Chris & Nala (large golden doodle)

Meet Chris Fulkerson & Nala!

Focus on the “Paw”sitive

During the pandemic, my entire family was under one roof (a COVID silver lining). Both our daughters lived on different coasts and while home convinced their dad we needed to adopt a dog. The challenge was our 16 year- old cat – how would he handle it?

The girls won – as they usually do – and we adopted a Goldendoodle and named her Nala.  I remember all of her firsts: a five-hour car ride, walking in a park, making new friends and discovering her new home. But I have to admit, I think she has taught me more. Here are a few lessons I learned from Nala about staying “paw”sitive:

  1. Be Yourself. Accept Yourself. Nala loves being herself. She doesn’t wish she had the nose of a greyhound or eyes of a huskie. Before Nala I wouldn’t walk outside without makeup on. Not anymore. My neighbors have seen the “real Chris.” Hair a mess, no makeup, tired looking, and it’s okay. No one likes me any less and it takes me to my second point.
  2. Love your neighbor. Nala is so excited about all her new friends; Carlos, Molly, Leo, Ollie, and so many more. I, too, am amazed at all the new neighbors I am meeting. I have lived in my home for 28 years and have never met as many neighbors in one year as I have since bringing home Nala.
  3. Play! Life is short. Sometimes as adults we forget how important play is for our day. Nala loves to chase her ball, chew on her toys, ride in the car, plop in the grass. What do you like to do? Our bodies need to exercise and to keep moving. Go out and play today.
  4. How do you talk to yourself? One day my youngest daughter made the comment that she needed to talk to herself like she talks to Nala; “good girl”, “you are so sweet”, “I love you so much.” Can you look in the mirror and tell yourself how much you love yourself? And try it in the high-pitched voice – LOL.
  5. Overcome fear. One day Nala encountered a very aggressive dog. She ran behind me whimpering, so frightened. Thankfully the owners were there to calm down their dog and within minutes the two of them were playing. Nala completely overcame her fear and insecurity. Love does conquer all, and we first have to love ourselves in order to have the confidence to overcome our fears.
  6. Love unconditionally. I can use my stern voice on Nala for “ leave it” and within minutes she is back to loving me. Love without expecting anything in return.
  7. How do you greet your family members? When we see Nala or she sees us, we have big smiles, ask her to come to us, and shower her with kisses and petting. Do we do the same for our family? Do have a big smile on our face and give them a hug?
  8. Live in the moment. I am such a planner. I love blocking my day for work. Now I find myself trying to find a new routine. Dogs have mastered being in the moment. Nala will sit on walks and look around. It causes me to look up and around. To be thankful for these beautiful days and surroundings. I’m thankful for being in the moment.

I remember the early days with Nala. I was exhausted. I felt like I had a newborn baby in the house. But she saved us during the pandemic. And I will never forget the late night the four of us took her for a walk. That is priceless. Having a pet is priceless and there is so much we can learn from them.

Chris Fulkerson is a new member to WAGS. In 2022, Nala passed her evaluation with Chris's husband, Bryan, and they are now a WAGS Therapy Team. Bryan is retired and Chris is a certified image professional.