Through The Love of Dogs...How Life's Purpose Revealed Itself Late In Life
VivaPaws Training & Behavior was born out of passion, love, and heartache.
Aimlessly searching for a purpose in life for most of my 49 years, the fact that love brought me to the United States late in life, was a blessing from the universe for sure. But having to give up a life I loved in my home country of Denmark, leaving behind family, friends, all my ‘things’, and not least my two beloved schnauzers, was a major heartache. It is a known fact for most of us who don’t have kids, that our pets are our kids. Rufus and Balou, my two dogs in Denmark, were my kids. They brought me love, joy, comfort, and companionship while enduring a long-distance relationship for five years. And yet, I left them! Do I deserve dogs?
Upon leaving Denmark, I had already decided that once I got to the US, I wanted to continue caring for animals in some capacity, but the thought of becoming a Certified Professional Dog Trainer had not yet found its way. I believe I had to suffer first to find my way; find my meaning in life.
Leaving my dogs behind to pursue a life with the love of my life so far away, my heart was broken in two halves….one half was happier than I had ever been, being granted a life with my love, after imagining we would never get that chance. The other half, however, was tormented by grief and guilt. How could I leave my dogs? Thankfully, I knew they would have a wonderful life with my ex, but my heart was still sad. The first couple of months in my new country, I felt like a true alien. Nothing in my new world was mine; the things in our joint home were not mine. Having married into a life with kids from a previous marriage, the kids were not mine, the dog in our house was not mine…..my dogs, the other half of my heart, were so far away. I missed them terribly.
As tears were streaming down my cheeks one morning in August of 2016, two months after my arrival, it literally hit me like lightening from above: “Find a passion and pursue it”, a favorite quote, kept poking my thoughts. I had already found my love and passion and had pursued it, which was what had brought me to my new country. Could there be another reason I had come to the US? What was my passion in life? My love of animals had been with me my whole life, right there by my side. What had given me the greatest joys? My pets, the company of dogs, cats, and animals in general.
The innocence, the generosity, the love, the trust, the loyalty, the soul of an animal. They give so much and ask for so little in return. They don’t judge, they are incapable of all our human flaws, they are always there for us and yet, we don’t always treat them with respect, love, or understanding. Truth be told, I have always preferred the company of animals to humans, like so many ‘dog people’ or ‘cat people’ out there. Why? Because they are so much better than us. In truth, we don’t deserve dogs. We don’t deserve the grace of animals. They are the true godly spirits of the earth. With our intelligence, language, and capability for abstract thought, we ought to be superior to them, but the sad truth is we often fall short on our promise to care for them… which is our moral duty and responsibility. We get a dog without realizing all it entails; to care and provide for them, to provide a life of nurture, physical, and mental stimulation, to train them and teach them how to live in our human world. Don’t we owe them that much? More often than not, we put our own needs before theirs and forget we were supposed to care for them for their whole life. Would we do that to our ‘real’ kids, the two-legged kind?
So many dogs are abused, neglected, surrendered to shelters, abandoned, or euthanized when humans fail to provide for them, or misunderstand their needs. We are capable of doing better for our furry friends. We are capable of love, understanding, and compassion, and most importantly, we are able to learn, to educate ourselves, to think before we act, to show respect, and to teach.
Finding a purpose in life involves wanting to make a difference, to leave a mark on the world that matters… not just existing. Do something good for others, be it humans or animals. I realized in that moment, on that August morning in 2016 through my heartache, that the love I had always had for animals, dogs and cats in particular, was my purpose in life. Having worked mainly with people most of my life, never considering the time spent with animals as work, I realized I needed to do what my heart felt. And I needed to ‘make it up’ to the two I had let down and left behind. I knew that my two dogs in Denmark still loved me no matter, but my own bad conscience was eating away at me. Choosing to finally make a career out of my passion for animals was a way to work through my heartache and make up for ‘not deserving dogs’….to get out in the world and help as many dogs as possible live better lives with their human companions.
Thus, the seed was sown, I pursued my passion and found my purpose in life, got an elite education and certification, opened my business, naming it VivaPaws (Viva, my initials, and of course meaning “long live”) While my business is less than a year old, my experience and love of animals has been life-long. My heart will always be in two halves, but Milo, my American schnauzer, my best friend and soulmate in my new country, along with my passion in wanting to help people and their dogs live better lives together, has helped heal my heart.
Moving to a new country, giving up your life, and taking the chance of a lifetime investing in a new path as an entrepreneur is scary for anyone. Taking such a leap late in life is more than scary, and makes you wish you had found your purpose years ago, but pursuing your passion with all your heart has to be right because it feels right.
My mission with VivaPaws is teaching humans a better way to interact and communicate with their canine companions, to help make humans deserve the love, trust, and loyalty of their furry best friend, and to greatly improve the lives dogs and humans share. This, I believe, is best achieved through compassion, understanding, respect, and not least, positive reinforcement. Because it makes us better humans to our animals.
We hope to make a difference in your life, and your dog’s life. We hope to inspire YOU to be a better person to your dog, to want to teach and guide your dog, and to reap the fruits of a more positive relationship.
Viva Paws!….. Because dogs make our lives whole.