morning morning Mr. Blue was already downstairs in the kitchen with the other dogs waiting for his breakfast. This wasn’t just a last-minute rally; Mr. Blue was back! I couldn’t go through with the euthanasia when he was in such high spirits.

I called the oncologist to see if there was any way they could immediately reevaluate Mr. Blue’s condition. I felt certain that if Blue had been this way 48 hours earlier, he would have been able to get his chemo. I just had to know what Blue was telling me. The clinic squeezed him in although they said his condition was grave and they were not optimistic.

Peaceful Pet Passage was fine with the cancelation (they said this happens all the time and were very supportive) and we made the long trek back to the clinic. Mr. Blue was a different dog when he walked through that door. He had his spunk back. His blood work and white blood cell count were good, but his platelets were still low. There were two options: go with the chemo which, in his current state, could kill him; or decline the chemo and make him as comfortable as possible until the end. I went with option one. We were not going to lose the battle to cancer unless we had exhausted every opportunity.

Mr. Blue received his chemo and we began the journey home. I immediately let his legion of adoring fans know the good news and they rejoiced! I felt a tremendous peace knowing that, with this chemo, we had truly done everything we could and the rest is in God’s hands. And while we are definitely not out of the woods, today was another great day for him at work as people came by to see the miracle mutt. He even had a big dinner with an Angus burger for desert. Next Wednesday we’ll know if Mr. Blue is back in remission. Until then, we keep our paws crossed and we stay prayed up.

This roller coaster of a week reinforced three critical life lessons for me:

1)      Trust your heart and trust your gut. If the timing of something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Wait. Take time for quiet reflection and pray for discernment.

2)      It ain’t over til it’s over. As Helen Keller said, “All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.” You’ll know when it’s time to say goodbye or to let something or someone go. Until then, keep overcoming. Keep fighting.

3)      The power of prayer and pawsitivity. My life is a testament to the power of prayer and of God’s continuous unfolding of His tremendous plan for me. To see that He included my best four-legged companion in these plans takes our relationship to a whole new level! And why not? He knows even when the sparrow falls.

So remember, if you’re going through some ruff stuff, keep the faith! In the end it’ll be okay. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end. I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but this divine canine has taught me to live in the moment and I am furever grateful for each and every moment that we share.


How I finally became the most popular kid in school

I confess I wasn’t very hip when I was in school. Part nerd, part band geek, and part quasi-athlete, I mixed with a wide range of kids and never made it to the top of any particular group. But that all changed when my dog wrote a book: at 49 years old, I catapulted beyond Justin Bieber status, all because of my dog, Mr. Blue.

I had no idea that a dog in a tie walking onto an elementary school campus could cause such mayhem. He’s made so many appearances that his reputation precedes him. At every event, at least one youngster has already seen him and anxiously stokes the flames of what’s to come. And when we walk through the halls, its pandemonium.

I hear growing squeals and packs of footsteps behind me as we move to the auditorium. Kids stream out of their classrooms, unable to be restrained any longer. It’s reminiscent of Beatlemania, where hoards of screaming fans just can’t contain their enthusiasm. Yes, my dog truly is a rock star minus the ego and self-destructive tendencies.

I didn’t realize that dogs are verboten on school property in today’s world. There are signs everywhere. Hence, seeing a creature of the canine persuasion enter your facility is a little like seeing a unicorn. You think you’re seeing what you’re seeing, but you can’t actually believe it.

Mr. Blue met with 1,200 of the most pawsome K through 5th graders on the planet over the last two weeks. He gave an average of 10 kisses per student which puts him well into the six-figure range. He shared his leadership principles in the way that only a dog can do, with sweetness, unconditional acceptance, and hound wisdom.

I never know who’s more excited about the whole affair; the dog, the students, or me. It’s seems to be the trifecta of learning and sharing together. But then again, with a dog at the center of the universe for the day, how could it be anything else? When I see the group photos of us all posing together I laugh. When I read the letters they send to me and Mr. Blue about what they learned I cry. When I realize how blessed I am to be sharing with this age group the timeless principles that make life tremendous with my best friend by my side, I think I’ve died and gone to heaven.

It feels great to be the most popular kid in school but I’m glad it took me this long to achieve it. Now I know that being popular amongst the youngsters is all about making them feel valued and inspired. And I’ve got just the sidekick to help me out.

If you would like to schedule an appearance by Mr. Blue, but you live outside of the Central Pennsylvania area, please be sure to send your private jet to pick him up. Rock stars don’t fly in the cargo hold!


i’m proud to be a coal miner’s doggie, by Mr. Blue

My Mom is not really a coal miner, but she is from Pennsyltucky, so maybe there’s a little bit of it in her. I am halfway through our “pawtograph” book tour for my book, True Blue Leadership: Top 10 Tricks from the Chief Motivational Hound. My pack picked cities we had previously lived in and partnered with small businesses and local animal rescues for our events. We’re humble hounds so this type of venue suits our nature. We worked like dogs for the last three days in a row meeting wonderful humans and hounds and yapping it up with other dog and book lovers.

Eileen Voyles, our tremendous publicist, worked hard to get us several TV appearances, radio interviews, and newspaper coverage before each of these events. They were all great successes. As we traveled from town to town, Eileen commented that this reminded her of the movie Coal Miner’s Daughter, where Loretta Lynn’s husband suggested they take a homegrown promotional tour working tirelessly to meet with all levels of disc jockeys across the South.

As we packed up our books, Frisbees, t-shirts, and doggie bandanas and headed off to the next venue, it was clear that the overwhelming majority of people who came out to each event heard about it via the radio and the newspaper or had seen a posted flyer. It’s very interesting that in today’s virtual world, the written and spoken word still have such power. Now I look forward to updating my Facebook fan page as much as the next pup, but this experience taught this old dog a new trick!

Traditional media, just like social media, is free. If the local stations like you and your story, they are more than willing to jump in and provide you the coverage. Social media is the same way, but there are still many people who don’t use it. One of the couples who attended our event was vacationing at a local bed and breakfast. When they checked in with their dog, the caretaker had seen a flyer my mom passed out to local businesses and recommended the event to them.

So the moral of this “tail” is, don’t neglect any of the marketing arrows in your quiver. If you think you can change the world with your message simply by sitting behind the computer and putting it “out there”, think again. You may hit some of the targets, but you’ll miss many others. Organic growth, where you get out there with all four paws on the ground, is still quite powerful, even in today’s Internet age. It’s just a matter of being willing to invest your time and money to promote your message, even if it means hauling boxes of books from city to city or driving all night to be on an early-morning local news show for two minutes. A tired pup is a happy pup, so get out there and work like a dog to get your message, product or service out there!


not all who wander are lost

When I was young I had a passion for writing. I was told I was good at it. It came naturally and I enjoyed it. When it came time for college, I went the engineering route because that’s where the money and jobs were. Being a creative person in a technical field definitely had its advantages. The ability to write and communicate was always in demand so I felt actualized on both sides of the brain. The leadership training I gained during my years in the Air Force was also a plus. Looking back, even though it wasn’t my most authentic self, it was still a pretty good self, and I worked hard at each job.

When I got my first dog, Mr. Blue, I was intent on socializing him. So I signed him up to go to a tremendous doggie daycare, DogBoy’s Dog Ranch, in Austin, Texas. For four years he romped through the fields learning how to play and be a joyful canine. I’d drop him off and he’d race into the pen to join his friends. I wished, each and every time, that I could run into the area with them and spend the entire day playing rather than going to my J.O.B. But could I pay the bills hanging out with dogs all day and sharing all the amazing things we can learn from them?

Fast forward ten years. As part of my journey, I wound up back home in Pennsylvania running Tremendous Life Books, the premier publisher of motivational and leadership material. I can’t say it was planned, but I’ve always subscribed to the mantra, “Not all who wander are lost.” I’ve never been one to pass by an open door. As Yogi Berra so famously said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

So now I am a writer. And I get to bring my dog (now dogs!), to work every day. And my dog wrote a book. And we’re going on a six-city book “pawtograph” tour. And I get to give speeches with my dog about leadership and our various journeys throughout life. Had I not had all those “detours”, I wouldn’t have much to share. Sure I could go on and on about how much I love my dog, but so could every dog parent.

So in the end, despite all the wandering and forks in the road, I wound up exactly where I am supposed to be with my best friend by my side! All those previous industries and experiences helped me discover the most authentic version of myself. Best of all, I get to spend my entire time focused on the things in life that matter most to me, and make enough money not only to pay the bills, and to give back to some tremendous organizations.

I’m finally running and playing in the field where I was meant to be.


working class dog

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Mahatma Gandhi

In Life Is Tremendous, my father and best-selling author, the late Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, recounts a time early in his insurance career when he purchased a boat. He was told this would be a great hobby to help him “get away from it all.” The problem was he was so passionate about trying to get into it all that the boat brought him stress, not relief. The reason was simple. He didn’t need to escape his job because what he did, thought, and said were all in harmony. He was that passionate about what insurance could do for people.

During the summers while my brothers and sisters and I were still living at home, summers were spent in an RV packed to the hilt with books, luggage and kids. We’d park at KOAs all across the country as my father drove us from meeting to meeting. This gypsy lifestyle was cool to me growing up. I saw the country, met lots of kids at the campgrounds, and honed my back-of-room sales skills. I learned how the marriage of work and fun worked at a very early age. Even today, to do one without the other seems very, very wrong to me.

Fast-forward to today. I, too, have a large family; however, my “kids” are felines and canines. I also get the opportunity to speak and travel across the country.  I don’t stay longer than the planned meetings to sightsee and relax because I miss my kids and doing my thing at Tremendous Life Books. I now have a better understanding why my father took advantage of the summer school breaks with these working vacations.

So when my number one canine son published his first book, True Blue Leadership: Top 10 Tricks from the Chief Motivational Hound, I figured why not repeat the same pattern? The basic premise was exactly the same: quality family time whilst spreading the word about how a book can change a life.

So we’re embarking on a six-city pawtograph tour. We’ve selected cities we’ve lived in together over the past ten years to pay tribute to all the amazing humans, hounds, and organizations that have been a part of our life. Talk about combining work and play, but then again it is the dog’s idea so it shouldn’t come as a surprise. His grandpaw would be so proud!

For details on Mr. Blue’s upcoming Stop Playing Dead book tour click here!

Tremendous Tracey

CEO Tremendous Life Books. Book Evangelist

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April 2020

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