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Learning about life from Tampa the Dog

Hello animal loving friends, and Happy Holidays!

Tampa the dog teaching me about lifeIt’s time to embrace that warm and fuzzy spirit. This is why I wanted to begin sharing my experiences with you: Learning about life from Tampa the Dog. Believe me, he understood it a lot better than I ever will.

His way would be to enjoy the season appreciating the simple, fun things. We need it. Let’s eat too much, find a sweet movie, and snuggle up with our fur babies for some unconditional love.

Of course, don’t forget to enjoy the comedy! Kitties trying to climb the Christmas tree….and the priceless expressions on our doggie’s faces when we dress them up like a reindeer for a photo shoot. “Smile and say bacon!” Take it all in and look back on the positives of the year.

Problem is, as I click on this and that…. whether it is social media, or a TV news station, there is always some heart wrenching story about how animal shelters and rescues are struggling to keep things running. I cry when I see the commercials and videos showing those sad little faces staring through their kennels. People are continuously dumping their own pets on the side of the road! Animal cruelty is everywhere in different forms. And it seems to be getting worse. What is going on?? I would love to hear your thoughts.


As for me … of course I think about my best friend, Tampa the dog. Well, I actually think of him all the time since he passed last year. He was dumped on the side of the road as a puppy over fifteen years ago. I took him in. There was no owner to be found. The most forgiving and intelligent creature I ever met (and I’ve had a lot of wonderful dogs) … left out on the streets by some cruel human to survive on his own. Boooo to them, yay for me!

He was very special. They all are, I know. But he shined. There was a bright light inside him that I had never seen or felt before. His love was clearly powerful. I learned more about life from him than I did from any person or other being I ever met.

So, now, as I think of Tampa’s little puppy face the first moment I met him, I have that urge to ask the question again: What could people possibly be feeling when they do cruel things to animals? No idea. So let’s stop trying to figure it out. Here is where we truly begin learning about life from Tampa the dog.

Feeling all of that animosity towards a person you don’t even know is not healthy. We need to re-direct those emotions. That is how we can make a difference.

As I said, I lost him last summer. It was his time to go. But he is still with us in spirit, and I would like to share him with you because he really was a great teacher.

Let’s follow his lead and focus on giving everything we have to the animals that have suffered. They are the ones we can save. We can save some people, too.


First thing I learned? We somehow must try to forgive these people who do cruel things to animals. That sometimes seems really out of reach, but I try every day for Tampa. He was the king of forgiveness. When he found his way to my back porch as a three-month old puppy, I saw nothing but love, courage and kindness in him. And he was wandering around on his own for heaven knows how long. He had a gift. He skipped past neglect, cruelty and hatred from humans….and went straight to forgiveness.

That was the beginning of me learning to listen to my incredibly intelligent dog. He was a giver and a natural genius. He had come to me for a reason.

I became a Certified K-9 Trainer and learned some amazing things about life through a dog’s perspective ….because I was paying very close attention to my four-legged partner in life. We were on a mission! And in a short period of time, I learned that mission was so much more than teaching a dog to “sit and stay”.


From the beginning, Tampa was showing me the way to help animals and people. We were building, and re-building families. He taught shelter dogs to be polite, and more adoptable …  and we worked together to help people who were on the verge of tearfully “getting rid of” their own dogs because they had a problem they thought they could not fix!

It happens. Understood. But we wanted to stop people from pushing that panic button. And with Tampa leading the way, it was really working. I learned something new from him every day.

You know, one of the first lessons began when I realized that Tampa was the master of first impressions. That is so important, whether you are meeting a person or an animal for the first time.

I still strive every day to polish my skills in that area … to be more like him. HA! (good luck with that one, Christie). Tough paws to fill. But I’m working on it. He was fearless. He could read people and dogs, cats, ferrets, birds …whoever he met. He had the perfect, engaging, non-intrusive demeanor. Humans that claimed they did not like dogs were drawn to him. I wanted that!

Heck, I wanted to take him on every job interview I went on, because I knew with him there I would win it! (I actually did that once, but that is a whole other story we can chat about later.)

That “way” about him is the main reason I wanted to share him. You know … to get out there and make a difference.

His certification list is long. He touched a lot of lives in many ways. But I would like to stick to helping out dogs in need for now, since that is where we started.


So many stories to tell … happy and funny are my favorites. Please share yours with us, we would love to hear them. I keep saying “us” and “we” because Tampa the dog is still listening. We will forever be partners in life. If you’ve lost one, you know how it feels. And it’s good to believe they are watching over and protecting, just like they did when they were here.

You can share sad stories as well… we all have them. Just give me a heads up so I can get out the tissues.

I’m remembering someone who had picked up my dog training card at the vet’s office one morning, and decided to reach out. They were having a problem with their puppy.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“Well, we think our girl, Bella, just does not like other dogs. She is almost six months old now, and we are trying everything we can to get her to socialize.”

I asked the standard questions: “Is she growling? Cowering? Avoiding? Anything like that?”

“No. None of that. She just won’t sniff another dog’s butt.”

I tried not to laugh, I swear. I kept it to a giggle. And they had a good sense of humor. They also had a point. Butt sniffing is the way dogs say hello. It usually comes naturally. And to tell you the truth … I had never met the challenge of training a dog to do this. They just do it. This was a new one for me.

Enter, Tampa the dog.

I asked them: “How about you bring your girl over to my home, and we can go for a walk with my dog training partner. Let’s see if she will open up to him.” They agreed.

“Come on, Tamp Tamp … let’s go sniff some butts!”

It did take a while with Bella. We walked peacefully up and down the hill by my house. But she was definitely standoffish. Not aggressive at all …just kind of “cold”. No socialization skills whatsoever. She didn’t growl, and she didn’t sniff. She did nothing. It was like we didn’t exist.

We pressed on. Tampa did not force it. I just let him work.

Then it happened! After about 40 minutes or so of walking around casually … Bella turned and went in for her first butt sniff! It was a GLORIOUS moment! Her parents were so excited, because they had gone for several months truly believing there was something seriously wrong with their dog.

Of course, Bella received the return sniff from Tampa as a reward. It would be rude to not respond to that. And he was anything but rude.

That is just one small example of his amazing patience and understanding. And it did make a difference. I know. It was just a sniff. Might seem silly. But for a rather unusual dog like Bella, that was a huge thing. I continued to follow up with her family, and life progressed very well with them.


You see how that phrase keeps coming up: “Making a difference”? I love that. That was a big part of learning about life from Tampa the dog.

You can see more of his lovely face here

I am also writing Tampa’s Story. This will be my first published book. We are very excited about that! Tampa is with me every step of the way in spirit. And if you never met him, get to know him now. He is a good listener. Those of you who did meet him already know that;)

Through him I will also do my best to answer any questions you may have about dog training, or any problems with your pups in the home. Or, just tell us your stories! We love to hear about dogs, cats, horses … any or all of the animals in your life. They are a gift. So please share them.

Don’t forget to learn more about Tampa and me.

God bless and peace to you! Come back soon for more, you hear!

Christie Fletcher

10 thoughts to “Learning about life from Tampa the Dog”

    1. Hey, Ru! Great to hear from you and I’m happy you are enjoying following Tampa’s story. I did giggle to myself as I was re-living the adventure of Bella ..the puppy up here in PA….because, of course, I was thinking about you and your Bella. I’m so proud of you both. You are a wonderful Mama to her, and she is clearly a very happy dog. You make a great team. Tampa is smiling over you right now! Love you much….

  1. Perfect just like Tampa! It’s so true that if you knew Tampa you would learn so much! Great idea for the blog and of course everyone who loves animals will love the book. And what’s amazing is that everything said about Tampa is true and I was fortunate enough to experience it first hand🙏❤️🥂!!!

  2. Now that just made me tear up, Jake. You know …. aside from me, you knew him longer than any person in his life. I believe you two met in 2004. You became his “Uncle Jake”.
    He loved you very much, you know. Well, he still loves you .. he is watching over all of us. I remember when you would come over to hang out for some dinner or a few drinks, you would always give up the chair for Tampa, and sit on the floor! Not that he wouldn’t have politely moved to another space. But, you refused to let him do it. “No, let him sit there. That is his chair”.
    I’m excited about the book, and your support means so much to Tampa and me. ❤️🐾

  3. I really love this. I’m glad you found each other and grew together. What a joy to have a pet that understands you to that degree and you understand him. I don’t think Alaska will be book worthy but it will be a sad day when he’s gone.

    1. Hi David!
      So happy to hear from you. I really wish you had met Tampa. Given your appreciation of dogs, you would have really been taken with him. I do feel you know him, though …. because we have talked about him a lot over the years. And I always love seeing pictures of your Alaska and hearing about him. What a beauty! He is book worthy.
      To me … any animal that touches lives is worthy of talking or writing about.
      I know you love him so much. Some advice? Focus on that love, and try not to worry about losing him. As pet owners, we know when we take them in and fall in love, their lives will likely be much shorter than we want.
      It is our job to take care of them, and be amazed at everything they do for us while they are here. When they do cross over, they are angels watching over us. I feel Tampa with me every day! So don’t you worry yourself about Alaska now. Just enjoy.
      Stay in touch, my friend🐕❤️🐾

      1. Yes I do love Alaska. And the fun times I have with him. I remember when I first got him and like twice a week I was messaging you. Why is he doing this ,how can I get him to do this, is he going to be alright. Boy those first few weeks I wasn’t sure what I had gotten into. I’m glad you were there for me. I knew I could count on my good buddy Fletch.

        1. I remember talking with you often about Alaska in the beginning. That was so rewarding and fun, because we made some great progress pretty quickly! He’s a smart boy, and you have done a great job with him. Tampa and I were happy to help along the way. And of course, you can always count on me. We’ve been buddies for a long time. Keep me posted on your boy … and of course you and the family, okay? God bless and Merry Christmas.🎄

          1. That’s right old friends are the ones you can truly count on. I have told you on several occasions if I can do anything for you don’t hesitate to ask. I was pretty iffy in the beginning.Alaska is my first dog ever and didn’t want to do anything wrong because my daughter counted on me to care for him. And I wasn’t about to let her down. Thanks for being there.

          2. I had forgotten that Alaska was your first dog. You found a good one! Gosh, I have had dogs all of my life. Can’t imagine living without them. We need them … that is why I like helping people with their doggies when they have a problem. Tampa inspired a lot of that, so I keep going with it. It seems with every training experience, I learn something new … because they are each very special individuals.

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