A tired dog is a good dog…

Yoda

Yoda, my Hungarian Kuvaz, is almost two years old. He came to me as a curly white furball at 2 months old. He is, as true to his breed, maturing into a bold, spirited dog, determined to protect and be in charge. As a livestock guardian, his genetic makeup is to lead. Working to establish myself NOW as Alpha, we are enrolled in an obedience class. I have survived three classes with the help of my chiropractor.

What I believe…

Since I was in my early 20s I have had only St. Bernards, and though they are “stubborn” by nature, they are easy to train. They were my breed. With seven grown ones at all times, I only had one dog that I had to take to a training class. All the others learned, perhaps by osmosis, from the older dogs.

In 2008, after having just lost one of my Saints, someone said they knew I loved big dogs and wondered if I like a two month old Great Pyrenees. Being similar in size to a Saint, I assumed they were like a Saint. Not so, but he was easy to train, though very independent.

Seven years later he died from bone cancer, and knowing that “the larger the dog, the less the life expectancy,” I set out to find a big dog who would live longer than a Saint or Great Pyr. I found him – a Tibetan Mastiff, described by my vet as “stoic.” After much research I got a 2 month old male puppy, and I worked diligently to socialize him. They are such large dogs you must start early socializing them to have control.

Now almost two years old, he is much bigger than I. In fact, several weeks ago at dusk I was walking him and a police officer approached us for a look-see. He saw us from afar and thought it was a little girl walking a bear. He was in awe of the dog’s gentile manner, not being affected by him stopping us. I trained him myself, and he learned from the St. Bernard.

Rewinding back to age three months, this Tibetan Mastiff puppy, named Doggie Lama, was the absolutely worst puppy I have every owned. With my being a night owl, his schedule of sun-up soon took its toll on me. After a month of this, I was exhausted. I wondered why everything worked so well with all my other dogs and not this one – was it his breed or me? Then I had an epiphany. All the puppies I had before had another puppy to play with.

I was offered a Kuvaz puppy a month younger than Doggie Lama and I got him. He was the solution. Life was good again, but it never occurred until I went on a trip that the Kuvaz was not one to learn by osmosis.

On my return, I was told that Doggie Lama and Klaus were wonderful. Yoda, the Kuvaz, however, was a a very bad boy. They said he had boundary issues. I asked if he 86ed from returning and they said no. Since they train dogs, I asked if we could set up a private lesson to deal with his issues, and we did.What a workout, for him and me, proving what I had heard, “A tired dog is a good dog.”

We started practicing daily. I had not devoted proper time to the dog who saved me by wearing out Doggie Lama. Yoda quickly took to our dedicated time together and my being the Alpha. Now in a 6 week training class, we both are learning boundaries and manners. It is work. We do homework twice a day and he loves having someone to look to as the leader of the pack.

My Mother always said, “Anything that’s worth a darn is trouble.” That is Yoda.

Many times a discipline issues cause a dog owner to get rid of the dog. Dogs are like children, they need discipline and they need your time. They are the absolutely one unselfish friend we have in this world and each one, just like us, is different. Most things are fixable – willingness, work and love made us both happy.

Now, what I BELIEVE is “a tired dog is a good dog,” and a “tired owner is a proud owner.”

What I believe… 1/23/17

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In 1964 when I was a just a sophomore in high school, like most young people, I never really though about time other than the fact that the Rolling Stones had a new song out with the words, “Time is on your side, yes it is, yes it is.” At 16 you think you have all the time in the world, and you pretty-much do. Now in 2016, I am seeing things a bit differently…

What I believe: What we all don’t have is time

Gautama Buddha said, ”The trouble is you think you have time.”

Almost three years ago, my mother passed away from lung cancer, leaving my father alone. She died March 1 and had she lived to April 26, they would have celebrated 68 years as husband and wife.

My Daddy had his own health challenges but was able to live in their home with limited assistance until the end of September last year. He was rushed to the hospital and it took a number of tests before they determined that he had a stroke, pancreatitis, diabetes and sepsis. He stayed in ICU for a few days short of a month and then was transferred to rehab.

I solicited the prayers of my Facebook friends and more than one miracle occurred. My almost 91-year-old Daddy surprised doctors and staff daily with his strong constitution and willingness to do what was required of him with success. There was some hope of him going back to his home again.

Then, one night at the rehab facility, he fell. The fall seemed to undo the great progress he had made and he experienced periods of confusion. Prayers continued on his behalf . He miraculously got out of bed and somehow participated in his rehabilitation.

When release time came, my brother brought him to an apartment close by him for immediate continued care. All the while, I was on “standby” as to the best time for me to see my Daddy and to benefit my siblings as we looked for a permanent, safe and loving place for him to live out the remainder of his days.

Daily phone, text and email reports and Facebook video chats kept me informed, but it is not like being there. When we chatted, I got to see him only for a brief period. There were 23 hours and 50 minutes that I did not see which were paving the road to determining his future care.

A date was agreed upon for me to come. My siblings tried to prepare me for what I would see.

The first day of my visit started out slow — he did seem to know me, but the connection was not the one we always had. He knew his routine and was agreeable to doing what he was told, but signs were everywhere that his stage of life had changed substantially. He had a walker and a wheelchair and his fragile old body was bent over when he walked.

My nephews came in for a visit and he knew they were there, but that was also different. The Daddy I knew was not there. I came back the next day and he seemed to know me. He did not know my sister, always his favorite, and he knew my brother as his daily caregiver and the person in charge, but did not seem to know him as his son.

Throughout the day, we sat on the terrace, ate together, and talked off and on about various things. Then, grabbing a book about Birmingham, Ala., with pictures of things past and present, I sat with him and we turned each page and reminisced about them. I knew, from having read and attended classes on dementia and Alzheimers, that connectivity to things past often opens a portal of the mind to help someone be fully present, even if only for a little while.

Next, I grabbed his new daily calendar which had a different dog on each day and we went through the days of January through December and named them. I held his hand and, at times, that distant stare that old people exhibit would take over, but then his eyes would sparkle for a few minutes and he was back.

Most of the time, however, unlike the days when he was so busy with life, he just sits quietly and his mind seems to go somewhere else. Just sitting now, the days once wished to be longer, now seem to be too long.

My sister was so amazed at our interaction that day and evening – she videoed it and made notes in Cozi Central, a special site to document daily activity, memories and more, available for anyone — and that day’s visit finally came to an end. I

t was a memorable day, a special day, and actually another miracle according to my sister.

The following days were not the same; he did not always know me. When the time came for me to leave, it was bitter-sweet because, like so many of us who no longer live where we grew up, we only get to go back for a visit — a visit that is never quite long enough.

As Budda said ”The trouble is you think you have time.”

As we watch our parents, friends, TV, movie and rock stars we grew up with pass on or suffer health challenges, we are introduced to our own mortality. All of a sudden we realize that the “time” we thought we had is truly limited.

Our parents are supposed to live forever. They were the first people we met and they were always there for us. What we have known subconsciously now comes to the surface and we know “there may not be time.”

I was blessed with a visit and connection with my Daddy for which I am so grateful for, but I was also blessed with the reminder of the gift of time.

“Do it, now,” Nike says … and we know we must if we are to do it, whatever it is. The adage, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today,” has new meaning.

Though we may have heard it said many times that at the end of one’s life, a person does not say they wish they had worked more, but they say they wish they had spent more time with their loved ones.

Pope Paul VI said, “In youth, the days are short and the years are long. In old age, the years are short and days long.”

I, too, now believe that to be so.

What I believe: Home for Christmas, if only in my dreams

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Dec 23, 2016

During Christmas 2015, I posted a picture on Facebook of a little girl wearing a coat and sitting on a suitcase along a rural road.

It wasn’t just any picture, it was my humble attempt to express the emotion of being “homeless.” I did not mean “homeless” in the traditional sense of the word, but “homeless” in that I can no longer go back to the home where my parents lived.

We think our parents will be around forever — not so; my mother died on March 1, 2014; my Daddy, 90 years old, has experienced health issues this year and had to leave his home for other accommodations.

As a rule, when someone asks, “Are you going home for Christmas?” they are asking if we are going back to visit our mother and father. Though we no longer live there literally, and we have our own home, we still call it home.

Home is where the heart is.

When your parents are gone, suddenly that place to which you always knew you could retreat, no matter what; that place where the warmth of memories past lay deep in the recesses of your memory; where arms are open wide to receive you no matter what condition you find yourself in; where the smells and the familiar things you grew up with; where your favorite foods were served; where the rooms, especially at holiday time, are filled with love that permeates the air and your total being — that place where family once resided is no longer available to you. Now that place you always called home can only be visited in the memory of the mind.

Oh, how you long for your Dear Mother and Daddy when they are no longer humanly or mentally present.

I think of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” where Emily said, “Goodbye world. Goodbye, Grover’s Corners … Mama and Papa. Goodbye to clocks ticking … and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths … and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it — every, every minute?”

Today, so close to Christmas … to going “home” where my parents were well and in their home, and my brother and sisters and their spouses and other family members and friends gathered to celebrate Christmas with all our traditions, I both mourn and I celebrate — mourn that those times are gone, but celebrate that I am able to have them.

I am humbly grateful I had a mother and father and memories to treasure. Time and people we love are so precious.

As the New Year approaches — and I journal thoughts and list valuable pearls of wisdom I have gleaned over the last year, and even my lifetime, recognizing what is most important and close to my heart — I vow to waste not another minute of life. It does go by so fast, and one day you wake up and realize that age has played its trick on you — and you, according to statisticians, have only so many breaths or heartbeats attributed to you, each so precious.

This Christmas, not able to go to that place called “home,” I open that gift of memory that I will feast on — one not wrapped in a bow, but wrapped nonetheless in pretty paper in the memory of my mind.

Today, as I contemplate the true meaning of Christmas, and the birth of the Christ child, I believe that family and going home actually has a deeper meaning. It is a representation of us leaving our earthy existence — or home — and one day going to our real home where we will be reunited with our loved ones.

Either way, it’s all about love, and as the song says, “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.”

 

 

Remembering…

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Today, as I search for flights that will connect and will work to get me from here to “there,” this picture is me, just a little girl in my mind, waiting, packed, ready to go home and see my Daddy. As I learned from the last 8 years of my mother’s life (she had lung cancer), when you live afar, you try to make each visit you are blessed to have, perfect – perfect because it could be the last time you ever see them alive. Perfect in that you want to say all that needs to be said, perfect in that you get them anything they need or want, no matter what it is. Perfect in that you have made sure that you have said everything you need to say to them so they know beyond a doubt how much they mean to you – how much you appreciate all the sacrifices they made so you could go to school, do those things you thought were so important that may have been a true hardship for them to get them for you – a perfect visit…ended with a perfect hug and kiss and memory to hold on to…just in case it is the last. 

As now, among the “Motherless daughters” of the world, I KNOW beyond a doubt how precious our parents really are and I am grateful I still have my Daddy.

Oh Christmas – oh family, oh visits…all so very precious – gifts that cannot be wrapped with paper and a bow and placed under a tree, but true gifts none-the-less.

Linda Brimhall: Movers & Shapers

M&S Linda Brimhall TEASER

From beekeeper’s daughter to entrepreneur

TAYLOR — Linda Lee Brimhall’s family moved from the Valley to Taylor in 1977. This was Linda’s senior year of high school. She was a shy girl, but not so shy she didn’t find her a high school sweetheart.

Brian Wenn Brimhall was that sweetheart.

Linda planned to go off to college, but Brian was not sure what direction in life he wanted to take.

“If he had said, ‘I love you,’ I would have stayed,” Linda said.

Linda and Brian went their separate ways and began building their lives and careers. Both married twice, and Linda had two children and Brian four.

Wondering about old friends, both joined Classmates.com. They reconnected when Brian wrote to Linda to see if she was coming to their 30-year class reunion in 2007. Linda lived in Utah and Brian in Snowflake.

Linda did come back for the reunion, and that spark which had ignited in 1977 between them seemed to still be smoldering.

Unhappy with her life in Utah, Linda returned there and made some major life changes. Then the emails began. Then, with family in Taylor who lived on 40 acres and Linda needing a property to put her Missouri fox trotter horses on, Taylor ended up moving there in 2009, and the courting began.

On March 27, 2010, Brian and Linda became Mr. and Mrs. Brian Wenn Brimhall.

The time of leading different lives between 1977 and 2007 didn’t seem to matter to them. They had “now.”

“We had to grow into who we were,” Linda said.

Brian had been the face of AZ Digital Dish in Taylor for years, handling both the residential and commercial side of business. The company was making changes and the residential side went with corporate, and Brian was left with the commercial side. With these changes having taken place, Brian took a job with Navajo County as a security guard, and Linda went to work for Farr Plumbing.

Everything was serendipitous.

The dream and reality of two soulmates finding one another again, and then getting married, seemed like a “happily ever after” fairy tale.

In February 2013 the fairy tale took a turn. Brian came down with pneumonia, followed by a series of gall bladder attacks. He had surgery in April but did not improve. In May he was diagnosed with cancer. When he returned to the see the doctor in July, he was too weak for treatment and was hospitalized. He died a week later. The day after his death, the tests revealed he had bile duct cancer.

Though Brian died on July 11, 2013, that is not the end of their story.

The job Brian had taken with Navajo County provided him with insurance, a real blessing. The job Linda took with Farr Plumbing allowed her to take time off to be with her husband and then to have a means of taking care of herself after his death.

The commercial side of AZ Digital was still operating while Brian was ill and is now run by his family.

Linda, in an effort to work through her grief, kept looking for a way to keep Brian’s entrepreneurial spirit alive.

“He was always looking for that next best thing,” Brimhall said.

When she was almost ready to throw in the towel from not being able to find that “next best thing,” she got a call from LocaLoop Inc. When the man told her LocaLoop was a 4G broadband internet service with no bundles, no contracts and no internet data limits,” Linda knew this was that “next best thing” and SynKroMax was born.

Having had somewhat of a communications background herself in troubleshooting and repair with Pacific and Mountain Bell, Brimhall understood what contracting with this company meant for rural Arizona.

“The concepts are similar,” Brimhall said.

With the help of Mel Larson, system analyst and technician for SynKroMax and AZ Digital Dish, Brimhall moved forward with the opening of SynKroMax. She resigned from Farr in October 2015 and put all of her efforts into this new company.

Larson and Brian worked together for years with AZ Dish, and Linda says that Larson is the brains behind her operation.

“I feel like (Brian) is backing me from the other side,” Brimhall said.

“When I wondered ‘where will I get the dollars to do this,’ it just works out. There are always little blessings along the way. I have sold silver and gold to make ends meet. I have used life insurance monies. It is risky. It is an expensive investment, but the timing is right. I have gone so far to make it happen, I cannot quit now.”

Working with Larson, they have been able to erect two towers. They are now working towards a third. Brimhall is seeking out grants and looking for ways to satisfy the need for service east of Snowflake.

LocaLoop is out of Minnesota, and as part of the service agreement, they came to the Snowflake-Taylor area in March to help get the first customers hooked up.

“It is like a turnkey solution,” Brimhall said. “It is part of what we purchase from them. They get a percentage from us, and they offer the product, and they allow it to be our own business. All over the country they are doing this in rural communities who are lacking. The federal government wants the internet and a computer in every home by 2020. It may not be fiber, but if we have the technology 4G, 5G is just around the corner.

“Brian always said this is where technology is headed. We should have redundancy within the next couple of months. I am just waiting for the house to sell or to get a grant.

“I can’t not do this,” Brimhall added. “This is needed in our community. It is another option for the future. So many things run off of the internet today, our cell phones and computers. What is out there in the future is broadband, not Ethernet cables.”

Brimhall is well on her way. Now that she is up and running, has an office at 34 Casa Linda Drive in Taylor, has joined the chamber of commerce and is focusing on grants, expansion is her goal. One of the grants she is hoping for would enable her to get service into the Concho community and east of Snowflake.

Even with building a new business, Brimhall knows the value of a personal life. She has grandchildren, and even if it is a quick trip to California, or the Valley, she makes the time.

“My family is still first,” Brimhall boasted.

Linda’s parents were beekeepers, and while at Snowflake High School, she was known as “the beekeeper’s daughter.” Today, living at home right now with her mom, she is “keeping herself.”

The once shy high school girl has found her own voice after reuniting with the love of her life and keeping alive his dream.

“The business has caused me to come out of my shell,” Brimhall said.

Moving forward with determination, Brimhall, who has always been afraid of heights, decided to overcome that fear. She took herself to a ledge on a mountain top, got as close as she could to the edge and meditated until the fear subsided. Then she felt she had let the fear go. She’s proud of herself and she said the experience was exhilarating.

“I felt more empowered after that,” Brimhall said.

Though she probably won’t climb any of the SynKroMax towers, Linda would like to add flying in a biplane to her bucket list. She also loves to hike and loves to paint landscapes. She loves to ride her horses. She has three of them. Though she never did like the competing end of horsemanship, her idea of Heaven on earth is just going out in the mountains and enjoying the scenery on a horse.

Brimhall does have one more important thing on her list with regard to her business.

“I hope to get to a point where I can do service things for the community. I want to help people that need help. I don’t just want to take dollars in and sit on it. I want to give back,” Brimhall said.

Though it has been over two years since her husband died, Brimhall has discovered that true love transcends time and space and can be kept alive even through the fulfilment of another’s dream.

J.K. Rowling said, “Love as powerful as your mother’s love for you leaves its own mark … to have been loved so deeply … will give us some protection forever.”

Dana Heck, Red Door Consigments – Movers & Shapers

IMG_0314As an Army brat, Dana Rock Heck knows how to “adapt and overcome.”

LAKESIDE – Dana Rodd Heck is the main “smile” behind the actual red door at Red Door Consignment Store in Lakeside, a business that was truly serendipitously inspired.

Heck literally blazed many trails before winding up in Lakeside.

The daughter of an Army intelligence office and an Army nurse, Heck was born in Nuremberg, Germany. Her parents had met overseas during World War II and married in Australia.

Heck was not able to call any place home until she was 10 years old when the family settled in Cortez, Colorado.

With her father still in the service, and her brothers who were older, gone, one in Viet Nam where her father was, life for Dana from age 10 on was like being an only child.

“I had a wonderful childhood,” said Heck. “I had my mother all to myself. She was the most Godly woman I have ever known. She had worked in a MASH Unit, like on TV, and saw horrible things, bayonet wounds and more.”

At 16, Heck worked after school at Sonic as a car hop. That is also an important age to remember for her because that is how old she was when she met the love of her life, Rick Heck. Rick was 9 months younger than her, but it was love at first sight, and they met at church.

That may be one of the earliest recollections of a “cougar,” before it was called that.

“He could not even drive,” said Heck.

Obviously, that did not matter to her. They have been together 41 years and married 36 of those.

Dana went to school at Fort Lewis College in Durango, majoring in business, and Rick got a Masters Degree, according to Dana, in the school of hard knocks, growing up in the family garage building hot rods.

Dana never really aspired to be anything but a wife and mother, and she did that. She and Rick have three grown birth children, two living in the White Mountains, one in Cortez, and a foster daughter who lives in Cottonwood. They have six grandchildren and are soon to be great grandparents.

Heck said they never really had a plan.

“We just throw things at the wall and whatever sticks,” said Heck.

Dana was sick of cold weather and in 1986, they moved to Page, Arizona, by Lake Powell. She says it is about 10 degrees warmer than here. Prior to that move, she and Rick drove all over Arizona looking for their new home, but had not found it. A family reunion had been planned for Page just a few weeks later in September, and it was obviously “what stuck” because they picked up and moved there in December. Rick opened an off road shop and also worked part time at the power plant. Dana got her radiology license and went to work for a dentist.

Wanderlust settled in and wanting to be near family, they decided to move to Cottonwood. They nested there for a while and then Rick, who was wholesaling cars, was invited to be a GM at dealership in Show Low in 2001. Kicking and screaming, but on the road again, the Hecks wound up in Show Low.

Needing a place to work on cars, Rick bought property on Porter Mountain Road in Lakeside and built a facility. When the property next to it became available, he bought it and started building what was supposed to be a machine shop, but before it was finished the people had backed out.

It was time once again to throw something on the wall and see if it would stick – the Heck Plan, if you will.

Dana’s friend and tack lady, Mickey Oliver, had stopped by the shop and was telling her the Springerville Antique Mall was closing. There it was, they looked at each other, took out paper and pencil and started drawing the layout of what was to be the next “recession proof” business and tenant for the machine shop building. They had ever space rented within a week and people started coming in. Talk about serendipity. Prior to this venture, Dana had never even been in a consignment store in her life.

Rick had also rented out space on to a cabinet shop and a sign shop, but in 2007 they both“tanked.” When they could not find renters, Rick told Dana, “You are expanding.”

Expand she did, and it also “stuck.”

Another expansion idea was the little restaurant she opened inside the consignment shop, a hard business to sustain in any economy. Though it was the “talk of the town,” and had wonderful food, after nine months, the former business major knew it was time to close it. That was a disappointment.

There are about eight key ladies who have helped Heck make the consignment store a success. Nearly every one of them has been with her since the start, especially Mickey who helped her birth the idea.

“These ladies were gifts from God,” said Heck.

Today Heck has over 1500 vendors and consignors.

Heck loves what she does. She loves people, making friends, and just coming to work every day.

Heck’s husband is into racing and probably will always have something to do with cars, and though Dana is not into racing herself, she loves to go “Jeeping.” She also loves to go shooting. She is even NRA Certified. She also loves gardening and spending time with her grandchildren.

If she could go somewhere, a bucket list item maybe, she would go to Egypt, if it were safe. She has always been fascinated with its culture.

With the red, white and blue running through her veins, her parents, who have passed on, would be very proud of Dana today. She has become, her words, “a conservative activist,” for quite some time, hosting political meetings at her consignment shop, and making her voice heard, even if only by her actions. In high school, she always favored current events, and still does.

Several times she has been approached to run for council, but always refused. She would always tell those who asked her to run, “You need a Pit Bull, and I’m a pussycat.”

Like Bob Dylan sang, “The times, they are a changin’.”

Recently, when asked to run for town council, she told the people, “if you can’t find anyone else, I will do it.” Her name was throw in the hat for the Pinetop-Lakeside Town Council, and she got the job.

Heck said she recalls a comment made by AZ Representative Brenda Barton that has stuck with her and made her say she would run. Barton words were, “Challenge begins with the grass roots.”

“I plan to help make things better for our little community,” said Heck. She has been sworn in and is getting up to speed on her duties. She is now reading the book put out by the League of Cities and Towns for her new job.

Once again, the Heck Plan of throwing something on the wall and seeing if it sticks, has proven to be the plan that works for the Hecks.

Dana Heck is a “Mover & Shaper.”

Sandy Morgan, Owner Perfect Paws – Movers & Shapers

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SHOW LOW — Sandy Morgan is the owner of Perfect Paws on the Cooley-Deuce split in Show Low. You may or may not see her if you go into the pet store, but she is there, usually grooming dogs in the back.

“People say, we come in and you are never there,” said Morgan, “but I am always here.”

Such is the life of a successful, hardworking small business owner. As a small business person, Morgan is totally responsible for her business and the employees and all of the overhead. She has to generate her income. She is, therefore, always working, or networking, giving back to the community, taking care of her family, and on rare occasion, steeling a few moments of to actually do something for herself.

Morgan grew up in Westchester, California, a secluded neighborhood in the City of Los Angeles. Her mom was a secretary and her dad a Los Angeles police officer who was injured on the job. Her parents divorced when she was five, but her single mom served as a role model for perseverance and hard work. Her mom worked as a secretary for TRW but had ambitions. Though it took her 13 years, her mom went back to school and earned her master’s degree, and a PhD in Education, no small feat.

After high school, Morgan went to junior college and then worked as a secretary herself.

Later in her married life, she opened her first pet store at age 27 in Sherman Oaks and then a second one in Northridge.

The seed for the pet store most likely germinated from her grandparents in Pasadena who owned a pet store in the 50s, which was more like a feed store with pets and they did have pets, Poodles, the rage in those days.

Though business was good in California, Morgan had two kids in pre-school, ages 4 and 6. The school was right across the street from the high school, and the joke was the pre-school had private security. Secret service were always there because President Reagan’s grandchildren went there.

Even with the security, Morgan did not like what she began to see at the high school on that street, and the family began entertaining thoughts of exiting California to raise their children.

Morgan sold her pet stores, and she and her husband at the time, Michael Keele, moved the family to the White Mountains where Sandy’s dad and step mom lived.

Her husband obtained the Roto-Rooter franchise for this area, but she soon saw they needed more money to live on. Sandy immediately saw she needed to generate her own income She went to work in sales for Hugh Williams at KVSL. Later she moved on to work for Dave Robbins at KRFM , where she became sales manager. Her left there to go to work in Springerville for Ted Barbone with KQAZ and KRVZ radio part time. She also took a part time job with the newspaper there.

Working the two part time jobs allowed Morgan to get back on the path towards owing a pet store again. That was 1995. She made time for grooming at K&R Feeds, which was at that time next door to her present location.

When the building next to K&R became available, Sandy started the process of searching for a small business loan to purchase the building to open Perfect Paws. Though the deal took so long it almost fell through, she persevered and finally got the funding. That was 1997.

Though it looks so easy when you walk in the store today, and see all of her merchandise and all of the live pets, the customers looking around and at the register, the journey Sandy Morgan has made to present day success has not been without obstacles.

Divorced when she started the business, and a single Mom building the business, Sandy was surprised with a diagnosis of breast cancer in 2002. With no cancer center at the time, she had to go to the Valley for surgery and radiation treatment, taking her away from her business and her children who were 15 and 17 at the time.

She would head to the Valley and stay with friends on Monday, receive her treatments all week, and return home on Friday to handle everything else. She had an employee who helped with her kids and other things, an ex-husband close by who also helped with the kids, but she had to face her treatments alone, but in stride.

“I didn’t have any problems. I had the surgery and then the radiation was easy. I didn’t have to have chemo. The radiation took about an hour each day and, really, I did well. You could say I was the poster child for radiation.”

She is cancer free today and does have regular mammograms.

One day Sandy was listening to the radio and heard Main Street Director Sharon Adams talking about Main Street. As soon as the show was over, she gave Sharon a call and volunteered to be a part of the Main Street efforts since her business was on Main Street. That was many years ago and she is still on that board. In fact, she is President of the Fourth of July Rodeo and under her leadership it has grown from one day to two sanctioned event and attracts 3,000 people.

Working with Main Street helped the community, and helped Sandy as she continued to build her small business.

Not long after her radiation treatment ended, Sandy met her husband Tom Morgan. That relationship led to marriage and the two have been working hard to build their future towards retirement and make a difference in the community.

Tom is the Arena Manager for the Rodeo and for work, like many White Mountain couples, he has had to work out of state, as he is currently. They make it work, talk to each other every day and he comes home as often as he can.

When 2008’s economic downturn touched the nation, Perfect Paws was hit too. She cut employees, tightened her belt every way that could and just worked harder while waiting for the storm to pass.

Before it passed though, Sandy had a heart attack. That was 2010 or 12, she doesn’t recall exactly. She was up and down one night until about 2 a.m. She had the classic pain running down her left arm, she was sweating and having trouble breathing. She wondered if she was having a heart attack, but just paced back and forth, not wanting to wake anyone up. Like many, she was also knew her insurance was not that good. Her husband was out of town working and the pain was not unbearable, so finally went back to bed and went to sleep. The next morning, when she and her husband spoke, she told him about it, and he told her he thought she did have a heart attack.

Morgan called the doctor’s office and told them what happened and they told her to come on in. Unfortunately, being the boss and a small business owner, she had a full day of grooming ahead of her and two appointments regarding advertising which had been set. She told them she could come Friday. That was Tuesday. On Friday, she learned she did have a heart attack and that sent her to the cardiologist which sent her to the Valley for a stent. Driven, and responsible, Sandy was back at work within a week. She tells everyone not to wait like she did, but these are the kind of things a small business owner faces – trying to make it all work.

Luckily she loves what she does, and Sandy survived competition and the lull in the economy not just in 2008, but 9, 10 and 11. She said she had to expand during that time to keep up with the competition to survive.

“I had gotten behind and found myself digging out,” said Morgan, “but I just kept working.”

The store today is very inviting, having expanded and gotten a new facade since its original opening.

“We are the only live pet store around,” said Morgan. “We have added Added salt water fish and have spread out so we are less crowded. We expanded our fresh water fish, and reptiles. We have more live stock because we have more room.”

“People come in to look at the pets. My Grandma always said that people will come in to look at the pets. We are a zoo.”

“We have schools come in for tours of the store, and we do presentations every summer on reptiles and amphibians.”

A local business man and a county supervisor tell Morgan that getting to visit her store is a reward for their children. If they do their chores and get good grades, they get to visit Perfect Paws.

With her focus on giving back to the community and having a successful business, Sandy Martin has just “worked.” Thinking a bit about retirement with 65 on the horizon, she visited with a local financial expert to see where she was.

Much to her surprise, and proof of her hard work and focus, he told her she had done just what she was supposed to. She bought property and kept it – did not sell it. So retirement will come.

Her Dad has passed away and the house in Lake Havasu is occupied right now, but she would love to be able to winter in Havasu and spend summers in the White Mountains. She and Tom have a boat but they have not gotten to use it lately. Taking her family to Lake Powell is a big item on her bucket list. They both love the outdoors. She even has a horse and loves to ride, but running a small business she has not gotten to ride him lately either.

When he husband comes home, they love to go to Licano’s and dance and listen to Armoir Gomez. They did give themselves a valentine’s get away to Laughlin, all on the spur of the moment, a rarity in their lives.

Her kids are grown now. Nikki is married and teaches seventh and eight graders at the Junior High and Matt is also married, works for his Dad and has given her two grandkids who are 13 and 9, and like she did with her grandparents who had a pet store, they learned to bag crickets as soon as they were born.

“I feel good about what I have done,” said Morgan. “I have worked hard.”

For anyone starting out in business, I would tell them to be honest with their customers and to be involved in the community. You must offer service to your community. Give back. Fill a need and be educated on what you do. It is all PR. You have to serve the people.”

For Sandy Morgan, who has not slowed down since she first started, slowing down is in her cards, but not yet.

It is said, “All roads that lead to success have to pass through hard work boulevard at some point.”

Sandy Morgan has passed through more than one of those stop signs on that road.

It is time to slow down.

petlady@frontiernet.net

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