Pet Lover of the Year Contest!

Hello Friends –

As I write this blog I’m sitting comfortably in my living room on a Saturday morning watching our new rescue dog, Jake, sleep away the late morning.  His morning so far has been absolutely perfect for him in that mom and dad are both home, he’s had a long walk with plenty of fascinating smells, and he’s got a full belly.  Jake has been part of our family for nearly five months now and watching him calmly sleep, and snore, still makes me smile.

My wife Christine and I believe that we’re playing a very small role in making the world a better place by adopting dogs like Jake, but we’re not saints and this process hasn’t been all roses and happiness.  To be frank the first few months of Jake’s adoption period have been much more difficult than any dog we’ve ever had.  His early life experiences have clearly scarred him more than a bit (he was around two years old when we adopted him) and his transition period has been a trial, to say the least.  While he’s made huge strides he can still be a challenge and has even shown some signs of fear related aggression accompanied by growling and light nipping.  Given these challenges, I think it’s normal that my wife and I have found ourselves asking, “Why in the heck did we adopt this dog and are we totally crazy for not giving him back?”  And then he plays with us, or he snuggles close to us, or he brazenly insists that we walk him NOW by jumping around the house, and we remember why it is that we are committed to adopting dogs who NEED a good, loving home.  The adoption transition can be difficult, but getting to the other side is really sweet and truly does make it all worthwhile.

Which brings me to the reason for this month’s blog/email.  We love animals and we want to encourage others to make the leap of faith we’ve made by adopting a pet who might otherwise have problems finding a good forever home.  So we came up with an idea to recognize people who have made commitments to animals and, hopefully, encourage others to jump in and join us.

The concept behind the idea is very simple.  We’re hosting a contest we’re calling Dr. Willard’s® Pet Lover of The Year, that encourages people to share their pet adoption stories.  We want to show those people who may be on the fence about adoption that it can not only work out for their family, but that an adopted pet can bring so much love to your home.   We don’t want to sugar coat things, we want to hear about the challenges, but more than anything else we want to hear about the love and how your pets have made your life better.  We’ve set up a special page on our website ( where you can share your story with us, and with our Dr. Willard’s® family.

To encourage people to share their stories we’re going to pick our favorite submission and send that person on a trip to the Best Friends conference in Atlantic City this summer (  We’ll pay for the airfare, hotel and conference fees for one lucky writer but the rest is on you.

This process is going to be tough so we’ve asked a team of experts to help us pick the winner.  Our team of experts includes Wendy Volhard, author, trainer and innovator of the Volhard Motivational Method of Dog Training; Julia Henriques Managing Editor with Dog’s Naturally Magazine; and my lovely wife, Christine Gorrell Willard.  They’ll read through the submissions, pick their favorite and we’ll do the rest.

We’ll be accepting submissions from March 1-31st and you can submit them by visiting our website at  The submissions will be available for all to read so please keep that in mind.  I also encourage you to read through them as I’m sure you’ll be inspired by what you read.

As always, I thank you for taking time to read our blogs.  I look forward to hearing from you all and to reading your submissions.

John Willard III


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