PEOPLE ARE LIKE DOGS:
A GUIDE TO SELF-ACCEPTANCE AND THE ACCEPTANCE OF OTHERS
(July15th: Good news! I’m almost ready to film my first video! Hopefully, I should have most of the videos on the website soon! I put the website online before it was completely finished because I wanted people to be able to contact me if they needed help with their pets. Hopefully, things will be ready soon! Thanks so much for your patience!)
Hello everyone, my name’s Dr. Julie Clark and I want to thank you so much for visiting my website. I hope that there will be something here for everyone (including your pets!)
I’ve been a veterinarian for thirty-seven years (as of 2017) and I’m hoping, through this website, to be able to help pet owners with their pets and get the book I’m writing about how “People Are Like Dogs” out into the world (a book about self-acceptance and the acceptance of others through thinking of ourselves as dogs.)
The idea for the website came to me in the wee hours of the night one night when my brain has the horrible habit of waking me up so it can try to solve any problems that need solving. I’d unfortunately spent quite a few nights awake in 2016 because, through a combination of bad luck and bad choices, it had been one of the worst years of my life. Not only did I break my ankle in May (and was, consequently, out of work for two months) but I’d also had the misfortune of being ripped off by several different contractors as I tried to fix up a new house I’d moved into as well as get my old house ready to sell. On top of the broken ankle and the bad contractors, I was feeling depressed because I hadn’t been able to work on the People Are Like Dogs book due to being so stressed out over the broken ankle and bad contractors.
I desperately wanted to get the People Are Like Dogs book out into the world because I felt it might be able to help other people as much as it had helped me. Learning how to think of myself as a dog (in my case, a mixture of a Labrador and a Terrier: what I call a “Laberrier”) had allowed me to finally make peace with not only who I was as a person but certain people in my life who I’d struggled to get along with for years (my mom in particular.)
Getting along with people was so much more difficult than getting along with dogs. As a vet, I’d always accepted that dogs were distinct from one another (in temperament and behavior) as a result of their different genetics: i.e.-a German Shepherd behaves like a German Shepherd because it possesses the DNA of a German Shepherd. Nothing too earth shattering about that. But, at some pivotal moment in my life, I’d started believing that the same thing was true about people: that we’re each born with a unique temperament and personality because of our genetics. Before that change in perspective, I’d simply believed that no matter what our genetics were, we should still have the ability to change ourselves into whatever we wanted ourselves to be. Now, that I was convinced that it’s our DNA that dictates the temperament and personality we’re born with (just like it does in dogs), it follows that it was going to be just as hard to change the individual we were born to be as it would be to change a German Shepherd from the creature it was born to be. If that was indeed true, then we were simply going to have to learn how to accept ourselves (and others) as we are because none of us is going to be able to change who we are to any appreciable degree. We can’t blame someone for the content of their DNA. Consequently, it does absolutely no good to chastise and berate ourselves (and others) being who we are and for not being able to change ourselves into something that we’re not. Doing that would be no different from chastising a German Shepherd for not being able to behave like a Poodle!
Since DNA can’t be changed, the only thing that we can do is accept ourselves (and others) for the individual that we happen to be. Since people have a much easier time accepting dogs than they do themselves (or others), I’ve discovered that, once someone starts thinking of themselves (and others) as a dog, it becomes much easier to accept them. For example, when I think of myself as a dog, I turn into a people-pleasing Labrador mixed with a compulsively busy, do-ten-things-at-once Terrier. That’s a whole heck of a lot easier for me to accept than if I continue to think of myself as some kind of screwed-up human being. When I think of myself as a dog, all my quirkiness is simply an expression of my DNA and, just as I would with a real dog, I accept it for what it is (though it’s not necessarily a breeze making peace with the fact that I’m a Laberrier since the Labrador in me completely ignores boundaries and the Terrier in me insists on being in control!) What I know now and accept is that I’m never going to change. I have no more ability to change who I am than does a Chihuahua or a German Shepherd or a Bassett Hound. For better or worse, we are who we are because of our DNA.
Due to all the bad luck and bad choices I’d experienced in 2016 (on top of the fact that I had turned 63 in July), I was now feeling weirdly vulnerable. Though I’d never been too overly afraid of dying before, I now felt as if my mortality was stalking me like some kind of ravenous creature waiting for just the right moment to swoop down and rip me to shreds! I’d become quite afraid of dying.
Along with this fear came a new sense of urgency: there were so many things I wanted to do before I died! For twenty years (way before I’d ever even thought of writing the People Are Like Dogs book), I’d had plans to write a veterinary book specifically for pet owners. I not only wanted to tell pet owners everything they needed to know about their pets but how to evaluate the care their current veterinarians were providing their pets. Sadly, there are veterinarians out there aren’t doing a very good job (just as there are plumbers and other professionals who don’t do quality work.) As upsetting as it is to come across an incompetent veterinarian, it can be just as upsetting trying to deal with the veterinarians who are only interested in making a lot of money. We all deserve to make a profit at our profession but there are certain veterinarians who abuse this by pressuring pet owners into doing unnecessary (and sometimes risky or dangerous) tests and procedures. One of the worst examples of this is the new trend of doing yearly dentals. Shamefully, many of the dentals being done these days are being done for no other reason than to pad a veterinarian’s pocketbook. It’s a complete betrayal of trust (especially considering the fact that the majority of these dentals are being done on older animals that are much more likely to experience complications as a result of the anesthesia.)
So, here I was, sixty-three years of age, fearful of dying before I got everything I wanted to do done, lying awake night after night concerned as to how I was ever going to get these books out into the world? It was clear that if I tried to get the books out into the world in a conventional way, I’d not only have to get the books completed and edited but I’d also have to get them published and distributed. That would involve a lot of work and time: time that I no longer felt that I had now that my mortality was breathing down my neck.
Yet, as luck would have it, a minor miracle occurred and a wonderful idea popped into my head one night in the middle of the night in mid-December of 2016: Why couldn’t I just put everything I wanted to say on a website? Not only could I put all the completed chapters from the People Are Like Dogs book on the website (simply adding new chapters as I got them written) but I could also put all the veterinary information that I wanted pet owners to have on the same website! Why in the world hadn’t I thought of something like this before? Maybe I’d just been too stuck inside the box believing that the only way to go was to get the books published and distributed traditionally. In retrospect, I’m convinced that all the trauma of 2016 plus the resultant fear that time was running out caused me to look for other options. Two great things about doing a website would be the ability to get the information out there right now and being able to make that information available to everyone (no need for anyone to go out and buy a book!)
As I thought over the ramifications of having a website, I realized that the website could eventually end up requiring a lot of time and energy since I’d be answering people’s questions about their pets not only online but, a lot of times, on the phone.
If I was going to eventually devote myself to helping people full time on the website, I’d need to find a way to support the website financially. Bummer. I hated asking people for money in exchange for helping them with their pets even when I’d had my veterinary clinic in California for seventeen years. The money end of things was, in truth, a complete pain in the neck. Yet, just like everyone else in the world, I was going to need to find a way to support myself.
The one thing that I was absolutely certain that I didn’t want to do was to try and charge people ahead of time for helping them with their pets. Not only would that be terribly awkward but I definitely didn’t want to restrict the number of people that I might be able to help.
After much consideration, it occurred to me that the only way I’d feel comfortable trying to ask people for financial support was through something like a Go Fund Me account. With a Go Fund Me account, people could simply contribute whatever they felt comfortable or capable of contributing. Though it would still be a pain in the neck, a Go Fund Me account would at least be a better way to go than trying to charge people a certain amount of money ahead of time.
So that, in a nutshell, is how this website came about! My greatest hope is that you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you discover something on the website that you didn’t even know you needed or were looking for (be it entertainment, advice or a new way of looking at yourself and others as dogs!)
All my very best to you and your pets! Woof!