It’s Never ‘Just’ a Walk

Even though you might think otherwise, an outing with your doggo is never just a walk. Found moments for cognitive stimulation, whether one-on-one with a doggo, like here with Judgie Boy or the entire pack, requires just as much from me, the human, as it does for my doggo(s). It also allows me to stay current with my doggo’s communicative ways and presents opportunities for creative ingenuity to keep the fun fresh (yes, even when revisiting cognitive challenges for practice, that’s fresh-fun too)!

Our human-animal bond is strengthened by infusing opportunities for cognitive stimulation when on any venture together. And it’s this active-time spent together that invigorates the body, mind & emotions; allows for new perspectives to the world on a micro & macro level; cultivates empathy… it’s never just a walk.

So give it a try! Spice up the active-time with your doggo. Start small. Make it manageable. Enhance the good stuff you’re already doing. Consider your usual active routine & possible on-the-spot opportunities the routine itself may provide (i.e. setting), try-out an added layer of cognitive stimulation (like I’m doing here with weaving between the pillars), evaluate your doggo’s response to the activity, reassess & revise as needed.

There is one non-negotiable, no negative reinforcement! If your doggo presents a hesitant response to the added activity, respect the presentation of the doggo’s feelings with love & reassurance. Empathize with your doggo, even say “let’s try again tomorrow,” & resume the enjoyable aspects of the routine as you and your doggo have established. Build upon the fun and cognitive stimulation, love the moment, love your doggo for trying something new, & give yourself a pat on the back while you’re at it, your efforts are noticed by the one who matters, your doggo.

Don’t have a doggo but still want “in” on some of this good stuff? Here are a few ideas:

  • Join a friend on a walk with their doggo(s)
  • #Volunteer at a local animal shelter
  • #Foster! Give some one-on-one active time to a doggo who needs it most! The result (1) you adopt the doggo or (2) get that doggo ready for their furever family
  • #Share this post with others
  • Connect with me ✌️❤️🐾

Now #Trending…

Collaboration, in any organization, is key— especially when the goal is to create an inclusive environment for all individuals to feel valued and respected. The people within an organization, for the most part, want to experience an enriching workplace. Some may even wish to pay it forward.

Five years ago, a fellow English teacher and myself wanted to do just that, pay it forward. We took it upon ourselves to complete our Google Certification. We taught an in-district summer professional development course. We were selected to present at an annual English Teachers Conference in Albany, New York.

Our vision, The Trendy English Teachers, was coming to fruition, website and all. Unfortunately, the vision was placed on the back-burner, and not entirely from our doing alone.

Once the 2022-2023 school year rolled around, my fellow English teacher (yes, that same fellow English teacher), shared how she wished to somehow participate in my school building leadership internship experience. Like many other educators, my colleague is very much aware of the strengths she has to offer to the organization. Me, being the collaboration, true collaboration, advocate that I am, excitedly said, “Of course!”

So, as we always do, we got to work.

We sat down, made a tentative date and schedule for school-day availability, how we would construct courses based on teacher-driven needs. What would that look like? How would that look? What is required of us, and our participants (faculty and staff), to prepare for, and participate in, meaningful, voluntary, school day professional learning opportunities?

We listed “trendy” articles, “trendy” videos watched on social media, and shared our own “trendy” creations with one another.

We made a list of all the topics to cover, the target audience, the faculty. But there are others to consider, like the staff members of our building. The staff need to be equipped with the technology foundation because students look to them for support and guidance.

Would we include the administration? Yes! Of course! Why not? If the administration suggests technology be used in the 21st century classroom, then they too should have the knowledge of the types of technologies readily available to enhance student learning, performance and progress.

The origin of transformative change rests upon transformative leadership. Highlighting the positive contributions of others within an organization can possibly ruffle some feathers. However, the positives outweigh the negatives. As a future school building leader, I know I must honor the strengths of others within an organization. I must, in some way, make certain the individuals who wish to be directly and indirectly a part of the vision and mission’s sustainability be included, supported, and celebrated for their efforts.

#TrendThePositive

Trending Together with T & J, © J. Maricevic (2022)

It’s just Daisy, being Daisy

It’s just Daisy,
being Daisy.

It’s just Daisy,
being—

her gorgeous self,
and knowing
she’s gorgeous,
and expressing
a quiet,
self-confidence,
a happy tail-wag;
the usual.

Look close.
It’s just Daisy,
being Daisy.

She hears
three words.

And Daisy,
just being;
sticks out her tongue,
ever so slightly,
to whisper a reply,
ever so lightly—

“I love you, too.”

© Jessica Maricevic, 2022

A happy Daisy, post-spa day.

Actions Speak Louder Than…

Canine Courage, ©J. Maricevic, 2022

On any given day, for any given reason, the world can be a lonely, isolating place for a person navigating an internal challenge. And sometimes, those feelings are left to fester like an open sore to the person experiencing the emotions, emotions that may remain undetectable to the naked eye passing by (yes, there’s an allusion to Langston Hughes in this paragraph).

We all must be better to the stranger, the acquaintance, to those closest to us… we all must be better, for you never know of another person’s struggle…

And to be better requires courage, courage to be:

✨The individual to stand by the side of someone in the midst of a conflict…

✨The individual to stand up when bystanders appear to be oblivious to the reality of one’s struggle…

✨The individual to place assumptions aside and reach out to inquire about the well-being of another…

✨The one to say, “Sure, I’ll run alongside you!” without uttering a word…

✨The one to say, “You are not alone” without uttering a sound…

✨The one to take the kindness received, and pay it forward to another in need. #PayItForward…

Inspired by their collective canine courage, I share my artistic creation of Bravo supporting Daisy. Or is it Daisy supporting Bravo?

Is it really that important to distinguish which empathic set of paws is supporting the other? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, Bravo and Daisy know that they have each other, no matter what the tide may bring. That, in itself, is just as much a comfort for the doggos as it is for their human.

There’s much to learn from our four legged friends— beings that possess the undeniable courage to do the right thing, allowing their actions to ‘speak’ louder than their … bark.

Variations on ‘Brad’- Pop Art Meets Human-Animal Relationships

Pop Art, meet Human-Animal Relationships.

Variations on ‘Brad’ © J. Maricevic, 2021

Let’s be honest, dogs know everything. Whether we verbally tell them our thoughts, or they feel our energy, or the energy of a situation; dogs know.

And it was that all-knowing, canine superpower that inspired my original, Roy Lichtenstein-esque, digital representation of the human-animal bond. For those unfamiliar with Lichtenstein’s artistic style, he incorporated the name “Brad” in some of his Pop Art creations. It is important to note that Lichtenstein never referred to this “Brad” with a positive connotation.

For my piece, I emulated Lichtenstein’s use of the name, “Brad,” with the intentions of having “Brad” be any ‘one,’ or any ‘thing,’ that impacts an individual’s physical and/or emotional welfare and security.  

Wait, what about that canine cognition connection?

I know, from personal experience, that an individual’s physical and mental strength is restored, and their emotional fortitude reinvigorated, by the unconditional love from their four-legged friend. Dogs have the ability to identify when a “Brad” is lurking in the crevices of their person’s mind, or in the shadows of real-life, and dogs know when, and how, to intervene. The selfless-love of the all-knowing, canine companion, reaffirms a human’s sense of self, and in turn, sends the message to “Brad,” that this human, their human, is strong, confident, and supported.

So, “Beware, ‘Brad’,” for nothing can deter the empowered, especially when a dog is right by their side.